Let me start by stating the obvious:
Everybody wants more freedom in their lives.
Whether it’s the freedom to travel the world and get to know all the incredible places you’ve always dreamed of seeing, or to write the novel that you’ve been putting off for years; or to pursue your (apparently) non-monetizable hobby on a full-time basis.
We all want more freedom in our lives to enjoy, create, and experience.
In fact, that was one of the reasons I jumped into entrepreneurship, online businesses, and startups in the first place.
But here’s the elephant in the room:
Freedom isn’t free.
I don’t know anyone who enjoys a truly free lifestyle but hasn’t worked for it in a very conscious way.
Even if you start an online business, like I did, which is supposedly The Greatest Freedom Unlocker ever, let me spoil it for you: freedom won’t just happen as a natural byproduct of it.
You see, it’s kind of a paradox but we are actually our own worst enemies when it comes to freedom.
“I want more freedom, but…“
My job, my fears, my family, my financial situation, my boss, my limiting beliefs, my business, my children, my mortgage…
There’s always a “but.“
Let me share a quick personal example to illustrate this.
As I said, one of the reasons I started my entrepreneurial journey years ago was to own my time again, be able to live wherever I wanted, and actually create a scalable way of generating revenue that wasn’t tied to the number of hours I clock in.
At some point, I had that kind of freedom at the tips of my fingers, but inexplicably I kept living in the same place, putting crazy hours into my business and really caught in the belief of “I need to work my ass off to make it big and retire young.“
And this kept going for years.
In the summer of 2013, I was working on my computer on my never-ending list of tasks, being miserable just like I was every day back then. My business wasn’t in its best moment and I was still feeling kind of burnt out (even after the hiatus I took training martial arts in the Philippines).
And then I stumbled on this article by a guy talking about the seven reasons why Thailand was heaven for digital nomads.
So I started to read it and my initial reaction was “wow, I wish we could go there at some point“.
And then it hit me.
We sure can. And NOW.
I mean, I had a profitable online business running, totally location-independent and highly automated. Yes, maybe it wasn’t in its best time, but come on… what else did I need in order to take the plunge?
On top of that, I had the Philippines experience under my belt so this wasn’t the first attempt at this type of freedom or lifestyle. And Rosy and I were dying to do something like this together.
And still, there I was, being miserable day in and day out, full of fears and limitations and more focused on justifying why it wasn’t The Right Time to enjoy that type of freedom than on making it happen. Even when it was within reach the whole time.
Oh, I got mad.
I got so mad that three months later we sold most of our things, put the rest in storage, and left with a one-way ticket to start our adventure in Thailand.
That’s when I started to realize that freedom is actually an art that needs to be cultivated through your thoughts, mindset, and certainly through the actions derived by those. Not really different than the way you can cultivate your mind through critical thinking, introspection, and self-honesty, or your body through tai-chi, dance, or weightlifting.
I had just never thought about it that way.
Over the years, I’ve come to put together a picture of what the Art of Freedom encompasses. I like to approach it as the optimization of your three most important freedoms: being able to do What You Want, When You Want, and How You Want.
It’s simple. In a lot of ways, mastering the Art of Freedom is like being on vacation. All the time.
Bear with me.
I know that the concept itself probably sounds a bit strange at first.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if your mind was already busily trying to find the “but”–the objection that will show that being on vacation all the time isn’t really a viable option, especially for you.
Unfortunately, that mental habit is deeply ingrained in us. We’re so used to ruling out any idea that is outside our current system of beliefs that we don’t even stop to consider whether it could work. Instead of our mind opening itself up to a new idea, it just works harder to find evidence that it isn’t plausible so it can reject or ignore it and keep things the way they are.
But, don’t worry, we won’t let the Art of Freedom fall in with all the other things we avoid simply because our mind didn’t want to open itself up to a concept outside of its domain.
Let’s get back to the holiday example.
When you go on holiday in some unknown place, you are operating from a place of discovery.
You get excited about the new destination you’re about to explore. You load up Google and search for the most impressive things you can see, the most thrilling activities you can do, and the most incredible experiences you can have in this new place. You’re more open to meeting new people (in fact, people seem to be nicer, right?) and get to know new cultures and histories. You even tend to be a bit braver and more adventurous than you usually are. You spend this time taking full advantage of your days and enriching yourself with fulfilling experiences.
In your day-to-day life, however, you don’t normally operate in this discovery mode. You simply fall into the groove of your daily routine. You follow your typical schedule, trying not to die from the overwhelming boredom and monotony. Sure, you’ll find some brief moments of joy and diversion here and there, taking advantage of every small window of leisure time to enjoy your hobbies or passions, but that’s about it. Unlike those unbelievable days you spent in Costa Rica, you won’t experience anything that you’ll be able to remember just a few years later. The days just pass. And so does your life.
The Art of Freedom allows you to incorporate the discovery mode into your daily life. It lets you dream again, lets you plan and conceive the adventures that you have always wanted to experience. It reintroduces the right proportions to your work-life balance. It gives you the opportunity to unify these two areas into one real life–a life truly worth living.
But it doesn’t stop there. When you want to take a trip to that place you’ve been wanting to visit for years, the biggest thing holding you back tends to be time. All you have are your vacation days. And in those fifteen days–twenty, if you’re lucky–you try to stuff in everything you can imagine so that nothing is left out. In the end, what was meant to be a vacation ends up being a non-stop whirlwind of sights, landmarks, and festivities so you can experience as many things as possible. It’s no wonder we often feel like we need a vacation from our vacation.
Now imagine that you didn’t have this time restriction and that money wasn’t an issue. I don’t mean that you have to picture yourself as a millionaire. Let’s just say that you have enough money and time to dedicate a few months to enjoying your destination and your adventure at a relaxed pace. Now we’re really talking about making those dreams a reality: visiting those exotic destinations or even studying and educating yourself on those questions that have always interested you but that you never had time for.
We’re talking about resurrecting all of those old dreams, aspirations, and adventures that have been tucked away in the farthest corners of our fantasies, just because they didn’t fit inside the “how you should enjoy life” script that we inherited from society.
What are some of the things that the Art of Freedom allows us to do?
- Explore all the places and cultures that you always wanted to discover.
- Study the art, discipline, or subject that you always wanted to know but could never find a way of justifying its practical value (or that your parents discouraged you from pursuing because “you can’t make a living off of that“).
- Live anywhere in the world and create relationships and ties there, experiencing it like a local and not as a tourist.
- Learn to play an instrument, to speak another language fluently, or any other skill that you always dreamed of acquiring.
- Spend more quality time with your loved ones, without hurrying or being distracted by stress and anxiety. Watch your children grow, go on romantic getaways with your partner, enjoy your family, and organize more parties with friends.
- Set aside more quality time for yourself. Find balance, take care of your body, rest your mind, and follow your passions. Read a good book, listening to your favorite album, or take a walk in nature.
- Dedicate yourself to your life-long passion or hobby with much more zest and intensity. Give yourself room to discover brand new hobbies and to explore those passions that always fell by the wayside.
- Pursue whatever subject calls your attention and become an expert in it.
The possibilities are truly infinite and the Art of Freedom is the key that will open those doors for you. Reconnect with all the dreams that you have postponed for so many years, as well as those you left behind because you convinced yourself (or someone else did) that they were crazy, impractical, or even impossible.
Because now is the time to make them shine again.
What are some of these dreams for you? Leave a comment below and let me know.