Some of you may have seen my latest post over on Pocket Changed titled “Why Your Job May Be Smothering Your Entire Life’s Existence.” Caleb has this amazing ongoing post series from guest authors he calls “Cubicle Renegade Escape Story.” These stories showcase readers’ real-life experiences with quitting their (often) dull cubicle jobs to head into the unknown world of entrepreneurship.
But after I wrote up my post and sent it on to Caleb I had this feeling that I was omitting something from my story. I felt something was not 100% in line with his purpose or what readers wanted to hear.
What readers (including myself) want to hear is how I quit my job, started my own business and am happier than ever. But the truth is that I did quit my job and I am happier than ever, but I’m not solely working for myself. I still report to “the man.”
Are you one of these people? Someone who dreams of the day you can work for yourself and no one else? Someone who can’t wait to get out of the rat race and enjoy the world as you know it can be?
Ask yourself, why is this lifestyle so appealing?
If you’re like me then your answer is simple: freedom.
When you work for yourself you are free to do what you want. Wake up when you want. Work on what you want. Talk to who you want. Life is now in your hands.
And although I still work for the “the man,” I have found a sense of this freedom I was looking for. After writing my post for Caleb I wanted to help others out and advise that you don’t have to work for yourself 100% to be free, but I restrained. It felt dream crushing. It felt…mean.
But then I saw this post by Jonathon Fields.
And then this one the very same day by Penelope Trunk.
So here it is.
My story is that I quit my job, moved to a small town, and was hired by a ski resort. In my mind, the ski resort was my ticket to the small town I wanted to live in. Nothing more. I’d be there for a year or so while I prepped my business and then I’d quit. Time to pursue my freedom.
But here I am, more than 11 months later, with no intentions on quitting. Still working for someone else and gathering my bi-weekly paychecks. But I did find my freedom – at least partially.
As Jonathon states in his post, the second you ask for money, you lose a piece of your freedom. Your customers now own you. Yes, you could continue only making what you want but if your business wants to survive, you need money and you get that money from your customers. There’s no way around it.
Poor Business Ideas For Freedom
In my last job I dreamt up quite a few random companies I could start to allow myself to find this freedom I looked for.
I could make skis
I could be a photographer
I could build tiny homes
I could start a snowboard shop
I could start a business selling my wife’s paintings and creative creations (okay…this one has potential to truly give me “freedom”)
There’s a simple problem with all of these ideas. They all depend on customers. Yes, I can make skis and have a fun time building something, but if nobody is buying them then I’m out of business.
It’s almost impossible to find true freedom in our careers.
I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer about being free in your job but I’ve been fortunate enough in the last year to realize that just because we spend the majority of our lives working doesn’t mean freedom only comes from that same work.
3 Uncommon Places I Found Freedom
- You are a product of your environment. If you live in a place that is uninspiring to you, where you feel caged in, you will not be free. Plain and simple. If you hate the smog of the city and the hour commute but you love your job, you will always have that small dissatisfaction that life could be better. This is a big reason why I moved. I still pull into the parking lot where I work and am amazed at the natural beauty of my view. When I walk in the door everyone is happy to be there. I mean genuinely happy – not that fake shit. This makes it easy to feel free when doing my job.
- Freedom is in the hobby, not the job. As I mentioned earlier, the minute you turn to others to be free, it’s gone. Hobbies keep things simple. You do it for yourself and no one else. If you build something and someone wants to buy it, great! But let it happen, don’t count on their friend buying another one. Luckily for me, snowboarding is one of those things. It is one of the few things I can do where I feel completely free. Once again, it doesn’t hurt that my desk is 10 seconds from a chairlift.
- Try new things. There is almost no better feeling of freedom than trying something new that scares the shit out of you and completing it. This last weekend I took my first flying lesson where I took off, ascended, made some turns, descended, and 50% landed a plane completely on my own. I’ve never even been in a two-seater plane before, let alone fly one. But let me tell you, the high I was on for the rest of the weekend (and still!) was unbeatable.
Can you work for yourself and be free? Hell yes.
Can you work for yourself, make money to continue working for yourself, not count on others’ support, and still be free. Probably not.
We all want to be happy and we link this happiness to our freedom. Having a job we enjoy and having the freedom to do what we want sounds amazing. But, unfortunately, for 99% of us it’s just not possible.
But all is not lost. You can still be free. Just be honest with yourself. You perceive ‘control’ as ‘freedom.’ When you look at someone who looks free it’s because they seem to have control over their lives, over their outcomes.
Take a minute to look at how you can control your life right now. Don’t let your job run itself. Don’t let others tell you how to live your life. If you want to do something, then do it. Figure out a way to make it happen and freedom will follow. The more often you turn the controls back over to you the more often you’ll realize you’re happy with your life.
What did I do? I found a job in a place surrounded by people who are truly inspiring. A job that is not so life consuming that I can’t do anything else. I’ve pushed myself to try new things, see new places, and find freedom where it’s hiding. It just so happened that it was hiding in all the places I never looked.