There seems to be some confusion as to what constitutes real freedom and success in life. In fact, I would go so far to say that some people are positively delusional about the life they have. This kills their chances of achieving their dream life and real freedom. Let me explain:

Download a free self-assessment workbook and practical guide to get better results with any goal.

The Obstacle That Will Kill Your Ideal Life

Liver and work on your own termsThere seems to be some confusion as to what constitutes real freedom and success in life. 

In fact, I would go so far to say that some people are positively delusional about the life they have. This kills their chances of achieving their dream life and real freedom.

Let me explain:

What a lot of people are calling “having a life” isn’t a life at all.

They are referring to things such as a trophy home, numerous flashy holidays every year, spending shed loads on clothes every week and so on.

What they are actually describing is consumerism and a lifestyle. Not having a life. 

There is a big difference between having a lifestyle and having a life

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not being the fun police here. I like nice clothes, holidays and nice stuff as much as the next person. But not if it results in me being a slave to my work and costing me living life fully.

To me a having real freedom means not being a slave to consumerism. Not having to be a slave to work to feed that habit which then means more important things are negatively impacted. 

To me having a life and freedom means being able to only work when you want to, on your own terms. Freedom to have the family life you really want with work fitting in around it. Freedom to have enough time to nurture and keep important relationships healthy. Freedom to really life live.

Here is the point I am making:

Many people are so busy chasing consumerism (and calling it having a life) that it is actually costing them the life they REALLY want and true freedom.

The reason for this is they have to strap themselves to their work life hamster wheel and pedal damn hard to feed their consumerism habit. More important things suffer as a result.

Things to Consider

  • Consumerism isn’t a measure of a fulfilling life, work and relationships.
  • If you have to work more than you want to in order to feed consumerism habits you are sacrificing freedom, fulfillment and having other more important things in life?
  • What is it costing you in relation to your life to be a slave to consumerism? (and I don’t mean just financially!)

There is a lot of focus these days on how work life impacts quality of life, fulfillment, health and relationships. And rightly so.

But if you are genuinely looking to create REAL freedom in your life and work you also need to take a long hard look at what impact the choices you are making in your personal life are having (and your habits) on how hard you need to work on your business or job.

Is your work life feeding your ideal life or consumerism?

So, I invite you to take a step back and take a good long hard at all the choices you are making in your personal life:

  • Which are keeping you a slave to working longer and harder?
  • Which are really moving you towards true freedom and fulfillment and a living and working on your own terms?
  • Is it time to make some changes?

What is your take on this? Do you agree, disagree, have an alternative perspective? Share your views in the comment section below. 

Download a free self-assessment workbook and practical guide to get better results with any goal.

  • aschwa1

    Hi Ali,
    This is a very thought provoking post and I thoroughly agree with you. Over the years I've come to the conclusion that we all need to work out what we really want from life, not slavishly follow the Keeping up with the Joneses path. This has lead us down work paths we'd not have predicted but has made us happier and given us more time to spend with our children and parents. However we have wider family members who have taken a very different path and I can see this causing tensions in the future

  • You have hit the nail on the head there. The first step is for each person to get clear on how the want their life, family and relationships to be and create a definition of success that reflects that. Then you can start to look at how choices and habits impact achieving that. It is about being aware of how the choices we make impact the things that are most imporatnt to us and our dream life. Thanks for dropping by.

  • I completely agree with the point you're making here, Ali. It's SO important to separate out what you need from what you want in this arena. For a good lifestyle you have to listen to yourself and what your heart tells you. It's more likely to guide you to choices based around your personal values. My key ones are creativity, relationship, fun, health, and freedom. “Wants” are more likely to be influenced by external reference – what looks good and what will make us feel like we're keeping up with others and with the trends.

    I can be as consumerist as the next person, so I'll own that. But when I decided to live the lifestyle of my choice, one of the things my partner and I did was to do a big review of spending and to set budgets that didn't handcuff us to work that we didn't want to do. We decided what was really, really important to us from a consumption point of view, and budgeted for it. The rest got binned.

