Archive: Work and Freedom — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

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When we are working, we often think about what those hours will buy. Is this part of a new car, a new HDTV, a new house? We think in terms of money — how much per hour, how much we need to cover our credit card bills, how much to pay the mortgage? I believe, however, that we are buying something much more important with our work hours — something much more precious. We are not just making money or buying “things”, we are actually purchasing little pieces of freedom. When you think about work in this way, it takes on even greater importance in our lives.
Not money or things


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While we might like to believe we have unlimited freedom in today’s society, if you look at your life you will see that that is not quite the case. We have to make compromises every day. We have to make enough money to support ourselves and our families. We have to live where there are sufficient jobs. We have to live in houses that look like all the others. We systematically sell pieces of our freedom so that we may live.

That said, we also need to consider the possibility of buying back some of that freedom every day. Saving money, under-consuming and focusing on those things that are truly important to us can take back moments of freedom that money alone cannot buy. Sometimes we even have to sacrifice money and possessions to regain large chunks of freedom that our friends and neighbors only dream about.

The freedom to…

So what are these moments of freedom?. I will use a few examples from my own life. Over that last 10 years, both my wife and I have “sacrificed” a more “normal” lifestyle in order to achieve a large degree of personal freedom. Sure, we have to work. We have to make money. We have to pay our pills, but we do this more as necessity rather than a focus of our lives. We have given up the stability, prestige and monetary benefits of corporate jobs, but we have gained much more. We gain the freedom to be available to pick up our son each day at school. Since we establish our own work schedules, we can decide to go to the beach on a Wednesday when it’s less crowded and work on Saturday. To a large degree we can choose who we work for and the work that we do. Each hour I spend working yields even more hours of freedom.

We also gain the freedom to be able to work wherever we might be. Sure, my computer consulting business mainly ties me to the city, but I often support clients who travel all over the country. I am also confident that, if necessary or desired, I could reestablish my business in any city of significant size. I have the freedom to work for one person, one company or many, which keeps me from depending on any one source for my income.

Too often, people give lip service to the concept of a balanced career. They complain that they want more time with their family, but they aren’t prepared to give up the 100 inch plasma TV in order to have that time. They feel trapped in their jobs because they have so over-extended their income in buying the trappings of a good life. They HAVE to go to work, otherwise what little outside life they have will falter. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you want to have more time with your family, then you have to work fewer hours, not more. Working more hours, to make more money, actually reduces your free time. Instead, you need to decide to spend less, so you can work fewer hours, and then spend that time with your family. You need to buy freedom, not things.

You cannot buy freedom with money, no matter how hard you work. You can only buy freedom by reducing the amount of money you need to make to support your lifestyle. Once you achieve this, your time with family, the time to explore your interests and the time to live the life you wish will arrive. Remember, you are not simply getting a paycheck each week for your labors. You are buying your freedom.


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