What does freedom mean to you?
No, I’m not getting overly patriotic on you right now, but in the spirit of the 4th of July and in my own nostalgia, I got to thinking about this concept- freedom- tonight.
On this day- July 1st- four years ago, my husband signed out of his last shift as a firefighter for the City of South Lake Tahoe. He wasn’t headed to a new job, he wasn’t moving to another department… he was coming home to us; in every way you can imagine.
You see, a few years before this point four years ago, my husband and I sat down and defined what ‘freedom’ would really look like for us. Freedom is one of the words like ‘success;’ if you never define it for yourself, you might find that you spend a great deal of your life striving for and chasing down what the world says it is.
Y’all, freedom really isn’t free. It takes sacrifice. And for a lot of us it might literally mean your life- in the case of the men who fought for the literal freedom we enjoy in this country. But in a lot of ways, for a lot of us, we end up giving away our life- figuratively- in hopes of a ‘freedom’ that will never come.
My plan, before I started my own business, was to work for 30-40 years of my life (hopefully that was all it was) so that I would FINALLY be able to retire and really experience that ‘freedom’ of when to wake up, how to spend my days, and how many days of the year I could be sick. I was giving my very life… for a freedom that wasn’t promised and certainly wasn’t guaranteed.
My husband had a retirement plan with CalPers, which is to say a ‘good’ retirement plan, and yet we knew that THAT definition of freedom- eventual and somewhat limited- wasn’t what we wanted to go after. We wanted something a little more now and a little more free.
And so we defined what that looked like for us!
For my family, freedom means relaxed mornings and no rushing around. It means freedom from the dirtiest of dirty words- busy! It means freedom from debt, freedom from imposed schedules, and freedom from guilt of working too much. It means freedom from sick days, PTO, and shift changes. It means freedom from limits and freedom from expectations. It means freedom to live wherever we choose and freedom to travel wherever we want… but more importantly, whenever we want. It means freedom to choose to homeschool, and the ability to do it. It means freedom to chase down passions over paychecks and freedom to explore who we are and what we love.
In order to achieve this level of freedom, we had to free ourselves from the ‘traditional.’ We had to pursue the sometimes unlikely, and believe in the unbelievable. We had to persevere and endure the odd head cocks from bystanders because they didn’t understand. We had to stay strong and stay together.
What am I even talking about you might ask? My husband and I decided that if we wanted to have something different, we would have to do something different. In our case, that looks like building a business with a company called Arbonne. It looks like taking the road less traveled. Yes, it looks like social marketing! We wanted to build an income that was free of the traditional work environments and limitations of nearly every other career we knew of and could pursue. This path meant more freedom… and that’s why we went all in.
They say if you don’t sacrifice to get what you want, what you want will be the sacrifice. I watch this reality unfold every single day. I didn’t want it to be my reality.
Yesterday I had the privilege of celebrating another brave set of new parents, dream chasers and freedom seekers and what my friend Holly said yesterday that struck me as so very true is that what we all pursue as the ‘American Dream’ has really just become the ‘America Average.’ We’ve all fallen victim to settling for a freedom that looms just out of sight and sacrificing our entire lives building freedom for someone else.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
It all starts with defining freedom for yourself. Maybe freedom for you means being able to create in the job you’re in, or escaping to a career you’re in love with on Mondays. And if that’s you, I’m super excited for you and I’m glad you’ve found YOUR definition of freedom. But my guess is, for most of us, freedom looks a little different than our day in and day out. That is to say, if we were really living out the freedom of our own definition, our lives would probably look a lot different, am I right?
Well, if that’s you- if you’re daily isn’t measuring up to your definition of freedom- I encourage you to find a better way. I invite you into the courage to step outside of average and pave your own way, take the road less traveled, do the thing that scares you, pursue the joy that is currently outside of your comfort zone.
Because, as Mel Robbins recently said in a brilliant meme… “No one is coming. You’re on your own.”
That one stung a little bit. But it reminded me that I hold the reigns. And if I want a different life, I’m gonna need to create it.
So, what do you think? What does freedom mean to you?
** If you want to learn more about what I do, or if you just want encouragement on chasing down your best life, click on over to the contact me tab and let’s connect! I’d love to celebrate and champion you in whatever you decide.