This past week, I have been thinking a lot about freedom and what it means to my life and to the lives of my clients. It could have something to do with us travelling and experiencing the wonders of Greece, but that is just a catalyst of finding some form of freedom. Freedom means different things to different people, in it’s simplest form it means, “the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants.” “A state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”. For me, freedom means the ability to do the things that I want to do with the people I want to do them with, when we want to do them. This may sound idealistic, but I’m not referring to going on holiday once a month, or sticking it to the man because I want they day off. It’s more about realising what is important in your life now and into the future and doing something about it.
When discussing freedom with my clients and what it means to them, there are generally two mindsets that I encounter. There are those who believe that freedom is something they can only achieve in the future and want to plan for it now ie: retirement and then there are those who want freedom now at all costs and they too plan for it on a day to day basis. In each of the above mindsets they have undertaken to plan, which in my line of business is great, but they are also unknowingly sacrificing one thing for the other, not having freedom now but for the sake of being able to have it later and not having it later for the sake of having it now. In each of those examples a trade off is happening and generally when a trade off happens we loose something to gain something else. The problem with a freedom trade off is that you are left feeling unfulfilled in some way.
I look at freedom and I strive for a freedom where I can experience it daily, weekly monthly and yearly, little wins each day roll up into a lifetime of successes and they make the feeling of freedom real and achievable. If I can spend an extra hour with my son during the day, that’s freedom. If the family can have a Sunday afternoon braai together, that’s a freedom win. If we can get away for a weekend here and there, that’s freedom and if we can take a family trip once a year then I am living my freedom my NOW freedom. I look at my parents and the lives they lived and we did live a great life, but their BIG freedom was always coming, it was always going to be at my fathers retirement and THEN they where going to do all the things they didn’t do before because of the commitments they had with my sister and I. They had delayed their big freedom events and that is what most people tend to do, but the problem with that is that life isn’t a dress rehearsal, we only get one life and we don’t know what’s around the corner. Sadly my father passed away 3 years before his retirement, not having got to live the freedom he and my mom had always planned for. This experience has had a big impact on the way that I deal with my clients and their freedom. We need a freedom plan for NOW and into the FUTURE and this is how we do it:
- What does it look like to you?
Is it working less hours to spend more time with the ones you love? Is it working more hours to take an extra day off once a month? Is it being present when you do have the time with those who matter? Is it being able to take that fishing trip, or attend those pottery classes, or even just having the time to get to the gym.
- What does it cost?
Everything we do has a cost, a trade-off so to speak. Working less hours could mean earning less money, what does that mean to you? Working more hours could mean more money so you can spend it on the things you want? We need to know what our freedom costs.We have identified what it is worth to us, but what will it cost to make it happen? What’s your number now, and what’s that number into the future?
- What do we need to do to make it happen, now and into the future?
Once we know what freedom looks like for us, now and down the line and we know what it’s going to cost us in terms of money, time and trade-offs, we then just have to tie the two together and figure out how we make it happen. This sounds very simple and it probably is, but we don’t actually get around to doing it.We delay implementing the things that will help us achieve our freedoms, because deep down it takes commitment, it takes trade-offs, it takes being accountability for your lifestyle now and into the future and if we are completely honest, it is a little overwhelming, it’s easier to just contribute each month to the company pension fund and hope that your retirement FREEDOM will come and that you will have enough.
Life is not about slaving away, day after day, so that you can make ends meet, so that you can take care of your responsibilities and then when you’re old and fragile, finally experience your freedom. You can experience your freedom now, you deserve to take responsibility for your happiness and do the things that fulfill you NOW, do what you need to do to make your FREEDOM happen.