Freedom is praised in books, movies, speeches and casual conversations. It’s something most of us want to have more of, because we know it would make us happier. But how do you achieve more freedom? This is where things get more complicated.
I see freedom as comprising both an external and an internal component. External freedom means that you have many concrete options to choose from regarding what you do, when you do it, how you do it and with whom you do it with. It means the availability of outward choices.
Internal freedom on the other hand comes from the ability to perceive these options and the courage to leverage them. You may have the option to end a toxic relationship, but if you don’t distinguish this option or you falsely believe you will be alone and miserable forever if you end the relationship, then it isn’t really an option for you.
Following this logic, experiencing more freedom can happen by making changes both and an external and at an internal level. Let’s take a look at the most important changes you can make, from the outside in.
1. Develop Your Skills
Skills, in my perspective, are the shortest path to external freedom. The more skilled you are the more things you can do and the better you can do them, which opens up all sorts of possibilities in your life.
A skilled professional can access the best available jobs, which also means they can promptly leave a job they don’t like, enjoy a bigger salary and make high demands from their employer.
A socially skilled person can make friends easily, which also means they can enjoy a wide range of social experiences and they don’t have to tolerate bad behavior from others just because they have no other relations.
2. Build Your Network
Ultimately, people are a first-rate resource that you can capitalize on to obtain companionship, emotional intimacy, appreciation, help, information, and so on.
The more people you have in your life and the higher the quality of these people, the more freedom you experience. Whatever your goals or desires, it’s great to feel like there is always someone to help you achieve it if you can’t do so alone.
So, get involved in social activities, meet new people, find a few things to talk about with them, engage in conversation, and try to build quality relationships. Be positive and friendly, and most people will respond in kind.
3. Avoid Confining Decisions
Very often, we don’t experience a lot of freedom because we’ve made decisions that have taken a lot of it away. It was there to begin with, but we’ve squandered it through careless decision-making.
For example, many people take huge loans in order to buy wastefully big houses, and the obligation to pay these loans takes away many of their options.
They can’t just quit a lousy job all of a sudden, they can’t take a long sabbatical, they can’t work in certain fields they may be passionate about if the pay isn’t substantial from the get go, and if they ever get really sick and become unable to work they’re in serious trouble.
This is routinely the kind of decision that seriously limits ones freedom without providing a worthwhile benefit in return.
And this is why it’s a good idea to pay a lot of attention to any decision you make that seriously takes away from your freedom. Is it really worth it? Do the benefits truly outweigh the cost? Answer these questions honestly before choosing your path and never underestimate the value of your freedom.
4. Question Your Assumptions about what’s Possible
As a confidence coach, it’s very common for me to investigate people’s assumptions. And something I notice recurrently is a tendency to not see real possibilities, because we have skewed perceptions regarding what’s possible.
“You can have a job you love and make a lot of money at the same time” some say, “You can’t be happy without having a romantic partner” others say.
Really? Why not? These are in my view perfect illustrations of false assumptions that skew reality. And they make people blind to what’s really possible. Thus, they feel shackled when they could feel free. But it’s not because of what’s truly possible; it’s because of what they think is possible.
Don’t give into your assumptions. Be willing to question them and to test them. Try to have as few assumptions as possible, and live your life with an open mind. You’ll experience a lot more freedom and you’ll achieve a lot more.
5. Don’t Underestimate Yourself
Your skills give you external freedom. However it is being aware of the skills you have that gives you internal freedom. It makes you more confident in your competence and it makes you feel that you can handle whatever life throws at you.
So I encourage you to combine developing your skills with recognizing them. You probably have many skills that you undervalue or you don’t even see. Make a serious investigation of who you are and what you’re good at, in order to get in touch with these skills.
Whoever said that self-knowledge is power wasn’t kidding. And it is the knowledge of what we’re genuinely capable of that frees us to do more, accomplish more, and enjoy life more.
Freedom is a great thing. And best of all, it’s in your power to enhance your level of freedom, using the right tools. This is one pursuit that I believe is worth undertaking no matter who you are. The pursuit of freedom is one of the most beautiful, life-enriching things you can do.
Eduard Ezeanu coaches shy guys and helps them build the confidence and social life of their dreams. He also posts practical advice and self-growth tips regularly on Facebook as @artofconfidence