Did you know social media causes depression which could destroy your chances of achieving your personal freedom?
I’m sure on some level you know that.
How? It “fosters a false sense of connection1”. It promotes quasi-impossible lifestyle standards. And that's not even taking into consideration the amount of time most of us waste swiping left and scrolling down our feeds
Yet we “love” everything we can do with it.
As time rolls on, we're collectively realizing the negative impact that social media has on our mood and ability to focus.
Here's another side effect of social media: it destroys the idea of personal freedom.
And, no… I'm not talking about civil liberties or human rights.
I'm talking about choosing our own path, having complete dominion over how we live our lives, mastering our emotions, and learning to follow our gut and reaching our goals.
The $40,000 a month lifestyle
My friend Lucas (I'm using an alias to protect his privacy) is a fitness and health coach. While chatting with him, I told him, “Look, hire a camera guy that follows you around taking video footage of what you do. Pay him a bit extra for editing the videos and then add this content to your courses.”
“Man, I get what you're saying, but I don't live an exciting life,” he said. “I'm all day in front of a screen on social media. Writing content for my followers. That doesn't justify having some dude chasing me around with a camera…”
This is not the first time I've heard this.
Social media has destroyed our self-perception to the point where we find ourselves complaining about not being able to “flex” enough online.
Lucas is a highly industrious person. He's also banking between $30-40K a month with his online business. But like many others, he is stuck in his own head feeling he doesn't have the flashy, exciting, adventurous lifestyle some Instagram “influencers” have.
He spends most of his days training, researching, and creating content to help his audience better their health and life. So he doesn't have the cool photos for Instagram.
But here's the thing.
He actually told me he liked his lifestyle.
What worries him is the perception other people would have while watching videos of him training and doing what he knows best.
In short, he was worried about not flexing the “right” lifestyle.
The untold truth about personal freedom
Lucas and I have similar lifestyles. We both spend hours reading and researching. And we invest even more time writing and connecting with our social media followers.
Like him, I also had my issues with how I thought people would perceive me.
Thankfully, I stopped caring about that and started focusing on my definition of Personal Freedom.
My ultimate goal in life is to have freedom. To be able to spend my days doing whatever I want. If I had to guess, you might find this goal somewhat relatable.
Maybe, like me, you want to know you'll have more money the next day to feed yourself and your family too. You might also want to be able to travel, meet new people, and pursue other passions.
This is how I see my Personal Freedom.
Contrast it with what lifestyle bloggers bombard us with.
Heavily edited photos of their travels around the world. The fake smiles while eating food they'll never have again. All the while traveling the world not knowing if they'll have enough money for the next trip (an industry secret they don’t want you knowing).
What about the E-commerce gurus flashing us with the expensive cars they rented for the shoot and monopoly money?
That said, let me confess something to you real quick. For a while, this constant barrage of lifestyle porn made me think I was living my life the wrong way.
I mean, I prefer to spend hours messing around on my computer, writing content, and reading stuff online.
Big adventures don't appeal to me that much – though I like to travel.
I'm not a big fan of flashy, yellow sports cars. In fact, cars don't interest me at all.
I'm not into taking photos of myself to show people what I've accomplished.
On a few occasions, I flashed some screenshots of my income to my online following, but I stopped that practice. I don't do what I do for the approval of others. I do it for my family and me. No part of me feels good bragging about my income anymore, even though I know it gets a lot of attention.
After some introspection, I concluded that I just want to live life on my terms and to answer to no one but me.
But how can you achieve this personal freedom I'm talking about?
How do you set yourself to win and achieve your goals, dreams, and aspirations so you can live your life the way you want?
Define how personal freedom looks to you.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
Note: You don't need to answer them thoroughly. They're meant to be directional rather than all-encompassing answers.
- Am I comfortable with my current lifestyle?
- What would I be doing if I had 1 million dollars in my pocket right now?
- Do I really want to become a millionaire?
- Which activities do I enjoy doing?
- Which activities do I hate doing?
- What am I very good at?
You can also write a short statement where you declare how your personal freedom looks like.
For example, here's how mine reads.
