The power of independence- 6 mins
Independence is a great power, and with great power comes great responsibility, but I just love the fact that independence gives me the ability to control what I spend time on.
I started this blog back in 2015 with a Hello World post and then forgot about it. I just got a new sprinkle this morning after my usual workout gym session. By blogging, I can understand better what drives me, what are my priorities in life and it’s a perfect way to look back on how I changed. I decided to write more, but I’ll try to keep my posts not too long and just discuss simple topics that are of interests to me.
My life changed a lot since then! First of all, I graduated from university and now I’m pursuing a Master’s degree at EPFL. I did one internship at Amazon in Iași, Romania, and two at Google in their headquarters, Mountain-View, California (the third one coming up next summer, but that might be a topic for another blog post).
I moved from Cluj-Napoca in July 2018 to Mountain-View and then, in September 2018, to Lausanne, Switzerland. I plan on writing about my experience with this country in the future. I enjoy traveling, but I get bored easily and I feel like I see somehow the same things. Perhaps I should visit very different cultures (until now I’ve visited only common places in the US and Europe).
In 24 April 2017, I incorporated Duty Labs - a (very) small digital agency - in Romania, with the vision of doing freelancing or managing a small team. In fact, I just started a new project with a very smart friend, and it’s awesome how we work together. In a little bit more than a year, I’ve managed to find and finish almost a dozen projects while working fully remote.
I find most of my projects from the Toptal Network, where I decided to step up and become a Community Leader in Switzerland. Although that sounds sexy, it simply means that I organize different events and help the community grow. It helps me shape my entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
Independence is the only (real) way to be in control of your life.
I wasn’t truly independent before moving to Switzerland. Before that, I would always find excuses to ask my parents to create that phone contract, pay the bills, and I didn’t mind getting the money they gave me each month to pay my rent (which btw was so much less than here and now I fully pay for it).
I went home for Christmas and didn’t really feel like home anymore. I love being surrounded by family and friends, but I became very lazy, and I couldn’t really focus on study or work anymore. I wanted to understand why that happened.
Today on my way back from the gym, when I usually reflect on life, I asked myself what was the reason behind that. Came to realize that I was not in control of what I was doing. One hour into studying and my mom walks into my room inviting me to eat. Then my dad asking to stay more with them, then …
I say it again, I really love my family, and having your mom cook for you it’s easier, but if you think about it for a second, you’re not in control anymore. Sure she might ask you what you want to eat, but does she ask you when you usually eat? What if you do intermittent fasting? Will you make your mom sad and not eat until 1 pm? I don’t think so.
Being independent has this power to give you more control of your life.
Financial independence is obviously the first thing that one needs to strive for in order to become really independent. You just can’t be independent if your parents still sustain you with money. Sure, they want us to have everything, and I’m not saying that you should not take presents from them (even money), but you cannot be independent if you still call them to top up your bank account because you spent way too much in the club last night.
The way I started getting this in order is that I learned new skills that I found to be very marketable. I finished the university which gave me more reliability, got part-time jobs or internships, taught Computer Science to high-school pupils, did freelancing and took online courses. The strategy is usually: find out something that you would like to work on, learn that thing, find opportunities and get that money. While working, I found out that I just trade my time for money. Of course, the other part of the coin reads: if I had more money, I could buy more time. Now, of course, I cannot do that but think about it as not being forced to trade my time for money in a way or another. In some sense, money buys freedom and freedom means you can become easily independent.
So start saving, put money aside so that you will not be stressed on the future, and even think about how you can invest them later. With my current savings, I could live in the same lifestyle for more than 2 years. That’s powerful because if one opportunity arises, I can take as much time as needed to put some work into it. Some people just cannot start that business because it would require them 6 months of full-time work, and they will starve if they quit their job. That’s a shame, isn’t it?
Once you have your finances in order, take the next step and practice some decision making. I used to always talk to my mom about every small decision, like even buying some jeans. In life, I think it’s so important to be able to decide based on your own judgment. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t consult with anyone. In fact, I would even argue it’s better to talk to someone before making a very big decision, but you should be able to decide based on your preferences and not other people. Whatever your principles are, that should weight more when deciding on something.
This practice will be very valuable later, on small decisions like what to eat today, what phone subscription to buy, to very big ones like quitting your job, starting a business or getting into a relationship. That’s because when we make a decision, we consciously see every advantage and disadvantage and think about the potential outcomes of each.
I used to think that committing is a bad idea because it narrows my future options, but after becoming more independent, I came to realize that committing to something, given that your decision-making skill is strong, is actually very beneficial for you. There are very few decisions that are irreversible in life, and you can always go back to where you were before, instead of keeping all your options. Committing does not narrow the future, but it actually shapes it the way you want. I think about committing as being at the intersection of two or more roads, and, instead of just staying there, choose the one that I like the most, and then proceed with it even if I find it hard later.