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How to Get Your Own Personal Freedom…Starting Today!

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This is a guest post from Steve Scott.

Even though we’re living in a world of uncertainty and the economy is worse than it’s been in ages, most people assume that in order to be happy and successful they have to conform to society’s unwritten rules.

You know the rules I’m talking about, you might even be guilty of believing them yourself: go to college and get a good job, get married and start a family, buy a house, etc. Sadly, that little routine is drilled into our heads from childhood on, and most of us are afraid of somehow winding up with the word “Failure” tattooed across our forehead if we go against the grain and do things differently. Why are we so scared to fail??

I recently read online that college students are going into such extreme debt in order to pay for school, it’s unlikely that they’ll ever be able to make their loan payments after graduation. Grim news, but a college degree represents a golden ticket to success for most people, so it’s a risk they’re willing to take.

Sadly, college doesn’t always equal success.

A few months ago, Karen asked me to write a guest post that described how I got to the point in my life where I walked away from the rules I just described. The reason this story is important is because it shows how it IS possible to move away from what society wants and move toward what YOU want.

Here’s my story…

Inspiration from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

When I was a kid, my favorite movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark. Why? I wanted to be like Indiana Jones so I could explore the world, too. I’ve probably seen that movie more than ten times, but it never gets old.

If you haven’t yet visited my blog, the SteveScottSite.com, you might not be aware that as I write this guest post for Karen I’m traveling through Europe. So far it hasn’t been quite as adventure-packed as Indy’s experiences were, but I’m having a blast and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

I’m a lucky guy because I’m honestly able to say that I’m happy with my life. There’s a reason that self-help books and advice columns are as popular as they are—most people aren’t happy with their career and their life.

My friends and family back home in New Jersey had mixed reactions when I told them I was leaving the country for a few months. Well, okay, let me be honest— they didn’t have mixed reactions, most of them thought I was downright nuts.

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. As long as I have access to a computer and an internet connection, I’m able to run my affiliate marketing business from anywhere in the world, which is why I see nothing wrong with travelling if I’m able to. Most of my friends back home, though, are the type of people I described in my opening paragraph—people with “normal” jobs who think success is defined by their occupation and the type of car they drive.

Inspiration from “Office Space”

I’m still a fan of Indiana Jones, but another movie I absolutely love is Office Space, because it reminds me why I used to hate my life back when I was stuck in the 9-to-5 rat race the way most of my friends are. If you’ve never seen it, you should. The movie takes a satirical look at a guy who absolutely hates his corporate job and all that it has to offer.

It’s a hilarious movie because it makes fun of every aspect of working in a cubicle all day— everything from rush-hour traffic to a boss who writes memos about memos and hand-delivers them to ensure that they’re read— without really trying too hard. It’s actually simple to make fun of things like that because they’re pretty pointless, and if you’ve ever worked in an office you’ll start cracking up because you had to deal with the same stuff at work.

I’ve been running my own business for several years now, and as I mentioned earlier I’m able to work from anywhere I choose. For the most part, things have gotten to the point that they’re almost completely automated—aside from the blog posts I write each week, of course—and I no longer have to spend forty, fifty, sixty hours a week chained to my desk. I can make my own schedule and actually get out there and enjoy my life.

Don’t mistakenly think that I live a life of leisure a la Paris Hilton or someone else who was born into millions. It took a lot of effort for me to get this far; I worked my butt off for several years. I just think it’s sad that so many people in the world hate their careers so much that they assume anyone who enjoys life must have been “lucky” somewhere along the line.

I receive a lot of emails from people asking me how I’ve gotten to the point I’m at now: working for myself and running a pretty successful business, so let me tell you a little story.

I Simply HATED My Life…

About eight years ago, I had a breakthrough moment. I was pretty much a living example of the Office Space guy, and one day while I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way home from my “professional” job I realized something: I was sick of it all. I was sick of everything.

Looking back, I now realize that I always hated the idea of being confined to an office all day long and doing what someone else told me to do just because they were my boss, but I tried my best to conform to those “rules of society.” I didn’t want to be a failure and I wanted to make my Dad proud, but I couldn’t stand it.

