When I made the decision to build my business online, it was because I wanted freedom.
It seduced me like it does every entrepreneurial minded person who turns on a computer. Having the freedom to work on a laptop, or even your iphone, from anywhere in the world? Mmm… sexy.
The idea of a life of freedom is what pulls hundreds of people in every year, and I bet you are no different.
Am I getting it right, so far?
What’s Your Freedom Worth?
Seriously. What is your freedom worth?
Right now, I bet you’re having a hard time answering that. Here’s why.
Most people have no idea what “freedom” actually means to them. Oh sure, we can say it means “working from anywhere” or “working with anyone I choose”, but what does that actually mean to YOU?
Do you really want to take off at a moment’s notice and work from an island cottage? Does that even fit your life… your family? The more you think about this, the more you might realize that you’re in just love with the idea itself.
Students and Clones… Which one are you?
Chances are you’ve been following many super smart folks around the interwebs, trying to copy what they’ve been doing. After all, they’re the ones doing the stuff that works, right? They’re living their life of freedom.
I’ve done it. Hell, I still follow and learn from them. They’re smart people and worth following because, well, they’re smart people! They are achieving their goals, building thriving businesses, and doing it in ways that I am doing it, too. I’m sure the same goes for you.
But their freedom is not mine… or yours.
If you would have asked me a year and half ago what my reasons for building an online business were I would have told you, “Because I want to have complete freedom”. If you asked me what that meant I would have fed you a line like, “I want to live and work on my own terms”.
Sounds pretty good, right? Probably sounds exactly like what you want.
Problem is, I had no clue what that meant to me. I had no idea how to value what I was working for.
I knew what it meant for Jonathan Mead (Hell, it’s his tagline). I knew what it meant to Laura Roeder. I knew what it meant to Tim Ferriss, Marie Forleo, Danielle Laporte, and Johnny B. Truant. I knew what it meant for them and many more, but… not for me.
These folks were really smart. But their lives, businesses, and definition of freedom, were not mine or my family’s.
Don’t base your freedom on the social proof of others.
In a world where everyone is selling us their “success templates” for this and their “proven systems” for that, it’s easy for us to buy into the picture perfect life they have painted for us.
The problem isn’t the systems, templates, or whatever is being offered. Most of them do work and provide great results for a lot of people. The problem is when we as the follower, student, or buyer, try to achieve the success that has been painted or achieved by anyone else.
Don’t base your future, your freedom, on the social proof of others. Burn the maps, and follow your own path.
It’s time you clearly defined what freedom means to you.
I’m always fascinated at how easy it is for people to get stuck when it comes to getting specific about their reasons for choosing the path they’re on. People will literally spend thousands of hours working hard to get to a destination without knowing the real reason they want to get there. They don’t even know what they’ll do if they reach it. I know because I’ve been one of these people.
You’ll never reach your thriving destination until you define what it is you’re working towards. Just saying, “I want a freedom business”, ain’t gonna cut it. Allowing yourself to be this vague will only cause you to follow every shiny path (or blog) you come across.
You’re an entrepreneur, remember? You don’t follow others paths, you create your own. That’s what you do. That’s who you are. That’s why there’s no pictures of a “promotion,” a corner office, an employee of the month parking place, or a higher “performance” bonus on your vision board.
Now is the time for you to get serious about what YOU want from this life you’re creating. It’s time to define your freedom, and discover why it really means so much to you.
Your Defining Moment…
This might be a little uncomfortable (and it actually should be), but these questions will help you gain a clearer definition of your freedom. It’s time to get your hands dirty.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Who are YOU? Seriously. Who are you?
Define yourself and what your beliefs are. Get as specific with this as you can. I want you to write down what excites you, what scares the living shit out of you, what pisses you off, what convicts you, what kind of people you like to hang out with, who you resonate with the most, who you resent the most, how old you feel (forget about your actual age), what symbolizes success to you, and what you want to be remembered for when you die. Add as much to this as you you can. The key is to be incredibly specific about yourself.
Once you’ve made your list, save it and read it every day. I’m serious.
Why is this important? Because no matter what I say or how focused you are, you will still continue to follow more and more smart folks who can teach you. And that’s okay. This exercise will keep you from slowly trying to turn yourself into the people you are learning from. You will continue to grow as you.
2. Will you ever stop?
When you achieve your goals or reach what you consider as success, will you stop? Will you call it a day to live out a comfortable lazy life or will you move on to the next thing with the same enthusiasm and drive you had before?
