Personal freedom

FreedomQuote_Robert Frost.jpg

I have spent the past 35 years working in information technology after graduating from college. My career has been a good one, where I have had a number of different roles, which made it interesting for many years. Even though things have been good I would say that my interest level has steadily declined over the past 5 years, and I began searching for other ways to express myself. I found blogging and Twitter a couple of years ago and this has helped me find a way to express myself, but I was always looking for a way to increase what I am calling my personal freedom. If you are like me the thought of spending another 10 years in a cubicle has become totally unacceptable. Lately I feel like the plot just keeps playing itself out over and over, and it feels like no matter who I work for I am just reinventing the wheel over and over again.

Personal freedom as I define it, is about having a choice on how I spend my time on this earth. To have personal freedom means having more control over your destiny including how you spend your time, who you spend your time with, and overcoming the limits inherent in working for someone else. It may be that it took me longer to realize what I wanted because I was learning, making a great living, and getting enough fulfillment from what I did that I felt no great need to make a change, but that satisfaction has dissipated over the past few years . I’m sure the fact that I am getting a little older was also an influence, as I began to realize that time increases in value when it becomes more limited. I guess we all just reach a tipping point in our lives, when it is more difficult to stay the course than to choose a new one. If you feel like each day you go into work that it seems to be sucking the life out of you, and you count the hours and minutes until it is time to leave, and you are thouroughly uniterested in the endless corporate babble; then you are getting close to that magical momement where you are ready to make a change. I’m not advocating that you quit your job tomorrow, but if you feel like I do, you know that you need to make a plan to transition out of the drudgery that may be your existence and find some personal freedom.

In my next post, I would like to talk about some things that I have been doing, and how you can set some goals and take action to go from dreaming about personal freedom to actually realizing it.

Namaste

MyDailyChoice is a business that I joined, which is part of my personal freedom strategy.

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Monday Motivation

Goals this week

Last week I wrote about how exercise and meditation that is focused on gratefulness sets you up for a great Monday morning instead of a difficult transition from weekend to work week. Today I would like to ask a little more, so instead of just starting out with a great attitude we need to view this day as a chance to start anew.  Pick something you want to change about your life, which shouldn’t be too difficult for most of us.  Here is a list of a few goals that apply to many people:

  • This week I am going to stick with my exercise program.  No excuses, no more days missed because someone else set your priorities.
  • This week I’m going to kick a bad habit I have.  This habit might be over eating, smoking, drinking too much, loving your cell phone more than your friends or family, too much time with video games, gossiping about family/friends/co-workers, and the list goes on and on. You know what is holding you back, so pick one.
  • This week I’m going to think about what I eat and make some good choices. You know what I mean; you don’t need to be a nutritionist to know when you are eating garbage.
  • This week I’m going to focus on positive interactions with everyone I encounter. What will it cost you, but practicing a little self-control, maybe a bit of empathy, or being less judgmental.

goals

So we are starting out a new week and we will make one change, from my list above or something else that has been weighing heavily on your mind. I’m not advocating you give it all up and join the monastery, we don’t have to make a radical change, but make a change and do it now. The result is these changes will accumulate, they will make you stronger, and they will build on each other.  Let’s take a look what 4 short weeks could do:

  1. Week 1 – I started running/walking 3 days a week
  2. Week 2 – I stopped drinking anything with sugar in it
  3. Week 3 – I volunteered at the local food pantry
  4. Week 4 – I stopped gossiping about people I work with

These aren’t huge things that take tons of planning, but you are now creating good things in your life.  After a month of just changing 4 things I now have a good exercise habit, rehydrating without the worthless calories, giving back to your community, and taking the high road with your co-workers.  Now that was just the first month.

