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What’s Your Motivation?

by retirebyforty on December 29, 2011 · 71 comments

in early retirement, goals and milestones

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cubicle hell

A cruel and unusual(?) punishment.

2011 was a great year for Retire By 40, thanks to all of you. This blog was started to keep track of my progress toward quitting the full time job by 2014. Along the way, I’ve met my goal of generating $500/month from this online venture. I’d like to end 2011 by taking a break from my normal post about finances and close on a more philosophical note with a post about motivation.

We are all so busy with day to day life that we don’t have time to examine why is it that we do what we do. However, it is worth it to take a little time to figure out our true motivation.

I’ve heard one story about Hannibal and it resonated with me. Why did Hannibal bring his army over the Alps to wreck havoc on the Roman Empire? It was a difficult feat and he lost many soldiers (perhaps 50%) during the trek. He even brought elephants over the pass and that was unheard of. Hannibal came over the Alps and won many battles against the Romans and we still use the saying “Hannibal is at the gate” to this day. What was his motivation? Well, the Romans had killed his father so he held a grudge against them and did his best to desrupt the Roman Empire. (I spent a few hours goofing off at work reading about Hannibal.)

I’m not comparing myself to Hannibal, but we all need to take stock of our motivation and channel it appropriately.

So why have I been going to work in a 6×10 gray cubicle every day for the last 15 years? Why do I sit down in front of a laptop after putting baby RB40 to bed to write blog posts. Why did we put down $75,000 and saddle ourselves with another mortgage on a rental 4 plex? Yes, it’s about generating income, but what is the underlying motivation?

We all have the same basic needs – food, shelter, clothing, security, education, health care, and a few other things. In the US, Canada, and other developed countries, these basic needs can be met with a little hard work. Once these needs are met, we all would like some luxuries, but are these luxuries worth the time we are putting in to pay for them?

I plan to leave my full time job within 2 years and I’m trying to make the cash flow work with that scenario. Why would I want to leave a nice paying job with great benefits? I came to a conclusion that the corporate setting is not for me. It’s great for some people, but the endless drive to generate profit drains me. The corporation is squeezing every drop of efficiency out of their workers and I guess it’s what a corporation is designed to do. It’s not for me even if the squeeze comes with a nice paycheck.

I want to try working for myself for a while and see if we can make it. I don’t want the PHB (pointy haired boss from Dilbert) to tell me what to do and I don’t want to tell my co-workers what to do either. I want to set my own schedule and work on what I care about. I don’t want my raise to depend on who I’m friends with, but my own abilities and talent. I guess I’m not a team player after all. ;)

Family is very important to me and I would like to help raise baby RB40 as much as possible. I’m tired of the little guy catching another bug from daycare every week. It would be ideal if I can work part time for a few years until he goes off to school. After that I would work for myself or on something that I enjoy.

So my motivation is all about having the choice to determine how to spend 10 hours of every weekday. If we live a modest lifestyle and minimize luxuries, then I think we can pull it off. Luxury cars, the latest gadgets and electronics no longer appeal to me, so we can cut many of those things out.

Sorry about the long rambling post, but this is quite a difficult topic for me to write. If you’ve made it this far then maybe you can share your motivation with us. Have you examined your motivation lately? Why are you in the office today working on some boring spreadsheet? Is that Lexus really worth these soul-sucking 10 hours/day? Or are you one of those lucky people that love your job?

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

cashflowmantra December 29, 2011 at 2:17 am

The freedom to choose your own destiny is a powerful one indeed.

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Moneycone December 29, 2011 at 6:36 am

I don’t know if I’m lucky, but I do like… no love the work I do. Always wanted to do what I do now – sort of passion becoming a career. BUT, blogging is a nice distraction I enjoy as well. Prevents burnouts.

With your meticulous planning (and execution) I have no doubt you’ll excel in your endeavors!

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retirebyforty December 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm

You are definitely lucky. I wonder how many people are really passionate about their job. It must be more than I thought since there are so many positive comments.

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Christa December 29, 2011 at 7:59 am

Great motivations! My motivation is also family at this point; leaving my corporate job to focus on starting a family has been very rewarding so far, and I look forward to the diaper changes and late nights soon to come!

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retirebyforty December 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I don’t mind diaper changes and late nights, but I wouldn’t say I look forward to it. I hate it when the baby is sick though. You can’t do anything. :(

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krantcents December 29, 2011 at 8:15 am

I loved my job for the last 10 years. I am still adjusting to my new assignment and it has been very challenging so far. Freedom to control your life is important! I realize you cannot control everything!

