Tom Kerr writing on self-reliance

I don’t mind making sacrifices or shouldering a burden if I know that it’s moving me forward to where I want to be. But I was miserable in my job and I really couldn’t stand my predicament.

At the same time, the thought of venturing into unchartered territory was absolutely terrifying.

In retrospect, what I now know is that you don’t have to accept the rules others try to impose on your life, your finances, and your liberties.

All you need is a little support…and a few techniques for hacking your way out of the system, and some of the individual willpower and determination that we Americans are famous for throughout the world.

Tired of the stress and of leading two lives—one I dreamed of inside my mind and the other I dreaded in my waking life—I took a stand.

I threw off my necktie, picked up a roadmap, and was soon sitting in a rocking chair under a clear, blue sky on 50 acres of gorgeous land. As I watched a hawk circle above and my garden grow (while feeling debt-free and carefree), it dawned on me that I didn’t have everything I had ever dreamt of in life.

Not by a long shot.

But I had a whole lot more than I ever imagined I would achieve, and I was just getting started.

I was heating with a woodstove, lighting my home with oil lamps, and using a small spring house I built in the creek as a natural, off-the-grid refrigerator. My utility bill was so small, in fact, that I thought the company had made a clerical mistake the first time I read the invoice. Even when I used the fridge, electric lights, and my laptop the bill was still less than $15 a month.

I was healthier, too, without relying on doctors and expensive prescription meds. I learned how to use herbs like goldenseal to heal cuts and bacterial infections, and how to use wet tobacco to instantly reduce the pain and swelling from a bee sting. I was preparing delicious, nutritious meals over an open fire…and always had a pot of beans or a hearty stew cooking on my woodstove.

I started developing a second career as a freelance writer – a portable profession that I can do from anywhere. For additional income I occasionally bought items like antiques and handmade quilts at rural auctions…then resold them to home decorators in big cities, who were glad to pay a premium price.

Life was simple…and life was good.

A simplified life—with a strategically lower financial overhead—can be much more valuable than a package of corporate perks that keeps you confined to a life you don’t find satisfying.

My intentional life is not just beneficial to me, but to others as well. Because I’m more properly situated and happy, I’m a more helpful neighbor, a more useful member of my community, a more dependable family member, and a closer friend. I’m a better, more well-rounded version of myself.

Isn’t that all we really want?

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