Your homework should you choose to accept this challenge is to write down 4 goals, one for each week in the month and start working on one every Monday. When you reach the fourth week, write down 4 more. I just started a Google doc I called “Weekly Goals” so I can see how this flows over time. Sometimes we get hung up on making elaborate plans with no due dates or simply unreasonable ones; this method keeps you focused on one goal for the week not some daunting list. The approach is one step at a time and it is based on achievement, and it takes minimal planning. I also would start with those goals you can achieve, don’t set yourself up for failure, as you begin achieving some of your initial goals, you can make them more challenging, but you must first embrace the mindset that you can change and this takes time.

It is important that you choose 1 or 2 goals for the week and they should be those of the highest priority. This means choose a goal or two for the week that will have an impact on your personal development, family,  or career. Here is an example of goals I set for a 4 week period:

  • Week of 4/9
    • Study for the AWS Developer Associate certification
    • Meditate for 15 minutes each day
  • Week of 4/16
    • Study for the AWS Developer Associate certification
    • Create YouTube Channel
  • Week of 4/23
    • Review and take the AWS Developer Associate certification exam
    • Schedule a meeting with an attorney to setup a will and trust
  • Week of 4/30
    • Install new hinges and pulls on kitchen cabinets
    • Start writing a gratitude journal every night

Note that some of these goals you have committed to each week may be an ongoing activity that improves your life over time. For instance in the goals I mention above meditating for 15 minutes and writing in your gratitude journal are an ongoing process.

This methodology asks you to prioritize what is most important to you and requires a commitment on your part. On the flip side failure to follow your plan leaves you no where, and you continue to just exist, living the same life you have now.

Start slow and choose one small but significant goal for each week and over time you begin to feel a sense of achievement that comes with taking care of those important things that will enrich your life.

Namaste

 

 

Exercising Choice

choices the three C

No this is not about choosing the right exercise, although that could be a choice for you.  Really this post is more about breaking free of a habit based existence and exercising this little thing called choice in your life.  As human beings we tend to create habits for ourselves some good and some not so good, but nonetheless we live out these habits.  For many people breaking a bad habit is something that takes a crisis not because that is the best approach, but it is in our nature to stick with that habit even though it may have very negative consequences.  Consider the heroin addict, smoker, or alcoholic it often takes a dire consequence, a pretty severe wake up call for them to even think about moving away from the habit by choice.  We have all been there, following some bad habit that may be detrimental to our health, relationships, or careers.  I contend that we naturally stick with the habit and we are not exercising a choice but simply sticking with what is familiar.

Think about your day or your typical week, how much of it is made up of rituals you have developed.  What do you do in the morning, my guess is you follow a pretty regimented routine, preparing yourself for a work day, and then arriving at the office within a 15 minute window of time.  Of course these are not necessarily bad things, but they exemplify how we like to follow a pattern of behavior, a ritual if you like.

Life is about choices

Are there habits you should cling too?  Maybe, but don’t be to hasty, even what you perceive as good habits or patterns of behavior may be limiting you.  Let’s take the person who gets up every morning and goes running, sounds like a good habit doesn’t it.  Would another form of exercise be maybe even more beneficial from time to time?  Oh no I run every day, not by choice so much as I am now a runner and have created a daily habit and short of a pretty bad injury that is where I am headed in the morning.

See we create paradigms that we actually live out.  I am a project manager, I am a runner, I am a brick layer, I am a doctor, I am in law enforcement, I am a tax attorney, I am stock broker, I am something.  I have created a category, a role for myself, and thus limited my choices.  Regardless of all the silly ways that society reinforces the limitations that go along with your role and tries to box you in to a set of required skills, it does no define your potential.  A runner can lift weights or do yoga, a brick layer can be a florist, a tax attorney can be an artist, a college drop out at Harvard can create Microsoft.

The point of all of this is you have choices as to how you spend your time, hopefully you see yourself as more than a role you fulfill.  Choice is something we really don’t exercise much, but it is more available than you think.  Start with those negative habits that enslave you such as smoking, drinking, drugs, a poor diet, bad relationships, or a dead end job.  Start making a conscience choice to follow another path, an alternative action.  Otherwise let your habits consume you and dictate your future, you have a choice.

Namaste