Change is a difficult process for individuals. As such most people tend to avoid change. The thing is, in a way we become trapped in our ways.
What Lead Me to Writing This?
The impetus of this post is actually multi fold. I was actually considering writing it for a while now. Ever since I started the Power of attorney process I’ve felt a bit trapped and routed into a given path. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a negative mental position type of thing. This is more it got me thinking how often do we get started on a given path and for a plethora of reasons just continue on it. Sometimes it’s good we do, and sometimes it isn’t. But do we ever stop to think about why we do so?
Does Financial Independence Define You
So this idea was flopping around in my head, and then I read a post by Quiet Fi on Keeping up with the Fiers. In it he talks about being pressured to conform and how it influences the writings of frugality bloggers. It kind of got me thinking that would be one way to feel trapped.
The act of pursuing financial independence is a good thing. But it’s easy to become trapped in that pursuit. In a way it begins to define you.
Ways You Might Get Trapped
Anyway, that post began to make me think about the ways one might get trapped.
Expectations and Conformity Leading to Being Trapped
There is the feeling that you define yourself in some way so you must live up to that image. The example above around frugality bloggers is a great example. But others might be that your familial expectations related to careers, hobbies you once found enjoyable but now don’t but your friends expect you to be that guy, or even peer pressure related to choices.
The reality is it’s easy to get stuck into believing you have to live up to others expectations of your image. Whether it be conforming to societal norms or the image other people have of you/you have of yourself. The reality though is the only person you have responsibility for is yourself and potentially your family. Your decisions are yours, and what other people think doesn’t matter. In fact often others don’t care as much as you believe they do.
A Sense of Duty and Being Trapped
Another way to think of this one is you feel a sense of duty to others. My previously mentioned POA situation is all about feeling like I need to do it as it’s the right thing to do. I have a sense of duty to help others.
Sunk Cost Falacy
Another way to feel trapped is the sunk cost fallacy. Back to our example of a hobby. Imagine you spent thousands of dollars collecting for a hobby you enjoy, but you no longer enjoy it. You might push yourself to keep going just because you’ve spent that money. This is a natural bias.
But the real goal here is to enjoy yourself, not flush good money and time into something you no longer enjoy. Myself, I have held any number of hobbies over the years that no longer interest me. From comics to sports car racing, you name it I’ve had interest at some point. But if I held onto all of those things I’d either have no time or no space from hoarding. Recognizing I’ve moved on in interest and actually moving on are keys to doing well in life.
Physically Being Trapped
Of course there is also the physical barrier of being trapped. When I graduated college decades ago I did so with 63K in debt. My finances were a physical barrier to my choices. With that much debt I couldn’t afford to live just anywhere and take just any job. I needed a job to survive. Much of this site‘s writing is about removing these types of physical barriers from your life.
Psychologically Being Trapped
The last significant method of being trapped is psychological. Simply you’ve done something for so long that you can’t fathom what happens when it changes. You have a fear of the unknown. The one more year scenario for retirees might be a good example here. You are afraid to stop working even though you can because it will be thrusting yourself into the unknown.
Another example might be where you live. For over a decade I’ve dreamed of moving out of Delaware. I’ve also toyed with the idea of working at a smaller company at some point in my career. Have I done these things? Well no. Because I have a comfortable life from other aspects. To some degree there is a fear there that those things will disappear if I were to change. So I don’t.
The Point Here is Not to Regret My Direction
Now I write this and realize I might give the impression I am trying to get out of being a POA. Or also maybe that I should move. But you know what, if I evaluate these things more thoroughly while I recognize I’m trapped I realize I’m also currently happy with my decisions for other reasons. It just sometimes takes sitting down and thinking it through to realize them.
We Are All Trapped
Which really brings me to the point of this piece. We are all trapped in some way, likely many. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing. Being trapped somewhere good can be fine. But we so rarely sit down and think about how much flexibility life really has.
You Make Your Life’s Direction Once You Establish Financial Options
If you are in a decent financial position then there is literally nothing stopping you from looking for another job, packing up and moving across country, or even starting a new hobby. In my own case with our financial situation as it is, with the exception of the Delaware ties for our foster girl there is nothing but my own and my families choices that dictate the direction of our lives. It’s easy to forget that in the heat of life. But hopefully this post gets some of you thinking about whether you are trapped in a place you really want to be.