The notion of work and career has significantly changed in the last 40 years. The end of the one-company career, the rise of the digital economy, automation, remote work, the gig economy, the disappearance of traditional jobs, and the emergence of new ones have completely modified our professional landscape.
This shift has not benefited all workers in the same way. Wealth inequality has dangerously increased to the point of undermining the social fabric of our democracies. Two revealing statistics: 89% of all U.S. stocks held by households (ref: CNBC Oct 18, 2021) are concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest 10% of Americans, and 65% of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck and would not be able to handle a $500 unplanned emergency (ref: Lending Club Report Oct 2022).
From recent university graduates realizing that their first paid job won’t bring them financial independence, to young families crawling under a burden of obligations, and to experienced managers being pushed out of their companies, the level of professional frustration and resentment in the population appears high. More importantly, it seems that too many people have resigned themselves to their current situation resulting in a depressing loss of hope and debilitating paralysis.
But does it have to be that way? Are there alternatives? I don’t know if there are systemic solutions, but I believe there are opportunities at the individual level.
This narration is all about potentially highlighting a path to these opportunities. The road is full of uncertainties and challenges, presupposes a shift in mental framework and a readiness to change, and may not be accessible to everybody equally. Yet, it may represent an example for those of you whose frustration surpassed your fears of leaving your comfort zone and who are ready to try something else but do not know how to proceed.
There was a time when I was also stuck in many ways. Stuck with a vision of the world, limited by too many pre-conceived ideas which prevented me from seriously considering and analyzing alternatives, even if only to consciously dismiss them.
I had spent many years securing multiple diplomas which propelled me to a favorable path in the corporate world. I was well-paid managing multiple countries for a large company. I had the perfect wife for me (which I still have 😎).
I was successfully playing in a system that was advantageous to me but that brought constraints that I had just been embracing by default. Certainly not a terrible situation to be in, but one which I started questioning as I was increasingly realizing that I had unknowingly been a conformist all my life.
A sense of frustration eventually led me on a transformation path. I read a lot and searched for a universal truth that was elusive. Sometimes I experienced an illumination that moved my thinking forward, but I was really looking for something that I could only find within myself. I was looking for a magic pill that does not exist.
I eventually defined a vision for myself and took the plunge by quitting my job in search of my ideal life.
This is the journey I intend to describe and illustrate through a walk across the entire width of Portugal on Via Algarviana from Alcoutim, at the border with Spain, to the Atlantic Ocean at Cabo do Sao Vicente. It is a long trail of 308 km that will certainly test my physical and mental resolve, with many similarities to my journey to financial freedom. I plan to do it in 14 stages and use each stage as the representation of an insight into my transformation, detailing the logical approach that guided me in total transparency and without complacency.
The trip will cover six considerations: five that I consider essential, yet not necessarily sufficient, to achieve financial freedom (introspection, vision, congruence, action, and resilience) and one that is out of our control (luck).
My single hope is that you will relate to at least one idea along the way.
In closing this introduction, I would like to make a few points:
I define the freedom lifestyle as the conscious choice of choosing the constraints we are willing to live with, rather than the automatic acceptance of constraints imposed by a company, an institution, a partner, or friends. It is all about taking more control over your life, fully accepting the consequences of your choices, and seeking to overcome your fears, all for a vision you have thoughtfully defined for your life.
The walk can be tracked daily on francklyspeaking.com and on Instagram and Youtube at @francklyspeaking. Make sure to follow me there. Every day I will post a video about my progress across Portugal and a chapter about the path to a freedom lifestyle.
I am using a bullet point format to avoid verbose digressions, and hopefully make it easier to follow the logic of the approach. As a result, some ideas or examples may need further explanation. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification by leaving a comment. I will try addressing them daily in my posts, and in a final zoom call for all interested followers at the end of the walk on Tuesday, February 28 at 4 pm Portugal time.
Finally, this content is free to use for personal purposes. At the end of the hike, I will issue a digital version of the whole adventure for cohesion. You are welcome to share it with friends and family. If it helps, the more the merrier.