Switching to being self-employed is a brave choice and not for the faint-hearted, but it can be hugely rewarding and much better for your self-esteem, levels of confidence, and mental health in general.

Of course, there’s an element of financial risk, but taking control of your life, your destiny, and how you spend your working days is a hands-down winning formula for many thousands of new entrepreneurs who take the step of being 100% responsible for how they invest their time and energy.

Risk? What risk?

And about that ‘financial risk’? Assuming you have the grit and determination, you follow advice on how to set up your business (there’s plenty of free advice available), produce a clear-eyed business plan, you can minimise risks by transforming them into predictable challenges.

Yes, there are challenges, you might not eat too well some weeks, your social life will suffer and you’ll probably never get the kind of lifestyle that social media stars claim you can have. But, if you are ready to learn as you go along and deal with the inevitable disappointments and setbacks, some low moments and a portion of self-doubt, the riches in terms of your development as a person will set you apart from the herd.

I’ve been there, I still am!

As both a therapist and a workplace consultant I have been heavily involved in helping people improve their quality of working lives and their workplace relationships for over 25 years. I’m also someone who has been self-employed most of my working life, and a serial entrepreneur. I also learned a huge amount from my father, who was self-employed too.

I have been reading a lot lately about how people are responding to the uncertainty of our times by creating so-called ‘lifestyle jobs’ that allow more freedom and satisfaction, as an alternative to the daily grind.

At one time it was older people who opted for the entrepreneurial route, but increasingly younger ones are choosing to earn a living their own way; I read this week about a couple straight out of university who have set up a dog-walking company. According to the same articles in the UK media dog-walkers earn an average of £26,500 a year.

It makes sense to take matters into your own hands and construct a career you like. Apparently, only about 5% of people pick the job that is right for them at the first try, and even if you are lucky enough to find the right fit for you in terms of the work you are expected to do, the pressure of how you are expected to do it can be at best unpleasant, at worst, devastating.

Are you cut out to opt-out?

If you are thinking of opting out of the rat-race I recommend it, but check first if you are cut out for it; self-employment doesn’t suit everyone. We also need reliable people to keep our organisations running (where would we be if we were all working for ourselves?). There’s nothing wrong with being in a regular job, particularly if it suits you and you don’t think of it as a daily grind..

Perhaps you are tempted to create your own career by quitting the daily grind and following your dream.o Or maybe circumstances force you to be self-reliant in earning a living. If either is the case for you it has never been easier, thanks to the Internet, and you can quite literally set up a business with an associated bank account in under an hour. You can also find unlimited business help and advice (also, see my post How to be Self-employed) What you won’t find though, is sensible advice and support about the psychological and emotional factors involved in working for yourself.

Optimism, faith and trust

Being self-employed is not for the faint-hearted. It requires optimism, faith, trust in oneself, ingenuity, belief, and much more. It needs the ability to take risks and try new things. There are plenty of times when it means you have to work without reward, approval or recognition. In short, you’ll be doing what you first and foremost for yourself alone, and do because you believe you can (though there’ll be plenty of times when you doubt that as well).

As you can see, I truly believe that quitting the daily grind and working for yourself and relying on your own talents is a great way to go, just be prepared. If it works for you, you can grow and learn more than you ever expected, and it’s a route that provides something which no regular job can.