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retirebyforty December 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm

It great that you enjoy teaching. You also came to that career a bit later than usual. Many people teach for 20 years and they don’t have the passion for it anymore.

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PKamp3 December 29, 2011 at 8:33 am

I do enjoy my day job, but I empathize with your sentiments – the corporate setting does grate on your nerves sometimes. A sea of cubicles 1/2 of my waking hours during the week? Well, as long as I can ignore it for now, haha.

I wish I had the Lexus… I’ve got a Saab. The parent company is bankrupt, but I’ll continue to drive it in spite!

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retirebyforty December 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

It’s great to hear that you enjoy your job. I used to like what I did too, but I lost that tender loving feeling a while back. :)

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Jeffrey Trull December 29, 2011 at 9:34 am

I just want to be able to live and work from wherever I want and not be tied down to any particular job. Like you, I also want to choose how I spend my time, and to spend it on something I’m passionate about.

I also don’t think that having a job is the way to get ahead in life. I feel destined for mediocrity with a job, and I don’t enjoy that feeling.

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retirebyforty December 29, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Some people do very well with a corporate job, but it is not for me. Good luck with your plan too. Location independent work would be great and I would have loved it in my younger days.

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Aloysa December 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I actually love what I am doing in my day job. I love my cubicle: it is bright, has a HUGE window. lol I have plants too! So for me it is a perfect balance my day job and my hobbies in my spare time. I wish you all the best with your plans! I hope they all work out for you. I really do!

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retirebyforty December 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I’m jealous of your cubicle. haha. :) Mine is very depressing. I don’t see why the company can’t make a better working environment for their most important asset.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc December 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm

That’s a wonderful motivation. That’s an awesome way to frame what you are doing too. I can understand that the corporate lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. We all have our preferences, and work can take many forms. I’m glad you are taking a non-conventional approach!

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retirebyforty December 30, 2011 at 11:13 am

Thanks Roshawn. I know you are more pro corporate than me. :) I think the corporate lifestyle is good, but some people are not cut out for it. Now that the economy has improved a bit, some of these people are leaving to do their own things.
Some people excel in the corporate environment and we need those people too.

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101 Centavos December 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Regrettably, I enjoy my day job and the team of people I work with. I say “regrettably”, because I share your views on corporations and their people-chewing ways.

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retirebyforty December 30, 2011 at 11:15 am

I used to enjoy my day job too, but I changed my mind 5-6 years ago. The team is a huge factor here. Many of my close friends left or transferred so the job is much less tolerable now. Hope you continue to enjoy your job!

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My Own Advisor December 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Nice post :)

No rambling, just lots on your mind!

My motivation is to increase my passive dividend income and get out of the rat race early.

Posts like these are inspiring for me.

I like my job, but don’t love it. I need to follow my passion at some point.

Keep up the good work!

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retirebyforty December 30, 2011 at 11:17 am

Thanks for the encouraging words. Getting the passive income up to your day job level is extremely difficult. I will have to work part time even after I leave the day job. Hopefully, that part time will be mostly online and maybe just a little part time supplemental income offline. We’ll see how it goes. Good luck with your plan!!!

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Simple Rich Living December 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I resonate with you about your thoughts on the corporate life. I am far far from being able to leave the ‘corporate life’ so to speak but it’s my drive and motivation.

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retirebyforty December 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

Good luck with your progress. It takes a long time to get that passive income set up so you are able to work part time and make ends meet. Of course, it is a bit easier if your spouse continue to work. ;)
Have a great New Year!!!

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YFS December 30, 2011 at 8:16 am

We share the same motivation. I like my day job but I don’t love it. I love the huge paycheck that I make and understand I need to leverage it into passive income streams so I can quit and become a financial advisor full time. I only work at my job until I have enough passive income to quit. So my motivation is to work for 5 more years and go do what I love

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retirebyforty December 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

I like my nice paycheck too, but I’m stagnating at the day job and it won’t grow anymore with my attitude problem. :)
The online income is much smaller, but has more potential to grow. I also don’t think I can deal with the PHB for 5 more years. Good luck with your journey!

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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter December 30, 2011 at 9:15 am

Freedom of choice makes for a great life if you get it. I am motivated by trying to see what I am capable of. I am always pushing myself or trying to learn new things. I enjoy the process as well as the accomplishment later. For me, I am motivated by the result of what could happen.

As far as your little guy goes,expect him to get sick often until he is an adult. Little kids have no immune system and they need to get sick to build up the antibodies that we adults have. Don’t take you kid getting colds and flus as a negative. They are just growing.