–But Andy, they say life’s about the journey, not the destination.– I say it’s about both. You need both and here’s why…
You have to know what you want to achieve (or where you want to be in life when you achieve it) in order to start your journey. Your destination and path can change at any time and they most certainly will. But you can’t have one without the other.
Would you like some help?
Here’s what I want you to do right now.
Answer the two questions above in the comments. Get incredibly specific, as if scientists had to reconstruct you and all they had to go by is your answers in the comments (Don’t worry, my secret laboratory has been closed for a while now ;-).
Why is this so important? This is a great community here, and by answering these questions publicly, you’ll be giving your fellow IM brothers and sisters the ability to keep you in check when you start to lose who you are and what your freedom is all about.
Now go to the comment box and define who you are.
About the author: Andy Fogarty makes lives better by helping people gain clarity and focus in their business and personal lives. Right now, many others are using his free 10-part course, Thrive Hacking, to change their lives and so can you.
Brilliant Andy! We’d do better if we start looking within instead of looking ‘out there’ for the answers. I think it’s very important to be aware of the attachments we form around others, ideas of others and thinking that the lifestyle of others is what will lead to our freedom from suffering. Freedom comes from within…also, it’s not really some point to get to since we are already free. That freedom is actually so much closer to us than we actually think.
Andy Fogarty says
“That freedom is actually so much closer to us than we think.”
David William says
I like the burn the map bits. Burn the boats, burn the maps. At some point you gotta just move forward.
As for who I am, I’m still figuring that out. I’m not too concerned about it though. I like who I am and those that get to know me can connect or not.
I won’t ever stop though. Too many people on the blogosphere following one another trying to get rich, live and work anywhere, etc etc.
It’s more important to me to live authentically for me. The rest will just keep falling into place because I’m putting myself in the right frame of mind.
Andy Fogarty says
The rest WILL keep falling into place. It’s pretty crazy how that works out, isn’t it? When you can continually keep yourself in the mindset, stuff just flows.
Of course you still have to do the work to move forward, but laziness is never part of the right mindset. At least not mine. ;-)
I’m Meg and I love spreading health and awareness to people around me through yoga, healthy food choices, charisma and a loving attitude. I hope to spread this love around the world to an abundance of people and cultures. I do not see an ending to these goals. This is something that can be an active presence in my life as long as my love is still strong and present. I like that you mentioned your path may change but as long as we keep our focus on the overall goal or dream we can make it happen in the form that we want. It’s like painting our our life story. Great post! Thanks!
Andy Fogarty says
I liked how you compared it to painting our life story.
I’ve worked with so many people who were consumed with staying on a specific path because it worked for someone they looked up to.
We all have many paths to get to where we want to be. One path leads to another and so on. The real trick is choosing the ones that continue to move you forward.
Thank you, Andy..
I am working at grass root level to spread personal finance management and help new (read unexperienced)women entrepreneurs set up their own venture. And you cannot believe how many of them want to be Danielle or Marie.. and to be honest, so many times even I am tempted to ditch my Indie ways and be a Rock Star.. But I try to keep us focussed and not get bedazzled by the lure of the Rich and the Famous.
This one definitely helps especially coming from you because most of them know you and I will now post it in my forums so that everyone can have a good discussion about it.
Andy Fogarty says
Ultimately we all want to be rich and famous in one way or another, but rich and famous has a different meaning for each person.
Most people view rich and famous as being successful. Its just how we’re trained. Thats why it’s important to know what that means to you so you can form a positive view of success.
It’s a whole lot easier and fun to reach your goals if you believe those successes are a good thing ;-)
Keep up the good work, Megz.
i was told this little nugget yesterday…
“You can’t fairly compare your insides to someone else’s outsides”
Andy Fogarty says
I’m saving that.
First freedom. Freedom for me is control of my own time.
Who am I? A catalyst. At the moment I’d be happy with the epitaph: he helped a few realise their goodness. What is most satisfying is deep connection. What pisses me off: hype and phoniness (marketing is something of a challenge for me at present).
Will I stop? No. Well I haven’t yet. I don’t know what the next thing will be but I’m sure there will be one.
Andy Fogarty says
Thanks for sharing, Evan.
Everyday is our most important day. I’d challenge you to not be happy with just helping a few realize their goodness, but many.
I’m curious what is troubling you with marketing. Is it that you feel most marketing is about the hype or is it something else?
