Posted: Mon 2nd Oct 2023
It's a word that has been shouted out and cried out loud all over the world since time immemorial. In today's world, the word "freedom" seems to have become ever more vocalised.
The freedom to express our choices – how we want to live, work, play, love and make money – all on our own terms. Yet, it's often difficult to obtain, coming easily to some and not to others.
Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.
- Daniel J. Boorstin
Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish? Nothing else.
As human beings, we are endowed with freedom of choice, and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of God or nature. We must shoulder it ourselves. It is our responsibility.
- Arnold J. Toynbee
I’ve read many quotes on freedom and the three above really resonate with me:
Right to live as we wish
To shoulder it ourselves is our responsibility
What is freedom?
What is it about freedom that so many of us ache, fight, give up our lives and compromise for, until we get what we see as our right to have our freedom?
Personally, for me, freedom in my personal life and business came with a hefty price and many regrets. I realised too far down the line that I needed to have had a clearer and real sense of purpose. And with that purpose came defined goals, achievements and an added sense of responsibility to shoulder.
The need for freedom came from within, for the self and also for other people around me. And so, when I now think of freedom and the benefits I've gained from following this path, these three points have now become a mantra.
There are times in history that change the course of our lives. Take the recent events with the pandemic as an example.
With it came the opportunity to move from corporate work to entrepreneurship. An opportunity for many people who would never have dreamt of starting their own business; who grabbed their courage, knowledge and skills attained, and refocused these for themselves.
2. Right to live as we wish
To set out on our own and create a new life, new freedom, new choices to work for ourselves and to seize the chance of freedom to become the centre of our own work life and set new patterns and boundaries for a more fulfilling work-life balance.
3. To shoulder it ourselves is our responsibility
We can create a world of life and work, knowing that we can rely on ourselves to be responsible for ourselves, our actions, and our successes and not have to rely on other people to dictate our lives or blame us. To be able to set boundaries which allow us the freedom we seek.
Embrace the opportunity for change
The CBI Economics report, Generation Covid: How the pandemic shaped the start-up landscape July 2022, examined the experiences of start-ups during the crisis.
Some 800,000 companies were registered in the first year of the pandemic, a 22% increase compared with the previous year
Four in five firms reported no plans to wind down their business
Businesses born during the pandemic were 20% more likely to embrace sustainability than their predecessors
More than £20 billion could be added to the UK economy in future from the number of additional businesses created during the pandemic, according to fresh data from a joint report by CBI Economics and NatWest Group.
Now so many of us have reached out and grabbed our newfound freedom to work how we want, when we want, and what we want to work for, how is it going for you?
Running your own business and being able to call your own shots means you get to decide how you spend your time. This includes what you spend your time on and how much time you spend working in your business versus time away from your business doing other non-work related activities.
What does freedom in your business mean to you?
Let's consider these questions. Not to play devil's advocate here, but rather for you to look at what freedom has given, or not, and to begin to look beyond.
Does your business give you the freedom you desire?
How much freedom did you want when you first set up your business?
How much freedom do you now actually have?
If you aren't as free as you want to be, what can you do to achieve that freedom?
What does freedom look like from when you first started to now, say one, three, five, 10 years ago?
A discussion around the above questions can't be answered fully here. But take the time to mull over them when sitting at your desk on a Monday morning, having rushed through traffic, or in the pouring rain, or over a glass of wine after a hard day's work, or an amazing day of success and achievement.
Reflecting on the world you've created for yourself, are you still smiling and letting out a deep contented breath as you sit in your favourite deckchair on your favourite beach? Or are you looking for another way to reinvent your world to relook at what freedom has given you and what it now means to you?
My three key focus ideas around freedom for ourselves:
More choice to live and work as we truly want –and if it doesn't work, that's OK
Opportunity to be ourselves and on our own terms
To learn new ways of being responsible for ourselves and the people who come into our lives