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Be Mused by Susan M. Brackney
Be Mused : Time to Start the Freedom Fund

Be Mused

Time to Start the Freedom Fund

Dear Muse,

I can't figure out what to do with my life. Nothing I do seems to satisfy me. Right now I have a "good" corporate job that most people, especially my parents, think is a fantastic opportunity. I, however, am pretty ambivalent towards it. I like the idea of a full time job like mine for the pay and benefits/security, but overall it's a soul-sucking affair comprised of "business causal" clothing, pointless paperwork, vapid meetings, bland decorations, forced company "fun" days, and people saying "Thaaaanks" a lot. 

Occasionally I have a spark of inspiration to do something else, something on my own, but I always seem to decide it's not what I really want to devote myself to. I know that if I could just figure out what that one thing is that I want to do, I wouldn't have any trouble throwing myself into it. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to figure out what that one thing is. What do you think of my situation? Am I just being a pessimist, not seeing the glass as half full and scoffing at what really is a great opportunity? Or am I right in not being happy? If so, do you have any suggestions as to how I can figure out what it is that I want to do? — In Hell in Car-mel

On the one hand you say you're merely ambivalent about your position, but, on the other, you've identified your job and its trappings as soul-sucking, pointless, vapid, and bland. (If that's your idea of ambivalence, I'd hate to see what passes for antipathy. . . )

Although, you may think you're in Hell, I believe you are poised for greatness! This is a fantastic opportunity — but not in the way that you or your parents may think. Can you stand to stay at your job for another year or two? If you can, I have just the plan for you.

For as long as you are stuck in your corporate job, start saving as much of your pay every week as you can. This is your Freedom Fund. You'll have to forgo eating out or buying every new bauble that catches your eye, but, in the end, the sacrifice will be worthwhile. (I saved $600 a month for one year by living simply and keeping my eyes on the prize. In my case, my Freedom Fund enabled me to start my own publishing company.) You will use your Freedom Fund to support one future project — perhaps it will be a short documentary or the start of your own small business? We'll get to that part in a second . . .

Rather than stashing your savings in a standard vanilla bank account, I strongly recommend investing in a mutual fund instead. If that makes you much too nervous, you could always go with something really secure like CDs or bonds. Whatever you do, make sure to check with a reputable investment broker first. And keep your hands out of the Freedom Fund no matter what — until it's time to cash in, that is.

Now, while you are busy saving money, you will also be stockpiling ideas. This is especially critical for you because before you can realize your dreams, you have to be able to recognize them. You said that you have the occasional spark of inspiration, but that you always end up abandoning the idea because you're not sure if you should fully devote yourself. After all, what if it's the wrong idea? What if it isn't the one thing that you should pursue? Well, there is no one thing. There are many, many avenues to take, and you'd probably be happy with lots of them. Besides, who said you had to stick with one creative path for the rest of time? Not me. You can pick a little something to start with. Think carefully about how you could make it work (and understand that if it doesn't work, you can always try something else.)

There are lots of good ways to figure out which paths would fulfill you. What interests you? Which sections do you gravitate to at the bookstore? How do you like to spend your free time? These are clues; pay close attention to them. By the time you do hit upon an idea that really resonates for you, you'll have a nice pile of money to accomplish your goals. •

© 2001 Susan M. Brackney. All rights reserved.

Susan M. Brackney Need a little help finding your way on the road less traveled? Susan M. Brackney, author of The Lost Soul Companion will try to solve your creative quandaries. More »