Ben Karpinski: The things I learned about life, change, & balance by embracing independence

Setting yourself free from the corporate world may seem like a dream move, but it isn’t always easy to live in a state of Independence. What it really teaches you, is that you can still achieve your dream when you’re part of a team.

By Ben Karpinski*

I recently wrote about how I sought independence in my career, how I wanted to follow my passion for sport, and so turned my back on corporate employment and a life of comfort.

At the time, that move seemed like the very definition of choosing independence and changing my life for good. Looking back today, it’s clear it was just that. A mere moment.

True independence is a relentless series of moments and bold choices. But is it the be all and end all when it comes to making a success of your life?

Yes and no. Independence is a wonderful and alluring thing. But there’s a catch. With independence, comes risk and consequences. So it isn’t always the easiest way to live life. In some cases, it can even be detrimental.

Back when Hugh Grant was an actor and not just a fixture at celebrity pro-am golf events, he appeared in a movie called “About a boy”. His character was a carefree bachelor, living a charmed life, doing what he wanted, when he wanted. He was defined by his independence.

That was my life too for a great stretch of time. It was fun and unpredictable. I was learning things at a rapid rate and not only developing a lot of confidence in what I was doing, but also developing a greater understanding of what I wanted to be doing.

But like in the Hugh Grant movie I mentioned, as good as the good times were, the lows were profoundly low as it is just you involved in this whole story. Professionally there weren’t too many sounding boards, no obvious mentors or just benchmark figures to reference your success/failures to. Personally the single life also led me astray in other areas too, and no matter how independent you are as a person, absolutely everyone will feel a degree of loneliness at times.

After a while of trying to further myself, by myself, two big changes became a part of my life. Someone re-entered my life that I simply couldn’t live without, and I joined CliffCentral, an ambitious startup that aimed to revolutionise radio and everyday audio content. Still independent by nature, but very much working for a greater purpose, I was part of a unique team again.

Independence is a powerful thing, but like everything else it must be balanced. It inspired me to make a big career change, and with that I learned a great deal about myself and developed an important understanding of where I want to go. But with change comes consolidation to really quantify it.

The work relationship passed the four-year mark this May, the personal one passed the five-year mark the month before. They have both been enormous factors in my recent personal growth. I would have missed out on both though if I was too stubbornly independent.

Conversely, I also wouldn’t have been strong enough or capable enough to appreciate them if I wasn’t prepared to embrace independence in the first place. I’m not saying you should quit your job and see where the wind takes you, but by being a little more independent with your thoughts, your actions, and your decisions, you can make things change for the better.

This applies in all aspects of life. Embrace independence, but remember it should be used as a tool for growth and positive change. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an all-consuming factor that defines your every action.

  • Ben is a freelance sports writer, MC and offers sports related content campaigns for brands. He is also the sports guy on Gareth Cliff’s morning show on where he gets the freedom to air his sporting views and ‘insights’.
  • This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.