Freedom Is Not What it Used to Be

Freedom Is Not What it Used to Be

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” 

The rules have changed. Life, as we know it, is evolving, growing, and changing, at a much faster rate than people can handle and accept.

With this gap of understanding of what success and failure means in the past is no longer the same meaning today. The same goes for freedom, a powerful word with deeper symbolization that Mel Gibson in Braveheart declares passionately, boldly, and unapologetically (right before his character William Wallace was gutted and killed, of course).

Why do some folks, young and old, wince, cringe, downplay, yell, and downright exile others for their lofty, risky, highly ambitious, and unconventional ways of doing things?

It is due to a lack of understanding, a generational difference, or one or more of the following 3 fears:

  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear of Success
  • Fear of Abandonment

Fundamentally, generational differences will always play a role in causing us to think a certain way, believe that things ought to be done in a specific direction or timeframe, and will have its inherent beliefs that life – and freedom – should be in a particular fashion.

Freedom for a Baby Boomer (1946-1965) could mean that one works for a company his/her entire career, gets a nice pension or 401(k), save up enough money for retirement, and then live happily ever after. Not all Baby Boomers will think like this, but many do.

Freedom for a Generation Xer (1965-1982) could mean that they ignore leaders and change is more the rule than the exception. They grew up in the era of postmodernism and are often quite diverse. Not all Gen Xers will be like this, of course.

Freedom for a Generation Y (Millennial) (1982-2002) could mean a no-barriers approach to communication, marketing, media, and digital technologies as the people in this generation are often brought up with the heart of technology booming. Again, not all Millennials will be like this, but many are.

So when a Millennial tells his parents that he’s quitting his corporate day job in order to start a new online marketing/consulting business, his parents may be a bit taken aback, and angry, at such a move. In the parents’ eyes, this is not much different than career suicide. In the child’s eyes, this is career liberation.

How do we handle such differences? How do we bridge the gap between what one generation deems as appropriate and right as compared with another, much more traditional and older generation?

Here are 3 ways to bridge the generational gap of what freedom means:

1. Acknowledge that freedom for someone else is not necessarily the same for you.

While we may never please our parents with our outlandish ways of doing things, we can try to understand where they are coming from. Some of what they may say, as it applies to life experiences, mistakes to avoid, and general wisdom, will be of good use to us younger generations.

At the same time, some of that advice will be much outdated, irrelevant, and will cause more harm than good.

Knowing the difference as it pertains to your life is a great difference indeed. This can bring about positive change in your life.

So if you are more of a risk-taker and want to start a new business rather than work for someone else, do it, and do it in a smart way. By not blasting others in a harmful manner and basically, being mean about it, you can garner respect, trust, and even support from the very people that were negative about your decisions in the first place.

2. Be open, honest, and authentic in your communications to others.

This will never go out of style, no matter if you’re 100 years old or 100 days old.

Our inherent belief in others will depend a lot on their openness, honesty, and authenticity in how they conduct themselves and how they are communicating to others.

If you’re declaring freedom from society’s grip on the status quo, but at the same time, criticizing, yelling, and screaming at others for their complacency in life, don’t be surprised if you don’t have a massive following.

People respond to others differently. And while you may never garner support from some folks who just don’t understand, you can be true to yourself by ensuring what you are saying about your life is of the truth.

3. Follow through. 

Inevitably, when you declare something bold and grand, people will be watching.

If you made a public commitment that you’ll be running next year’s marathon, people will start to hold you accountable to it. Questions will be asked on how you’re progressing. And you’ll need to answer those questions, or if plans change, let them know.

If you’ve made a commitment to yourself to be free, from anything, anything at all, then you owe it to yourself to follow through.

Freedom will always mean something different to you than to someone else. You are your own person, and no matter what generation you were brought up in, you need to be true to yourself, follow your heart, and believe that when you truly want freedom and take action to get to where you need to be, freedom will be yours indeed.