Life On Your Own Terms

A camel is a horse designed by committee.

~ Sir Alec Issigonis.

This week’s post is somewhat longer than most, but I thought you would enjoy this article by Tom Kerr, who publishes a blog and sustainable living newsletter called Truth and Plenty.  It looks at entrepreneurship and “encore” careers from an interesting angle – and certainly provides food for thought.

Who Dictates How You Live Your Life?

I had a friend named Walker who grew up near Memphis.

"I heard Elvis Presley perform at a little roadside honky-tonk," he told me. "He was still undiscovered, and I was on the prom committee at my high school. So I went back to the committee and they said, 'Yes, we have enough to hire him.'"

"Are you kidding? Elvis played at your high school prom?"

"He would have. But the prom committee overruled my idea. Two years later Elvis was the most famous man in America. I decided right then and there that I would never again let a committee tell me what to do with my life."

Walker was one of the rare ones.  According to the Harvard Business Review, most of us choose careers and lifestyles based almost entirely on the expectations of others. Researchers call it "compliant behavior."

You're taught at a very early age to abide by the rules that groups of others set for you to follow, and to pursue that group-think mentality, instead of your own individual goals, desires, and dreams.

Maybe that "life by committee" system worked for your parents or grandparents, but today it's a dead-end street.

A Harris Poll found that nearly one out of three people who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year still live paycheck-to-paycheck.  How is that even possible?

The answer is that 70% of them are in debt up to their eyeballs. That makes it hard to see your path forward.

Retirement used to be something you looked forward to. These days it's something you dread, because you're afraid you'll run out of money.  Instead of a time to relax and pursue the things you love, it can be the most stressful phase of your life.

But it does not have to be.

Each of us needs to take another look at what we have, and determine whether we really own it...or if it has started to own us.

Much of what folks think they own is just borrowed from the bank. They charge you an arm and a leg for the privilege of feeling that you're the rightful owner.

Your level of false ownership is even determined by a committee, one that sits around a desk rifling through your confidential credit reports.  You buy a life they say you can afford, and then pay it off in heavy installments until the day you die.

Marjory Wildcraft understands the issue better than most, because she used to run her own investment company.  Now she raises her own food, barters and sells what she doesn't need, and gets paid to teach other people how to do it for themselves. She enjoys more independence and security than ever before, and has great fun leading a wholesome life that gives back to others in sustainable ways.

But you don't have to go whole hog the way Marjory did.  For example, you can launch your own portable career, which only requires one square foot...just enough to hold your laptop. That's what I did when I decided to rightsize my life. Millions of other people have done the same, and it's getting easier by the minute because of breakthroughs in technology and e-commerce.

They say that a camel is really a horse, designed by a committee.

If you don't want your own retirement future to get bent out of shape, take Walker's advice.  The advice is free...but can make your life rich in ways that are not just financial.

~ Tom Kerr

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