You need to be your own manager
One of the joys of working for myself is that I don't have a boss or manager to report to. Yes, I still "report" to someone in some capacity, whether it's a program manager or team lead or client, but no one is getting into the nitty gritty of directing my work and doing periodic check-ins and growing my career or whatever it is managers do.
Unfortunately, the downsides of not having a manager is that you have to manage yourself!
Here are my bad work habits that a good manager might help mitigate:
- Deep procrastination on work I don't want to do
- Inconsistently communicating project updates
- Working on cool ideas that the client doesn't really want
- Not getting along with other contractors on the team
- Staying stagnant in my professional skills
One of the ironies of the solo 1099 life is that it's possible you became a 1099 to rid yourself of a bad manager, but in the end you got a worse one: yourself!
I don't have any great tips on being a good manager for yourself. There are some professional habits that you could work on establishing (sending a weekly client update e-mail, blocking off time to work on side projects to gain new skills, etc.), but I agree with Venkatesh Rao, the author I quoted at the top is to choose projects that suit you.