Freedom is a very subjective topic. You will find as many definitions as people you ask.
One of the main tenets of my blog is helping families that are looking for more freedom and adventure in their lives. To do so, required a clear definition of freedom.
It is easy to simply quote some dictionary or wiki, but this wasn’t enough for me. I had to really find a definition that resonated with me.
What I was able to put together is that freedom is the ability to live where and how we want to, without the undue influence of societal expectations and without the need to meet external obligations.
Live where and how we want
To be able to live in a house, an apartment, a mobile home, travel trailer, or even a tepee. How you shelter yourself from the elements should be your own decision. My family and I are working towards selling our house and buying a sailboat that will be our home as we explore the coasts of North America and beyond.
Where we live should have no bearing on how we are viewed. It should have no bearing on our perceived value. Yet so many of us are judged by where we live.
The influence of societal expectations
Why is it that only those people that are driving the latest automobiles, living in large homes and paying interest on huge amounts of debt are considered “successful” in our society? Is it because we have been trained from an early age that material acquisition is the only measure of success?
Have the marketing agencies done that good of a job, or does it go deeper? Are schools working hard at creating obedient little consumers that will keep the financial machine spinning?
Happiness is the best measure of success. I recently talked with someone that told me of her uncle that was a “ski bum” who worked and saved during the summer months so that he could ski all winter long. He was an outcast in her family, but he was happy.
He wasn’t hurting anyone. He wasn’t breaking any laws. Yet his family viewed him as less than successful because he chose a different path than they did. Fortunately for him he didn’t succumb to their pressures and get a “real job” or a “career”. There should be a lot more people like him, that choose their own path.
Without the need to meet external obligations
The term external here means that these are obligations that we have not chosen for ourselves. These are the expectations of our parents, family and friends to live a life that they are comfortable with.
How many parents live vicariously through their children? How many kids go to college because their parents are determined that someone in their family has a college degree?
Higher education is appropriate for certain careers. For many others though, it makes no sense at all. Especially if that education is wasted on a job or career that isn’t even related to the degree.
How many people are in a job that they hate because of family or peer pressure? Why do they choose to stay in that position? They feel obligated to those around them or fear keeps them from stepping out and trying something new.
There is no longer a need to stay in a job that sucks the soul out of you. There are an abundance of opportunities out there. It is up to you to discover them and then relentlessly chase them until you find your own success.
The unspoken side of freedom
One aspect of personal freedom that many people do not understand is that with increasing freedom comes increasing responsibility. As we have the ability to make more of our own decisions, the consequences of those decisions become our responsibility, either good or bad.
Once we start down the road of freedom, we can no longer find others to blame when things do not go as expected. What we do have is the opportunity to decide how we react to each situation and what steps we take in response to them.
Each day I work on accepting more of the responsibility for achieving my freedom. I no longer blame my job or where I live or my education level for where I am in life. Instead I work on investing my time and energy into building my online business that will allow my family and I to travel where the wind takes us.
I study the things that I do not already know. We do what we can to stay healthy. I keep our dream alive by discussing it frequently with my family. We work together taking small steps to get from where we are now to sailing on our boat and living a life of adventure.
Find your definition of freedom. What can you do today to make it your reality?
This is just one of a series of posts on the topic of Personal Freedom. For a complete list of the other posts, I encourage you to visit the Round Robin post!