Recently my wife and I decided to embark on a slow-travel journey around the world with our 2 young sons, aged 3 and 1.
Most people think we're crazy for taking such a "risk" and doing something so unconventional.
We think most people are crazy for wasting most of their lives hating work, hating their commute, and never doing anything that satisfies their deepest desires and values.
What follows is an abridged version of our Freedom Guide - Our guide to freedom and living your life now, on your terms.
Our Story And Motivation
Even though we are online entrepreneurs who haven't held a corporate job in 4 years, we were not happy with the way we were living our life.
There were always excuses.
"When the businesses make a little more money."
"When the kids are a bit older."
"It's not realistic to think too far outside the norm."
One day we finally admitted what we had both known for some time. What we're doing is not working.
Recognizing that fact allowed us the freedom to wonder, "OK, so what would work?"
And that gave us the permission we needed to start brainstorming what our happy life would look like.
That thought experiment led us to look into traveling the world, something we had always wanted to do, but figured was too hard, too expensive, and definitely not something you did with kids.
But since we were on this thought experiment, we decided to do a bit of research.
And instead of sitting there wondering about travel, we started Googling.
We found out that we didn't need a billion dollars to do the things we wanted to do. In fact, we could travel the world and save money!
Finally we were ready to live the life Tim Ferriss talks about in The Four Hour Work Week:
"Fun things happen when you earn dollars, live on pesos, and compensate in rupees, but that's just the beginning."
The Gravity Of The Situation
With only one shot at life on this planet, we sure do spend a lot of time focused on the things that don't matter, and making excuses for why we can't be happy.
This is something that crystallized only recently for us, but we now try to remind ourselves of it every day.
You are the only one with the power and responsibility to live your own life, on your terms. And if you choose not to do it, the outcome at the end is the same. You eventually die.
So why would you waste the limited time you've got on this earth being miserable and not achieving things that you value?
Over the course of history, you will be dead much longer than you'll be alive, so why waste these precious moments?
Introspection: Getting To Know Yourself Again
This is perhaps the hardest of all steps, because it requires you to be completely honest with who you are and what you want.
And since most of us are so out of practice with knowing ourselves, it can be hard to even get started. And painful.
But it's so necessary to take a step back from the daily minutiae of your own life in order to get a feel of who you really are, right now, and what might make you happy.
Without knowing where you might find that happiness, you'll have no way of decided where to start looking.
The pain or discomfort that might come from truly getting to know yourself again far outweighs the risks of not doing it, and wasting more of your life.
Step Back From Your Life And Discover Your First Principles
This is the point where you tear down every excuse and self-imposed limitation in your life.
And man is it hard.
We were convinced that so many of the things we told ourselves were actually fact, not excuses. We were sure that reality was what was stopping us.
In fact, our assumptions were just so deeply ingrained they felt like reality to us.
By going through this thought experiment, trying to find what would really make us happy, we had to break down barriers to get past feeling like, "yeah that would be nice, but it'll never happen."
We were so sick of the way we were living day to day that anything would have been better, so we put in the work to seriously look at our lives.
It requires you taking a big step back - again, divorcing yourself from the daily minutiae that takes up so much of our lives but is often very unimportant.
Once you can see the entirety of your life, you can become somewhat of an impartial bystander.
At that point, you need to ask, "why?" over and over again to get to the very bedrock of who you are - your first principles.
You will reach one of two conclusions.
The first conclusion is that you honestly say to yourself, "I don't know".
I don't know why I live like this. Why I work like this. Why I don't travel. Why my relationship with my parents is that way. Why I feel like I need the biggest and best house/car/gadgets, even though I'm increasingly in debt.
When you get an "I don't know", that can mean you've been doing something for no good reason.
Because the second conclusion you come to is that you can very clearly identify, explain, and defend why you do a certain thing.
You eventually want more clear reasons than you do I don't knows, because it means you are living your life with purpose and a clear direction. You should be able to answer why you do each thing, and the answer should be more significant than, "because it's what's expected of me and everyone else does it".
For us, all of our limiting beliefs suddenly disappeared as we went through this exercise, and we were only left with one more question about living a life we love:
"So, why not now?"
Build Your Reality From The Ground Up
But once you tear down all your limiting beliefs and excuses, then what?
This can be a scary place. Suddenly you have knocked down much of the world as you know it, and what are you left with?
Without filling the void, things can start to look pointless, and without direction, you might be totally lost with what to do next.
That's why it is so important to dig deep and start building your life back up around you.
But this time with purposeful action.
This time, you want to know your reasons when you ask yourself why. You want to fill your life with the meaningful things that will satisfy you, that will allow you to achieve things that you value, that will make you happy.
By taking responsibility for your life, you understand you are the only one who can choose what your life looks like and how you feel about it.
So make good decisions, and create a life worth living, on your terms.
But What About...?
Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest reasons people convince themselves not to take action.
We have found that it seems to be an extension of the idea of loss aversion.
Basically, people would rather not lose, than win.
People hate losing so much that their negative reaction to losing $100 is two or more times more intense than their positive reaction to gaining $100.
Applied to life in general, it seems people would rather be miserable but "comfortable", or know what's coming, than they would be happy but not know what to expect next.
So rather than pursuing what they believe will make them happy, they stick doing what they know, because it seems safer. At least they won't lose their comfort zone.
At this point you really have to think consciously on the rest of these exercises.
For us, we really did not want to keep doing what we were doing, and were willing to take so-called "risks" to make sure it would stop.
We also know that if this particular venture doesn't work out, it's not our only chance.
People seem to believe that since it's such a big decision, they'll only ever decide to make a life altering change once. If it doesn't work, they're screwed.
But if you've done it once, why not do it again? The same conditions apply!
What's the worst that could happen?
You fail, have to build up your savings a bit again, have to get a second job, have to move in with friends or family.
You probably won't die, though, and so the worst that can happen is usually recoverable.
But what about the best that could happen?
You could find your happy life. You could be spending your days doing something worth doing, satisfying you, and fulfilling you.
Isn't that a bet you're willing to make when it comes to something as important as your own life?
Take Action, Take Action, Take Action
No one decides this but you.
You can't always control what happens to you, but you can definitely control how you react to it
Don't even try to control what happens externally, it's a total waste of time! You'll only end up disappointed if something goes differently than you expect.
It's a much better use of time to prepare yourself to make important decisions when things do happen to you - both good and bad.
So when it comes to living your life on your terms, you have to decide.
If you can realize the importance and beauty of this life you get, then you can make anything happen.
Tell someone about your decision. And if no one in your life is the right person to tell it to, you need to surround yourself with better people. Take action, cut the dead weight, and be ready to form new friendships.
Research whatever it is you need to research to get a better idea of what it is you want to do.
Just don't do nothing. Whatever you do, don't do nothing.
Make a change today that will set you up on your path to a happy, purposeful life.
Follow our journey on Twitter @So_WhyNotNow.