Don’t stop, Evan. We need more like you :-)
I am slowly starting to believe I can create the life I want for myself. Having just recovered from a messy civil partnership dissolution, where I lost my partner, my house and my savings, last month I was made redundant . I have enough money to get by for a few months, if I live frugally. Time to follow my heart which is something I haven’t really done since Uni almost 20 years ago. I need to write and produce gay themed film, thats my passion and it has never left me – but for so long I didn’t do anything about it as I didn’t believe in myself. Communicating via cinema excites me, I want to move people and make the films people like me and my caring and humorous friends want to view whether social justice based or a dark comedy.
Being broke scares me but not as much as the thought of being alone for the rest of my life but those thoughts belong to the old me, the one that continually had negative thoughts.Some days its so hard not to think like that but I now know that like attracts like, and I possess a belief that evaded me until very recently so, starting from zero in every aspect of my life, I have created space for the new..so here we go…
Andy Fogarty says
NOW is your time. BELIEVE. GO!
Justin | Mazzastick says
It seems that most entrepreneurs desire a life of freedom and leisure. Working for someone else will not give you this.
Creating freedom would mean lessening the amount of obstacles/structures in my life.
I was never a big fan of the systems that are in place when working for someone else.Owners, managers, HR, and the like. I would prefer to be the boss than be bossed.
Working when and for how long is up to me. Will I ever stop? I don’t think so. I love having my own money making blog and I love to share and teach information with others.
Andy Fogarty says
I don’t see you ever stopping. You might change your path, but you’ll never stop. You’ve got too much fire inside you to stop. :-)
Great content! We should all answer the questions in your post to define what’s important to us. What does freedom mean to me? I can take my laptop to South America, Spain, or Moree NSW Australia and still work with my clients via Skype just as if I were still in my Arizona office. No one tells me what to do (except my dog when she wants to go for her walkie). No one tells me to take on a client who doesn’t share my values. No one tells me what I have to write about. I can tell the TRUTH!
Matt R says
I enjoyed reading this.
I really loved how you stated the first tip. It’s really true though. The only way to know if you’re living a life of integrity is knowing yourself the best you can. What better way than to write it on a piece of paper? Write down all the details about oneself.
There’s only one flavor that you should be. Your own. :)
Craig Morton says
What gets me really excited is living each day on my own terms both the good and bad. I’m at a point where I want to spend my time working on projects that I care about and not do what I’m told by others about projects that I don’t care about simply for security. And this is what scares the shit out of me as well; thinking that everything rides on my shoulders. I used to need a great deal of structure and security and this is what has really stiffled me. I want to work on topics that I love, structure my day, and have my time on my time. I’ve been a high school teacher for 15 years and next year I want to go full time as a life and addiction coach, move countires and start help people making real change in their lives. Change fires me up and helping people create their changes is what I want to do. What pisses me off is the status quo and those that stay stuck. Old…when I think to my current life I feel old. Looking forward to the future, I feel young.
What I know is that my success depends on me and my brain. If I stop, life stops. In my current job I can stop and cruise, but it depresses me immensly and I get depressed. Currently, I’m getting my coaching certification and am already a certified yoga teacher, and quit drinking on my own. These are what I want to offer people. This is what I’ve become and there is not stopping. Just growth.
I’m a women. Laughter, singing, dancing,(moving in general)acting, discovering places of the unknown from subjects of science to the occult, are things I find exciting. I fear the evil in man kind, bio-warfare. Ignorance, how society is governed and the manipulated systems with in, being with someone I don’t love cause I have no money & feeling helpless is what pisses me off. Might I add debt collectors, & being told to stop dreaming because this is the REAL WORLD.
I’m guilty of procrastinating and allowing fear and time manifest crippling my mind, for I know the only person who will truly be able to help me get to where I need to be is me. I like people but I do not like to hang out with all of them. Those I gravitate towards most are good hearted, confident & open minded to change and are comfortable about the unknown. I’m in a position where I feel as if I’m a naive 18 year old again realizing there is much I still don’t know or where to even begin. Success = providing for myself and family and to live out my story to the best of ability.
If I died today people would say nice things & pity me and go on to say “poor-thing never had it easy.” That is not how I want to be remembered and I wont know till I figure this all out. No, I will never stop dreaming & thinking while living in the now. I have to map out my plan logically and legally but with my finances in the negative it puts me in a pickle. I know I could be doing more and earning more for a living. I’m still trying to figure out the how, and the what to do’s, at this point.