Things I’ve Learned From Self-Employment: Part 1

Marty @ Izaak Walton

As my dear friend & author Peter Darling celebrates his 10th year at Microsoft, I teeter on the brink of completing my 2nd full month of self-employment.

What a short, strange trip it’s been…


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: self-care is the cornerstone to my sanity. Being self-employed, though, taught me self-care is a constantly changing thing.

Getting good sleep has been in short supply, but my meditation practice has helped keep me going nonetheless. Sometimes when I’m really mentally exhausted, I need physical exercise to release the brain & get back into the body. So, I began taking Marty the Wonderpooch on walks again.

After really pushing hard to launch myself into this new life, I quickly realized if I didn’t back off & start caring for myself, I was going to burn out – and fast. It horrified me to think I would actually become exhausted & uninterested in teaching something that is so dear to my heart: yoga.

Thankfully, I caught myself before “train-wreck” mode. The last 2 weeks I really made an effort to fit “me” time into the week. “Me” time means time NOT doing promotion or work of any kind for my self-employment. It means finding a way to turn my brain off. It’s harder to do than you think!

Experiencing this challenge showed me while some folks take to a bottle or a pile of pills, I take to work in a way that’s unhealthy. I push myself to the brink of exhaustion, trying really hard to “make it” with whatever I’m doing. Care for myself is teaching me that my relationship to earning a living is harmful to me.

This brings to mind the yoga precept: ahimsa, non-harming of self or others. Now I see that not sleeping well is an act of self-harm. Not eating on time is an act of self-harm. Not taking a nap is an act of self-harm. Not taking a mental break, is also an act of self-harm.

I’m so grateful for this on-going unveiling of what self-care means to me. Each situation reveals a new learning.


More & more things unfold in my life that blow the lack of trust right out of my mental waters.

At the end of last month, I had several checks from clients & studios. I deposited them online, and then tried not to start sweating as I opened a bill that I knew I had to pay. Calming myself with my breath, I calculated the monthly payments of the bill, and to my absolute delight, the checks just deposited EXACTLY matched the amount I had to pay. Wow!

Each time an amazing coincidence happens like this, the more I let go of my belief in coincidences. Everything unfolds as it should, financially, spiritually, emotionally.

When my trust that the Universe provides begins to falter, I ask for help. Signs come immediately, like my classes beginning to fill up last week. Almost every class had new students. Yay!

Letting Go

The last major piece of self-employment learning is in learning to let go. The more I take care not to “cling” to clients, to financial gains, to increasing students, etc., the more they come.

In fact, as I’ve been taking care of myself more lately & not seeming so frazzled, the more students are attracted to my classes. That was the linch-pin for me: realizing students won’t want to take classes from a frazzled, burnt-out teacher. Duh.

Sometimes in my classes, I instruct the students while in child’s pose to flip their palms to the ceiling. Then, I ask them to squeeze their hands into fists, and release, several times. I tell them not only can they not let go when their fists are clenched, but they can’t receive all the goodness that is coming into their lives either.

These last weeks taught me to follow my own advice…

What a gift! Self-employment is teaching me so much about myself.  As the weeks continue to unfold, stay tuned for more learnings…


Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Things I’ve Learned From Self-Employment: Part 1

  1. Peter says:

    Thanks for the mention, Marissa! I think self employment is a million times harder than working for a company. At the end of the week, I can look back and decide with a clear head whether I’ve given an appropriate amount of time & energy to the company over the previous seven days. When I was freelancing, I used work till I dropped, or until I got ill. Whatever I did, it was never enough to satisfy me. I really empathize with your post – you are the hardest boss you will ever have! I hope you are taking your own advice – finding moments of peace, moments for a few deep breaths where you can say, ‘I have done enough.’

    • marissa says:

      You’re welcome, Pete. You raise an interesting point. In all of my jobs working for others, I also pushed myself really hard, took on too much, worked myself to the bone, and burned out in the process. So, my learning has been that I have workaholic tendencies whether self-employed or not.

      Recently, I had several yoga classes where although there was only 1 person, the benefit the person received was quite deep & profound. Finally, I began to feel satisfied. Trusting this will lead to making a living is the next step… 😉

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