Everybody wants to rule the world

It’s about how I have given up on career ambition and embraced a love of family.

This is not a political post and it’s not anti work.

Seeking out personal freedom is a key part of people’s journey to FIRE and ordinary retirement if you think about it – personal financial freedom stems from not only having enough money but also not having to work for it and be under the thumb of an employer / client / customer.

You could maybe achieve it by inheriting, marrying rich or winning the lottery but I suspect that it’s more satisfying to do it yourself. There’s a self satisfaction of being able to say that “I earned this” even if we tend to exaggerate our own achievements and ignore our own luck, privilege and help from others that help propem us along the way.

That’s maybe making a virtue out of necessity; I don’t expect an inheritance, I married for love and I am yet to win the lottery (not buying tickets is perhaps holding me back).

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Ruling your own world and being the master of your destiny is a powerful force within us. Many self-employed people say that they would never go back to working for someone else ever again. And I’ve been around the block long enough to not put up with some of the stuff I’ve had to put up with in the past. However, for every master there needs to be a slave* and as much as money can free you and buy you happiness and satisfaction, it can just as easily trap you in an unending struggle for money, spending, consumerism, ennui, debt and work to get you the money to kick off the cycle all over again.

An odd motto

A much better critique of this is found on More to That but the shorter description here does the job because it is this requirement to work to make money that breeds the slavery – wage slavery or workers prison.

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.

Henry David Thoreau

The Escape Artist does a great job of painting the picture of prison life but the first step needs to be realising that you are trapped – if you don’t know that you are a prisoner then you’ll never leave and being the most feared/respected gang leader in prison isn’t true freedom.

It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself.

Thoreau again

The age old dichotomy between master and slave can not easily be resolved or repudiated. A life free from responsibility might grow tiresome and weary whilst a life from from control and comfort will leave you stressed and unhappy. To drive yourself forward without anyone else holding a carrot or stick requires a level of self-motivation which few can genuinely know.

What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning?

This was something that was asked a lot at one point in a job I worked in a few years back (the department head was a TED talk afficianado). The message from above was that everyone was motivated by different things and if we could all direct our motivation towards the company’s goals then we would be happy.

We were asked “what gets you out of bed in the morning?” at large group meetings and people would parrot off that they did it to provide for their families (good) or for money (bad or boldly funny). or to do a great job for our clients (great), or because they loved the company (bonus brownie points).

Faced with this onslaught of colleague high on the career-aholic vapours, I privately despaired – I have never been an early bird and in truth, I got out of bed with a combination of habit and alarms. I had stopped caring so much about the company at this point when I saw that it valued style over substance and the Peter Principle was firmly at work.

I honestly didn’t have a good reason for getting out of bed. Although that was 2012 – things changed.

Who knows if performance improved with these talks but it made the management feel like they were making a difference and in doing so, fulfilled their own bargain with upper management to give the rest of us a bit of bread and circuses to keep us happy.

What I Learnt From Years of Ignorance

Looking back now at those times, I struggled to wake up for years to rush into work to be there early. Coming in early and staying late were ways to show how committed you were to your job and how to gave it your all. Sadly, the more you give the less people care and I regret prioritising work so much now.

Putting in the hours and years for a corporate hierarchy that doesn’t really care about you is a bargain, where you trade your self for money, career, prestige, dangled carrots, perks and thrills and the chance to be useful. It’s a trade-off that worked for me (although at what cost. Because if you let your job make up too much of your identity you lose your soul and it stunts your own personal growth.

Once you move on, you realise just how deep into the wormhole you’ve gone. You’ll need to be decompress and it’ll take time.

What Gets Me Out of Bed in the Morning Now?

I get a wake up call from the Little Lady every morning. “Morning time, time to wake up, my want my milkie” followed shortly by the Master. When I’ve played dead for long enough and I slip from Morpheus’s tender grasp – I get out of bed for them.

I don’t mind too much that the Lady lies slumbering for as long as she likes because these little guys are super sweet and I’m the biggest part of their world, the closest to them with tonnes of unconditional love.

Since lockdown I’ve managed to kick off the alarm clock and I don’t start working until all my family duties are complete. The milk and breakfast, getting dressed and ready and the cycle to nursery and walk to school. Only once that’s done do I turn any thought to work.

Work comes second now and I’m fine with that. I don’t want to be a big boss at work or do what it takes to get there. My career ambitions are more or less dead and I’m fine what that.

Of course, years of putting the company first had it’s pay off – and without the money from a steady salary for the last 16 years I wouldn’t be able to be in my position now. Financial independence gives you many freedoms but don’t forget what you have paid to get them or been paid.

Some people want to rule the world, but I’m just happy ruling my own little corner of the world as a financially independent happy gentleman’s familyman.

*Note: GFF is totally against slavery. Both the old fashioned 12 years a slave kind and the modern day slavery that plagues us still.

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