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Out-of-the-box thinking, breakeven living

These days I meet interesting people such as writers, artists, musicians, and people who are not defined by who they work for but their passion. Needless to say, my conversations involve sharing ideas and perspectives with them. We don't repeat what others say but articulate what we think and create.

For a long time, my identity was defined by the company I worked for and ultimately by my job title. My worth was measured by my salary. I could be a nobody, but as long as I worked for somebody, I was somebody.

To think outside the box, I had to get out of the box.

The kinds of people I talk to these days don't belong to a company or a club. They are individuals in their own right. How did they manage to break out of the box and get out of the rat race?

A friend asked me what life was like now that I've left the fast lane and moved to the slow lane.

To get there wasn't easy. I had to let go. I had to change my objective, which, like other rat packers, was to make as much money as fast as possible, regardless of health and personal welfare. Relationships only served that purpose of trying to get ahead.

Ahead of what?

In the last few years, I discovered that I could have been a lowly-paid, part-time clerk and still end up with the same amount of money I have now --- but with better health and more time cultivating enriching relationships. Instead, I buried myself in work, trying to get ahead, not knowing where the finishing line was, in a race that I could never win.

I call it breakeven living because you only need to make enough to make ends meet, that is, not to be in debt. Debt-free living is freedom. There's no need to make surplus at the risk of your health or necessary personal time.

Seek and ye shall find. Before long, I found others who have also broken out of the corporate jungle to pursue a simpler life. Of course, it helps to read books about downshifting.

4 November 2003 Tuesday

analyticalQ book reviews
Second passions
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Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.