Self employment is a dream of many, but reality of few.
The dream of telling your boss to get fucked and go out on your own is an inspiring one. We all want to be independent, but often don’t think through what that actually means.
You might bitch and moan about the traffic, or spend the evenings venting about that condescending fat fuck of an IT guy who walks around the office with a smug look on his face, but deep down… you like it.
You like the security of a regular pay check. You like the fact that you have structure to your life and five days of the week, you wake up and you just go to work. Apart from the occasional strategic sickie, the idea of just not going to work today cos you don’t feel like it isn’t an option.
You have imposed this duty and obligation upon yourself and accepted the fact that going to work is simply something you must do. You’ve decided that the consequences of not going are unacceptable and as such, you’ve got a duty, a clear boundary, something that allows you to frame not only your days, but your life.
Sure, you kind of hate it and you long for a world of boundless freedom, but deep down you like it because it gives you a sense of purpose.
You wake up everyday knowing what’s expected of you. You free yourself from the pressure of having to figure that out on your own and in this way, you find freedom. Freedom isn’t in having unlimited possibilities, but rather within having clear and defined boundaries. Boundaries that allow us to define ourselves and find some meaning for our existence.
“Unlimited possibilities are not suited to man; if they existed, his life would only dissolve in the boundless. To become strong, a man’s life needs the limitations ordained by duty and voluntarily accepted. The individual attains significance as a free spirit only by surrounding himself with these limitations and by determining for himself what his duty is.”
– THE I CHING, CHINA, CIRCA EIGHTH CENTURY B.C.
If you’ve ever been unemployed for an extended period of time, you will know that (apart from the lack of money) the most crippling aspect is the lack of purpose and self worth. Waking up everyday with no agenda, duties or obligations may sound great…. in the short term. Long term it leads to anxiety, restlessness and depression.
This is because we all have a fundamental need for a purpose, and purpose is found within boundaries and limitations. Our purpose is equally defined by what we don’t do as by what we do.
As I get older, I increasingly realise that boundaries, accountability and responsibility are crucial in helping you define who you are and what you are about. Without them you have a tendency to ‘dissolve in the boundless’, floating along with the changing winds of your own impulses and whims of others. Limitations serve as an anchor for ourselves, a way for us to maintain some kind of structure in a world that’s in a constant state of flux.
As a culture we have romanticised the notion of unlimited possibilities as the path to freedom, but that thought is incomplete. Happiness lies not in unlimited freedom and possibilities, but within the boundaries and limitations of fulfilling a purpose that inspires you.
Finding that purpose isn’t easy. Personally, I’m still discovering it.
What about you, have you found your purpose?
Do you agree that unlimited opportunity can be a bad thing?
How do you go about setting the right boundaries in your life?
I’d love to know your thoughts. Comment below.