Author Topic: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.  (Read 9535 times)

mubington

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4 years ago I set out to create a passive income solo online business, I have acheived my basic goals. Hhowever, I'm finding the lifestyle a bit isolating and lonely. The company is not big enough to hire senior staff  and the role lacks peer interaction or feedback. I don't think it's the remote aspect that bugs me. It's frustrating not having a boss or any kind coworkers.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 04:00:13 AM by mubington »

Self-employed-swami

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What about talking to a counsellor about your isolation issues?  I'd think that volunteering should fill the office-less gap.

mubington

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I thought this is might be a familar problem for early retirees, as it takes a certain kind of effort and motivation to achieve financial independence, which is not very compatible with a relaxed existence outside of the workplace?
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 04:00:42 AM by mubington »

needmyfi

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You may have some deeper issues here and SWAMI is right that a counsellor may help.  That may take sometime to figure out.  Since you only work 10 hours a week get a parttime job in the meantime.  Don't by any means let it interfere with your existing gig.  If the job doesn't work out you still have the fu option.  Forget the type of job, look for what is called the "target rich environment " where you will maximize your exposure to people who might develop into potential friends or life partners.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2012, 11:07:24 AM by needmyfi »

totoro

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What about trying a personal dev program. I did the Choices program with Thelma Box. Found it worthwhile.

Feelings of isolation might point to need for emotional dev and not just change in external circs - worth a look!

If u want to DIY I recommend doing a vision board and then some concrete steps u can take with timelines.

Internet dating works if u are worked out.

just_a_little

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Thanks for posting this, mubington. I'm striving to do something similar and I expect to be ditching my office job by July. I have always enjoyed spending time alone and am looking forward to being more productive without all the little office distractions, but lately I've noticed that I do enjoy the chit-chat and jokes with co-workers every day. I've been realizing that I may find working at home quite lonely, and your post helps make this possibility more concrete.

What about joining or starting a networking group with other small business owners in your area, or even finding one other business owner or other peer to meet with regularly? You could bounce business ideas off of each other, vent about frustrations--it would be a way to get the kind of colleague interaction you're craving and build friendships with those in a similar position. You could agree to take on special projects or business ventures together to satisfy your desire to work WITH others.

Or is there the possibility of expanding your current business to take on new or bigger goals, which could lead to there being a role for someone who could work alongside you?

What sort of volunteering did you try? If it was something relatively low commitment, like doing shifts at an animal shelter or helping out at a charity event, maybe you need to get in deeper and take on a bigger project that will require substantial teamwork with others.

And this may not be a mustachian solution, but as an alternative to the therapist you could hire a life coach to help you set (social?) challenges and push you to achieve more, similar to the way a boss or co-workers might. Since it sounds like marriage and a family may help, perhaps working towards that goal would give you more fulfillment.

I'm assuming you've read the 4 Hour Work Week, like many who are doing what you're doing (or want to)--but if you haven't there's a whole chapter in there towards the end on "Filling the Void" that addresses this issue.

I'd be curious to know if these suggestions are helpful or if I've missed the mark.

Meg

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A lot of people who are awkward socially just don't pick up on the social cues that other people give out.  That causes all kinds of social interaction problems.

Look for an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) course near you.  They have exercises that will increase your ability to recognize all the signals that people put out (plus help you better understand yourself and interact with people better as a bonus).

happy

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 I thought about your post for a while....You seem to be saying you are feeling the need for meaningful interaction with like minded people.  You are right in my experience, being a boss is lonely....bosses usually get support/interaction from other bosses, not their staff.

You flip around  (sorry I don't mean this rudely)suggesting a range of possibilities from getting another job, to finding a partner etc....which suggests to me that its a bigger issue than mental stimulation at work.

I wonder what led you to start the online passive income business in the first place? Was it the challenge? Or did you want to work less? Or did you find the work environment unpleasant?

I agree with the others who suggested you spend some time on personal development/ reflection  to better understand this. If you find what you need is a buddy/companion/close friend or partner, figure out a plan and step some steps to find some people and develop relationships.  If what you crave is serious intellectual conversation/endeavour, consider taking a course on something interesting. As an aside I recently finished a master's which I did for fun in an area I was interested in. The weekly seminar turned out to be the highlight of my week..a few hours spent with motivated likeminded people, discussing and grappling with new concepts together......Of course you could get a part-time job and this may fit the bill, but maybe that's just how you dealt with these feelings in the past, so its an easy fix but not satisfying your need in the long term..

gooki

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Have you considered teaming up with a business mentor?

mubington

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Thanks for all the super useful replies. Finding a mentor is a good idea. And part time job is a good idea. I will definitely pursue these.

« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 04:01:13 AM by mubington »

LowER

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2012, 07:27:03 AM »
My mother once said that if we had 5 lifetimes to figure it all out, no one would need a therapist. When she said it, I thought it was cute. 25 years later, I know it was true. I wish you all the best.

totoro

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2012, 07:40:56 AM »
Gosh - I don't want to leave the impression that you I think you have "deeper problems".   And, BTW, who couldn't benefit from emotinal growth???

