Sometimes I waffle with decision-making. I’ll spend days pouring over unimportant details and conveniently ignoring the big picture. Sometimes I’ll commit myself to writing an article and, at the last-minute, scrap the whole thing and write something completely different.
I do this because there aren’t any limits. No one tells me what to say or write or how to live my life. This is a good thing, but sometimes it’s scary, so I avoid making decisions and moving forward.
Luckily, I’ve gotten pretty good at realizing when I’m stalling and I’ve found ways to remedy it—like announcing plans before they’re ready or setting a “time bomb” for myself by doing something like buying a plane ticket without any other details figured out.
Freedom is a tricky thing. Once you have a bit, you want more. But the more you get, the greater the risk you run of not actually using it.
If you’re reading this article from your own computer on your own time, then you’re freer than nearly everyone in the world who’s come before you. You may even have more choices to make about your life than you know what to do with right now.
And with that freedom also comes an incredible responsibility. When you can’t blame anyone else for your decisions, it becomes a lot riskier to make them on your own.
If you’re not ready to cope with that, then you might just neglect them.
Decision and action avoidance comes in many forms, but there are three you’re probably faced with regularly. You have a few profound freedoms today, and how you use them each day can make a big difference in your life.
1. The Freedom to Express Your True Opinions
There are many places in the world where you still can’t say what you really think about most things in life. The official opinion’s been stated, handed down, and you’re expected to fall in line.
Most great ideas never come to be because they never leave the head that’s thinking it. They die quietly, never allowed to see the light of day.
Don’t let this happen to your big ideas and your unique perspective of the world. When you have something important to say, say it. When you have something meaningful to do, do it—don’t hesitate wondering what others will think about it.
I live in Portland, Oregon where everyone’s considered unreasonably cordial to everyone else. Sometimes we get mad at each other, but we rarely say or do anything about it.
I was having coffee the other day when I ended up in a conversation with an outspoken fellow from Philadelphia. He’d moved here a few years ago and he’s bothered by the fact that no one seems to say what they really think. We’ve taken politeness beyond its reasonable limit!
I agree with him. When you have an unpopular opinion that you really believe in, you’re responsible to share it. Don’t keep quiet; don’t try to soften the edges. In the end, you’re not doing anyone any favors by shielding them from what you really think.
2. The Freedom from Having to Explain Yourself
It wasn’t that long ago that your future was determined by your mother or father’s choices. If Dad was a carpenter, that’s what you were going to be. If Mom enjoyed knitting, then you’d be a knitter, too.
It’s not like this anymore. With a few important caveats, you can pretty much do whatever makes you happy, and you’re not required to answer to anybody but yourself as to why.
Not everyone needs an explanation for why you choose to live your life the way you do, and those that do probably aren’t going to accept any answer you give them.
When you decide that you’re the only one you have to answer to about your own life, doing the things that make you happy gets a lot easier.
Want to make macarons for a living? Go for it! Always wanted to run a goat rodeo? Who’s stopping you?
3. The Freedom to Travel… Freely
Did you know there are 193 countries in the world (depending on who you ask)? Really, there are! That’s a lot—how many have you been to? For $2 a day you can get to most of them without much effort.
On the surface, travel can look very superficial—self-proclaimed adventurers (myself included) collecting passport stamps like baseball cards for no other reason than to go.
But you don’t need a reason to go.
If you want to, and can afford to, you don’t have to answer to anyone besides the airport security guard looking for a bribe.
And you don’t have to leave your country to experience the world—just your comfort zone. For about 10 minutes work, you can gather enough frequent flyer miles to go just about anywhere on your own continent. If you haven’t been, you should go. Life is different there; you’ll see.
The secret benefit to travel is that even when it’s done thoughtlessly—with no reason why—you still gain something from it. You can’t help but understand the world in a way that you hadn’t thought about before.
That’s a useful experience.
Your freedom is the most valuable asset you own, but just like any other asset, the less you use it, the less it can do for you. The good news is you can’t use it up or wear it out. The more you use, the more you get!
Forget what everyone else thinks. In the end, you have to answer you. And how do you want to judge yourself at the end of the day?
So go ahead—think big and take a step towards something you want today. Don’t wait! Do it now!
Query: What can you do in the next 10 minutes to put one of these three freedoms to use in your own life?
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Image by: jasmeet