How to Become Your Own Boss (while working for someone else)

05/17/2017 03:55 pm ET

Alright, so we’ve all heard how great it is to become your own boss, but let’s get serious here - for some people it is just not a possibility.

So if you are one of the many people who don’t have the means, the drive, or know-how to start your own business, here are some useful tips to help you at the very least, become the boss of your own work life:

1- Set and stick to a schedule that works for you

You are not a slave. I repeat – You are not a slave, or an indentured servant, or a criminal serving time. You are a respectable, hard working, adult who is just trying to make a buck and live a comfortable life. So why are you giving away all of your time?

People at work tend to feel guilty saying no when asked to work overtime or stay late or come in early, when really the only person they should be thinking of is themselves. Your hours are your hours.

If you want to be your own boss at your job, set a schedule that works for your life and stick to it. Your job is not worth your sanity, your family time, or your hobbies. If refusing to work overtime will cost you your job, consider this a blessing in disguise. You should not have to compromise your precious personal time to fit into the schedule of an inconsiderate manager.

2- Assert yourself and set an expectation of respect

Speak your mind – with acknowledgement and respect for higher-ups. You can always begin your sentences with, “Respectfully, sir/madam…” and add your thought to make sure that you are coming across with respect for authority, even when disagreeing. Staying quiet at the job will leave you more vulnerable to being bullied or taken advantage of. Showing people that you have confidence and are not afraid to stand up for yourself will put you in a better position for happiness on the job. People will have to think twice before assigning a tedious task to you that they could simply do themselves if they think of you as a “take no baloney” kind of person.

3- Develop an expertise

Become the best at what you do. Developing an expertise within your job will make you more valuable and when budget cuts arise, you will stand out as someone that they need to hold onto. Being the “go-to” person for a particular task will also give you flexibility in your work schedule, as people will need to accommodate your schedule to have their projects taken care of.

4- Build and maintain professional relationships

Maintaining some mystery might work in the dating world, but in the working environment, keeping to yourself can make you vulnerable to people talking behind your back, assigning extra work for you, and assuming that you are “off” in some way. It is understandable why some people prefer to stay under the radar in the work place but those who become truly successful know how to create and maintain professional relationships.

Of course, there is a fine line between professional and personal relationships so always be careful not to divulge too much information about your personal life to a coworker or boss, but having good relations with your peers can help you move up the ladder. Accept the invitation to go out for lunch or happy hour and attend those retirement parties. In the end, good work relations can help you keep your job.

5- Don’t be afraid of getting what you want

Everything you want in life is on the other side of fear. Pull up your bootstraps and go for it. Being your own boss means you are willing to take risks for future successes. If you want a promotion, ask for it. If you want time off, ask for it. If you want a raise, ask for it. Failures happen – they are part of life – they are not your enemy. You are your enemy if you choose not to go after what you want in life.

Your boss is not primarily concerned with your happiness, therefore you must be. You are the only one responsible for your life satisfaction. We tend to trick ourselves into thinking otherwise – into believing that it is truly someone else weighing us down and keeping us stuck, but it actually is ourselves. Now that you know that fact, do something about it.

You’re a boss now. You’ve got this.

Alyson Cohen, LCSW is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in NYC specialized in helping teens, families, and young adults live their best life. For more information, please visit her website at www.alysoncohentherapy.com

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