“Someday” called. I didn’t answer
Stop me if you’ve heard this term before: “financial freedom.” In direct sales, we tend to slather it on everything. You can’t read a publication, attend an event, or meet anyone in our industry without hearing it. More often than not, it comes with pictures of fancy cars, yachts, or beaches (oh, the beaches…). We talk about financial freedom at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We extoll it at conventions. We preach it in our marketing materials. But here’s the problem with the way we talk about financial freedom. It champions a lifestyle, not a life. It’s about a distant future—a “someday.”
“Someday I’ll be driving a Lamborghini.”
“Someday we’ll own a yacht.”
“And then someday we’ll be happy and free.”
This way of thinking about financial freedom reinforces a false ethos we’ve been fed our entire lives—that we should work 12-14 hours a day in the hopes of getting somewhere “someday.” Like most everyone else in this industry, I love direct sales because it helped me escape that pattern of eventually hoping for that promotion or squirreling away enough money by working for someone else’s dream. In our bones, we know this way of living and working just isn’t true.
We know that “someday” never comes because there is always another promotion, another benchmark, and another new toy. It’s the proverbial carrot dangled in front of us but never attained. We know this. However, that doesn’t stop us from talking about financial freedom in the same way.
When I think about financial freedom, it’s about being able to live our lives the way we want right now, not some distant future “someday.”
Real financial freedom isn’t a set amount of money. It’s not a car, and it’s definitely not a yacht. We don’t get to the end of life wishing for these things or that we’d worked longer or harder.
Real freedom is living life on our own terms. And it’s possible today.
The mistake we make is, perhaps, focusing too much on the first half of the equation. I’m not going to pretend that the “financial” in “financial freedom” doesn’t exist or that it’s not important. My point, rather, is that we let it drown out the second half. When I say “freedom,” it brings a totally different set of images and symbols to mind. Try it. What does freedom mean to you? A yacht? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably closer to a family road trip or starting work whenever you want.
The family of one of our distributors was recently involved in a horrible car accident while returning home from a volleyball tournament. Tragically, it paralyzed both daughters. Privately they have expressed their gratitude for this industry because it has helped them pay for the exorbitant medical bills, and it’s also allowed them to take the much needed time to support one another, focus on healing, and grow closer as a family in the face of an extreme challenge.
That’s financial freedom.
I recently spoke to a friend who works as a distributor for another company. A father of seven children who range in age from nineteen to one, he’s told me on several occasions that the strong bond he’s formed with his young children is a direct result of the freedom he created to spend more time around them as they grew. His children blossomed and their relationships solidified because dad was around.
That’s financial freedom.
Somehow along the way, our interpretation of financial freedom has joined society’s false promise of the uber-wealthy living extravagantly with more money than they know what to do with. Don’t get me wrong. Our industry has created an incredible way to set ourselves and our families ahead financially for generations to come. But we shouldn’t make money the end in and of itself. There are more important things in life, like the actual freedom to live in the moment. And we are uniquely positioned with the opportunity and the means to help an entire generation of people begin living a life of financial freedom… right now. We have something truly life-changing. While the world screams incessantly at us to buy more because stuff will set us free, I suggest that we turn our focus on what freedom really means. In my experience, all the books and tapes and schemes out there promising to make us rich have led to a saddening few number of people who actually feel free.
I suggest that if we want to achieve true financial freedom, we should identify exactly what it is we want to be doing with our lives right now – in this moment.
Make a small goal considering what could be attainable right now. Is it a family vacation? A couple extra hours spent with the people we love this week? How about not having to worry about paying for groceries this month? Freedom isn’t about not having to work another day (although that would be nice). It can be getting rid of the worry that comes with debt or putting kids through school. It can come from making well-thought, difficult decisions or saving money. The only important criteria is that we base freedom on the moment and the journey. Don’t wait for that “someday” and end up looking back at your life with regrets.
Focusing solely on the money aspect of financial freedom can trap us on a never-ending hamster wheel. Just a few more hours, just a few more weekends, just a few more closed deals. If we adopt this mentality, we’ll reach the end of our lives wishing we could have spent a few more moments with our families, traveled more, or built better relationships. The money will always be there. Freedom won’t.
As direct sellers, my wish is that we could see the real opportunities in front of us. We have the vehicle to help people actually live happier, more productive lives. That extra time with their family? Those trips? All those relationships? We can have meaningful conversations with people (and ourselves) that go deeper than cars or yachts. We can determine what really matters and help people achieve a personal plan that helps them get there.
Please don’t think that I’m trying to paint some overly rosy picture here. We all have financial goals. And we all want to work hard to accomplish them. We believe in our products and we want to profit from them. But let’s not forget why we ended up here in the first place. Was it the Lamborghini or was it something more meaningful? I used to spend precious time worrying about the next promotion, the next project, the next task, or the first thing I was going to do when I got to the office. And while those things haven’t altogether left my mind, direct sales has given me the opportunity to appreciate the way the sun hits my desk or the relationships in my life. I am loving the journey. I suspect most of you feel—or have felt—the same.
It’s the difference between the rat race and daily contentment. This is true freedom.
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