The Cost of Freedom Is Something You Might Not Like
Make the necessary sacrifices for your future self. Or live a life full of regrets.
Significantly few people will support you if you plan to do something that no one has barely done before, no matter how strong your gut feeling is. The same case applied to me when I was fired from my first job after seven months and wasn’t job searching after losing my blanket of security.
The freedom I got in my side-by-side remote job was one of the reasons why I wasn’t searching for a 9to5. But instead of explaining my intention to the people who listened only with one ear, I worked on what would help me achieve freedom.
While freedom looks like a life devoid of pointless obligations, the journey to attain that independence is nothing like roses and lilies.
Here are three aspects most people don’t understand about freedom. If you keep them in mind, you’ll be more intentional and cautious about investing your time to please the only person that matters to you: your future self.
#1. Letting go of other people’s expectations.
As I said, I didn’t explain my job preferences to many people because I learnt it the hard way about squashing the people-pleasing attitude. The number of people who supported me when I wasn’t job searching after getting fired, I can count on one finger.
Trying to fit in will leave you exhausted because you are getting to a place where someone else is defining your priorities. You will feel settled for the time being, but it won’t be what makes you happy in the long term.
Letting go of external expectations requires a tremendous amount of mental effort, from the things you can’t control to the things you do own — your attitude.
Shielding my mind from expectations I can’t control is still a muscle in progress, but memories and unforgettable embarrassments from the past make it easier to practice.
#2. Letting go of short-term gains.
Instant gratification is getting what you want without putting in the required effort.
Patience is difficult to master when the internet promises to give you a one-click solution to all your insecurities like beauty, fitness, dating, etc.
Letting go of short-term gains means not letting cheap dopamine ruin your well-being.
How to renounce instant gratification is a lifelong pursuit alone, but slowly practising long-term thinking can keep your temptations in check.
#3. Letting go of what doesn’t serve your purpose.
The most complicated quality to master in a life of independence is learning to say no without burning bridges.
I’m currently on day 78 of my 100-day self-guided fitness challenge, where I share my daily streak progress on Instagram.
Apart from the consistency effect and the positive messages in my DM, I got two sponsorship deals in the first month. I rejected them after deep thinking because I didn’t see myself going down the influencer path.
Sure, saying yes to opportunities means exposure, money, and recognition. But the work won’t be sustainable if it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.
What you have is a dream for many.
Sacrifice is a crucial component of freedom because it lets you reduce regrets.
After all, you are intentionally letting go of what doesn’t serve your purpose in the long term. It conserves your mental power to focus on things that bring your life goals closer.
The money I made in my remote job was initially less than what I would make if I stayed with my desk job.
But when you work under — or with — someone who doesn’t value you, you submit to the idea that it is normal to hate your job. It doesn’t have to be self-deprecating when you realise that sacrifice looks like a reward when you look back after five years in hindsight.
Make the necessary sacrifices for your future to live your life with fewer regrets than yesterday. Here is a recap for your memory:
- Let go of other people’s expectations by understanding your circle of control.
- Let go of short-term gains because instant gratification is sweet poison.
- Let go of what doesn’t serve your purpose because your mental power is too precious to waste.
If you want to receive more stories like this, my lifelong learning newsletter is for you.
Sanjeev is a mentor, writer, and fitness enthusiast from India. He writes about lifelong learning, health, and positive psychology. When he’s not engaging with students or writing articles, he’s sweating in a workout, PC gaming or playing 8-ball pool. You can also find him on Twitter and Instagram.