    Provocative post!

  • Christine, your comment raises an important point to be clarified – it's not about being anti-consumerism. It's about making sure habits don't keep you trapped where you don't want to be. I think your comment illustrates perfectly that it is about making decisions around how our choices impact what is most imporatnt to us and putting appropriate plans in place to manage that.

  • I really enjoyed this article and it reminded me of another blog that I read. http://farbeyondthestars.com I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Everett Bogue but he writes about and lives a minimalist life in order to be free and allow himself to live and work from anywhere he wants. A lot of people chase things that they “think” is suppose to make them happy which is why their life gets filled with stuff. For me it’s all about identifying your values and living your life in a manner that reflects and helps you achieve them.

  • Hi Ali! First of all, I love the pic illustrating lifestyle freedom! 🙂

    Thank you for cutting through the fog and clearly showing up consumerism….masquerading as lifestyle freedom. Enjoyed your metaphor of the hamster strapped to the wheel! Pretty straightforward!

    I liked what Christine said about being guided by personal values. For me, lifestyle freedom means that I am free to do those things that are personally fulfilling. That may be saying the same thing in different words!

    Good post Ali! I like how you speak up when you see the emperor wearing no clothes!

  • Thanks for your comment Cris. The bottom line for me, is it all about freedom to live fully, based on my values, on my own terms. To be a consumerism junkie would get in the way of that.

  • Hi Greg, funny you should mention Everett as I “found” him on twitter a few days ago and had a read of his blog. Interesting stuff. Agree with what you say about values – orientating you life around your core values is a key to real success and freedom on your terms as well as true fulfillment.

  • Ali, this is my first visit to your blog and I love it!! Since turning 40 and with three young children, I have grown to realise, and perhaps re-evaluate the enormous satisfaction one can achieve from desensitizing to consumerism…It took me six weeks and I treated it like breaking any habit using tactics such as affirmations, visualisation and rewards etc. I can now walk past Gucci and down the isle of the supermarket without as much as a pang of desire…in fact if anything, I feel angry at the constant 'pitch'.

  • Juli, thanks for your kind words about the blog. Glad you like it. Sounds like you had a really strong intention to break the habit. It is interesting that you mention “rewards” versus “sacrifice”. I see it the same way. The biggest reward for me of breaking the consumerism habit was being able to live closer to my values each and every day. Thanks for dropping by Juli.

  • Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes.  I remember very distinctly telling my husband early on in our marriage (30 years ago) that I never wanted to own a home with a mortgage so hefty that if ‘forced’ me to have to work full time when the kids were small or work in jobs I hated just to pay the mortgage.  Well, we almost stuck to that and throughout my work life I have had the honor and freedom to be able to have a variety of schedules with flextime, part time, telecommuting, etc.  Then we made that one fatal mistake: remortgaged the home to remodel it. I mean, too much HGTV and seeing neighbors remodeling and weakness and bam!  One big hefty bill hanging over my head at a time when the economy is bad, jobs in Michigan are scarce, mine went away and I’m at a point in life where reduced hours are desired for having a lifestyle that includes time with my parents, grandchildren and semi-retired spouse.  Instead I’m feeling a loss of freedom and lifestyle choice to pay the cost of that moment of weakness.  Great kitchen but I don’t even cook much. 

  •  Cheryl,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It is a reminder to keep focussed on our own lifestyle deisgn plans  and to be aware of when we are being seduced by outside forces which will pull us off track.
    We need to let go of our mistakes so that it does not suck the energy out of us from designing what we want to have happen next.

  • I am all about this question right now. Struggling with my very real need to make a living, while living. After stepping away from an all consuming and eventually unrewarding career, (social work) I love what I’m doing now, but making little money and that’s tough. Sometimes I become furious when people spout, “do what you love and the money will come.” That said, I don’t want to turn back. Just can’t do that. Thanks

  • Congratulations on stepping away from an unfulfilling career. I can totally relate to that as I left a corporate career many years ago to do my fulfilling and meaningful work. As you point out, it isn’t always easy, but so worthwhile.