Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness — Alejandro Jodorowsky
We live as if we were going to get another chance to do so.
Belief in reincarnation aside, this is the only chance we’re going to get to live this life.
So, why do we retreat to the false comfort of our daily routines to keep us grounded — routines that offer a sense of security but do nothing but hold us back from exploring the passion that life is so eager to give us?
Why do we reject life’s gifts?
It’s simple, really. Routines keep us sane. They are the roadmap we follow to keep us on track to accomplish our goals, to fulfill our purpose.
But what’s so great about being grounded?
Is our desire to stay grounded an excuse we use because we’re terrified of flying?
I used to be a victim of routine.
Today, my life is anything but.
I used to get up at 4 a.m., hit the gym by 5 a.m., drive 4.1 miles to work, sit in front of a computer writing and editing news stories, get up every once in a while to chat with colleagues or eat whatever was at the assignment desk in the newsroom (trust me, there was always something to eat at the assignment desk), go to the morning editorial meeting, edit more news stories, grab lunch, write and edit more stories, go to the afternooon editorial meeting, blah, blah, blah, drive 4.1 miles home, cook, watch TV, fall asleep.
Next day – Rinse, repeat.
Weekends were a little different, except for the fact that when you manage a website for a television news station in a major market, you’re pretty much never off. I loved what I did, adored my craft and my colleagues, but I was going batshit crazy.
A little over a year and a half ago, my routine at work abruptly came to a screeching halt. I suddenly found myself adrift in The Sea of Routinelessness (aka “unemployment”).
My first inclination was to find a new routine (aka “job”). You know, a step-by-step daily guide to keep me from becoming a rudderless ship, tossed about a sea of madness and confusion.
But having been given wings to fly, why would I ever want to travel by land and sea again?
After months of Wright Brothers-like false starts, I discovered I could make a living and fulfill my creative desires as an independent contractor. It used to be called freelancing, something reserved for artists, musicians, and creative types who couldn’t find a “real” job. But finding a “real job” isn’t as easy as it used to be now that the business model for many industries has changed.
Welcome, independent contracting.
Here’s how it works.
You find opportunities (or they find you) to work for companies looking for your skillset. I found out it’s much easier to find work when you’re not demanding the high salary with benefits that make up the traditional job market or job seeker.
If you’ve got the skills, work hard, and are willing to put in the hours and dedication it takes to get the work done, you can design your own flight plan at your own pace, giving you lots of time to tune up your engines, de-ice your wings, and check for wind shear and rough weather conditions before taking off.
During the flight, although autopilot can navigate while you take a break, you’ll have to grab the controls every once in a while to adjust for the slight errors in direction the automatic system may have prompted.
And never forget that you have a co-pilot. God, The Universe, a Higher Power — She doesn’t care what you call Her, as long as you remember She knows where you’re going better than you do.
One thing I’ve learned since being an independent contractor is to treasure my time. Despite what seems like a lack of routine, I do have specific responsibilities I must accomplish each day.
Many who still follow the traditional employer/employee model assume it’s all fun and games on my end, simply because what I do, and how I do it, doesn’t fit into the mold of what routine looks like to them.
I find this way of working is perfect for my personality. The beauty of it is, if I should ever decide to go back to a traditional work model, I can still maintain my independent contractor status, working “on the side,” as long as it doesn’t interfere, or create a conflict of interest, with any of the people or companies for which I work.
This keeps things interesting and lets me practice and perfect my craft in a unique way I never thought possible.
Now, you might be thinking, “This sounds great, Barb. But I could never do that. I’m too much of a traditionalist to just fly by the seat of my pants!”
Which brings us back to the flying analogy.
Are you afraid of flying? Are you afraid of soaring above the routines that keep you safe and grounded?
No, you’re not afraid of flying. No one is. Flying is what the aircraft of your life is supposed to do. So, no, you’re not afraid of flying.
You’re afraid of crashing!
But if you let fear of crashing keep you from pushing back from the gate and taxiing to the runway, you might as well hop into a flight simulator. It may look like you’re flying, but you’re not going anywhere.
Welcome the discomfort of doing things outside your routine. Say yes to the magic of living life without a concrete flight plan. Dare to land in places that look interesting along the way. Stay there as long as you like. But don’t get too comfortable. Other magical destinations await.
It’s your life. Live it as if it were your only one.