I talk a lot about freedom in my book and here on my blog and it is the one thing above all else that I worked towards and I value more than anything. There are different types of freedom like democratic or political freedom, financial freedom and my favorite; emotional freedom.
Emotional freedom is not related to money or wealth, it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you went to school. It’s not always easy to achieve but you probably already have most of the tools you need to get it.
About 12 years ago I was renting a small house in east London together with an old school friend as we both started out our working lives. We were both up at stupidly early times to get our shirts ironed and out the door to make the train journey into the city to get to our different offices on time. We worked hard and we played hard but we never had much money because we were paid peanuts. For a long time the pay didn’t bother us much because we still had more money than we had before and were in lust with the lifestyle.
Eventually the sheen of our new jobs and life went away. The lust didn’t abruptly end it just slowly fizzled out as we knuckled down to work and we got slowly dragged on to the treadmill.
I had a fortunate early escape, due to my cynical and rebellious nature I questioned why I was doing it all and this is when I first worked on my formula for calculating my real income (in my book). This made me look to see if there were more pleasant ways to live, not to be rich necessarily but just to make a similar amount of money without getting shouted at for being late every day by an idiot boss even though I left the house at 6.00am and I won’t see my front door again until 7.00pm at the earliest.
Last week I had a great long chat with the same friend I shared that house with and we talked about how different our lives are now. even though I became self employed and started my entrepreneurial career not long after that time he waited until just 2 years ago before making that move.
We started a conversation that went along the lines of “how much money would it take to get you back into an employed 9 to 5 job again?”. After quite a bit of discussion about awful bosses we had encountered, the early starts and late finishes, unpaid overtime and annoying colleagues we had hated, we had to counter that with some crazy salary requirements but actually (and very seriously) the debate was ended by us both saying there was no amount of money that would tempt us back.
The emotional freedom we now enjoyed was worth way more to us than any amount of money you could offer in exchange for owning us for 5 days a week. I know this probably sounds nuts to some people especially when you consider my friend is not rich, he has only been in business for 2 years and he is really only just breaking even on a very basic lifestyle. However he loves taking his kids to school and picking them up every day, he likes that his business unit is only 5 minutes drive from his house, he knows if he puts extra effort in then he sees the rewards. We both discussed how often there are times when the kids have gone to bed and we are up working until 2am but it’s not all the time, it’s when we choose to.
After talking to my friend on the phone I thought how this was exactly the message I wanted to get across to people and how an entrepreneur is not always a corporate suit trying to exploit something or someone to make millions. To me being an entrepreneur is about being myself, being able to make my own mark (no matter how small) and earn some freedom. I was amazed how it grows over time and if you have the perseverance it can grow to create some amazing success and wealth. The core message though of being in control and free from the basic stress and anxieties that surround a 9 to 5 job was what I always wanted to help people with and I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it than emotional freedom.
I have no doubt this is just the beginning for my friend, he will build on the last 2 years and go further than he would ever have done in a job even at a big corporation. In truth he is the happiest I have seen him in over 10 years so I could argue he has already surpassed any of his previous corporate positions.
It takes time and some support, Those that have read my book will know it took my wife a whole year to overcome the psychological barriers to reach her emotional freedom even with my encouragement so I have seen first hand that it is not easy but I also know she didn’t need anything she didn’t already have. It was only advice and support that I gave her, I purposely didn’t do anything for her because I wanted the eventual success and sense of achievement to be hers. This experience through my wife was the final push I needed to finish my book because I could see how useful it would be to people.
The reason many fall early is that they find the whole experience overwhelming; too much choice and independence can be scary and one obvious wrong decision can sow enough doubt to turn you straight back. Probably due to my age back then and the fact I didn’t have someone like me to offer me support and advice, I went back to employed, corporate jobs twice before I realized how much better off I was running my own show no matter what salary was on offer, so I know exactly how it works. I also believe that my experience as a homeless teen made me less concerned about risk which has helped me immensely.
Achieving emotional freedom is not instant but I know my friend is glad he started his journey towards it 2 years ago and I am definitely happy to have taken a different path all those years ago so that today on a Thursday morning when I could be stuck in an office somewhere I am sat on my bed relaxing writing this article for you.
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