In last week’s blog I discussed how you can start moving towards freedom by scrutinizing the areas of your life, where you feel trapped, and doing an inventory of why you feel the way and what you can do about it in the moment. Now, we are going to get down to doing something about attaining freedom. In order to do this, you must take an inventory of all the major areas of your life and pick the one where you feel limited and contracted.
The six major areas of life are health and fitness, relationships and social network, personal and intellectual development, career and finances, emotional and spiritual development and leisure and travel. Once you have identified an area where you feel trapped and not free, you must then scrutinize this area of your life.
Let’s demonstrate this with an example. Let’s say you hate your job and feel trapped in your current career. It does not matter how long you have been in this job. You need to ask yourself why you are still doing it. You see, most people feel that they have to keep doing something because they have no other choice but this cannot be further from the truth. You do not have to do anything that you are unhappy with. You only do it because of other people’s or society’s expectations.
You may be in your current career because your parents wanted it for you, you thought you would enjoy it but found out that you don’t or you have to keep doing it to support your family. Now, if you have to keep working in your current job because this is your only source of income and have a family to support, then by no means am I suggesting that you quit your job. However, something has to give in order to start moving towards freedom.
We often feel that we are trapped by situations but often we are trapped by our feelings. If you have to continue in your current job because you have no choice at this time, then you need to accept your current situation. Feeling upset or angry because you are trapped in a job that you dislike, but supports you and your family does not serve you and, in fact, will drive you further into misery. Replace these feelings with those of gratitude that you have a means to earn and maintain the lifestyle that you currently have.
Gratitude is the solution to accepting a situation, you are in, that is less than ideal. The way to practice this gratitude is to write down all the benefits of the situation that is causing you angst. Once you have done this, then you recite and reflect these benefits at least once per day. This is how you start to change your attitude about where you are at now and break free of negative thoughts and feelings, which are another trap most people do not realize.
Does this mean that you have to remain in your current situation? Not at all! However, the first step to freedom is complete acceptance and gratitude because, without this, your negative thoughts and feelings will keep you trapped in your situation. Once you have achieved this, you then look at the situation you want to break free of. Let’s use your job or career as an example again. What is it that you want instead? You see, most people get stuck in negative thinking about circumstances in their lives without giving any thought to what they desire instead.
You must journal about what you want instead of what you have. You may have already done this but, if not, then you must do this now. Write down all the qualities and characteristics which you desire in a new profession, that are lacking in what you are doing now. This could be more creativity, more challenge and responsibility, the ability to lead a team, more involvement in higher level decision making or any number of things. Once you have this list of what you want, then start contemplating about whether you could achieve these objectives in your current job. Think outside the box and be creative. You may surprise yourself.
If there are ways that you can achieve what you you desire in your profession or career, then you must take immediate action to moving towards this. This may involve talking to your boss about changing your responsibilities, It may involve applying for another position in the same company. Whatever it is, take whatever action you need to take to move towards it. If, however, you find that there is no way that you can achieve what you are looking for in your current situation then you have to do some more soul searching.
Here are the questions you should answer about what you are seeking.
1) What are my values?
Once you have answered these questions to your satisfaction and are confident that what you are looking for in the area of your life, where you feel trapped, will truly liberate and fulfill you, you then need to make another list. You must now list out at least 10 to 20 ways you can find freedom in this area of your life where you feel trapped. If it is your job, then list 10 different careers or professions you could enter that will liberate you in the way that you desire. When doing this exercise, be creative and think outside the box. Is it another job you are seeking, that fascinates you? Are you looking for a total career change? Would you have to retrain yourself or go back to college or university? Do you know someone, who has already achieved what you are seeking that you could reach out to for guidance? Could you start a side hustle, based on a hobby or interest, and eventually grow that into a full fledged business? Is there someone, who is already in the career or business that you seek, who could guide or mentor you? Who would you have to become in order to obtain what you are seeking?
Journal thoroughly on how you can achieve freedom in this area of your life. Take as much time as you need with this exercise because it will set you up for the next step in your journey, which is to take action. Once you have identified at least 10 ways you can find freedom in that particular area of your life, you then must take action but not any action. You should take the smallest action that you can viably take, without disrupting your current situation, while moving towards what you are seeking. You may have to carve out time during the day to work on a side hustle that will help you achieve the freedom you are seeking. You may have to seek out a mentor who has already achieved what you desire. You may have to upgrade your skills and education. Whatever you have to do to move towards freedom in this area of your life, you must identify and start moving towards it incrementally.
After accepting your current situation, this is the next step to finding freedom. Nobody has said that this would be easy but liberating yourself from other people’s and society’s shackles rarely is an easy path. It takes determination, courage and relentlessness, however, as difficult as it may seem, if this path gets you the freedom that you are seeking then it is worth it to endure the temporary hardships that it will bring.
Wherever you are in your life’s journey and whatever aspect of your life you are seeking to liberate and change, if you follow the above formula, you will be challenged, however the ultimate reward will be worth the struggle that you have to endure right now. Do not waste another moment of your life stuck in a situation that does not serve you. Accept exactly where you are and what you have and start taking steps towards what you seek, as I have outlined above. You will find the freedom that you seek and your life will transform in the process
Dr. Nauman Naeem