When I had a job I lived for my 1–2 holidays a year. Now I work for myself the shine of those vacation dreams has worn off.
What I realized is back in the cubicle days I was trying to escape. I’d watch AFL football with my mates at the pub and drink beers. If I didn’t have a drink on a Friday after work, I’d struggle to show up on Monday.
Escapism was the way I survived.
I needed to take my mind off my bullsh*t job. I needed to forget I wasn’t making progress and using the same one year’s worth of experience over and over and pretending to feel smart.
Then a few key mentors showed me another way. Now I don’t need to escape. When I’m on my Queensland holiday I’ll still be writing and running an online business each day.
What I do during my work day is the same thing I do on my days off. I love it, therefore, I don’t want to “get away” or run for the hills.
The answer is right in front of you
George Lucas said “We are all living in cages with the door wide open.”
This quote describes how we fall into a life that’s secretly a prison. We can be free again but first we need to realize we’re trapped — and that’s hard to do. I lived in denial for years about my career.
I let the prestige of big tech and job titles make me think I was living my ideal life. I wasn’t. I hated it. Only once I started reading books and meeting people who were truly free did the truth reveal itself.
Ask yourself if you’re really free. Don’t deny the truth. Then embrace it and use it to move forward and stop living a life of escapism — an addiction.
Here’s the simple formula to build a life you don’t need to escape from.
1. Build, sell, lead
All three of these are uncomfortable.
But they are the backbone of freedom. Embrace one skill and you’ll do okay. Learn to do all three and you’ll access the good life.
- Build — use your creativity and imagination to create something that moves humanity forward in some tiny way.
- Sell — learn how to ethically persuade so you win more opportunities and don’t have to ask for permission anymore. And learn how to solve important problems people will pay for.
- Lead — people who do well in life are leaders. They may not have the job title but they can rally the troops and get people to assemble around them.
In my journey I chose to build startups and a library of content online. I chose to learn the skill of sales at 19 years old, and use that skill to carve out a career in banking that amplified what I’d learned. And I chose to lead people both online and in the workplace.
All of these decisions were optional. I didn’t have to do it but I felt compelled to. I studied the greats and they all had these three traits in common — although often in disguise.
Build, sell, lead if you want to live a life most can only dream of.
2. Don’t get sold the American Nightmare
The American Dream is really the American Nightmare.
- College debt
- Car payments
- Buy now, pay later on luxury items
- Expensive wedding and engagement rings
- Luxury holidays in exotic locations paid for on credit card
If you’re always on vacation, you are never on vacation — Jack Raines
If you fall for these traps you’ll need a predictable salary to pay the bill. It’s hard to ever escape this bill and once you have it there’s no generous “loan forgiveness program” to save you.
Most of the stuff society says you need is a lie.
Too much debt will guarantee you never escape.
3. Start part-time. Use the dark hours.
The transition from a life in a cage with the door open to one of freedom isn’t going to happen overnight. Let’s be real. The upgrade will be slow.
The main solution I found was to do it part-time.
Use the dark hours of 7 PM-10 PM or 6 AM-8 AM. Explore. Experiment. Talk to people who have the life you want. Keep the existing life to pay the bills while you build the new life after hours.
That’s the approach I don’t see enough people using. They want to escape in a hurry and haven’t done the work required to build a better life.
I wish the answer was easier. I wish you could do it in 30 days, but you likely can’t. So slow your roll.
We were born free, but society, culture and schools taught us limitations — Aaron Will
4. The step that’s easy to forget
If a life you didn’t need to escape from was easy, everyone would do it.
Philosopher Alan Watts said “When no risk is taken there is no freedom.” Most of us refuse to take risks. I see it with my mastermind and group coaching clients all the time.
They know what they want but they won’t risk a few pennies to see if they can get it. So they fall short and wait for something to happen.
The aim isn’t to take a big risk — it’s to take a series of small risks. Put your time and money on the line. See what happens. And don’t give up easily. I invested in so many different options at the start of my freedom journey.
No one option had a big payoff.
But lots of small risks helped me find the right path and uncover a different way of living. A big part of this lifestyle is just being open-minded. It’s being able to reduce the skepticism filter and to just try sh*t on.
5. Retirement isn’t part of this formula
Most people trade their current happiness, energy, and focus for a better life down the track — delayed gratification at its highest.
They’re convinced they can do anything and be everything in retirement. What I found is retirement isn’t part of the freedom formula.
You don’t want to retire from work you enjoy. You don’t want there to be an end date to pursuits that have unleashed your creativity and imagination.
Quite the opposite.
Entrepreneur Sam Zell once got asked when he’ll retire. He said “Retire from what? I love what I do.” That’s how those who don’t rely on escapism live. Ditch the idea of retirement.
Play forever life games.