You’ve seen those ads and emails with the beach pictures, right? (Like the photo accompanying this post.)

The inference is that whoever is sitting in the chair sipping a mai tai got rich quickly, retired early, and now gets to do pretty much nothing for the rest of their lives.

That actually sounds miserable to me! Remember how hard Tom Hanks fought to get off that island in Castaway?

I’m not sure where we got the idea that the dream life is withdrawing from meaningful relationships, becoming completely unproductive, and contributing nothing to the flourishing of the rest of humanity.

Real freedom is when you’re able to spend your time on that which is meaningful. That includes self-care, family time, volunteering, worshipping, and working in a way that makes a contribution to the larger human community.

Real freedom might be teaching kindergarten because you love kids and want to help educate and train the next generation. It might be starting and growing a company that employs people and empowers them to advance in their own careers. It could mean doing freelance work and helping clients be more successful.

You’ll never truly be free just because you’ve attained some particular amount of financial wealth. It’s an elusive, moving target that often traps even wealthy people into the lie that our self-worth is based on our net worth.

Whether you ever get rich financially or not, you can still enjoy an unstrapped life – a life of deep freedom. Living an unstrapped life definitely includes the elimination of financial stress, but it also means breaking free from addictions, self-sabotage, unnecessary shame and guilt, codependency, and anything else that is holding you back.

If freedom feels out of reach, redefine freedom. You’ll never feel free if your focus is on controlling things you can’t control, like the economy, your boss’s weird policies, or the tax codes. But you can control your own thoughts. You get to decide what your circumstances mean to you.

In other words, freedom is being set free from external, uncontrollable circumstances. Freedom is taking control of your own mindset, strategies, and tactics within the reality of your present circumstances.

The pathway toward freedom begins with the decision to pursue it in the first place.

Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash.

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