In April of 2012, my father died unexpectedly at the age of 54. Upon hearing the news, I felt almost numb. He and my mother had divorced when I was young, and he was never around. As I grew up into the adult that I now am, my dad tried to rekindle the relationship, but I was bitter and angry.
Unsurprisingly, the days leading up to his funeral were difficult. My mind felt consumed by so many thoughts. The day of his funeral gave me a harsh reality check: that's when everything got real. I sat there looking at his body and realized suddenly, deeply, that he was gone. That was it. I would never get a chance to reconcile with him or hear his story because he was no longer alive. Three days after the funeral I completely broke down.
Over the next few weeks, I started to replay the last few conversations my dad and I had. The one thing he had always said over and over again was not to live life the way he did. He told me not to die with regret in my heart. How? He told me to create freedom in my life.
Since his death, I quit a job I hated, I lost 170 pounds, and my family moved to our dream designation of Maui, Hawaii. I finally understood my dad's advice, and I created freedom in my life. Life is too short. Time is the one thing we'll never get back.
Since we only get one chance to live life, here are four ways you can live it with freedom, real freedom.
1. Feel responsible for your body.
In other words, get control of your health. No one else can, or will, do this work for you. Whether it's losing weight, getting fit, or really understanding what it means to live a healthy lifestyle (and feeling the benefits!), you have to take ownership over your needs and desires when it comes to your body and your health.
Disease, sickness, and the way we feel can be directly traced back to what we eat. The amount of energy we have to do the things we need to do in life can be traced back to our fitness. Your health is one area of your life that you can actively cultivate. Try it ...
2. Find or create work you love.
Most of us spend 47 hours of the week working. When you spend that much of your time doing something, it will affect you one way or another. Sure, most of us in the United States are constantly hearing and talking about the bad state of our economy. And sure, job opportunities aren't what they used to be.
But you can nevertheless create opportunities for yourself, or at least try. In the process of giving your interests, passions and professional relationships more thought, you will be learning. It all starts with productive thinking and questioning. If you want a better job, start figuring out what kind of work you're looking for. Put a plan in place to land that job. It might take a while, and the process might consist of small steps leading you toward growth. So be patient!
If you've been thinking about creating a business, the Internet has opened doors that were previously closed. With over 2.5 billion people online everyday, you can create a highly profitable business. You have many options to create freedom in your work.
3. Choose experience over stuff.
At the end of our lives we're not going to remember all the stuff we had, we'll remember our experiences. And you can't take that stuff with you.
It's OK to have nice things, but if they cost you an experience (or many), they're not worth it. If you have a chance to try a new food, or travel to a cool place, or meet someone amazing, take it. Those are the things you'll remember.
4. Don't settle.
Complacency is the enemy of your dream life and the concept of freedom. You are destined for greatness, not a "good enough" life. Society and other external pressures constantly try to tell us what "a good life" looks like. Not only should you want more, but you have the power to get more. By settling, you are denying to yourself that you have that power.
When doubt, fear and the voices of negative people try to hold you back, ignore them. Chase that dream and create free by not living life on autopilot. My father's death was the wake up call I needed. Learn from my mistake, and create freedom in every area of your life. Don't let fear win.