Are the people you deem as successful really free?
The answer may surprise you.
Freedom, by definition, means unrestrained, able to do as one chooses.
Some of the most successful people are severely accountable to many people, and while they may have power to make decisions, they have to make them under heavy constraints with serious consequences.
Success, as in career achievement, does not equal happiness.
Do you look at other people and think they have it easier than you? Do you resent them, even just a little bit?
Not everyone strives for success. Few people strive for a simple life – just enough to get by. Are they happier? Not always. Do they have fewer problems? Not necessarily.
So if you aren’t striving for success, but you aren’t striving for simplicity, are you striving for balance? Is it working? Are you happy?
While happiness and striving are contradictory forces, freedom is elusive to most of us. Some may enjoy certain kinds of freedom, such as the ability to work from anywhere, or to be able to afford travelling to exotic places, but still are on some level enslaved by the need to please others, to be accepted, to be understood, or to be loved, even.
Before you reject this, think about what you learned at a young age about what it took to be loved and accepted.
Many people spend their lives pursuing achievement because at some level they feel that it is what they need to do to feel like they are worthy of love. Many others gave up a long time ago and settled for that which they felt was worthy. Some were taught that successful people were unethical, and therefore being successful was undesirable.
Are you resisting success, even though it is what you “want?” You’ve heard the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for.”
One of my Facebook friends who recently graduated law school shared that one of her professors taught her a theory that all millionaires – every single one on the planet – at some time took advantage of someone else, and that is how they were able to become millionaires.
“No one ever *earned* a million dollars… Someone, somewhere was taken advantage of. Someone, somewhere lost in order for the millionaire to gain.”
Wow! This post caused much debate on both sides, and revealed how differently we can think about financial success, corporate success, and what is fair, especially when it comes to compensation. What did I think? I thought the poster was sure to never become a millionaire with that belief, or if she did she would feel such shame and guilt that she could not enjoy it, though I hope she proves me very wrong and, therefore, proves the theory wrong and obliterates the belief that wealth equals greed for all who hold that as truth.
Last week, I challenged you to vividly visualize the career circumstances that you consider to be ideal. This week, I want you to dig deep into your feelings to see if, upon achieving this ideal future, you will be free from experiencing anything negative that could keep these circumstances from really making you happy.
It may be easy to say, “Of course, I’ll be happy!” However, if you need circumstances to change in order to be happy, you are not really free. You are enslaved to those circumstances. You would be dependent on those circumstances to make you happy.
You may also notice that there are resistant thoughts – the dissonance between your current world and that future world is too extreme, and, therefore the feat is overwhelming; you would be resented by your family/friends/neighbors/community; you would become someone you don’t like; you will contradict things that you have said and believed.
These are real obstacles to your ideal vision. You will ultimately find at some point the efforts to achieve your ideal future will cease, and you will lose momentum because these thoughts are essentially inertia.
Exercise your freedom by choosing to make decisions without the restrictions of these beliefs.