I had always done everything I was supposed to do, and where had I wound up? I had graduated from high school, gone to college and graduate school, and I spent a few years in the military … looks good on paper, but even the military wasn’t as impressive as it sounds. I was in the Air Force and sometimes I was “tapped” to be a temporary augementee for the police, which meant that I got to direct traffic all day long in the 90 degrees-plus Mississippi weather.

The Day that Changed EVERYTHING

I can still remember sitting in my car that day, the day it all happened, that one specific moment where I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. It happened in an instant. I had just spent the last nine hours doing work that a trained money could have done for me, and now I was looking forward to a pleasant hour stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, crawling home only to wake up and do it all again the next day and the day after that.

I realized that this was what I had to look forward to for the next forty years of my life, and I got furious. Normally I’m a calm, rational person, but at that very moment on that typical day, I got so angry I yelled, “Why does my life suck so much? I did everything I was supposed to do, and look where it got me!” I’m sure the people in the cars around me locked their doors and felt a little scared, but that moment was the catalyst that made me want to change my life.

Inspiration from My Favorite Book

I love to read, but of everything I’ve read in my life, my favorite book is Replay by Ken Grimwood. I’ve probably read it twenty or so times in the last decade. The premise of the book is simple: imagine if you woke up one day and got to live your life over? What would you do differently? What would you change?

In Replay, the main character, Jeff Winston, gets to live part of his life over and over and over. Every time, he chooses to do things differently.

I recommend this book to everyone I know because it makes me think about life. We can’t rewind our lives and take back the past like Jeff does in the book, but we can control our futures.

We only get one shot at getting what we want out of life. That’s why I decided to quit pretending to be someone I’m not – a corporate professional – and take matters into my own hands.

We shouldn’t have to do what society tells us to do, and a lot more people are starting to realize that.

How to Get Your Personal Freedom

Okay… by now you’re probably wondering why should care about MY journey towards personal freedom. What I’m hoping is you’ll see that it IS possible to change your life and do what you want.

I’m saying you have to travel the world like I do. Instead, personal freedom might be about having more time with your family, or simply being able to have time to enjoy your hobbies.

In my opinion…personal freedom starts with a simple decision. You can either choose to do what you’ve always done OR make the commitment toward change. I can’t promise things will be easy. But I will say that it will be worth it when you choose to follow your own path to personal freedom.

Another technique is to find one reason why you want more freedom. Then hold on to this image whenever things get difficult. I call this a catalyst because it’s usually the driving force that makes us want to make a change.

So as we close this article, I have a few questions for you: What is the catalyst in your life? Is there an event or circumstance that’s caused you to want to change things? Where do you find inspiration when things get difficult?

I’d love to your thoughts in the comment section below…

Steve Scott writes about Lifestyle Design, Internet Marketing and Personal Growth at his site Steve Scott Site.

Related Posts:

1. 4 Best And Worst Things About Being An Entrepreneur – Guest Post
2. The Secret Stress Buster No One Dares Tell You About – Guest Post
3. From Homeless To The Infopreneur – Guest Post
4. Succeeding Means Loving Yourself – Guest Post
5. How To Stop Thinking And Start Doing – Guest Post

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42 comments… add one

  • Hi Steve
    Thank you for sharing your story and writing such an enjoyable post. I could relate to the desire to leave the corporate world and do something different.
    When I think of the word freedom I think of the lyrics from a Chris Kristofferson song
    “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loose
    nothing ain’t worth nothing but it’s free”
    There is something about those words that make me wary when someone tells me that they want freedom. For me the most liberating word is “choice” – personal choice – the key to change if we are brave enough. I don’t know what others think?
    Thank you for the recommendation for the Ken Grimwood book – I think I would like to read that one.
    .-= Marion Anderson´s last blog ..How to Succed with Success =-.

    Reply
    • Hi Marion,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I hadn’t heard of that quote from Kris before but it certainly sums it up nicely.

      I hadn’t heard of the Replay book either and it does sound interesting. It kind of reminds me of ‘Groundhog Day’ with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. A great movie!

      Thanks,
      Karen

      Reply
    • Marion
      Great song to illustrate your point Bobby McGee is one of all time favorites. Absolutely love it.

      And I absolutely agree on freedom equaling choice, my personal for of “freedom” is not for everyone. But everyone should have the ability and the “freedom” to choose their own paths.
      .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..13 Steps to Perfect Landing Page Design =-.

