Posts Tagged ‘It’s My Life’

What Freedom Means to Me

In Family, Pursuit of Happiness on July 5, 2010 at 5:20 am

Nearly everyone that I know looks forward to having a three-day weekend.  Because July 4th fell on a Sunday this year, many people are off from work today to celebrate.  If I were still an employee, I would be enjoying the three-day weekend as much as everyone else.  But since I am working for myself, I won’t be taking the day off.  It’s not that I can’t if I wanted to, but I have things that need to get done, and self-imposed deadlines to meet.  So while the masses are celebrating America’s freedom, I will be celebrating my personal freedom by choosing to spend the day working….and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I decided to start working for myself a number of years ago, I realized that there would be pros and cons to my decision.  Obviously, the biggest con is not having a steady paycheck that I can count on from week to week.  In recent years, the skyrocketing cost of medical insurance became another big con, but my wife and I have worked through that problem (to a degree) by having her work part-time at a company that provides family healthcare for all employees (as long as they work a certain number of hours).  Is it the best insurance?  Not from my perspective, but it is better than the alternative of paying out of pocket for everything or not having any insurance at all.

Freedom, (like most things in life), isn’t handed to anyone.  Sacrifices must be made in order to achieve freedom and enjoy it.  I certainly would prefer not to have my wife leaving the house before sunrise, and it would be much less distracting to work from a traditional office instead of the home office that I’ve created for myself.  But that would only create a different set of sacrifices that aren’t as appealing as the lifestyle that we have chosen for ourselves.

In all likelihood, I probably would have earned more money by continuing to climb the corporate ladder instead of going into business for myself, but it would have come at a cost.  It would have required a sacrifice that I was unwilling to make unless I absolutely had no other choice.  Most likely, I would have had to continue commuting into Manhattan by train (something that I disliked more and more as time went by).  But more importantly, it would have required me to sacrifice the one thing in life that matters most to me…time with my wife and kids.

When my son was first born, I did commute into Manhattan.   It didn’t take long for me to realize that it wasn’t something that I wanted to continue to do long-term.  I understand why so many people do it, but seeing my son for a half hour in the morning and less than an hour in the evening (during the week) just didn’t work for me.

After 9/11, commuting became exponentially more difficult for a number of reasons.  The commute that I found to be tedious in the best of times became even worse with the added fear of a possible terrorist attack always looming in the back of my mind.  The company that I was working for at the time offered services that started to become obsolete after a seismic paradigm shift by consumers took place, so moving up would have meant moving on to another company, and quite possibly, another industry.  However, the most important reason that I no longer wanted to commute was that I didn’t want to neglect what I felt (and still feel to this day) is my most important job…being a father.

Having lost my father less than two months before 9/11, I had a heightened sense of awareness of the fragility of life.  I also knew that I wanted to be the kind of father to my son (and later to my daughter) that my father was to me, and that wouldn’t be possible if I was spending most of my son’s waking hours at work and on the train.  I knew that I wanted to coach his teams when the time came, but that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t get home from work every day until nearly 8:00pm…so I made a choice to make a change in my lifestyle.

To me, freedom basically comes down to making choices and accepting the sacrifices that come along with those choices.  And because of that, I find freedom to be a very personal thing.  The sacrifices that one person is willing to make may seem incomprehensible to others.  Part of the beauty of freedom is that it allows us to live by our own values, despite what others may think of how we choose to live our lives.

“It’s my life…it’s now or never…I ain’t gonna live forever…I just wanna to live while I’m alive.  My heart is like an open highway…like Frankie said ‘I did it my way’…I just wanna live while I’m alive…‘cause it’s my life.” (Bon Jovi – “It’s My Life)

I’m very grateful that I live in a country that affords me the freedom to do it “my way.” I may not always make the right decisions, but at least the decisions are mine to make.

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