Tuesday, March 15, 2011

True Freedom

In a recent conversation I spoke about the decision to sell my car. The conversation proceeded like this:

"[Walking] is actually pretty nice. Plus there's always the bus"
"Yeah and trax. Idk that would probably be a good financial decision but I feel like I'd lose freedom"

This got me thinking. What exactly is freedom? And is the freedom that you think you have really freedom at all? I'm going to turn this one upside down.

I propose that most of us live with the illusion of freedom. You think because you have a car and the freedom of mobility that you actually have freedom?

(sorry for using you as an example friend, I'll cook you dinner to make up?? =D)

The friend I had this conversation with is afraid of losing her overall freedom, but really by selling her car she could be expanding it. I know, because I've lived it.

Before I sold my car last August, I was spending about $240/month on payments and $160/month on insurance, plus gas and maintenance.

Here's the facts:

  • Owning a car meant a car payment, which meant I had to work more hours just to own the car
    • suddenly my decisions about my time are being dictated by how much money I have
  • It also meant having to pay insurance, which meant more working, and thus less time.
  • As a side bonus, driving was a huge crutch activity for me. I could drive around for hours, subsequently wasting gas and time while accomplishing nothing.
The elimination of all these things amounted to the expected $240 car payment and the $160 in insurance, but there was an extra $200, which came as a huge surprise. I realized that by owning a convenience good (a car in this case) I actually allowed myself to waste more time, thus netting less overall productivity.

The decision to sell prompted me to move downtown, closer to work in order to make my commute negligible. Finally, I reached a balance: limited, but free mobility. I'd learned new skills, such as using the public transit system, cabs, and re-learning to ride a bike. The latter of which has great physical implications. Also, I now have tons of extra money because I've allowed myself to work more, I never get parking tickets, I'm usually early to things, and I spend all my extra time on Idea School and my extra money on it as well.

Were I not to sell my car and limit my mobility, it would not have forced me to focus and define activities that were actually important.

If you're stuck, try making life a little less convenient. It will at least get you thinking.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. Often the things that you assume are giving you freedom are often the things that are tying you down. Therefore, by limiting yourself you're actually expanding your possibilities. Sounds paradoxical but usually I find a lot of truth in them.

    Obviously the hard part though is making that paradigm shift and seeing the things for truly what they are. Most people are usually running so fast on autopilot that they often don't have the time to reflect and gain awareness which is critical if you want to learn and evolve.