Financial Freedom May Not Be What You Really Want

Financial Freedom May Not Be What You Really Want

Money

2

min read

When it comes to money, the message most of us absorb from an early age is this: the more of it you have, the more satisfied you'll be. 

So in pursuit of this "financial freedom," we will choose job after job based solely on how much it pays, or obsess over each new "get rich" trend, whether it be investing in crypto, property, or stocks.

In this narrative, money is the most urgent pursuit because it's the means to eventually getting all that we want. What is left out of this story is the cost of this pursuit -- everything we give up (e.g., time with loved ones, joy in one's work, energy for the things that make us happy) and a sense of inadequacy that never goes away.

Truth be told, "financial freedom" -- as defined by our society and accepted without scrutiny -- is not freedom at all.

Here are a couple of questions that have helped me and the clients I work with free ourselves of unhealthy relationships with money.

1) Ask yourself “What does success look like for me if no-one was watching?”

Unless we intentionally determine and articulate what “ideal” is for us, our brains will simply assume the pictures of success that we’ve been exposed to, in a corporatized capitalist culture. The constant comparison will obscure the things that actually bring us joy. 

Consider your current content. Kids or no kids? Partner or no partner? New job, no job or lifelong job? Paying off a mortgage or renting or neither? Supporting elderly parents or other dependents? 

Now that you’ve named your reality:  what would you deem as success if no one was watching? As your head hits the pillow at night, what are the moments you remember that allow you to say, “this was a good day?”

For me, in this season, success includes having some undistracted connection with God and my wife and two boys each day, engaging in a meaningful conversation that helps someone step towards a more flourishing life, getting my body moving, exposure to a new culture or learning experience and of course a daily coffee :)

That’s me. What’s your true definition of success? 

2) Align your “money out” to support your redefined success

Redefining success directs our attention, naturally and importantly to the "money out" side of life, rather than the "money in" side that commonly dominates our lives.

It’s taken time for me to learn how to allocate my resources to support the the commitments I’ve made to myself and others, whether that is paying for new experiences, investing in personal coaching to help keep me on track with what is truly important, or supporting organizations that are doing work that I feel most connected to. 

Aligning my spending with my newly defined, holistic view of success has given me a sense of freedom now — not in some uncertain future point in which I’ve “made enough.”

And, interestingly, as I paid more attention to aligning my “money out” to support what ideal success was for me, I found the actual “money in” I needed was significantly lower than I originally thought and I didn’t need to spend as much energy on that side of things! 

Rather than simply accepting the burden that can come with the “financial freedom” buzz, may you and I step towards experiencing the true life freedom on offer for you now and learn to master money rather than being mastered by it.

Live whole,

James

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