Freedom is generally defined as the condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance.
In my life, freedom is a core value. It serves as my rudder. My deep belief is that we are each here to live fully expressed lives aligned with our values and on our own terms, allowing us to fulfill our greater purpose. It’s why I chose to leave a lucrative job at a Fortune 500 company to become a life coach.
They say if you want to find your purpose you should look for what breaks your heart. What breaks my heart is imprisonment of any kind, be it literal or self-imposed. People locked away from their potential and soul-desires due to fear, circumstances or limiting beliefs for any reason -- personal, familial or societal.
Back in my days of production and corporate life I felt imprisoned. I’d wake up feeling already behind. Always looking for pockets of time during my hectic work schedule to claim for my own. Wanting to meditate, take morning walks, write morning pages, or simply do nothing at all, but the white rabbit refrain of “I’m late! I’m late” was running on a loop. I desperately wanted to be free to live a life of my design. When I finally left, I had all the time, but no clear plan for how to manage it. I soon discovered that having too much freedom was overwhelming me almost as much as having too little free time.
As a first-time business owner, I signed up for all the programs to quickly get up to speed on how it all worked. I was excited. I’d discovered my calling and couldn’t wait to begin living it. When I first logged into the Facebook group of a popular business program the feed was flooded with people just like me. Others may have seen kinship and community support, but I only saw a glut of quick start marketing plans (and ploys) promising 7 figure businesses, so many tips and tricks, impossibly shiny headshots and glossy coaching packages.
My first reaction was overwhelm. Then sadness, which quickly devolved into apathy. It all felt so flat and formulaic and I found myself frozen. I decided I would simply do things my way and all would be fine. My way quickly became me questioning everything and doing next to nothing. Eventually I cobbled together a website, did a little outreach and then sat waiting for my clients and the magic to find me. While clients did begin to find me, and when I was connecting with them, I was fully present and felt on purpose. But oh, the empty space between those calls! That is where I realized I was truly in uncharted territory.
Learning how to design my days with intention, while keeping them feeling fresh and free is an ongoing process, but it’s one I’m much more comfortable navigating today. I believe in order to do our best work we must be able to hear and understand ourselves better.
It wasn’t until I took Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies quiz and was typed a Rebel that I learned what had been holding me back. Though conventional paths never interested me, I would never have called myself a Rebel. Yes, I embraced the idea, but I lacked the sharp edges to be called one or see myself as one. Further, Rebel types don’t usually like labels (or being told what to do by anyone, including ourselves) but she was able to explain it in such a way that led me to better understand how I’m wired. What I learned is that for a Rebel type reframing is everything. A challenge with purpose motivates me much more than an expectation ever would.
Posing something as an opportunity and choice rather than a “have to” is much more likely to bring about a desired result. That simple realization was a turning point in both my business and personal life. While your wiring is likely different from mine it is still important to understand what makes you tick so you can create the hacks that will serve you and your work.
Creating a life on your own terms is by no means an easy path. Joseph Campbell said, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.” Simply put, there is no map to follow! When you’re standing at a thicket, intimidated and with no idea where it leads or what you might encounter along the way, it can be pretty tempting to stay safe and small in the familiar open meadow doing what everyone else is doing.
But what if we live with the belief that freedom is our birthright? And what if we embrace the paradox that to live freely, aligned with our values and on our own terms, we also need the discipline to understand our unique wiring and nature to do the work we are here to do, as only we can do it. Here’s to your freedom being a powerful force and source for good in the world.