Carrie Jones — ‘The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage.’
Freedom is the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
Freedom is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
Though to be fair, I grew up with Janis Joplin’s definition of freedom as being “Just another word for nothing left to lose”.
However you see freedom, however near, or far away you think it is, I am here to tell you that the world is changing. We are waking up to freedom, and the myriad ways it can be achieved, cultivated and maintained.
Here’s my freedom backstory.
Freedom used to be available to me at weekends — if I still had the energy for it.
Freedom came in a box that looked like 5 weeks of annual leave a year.
Christmas holidays unfortunately were not freedom — they were a hot mess of obligation and compromises.
Back in those days, I didn’t know there were any viable alternatives — other than retirement. So that’s what I planned for — early retirement in 5 years.
And that’s how the joke ran. But it’s no laughing matter.
That 5 year plan is now in play.
But it’s not just my plan. Turns out, this is a shared vision of the future. And there’s a bunch of us living it already.
It’s a future where people are happy, free and abundant. Doing what they love. It’s a world of niches, specialisation, missions, and tribes.
Let’s compare to that to where I came from — what is so many people’s realities right now:
One great big corporate machine.
A shiny prison.
Hostage payments in the form of an annual salary — the lowest amount a company can get away with paying you for your time.
Feeling stuck, disenfranchised, disempowered. Unheard, unseen, undervalued.
Look, I had a great career in the private sector in Scotland. I loved my job, for all of 5 minutes. I even loved my clients, my management team, my colleagues. My work. My routine. But something started to erode.
Before I figured out what was happening, I seriously investigated what was wrong with me. Anxiety, depression, high sensitivity. IBS, food intolerances, commuting intolerances, open office, hot desk working environment intolerances.
But here’s the thing. The thing I am most allergic to — above poor leadership, timesheets, and instant coffee — is low staff morale.
It destroyed me.
When I started teaching yoga I wrote articles and emails to my list about the UK practice of miserablism — the sense of belonging and community we get when we share a whinge. But it turns out, this is bigger than the UK — it is universal. It’s one of the ways we attach and make sense of the prisons we live and work in — it’s paid Stockholm Syndrome.
But bit by bit, through my own yoga practice and under the expert guidance of my mentor, I cultivated the courage to make a run for it. To break free.
When I got out from underneath it all, when I jumped the wall and discovered the unlimited universe on the outside of my own self built prison (*newsflash* the one that the education system prepares you for, and society maintains, at great cost) — I realised not just that other people were doing this too, but they’d been doing it for years. Digital nomads — it was a real thing.
I am meeting people in the exact same job as I had, from different parts of the world, who also came to a decision to stop trading their precious hours for dollars. They made a break for it too.
This is an increasing trend.
In this new world there doesn’t have to be an hourly rate. There’s no minimum wage. The fiddly tasks that you hate are someone else’s dream.
This is a world of collaboration, freelancers, referrals — networks of worth.
It’s not all sunshine and hibiscus. It’s tough going and challenging, but I’ll take it all. It isn’t about sipping cocktails by the pool in between client calls. This is about spending our time doing things that are meaningful, exciting, and engaging. It’s about self development, self realisation and self actualisation.
To get here, the personal development journey to self-motivate, self-direct and self-lead far, far, far, far outstrips any Professional Development Programme I’ve ever been on. I learnt what true motivation and engagement is.
I had to trust myself to understand and use it wisely, yes. I had to build courage, and learn the habits and develop the discipline for it.
But I saw the results first hand - I got direct feedback when I worked hard for me and my goals.
As more and more of us wake up and see how we CAN work, how we can earn money and live on our own terms, where we want, the corporate world is going to need to sit up and notice.
Those great big wheels of industry must make room for these desires that we are no longer are willing to compromise on or be paid to look the other way about.
We want to love what we do.
This is where the world is going.
Consider this fair warning to the corporate world.
If you cannot engage your staff, if you have poor staff morale, if you cannot compensate your employees fairly for their time, they will discover there is another way. A way that is infinitely profitable, a million times more satisfying, and provides a true path to freedom.
The chains are off.