The Financial Freedom Myth

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

2 February 2019

It turns out financial freedom might not be the real end goal….

I had an interesting chat with a new friend about what it is people seem to want. We all seem to want financial freedom – the feeling that we have more than enough money to do what we want, how we want, when we want. I’ve had countless business coaching clients that tell me this is their underlying goal. Ask anyone working in corporate, saving up for retirement, and you know what they’re after. And yet, when you have it, you may be surprised at your reaction.

Rolling in cash…

Our conversation made me realize that I’ve had financial freedom for a long time, but it wasn’t enough. I started thinking about the many people who leave behind stressful work or jobs that make them unhappy (many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the past year) and end up in lives they never expected. Lives in which they’re happy.

“Freedom and Money are two separate things.”

They’re happier because their spirit is free – they can be authentic and do what makes them delighted. It appears to me, witnessing this in others and seeing it in myself, that freedom is way more important than money. Maybe for some part of your life the money really is important because it buys you happiness – be that in the form of stuff, expensive meals, first class vacations or something else. But at some point in you’re life, you may realize that you want to be happy more days than you’re not, and that the happiness money buys you is only temporary.

A tantalizing moment with an elephant – trying to appear calm and relaxed while seriously freaking out, on the inside, that I might get stepped on during the photo.

You only need money to pay for the life and the things you choose. If you choose a big ‘ol apartment or mansion and 26 cars and a private plane, yeah, you need some serious bucks. But if you choose a simpler life, your needs and expenses are simpler as well. When we have enough money to buy more, at least in the US, it’s very hard to resist the temptation to upsize our life as our paycheck increases. (Though in this world, since raises usually don’t keep up with the cost of living and rising healthcare costs you might not be able to upsize anyway.)

How do you fill your life then, with what makes you happy? The answer is very simple – stop filling it with all the things that do not make you happy. Just remove them. You will, of course, complicate that simplicity and explain, as you read this, how ridiculous it is. You can’t possibly remove your boss, quit your job, stop doing your spouse’s laundry and whatever else is on your shit list. But yeah, you can. You’re going to have to deal with some changes in your life, for sure, but you get to choose to either keep the stability your unhappiness affords you, or take a risk and let go of what makes you unhappy.

Word of warning; when you fill your life with what makes you happy, you understand, truly, that you are fully responsible for your own happiness. You see that your unhappiness was not actually caused by your boss, your job, or any of the other things you used to blame. That can be scary, but also empowering.

In the end, it seems that what matters most is being spiritually free. Many people are fortunate enough to be spiritually free AND have enough money to live a life that makes them happy. When you are spiritually free, it may turn out that you realize you don’t need all the “stuff” that loads of money can buy.

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