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retirebyforty December 30, 2011 at 11:23 am

Thanks Miss T. I don’t mind if the little guy gets sick once or twice a month, but it has been constant. I hear you and will try to be more patient.
Thanks for sharing your motivation. I think as long as we keep learning, life is more interesting. :)

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Little House December 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm

My motivation is that I don’t want to be working until I keel over. I really have to work hard now (and be creative with my money and time) in order to actually retire at a somewhat young age (and that’s going to be somewhere around 65). That’s what keeps me going -the idea that maybe someday I can actually relax!

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 6:07 am

I know what you mean. It is getting more and more difficult to retire, but I think we can do it. Good luck! ;)

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MyMoneyDesign.com December 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I couldn’t agree more with your motivation to retire – Especially the parts about how to spend your day and the importance of family. Stay strong these next two years!

My motivation is to simply achieve financial freedom. I want to create automatic income using my retirement plans as well as finding other passive means. I plan to spend the extra time enjoying my family, traveling with my wife, pursuing my hobbies, and [gasp] working. But the work will be part-time and on my terms.

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 6:09 am

Good luck! I have the same plan, but we probably will reduce traveling quite a bit. Traveling is quite expensive and we’ll need to save some money for college. Maybe we can travel once every two years or something like that.

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Melissa@PersonalFinanceJourney December 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm

My motivation is quite the same as yours, to make my own hours, do the work I enjoy and stay home with my kids. I know how hard it is to watch the little guy get sick week after week; my daughter was just like that, but now she hardly ever gets sick. Hopefully that is some consolation.

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 6:10 am

Thanks for that. He had an ear infection earlier in December and then 103 fever around Christmas. It’s just one thing after another…. Hopefully he’ll get stronger soon.

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Winn @ Stock Income Method December 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm

My motivation is freedom and able to do things i liked. Retirement = financial freedom for me because I have passion on what I am doing right now I like to keep doing what I love.

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 6:11 am

I like that. Financial Freedom is my goal as well.

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Jai Catalano December 31, 2011 at 6:25 am

I am tired of my litte ones getting that same bug. Happy New Year from a new Yakezie Challenger.

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 6:12 am

Happy New Year!

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SB @ One Cent At A Time December 31, 2011 at 7:12 am

Every year this time we ponder upon our lives and make some resolutions. The hardest part is to carry over the resolution throughout the year or life.

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Invest It Wisely December 31, 2011 at 10:09 am

I could feel your words resonating inside me as I read them! I don’t necessarily hate the corporate setting just yet, and I too, used to love my job, but things have changed. The company itself is going down, and while I do like my coworkers and our office space isn’t so bad, too much of it just seems like BS. At the end of the day, I ask myself “does any of this really matter?”, and I can’t answer yes.

Good luck on the quest!

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 6:16 am

Thanks Kevin. Good luck to you as well. I have known for a long time now that the corporate setting is not for me, but it is difficult to leave the paycheck behind. Quite a few people left in 2011 as the economy improved. Many people do well in a corporate job and that’s great for them.

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Darwin's Money December 31, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I think more and more people are coming to the same conclusion as you about corporate America LOL… My motivation is a few-fold: security, college for the kids, and flexibility. It would be great to have an income we could live off of comfortably should I lose my job. Not there yet, but always working toward it!

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 6:18 am

Thanks for sharing your motivation. The keyword here is kids. One of my friend has 3 kids and there is no way he can retire until all three of them are done with school. Good luck!

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Jackie January 1, 2012 at 6:46 am

I love the photo and caption you’ve got here. I think for many people just pasting that up might be motivation enough to change what they’re doing.

My big motivation is to be able to travel more with my family, and be able to poke my nose into still more interesting things. I do like my job though, mainly because I have a lot of freedom there (I mostly decide what I’ll be working on when) and am still learning a lot.

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Thank you! I would love to travel more when baby RB40 is a bit older. We are planning to drive around and see more sites in the US and maybe do international trips when he can appreciate it. ;)
Great to hear that you like you job.

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Car Negotiation Coach January 1, 2012 at 7:59 am

Joe, I like the new Thesis design (I’m actually planning to convert my blog to Thesis later this month). Looks very clean and well laid out.

The ads in the left column or your homepage are good, they should convert very well following the “F” pattern. In fact, you may consider adding a few to your single post view as well. Also, you may want to consider creating category pages (the Thesis blog – Derek Halpern has a great tutorial on how and why to do this).

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retirebyforty January 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Thanks Coach. I’ll work on a category page next.
I’ll probably move media.net to the left column. That should be less obtrusive than on top of the post.

