Liberated – Independent Inside And Out
Liberated – Independent Inside And Out
July 1, 2013
Winston Wayne Wilson
On July 4, 2013, we will celebrate America’s 237th year of independence from Great Britain, John Adams’ style, with “…pomp and parade, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other…” There will also be barbecues, hot dog eating contests, mind boggling fireworks, as well as lots of laughter, dancing and drinking. Fun stuff. July 4th represents the day when our collective pride, from living in this great land of liberty, peaks. However, it is what happens on July 5, 2013, after the pomp and parade is over and the crowd dissipates, that will define the state of your internal colony. Will you return the next day to sadness, grief, disenchantment, fear and a whole host of non-celebratory emotions? Do you have a declaration of independence that governs your life or is there a proverbial Great Britain that has an iron chain around your neck and still dominates your life? What is your pride level about living inside your internal colony? Is your pride level high enough for you to carve out the time to celebrate your own independence with pomp and parade? If not, read on.
We live in a demanding culture where everyone wants a piece of us. Hence, we must negotiate giving away our time and energies to earn a living, gain the affection of friends, garner the respect of our communities, fulfill our obligations to families and, if there is any time left over, which is rarely the case, indulge in our own passions. We are all raised to be responsible to our jobs, families, communities and friends. What about the responsibility to ourselves? In some instances, we have even sold precious chunks of our time and energies to the lowest bidders. Sometimes we become pillows for people by taking on the tough cases in their lives, while ignoring the mounting issues in our own lives. In other instances, we become indentured to things like fear, low self-esteem, or something else that has the upper hand on us. Hence, while we are independent on the outside, inside we are anything but free. Moreover, many of us have no free resources – no money, no time, no energy. Some of us are even short on free will to do the things we are passionate about.
When our time and energies are completely sold out, we then become enslaved to variegated masters, and we walk around constantly looking tired and dejected. The reality is that the worst person to steal time and energy from is you. When you become the last person on your to-do list, or you are not even on your to-do list at all, then it is time to begin to write your own declaration of independence to break ties with the Great Britains in your life.
The “Great Britains” in your life could be anything that rules or dominates you. It could be a negative belief about yourself, something you fear, someone you are obsessed with, a job - anything. Becoming liberated starts with your declaration of independence that says “From this day forward, I declare that I will be the author of my fate and the lover of myself.” And, just like how some of us give 10% of our gross salaries to our churches, I believe that, as part of your declaration of independence, you should commit to giving 10% of your daily gross time and energy to yourself – that is a little more than 2 hours per day of self-focused time and energy. If you cannot wing that, do 5% (or about an hour per day). The point here is not about the percentage. The point is really about starting to throw yourself in the mix of masters so that your time and energy are not 100% sold out to others. If you cannot take the time and energy for yourself on a daily basis, then accumulate the time and energy for use at some point during the week – just don’t be sold out and turn yourself away from your own life, as you slam the door shut in your face.
Your pursuit of liberty does not end with the declaration of your independence. After our forefathers wrote the declaration of independence, there were still plenty of things - investment of time, energy, creativity and passion - that were required to mold and develop America into what we now enjoy. We, too, must begin to invest in our personal colonies so that we can be as independent on the inside are we are on the outside living in in America.
In order to accomplish this, we must evaluate who owns our time and energies and begin to reallocate some of these resources back to our own investment accounts. On average, our two most dominant masters, sleep and work, own at least 8 hours each our daily time allotment of 24 hours. That means that the demands of the rest of our daily lives must take place during the remaining 8 hours. Many of us use some of the remaining 8 hours to get to and from our most dominant master, work. By the time we throw in eating, showering and getting dressed, we are pretty much out of time for the day. How then do we achieve independence when there does not seem to be much room to negotiate?
Admittedly, it is tough. Sometimes you simply have to go rogue and employ a Robin Hood approach, where you steal back your own time and energy from the rich (employers and sleep) and give them to the poor (you). We all fantasize about getting back hours and days of our own time; however, sometimes we have to reclaim seconds and minutes. For example, I love to read and write but it is near impossible, with 12-hour work days, to squeeze in time to do either. Since I have 45 minutes of commuting time, I force myself to read or write during that time rather than catch up on sleep. During the day, when I am going back and forth to visit clients, I also try to use the commute time, even if it is 15 or 20 minutes, to do something productive for myself. I negotiate with my friends, family, and significant others so that I can carve out “alone time” to rest and recover as well as to catch up with myself and my passions. It is better to bail out of a date night or a lunch with family or friends, than to grind yourself into the ground until you are no more.
Gradually, I also started to experiment with relinquishing my “workaholic badge of honor”, by shaving off an hour or two from my daily work schedule, just to see if the world would crumble without me. It didn’t. In addition, rather than being a martyr for my employer, by giving up my vacation time, I became diligent about taking every single day off that I was entitled to. I would also force myself to disconnect when I was away on vacation – rather than create an excuse for periodic bathroom breaks to check and respond to emails out of fear that there will be a crisis that I will forfeit resolving remotely. By the way, playing superman was one of the “Great Britains” that I had to sever ties with in order to gain my own independence. For some of us, it is being a doormat or being enslaved to habits, addictions, jobs, families or friends – all at the expense of ourselves. Whatever it is that rules or dominates us, it is time to start the journey towards greater independence.
So, my challenge for you this week is to write your declaration of independence and to begin to invest the time and energy to ensure that you stay liberated. On July 4th, as you celebrate America’s 237th year of independence, celebrate yourself as well. Every year thereafter, I hope you will continue to celebrate your independence. Here’s to making independence a daily lifestyle. Have a drink on you. Enjoy your week.