Freedom every day

Two people biking in the rain.

If you value autonomy, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the freedom to spend every day as you please.

For example, two days ago, I was biking through the rain. I didn’t enjoy getting wet, but I did enjoy the experience.

Why? Because I chose to bike through the rain.

I wasn’t commuting to work, like most of the other people on the road. Instead, I wanted to be out there in that moment.

If you want this freedom too, here are several ways you can obtain it:

  • Work as a freelancer and/or start your own business
  • Become financially independent
  • Travel through a part of the world with a low cost of living, while you work remotely, either in a remote job or in your own business
  • Get a grant to do PhD research
  • Start a relationship with someone who wants to provide for you 😊

Okay, I don’t recommend that last one.

But as you can see, if you want the freedom to spend your time as you wish, you can find it.

Of course there will still be things you commit yourself to, such as taking care of your loved ones or showing up to client meetings. And you’ll still have daily chores like buying groceries and doing the laundry.

But, more than ever before, you’ll be able to do things because you want to do them in the moment, rather than because you pre-committed to them.

Yours,

— Peter

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Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov

Video: try more stuff

Are you wondering whether you would enjoy a different job more?

Whether you’d have a good time going to more parties of a certain type?

Or even whether you’d be happier with a different new lifestyle?

In short: are you weighing the pros and cons of making a change?

Then watch the video above.

Yours,

— Peter

Output, not input

A man sits on a bed with his laptop, seemingly working.

If you have a boss or a client, they should care about your output, not your inputs.

Did you do what you said you would do? Did you do it well? 

Not: Did you spend at least 25 hours doing it? Also not: Did you sit at a specific desk in a specific office for a specific number of hours today? Definitely not: Did it look like you were working hard?

If your boss or client wants to meddle with your inputs, politely ask them not to. If they persist, ask why it matters when or how you work, as long as you get your work done.

If they don’t agree to let you manage your inputs, then fire them. Because they don’t trust you. And that lack of trust will lead to bigger problems.

Yours,

— Peter

Shoulds vs. wants

A person's legs behind a barbell.

On the one hand, getting out of your comfort zone is good. Attend a fitness class, even though you feel out of shape. That’s the path to growth and fulfillment.

On the other hand, continuing to do things you don’t enjoy can be bad. If you study law, but you don’t like it, and you don’t want to get a job in law either—that’s just a waste of time and money.

How do you distinguish between the two?

The key is to listen for shoulds and wants.

Shoulds sound like:

  • I should lift weights so I won’t look terrible in a bathing suit.
  • I should keep this job because my family relies on the income and I can’t risk going broke.
  • I should finish university because I don’t want to deal with negative comments from my family or friends.
  •  I should study German. I’ve already lived in Berlin for two years.

Whereas wants sound like:

  • I want to lift weights because I value taking care of my body.
  • Even though I don’t love this job, I want to stay because I value providing for my family more than the potential of a better job right now. 
  • I want to get this degree, because it will make me a better field researcher.
  • I want to study German, because I plan to live in Germany for a few more years and I want to connect better with locals.

Shoulds are motivated by fear. Wants are motivated by desire. The difference is in your intention.

Are you following your shoulds or your wants?

Yours,

— Peter

Aligning with the others in your life

A number of sea gulls, sitting on top of adjacent poles, looking in the same direction.

Alignment is a key to happiness.

When your day-to-day life (your “lifestyle”) aligns with your values, you’ll typically feel good, because you’re doing things you want to do. Conversely, when your lifestyle doesn’t align with your values, you may feel like something is missing or like you are continually doing things you don’t want to do.

One obstacle to finding alignment can be the other people who are currently in your life.

For example, if it’s important to you to spend lots of time outdoors, but your significant other isn’t into that at all, then your desired lifestyles don’t align. Your values clash. And you might end up not spending much time outdoors.

So it is important to find people who align with your values—people who desire a similar lifestyle to yours.

Ask yourself:

  • Is it easy to find people to join you in your favorite activities?
  • Are you making lots of compromises with your significant other on what to do in the evenings/on the weekend/on a trip?
  • Do you feel free to express almost all of your thoughts to your friends, your family, and your significant other, without filtering them? (Or do you worry that they would judge you or not accept you if they knew what you were really thinking?)
  • Do you find yourself judging your friends often (because you have different values)?

If it turns out that your desired lifestyle doesn’t align with that of the people who feature prominently in your life right now, then you might be experiencing social drag. (“Social drag is what happens when you undergo a significant personal shift, yet everyone around you still treats you the same”.) Or perhaps you were never compatible to begin with.

Either way, it can take a while to adjust who you spend time with. It takes time and effort. And it can be unpleasant.

But, as usual, step one is realizing that something is wrong. So, are you in alignment with the people you spend a lot of time with?

Yours,

— Peter

What are habits for?

A man stretching on a porch.

It’s no secret that I love my habits.

For example, almost every day I cook a healthy breakfast, I stretch, I meditate, and I write an article. Similarly, barring exceptional circumstances, you can find me in the climbing gym on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

I don’t mention this to brag. I do not have perfect habits. Some days, I postpone meditating a few times and I end up not getting to it at all. Some days I don’t stretch. And that’s after years of trying to develop these habits.

As for the daily articles—well, I’m proud to say that I’ve been at those for over five months now and I haven’t missed a day. 

I like to share my habits with you because I believe that habits are a key tool—maybe the key tool—for creating the lifestyle you want.

If you want to create a lifestyle that’s quite different from your current lifestyle, you’ll probably have to do some things that are helpful in the long term but painful in the short term. For example, I write because I want to share what I learn with you—but I rarely feel like sitting down to write. (Though I’m always glad at having written.)

Doing things that only pay off in the long term requires willpower. And willpower is a scarce resource, so we had better spend it wisely. This is where habits come in.

Habits exist to help you make investments for the long term without expending valuable willpower every day.

If you’d like to start meditating regularly, but you don’t do so at a fixed place or time, you might end up mentally litigating with yourself. You can meditate after you go shopping. No, after you cook. No, you’ll do it first thing tomorrow morning. This type of mental litigation is exhausting and will leave you with less willpower (or energy, if you like to view it that way) to get other things done.

Instead, if you make it a point to meditate every day, right after breakfast, your mind will direct your body to your chair or couch or wherever you meditate. It’s not a panacea—most days I still have to force myself to put down my phone and start meditating—but it requires substantially less willpower this way.

All this is to say that if you want to change your lifestyle, but you’re having trouble getting started, then take a look at your habits. What is one bad habit you can get rid of? What is one good habit you can develop? 

Improve your habits and you’ll free up some willpower for everything else.

Yours,

— Peter

P.S. Need help developing good habits? I can help. Let me know and we’ll set up an introductory call.