Freedom, Discipline & Security
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. I needed the break and I’m thrilled to be back to my writing practice. I hope you’ll continue to read my posts about yoga, Ayurveda, parenting, politics, activism, food, social justice, health and more.
I’ve recently made a few big changes in my life and am excited and ready to begin my next phase. I left my full-time job because it was no longer serving me. There was nothing terrible about the job. It wasn’t a toxic work environment, it wasn’t stressful (at all), and the people I worked with were nice. And the benefits were decent.
So, why did I leave?
Because the job was slowly killing me. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But, it was sucking out my life force energy. It wasn’t the fault of the job. It is a necessary job, just not the right job for me. It was a sedentary job that didn’t challenge me mentally or physically. As a pitta-kapha body type, I need at least one, ideally both of those stimuli.
Nevertheless, some people were shocked that I was leaving. “What will you do?” they asked. “Do you have another job lined up?” “What about insurance?” They were equally shocked at my answer. I don’t have a specific plan. I have a couple of online clients, for whom I am an enrollment coach for their courses. I’m going to bartend. Work at the barn. And focus on yoga – both my own practice and my teaching. I’m going to write. I’m starting a business with a friend. I’m going to volunteer for the presidential election. I will purchase health insurance.
My plan is to live a fulfilling life.
Freedom is one of the core values of my life. Purpose and Joy are two others. And my life cannot be separated from work. If I don’t have freedom, purpose and joy in my work, I don’t have it in my life. I think this is probably the case for most people. So, why then, do so many people stay in unfulfilling jobs or bad relationships?
Fear. Fear of change, fear of loss of security, fear of failure, fear of success. It all comes down to fear. After I had given my notice, one coworker confided to me that she was envious of what I was doing. I asked her why she didn’t do the same then. She had a few reasons, all legitimate. But, it made me sad that she felt envious and like she couldn’t leave. She, like so many others, stays in an unfulfilling job, year after year, for the security of it.
I want to make one thing clear. I didn’t quit my job on a whim. This is where the discipline part comes in. I’ve got some money in the bank. I have a plan to make money. As an entrepreneur, I will have to have more discipline to get the work done and make the money, than I would have to have at an hourly job, where the only discipline I need is to show up. I’m not telling you to quit your job today if you don’t love it. What I am telling you though, is to begin a plan to live the life you want. When I work with my coaching clients, I have them take the time to figure out what they really want out of life, and to start working towards it. Most people don’t have the time or energy to even ponder what their dream life would be. The 40-hour work-week exhausts us and keeps us slaves to the system.
I also want to be clear that I am addressing, first-world, upper-middle class, relatively privileged people. There are too many people who are oppressed, abused, sick and living in poverty. There are people who’s dream is to eat tomorrow or to have someone be kind to them. I will write more in future posts about how we, the privileged, can and should work to eradicate this dichotomy.
A yogic paradox is Discipline equals Freedom. I would tweak that slightly and say that discipline creates freedom. When we have the discipline to focus on what is important to us, we gain the freedom to live the life we want.
I’ll end with an exercise you can do, if you feel like your life could be more fulfilling. Take some time working through these questions. Write your answers in longhand.
Ask yourself what your life would be like, if it could be anything you wanted.
Write a list of small things you can do to work towards that.
Spend 5 minutes a day getting through that list and working towards your dream.
You might be thinking that 5 minutes a day won’t make much difference. Just imagine doing this for a year. At the end of the year, you will have put more than 30 hours into your dream life. Ok, 30 hours isn’t a ton, but it’s a hell of a lot more than zero. You gotta start somewhere. Good luck!