      Reply
  • Hi Scott, reading about how your journey started reminds me exactly of what triggered mine about a year ago.

    I too did “everything I was supposed to do, and where had I wound up? I had graduated from high school, gone to college and graduate school … looks good on paper” and I ended up in a corporate cubicle.

    It got to the point I was so miserable (I tell people it was a near-death experience but emotionally) that I questioned everything – all the rules, assumptions and goals I currently had.

    That rigorous questioning became a growth experience to clarity and freedom. Eventually I quit my job (4 months ago) and haven’t looked back since.

    I am extremely thankful for having a job I hated. If I had a job I just “adequately like” I would have never questioned things and broken out of the bubble.

    Thanks for sharing your story, it made my day :)
    .-= Lily´s last blog ..Powerful ways to fix your perspective for THIS weekend =-.

    Reply
    • Welcome Lily,

      I checked out some of your articles and you quitting your job four months ago is very inspirational as well. Makes me think that anyone can do it! :-)

      I hear ya – sometimes it’s better to land a job that you’re ready to go on stress leave and absolutely hate, than having one that is painful, but not painful enough to actually quit and motivate you to find something else to do with your life. So many people are in that pain zone, but it’s just not enough pain to leave.

      Thanks for sharing your story,
      Karen

      Reply
    • Lily,

      Awesome. I love to hear good stories like that. You make a good point about liking that fact that your job was BAD enough to force action. I had not really thought about it that way but now that you say it it makes great sense.

      Funny thing was I was always brought up with the subtle subtext that quitting anything was one of the worst possible things you could do. Now years later I find it was the best move I ever made. I will definitely be poking my head in at your site to keep an eye on how things are going :)

      I am glad to hear that it sounds like it was a positive experience for you too. I remember at 4 months I was struggling to make it and a little unsure I did the right thing.

      If you have such positivity, I for see a bright future for you
      .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..13 Steps to Perfect Landing Page Design =-.

      Reply
  • Scott,
    I’m loving this article! You can change your life and you can start over anytime you choose – once you’ve accepted that you CAN! You’re right – we’re all prisoners of the conventional thinking we’ve assimilated. But, it’s kind of like the movie The Matrix – once we wake up we see the true reality of our lives. It’s up to us! We have the power – right now, today, if we just choose to use it.

    I’m working toward my freedom. Each day I make a little chink in the chain that binds me. Given enough chinks – the chain is going to break sooner or later.

    Thanks for an inspiring article.
    .-= Angela Artemis´s last blog ..Develop Your Intuition- It Could Save Your Health =-.

    Reply
    • So glad that you got inspired by Scott’s article, Angela.

      It sounds like you’re already on the path to personal freedom. It’s only a matter of time now… :-)

      Reply
    • Angela

      I am glad you liked it. :) Your reference to taking the blue pill in Matrix is pretty apt too. (I think it was blue) Unconventional thinking can be sudden. That doesn’t mean that action necessarily has to be instant though. It can certainly be wise to plan it out an implement freedom step by step.

      I had the luxury of not having a family who relied on my paychecks so sleeping on peoples floors and eating Ramen for a few months while I busted my butt to make an online business work was an option.

      My older brother is just starting to try an online business. He waited about 10 years to do it. He was in the Navy and decided he didn’t like it anymore but stuck it out for 10 years that he hated, just to be able to break free and try to live a life that he wants.

      Chipping away at the chains can be the way to go. I wish you the best of luck. :)
      .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..13 Steps to Perfect Landing Page Design =-.

      Reply
  • No more TPS reports for me and I have a red stapler. :-)

    Reply
  • Karen,

    Thanks for letting me guest post. and thanks for replying until I could get back from traipsing through the Highlands. :)
    .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..13 Steps to Perfect Landing Page Design =-.

    Reply
    • You’re entirely welcome, Scott. I think it’s great that you provide an alternative view of what’s possible, if you made the decision that you want change in your life, and then go after that, no matter what it takes.

      Your story is very inspirational and motivational to a lot of people (me. included). :-)

      Thanks so much for sharing your story,
      Karen

      Reply
  • Karen, Steve,

    Good info, something I can relate too. I left my 6 figure and high traveling job to stay home (although we do travel also) and it has been best decision of my life. First is to simplify your life enough to survive and second is to have passion fuels your income to sustain your lifestyle. I am still working on second part but I would not go back to my high stress, high pay job!
    .-= Preeti @ Heart and Mind´s last blog ..101 changes- Change 6 – Read a book Benefits of reading =-.

