What does 'Freedom' mean to you?
You may have noticed a significant increase in the usage of the term, Financial Freedom in recent times across media platforms, be it a personal finance show, a financial planning article or advertisements by financial services' companies. Odds are, you may have connected instantly with the term and probably also had some visualisation of what a life without financial worries looked like.
My endeavour in this post is not to question the validity of financial freedom as the ultimate goal but merely stimulate you to think beyond this unidimensional notion of freedom which (in my opinion) conveys a constricted and arguably warped message about something as expansive as freedom.
In fact, freedom could have completely different meanings for different people, ranging from the seemingly bizarre to the more banal. For some, it could be as basic as colouring their hair red or taking that elusive road trip while for some it could be more profound such as quitting their daily jobs or participating in social causes.
I am reminded of some lyrics of George Michael's famous song, 'Freedom' which was released in 1990 and it goes as follows;
"I think there's something you should know I think it's time I stopped the show There's something deep inside of me There's someone I forgot to be Take back your picture in a frame Don't think that I'll be back again I just hope you understand Sometimes the clothes do not make the man"
How is this relevant you might be thinking?
The thing is, we as a society have increasingly begun to attribute personal and professional success to acquisition of material things and accumulation of wealth to an extent that most of us find ourselves inextricably caught in a cycle of earning, spending and investing in a manner which for the most part is induced by societal and peer pressures to fit into their norm(al) definition of success.
And inspite of this, how many times have we heard from even well-to-do friends and relatives that they are not exactly happy with how their lives have shaped up, how they don't enjoy what they are doing or how they don't have any time to pursue their interests.
If you look closely, there is a common undercurrent running across all these statements (and several others all confirming the same thing) that we find ourselves 'enslaved' to a script which was not exactly aligned to our values and innermost dreams.
Among the several definitions of freedom that google search returned, I found the following one on the Merriam-Webster website quite pertinent and it succinctly sums up the essence of freedom;
“..the quality or state of being free : such as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”
The above definition epitomises the common feeling of empowerment that individuals with freedom experience in their ability to make choices that stem from a genuine desire and not any compulsion.
If money was all there was to living a life of freedom, then try picturing this. Imagine you have just won a lottery ticket for an amount which can ensure that you don't need to work for another day in your life, you have more than enough to meet all your 'financial goals' and maintain the lifestyle you have created for yourself, how does that make you feel?
I suspect that after the initial exhilaration has elapsed, you might find yourself thinking about what this 'financial freedom' means to you and what to do with it. You might start questioning the beliefs you held on for all this while and wondering why the much coveted happiness you craved for still eludes you.
I think the answer could be had by trying to find answer to the following question;
"What does freedom mean to me?"
Your answer to this question is likely to be so profound that it will reshape your life and all other facets including your financial life.