I think you are fine but it is the unhappy bits that point out ways to grow.  The fabulous thing is that you can change if you feel the need and know how.  It is more of solving the emotional mystery than having a problem.  It is not always easy for logical folks who are "smart" to understand and connect with the emotional stuff.  It ends up seeming impossible, when really it is pretty simple. 

Put some time into it - just like you did with the passive income. 

Also, I really like the mentor suggestion - they will get a lot out of it too.

Bakari

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2012, 08:41:22 AM »
A partner, children and family would no doubt keep me busy, but this feels a long way off as working alone I  don't feel like meet anybody that meets my expectations in my my very limited circle...

...I am quite socially awkward and have never had much luck forming relationships outside of college/work.

I am boarder-line Asperger's, and am terrible at recognizing social ques.
When I was in school I had lots of like-minded friends, found a long-term girlfriend, then at jobs my coworkers weren't really like-minded, but at least it was social interaction.

Then when I became divorced and self-employeed (pretty much at the same time), basically no social interaction.

My solution was online dating (www.okcupid.com/profile/JacobAziza), which allowed me to find not only potential partners (including my current girlfriend) but also a number of friends who were not quite romantic matches but who I get along with much better than average.  Several people I met that way have remained friends years after we stopped dating.

Two part-time jobs (at the community bikeshop and the Coast Guard Reserve) allow me some more human interaction, and since I am self-employeed I have the free-time / flexible schedule / income to afford to have a couple low paying part-time jobs.
And on top of all that, I consider my MMORPG leagues and of course the MMM discussion boards, to be legitimate forms of social interaction as well.  I talk about Grant and James and IP Daley to my girlfriend in the same way I talk about my friends from work.  What difference does it make whether we have been in the same room?  I have more indepth stimulating conversation consistently on the net than I ever had in college.

shadowmoss

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2012, 09:33:20 AM »
Years ago the Small Business Administration had mentoring groups.  If they still do in your area, perhaps meet up with them.  Doesn't matter which side of the bench you end up on, mentoring people with startups or being mentored by now-retired businessmen/women, you may find someone to bounce ideas around with and get the business chit chat you are looking for.

needmyfi

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2012, 01:41:21 PM »
Good luck mubington.  I think you have a good handle on your lack of satisfaction  which is more than half of the battle.  You have been able to accomplish some pretty impressive things in your life already and if you find the right environment/social support your life will be even more fulfilling.  Don't forget that you have made some wise decisions that have given you control over your own destiny which every here admires. 

DoubleDown

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2012, 02:06:52 PM »
I think you are absolutely right that it is just plain easier and more natural to form relationships at places like work, where you are seeing the same people (usually) day-in and day-out. You mentioned this was also the case at college, which is another natural place to be seeing the same people all the time (and I completely agree).

I think the answer is right there: Seek out places where you will consistently see the same people of similar interests, and relationships will naturally develop. If that's a part-time workplace, go for it. Signing up for some classes in things that interest you could be a great place to start as well, particularly where the subject matter naturally invites working with people (study groups, projects, whatever). Or going anywhere that is of interest to you where "regulars" will congregate will work as well. The YMCA, church groups, dog park, whatever. By just being in the same place on a recurring basis with the same people, I'll bet you'd be able to strike up some relationships without having to work too hard at it.

By the way, I don't think your experience is unusual, at all. In this age of "globalization" and more and more tech/internet use, it is VERY easy to become isolated from our fellow man.

frugalcalan

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2012, 03:20:23 PM »
At 32 years old...a partner, children and family would no doubt keep me busy, but this feels a long way off as working alone I  don't feel like meet anybody that meets my expectations in my my very limited circle.

Dude, you are 32.  If having a family is important to you, I suggest spending some time pursing that.  You little swimmers won't stay perfectly viable forever, and in less than a decade your chances of having developmentally disabled children starts to go up.

skyrefuge

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2012, 04:32:58 PM »
My solution was online dating (www.okcupid.com/profile/JacobAziza)

Reading this, I just realized that it was your mention of OkCupid about 5 weeks ago that led me to read their blog and then sign up (and then go on a bunch of dates and be ridiculously anti-Mustachian, wooo!)  Anyway, it's kinda funny, but I'm not at all surprised to find that we're a 95% match. Hooray for compatibility algorithms!

So yeah, online dating (and OkCupid specifically) was the first (but perhaps not only) thing I thought of when reading the OP's message.

Bakari

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2012, 06:23:15 PM »
My solution was online dating (www.okcupid.com/profile/JacobAziza)

Reading this, I just realized that it was your mention of OkCupid about 5 weeks ago that led me to read their blog and then sign up (and then go on a bunch of dates and be ridiculously anti-Mustachian, wooo!)  Anyway, it's kinda funny, but I'm not at all surprised to find that we're a 95% match. Hooray for compatibility algorithms!

So yeah, online dating (and OkCupid specifically) was the first (but perhaps not only) thing I thought of when reading the OP's message.

