I read an article today on Lifehack called 31 Quotes To Inspire You To Live For Meaning Instead Of Money. The article really hit home, not just because I recently moved to Berlin as a freelancer, but also because of the importance of the freedom of travel. And the freedom to not work inside a cubicle. All which helps to give my life greater meaning.
For many, “a job is just a job.” Most Americans don’t have the freedom of travel because they are working too hard to make money. You’re lucky to get a couple of weeks for vacation, and even luckier if you can totally disconnect from the office when you take that two weeks. If you take it at all.
The hope is that all that will pay off someday down the road and there will be plenty of time, and hopefully enough money, to enjoy it. But as we all know, some more painfully than others, there are no guarantees in life. No guarantees that if you save for a rainy day, the rainy day may never come (just ask California!).
But that doesn’t mean it’s one or the other. In other words, there are plenty of jobs out there that people take, not so much for the money but for the pleasure of doing something they enjoy, something that gives their lives meaning. My last corporate job was a choice between that and a higher-paying, more stable software company that would be running a tech support department. I knew I would be going into that job doing something I no longer wanted to do. So even though the other job was less money, it was an opportunity to do something a little different from what I had done in the past and hopefully give my life greater meaning. Let’s just say, it had many unforeseen challenges, but I had no regrets.
When I made the decision to move to Berlin, I’m sure that there were questions or comments as to “I hope he knows what he’s doing.” Hell, I’ve thought that several times, so it only stands to reason that others would too. But I knew the experience would give greater meaning to my life.
There’s no question that comes doubts and uncertainty mixed in with the freedom to be in Berlin. Or anywhere for that matter. And of course, money makes that freedom easier. But at what cost? I’ve managed to survive several years with freelancing, all the time avoiding the easier route of going back to a corporate job, collecting a paycheck, while lining someone else’s pockets. But I’ve also sacrificed the steady income that comes with it. As we all know, nothing in life is easy. Even for the silver spoon crowd.
And so to the article. I won’t list all the quotes in the article since I’ve linked to it above. But here are four that stand out to me:
– “Life is about making an impact, not making an income.” – Kevin Kruse
Probably could be the motto of millennials. But wouldn’t it be nice for all of us to make an impact on the world? It’s true there are great philanthropists who couldn’t make a difference without their vast money. But let’s face it, most of us will never see that kind of money in our lifetime. But whether it is through art, advocacy, spirituality, whatever, we all want to leave some mark. It could be on the world or in our own communities.
– “The goal isn’t more money. The goal is living life on your terms.” – Chris Brogan
Pretty much sums up everything above.
– “Materialism won’t make you happier. It will just keep frustrated to make sure you’ll buy more.” – Jean Sebastian Monzani
I will admit there was a time when I was much more materialistic. I dreamed of owning that BMW convertible. A house in Malibu was definitely on my bucket list. But life events put things in perspective sometimes. And suddenly, the “things” we crave aren’t as important as the experiences we can make. And I’ve seen what having more money and expanding one’s means exponentially can do to people, especially when they can’t keep up the pace any longer. That’s not to say I’m not still somewhat materialistic and have given away all my life’s possessions. But having taken a trip around the world has left me much more fulfilled than sitting in the LA 405 traffic in LA in a BMW.
– “You are more than what you do. Your title should not confine you, and your job does not define you.” – Unknown
Kind of ironic this quote is attributed to “unknown.”
“What do you do?” When you meet new people, that’s one of the first questions one is asked. If I had let my title and job define me, I’d still be toiling away managing customer service departments, which is what I did most of my working life.
Sometimes I respond to the question with “I’m a writer.” This often leads to a quizzical expression. “What does that mean?” “What do you write?” Sometimes I’ll answer, “everything.” After all, I love to write a variety of things. Why should I define myself as a copywriter, as a screenwriter, a content writer? As a freelancer, you look for an opportunity everywhere. I’d hate to have told someone I’m a copywriter when they might have been looking for someone to have helped them with their screenplay.
But more than a writer, I’m also a traveler. And many other things. Aren’t we all? Who we are, what interests us and makes us well-rounded, is more important than being defined by a job title.