Self-determined life: The anchors clear


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Text comes from: Das Handbuch für digitale Nomaden: Selbstbestimmt leben – ortsunabhängig arbeiten (2016) by Sebastian Kühn, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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If you want to decide freely about your time available, your place of residence and your entire life, then you must separate yourself from all the things that make you strange. Self-determined life: The anchors light anchor-light self-determined life


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Sebastian Kühn Autorenfoto_Sebastian Kühn_ (c) ShanghainFocus Photography 2Sebastian Kühn is an entrepreneur and digital nomad.

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What is firmly anchored?

The epitome of external determination in your life are things that we call anchors. In the English-speaking world, the term "anchored" is used for people who are fully in life.

They have docked in the harbor and protected themselves against possible storms with several heavy anchors. However, the anchors have sunk so deep into the seabed that the ship can no longer leave the safe haven.

Is it normative or self-determined?

Enough of the metaphors. You know what I'm aiming for. A sense of security, antagonistic consumption cravings and certain expectations of society make sure that as you grow older, you become more and more attached to things and obligations that ultimately make you strange.

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Standing with both legs in life gets a positive association. To have a career, to own property, to accumulate status symbols and to secure yourself in the best possible way is considered to be standard practice, although it is precisely these anchors that can prevent you from living a self-determined life.

Whenever something holds you - be it contractual obligations, emotional ties or financial restrictions - you give up a small amount of self-determination and leave the decision-making power to a third party. By catching some anchors and taking on more responsibility for your life, you're taking that freedom back.

Minimalism as a life setting

The minimalism approach is very helpful in reducing anchors. Under the motto “Declutter your life” (“simplify your life”) minimalists try to counteract overloading with things. It is about much more than clearing out the apartment and swearing off consumption.

The basic idea of ​​minimalism is to assign more importance to the really important things in your life and to free you from everything superfluous. That's what your self-determined life is all about - you take control instead of letting yourself be controlled by all the influences and things in your life.

Which anchors really improve your life?

Look at the following list of anchors and consider exactly which of these things put more strain on you than they give you pleasure and make your life better:

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  • Financial anchor: Dependency on a source of income, debt, insurance and pension, recurring payments for rent, utilities and service providers, as well as minor contracts such as subscriptions or memberships.
  • Material anchor: Statics symbols or expensive hobbies, possessions such as cars or real estate, home furnishings and clothing, gadgets, televisions, memorabilia and paper documents.
  • Social anchor: Family, relationships and friendships, club memberships, voluntary activities, social commitments and expectations, such as family celebrations or family tables.
  • Emotional anchor: Self-doubt, conventional ways of thinking, fears and harmful habits.

Relationships are not static

Too often we take long-term relationships as given, even if they burden us more than we enjoy it. We hold on to old school friends, although the interests have shifted completely decades ago. We make new friendships that are based only on local proximity but not on similarities.

It is time to admit that relationships are not static. We are changing as much as the people around us. As soon as our values, interests and needs do not come to a common denominator, such relationships can and should be questioned.

Like in the crab basket

Do you know the story of the crabs that mercilessly withdraw anyone who wants to escape captivity in the basket? This is exactly how your environment - family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances - usually reacts when you tell them about your plans for a self-determined life and the planned independence.

It pulls you down again, for fear that something will happen to you in freedom or, worse still, that you will feel better there than those who stay in the bucket. Instead of getting upset or bickering over your friends' incomprehension, accept the fact that you simply have different ideas about life.

Which anchors burden your life?

Of course, there are anchors that are not bad for you. Relationships, certain possessions and responsibility towards your social environment can add value.

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These are the anchors that burden you, bind you to a place, make you financially dependent and take your time without enriching your life at the same time.


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