    Reply
    • Hi Preeti,

      That’s wonderful news. I love hearing stories about that and about how other people made it possible to leave their high-paying, but stressful jobs.

      Someday, I hope to add my story to that. I’m also working on the 2nd part, too :-)

      Thanks so much for sharing,
      Karen

      Reply
  • Preeti,

    Thanks for sharing. The second part will come. I am glad that the first part has also worked out well for you too!

    A simple life filled with things you love and are passionate about! You really could not ask for more.
    .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..15 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Do Work =-.

    Reply
  • Thank you very much for sharing this. I have subscribed to your RSS feed. Please keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Thanks very much for the kind words. I hope you’ll come back and visit directly and share your thoughts here.

      Reply
  • Steve, you’re virtually and physically everywhere! This must be the 3 blog post of yours I’ve commented on in the last few minutes.

    Great inspiration here. I know when I first saw the UK version of the Office about 10 years ago, I couldn’t make out whether it was a commedy or fly on the wall documentary. It seemed to represent everyone I actually worked with.

    When I took the decision in February 2008 that I was going to live a more ‘plural’ lifestyle and not work for any one employer, my wife thought I was nuts.

    It’s since become the best decision of my life and I now have a great blog too!

    Good luck with your travels, I look forward to reading all about them.
    .-= Matthew Needham´s last blog ..Wednesday Wisdom =-.

    Reply
  • Matt,

    I fly like a bumblebee and sting like a bee.

    Office Space is a movie and different for “the office” It is a little more “in your face” and less subtle humor.

    The office is a pretty funny show too. I don’t watch it all the time. (just don’t have that much time for TV) but I have liked the episodes I have seen.

    If you haven’t seen “office space” you should give it a shot and rent it sometime. Very funny stuff.
    .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..15 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Do Work =-.

    Reply
  • Hi Steve,
    That is a great story. I love it whenever anybody throws out the rules and listens to that inner voice that urges them out of the ordinary. I left a my 17 year career as school teacher to become a millionaire… my family thought I was nuts to give up a secure job with benefits. I achieved that goal as a real estate developer and now, 30 years later I am reinventing myself as an author. I’m 60++ years old… guess what? My family thinks I’ve lost it again!
    .-= rob white´s last blog ..Money Matters – It Never Condemns- It Wants to Help =-.

    Reply
    • It’s so great to hear personal stories like yours, Rob. You give a lot of inspiration to people who do want to re-invent themselves and do other things with their lives, instead of being satisfied with the status quo.

      I’m sure that it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for you during those re-inventing times, but it sure worked out in the end.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing,
      Karen

      Reply
  • Wow! That is awesome to hear, Rob. (I too love to hear stories of success) I am no where near “millionaire” status yet. I am just happy as hell I am able to support myself comfortably in a job that I ABSOLUTELY love.

    If millions come I won’t turn them away, of course :)

    My is about the same age (actually now that I look at the clock…he turned 64 an hour ago where he lives…I had better call tomorrow) and just starting to get involved in internet marketing and writing himself after a successful business career. So to me there is nothing strange about it at all.

    Think of all the accumulated knowledge and experience that you have to give to us whippersnappers.

    Thanks Rob!!
    .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..Info Income Coaching Class Week 6 =-.

    Reply
  • Scott, your story is wonderful, and I am very happy for you :-) What a wonderful way to live. Wish I had had the courage to take that route years ago…now with three kids and no savings to fall back on, and a husband who has been laid off, quitting is simply not a option. I may not love the hours or the politics, but I do love knowing that the mortgage is always paid, the health insurance is there for my kids, and there is food in the fridge — sometimes there is a point in life when you can take that big dive and work 24/7 to get to freedom. And other times when it would be the most irresponsible choice ever.

    That being said, I am NOT just sitting back and collecting a paycheck. Along with working my day job, I spend as much time as I can reasonable spare networking my SEO and writing. I have to walk a balance between accepting enough to add to the networking, professional reputation and coffers, and accepting too much to squeeze into my non-work/non-mommy hours, and blowing my rep or hurting my family. But I know it will pay off eventually — just have to wait a bit longer that someone who can do it full time. It’s all good:-)

    Thanks for sharing — hopefully many people will realize that the “safe” path is NOT the only one, and find their own before it’s too late. :-) Best to you!
    .-= Lindsay´s last blog ..Blogging since 2005- but what have I learned =-.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for adding your thoughts and sharing your story with us, Lindsay.

