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“I’ll be there in 2 hours.”

There shouldn’t have to be consequences for being there for your loved ones.

Her words broke my heart.

“It’s just hard. People here are sympathetic, but they didn’t know him. So I just feel alone.”

I didn’t even question the thought. “I’ll be there in 2 hours.”

She didn’t want to be a bother. She never does. “No, it’s okay. I’ll be fine, Tom.”

I refused to accept that response. “Nope. I’m throwing some clothes in a bag and heading out the door right now. I’ll call you when I get there.”

I sped down the freeway as fast as my 1996 Dodge Neon would take me.

Two hours later, I stepped out of the car and was greeted with a big hug. We both cried, though she wasn’t one to cry around me very much.

I didn’t have to think twice about it – despite the consequences

I’ve written about the death of my high school friend, Chris, and the impact it had on my life.

Well, yesterday was the 20th anniversary of his death.

On the day he died, I was talking with my friend Jess – one of my closest and best friends from high school.

She knew Chris pretty well, too, and she was grieving in Green Bay at college.

I had fellow classmates from high school going to the same college as me, so I could connect with them.

Jess didn’t have anybody.

So, I drove up that evening to spend the night with her.

She’s like a sister to me and has been for over 20 years. She still is. There’s no scenario where I DON’T want to be there for my friends.

We stayed up and talked a bunch, about Chris, about death, about growing up. All the things.

I just wanted to be there for her and provide support. I slept uncomfortably on her dorm room floor that night, and dragged myself back home the next morning.

I have no regrets about doing that, though there were definitely consequences to the decision.

I had to skip out on class. I believe I was late to my office job the next day.

It threw my week into disarray.

But I felt I had to do it. It was too important to ignore. I wanted to be there for my friend.

The depressing reality of life

It seems logical, doesn’t it?

Friend needs some companionship. Other friend should go be with them.

Friendship 101.

But the gesture had meaning because there were many reasons NOT to go.

And the more of a grown up you are, the more reasons pile up.

Work is the number one reason.

We all design our lives around our jobs.

Vacations depend on how much vacation time we’re allowed by our boss.

Taking care of our bodies when we get an infection or a virus depends on how many sick days we’re allowed by our boss.

And grieving? You might get a LITTLE leeway. But if the person you need to grieve with is out of town, good luck getting time off to go be with that person for long.

My brother-in-law’s father passed away in Chicago. Two hours away. He couldn’t go be with his mother when it happened because his job would only allow him enough time off to go to the actual funeral.

There are few things more emotionally dehumanizing than a 9-5 job sometimes.

There are many reasons to have flexibility in your work

Grieving is a sad thing. And it’s important to do.

But it’s not the only reason to have flexibility in your work.

Think of all the other non-negotiable life activities that require you to be away from your job:

  • Cooking good, healthy meals
  • Exercising
  • Clearing snow from the driveway
  • Providing support to an ailing spouse
  • Picking up your kids from school
  • Emergency home repair
  • Kids’ field trips
  • Occasional family vacations

You get the idea.

Life throws so many important activities – meaningful, life-affirming activities – that we push away or compromise on because “we have to work”.

Don’t get rid of work – CHANGE your work

I’m not advocating for UBI or any of that stuff.

I am 100% in support of people working to feed themselves and their families.

However… I do believe that there needs to be a shift in how we approach work on a day-to-day basis.

When you work for yourself, you set the ground rules.

And you are free to embrace the Freedom Lifestyle.

The Freedom Lifestyle is not about being able to work whenever, sit in your underwear all day, or constantly be writing from the beach. I don’t care about any of that.

The Freedom Lifestyle gives me the ability to prioritize everything in my life, including work.

Instead of making work the Only Number One Priority and forcing everything else to settle around it, I am able to include work as a priority and slot it in where it needs to go.

If my wife is sick on the couch, I can take breaks from my job to go care for her and make lunch for our daughter.

If she has a doctor appointment, I can knock off of work early and go pick up our boys from school.

If my son asks for it, I can arrange my workweek to take off a day and chaperone his field trip.

I can arrange my hours so that I am free to make home-cooked lunches and homemade dinners for my family. I can also go work out at a time that works best for me.

This is all because I put myself in the driver’s seat of my career.

Work is a priority. But it can’t be THE priority.

We need to be free to be human beings in life. Working for yourself as a Freedom Writer gives you that opportunity.

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