I used to dream of Financial Freedom…
I used to dream of “financial freedom”… having so much money that I could just do whatever I wanted, travel the world, give money abundantly to causes and people in need.
I invested in lots of business programs that sold me on that dream.
Eventually I realized two things…
(1) The ones selling the dreams were the ones getting rich… not those of us buying into the programs. (Unless we also joined their ranks, and sold dreams of easy and big money to others.)
(2) By getting caught up in that culture of hype, I was actually delaying the building of my right livelihood.
Thankfully I woke up to these dynamics and stopped buying into those programs for a decade now. Since then, I’ve worked diligently to build what I feel today is my truest livelihood yet.
When I am well-rested, feeling loved, and connected to my higher self, I realize that what I really want isn’t financial freedom…
What I yearn for is the feeling of being truly useful to others, experiencing my strengths in service of uplifting humanity, and feeling that the money I earn is honest and noble.
Yet when I feel tired, or fearful, or discouraged, then the hype of financial freedom can tempt me again.
Perhaps the most important and urgent thing, therefore, is to reconnect to our higher self. We all need the self-care and spiritual practices that bring us back to a deeper perspective of what Life is really about.
Then, we might see that there is much opportunity (and urgency) for us to earn a truly worthwhile living, to be of service as we make money, doing work that co-creates a world that our hearts long for.
Mahatma Gandhi named the seven destructive forces in society:
- Wealth Without Work
- Pleasure Without Conscience
- Knowledge Without Character
- Commerce Without Morality
- Science Without Humanity
- Religion Without Sacrifice
- Politics Without Principle
Notice from this list that there’s only one sector of society Gandhi mentions twice: how money is acquired.
Is the primary goal of work to satisfy our own desires? If so, then it can become easy to get obsessed about passive income and financial freedom.
What if, instead, we find the purpose of work to be calling us to a deeper life?
I believe that to hear that call, we need to be rested, renewed, and connected to our higher selves…
We can then uplift our perspective, and see that perhaps the primary purpose of work is something deeper, such as contribution and character. That what we do for others also builds our virtues, and that one of the results of work is to build our financial security.
I am grateful that today, I have finally built a business that I love, allowing me to feel that I’m of genuine service to others, while growing personally and professionally.
This is what I yearn for you:
To deeply LOVE your work, your business, so much that you aren’t fixated on financial freedom or passive income. To feel so deeply that you are earning a right livelihood, that offers of wealth no longer hold the allure they once did.
Here’s an interesting thought: When you are vacationing or taking a break from your business with your passive income, others are finding ways to add better value to your ideal audience. When you’re not improving your products or services, other people are improving theirs.
Let’s look at market competition not from a fearful state, but rather see it as an inspiration for our continual personal and professional development. We are called to become better and better, to innovate and improve our products/services, to become increasingly valuable to our ideal audience.
The fixation on financial freedom erodes the commitment to our true livelihood.
This illusion that is being sold to you, of a stable offering that always makes you money and never changes—is that true of life?
In the conventional worldview, work is only a means to the real purpose of having more vacations and fulfilling our desires. This eventually puts you on the hedonic treadmill of materialism.
Or, a more altruistic version of this conventional worldview is that you should make lots of money so that you can have the power to choose the good causes that get funded. Still, it’s about control and ego.
Here is an alternative idea:
Vacations, breaks, and self-care are a way to renew ourselves, to reconnect to our higher selves, so that we can come back to work and improve our offerings, making them even better for our audience. Vacations allow us the renewed energy and perspective to work wisely, to earn money in ways that feel ever more noble to us.
“Work” and “making money” don’t have to be necessary evils. Our money-earning actions can be transformed into our heartfelt cause for the betterment of the world and our own personal development.
Instead of obsessing about financial freedom, let us see other people’s payments to us as a sacred reciprocity to do our best work for them.
Having it all usually means “Having lots of money and plenty of free time.” It is an illusion promoted by those who get rich selling you that dream.
I offer an alternative definition of what it means to “have it all” —
“Earning money by expressing your strengths to uplift others, practicing your joyful productivity, continually growing in meaningful ways, and having a rhythm of self-care that keeps you refreshed and connected to your highest self.”
Not as concise… but perhaps more balanced and true.
I wish for you everything that brings you a true alignment with the highest version of yourself, and with your deepest sense of purpose.