Freedom for me has been the decision making weapon of my entire life. Ever since I was in preschool, I remember feeling major resistance to going to school because I could “no longer do whatever I wanted.”
In elementary & middle school I was a smart kid & could easily get good grades, yet I despised the constraints of class & resorted to constantly raising hell & screwing around.
In high school the pending dread of either committing to another 4 years of University or jumping into 50 year career was overwhelming, & I partied, smoked, & class skipped my way out of my head.
It was around 14 years old that I identified what is still today my greatest fear in life… sitting on my death bed with the regrets on “I wish I would have gone for it. I wish I had the courage to do the things I actually wanted.”
To travel to remote places, feel what it’s like to be a top extreme sports athlete, date women who are knee-shakingly beautiful & confident, live a life full of rich & fulfilling experiences.
Whenever I’m feeling unmotivated, this fear bring s a chill down my spine & a new vigor for life.
So how do I define freedom? This is tricky…
I think there are 3 layers:
- Time Freedom
- Location Freedom
- Mental & Emotional Freedom
The last of which is the most important yet most elusive, but first.
This one drove me insane all through grade school because my time freedom was restricted. All I wanted to do was play soccer, go mountain biking, or play video games while I was stuck in the classroom.
Do you have time in your day/ week to do all the things that are important to you? Most people don’t.
There are legitimate reasons for this such as money, family responsibilities, & maintenance of things you own… some of which you may not like.
But what if you could craft your life in a way where the “time sucks” you don’t enjoy were drastically reduced or even gone altogether?
Let’s not kid ourselves here, financial security is one of the biggest reasons we don’t have the time freedom we desire. As an employee or freelancer trading time for money, it’s difficult to get around this one. That’s why the end goal MUST be a business that through systems, processes, & team members can earn income NOT directly tied to your hours worked.
It takes courage, hard work, & a lot of time up front to start a business, but it’s the only way you will ever gain true time freedom in the long run.
Steps to Starting a Simple Business
- Start taking on small freelance contracts with people in your network with something you’re already good at.
- Use those people as testimonials & ask for referrals to start building out your clientele. Work as a freelancer as a side gig.
- Once your income stabilizes and surpasses your real job (or would surpass it if you quit), then quit your job.
- Build systems, processes, & a team to do the work the same way you would so you can focus on growing & developing into an agency.
Step number 4 is the hardest & longest out of the steps, but it’s the key to gaining time freedom.
This one has more to do with lifestyle design. As I’m writing this I’m living in Bali, Indonesia where there’s a great acroyoga community & I’m surrounded by tons of incredible entrepreneurs that inspire me to be my greatest self.
Personal development, meditation, & high fitness here is the norm whereas back where I’m from it’s a small minority. Choosing to live here aligns with everything I want to be in life (& the beaches ain’t half bad either).
I fully realize part of why I can do this is because I’m unmarried with no mortgage & no “real job,” but that’s all by design.
There are plenty of people 40 or 50+, traveling with kids, making mortgage payments back home out here in Bali… they’ve just done a bit of lifestyle design trickery.
Location Freedom Checklist
- Sell all your shit: Physical items bring responsibility. If you’re off in another country & suddenly you have to move your stuff out of storage, you’re either flying back or frantically trying to get a friend to figure it out for you. Especially important for cars, bikes, boats.
- Use Transferwise Cross Border Multi Currency Bank Account: Keep your current bank, but many banks require you to show up in person to do certain things. Open an online bank account that allows you to bank anywhere in the world in multiple currencies in case you have issues with your current bank.
- Use a virtual mailing address: You will need to receive mail for various things in your home country, so hire a local co-working space to receive, scan, & email your mail to you. This typically is about $20 per month.
- Earn income that allows you to work from anywhere: Ask your boss, you may be surprised. Many companies these days are open to remote workers. As a freelancer or business owner you will have much more freedom to choose your location.
The hardest part about being location independent is definitely relationships & people. Leaving your friends & family behind may be a reason why you just want to stay exactly where you are. Nothing wrong with that!
But I do think it’s an important part of freedom to have the option to be location independent. What actions can you take that would allow you more freedom of location?
Mental & Emotional Freedom
Oooh this one’s a doozie & so often overlooked. In fact, the other 2 types of freedom are completely & utterly worthless without it.
I remember once when I was traveling around Europe longboarding, living my dream! But my mind was dominated by the fact my bank account was dangerously low to make it through the rest of he trip.
Or when I first started selling on Amazon & I was making more money than I’ve ever made before, but I decided to invest back into new products rather than pay back a loan to my family.
That guilt sat in my mental space & morally didn’t sit right with me. I was out of alignment with my core values. Now that my loans are paid off I don’t this muddying up my headspace.
All in all I think it’s mostly about living in accordance with your values.
Tools for Mental & Emotional Freedom
- Daily meditation: The more you don’t want to do it that day, the more you need to
- Gratitude Journaling: The more time spent in a state of gratitude the more you attract those things into your life. The opposite is true for negative thought patterns.
- Questions to ask yourself periodically:
- Is what I’m doing for work bringing real value to people’s lives?
- Would my friends & family say the energy I bring to them is positive or negative?
- Is there anything I’ve been dying to do that I’m not letting myself do? (that’s also good for me)
- What financial/ relationship/ items have I been putting off that are causing anxiety?
At the end of the day, freedom is not some static thing that is achieved & enjoyed forever after… it’s a dynamic process that must be built, nurtured, & every once in a while needs a complete renovation.
I’ve designed my life in a way that has a lot of freedom & I’m forever grateful for that, but I’m constantly refining, tweaking, and questioning whether the way I’ve designed things are actually what I want… because that changes.
As I’ve evolved through various stages in life, what I want out of life has changed more times than I can count. I’ve concluded for myself that “freedom” is the not the goal to be attained, but the North Star to be constantly adjusting towards. Depending where you are on the map, the location of the star changes, but i can always be relied upon for navigation. Freedom to me is exactly the guidance tool I need to make decisions for my life. Will this next thing bring me more freedom or restrict it? With that lens, the answer is clear.