Inner Freedom: Can Getting Rich Lead You To It?

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Discover the concept of the illusion of freedom, and gain a deeper understanding of true inner liberation.

The original reason I wanted to be an entrepreneur was to get rich so I could “do whatever I want.” 

This idea really took hold when I was 22 years old and saw the movie The Social Network. Here was a young person that had created monumental wealth for themselves by starting their own company. After watching this film, my nights and weekend project quickly became learning about entrepreneurship through books and podcasts. 

About a month into my new obsession I read the 4 hour work week which further cemented the idea that I needed to work for myself to eventually achieve freedom. 

So I spent the next 10 years of my life doing everything from building a successful lifestyle business that actually let me live the 4 hour work week to building and selling a SaaS company to one of the biggest software companies in the world. 

Throughout most of this period, I thought I was chasing inner freedom, but what I was really doing was pushing away an unconscious sense of worthlessness.

Now being on the other side of both the accomplishments and a new level of awareness, it is incredibly evident to me that money and success don’t actually provide the highest level of freedom we all seek.

I now find myself in all these professional and peer groups of founders with more money and accomplishments than they know what to do with. And if i’m being honest, it seems like most of them can’t actually do what they want. They just don’t know it.

There is an unstated expectation to do something bigger, better, and more impactful in the world. 

There are business selection criteria matrixes where ideas are put through a checklist to avoid picking opportunities “not big enough.”

Periods of not working on something eventually inspire a sense of shame and restlessness making Christmas parties a total drag.

I relate all too deeply to this inner world having been the poster boy for it the better part of a decade.

What you realize at a certain level of awareness is that the need to maintain a perceived identity continues to drive this inner activity regardless of how much money or time freedom you have. And the weight of the expectation to maintain a certain position in society or conform to a narrative you’ve created about your self is just as constraining as the need to make money…if not stronger. 

It’s hard to see at certain levels of consciousness, but the pursuit of material freedom can be more akin to trading one vector for another vs. truly being free. Yes, we can all agree that no longer having to worry about money is nice, but unless you go inwards to work on your consciousness, you will continuously experience the freedom limitations of the ego.

The graph and trend line above is not a hard and fast correlation, but more of a common expression that seems to occur. There are obviously plenty of people who do not need to make money and are free of the inner pressure to maintain an identity. And many who are not, yet think they are.

Eventually, you may evolve to a more contribution oriented stage of consciousness evolution as mentioned in books like The Second Mountain. Here you find meaning in things that extend beyond the enhancement of the personal ego and embrace the importance “us” in various forms. There is no question the texture of one’s inner experience can be more enjoyable at this phase of evolution than pure self enhancement.

But because there is still a predominant identification with yourself as being the thoughts and emotions you experience, the feeling of having to do more, go bigger, and make the most of yourself still exists. The only difference is, it’s redirected towards things inclusive of others such as causes, solving world problems, “having impact” and relationships. 

It’s not that these things are bad. In fact they are wonderful. But it is likely that it still doesn’t diffuse a nagging inner monologue weighing tradeoffs and striving to maximize yields at every turn. On the inside, it can still be a shouldfest.

I should volunteer. 

I should donate more.

I should do the right thing.

I should eat healthier.

I should not skip the workout.

I should spend more time with this person.

Is this what freedom feels like!?

One day you wake up and see that in earnestly pursuing the things that our society told us would get us liberation, we unconsciously created a prison for ourselves. The cell blocks might change and get more spacious over time, but we’re still behind bars.

We just don’t know it, until we do. More broadly then this particular context, it is why ignorance is often cited as the greatest sin and tragedy of man.

The true freedom we all seek is from our minds and the compulsive commenter in our heads that loves to judge and comment on everything. It is an inward experience, not anything that can be accomplished “out there” that allows one to truly move through the world freely and spontaneously.

Do You Have Inner Freedom?

The crazy thing about all this stuff, is you really just don’t know it’s happening to you until you do. It’s why “awareness” is such appropriate language and a consistent theme in spirituality.

Let’s say you have 4 free hours on a Friday afternoon. You “can do whatever you want.” 

Do you allow yourself to follow the spontaneity and joy of whatever seems compelling in a present moment? Can you sit down and eat a bag of chips and take a walk or watch netflix without encountering self judgement?

Or is there an ever-present urge to maximize that time…to read the book, do the workout,  network with someone or any other activity rooted in “self” enhancement. 

Now maybe you say, those self enhancement activities are actually what I want to do. That you derive pure joy from them and it is not some filtered down compulsion based on conditioning and unconscious programs driving these choices. This was my personal narrative for a long time.

But let’s just say you felt a spontaneous urge tomorrow to do something out of the ordinary or maybe do nothing at all…could you do it without the voice in your head judging? Could you really do whatever you wanted and feel complete unconditional joy and love for yourself? Do you really have inner freedom?

For most of my life, the answer for me was no. This was suffering, but I didn’t know it. I would have just told you it’s how life works if you wanted to make the most of yourself.

I imagine a lot of people may be reading this and saying things like, “but I gotta pay the bills dude? Or easy for you to say, you sold your company and are rich now. Or yeah, but you don’t have kids!” 

To this I would respond, what we are talking about is true inner liberation. Beyond certain basic needs, it is an independent variable that does not cost anything to pursue. And doing this work can work seamlessly with any life. Things like parenting are actually exceptional accelerants to use life as your teacher for awakening.

Though I am more comfortable now and wildly grateful for my experiences in business, the bottom line is I spent 10 years chasing something that turned out to be different then I thought it’d be.

This was a necessary experience for my own evolution and I would not change it. Yet, that does not mean the awareness of this now might not be able to help someone step off the hamster wheel to a more direct path of one’s deepest desire. Though, all paths are perfect.

It is possible to live a life of spontaneity, joy, and interconnectedness. It is possible to truly have inner freedom, and do whatever you want. It just turns out the way to get there isn’t getting rich like I originally thought.

I guess the only way to become free to do whatever you want is to investigate and evolve the perception of the one who is doing.

If this resonates, there are many ways to make this shift. Here is a list of resources:



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