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Make every day your Independence Day

Many countries hold annual celebrations of independence, with picnics, parades, and fireworks.
Some people celebrate their own independence, every day.

As a consultant and coach, I like to work with people who are just discovering their freedom to change cities, homes and careers. Like the colonies, they experienced a last-straw moment and they rebelled. They stayed and fought back or took off for friendlier shores, as the colonists had done in the first place.

And, like the colonists, they don't have the advantage of power, royalty or colorful uniforms. Their advantage lies in purpose and determination. Face it: the British were fighting for another outpost to fly the Union Jack, but the colonists fought to be recognized and counted as human beings. No contest.

I collect Independence Day stories.

Ken, a former colleague, left a lucrative job as a finance professor to enter medical school at age 29. His department head predicted he'd never get into medical school and lots of people predicted he'd never get a residency. Last year Ken graduated from a highly-regarded medical school and began a surgical residency at a prestigious medical center. He's in debt and very happy.

Jim a high-paying bank job to take flying lessons. His friends thought he was crazy as he worked long hours at minimum wage to get commercial flying hours. After ten years and a series of jobs, Jim now flies jets all over the world for a major airline. His banking friends wish they could trade places.

What worked for these people? It wasn't just change, but realizing they didn't like being owned by a career, a city or a house. Their awareness generated energy as powerful as rocket fuel. Some ownership is more subtle: we can be owned by cigarettes or clutter or friends who carry wet blankets to smother our dreams.

I once asked a woman why she was living in an overpriced, underserviced apartment complex.

" I have a large dog," she said. "I have no choice."

Since that encounter, I've met lots of people with large dogs who are renting nicer, cheaper places. Some have two large dogs. This woman was owned by her own belief system.

Being owned can be fun, which is why most of us don't take a vow of poverty. .Right now, I like being owned by good coffee, two temperamental cats, and a great dog. I used to like being owned by an academic career and a house.

Transformation happens when people realize their ties have become chains and somebody else is holding the key. It may be worth a fight to get the key back. Often people are stunned to realize the key's been in their hand all along.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast move to career freedom. Visit her site or call 505-534-4294.

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Career and life transition