I am sick of advice about how to achieve financial freedom. Freedom from what? I have asked some people, who I will not link to, since I’m dissing them, and the most common answer is that they want to be able to make decisions about their life based on what they want, not on what they can afford.
HELLO???? Can everyone standing in line to buy a Lear Jet please get a reality check? You do not need a plane to be happy, you need a plane to go visit the people who make you happy. A jet is not an expression of financial freedom. It’s an expression of your decision to not live near the people who mean the most to you.
I think the root of the idea of “financial freedom” means freedom from having to do a job you don’t like. But this thinking comes from the baby boomers who felt compelled to climb ladders doing jobs that destroyed their personal life.
Today we don’t do that. Many people of ladder-climbing age today don’t believe it’s worth the trouble. Today you can hold out to get a job you love at the beginning of your career. Financial freedom is not a prerequisite.
Financial freedom is becoming an outdated goal for today’s workers. Jim Buckmaster, chief executive of Craigslist, mystified Wall St. analysts when he explained that he’s not interested in building a megacompany, and he just wants to maintain Craigslist as a company that gives people what they need (via the tweney review).
But I think most people are not so much mystified as just plain grateful for the down-to-earth attitude at Craigslist. And plenty of research shows that the people at Craigslist have the right attitude; it’s futile to make money a career goal since you’ll never feel like you have enough.
You know what really determines our happiness levels? Not money, but how optimistic we are and how often we have monogamous sex. Money cannot solve big problems, like cancer or world hunger or happiness. Money solves small problems, like, can you have a big wedding, can you go on a good trip. Small problems are what people talk about when they talk about “I can help you get financial freedom.”
But why spend your life figuring out how to get rid of small problems with money? You can work hard to make yourself a more optimistic person, and then you will be able to overcome most small problems. So let’s stop talking about financial freedom and start talking about learned optimism.
Optimism is the ability to see the world in a positive light. Optimists are happier people, and there is no reason why everyone shouldn’t attempt to think more optimistically. Don’t tell me a happy outlook will squash your creativity. Part of creative production is the manic optimistic self-confidence that what you are thinking of is a great idea.
How does this relate to careers? Once you make the switch to thinking like an optimist you will have real freedom — freedom to do what will be fulfilling and accommodate your personal life instead of what will make you rich.