Many people think more money will give them freedom. However for some of us, money becomes a trap. More money is not a bad thing, but being able to enjoy it or grow it follows mental freedom first. You cannot peg your existence on it.
Ken thinks more money will sort him out and given his situation it is understandable: Ken is in a lot of debt. He has been spending beyond his means for years. Even his wife does not know exactly how much he owes.
Ken is in top management at an advertising firm and for a long time, he has lived up to the image he was expected to have. There has been pressure to drive the right car, join the right clubs, live in the right neighbourhood, associate with the right people, etc. He earns a very good salary but like most people in this situation soon find out, there is always more to buy. Ken slowly started using his credit card to finance drinks for his team on Friday evenings. Then he would take personal loans from the banks and saccos. Then he got into salary advances. When that was not enough he got a second credit card. He now needed an annual top up on his loan to pay for his car insurance. If Ken got a windfall today, nothing would change unless he loses the shackles of his social status and image that he is imprisoned by.
Let’s look at William. He runs a very successful business and he makes enough money to sustain his lovely lifestyle. Unlike Ken, he doesn’t need to borrow to keep up with the Joneses, but like Ken, his entire identity is wrapped up in how much money he has.
If you had the unfortunate incident of sitting next to him for 20 minutes you come away knowing how much he makes in a month, how much he spends on his holidays, how much school fees he pays, and so forth. He will never discuss his business plans and progress: What’s important to him is that you know how much he spends.
William could stop working and still live comfortably for a while, but he is not free. He is still imprisoned by approval. He tells people about his money to get validation. Ken and William are in two different situations but victims of the same disease.
The truth shall set you free. The truth about us is never in how much money we make or don’t make. Our identity is not money. That’s a very insecure place to be. It is good to have but it can come and go. Both Ken and William need to realise that their power lies beyond the debt they have and the money they make. They both need to change their mindsets.
Ken will only get out of debt by understanding that he doesn’t need to buy social approval. He is enough. William will be at peace with himself when he realises that he doesn’t need to validate himself at every opportunity.
It’s getting harder to do this in our society. There is a lot of noise about what people have or own and less about their values, character, experiences and the process. You can make a lot of money and still be in a cage. Many people have found true freedom when they did not have money, e.g. losing their source of income. This is because it forces you to ask and discover who you are with or without the money. Then you truly find your identity without the inauthentic layering that society demands. So as you seek to manage money, create wealth, run business and so forth, remember to hang on to the truth of who you really are. That will keep you free.