Unburdened - image for article by Greg Alder

What would you do?

Imagine that every one of life’s commitments and expectations were magically lifted.

You wake one morning unburdened by pressures, overt and covert, external and internal, implicit and explicit.

You have no financial obligations. No debts to honour. No monthly repayments. No mortgage. No taxes. No fees.

You don’t need to be in the office by 8. You don’t need to stay until 6. You don’t need to read emails at night. You don’t need to peruse industry websites on weekends. You don’t need to be the best informed person in your office. You don’t even need to turn up to your office.

You don’t need to set an industrious example to your staff.

You don’t need to pay your staff. You don’t need to pay for their holidays, their health cover, their pension, their maternity leave, their uniforms.

You don’t need to stay competitive. You don’t need to give customers value. Nor service. Nor warranties.

Nobody cares what suburb you live in, nor what street. Nobody cares what make of car you drive, what labels you wear, what restaurants you dine at, what bottles you order.

If you choose to end a business partnership, there are no financial implications, no exit clauses, no breaches of contract, no forfeited bonuses.

If you choose to end a personal relationship, there is no custody battle. No alimony. No acrimony. No guilt. No shame.

You are completely free. To do, be and choose whatever you wish. Whatever you choose is right.

So here is the question.

If you were absolutely free to do anything with your life, would you choose the life you have right now?

Most of us will automatically and instantly answer, “Yes”. But that’s the answer we’re expected to give, the one society has programmed us to give.

Think beyond the instinctive yes. Would you still work at your current job if you didn’t need to earn an income? What did you dream of doing when you were a kid? What stopped you? Why don’t you do it now?

If you have worked in a single industry most of your career, what keeps you from moving into a new field? Do you worry you’re too old? Do you worry that the skills accumulated in your field will go to waste?

Would you be in your present relationship? Was there a distant unrequited love that got away, one you think about now and then? “I wonder where he is?” “I wonder what she’s doing now?”

The phrases that are designed to trigger a lifestyle re-evaluation have been devalued. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” was once popular on t-shirts. “You only have one life.” “Life isn’t a rehearsal.” We know the phrases, but have become desensitised to them.

So back to the question.

If you could choose any life, unburdened by financial or emotional commitment, by practicalities, and by reason, would you choose the life you have right now?

Sir Ken Robinson writes about finding our element, the thing that inspires us, the thing we were meant to do. Many of us haven’t discovered ours. We got sidetracked. We put our passion on hold whilst we built a solid career that provided a comfortable life.

And all the time we waste disengaged in meetings, what do you think of? Our unexplored or sacrificed passions. We itch to hand-make wooden furniture (yes, Ben, I am thinking of you). Or we wonder how good we’d be as classical guitarists (Edgar). We want to spend more time gardening (Susan) or playing piano (Phil).

What would you do?

What’s stopping you?

What can you change?

How can you make it possible?

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