(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)
Do you want to retire with freedom or with security? Both, you might say.
If you were to poll people about their definition of “financial independence” you would find most describe it in terms of freedom — freedom to travel, read, play sports, spend time with friends and family, and similar descriptions. That’s what most people would tell you.
But most people would be lying. Oh, not lying in the sense that they’re telling you a falsehood, but lying in that they are not conscious of their real reason for accumulating financial reserves — which is security.
Security is a pain-avoidance process. “If I have enough money, I won’t have to worry about where my next meal/house payment/medical expense payment/etc. is coming from.” Having enough money means avoiding painful consequences.
Freedom, on the other hand, is a joy-maximizing process. Freedom to choose, freedom to go/not go, freedom to express your life in the fullest terms you can imagine, these are all ways to experience joy.
Freedom has risk. Security seeks to minimize risk. Freedom wants to expand your life. Security is willing to restrict. Freedom builds roads. Security builds walls.
If you are working to provide freedom for yourself but what you really want is security, then realize you are working at cross-purposes. Put your energy into what you really want, either freedom or security, and watch how much easier life gets.
Copyright 2003 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.