I take it you must be browsing anonymously?  I have no 95% visitors from Chicago in my list.

Yeah, I tried most of the most popular sites, and found the highest quality to be the free one.  Not just the best "value" because it's free, but the best overall, at any price.  I've found the match percentages do pretty much predict how well I will like someone in real life, and that helps cut through a lot of people when one is very particular about what they are looking for.

Dude, you are 32.  If having a family is important to you, I suggest spending some time pursing that.  You little swimmers won't stay perfectly viable forever, and in less than a decade your chances of having developmentally disabled children starts to go up.

That's what adoption is for, silly! 
No need to go with the first potential partner that comes along, just for fear of losing the chance to breed.

mm1970

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2012, 10:00:05 PM »
At 32 years old...a partner, children and family would no doubt keep me busy, but this feels a long way off as working alone I  don't feel like meet anybody that meets my expectations in my my very limited circle.

Dude, you are 32.  If having a family is important to you, I suggest spending some time pursing that.  You little swimmers won't stay perfectly viable forever, and in less than a decade your chances of having developmentally disabled children starts to go up.

Geez, it's still low though.

Togoshiman

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2012, 09:51:53 AM »
OP, I'm going to go in a different direction here.  First of all, bravo for recognizing early on you wanted freedom and control over your life.  Bravo as well for setting an ambitious goal and then achieving it.  What this all says to me is not that you need to get back into the rat race, but that you need a new hill to climb.  You don't need counselling/coaching or networking or local chamber of commerce membership - you need a Ph.D.  Or you need to open a second business restoring classic muscle cars and build it into something real.  Or you need to move to Spain, study Renaissance art and write a book.  Or you need to hike across Africa blogging about it.  And so on.

To be clear, I'm not talking busybody work which distracts you from some free-floating existential dread.  I'm talking about setting a challenging, meaningful goal for yourself and then accomplishing it.  What do you really want to do in life?  Who do you really want to be?  Do you deep down wish you spoke three languages?  Or went to law school (er, don't, my advice)? Or became the CEO of a worthwhile charity?  Then that's your Point B and you are at Point A now.  Your business gives you a baseline income and stability from which you can pursue those other goals.  Reading your original post, it just jumped out at me that you seem to be a goal-oriented person (I am as well) and everything you describe seems to me to be related to not having clear goals right now.

That kind of big goal setting will accomplish many other things too.  It will get you in contact with like-minded people, including potential significant others, mentors, friends and colleagues.  It will give you a sense of purpose and drive for the other 30-50 hours a week you might want to be working.  It will help you feel you are not just filling time as a partially-retired person.

So, go get a black belt, your sommelier license, get your Japanese up to par and become a real estate agent.  Just get going!!  I'm frankly envious because I can't get out of the rat race for several more years and every single thing I listed above appeals to me, if only I had the time and financial foundation.  You do - time to reap the rewards of your labours.

Keep us posted.


Lagom

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2012, 10:04:43 AM »
I align more with Togoshiman on this one. If you want less extreme options, I would recommend joining the local chamber of commerce and seeking out roles on various nonprofit or professional development association boards. There are often some very experienced people on those boards and I have developed some great mentor relationships by pursuing this path. The variety of people attracted to nonprofit leadership is also very interesting and stimulating. Finally, it's very satisfying work compared to more run of the mill volunteering.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2012, 11:52:59 AM »
Hah, I was in your exact boat. Online business, almost completely outsourced, basically passive income, nothing much to do besides work out and watch Arrested Development in my underwear.  I don't consider myself especially socially awkward, but I do find it very difficult to reach out and find friends around almost complete strangers, especially if those strangers aren't likely to have much at all in common with me. Even if you do, I feel like most people are just naturally going to congregate with those who are in their social circle anyways.

OKCupid was actually kind of nice, but I found that the women generally fell into the categories of "extremely tall", "extremely short", "extremely fat" and "I just moved to this city and don't really know anyone yet". The latter was probably the best category. If people like your profile you should get an email a few weeks after you sign up saying you're in the top half of attractive people and claims you'll see more attractive people, but I didn't really see too much. Still found a girlfriend, and that was alright.

I ended up going to law school, of all places. Finishing up my first semester, really enjoying it. It's pretty low stress when your future livelihood and ability to repay an enormous pile of debt aren't at stake. Plus I find a lot in common with my peers and hang out a lot with them. It's a lot different being financially independent and completely untied to really any place when you're young and single instead of married with kids.

Togoshiman

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2012, 01:06:38 PM »
I told you all that law school was the one thing you shouldn't do!!??  (jk - have fun).

zoltani

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Re: Struggling to adjust to the social isolation of an independent lifestyle.
« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2012, 01:19:33 PM »
What about coworking spaces?  I know that here in Seattle there are large spaces that are geared towards independent contractors, work-at home people, or people who work for themselves.  They were developed to tackle the exact feelings you are having, to have a sense of space and community for independent workers.

What city are you in and are their coworking spaces there?

Here is an example of one in Seattle:
http://www.themakersspace.com/