What does financial freedom or financial independence really mean? If that’s something you seek, you can start by identifying what that means for you. (And to be sure, it means something different to everyone.) For many, financial freedom has to do with being “free” from working for a living. After all, most people think of jobs as things to dread. It’s where you go to make money, and if you’re lucky you might enjoy it. Yet most people want to stop working at some point in their lives. To live this way means having enough passive income, savings, and other assets so that you can retire comfortably someday. However, most people don’t have the savings to be retired for more than a decade or two. So what if, instead of seeing freedom as being able to retire from a job you hate, you create a life that you never want to retire from? Living with purpose allows you to seek meaningful work, and solves the problem of income!
Here’s the thing about freedom: it starts in your mind.
What is Financial Freedom?
Typical financial media defines freedom as having a certain net worth, or a certain amount of savings. And while the numbers might seem good, they’re not the best benchmark. The reality is that numbers matter far less than what you do with what you have. Someone with a moderate income could experience more freedom than a millionaire by virtue of what they do with what they have. If the person with moderate income is saving money, has low debt, and doesn’t spend money frivolously, we’d argue that’s pretty financially free. On the other hand, if that millionaire is constantly spending money, living in a high mortgage home with expensive utilities, and isn’t doing much to save…they probably experience some limitations.
The reality is, it’s not about what you have. It’s about what you can do with what you have. While making more money is a good objective, it won’t matter much if you don’t have good habits. You’ve got to establish good habits first in order to experience financial freedom. Not only does financial freedom have to start as an idea that you embrace and envision for yourself. You also do not have to wait for your bank account or investments to get to a certain level before you can experience the reality of freedom in your life.
For instance, far too many people work a job they hate. They clock in from 8 to 5 in an environment that does not inspire them. This stems from a need to pay bills and keep the lights on, and hopefully save a little money along the way. That way “someday” in the future, they can be free from having to work that miserable job at all. Does that sound like freedom to you? Sure, you may have some cash, yet that’s really no way to live.
You Don’t Have to Work a Job You Hate for Money
Should you work a job you hate just for the paycheck? No way! That doesn’t mean you quit today unless you have ample savings to sustain you while you transition. If that’s you, then by all means, write that resignation. However, you shouldn’t resign yourself to doing work you don’t enjoy. The problem with this is that you can expect to work for DECADES of your life. Do you really want to spend those decades miserable? People think retirement is the solution, so they subject themselves to misery with that inkling of hope. And yet, people still don’t retire with enough savings to do the things they missed out on when they were young. It’s time to remove retirement from your vocabulary!
What if you committed yourself not to drudgery, but to finding work so enjoyable that you would never wish to “retire” from it?
What if you discovered a way to take the things that light you up (the things you only barely get around to doing on a long weekend now) and make it into a sustainable income stream?
Assuming that you have to do something you hate just for the money is based in scarcity thinking. When you think from a prosperity mindset, you will be able to see so many opportunities you couldn’t see from a scarcity vantage point.
How Living with Purpose Can Support Financial Freedom
So how does finding work you love and living with purpose support your financial freedom?
Easy… it allows you the time and space to create a life you love right now. If you dig deep enough, chances are there’s something that lights a fire in you. A cause that you want to champion or a problem you want to solve. Consider the things you love to do, and how they might solve a problem for other people. These are all signs of purpose, and when you are living with purpose you are fulfilled and free.
How powerful is it to think that instead of working to live, you could be living to work? That you could have work so important and enjoyable to you that you don’t wish to retire? And, because it’s something you love and have created for yourself, you have the freedom and flexibility to go on vacation, travel, or spend time with loved ones. Living life all along the way is what makes you free, and your soul will feel lighter for it. And because you’ve created a life you don’t want to retire from, you can continue to work well past when most people retire. That means you’re still bringing in an income, and you no longer have to worry about making your income stretch for 20, 30, or more years.
Case Study: from Market Research Business Woman to “The Real Dr. Doolittle”
Think it’s a farfetched idea? Here’s proof that you can make it work!
Val Heart grew up with animals as her best friends, from pets to farm animals to the Welsh pony she credits with helping her survive some very tough teenage years. She was a natural at bonding with, befriending, and helping animals. She was even known for her ability to tame wild cats!
After initially exploring therapy and many healing modalities in the early 80s, Val made her career in the business world. She got a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Business and Marketing. She worked for many years in the business world. Yet the further she went, the more dissatisfied she became. As Val tells it, “I started a market research company, which I ran for several years, but I soon realized I was totally miserable! I wanted to do something that made me happy, while being of service to others.”
Turning a Dream Into Meaningful Work
Praying and asking for guidance, she realized the one thing that consistently brought her joy and peace was being with animals. Yet how do you turn THAT into a career, unless you want to be a pet sitter?
In a breakthrough moment, Val experienced being part of a horse’s dramatic healing as she used her skills to “listen” to the horse. Combining her natural lifelong talents with specific training in healing modalities, bodywork, training, and performance enhancement, she started exploring her gift of being able to “hear” animals and help them heal.
Val tested herself in a wide variety of situations, and the results spoke for themselves. She took a leap and started a new business as an animal communicator! There are no obvious career paths for “animal communicators,” no college majors, and few mentors. Yet Val found and followed her calling. To be sure, it wasn’t always easy. Val encountered setbacks and financial struggles. Eventually found the mentor she needed, and began earning upwards of $20k a month doing work she felt called to do. Not only was she living with purpose, but she was also solving problems and doing meaningful work for her clients.
Living with Purpose; Lifelong Service
Let’s face it; our “means” should be consistent with the “end” we desire, and working a job you hate now so you can have free time to do what you want someday does NOT equal freedom!
Perhaps the whole concept of retirement—a very new concept, historically speaking, sets us up for failure. It makes us think that not working is the “reward” for slaving away for decades and that a life of leisure is the true goal. And yet, the most fulfilled people seem to be the ones who do what they love while making a difference. Perhaps… we are born to serve, and not to play golf 7 days a week. (Nothing against golf—I enjoy it!)
Perhaps the “freedom” we need the most isn’t financial freedom “someday,” but freedom to do what we love TODAY while we work towards building financial independence.
Are You Ready to Start Living a Life of Purpose?
We’ve got some great resources for you!
We could go on and on with stories and role models like the story above—and you’ll find plenty of them in the revised and expanded book, Busting the Retirement Lies. The book also addressed the financial side of things.
For your high school and college-age kids, we have our newest book, Busting the College Planning Lies. This book is infused with ways to make more meaningful choices that set your kids up for success after high school and/or college.
For our clients who find themselves at a crossroads, we highly recommend working with Tammi Brannan or one of her Blueprint Practitioners at Blueprint Process. Tammi is a personal development and “right fit” career expert, and creator of the Blueprint Process, which helps people to identify exactly what they love to do! (Full disclosure, she is also Kim’s sister.)
Vrinda Normand is the marketing mentor that helped Val Heart, our animal communicator heroine, turn her unusual business around. You can read her tips on marketing and “hot copy” on the Irresistible Marketing Blog.
And if you want to have a discussion about how life insurance might help you financially navigate a career change, Prosperity Thinkers is here to help! You can connect with us here or email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.