Autonomy & Decisions
I know we’ve got to hustle. I know sacrifice is important to the journey. But to what extent?
I just took a 15 minute walk to nowhere simply to get up from my desk and out of an office that I am currently at a crossroads of dislike and hate with. See if I hated it then I would have ran for the hills immediately, but because I only seem to dislike it I am willing to let a little piece of me die each day for the dollar.
I’ve been privileged the last few years to work for myself as a women’s wellness facilitator and real estate business/start up consultant. This work has afforded me the opportunity to travel, rest, have a morning routine and prioritize my self care, take care of any details my parents need support with, focus on my aunt’s passing, funeral, and subsequent grief, and attempt to handle any health issues I’ve been struggling with. However, with the highs and lows that come with being an entrepreneur at times I’ve let fear stifle me into thinking that I better get a ‘real job’ and make that steady pay check to ensure my life is covered.
So I’ve recently sacrificed my autonomy for a pay check.
Take a breath Tash.
Just reading that back makes me feel sick.
Autonomy is a HUGE value of mine - freedom, flexibility, joy, peace, prosperity, love, connection are the many other values that are important to me - but autonomy - AUTONOMY - may be right up there next to God.
Let’s look at the definition:
the right or condition of self-government.
freedom from external control or influence; independence.
In layman’s terms, and for the purpose of this journal, autonomy is the ability to decide how one lives their own life. This shows up explicitly in work if you are given certain freedoms around how you do your work, when and where you work and what benefits you receive for your work. Autonomy plays a fundamental role in shaping your well being. And it has done so for me these last 5 years that I have been a full time consultant and entrepreneur.
Growing up in a home with parents who had a right and wrong way to do all things, I never felt the freedom that my little Sagittarius ‘freedom is my birthright, let me jetset everywhere’ having ass so desired as a young person - because of this I rebelled hella hard in high school.
I can remember the first time I experienced my first bout of autonomy - I was 7 years old. My then best friend Lindsay Wiebe came knocking on my door one afternoon and asked my mom if I could come out to play. She pointed to her older sister standing on the sidewalk and said her sister would be watching us and we would just be going to the park.
Lindsay seemed to have all the independence in the world. She got to walk to school on her own or with her big sister, play out with the neighbourhood kids in the evenings, had the energy and dynamo of any confident, independent little girl with the sweetest, happiest grin, deep set dimples and mischievous blue eyes. I wanted to mimic her entire spark and being.
Now I don’t know exactly why my mom trusted Lindsay this day, but she agreed that I could go out and play with her and her big sister. The minute we hopped on our bicycles and turned the corner one block over, Lindsay’s sister was gone with the wind leaving two seven year olds to their own devices.
Here’s what I remember from the day in no particular order:
Riding our bikes all around Malton
Stopping at Lindsay’s house and having ice cream and popsicles
Trashing our bicycles behind Westwood Mall and touching every single toy on the shelves in Zeller’s
Me following Lindsay’s every lead like a lost little puppy, wide eyed, curious and beyond excited probably even embarrassingly giddy as fuck
That night I laid in bed reminiscing on the joy and freedom I felt (at that age I don’t think I recognized it as freedom but instead thought I had the best day of my life!) I wanted more of this, plenty more. But that feeling didn’t last long as the rest of my days continued on with my parent’s being over protective and not letting me play past the driveway again.
I don’t think I received complete autonomy until I moved out of my parents home and by then the stain of feeling that I needed to do as I was told and do what was acceptable to them was fully engrained in me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve effed off a lot. I’ve had rebellious periods, angry periods, workaholic periods, periods succumbed by men and relationships that I can barely even remember where my parents existed in those moments - as sad as that may be - but the guilt that lived within me that I wasn’t complying to a specific way of life never subsided.
There was always this idea that I ’should’ be doing something different than I had been doing in that moment. I should be making more money. I should be an executive within a corporation. I should be a writer and coach instead. I should be backpacking and travelling the world. My should's seemed to always conflict between what I saw as freedom versus the need for security and stability.
