Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
My first days in college were rough.
I had spent my summer in the army. After 4 months of following someone else’s orders, I had to take initiative and make my own plans. It felt like an uncomfortable freedom.
In the end, I learned to re-conquer my freedom and adjusted to my new life. Many years of hard work and fun followed. This is not the end of the story though…
With my first job, a new routine started. At first, I was excited to finally get a salary.
But over the years, I realized I was following plans laid out by higher level managers. I was happy in my job, but still a cog in a big machine.
As I took more responsibilities over time, pressure and stress increased. I reached a point when I didn’t feel happy anymore. I felt frustrated and unfulfilled. It was time for a change.
I took a step back and reflected.
I realized I was living someone else’s life. I didn’t feel any real incentive to go outside of my comfort zone. And I was not getting much recognition for my work.
But everyone around me seemed to be happy. Was there something wrong with me?
After many months of self-reflection, I reached the following conclusion: I was hungry for freedom. I didn’t want to follow other people’s agendas anymore.
My mindset flicked.
I carried on working as normal, at least on the surface. But I put some clear priorities in my life and set myself limits to what I was going to accept and do.
That is until I can be in full control of my agenda.
Do you have the same nagging feeling that you’re not calling the shots in your career? Do you want to reclaim your freedom?
Now, you might be wondering, how can you be in control of your agenda when you’re under pressure from management? How can you set your own path while on a full time job?
Bear with me as I lay down the steps you need to take to be free. First, we need to tackle the truth.
Take the red pill
It’s time to take the red pill and wake up to reality. Life has conditioned us to be followers. Our parents, teachers and bosses have always given us guidance; we are trained to listen to them and follow their lead.
As teenagers, we rebel against authority. Some of us will have kept this rebel mindset. But most will fit back into the mold society has designed for us.
You might say that you are happy to fit in, that it is how gregarious species like ours can thrive. Yes, but we need to look further.
And the first step is to accept that fitting in is our default behavior in society. And now, for the next step…
Stop fitting in
You don’t have to fit in. There is an alternative you can live by. An alternative that will bring you freedom.
And it doesn’t mean living as an eccentric. Even though you can do so if you want to.
No, the alternative is quite simple, while profound at the same time. It’s like flipping a coin and moving your life from tails to heads.
Before we go into details, picture how different your life could be.
Imagine you were always in control of your agenda and focusing on doing what excites you. How would it feel to be the boss of your life?
Got the picture? Right, now we’re ready to flip the coin.
Be in charge
You can be in charge of your agenda and enjoy freedom while at the same time following directions from management. You can listen to your parents and partner and still do what you want.
In short, you can decide now to create the exact life you aspire to. How?
By flipping the coin. That is, set your own agenda and stick to it. That’s it. It translates to:
- Find out what inspires you (look here if you need help)
- Set specific goals and plan your route to get there. The roadmap is your agenda (to learn how to set goals, read this)
- Follow the road
Your roadmap defines what matters to you most. When you have to balance decisions, look at your roadmap.
Which decision is going to bring you closer to your goals? And which decision is going to lead you to an empty dirt road?
When you have to work on an assignment, decide whether it fits with your agenda. If not, do what you have committed to do, nothing more. Leverage the Pareto principle: find out which activities are bringing you 80% of your results; focus on these.
Get into the habit of taking a step back and reflecting. Do you really need to do this one thing? Who is setting the agenda here, you or someone else?
Keep your distance to stay in charge.
Courage and confidence
You’ll need courage. You’ll need confidence to stand your ground and not let others dictate your actions.
But if you set inspiring goals for yourself, you will gather this courage. Also, once you have committed to your plan and started executing on it, you’ll build confidence along the way.
And the more confident you are, the easier it will be to adapt to your new regime.
It will require sacrifices and it will be hard at the beginning. But soon you’ll start reaping the benefits and you’ll never look back.
To infinity and beyond
It’s up to you now. Choose the road you want to take. Is it going to be Easy Rider or Metropolis?
Lay out your vision. Follow it. Keep going for as long as it takes.
The future version of you will thank you later.
Now, what are you going to do? Share your plan below.