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Small American flags in celebration of Memorial Day.

The fourth of July is just around the corner. It’s so close that you can almost smell the fireworks and taste the barbecue. But, before Independence Day was a family holiday, it was a commemoration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It’s a celebration of the independence of the United States from Britain.

Today, independence comes in many forms, including career independence. But, how do you create independence for yourself and what does it really mean?

Many people consider it to be the choice to work (or to not work) for a particular company each day. There’s power in knowing you don’t have to allow yourself to be treated badly for a paycheck. Independence is also created when you’re able to select the type of work you do, rather to remain stuck in a job you hate.

Tackling the first issue can be quite a challenge. After all, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation at a time when you have big financial responsibilities, such as dependent children or an ailing loved one.

There are two main ways you can protect your independence. First, never stop networking. Even when you have a wonderful job at a company you love, continue to reach out to new contacts. Make new friends, and help them along the way. You never know when you might need a little help in return.

Second, be diligent about stocking your emergency fund every month. The more you build your financial safety net, the less you will require today’s paycheck from your company to survive. If possible, keep your fixed expenses low. It’s easier to walk away from a negative work situation if you are able to quickly dial back your spending.

The independence to select the type of work you do often sounds harder than it is in practice. If you have worked in a particular field for some time, it may feel as if you have no other options. This is especially true if your education is specific to your job.

Interestingly, many jobs are performed by people who don’t meet the minimum requirements. They’re hard workers who put in extra time to learn a new role – whether inside or outside the office. There’s so much you can do on your own to expand your career. And, I’m not talking about going back to school for another degree.

Without much thought, you can expand your knowledge by developing a new hobby. You can volunteer to work somewhere for free. You can watch instructional videos online or read books. You can start a side project at home. All of these ideas can help you to reach outside of your current job function to develop new, more interesting skills.

By creating career independence for yourself, you can change your entire perspective on the job you currently have. It’s much easier to go into work every day (even in an imperfect situation) if you know you have a choice. Mental freedom is a wonderful thing.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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