Now here we are back at a job. A moment of rabbit holin’ down the abyss of should’s led me here. A misstep on my part. A misstep created by the fear that I would fail if I continued down the entrepreneurial path with no backup. A misstep created through the struggle of being on this island alone where everyone around you has the stable job, where your parents believe your birthright is wrapped up in a company pension, where it’s hard to even explain confidently what you do when someone asks.
Is it worth it?
What is more important? Your internal values? Or the external things you receive whether you compromise yourself or not?
I know we’ve got to hustle. I know sacrifice is important to the journey. But to what extent?
What if you can no longer handle the balance of being a full time employee and a part time entrepreneur - which one do you give up?
Is the risk worth the reward? Is choosing security a risk within itself?
As we get older, our decision making seems to carry such great weight. If you choose the wrong path you fear you will change the course of your life forever, make the wrong choice and be left grappling for your values and freedoms all over again. If you are 30+ you feel like there isn’t anymore time to play around with your decisions.
Just because the decision seems most ’secure’ doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for you. Part of the reason that decision has been deemed secure is because it’s safe and popular, and many times specific decisions become popular because many of us don’t take the time to determine what is right for us and what fits our core values, we simply fall in line with what we see others doing.
Many times our decisions are made as a result of feeling anxiety, overwhelm, fear or pressure from our loved ones or by our current circumstances. Whatever the reason, it’s important that we remember that we do have the autonomy to decide, as often as possible, how we want to live our lives and what we want to spend our time doing.
We also need to remind ourselves that any decision we make is based on the variables of that current moment. So even if you look back and regret it, remind yourself that you did your best at that time based on the circumstances that had presented itself - and you can make a better decision now.
Our lives belong to us and so do our decisions. It’s high time we begin exercising our freedom of autonomy and choose ourselves more.
Update: While I wrote this, I quit the job. I am trusting in my ability to attract opportunities that are in better alignment and recognize that I physically, spiritually and emotionally can no longer stay where I am uncomfortable. I can breathe again. Despite the pay check, I chose my autonomy. Thank ya lawd.
So what do you think, what are your core values and how have you been compromising them? (if you don’t know your core values, holla at me and I can help you get clear on these)
Is the risk worth the reward? Or do we need to sacrifice a value in the present to get to greater values in the future?
Let me know in the comments or consider journaling your thoughts.
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Bare with me y’all.
I love you.
Til next time,
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Cuz!! We are kindred spirits. I too have taken the path of swinging between "steady job with pension" to "entrepreneur and wondering if I'll make enough". It's the same as swinging between "soul sucking work" & "Freedom to choose my own clients and hours". Right now I've found a balance that suits me, and doesn't leave me panicky. This only because I've learned a few things... And wish someone had given me this advice: (1) Find a Mentor (someone who's been there done that); check in regularly- bounce ideas- receive positive hoorahs. (2) Find a Partner (me I got lucky and my life partner is also a business partner); running a business is tough, but you don't have to do/ be everything - choose your partner well OR find a group of similar minded people to work with- CFIB is a great small business organization that can help do some of the heavy lifting. (3) Don't let other people tell you you're crazy to go out on your own. People often remember that "you tried" and wished they had the guts to try too. Even though my original business didn't make it, I can't tell you how many people thought it did and still think I'm doing it. It's like the time I took off like a shot up a hill at a cross country running champ race so as to allow our star runner a chance to focus on me and run past me ("Puff... thanks... puff... Mare"). She won... Our team of 6 won... I was second to last. But at the banquet ALL the other competitors congratulated me for winning because all the remember was the view of the soles of my feet running up that hill. Xox
Whewwwwwwww I often feel like I want to place the word ambition with autonomy. Listening and reading your newsletter reminded me that the two can coexist. Ambition often is used as a sacrifice that’s detrimental to health and well-being but when I use the word autonomy I just feel the freedom within my health and well-being to do my ambition. I’m changing the way I look at ambition to collide with my autonomy. My autonomy makes space for my ambition to thrive in who I’m called to be and what I’m called to do 🌱