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Is Self-Employment Less Risky Than Getting a Job?


Does self-employment pose less risk than getting a traditional job? In a column for Lateral Action, Joel D. Canfield proffers four compelling reasons that the self-employed are actually safer than 9-to-5 folks. Have the artists, entrepreneurs and freelancers finally won out?

Self-employment puts you directly in charge of your happiness. Even those who have jobs with a lot of latitude still cede control over their happiness. Canfield points to a passage from “Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that outlines how important it is that we enjoy our jobs. “Since no one else is going to take the trouble of making sure that we enjoy our work, it makes sense for each of us to take on this responsibility,” wrote Csikszentmihalyi.

Canfield also notes that jobs no longer have any relationship with financial security. We’re not saving as much as we used to, and layoffs and other cutbacks halt income altogether. There’s also what he refers to as the “hedonic treadmill,” or the inevitability that at some point in the future you’ll grow tired of the goods and hobbies you love today, forcing you to constantly upgrade your possessions and experiences to achieve a novel thrill. Because entrepreneurs’ salaries can vary so widely, they must always focus and plan, and they’re disincentivized from getting on the hedonic treadmill in the first place.

Canfield’s final point is perhaps the most salient: self-employment places a greater value on your time and effort. Self-employed folks know exactly how much work went into earning the cash they spend. “We need excitement in life,” he writes. “The entrepreneur’s life includes it by default. A more visceral and immediate lifestyle reduces your risks and increases your rewards.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Where do you stand on the issue? Is self-employment a safer bet than a traditional job in today’s economic climate?

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(Photo credit: Brad Montgomery/Flickr)

Marissa Brassfield
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