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Home > Audio, Podcast > Start building some independence for yourself

Start building some independence for yourself

July 4th, 2008

Career Opportunities podcast logoStart building some independence for yourself
By Douglas E. Welch

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Listen: Start building some independence for yourself

It is the 4th of July, Independence Day here in the US, where we celebrate the founding of our nation. If you haven’t read the declaration recently, there are some truly stirring words to be found there, starting with “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” While we all may be created equal, the circumstances of our lives are quite different. In many cases, we find it hard indeed to seek out “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” in the ways the signers first imagined. We are constrained by so much in society today, both culturally and economically, that we each need to form our own “declaration of independence” and seek out that happiness we all so deserve.

First, in my mind comes economic independence…the ability to choose how and when we make and spend our income. Nothing is so basic as the dollars in our pockets or our bank accounts and yet many of us leave important monetary decisions to others. We allow our confusion of need vs. want to bury us in uncontrolled debt. We make career decisions based solely on the amount of money paid. We let others trap us in cycles of abuse simply because we think we have no other choice. You can start building your economic independence today.

Look at each purchase you are making. Don’t just blindly consume. It is ok to buy a new cell phone, a new computer, a new car, as long as you have considered your needs and how your purchase will fulfill them. Don’t let others make purchasing decisions for you, via advertising or peer pressure. Make the best decision for you. I am sure you find that many of the items you purchase everyday are not really necessary to your overall happiness and, in some cases, might even be making you unhappy, especially when you have to find a way to pay for them.

Save money today so you have a buffer against tough times in the future. The goal is not to deny yourself everything today in case things get bad. Instead, you want to have money in the bank to tide you over in the event of a layoff, plant closure or family crisis. I find that nothing else lends as much peace of mind as knowing that, if needed, you could easily survive for 3-6 months on your savings. It wouldn’t be fun, but it also wouldn’t mean losing your car or your home as well.

The framers of the Declaration of Independence showed great wisdom when they included happiness as an unalienable right. It is happiness that we seek, in all of its forms, no matter where we work or what we do

In terms of your career, just as you might develop an economic buffer, you should also develop a career buffer. Gather new skills as if they were dollars because that is exactly what they are. Skills, experience and education are stepping stones to the next level of your career. Unless you consider your current job perfect, you will want to move and grow. You will want to increase your pay and influence. Skills, experience and education hold the power to do just that.

Next, understand that no job should hold you captive. If you have built up your savings, then money should no longer be a factor when deciding to leave a meaningless or abusive job. You know that you can support yourself while you find another. Still, lack of faith in your own career skills can trap you in jobs you hate because you don’t have confidence in your own abilities. As I often say, “You got this job. You can get another.” You need to remember this. You had skills enough to get your current job. Getting another one, as least as good, should be no problem. Your goal then becomes to improve your position. If you have developed your skills, even this should be only a small problem. You must have a clear view and a faith in the quality of your work, otherwise you will constantly be underemployed and always under the power of those around you.

Declare your own independence today. The framers of the Declaration of Independence showed great wisdom when they included happiness as an unalienable right. It is happiness that we seek, in all of its forms, no matter where we work or what we do. Happiness…a deep, abiding happiness, is what makes life worth living. You either seek happiness for yourself or leave yourself to the whims of those around you.


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