“I work less than 2 hours to make a 6-figure income. And even if I stopped putting in the work, I'd still make a high income. I use the income to travel with my wife and children to live for 2 months in different countries every summer.”
That's how I envision my life for the next couple of years.
Now, this vision is directional only – it's not written in stone. I figured I might be limiting myself if I “forced” this vision upon me. See, things change very fast, and, unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about it.
So, I don't mind changing my vision as many times as I need to. But, with one condition. Its next iteration must be better than the previous one.
Stop caring about what people think of you
Yeah, I know. This advice has been said many times. It's kinda morphed into a cliché.
But, it's still relevant, as developing your personal freedom requires that you ignore the barrage of opinions people will have about your choices and ideas.
If you change your mind upon every new idea you encounter or any criticism someone throws at you, you'll have a tough time achieving personal freedom.
Nonetheless, not caring about what people think of you doesn't mean you'll become a loner that never listens to good advice. It means that no matter how harsh others treat your idea of personal freedom, you'll stick to your ideas and keep moving forward.
In the end, it's your life. And you are the owner of it.
Cut off everything that’s limiting you.
Personal freedom is expensive. You'll encounter many obstacles along the way. These will try to limit you in unimaginable ways, and it's your responsibility to cut them off. So be mindful of these things.
Here's a list of things you might want to cut off from your life.
1. Toxic friends – It pains me to say it, but some friends are a detriment for your progress. I've had my fair share of toxic friendships. I had cut them off from my life for my mental health and sanity. It pained me a lot. But it was for the best and time proved I was right. Some of them are still being lazy and doing the same things they've been doing for the last 10 years.
2. Defending your ideas – Everyone has an opinion about you. While not everyone will tell you how they perceive you, some will – and they'll be loud. Some of their views will hurt you. But you don’t owe anything to anyone. If you want to end up miserable, try and please everyone. If you want to be happier avoid trying to convince people your ideas are the right ones. They might not even be “right” they might just work for you for now. If people find interest in your thoughts, good! If they don't, ignore them.
3. Stupid debts – Not all debts are bad, but most debts are. As a rule of thumb, never get into debts for going on trips, buying pets (yes, that a thing), having huge parties, or buying a car.
4. Mindless entertainment – No, I'm not suggesting you stop going to the movies with your friends and loved ones. I'm also not asking you to stop watching Netflix. What I'm telling you is to be mindful of how you use your time. Spending hours watching stuff online when you have work to deliver the next day will end well for you.
5. Fast food – Wait… what? What’s a cheeseburger here and there? If you want long-term success, you need to take care of your health. You need a lot of energy to create the lifestyle of your dreams. If you become ill, you'll not have the energy to achieve your personal freedom. Fast food has been proven to cripple your health in ways that you'll never see in the ads. So eat healthily.
6. Negative music – Music has been proven to change our mood in ways other things don't. Avoid music that makes you feel mad, sad, and that has questionable lyrics. That said, use your own judgment on this, as everyone has different musical tastes.
7. Fear of sales – You're always selling even when you don’t think you are. You're selling how you want others to perceive you, and even if you consider yourself one of the care-free types, you're still selling the care-free type. You need to learn how to sell your products and services in ways that make people want to buy from you. Personal freedom requires you to make an extra income. You'll only get that influx of cash by prolifically selling what you have to offer. While money is not the goal, you'll still need it to stay alive.
8. Comfort – Which areas of your life need some fine-tuning? Work on these areas. It will not be comfortable doing so, but to gain good outcomes, you'll need to put in the work, effort, and consistency.
Achieving personal freedom
Whoever tells you that achieving personal freedom will be easy isn't taking you as a serious contender.
Change is hard. It requires self-discipline, self-control, and hardheadedness.
In the beginning, you'll find yourself motivated with the burning desire of a million suns. But, with time, the anticipation of achieving your goals will get you into falling back to your old ways. If this happens to you, I want to assure you that this is only a bad thing if you give up.
On every setback, recommit yourself to achieving your personal freedom. Do the hard things everyone else avoids. Be willing to delay gratification because, in the end, that's the price you have to pay if you want to be free.
So ask yourself:
How does your personal freedom look like?