      I agree that each person’s circumstances have to be considered when pursuing anything in life. Maybe now is not the right time for you to make any drastic changes in your life, or maybe self-employment is not something that you want in your life. Each person has to decide what they will and will not do with their own lives.

      As you said, the safe path is not the only path and it’s great to hear stories like Steve and others who have figured out what works for them and are sharing it with us.

      Karen

      Reply
    • LIndsay,

      Yes I was fortunate to “make my break” when I could. Having the added responsibilities of a family make it much harder. Hopefully busting you butt working your 9-5 AND doing what you can with SEO will get you there. Actually I am sure it will if you can stick to it.
      Like you said some of it will just take time.

      BTW,
      I really liked the “office space” remixed clip. I haven’t seen that one before but I have seen others of the type. I find it very funny when people re-cut the clips to make it seem soooooo different from the movie.

      There are some Hella creative people out there

      Steve
      .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..6 Tips for Dealing with Critical People =-.

      Reply
  • BTW, love Office Space! But this recut of the trailer is almost better! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atHWASn_ygo&feature=related Happy Friday!
    .-= Lindsay´s last blog ..Blogging since 2005- but what have I learned =-.

    Reply
    • Great trailer! Thanks, Lindsay.

      Reply
  • Steve,

    Great guest post. I think we all need to go through that moment that you went through, yelling in the car. Some people are happy with the whole 9-5 and others, like us, want something a bit different.

    I think it comes down to following your heart (and using some common sense along the way).
    .-= Moon Hussain´s last blog ..A Personal Update- 2 Months After the Move and Then Some =-.

    Reply
    • Hi Moon,

      You’re a great example of following your heart. So glad that you decided to branch out on your own and do what you want to do with your life. You’ve demonstrated a lot of resilence and persistence in making the necessary changes in your life so that you don’t have to live the 9-5 cubicle life.

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Karen

      Reply
  • We all find our passions in different ways. Though some of the points you have mentioned are from a personal experience, but i believe if followed could add great value to any everyday person.

    Reply
    • Thanks for adding that, Richard. Just because it worked for one person doesn’t mean it will work for another person, but you can try and see what results you get anyways.

      Taking action to change your life and particularly on those things that aren’t working is better than being miserable. Life is too short to be miserable every day.

      Reply
    • Thanks Richard,

      Yes I do hope that some of personal anecdotes may sometime inspire people. I do love to see and hear about other people’s success and attempts to overcome adversity.

      thanks

      Steve
      .-= Steve´s last blog ..Steve’s Sunday Selections- August 15- 2010 =-.

      Reply
  • “Where do you find inspiration when things get difficult?”

    I find it in people who go for their dreams and make life altering changes! I find it in reflecting back on “how it used to be”. I find it in unexpected moments and flashes of brilliance. :)

    Great read. I love seeing how people embrace change and pursue what turns them on.
    .-= Clearly Composed´s last blog .. Summer Fun Series- The Spontaneous Adventure =-.

    Reply
  • Steve, Congratulations on such a big break through and being able to live a life your love. I’m glad you pointed out that your worked your butt off for several years to get there! I’ve found that llness can be a great tipping point for transforming one’s life towards more personal freedom.
    .-= Sandra Lee´s last blog ..7 link challenge plus =-.

    Reply
    • Sandra,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yeah I find it important for people to know that there is no “easy path to riches” (though I wouldn’t say I have riches)

      It can be done and achieved with hard work and does not need to be the old 9-5 for 40 years model to do it. But somewhere along the line work, effort and toil need to combine with some inspiration to get it done.

      Thanks for commenting :)
      .-= Steve Scott Site´s last blog ..Is “The 4-Hour Workweek” Bullst =-.

      Reply
    • Hi Sandra,

      Isn’t it strange that we wait until we are forced to make changes in our lives (sickness) or until we win the lottery or until we have just had enough? I hope to make some necessary changes in my own lives before any of these happen – well, I would love to win the lottery :-)

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Karen

      Reply

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