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Squirrelers January 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Site redesign looks great!

That picture of the chair in the small cube….not the place to spend 20 years if you can help it! But sometimes you have to do what you have to do…

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Robert @ The College Investor January 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Great point. I work hard each day at work and on my sites to be free later and as early as possible. 2 years is a huge goal, good luck!

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Dr Dean January 2, 2012 at 3:17 am

I love my job but enjoy the challenges and experiences and constant learning of the blogging world. Enjoyed the post and like the new look.

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retirebyforty January 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

It’s great to hear Dr. Dean. I hope my Dr. loves his job too. ;)
Thanks for the compliment.

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MoneyforCollegePro January 2, 2012 at 5:36 am

Like Dr. Dean, I do enjoy my job, but I often wonder what it would be like to leave it behind and work for myself. I enjoy the blogging/writing world, and I would be content to do that for the rest of my life…or so I think. I like the Retire by 40 concept a lot. I hope it works for you!

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retirebyforty January 2, 2012 at 9:33 am

I enjoy the blogging world as well and it would be great to do this part time. :)
I wouldn’t mind taking on another part time job like pizza delivery if we need extra cash.

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The Frugallery January 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

I hated my corporate job and all of the stress that came along with it. I left it for a much lower paying work from home job and could not be happier. It was an adjustment from a social aspect, but I love being in control of my time and energy.

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retirebyforty January 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

I’m almost to the point of hating the corporate job. Some people just don’t do well in the corporate setting. I would probably do better in a small company and if I have to work in the same field again, that’s what I will try. It’s very encouraging to hear about your success.

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Taline January 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm

It is amazing how your world changes once you become a parent. I find that I ask myself why the heck didn’t I do more prior to being a mother? I had the knowledge, free time, and the resources! I then realize because I was not as driven because I knew what to do but did not have the driving force to understand my “why.” I’ve managed to switch careers to only have to work 3 days/week and it has allowed me to work on my side gigs to build more passive income.

I agree with not needing all the luxury items in life. If you’ve read The Millionaire Next Door it talks about how most self made millionaires did not become financially independent overnight and were frugal. So I think you’re on the right path and it will pay off! :)

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retirebyforty January 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thanks for your perspective. It’s great that you can work 3 days/week. I would love that option, but my employer won’t let me do that.
I’ll have to build up various side income until they can cover our expense. At this point, we don’t need to save a lot of money so we just need to cover the monthly cost of living.
The millionaire next door is also one of my inspiration.

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First Gen American January 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

The first decade of ones career in corporate America is often a no brainer. It seems like there are lots of goals laid ahead of you that are very clear in the short term..pay off school loans, pay off car, save for house, learn marketable skills, progress…but then comes a turning point. There’s a point where you say, okay, now what? Is this what I really want to do for the next 30+ years? It takes a lot of soul searching to come up with that answer and I’m so glad you’re there already.

I enjoyed this introspective article. It’s kind of amazing that not only do we spend our lives learning about the ones we love, but also we continually learn about our own boundaries and needs. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

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retirebyforty January 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

I think you hit it on the head. People who do not like the corporate environment usually leave after 10 or 15 years. It’s not easy to go off on your own, but everyone will have to find their answer. For others, the corporate job works well and they should ride it out. :)

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Adam March 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Looks like an xxx cubicle! I know them all to well…

Enjoying your blog, just linked to it from your GRS article, good stuff so far. Keep it up!

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retirebyforty March 12, 2012 at 9:26 pm

You could be correct. :)
Thanks for coming by.

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RetireOnIncome April 21, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Great post – I realized probably the only thing Hannibal and I have in common! My father worked his way up the corporate ladder for one company his whole life. Started at 18 yrs driving a forklift, then by mid forties was managing the factory. Then his company (nationally) was bought out by a larger company and they laid off all managers. He now was middle aged, with no college education, and no job, in a recession. I saw the pain it caused him, and I decided I would own my own business. But even better than that, now I own a real estate investment business and every year my passive income builds. I help others do the same, and it motivates me to not just experience my own freedom, but help others achieve theirs!

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retirebyforty April 22, 2013 at 9:30 am

Sorry to hear about your dad’s situation. A lot of the older generation define themselves through their job. That’s good when your career is secure, but that’s not the case these days. Good luck with your plan.

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Martin March 13, 2014 at 10:38 pm

I love to do what I do. I attend random pro wrestling classes three times a week and other classes at my gym. I love doing what I want when I want it. I couldn’t imagine having this freedom stripped from me.

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