I tend to shy away from challenge. When things get tough, I give up pretty easily. My mom even told me so (and when your mom says it, it’s probably true). I joked that I would consider going to medical school (like my brother). She said I would never be able to handle it, because I would give up at the first sign of difficulty.

What my mom said is true, to a point. Math was always difficult to grasp, but I studied it because I was interested in it. It was worth it to me to spend so much time and energy understanding it, because it didn’t feel like work. But once I became discouraged and lost confidence in my ability, it felt like work. The payoff wasn’t worth the effort anymore.

My interest and motivation has always been highly influenced by my supervisor. For example, I never liked math until I had one incredible professor in college who brought the subject to life for me. In graduate school, my conflicts with my advisor directly resulted in my deciding not to continue pursuing a Ph.D. Now, my motivation to work has been all but erased by the awkward work environment created from the strained relationship with my boss.

This dependence on my supervisor has been both an advantage and a disadvantage. When relations are good, I’m happy and I work well (often seemingly independently motivated). When relations are bad, I’m discouraged and lose all drive; tasks that used to be interesting and challenging become laborious and cumbersome. As a result, lofty ideas and goals become unrealistic and impractical fantasies.

So here is my solution to my own shortcomings: go into business for myself. I’m too easily swayed by a supervisor, so why not become my own supervisor? In doing that, I would force myself to stay motivated, because there are no other alternatives. Sink or swim, basically.

Given my interests, skills, and background, the most practical business I’ve been considering is private tutoring. Having seen my company run from different perspectives (I’ve done sales and accounting, but I’ve also helped in production, shipping, quality assurance, and customer service), I think I have some idea on how to run my own small business (I might be eating these words later). I should be fine, especially if I get a lot of advice from Amy (I’m strongly considering partnering with you).

I still have a lot of reservations regarding making the leap into becoming self-employed (often considered a euphemism for unemployed). There is substantial risk involved, and I still have confidence issues, but maybe that’s exactly why I should do it.


6 Responses to “Motivation”

  1. Lisa Says:

    good luck with it! I think you’d do well as a tutor.

    Can I offer another thought? Shit, why do I ask, you know I will anyway. 🙂 Do you have any college-level teaching experience, even if it was as a TA? Why not look around for instructor or professor positions at community colleges? While not truly self-employed, most colleges offer a large degree of autonomy, and you also get the perks of a larger employer — steady salary, less risk, benefits, retirement plan, etc. Just wanted to throw that out there.

  2. Amy Says:

    It’s a good idea. College teaching jobs are fun, and pay pretty well. It’s also great to work part time, especially while you start up your business.

  3. Jonathan Says:

    Start tutoring now while you keep your current job. If things pick up you could leave it. Keep your eyes open for other opportunities. Nothing to it… 🙂

  4. normalboy Says:

    Yes, I’ve considered teaching at colleges. I’m reluctant to reapply mostly because of my own insecurities, but I probably should do it.

    After all, if both of you guys think I should, that’s a strong indication that it’s a very good idea. 🙂

  5. normalboy Says:

    A big reason why I’m strongly considering all of this is because I don’t want to keep my current job anymore. I know it’s not financially responsible to drop a steady paycheck right now, but it’s getting to be too awkward at work. I’m always on pins and needles around my boss, and I honestly don’t see an end to this discomfort for as long as I’m working with this company.

    • Amy Says:

      Tutoring is always slower over summer… but it’s good to to part time. Why not reapply? The first time I applied to the school where I am, I didn’t get an interview. I reapplied 6 months later, and got the job…. Keep on applying. Keep good records, and just keep sending ’em out.

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