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Find Your Freedom: How to Design a Life you Love
Have you seen this meme? Can you relate?
I saw this on Facebook and read some of the comments, many of which were either along the lines of “Same!” or “First world problem: Suck it up and welcome to responsible adulthood.” I would have agreed with both statements a year ago. I felt like this nearly every work day for many years AND battled the guilt caused by knowing that I was very blessed. While I was thankful for my job and the opportunities it provided, I couldn’t shake the feeling of dread as I drove towards work most days. During this time, I prayed almost daily for God to change my heart and align my will with His. However, the feeling that something wasn’t right only grew.
Therefore, I started examining my life to try to understand why I felt this way and more importantly, what was I supposed to do about it? What I found was that I wanted a life of freedom. However, as I tried to figure out how to pursue a life of freedom, I also discovered that “freedom” is not necessarily the absence of structure or work. Freedom is the ability to devote quality time to the people, causes, and things that matter most to you.
“Freedom is the ability to devote quality time to the people, causes, and things that matter most to you.”
According to a core values assessment that we took about a decade ago, my top three core values are Family/friends, Adventure, and Making a Difference. I was a teacher, so I had time during our track outs and days off to devote to relationships with family and friends, I was told that I was making a difference in the lives of my students, and every day is an adventure in school! So what was the problem?
For me, the problem was that I was working in a predictable system that ultimately goes against my core values. Like every parent, I want the best for my children and in my opinion, our current public-school system is failing our children, teachers, and society. (School = separating family members, following a strict predictable schedule, being inside more than outside, and teaches that competition and achievement matter more than relationships.). My children were going to school and learning in this same predictable system. I could see their love of learning dying before my very eyes! Therefore, I didn’t feel like I was truly making a difference as a teacher or being a good parent by keeping my kids in “the system”.
Please understand that “the system” is the problem, NOT the teachers who are also being shortchanged by the same system! Every teacher that I know works their butts off trying to do ‘all the things’ required of them while also doing their best to help foster a love for learning in each of their students.(*Please read disclaimer below!)
Furthermore, every day was a predictable set of events that involved very little risk and yet, my second core value, adventure, by definition means “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adventure). I felt a bit like a caged animal by the end of each school day and I also felt like a bit of a fraud teaching ‘Spanish’ and ‘World Culture’ classes when the only country that I’d been to outside of the USA was Mexico.
Additionally, during my time off, I was either working another job and/or trying to figure out how to pay all our bills with my teacher salary, so I wasn’t physically, emotionally, or mentally available to focus on nurturing the relationships in my life that meant the most to me. Therefore, even though it appeared that I was living a life aligned with my core values, I in fact was not.
How about you? Have you ever stopped to think about your core values or dream about the life you would design for yourself and your family if there were absolutely no limits? Are you living a life of freedom? What does freedom look like to you?
Follow the steps below to map out your journey to freedom:
Determine your core values (and your spouse’s if you are married):
It is important to understand first what you value in order to know what freedom might look like to you. For example, the life that we were living could have been what freedom looked like for some people whose core values are security, tradition, and family. Furthermore, even if you have the same core values as us, your interests, skills, and life experiences will ultimately paint a different image of freedom than ours. We first learned about the idea of aligning our life with our core values in the book, ‘Smart Couples Finish Rich’ by David Bach, that we highly recommend:
Analyze how well you are living in alignment with your core values:
Usually, we don’t have it all wrong. In my own experience outlined above, I was on the right track. I had a career that allowed me to be off work the same time as my children (family), that time off allowed us to travel (adventure), and I was influencing young minds (making a difference). Sometimes this analysis is difficult, especially when your life appears to be aligned with your core values, like mine did. This is when lots of prayer, critical reflection, and soul searching comes into play. We found that reading and following the 40 day devotional, ‘A Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren, helped us clarify how we specifically should be living in alignment with our core values.
Make the changes necessary to truly align your life with your core values:
This is often the hardest step because it requires change and it can be risky. However, it is the step that is vital in changing your life from one reflected in the meme above to one that you love. We had to sell everything, travel around the country in a rv living off savings and working our butts off at odd hours of the day/night so that we didn’t deplete our savings in order to make this change in our lives. Change like this isn’t easy and it isn’t as glamorous as it sounds, but it is way better than driving to work every day feeling like I’m not where I’m supposed to be and I’m failing my kids.*. If you want to understand a little more about how and why we made the changes we did, then I recommend reading ‘Unlocating’ by Margie Lundy. Margie wrote almost exactly what I would have written had I taken the time to record all of the “unthinking” that ultimately lead us to embark on our Family Gap Year.
Design a Life YOU Love!
Maybe you already love your life. If so, that is AWESOME!
If however, you relate more with the meme at the top of the page, then we’d like to help you design a life you love.
Are you ready to make the change and start living your life of freedom? What hurdles do you think you’ll encounter? If you are serious about designing a life you love, then we are ready and willing to walk along with you through this process. Click here to let us know that you’re ready to make a change and we’ll send you an exclusive invitation to join our private Facebook group of thinkers, dreamers, and encouragers. Together, we can help one another stay the course and live life with our New Eyes Open to all the possibilities out there for each of us!
Starting a blog and running online businesses were also huge in helping us achieve our life of freedom. Have you ever thought about starting a blog? If so, we highly recommend the guidance and support that we’ve found through the Create & Go community. Lauren and Alex are great coaches and their success story is inspirational! Check out their Launch Your Blog Biz course here!
Maybe writing isn’t for you but living a healthy lifestyle and running a business that’s currently part of the fastest growing industry in the USA is for you. If so, I invite you to join me in this amazing business opportunity that has positively changed every part of my life! Find out more here.
(*BTW: My opinions about public education are in no way meant to shame or judge families whose kids are in school. Many of my closest friends are teachers and I can assure you that they have your children’s best interest in their hearts and minds each day that they show up to teach them!)
~Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info. Thanks for your support!~