What Does Career Freedom Mean to You?

Fourth of July in the USA celebrates one kind of freedom, but that’s certainly not the only way freedom can be defined. How would you define it? That might be very different from someone else’s definition. The same could be said for career freedom.

So let’s explore a little about some definitions of freedom and how you might apply them to your career situation.

Common Definitions of FreedomFreedom road sign

According to Merriam-Webster, the concept of freedom can include these two aspects:

  • The absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action (in other words, a lack of enforced or limited behavior);
  • Liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another (alternatively expressed as independence).

Although similar in some respects, these two definitions do have gradations of meaning that differ somewhat. The second definition could be described as related to more extreme conditions (limitations on freedom) than the first one. In any case, they both have relevance in terms of opening up possibilities for a brighter future for the individual than he or she has previously been experiencing.

Freedom and Your Career Management

goldfish jumping out of the waterYou might be experiencing a sense of constraint and coercion in your current job, which could be reinforced by a manager who at best is not supportive and might actually be an active obstructionist with regard to your career progress. That could leave you feeling as if opportunities for growth are somewhere between scarce and nonexistent. However, that might not be as true–or as fixed a condition–as you think. Maybe there are options you’re overlooking that could allow you to leap out of that limiting situation and into something bigger and better.

If you’ve been feeling stuck, this might be a good time to look more carefully at your situation and try to identify ways you can either push the limits outward a bit or even move past them by taking positive action. Note that I’m not necessarily talking about chucking your current job and leaping into the unknown, although in extreme cases you might do that.

A better option might be to create and execute a job search plan that will enable you to make a move on your own terms, giving yourself the best possible odds for success. Letting yourself be pushed out is not freedom.

If you are in an extreme job or career situation (such as would fit the second definition of freedom above), you might need to adopt a strongly assertive (some might even say aggressive) approach to correct that situation. When your physical and/or mental well-being could be considered as under attack–say, from a toxic boss or from company management that essentially abuses its employees, you won’t want to pussyfoot around the issues; instead, focus your energy on influencing the outcome that’s at stake, in the direction you want it to go.

Freedom and Choice Go Hand-in-Hand

I’ve known people who stayed in a bad job situation longer than they should have, either because they felt trapped and helpless or because they kept thinking something would get better over time–even though they weren’t doing anything to achieve that result. It can be hard to face the reality of such a situation and stop fooling yourself that it’s going to magically change on its own.

However, I’ve also known people who did what’s sometimes called “taking a big gulp” and forged ahead to create the kind of career freedom they craved. They weren’t necessarily stronger or braver than you or I, but somehow they recognized that they had no choice if they didn’t want to spend the rest of their lives spinning their wheels (like a hamster), and they managed to find the courage to break free from the restraints. Silhouette of man and sunshine

Those individuals proved to themselves and others that it can be done. Keep that in mind if you’re tempted to think it’s impossible.

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