There’s a musician worth $150m. She’s left her home twice in 10 years.
She’s sold more records and made more money than both Adele and One Direction. Gen Z likely hasn’t heard of her. Most millennials and boomers don’t know her either.
She’s a recluse, a weirdo. And I freaking love her.
Most musicians make their money from live performances, not Spotify peanut royalties. This musician doesn’t do shows. She also doesn’t do interviews despite her enormous quiet success.
When she got rich she lost her privacy. Stalkers came from everywhere to hunt her down and ruin her life.
She fought back.
With all her cash, she bought a castle where she lives with her cats. Oh, and there’s no husband or kids. That’s her definition of a nightmare. Fall in love? No thanks, mam.
She doesn’t leave her castle. Emails from fans are ignored. Seeing family isn’t her thing either. Now things get weirder…
She doesn’t listen to any music but her own. Outside music, she feels, pollutes her music.
She sings in a combination of English & Gaelic and…three languages she made up. Yep, she’s a language inventor for sh*ts and giggles.
This quote made her one badass woman:
“My private lifestyle bothers a lot of people. I don’t like anybody else’s opinion. It’s not a hanging offence not wanting to go to nightclubs. What happened to choice?”
Wildly successful and quiet. That’s how she likes it. Her name is Enya.
I tell you this story because Enya is a great example of what we’re all secretly chasing: freedom.
F*ck being famous. F*ck losing privacy. F*ck being someone’s idol.
Do the work, get wealthy, and disappear forever and go into quiet mode — that’s what badass Enya taught me.
Chasing freedom sounds like hustle p*rn
Yep. It sounds horrible.
It’s like when some guru says “exit the matrix, man” which is code for I smoke pot with Andrew Hate.
Seeking freedom isn’t hustle porn though. It’s a real goal. The difference is true freedom can be bought for less than people think. Everyone’s freedom number varies, but $250,000 a year buys more freedom than we realize.
What is true freedom?
- Not being told what to do
- Limitless thinking without cancel culture restrictions
- Enough money to not have to make decisions based on money
- The ability to change your mind hundreds of times without judgement
- The joy of giving money away to those who need it without getting anything in return (not even societal status)
This isn’t the definition of freedom you normally hear.
It’s changing because people are tired of all the overrated nightmares that come with fame and riches that turn nice people into b*tches.
Real freedom is chaos
Humans love order.
We love when things make sense. We love certainty that helps us feel safe and know what the future holds.
What’s often missed is our mind craves disorder. It wants uncertainty and even chaos. We need a finite balance between the dark side and the bright side. Without it, we don’t have freedom.
Chaos sparks our creativity. Creativity creates a vision that adds meaning to our lives. In some ways the good life hangs on the top of a double-edged sword between order and disorder. Kinda cool.
A lack of chaos leads to boredom that slowly rots our sense of freedom.
Being a conformist leads to the prison life
Most people end up being conformists.
They adapt to prison life. A few become reformers. They fight for better lighting, better ventilation. Hardly anyone becomes a rebel, a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls.
You can only be a revolutionary when you see the prison walls in the first place — Anthony de Mello
Be careful what you blindly agree with.
In my banking career I met a lot of yes men and yes women. They’d toe the company line to ensure they get their just-over-broke salary.
I liked to f*ck with the conformists. I loved to politely challenge their views of banking and the world. I loved to ask, “Yeah, but why?” They hated it. They just wanted everyone to agree so they could go home and feed their dogs. But I wouldn’t let them.
I got a lot of promotions because of this. Being a conformist in banking got you a standard career path. Being a rebel was the fast track to leadership roles and the coveted title of thought leader.
Business is about change. Whoever changes the fastest takes home all the revenue rewards. And conformists don’t create change. No. They create business stagnation that creates the Blockbusters and Kodaks of the world.
The real rewards come from a bit of rebellion.
It’s better to be dead than work a job you hate
Author Robert Greene helped me come to this conclusion.
There’s nothing worse than a soul-sucking job. It drains your energy which is what you need to succeed.
It lacks creativity so you become bored and start to seek out more fantasy movies or books to fill the void (now you know why grown adults are so in love with cosplay and Comic-Con).
Eventually, you just become a bored, lifeless soul who follows someone else’s plan that leads to a routine that makes every day feel the same.
Like I said, you may as well be dead. This isn’t living.
Occupational health expert Divyanka Tripathi says even toxic substances don’t affect health as much as the monotony of work does. WOW…big call!
So escaping monotony should be our #1 health priority.
The simple path to access true freedom
One way to escape the prison life and reach freedom is to be intentional.
Design your ideal life or it’ll be designed for you using models from 100 years ago. If things happen by default, there’s the blinking red siren asking you to stop and rethink your life.
Designing your ideal life starts with these questions:
- What time will you wake up?
- What work will you do?
- Where will you live?
- Where will you work?
- Will there be a commute?
- Who will you work with?
- What time will you eat dinner?
- How many hours a day will you work?
- How much time will there be for family?
- What will you do to let imagination and creativity thrive?
Answer those questions, and you’re halfway towards designing a life that’ll lead to your version of freedom.
Freedom teaches you to question everything
We’re taught that seeking answers is smart.
Retiring at 34 and living my definition of freedom has taught me that asking questions is more powerful.
Society is built on a foundation of intellectual structures. Geniuses and experts give us answers and we’re supposed to gobble them up and believe they are the truth.
The problem is these intellectual structures are built on facts and logic, yet the world is illogical and runs on chaos.
Real freedom is exploring your curiosity. Asking questions. You become deeply unsatisfied with conventional answers when you’re free.
The dark side of freedom no one talks about
I’m going to finish in the most unlikely place.
After praising a life of freedom, I’m going to give you the dark side. This thought from writer Charles Bukowski changed everything:
“And when nobody texts you to hang out, and when you have no missed calls to return, and when you can do whatever you want. What do you call it, freedom or loneliness?”
When I got access to true freedom it was great. Slowly I stopped getting texts from old work colleagues. Quite a few friends disappeared. I didn’t get many missed calls.
I thought I had freedom but what I also got was a dose of loneliness.
I run a live mastermind and writing challenge with people from all over the world. A few days ago the latest cohort ended. I found myself becoming emotional for no reason. Why? Because I don’t have work colleagues.
I’m a recluse. I rarely leave home these days. Some days this newfound freedom gets lonely. And when I realized the participants of my live writing challenge helped make me feel less lonely, I got emotional.
Even a little embarrassed.
Freedom is great, but if you’re not careful, what you’ll find is loneliness. There has to be a balance.