I remember my first taste of real-life personal freedom.
It was about a year after I quit my cubicle job. I was ruthlessly determined to live life on my own terms – so I had done some radical things to earn this delicious moment.
I had sold my car (the one with the monthly payment) and bought an old beat-up car for cash.
I had found the most perfect low-rent apartment on the outskirts of town, near the railroad tracks and fully equipped with both a bedroom AND a studio. (Ideal for the scrappy start-up mode I was in.)
I was 100% self-employed, and doing exactly what I wanted to be doing with my time.
I’ve since roamed in and out of deeper levels of what it means to be personally free. I’ve Upleveled my life and business many times.
I now own a building space in my city – affectionately known as Uplevel Headquarters. I lead a team. I coach and teach clients and students. Freedom now expands to contain new elements and actions – but it still remains steadfast, provided I take time to realign and reconnect with my vision.
Some would say I am blessed to live at a time and in a country where my choices are virtually limitless. This is true.
And yet – many people with the same circumstances aren’t free at all.
Many people talk of freedom, boast about Americans being free – but these very people will tell me they feel trapped. Or they complain that they have no options.
So what’s it take to be free?
I mean REALLY free. Not bullshit free. Not “Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose” free.
But really soulfully, entrepreneurially, and deliciously free.
Well, this is definitely something we could talk about til the wee hours of the dawn. (And someday, we might just do that!)
But for now, here are five words that had (and have) a major impact on my own sense of personal freedom.
1 – Define
Everything starts with your clear intention and definition.
What does freedom look like for you? Define it.
And remember that intention requires faith. You need to believe that it is possible, and let yourself be fully alive and awake in your definition of freedom.
2 – Assess
Once you have defined personal freedom – then take stock of what holds you back or ties you down.
Do you hold on to limiting beliefs? Do you make choices based in fear? Does your current lifestyle weigh you down – fully equipped with too much overhead, too much stuff and not enough space?
Write it all down. Don’t criticize yourself. Just know that this is the stuff that’s in the way!
3 – Release
Big changes start with little steps. Start by releasing some of the excess that holds you back. You’d be amazed at how much freedom this will deliver.
A few ideas: draining friends, time commitments, clutter, lackluster employees, non-ideal clients. Sometimes, one simple change can bring about a dramatic sense of freedom. It just takes the decision to release!
4 – Discipline
If you’re anything like me, you just cringed a little at the word “discipline.” It still comes fully equipped with a ruler, a habit and a name like Sister John Mary.
So look at discipline this way:
Discipline paves the path to freedom.
Discipline means you take action based on your definition of true freedom. Your actions become “disciples” of your intentions.
Most people aren’t free because they take action based on their emotional reaction in the moment. Discipline means that you begin to create your life, rather than react it. This leads to a deeper relationship with true freedom.
5 – Engage
“Screw it. I just want to sit around on a beach while hot men in shorts serve me umbrella drinks. That’s freedom.”
Does this sound like you?
Well, I’ll grant you the space to make such a claim. But we both know better.
Eventually, the beach will get boring. You will realize that the hot men haven’t read a book in their entire 22 years, and that umbrella drinks can only repress your desires for so long.
Right now, here’s the problem.
You associate freedom with disengagement.
That usually happens when someone has been engaging with too much that drains her: non-ideal clients, negative relationships, sporadic income.
It also happens when we’ve checked out of our lives so much that we can’t create the solutions for the items that drain us. We already ARE disengaged.
Freedom requires engagement and presence. It is not about checking out. It is about stepping up. In many ways, freedom brings with it a higher level of responsibility.
So, what about you? Are you free? What does freedom look like for you? And what would you tell the other readers in our Uplevel community about how to experience freedom?