June 29, 2010

Independence Day: What Will You Free Yourself From?

Hey! Fourth of July! Fireworks, hot dogs, picnics, parades…who called this great party, anyway? Oh, right – the other name for this national hooray is Independence Day.

For the United States in 1776, that meant independence from an overbearing parent nation that wanted us to do all the work and let them keep all the money.

Gosh, does that sound a little like being employed?

Har, har. Gotta go for the easy joke. The thing is, I see an awful lot of clients in my work as a career counselor who want to break from their lives as wage slaves. They want to work on their own, or at least, they don’t want to feel as if their years of working for someone else were never going to end.

If this sounds like you, I have a challenge for you: Are you serious? Do you really want independence, or do you just want to grouse about not having it? You can cue up the patriotic music here, because I’m about to go all corny on you: I don’t think our American spirit of independence, courage and innovation is very well honored by a population of people growing chubby in front of the television. who wish they were doing something else with their lives.

I remember teaching a workshop for older job seekers a few years back. We had just finished a segment on goal setting, with the idea that your personal and professional goals should be leveraged in setting your job search goals. Comes break time and one older fellow walks up to me and my co-instructor and says, "You know, I always wanted to start my own business…" To which I said, without even thinking, "Evidently not."

Ouch. My co-instructor couldn’t believe I’d been that blunt, and neither could the hapless workshop participant. But you know, I meant it and I still do. How can you always want something without getting it? If you want it badly enough, you do get it. If you don’t want it enough, you should stop thinking about it and move on, so your head can hold space for other dreams.

This Independence Day, ask yourself: What do I want independence from: Debt? Having a boss? Commuting an hour to work? Whatever it is, acknowledge it and make a plan. Enough is enough; it’s time to throw off the shackles and live your life.

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