In his book Good Work, the economic thinker E.F.Schumacher describes the ‘longing for freedom’ that has become so widespread in society today:
I don’t want to join the rat race.
Not be enslaved by machines, bureaucrats, boredom, ugliness.
I don’t want to be a moron, robot, commuter.
I don’t want to become a fragment of a person.
I want to do my own thing.
I want to live simply.
I want to deal with people, not masks.
People matter. Nature matters. Beauty matters. Wholeness matters.
I want to be able to care.
This poetic manifesto of human aspiration, written in the 1970s, is one that resonates with many people today who feel unfulfilled by their jobs. I know this because when I ask people in my Real YOU workshops, “What does success look like … for YOU”, this is what people tell me.
How can you begin to satisfy your desire for ‘greater freedom’? I think it requires addressing three dilemmas, or challenges if you like.
First, whether you should opt for the security and stability of a salaried job, or embrace self-employment and invent your own job. After all, you are the CEO of your life.
Second, whether you should abandon the goal of making a (successful) living, and instead create a fulfilling life. People’s number 1 career regret is, “I wish I hadn’t worked for the money”. Make sure that’s not you.
And third, whether you should wean yourself off the hard-work ethic and stop filling up your time by being ‘busy’, and start being productive. Do stuff that matters. Do stuff that counts. And forget the rest, it’s all a waste of your precious time.
Is freedom a risky business? You bet it is. That’s why its called ‘freedom’.