I have my American flag proudly displayed outside for all to see. We had a cookout yesterday with the whole family. And we’re ready to shoot off some fireworks in celebration of United States Independence Day.
Although you might think today’s post is written primarily for US readers, what I want to discuss is global. It’s about the spirit behind what a declaration of independence really means. Extending beyond the borders of any one country or any one group of people to include all people everywhere.
Falling in the middle of the year, for me Independence Day represents a good time to stop and think about how fortunate we are to live when and where we do. While certainly problems are plentiful, what keeps me going is seeing the unwavering optimism of people around the world.
Whether you are fighting against taxation without representation, or for religious freedom, or to challenge society norms to live how you want to live, finding the courage to stand up for yourself is what distinguishes us. And standing up for those you can’t stand up for themselves is what truly separates the great leaders of the world.
Declare Your Independence
What Independence Day means for me is freedom. Over 200 years ago, the founding fathers of the United States took a chance and declared their freedom as an independent nation. They were willing to leave the protections and support of another strong nation to live life on their own terms. And they had to go to war for their ability to do so. Their willingness to fight for their independence set the stage for future generations to follow in their footsteps.
Nearly twelve months ago, I found myself out of work not by my own choosing. And while the circumstances of my situation are certainly less severe than our founding fathers faced, the idea is the same. I had been unemployed before, but only after having quit a job to launch a new business. This was different. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have a plan.
But rather than look on my situation with regret, I chose to see things optimistically. I saw that moment as my chance to declare independence from the constraints of a life dictated by others.
Independence Requires Sacrifice
We’ve all heard the expression, there’s no free lunch. It’s quite popular in the finance world. Often used to describe the relationship between risk and reward. With the promise of great rewards, comes great risk.
For those of us choosing to live according to our own terms, there is risk. That risk may take the form of financial risk. Can I make enough money on my own to survive? If I’ve reached the FIRE stage, will my money last? Risk might even be in how you fit into society once you decide to set yourself free.
The risk of independence is also the time, effort, and sacrifice that you must make in the beginning. Working a full-time job may not be easy, but it tends to be predictable. You work and you get paid. When you leave the protections of an employer, you lose that predictability.
But what you lose in security, you gain in freedom.
Freedom Requires Responsibility
Freedom doesn’t mean you get to do what you want without consequences. It’s just the opposite. Freedom requires discipline. Freedom requires living by a set of rules. The difference is that you develop those rules.
You make the decisions that impact your life. And you must live with the consequences of those decisions.
And with freedom comes knowledge. The knowledge that you control your own destiny.
This fourth of July, whether you are going to watch a baseball game, a fireworks show, or just hanging with friends and family, take a minute to stop, think, and appreciate everything you have.
Readers, have you declared your own independence? Are you free to live according to your own rules?