Not too long ago I was still part of the rat race. I was working a job that I didn’t like for a company that didn’t resonate with my perception of how I think we should treat each other. I was what I felt on a dead end, I needed to job for the money, it was difficult in our situation to switch to a ‘better’ job and I had put many constraints for myself as to why starting for myself would be very complicated.
Over time, I had convinced myself that starting for myself would cost too much money, that I needed a significant investment upfront and that I simply was not in the position to do so. I convinced myself that I should follow the paradigm that our society creates for us. Finish your education, probably like me with a huge student debt, and work your way up the ladder to pay back the money and contribute to society.
For some reason, I feel that this limits my possibilities and the situation at my previous company mentally pushed me over the edge. In a way, I feel spoiled or entitled to even think this way, but after working for a little short of 2 years, I simply couldn’t do it anymore.
A blessing in disguise
June marked a month that my previous company pushed through with a long anticipated organizational restructuring. I, with many of my colleagues, was laid off with immediate effect.
After I got the news I remember taking care of all the last issues that I was working on. After all, I still wish the company the best for the future and I hope other don’t have to follow the faith of me and my colleagues. Walking out the door for the last time I remember the feeling. One part of me felt like I was rejected, but something else was there and slowly that fire started burning, I was free!
Being laid off is terrible in a way that you realize that after that last paycheck, it will be a very long time until you get paid again. That is terrifying, especially when you have bills to pay. Luckily for Teresa and I we saw it coming, so we prepared and saved up some money. The face that we don’t have any significant bills or responsibilities also added to our flexibility.
In the wake of being laid off the one thing that remained was the feeling of finally being free, free to chase my dreams and chase my own successes and failures. I do realize that you lose part of your identity, people often ask what it is you ‘do’, working for a big company instantly answers such questions. Now when people ask me with I do, it is often more difficult to give a clear answer, but I embrace the opportunity to make that very clear in the future!
I have always been interested in lifestyle design. I remember reading The 4 Hour Workweek for the first time and feeling that it all made total sense to me. For me, one of the big takeaways for Tim’s work is that we often overcomplicate things for ourselves by enforcing boundaries as why something is not possible.
We think we can’t live a life full of richness, but how can we say that when we haven’t even defined what a life full of richness is to you. The number often is far lower than we think. Even for those imagining a life with unlimited luxury, the actual costs of having such life is not the billion number that we think it is.
To me, lifestyle design is all about freedom. Sure I like nice cars or yacht, but do I really want or need that… Nah. For me, freedom is all about working on my own terms, having the time to, spend with the people I care about and do the things I want. For me earning money is a tool to do those things and also a tool to create more freedom for me in the future. For me, money is not the game itself.
Maybe for you money is the end game, and that’s fine. At least it gives you a clear number of what you should work towards. Again the number is often lower than you think. There are countless strategies to work towards your financial freedom quicker and expect to see more about this topic in future posts.
For now, I challenge you to define the following:
- What is it that you work for (e.g. financial reasons, help others, personal fulfillment, etc.);
- What does freedom mean to you (e.g. financial freedom, luxury, traveling, spending time with family, being your own boss, etc.);
- What is your freedom number (i.e. how much money do you need to achieve what you wrote for point 2);
- Now define your strategy to change your lifestyle
Strategy to change your lifestyle
Once you have defined what freedom is to you and what it is you work for, you get to fill in the gaps. This does not necessarily mean that you have to be your own boss or make 180-degree changes to your life.
If you for example work for personal fulfillment or to help others it is very much possible that you can achieve this with a normal job, it depends on what works for you. If you need just a little bit more money to reach your goals, you can either up your savings and investment game or you could create a stream of additional (online) income.
The point of the exercise is to create the awareness that often things are easier in reality than we make them be. Often we only need to change a small aspect of our life to make a big impact. Find out what it is that matters to you and work from there.
Being my own boss
I have also defined for myself what work, money and freedom mean to me. I do not work only to earn money. In my work and the content that I push out there I want to inspire others, push people outside their comfort zone and honestly assess how they could live the life they want and deserve.
When I was still working corporate I was not meeting my personal goals and after being laid off the only logical solution was to launch U.P Holding where I will work towards my personal goals and freedom.
I am still starting out and I sometimes still need to take side assignments to make the end of the month, I am honest about that. But I have good faith that I am heading in the right direction and I hope that my story encourages you to do the same.
What about you?
What is the main purpose that you work and what does freedom mean to you? I am looking forward hearing about your personal situation in the comments below. Now it is your turn, assess your life and where you could make improvements.
Think of a ripple effect, define which stone to toss in the water and experience the incremental improvements in your life. You are awesome and good luck!