Freedom. It's something I've been thinking about lately as so many of my clients tell me they want financial freedom, time freedom, the ability to just do whatever whenever... but the question I've been asking lately is "Are you sure?"
I ask them, "if I dropped a bucket of a billion dollars on your doorstep and you actually never had to work again and you had all the time in the world, what would you do with your time?"
Out of nearly a hundred times that I've asked this question, the answers all seem to come back very similar. People say they want to travel, spend time with family and maybe live in a beach house somewhere cool. Sometimes people mention volunteering of some sort or starting a small business but the ideas are very vague.
I've realized this is often a fantasy that holds no real weight. Because even if you did all those things, it may entertain you for a year or so... but then what?
The truth is, if you became "financially free" overnight, it's a possibility that your reality would look quite differently after the initial high rubs off. For example, you would automatically be playing life by different rules, the rest of the world would still be consumed and busy. You on the other hand could potentially sleep all day, everyday, and you would never even need to be anywhere at anytime.
Sound good? Maybe for a week. But my bet is you would quickly realize that you have no real reasons to get out of bed at all. You wouldn't really have a big reason to strive for anything or accomplish any career goals. For some, you would feel like you have no mountain to climb which would mean that the pure essence of fulfillment would disappear from your life. You wouldn't be needed by anyone, no one to report to or be kept accountable to. Again, no reason to even get out of bed some days... and would anyone even notice? It's such a busy world we live in and with so much time on your hands, what would you really do?
Here's the truth. Chances are if I dropped a bucket of a billion dollars on your doorstep within 3 months you would be depressed and feeling completely lost and useless.
How do I know this?
Because I also work with clients who do have the buckets of money. They've worked hard, they've made it, they're financially free ... and... they're empty. They have no reason to wake up in the morning. They could sleep all day and no one would even question it. And they come to me with emptiness and deprivation of aliveness because they've spent their entire life striving for financial freedom and time freedom only to find it out it's a lonely and boring place to be. These people often ask me, even beg me, to tell them what to just do with their time and life because they don't know how to handle this space.
Of course, everyone doesn't fall into this category.
There are many people I know that are truly financially free, but this wasn't their primary life goal. They had a mission to do something incredible in the world, which mixed with smart financial decisions, has led them to become financially free. Money is not the reason they strive, it's simply a byproduct of their life's work which they will continue to do well beyond retirement age.
So, I think there needs to be a better conversation in terms of what we are truly striving for. Having "financial freedom" as a primary goal just doesn't work.
If your end goal is financial freedom, know that it's simply a smoke-and-mirrors illusion that promises happiness and could be the biggest fallacy in our society there is.
The truth is, most of us could well and truly pack our bags and travel and live in a beach hut if we wanted to, right now. We choose not to because of a myriad of reasons like "what will people think of me?" "what will happen after that?" "how will I make money in the future?" We believe that money is the only thing that is holding us back, but in truth, it's our fear of uncertainty that is the true culprit.
This is what I recently realized: I don't think we care as much about financial freedom as we think. We think it will fix all of our problems, but in reality, we are craving a slightly different type of freedom.
- The freedom to be ourselves in a world that is so restricting
- The freedom from the judgment of others
- The freedom from expectations and the pressure of the "shoulds" from our society
- The freedom from our critical mind that can feel so suffocating
- The freedom to stand in a room full of people feeling like we're glowing
- The freedom to be present online and offline in a way that is authentic to us
- The freedom to conquer our mountains and challenges our way without being told what to do and how to do it
- The freedom to say "I lived life my way..."
This is what we really mean when we want freedom. It's not financial freedom or time freedom, it's the freedom to truly be ourselves in a world that is constantly trying to change us and tell us how we should act and speak and be accepted for it.
So I invite you, next time you tell yourself you want to be financially free, ask yourself, "are you sure"? What kind of freedom are you truly craving?
What do you think? What does freedom mean to you?