Two weeks ago, I gave up.
Freedom — which has always been my top value — is impossible with a toddler, a family business, and while 7 months pregnant.
My body often fails me when I decide to do things. Contractions so aren’t fun.
The business demands my attention.
My toddler does too.
Hubby is overwhelmed with tasks himself, especially since we recently moved.
And I can’t have my freedom. I can’t walk out of the house whenever I want to. My schedule is tied to that of the babysitter.
I can’t do yoga the way I used to. Every time I take a deep breath while in a downward-facing dog position, I remember an urgent task I’d forgotten and run off to do it.
I can’t decide to go straight to bed after dinner and clean up in the morning. When morning comes, my son rolls out of bed, runs to the dining room and starts spilling half-drunk glasses and throwing plates of food on the floor.
So I gave up freedom for a schedule. A strict schedule, at that. One that begins at 7 am, ends around midnight, and is filled with work, housework, motherhood, and those little miscellaneous tasks all grown-ups have.
What happened when I gave up freedom.
A few things changed about the way I live life.
I do things now.
I always clean up the kitchen, living room, and dining room when we put the little one to bed. They should be a clean slate when those little feet run in the following morning.
The evening is also when I take showers, pluck my eyebrows, and do all those feminine stuff that we need to do in peace from time to time.
I come up with activities for me and my son to do. I usually plan a few days ahead. The playground, KindyRoo, puppet show, the beach. When you keep him busy and entertained, he’s great to be around, and everyone’s happy.
I’ve become better at prioritizing.
I do manage to do some yoga in the evening, then some reading.
I always make time — if it’s but 20 minutes — to focus on my husband and be his girl, not his roommate or the mother of his child.
I try to look at the big picture when it comes to our business.
Because these things matter and it’s easy to forget about them when you’re go, go, go all the time.
There’s no freedom in my days, none at all.
Every minute is scheduled.
It’s an existence I’ve always feared.
But the funny thing is, it lead to this:
- I feel much more energetic and happier.
- My relationship with my son improved because I spend more quality time with him.
- My relationship with my husband improved because I try to give him what I sense he needs (rather than just focusing on getting what I need).
- The family business is doing great.
- I’m saving and investing more (I lately read about managing money), I’ve lost weight and feel like a better version of myself with every passing day.
Why is it that we progress when we let something go?
Tony Robbins says that when you hit a plateau, there must a dip before there’s progress. The way he explains that dip is that you should stop focusing so much on yourself and what you want, you fear, you have or don’t have.
This usually means giving something up, be it giving up your great salary for a chance to run a business, or giving up your sleep for bringing life into this world.
So in a way, you give up yourself, or rather, an old version of you, to create the new you.
And you usually find the motivation to do it when you remove you from the center of the universe (at least for a little bit) and understand what your life needs of you right now.
I’ve long had doubts that freedom is that great, to be honest.
I remember when I first reached success in my freelance career, and I made good money with just a couple of hours of work per day, and had all the time and freedom in the world to do whatever the hell I wanted…
I wasn’t happy.
I felt good, but something was missing. That void couldn’t be filled even when I started volunteering in a local kitchen.
I now realize I was in the ultimate plateau back then. It felt good, but also boring because plateaus don’t require you to put in any extra effort.
You’re already there. It’s a walk on a shady street on a pleasant summer day.
Only what makes us happy, and what makes us progress, and even what makes us free, is overcoming challenges.
And now that I’m overcoming mine — by giving up what I thought I valued most in the world — now is when I truly feel fulfilled.
And life actually gets better.
And I get better at living it and appreciating it.
So what are you unwilling to give up?
What are you clinging to?
A person? A story? Your past? Freedom? Security?
And you’re afraid to let that go, aren’t you? Who are you without what you value most? Who am I without my freedom?
Well, give that thing up anyway. Do it now and do it on purpose. Throw yourself in whatever life has to offer you.
Then see what happens.
“You take a drink with your friends, and somebody says, ‘Yeah, we should go skydiving tomorrow!” You go, ‘Yeah, we’ll go skydiving tomorrow!’ ‘Yeah! Yeah!’ Everybody goes, ‘Yeah!’ Then that night, you’re laying in your bed and you just keep, ‘Uh, uh.’ You’re terrified. You keep imagining over and over again jumping out of an airplane, and you can’t figure out why you would do that. You wake up the next day, and you go down you said you were going to meet, and everybody’s there. You get in the van and be like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God.’ Your stomach is terrible. You can’t eat and everything, but you don’t want to be the only punk who doesn’t jump out of this airplane. You fly, and you go up, you go up, you go up, and you go up to 14,000 feet.
“Somebody opens the door, and at that moment, you realize you’ve never been in a freaking airplane with the door open. You’re looking out down to death. They say, ‘On three,’ and they say, ‘One, two,’ and he pushes you on two because people grab on three. You go, ‘Ahhh.’ You fall out of the airplane. In one second, you realize that it’s the most blissful experience of your life. You’re flying. There’s zero fear. You realize that the point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear. It’s bliss. Why were you scared in your bed the night before? What do you need that fear for? Everything up to the stepping point, there’s actually no reason to be scared. It only just ruins your day. The best things in life are on the other side of terror, on the other side of your maximum fear, are all of the best things in life.” — Will Smith