How to Design a Life That Gives You Freedom

A life that gives you freedom

One of the things I’ve learned about money is that you don’t need to be rich to feel free. You can design a life that gives you freedom, even without a very high net worth.

Because, after all, most of us are driven by freedom, not money. Sure, you’ll find people who are obsessed with accumulating money here and there.

You’ll find a lot of people who want to have money so they can finally get approval or respect.

But most people who want to make money or build wealth do it because they want freedom. Seneca said it well:

“Freedom is the prize we are working for.”

To me, that’s true wealth—when you have enough money, you feel free to live your life on your own terms.

It doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want or buy what you want, but hey, who cares? We all know that you can’t buy yourself a sense of self-worth and happiness.

But you surely can buy yourself some freedom. In this article, I’ll share how I did that myself. I’m not going to focus on the typical personal finance tips that I’ve shared in the past (check out my guide to personal finance).

This is a high-level breakdown of my strategy and thinking pattern to design a life that gives me freedom.

Step 1: Define YOUR concept of freedom

Look, we should all have our own definition of freedom. In 2015, I was 28, and I had enough of the “standard” way of living. You know, graduate college, get a job, and keep grinding until you’re 67.

I tapped out and said to myself, “I want to be free.” So I asked myself, “What does that mean?” To me, freedom consists of four parts. Here’s how I looked at it back then (and still do):

  1. Financial freedom: I don’t want to rely on a company or the government for my cost of living.
  2. Time freedom: I want to be in control of how I spend my days.
  3. Emotional freedom: I don’t want to be attached to ideas or constructs. I want to live my life free from mental restraints.
  4. Physical freedom: I want to be in good health so I can move and travel around.

In a way, this definition of freedom is more difficult to accomplish compared to only picking one or two of those areas. And look, that’s okay too. Remember, you must create your own definition.

Take some time to sit down with your journal and start asking yourself what freedom is and what it would look like. How do you define it?

Without a definition, I can guarantee you that you won’t be free because you don’t know if you have arrived there.

Step 2: Pick your freedom “Model”

Once you know what your ideal life and freedom look like, you need a model for getting there. Nothing in the world happens magically. Everything has a system, a model, and an underlying framework.

You can design a life that gives you freedom in many ways. Here are a few ways you can do it:

  1. Business: If you own a (piece of a) business, you control your income. The better you perform, the more you earn. This can go both ways, and not all business owners are successful. But owning your own business definitely ticks all the freedom boxes: You are in control of how you spend your time and how much you can earn.
  2. Real estate: Owning property is a great way to earn passive income, so you no longer have to trade your time for money. Real estate also appreciates over time, so you also build wealth that way.
  3. Stocks: Same idea as real estate, but it’s easier to get started with stocks. What I love about stocks is that you can become a part owner of a large business. But you have to sell your stocks at some point in the future if you want to use the wealth you’ve created.
  4. Career: If you’re an expert or highly paid individual, you can also control who you work with and set your own rates. So you don’t need to be a business owner to do well. Even if you work for someone and you’re great at what you do, it’s almost like working for yourself.

I’ve focused on the first three ways. In my experience, you must do more than one of the above. Betting on only one way to build wealth is too risky.

Again, this is up to you. What makes the most sense for your life? I know people who build a good amount of wealth by simply focusing on their career, and investing in stocks.

Remember that no one has freedom at the beginning. Even all the social media entrepreneurs who say they are free are not free at all. They are slaves to their work.

Freedom takes time. It’s something you must earn. That brings me to the next point.

Step 3: Set your expectations

Freedom doesn’t come cheap. You have to work hard at it for a long time. So you must set your expectations. Think about the following things:

  • How old are you?
  • What’s your educational background?
  • Do you already have money?
  • Do you have kids?
  • What are your financial prospects?
  • How many income-generating skills do you have?
  • Do you have any debt?

The more knowledge, experience, and skills you have, the better equipped you are. The younger you are, the more time you have.

So, all of the above plays a role. Some are positive, like age and experience. If you’re young, you have the gift of time but will lack experience. And if you’re older, you have experience but less time.

Think about these factors deeply. And set your expectations accordingly. When I started, I initially thought I could become financially free within two years. Then, I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself.

So I adjusted my expectations. I gave myself a decade. But about five years after I started, I was basically financially free. At that time, I didn’t have debt, had a low cost of living, owned two rental properties, and I had passive income from my books and courses.

But I was willing to keep at it for longer. I got lucky when my books started to take off around 2019, right before the pandemic, but I was dedicated to staying the course. I had already built a lifestyle that I enjoyed with a writing career, so it wasn’t really about the money anymore.

As you go through your journey, you will change your mentality, which is normal. Life is dynamic. And you should be open to making changes. Just don’t expect any big things to happen within short time frames.

Step 4: Have extreme discipline

The final step is what I call “extreme discipline.” Because normal discipline is not enough to design a life that gives you freedom.

Think about it. Who doesn’t want to be free?

It’s a highly uncommon thing to accomplish. That means you also have to do uncommon things to get there.

For me, this meant extreme discipline and focus when it came to writing and learning. Between 2015 and 2018, I read two books a week, wrote every single day, published two articles per week, and published a new book and course every year.

That wouldn’t be possible without discipline. I said no to a lot of leisure. I still went on vacations and watched my daily TV show in the evening, but I would never give up on working on my goal.

You need that type of focus and discipline.

If you work on your goal every day, you will make progress. If you want to have more freedom, you can do it. Just work at it.

Freedom is worth it

Everything you think about having freedom is true. That feeling of being in control of your life is priceless.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to have freedom. The key is to invest regularly and have healthy spending habits.

Plus, if you’re consistently improving your skills and working on yourself daily, it will only be a matter of time before you earn more money.

All these things will lead to a life of your own design. And that’s the best reward you can ever get.

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