Five tips for escaping the 9-5 & doing something you love


You’ve been looking at stories of people who escaped their ‘career cage’ to become their own boss and set their own rules, and you think you want a piece of that too?

There’s a lot going on under the surface of those stories, so if you want to create something you love (and also have it work for real!) here are some tips that people don’t usually think about but that make a huge difference to escaping the 9-5 and becoming a ‘free range human’.

Your difference is your edge

In office life you often have to leave a piece of yourself at the door to fit in. Your difference can start to feel like something to hide if you want to get ahead.

In the own-boss (or free range) world things are different.

If you have an idea but feel like you are too different to others doing that thing? That isn’t a reason to give up on it. In fact people who rise up to be leaders in their field often do so by doubling down on a difference. For example:

The introvert who decided to keep their thoughtful measured tone in a loud brash field might well have gained their reputation for doing exactly that – and the quirky bright one might well have entered a field where people were more ‘beige’, been tempted to dull it down and fit in (like they had to in the career world), but resisted that temptation and stood out for being exactly who they are.

It isn’t just about personality either. In my book I share examples of people who came into a field with a different career background to most people and turned that into an advantage. In some ways because of how differently they saw the opportunities, in others in how they set up their business or treated their customers. Things that were obvious in their old field just weren’t considered in their new one until they came in.

In short smart free rangers know that a personality or background difference can often be turned into an advantage. What will yours be?

Create a ‘tailor made’ career

Perfect fit work and lives are not found. They are created. Got a bunch of half ideas (none of which are 100% right?) Don’t ditch an idea if it isn’t a perfect fit, instead do what every thriving free range human has done and get creative about editing it to fit you (not the other way around).

Like an idea but don’t love the amount of face time it seems to require? Brainstorm 5 ways someone could deliver the same outcome with less of that. Like an idea but it seems to only use one part of your personality? List out the other parts of yourself that are left out and think how you can integrate two or three of them into say how you deliver what you do or how you market  what you do. The most creative ideas and most resonant businesses often come from this type of thinking.

If what is missing is lifestyle related remember that freedom of time or location that you see people have aren’t stumbled on – they are worked into any idea, so get clear and work it in. For example, by making your work project based rather than ongoing so you can work in a certain number of months off a year if that is important to you.

The truth is that those dream businesses aren’t stumbled on, they are created one decision and one project at a time. So remember to do that for yourself!

Take action (run a ‘free range project’ this month)

If you’re like me, you might be a bit of a perfectionist. We perfectionists like to research and plan as much as possible. The problem is we can plan ourselves into a corner.

When it comes to own-bossing, a plan in your head is wildly different to the reality on the ground (and no, Google doesn’t give you all the answers you really need!). Planning for 6 months before taking action is dangerous because you’re planning at the time you have the least amount of real information, and so often the smartest people with the neatest plans launch, and then hit a wall, fast, because they spent time planning when they should have been doing.

The real information comes in doing, so the smart way is to combine a basic idea with a test in the form of a ‘free range project’. Distil down your idea into a simple project you can do in two weeks, without quitting your job, and with what you have right now (I describe how to do this in my book).

Doing projects can give you more info than you could get in six months of thinking about it, and takes away a lot of the risk of starting everything all at once.

Bottom line, if it’s a choice between googling for yet another evening or taking action, go with the latter every time as you’ll get better information (and you’ll also be someone who is really doing it!)

Ditch the myth of the Solopreneur

In reality no one does this alone (even if it’s only their name on the website!). So gather your people.

Even if right now you don’t know anyone doing what you want to do you can do this (I didn’t know anyone who was self employed when I started out either!).

If you can’t meet people in person or online, then at least surround yourself with the words of people who are creating or doing what you want to do, until it no longer feels like the ‘brave’ or ‘unusual’ option – it just feels normal. That’s when we can really get down to work.

(Plus, the people who you come across will have ideas, connections, and insights that over time will become more important to you than you can imagine).

Finally don’t get caught in a one size fits all approach.

Here’s what the ‘quit your job and move to Bali’ ads on your Facebook feed don’t tell you: the way I found my freedom might not be the same as the way you are best set to find yours. Just because Jodi down the road had great success going to networking events does not mean Dave the introvert who is better at building trust with people over time needs to be meeting 20 new people a week to be a success!

Your personality (and what we call your ‘Free Range Style’) plays a big role in the right path for you (no matter what idea you run with): one person does better at the front of a brand, another does better in more personal “connection building” based ways. So don’t blindly follow a ‘one size fits all’ blueprint or formula that tells you you’ll have to become a version of someone else in order to make things work – instead invest time in getting clear your best ‘style’ and work from there.

Marianne CantwellAbout the author

Marianne Cantwell is the founder of Free Range Humans and the author of Be A Free Range Human and to get a copy of the newly released second edition, go to

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