It’s been a month since I last posted (our post about the how/why of our hitting the road on our freedom lifestyle), and so many people have encouraged me to write more regularly about our adventures.
As I write this, we’re packing up our house here in Blue Ridge, GA to head north to visit family in Illinois. For the past six weeks, we’ve enjoyed our mountain cabin, watching the leaves change colors, kayaking, tubing, hiking, boating on Lake Blue Ridge, and visiting the local comic shop. Don’t worry — I’m working on a post for this next week about awesome family activities in this region.
In today’s post, I’d like to share three overall lessons we’ve learned during the past six weeks, which is the first chapter of our family’s freedom adventure.
Hacking Away at the Unessential
“It is not daily increase but daily decrease, hack away the unessential. The closer to the source, the less wastage there is.” – Bruce Lee
Our family has traveled to various corners of the world during the past several years, and one thing I’ve noticed is that I’m so much more productive on vacation. The reason is simple: I want to enjoy myself and not take time away from my family’s enjoyment, so I spend as little time “working” as possible.
The usual result is that I get my non-negotiable outcomes done more quickly, and I usually see rising revenue.
In 1955, British naval historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson coined the term “Parkinson’s Law” in a 1955 essay for the Economist. The “law” is this: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
In other words, if you allot two hours to complete a task, you’ll fill up that entire two hours. If you allot a half hour, you’ll complete the task more quickly.
Quite simply, I love my family, my self-care, and my work in serving in my clients. As I write in my book, one of the pillars of the freedom lifestyle is alignment. And in order to live an aligned life, I’ve had to allot less time for certain activities, truly identify my non-negotiable outcomes each day, and “hack away at the unessential.”
What this has meant is waking up naturally at around 6:30 a.m. (alarm clocks are so damaging to health — more on that in a future post), engaging in my affirmations, meditative reading, and a walk in the mountains. I post some content online. Then I begin my prospecting calls and client calls. At around Noon or 1 p.m., I engage in my breathing exercises, a hot tub, and cold shower. Then I’m ready for a family adventure for the rest of the afternoon.
During the past six weeks, I’ve been able to grow my company, serve my clients, spend so much daily time with my family, and really build my health.
But the key lies within a mix of Parkinson’s Law and wedding out the B.S. in my day so I can align my family, self-care, and work while engaging my non-negotiable outcomes.
Flowing Like Water
“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” – Lao Tzu, “Tao Te Ching”
A cornerstone of Taoism is the principle of Wu-Wei. Loosely translated, this means “effortless action.” Taoists often talk about how one can “strive without striving.”
When focusing on non-negotiable outcomes, it’s easy to get swept up in the “tasks”; to get rigid in needing to complete certain things in a certain order. This can not only weaken you (“what is soft is strong”) it can make you less productive, and downright ornery.
When a family of six lives in an AirBNB in the mountains, certain days simply aren’t going to go as planned. Certain “task lists” need to be thrown out the window. In these cases, it’s important to yield.
In her outstanding book, Thick Face, Black Heart: The Warrior Philosophy for Conquering the Challenges of Business and Life, author Chin-Ning Chu writes of the ancient Chinese practice of “yielding” (like water) in order to step back and taking a broader view of the battle field.
That broader view allows you to see the relative unimportance of specific tasks and better empowers you to “go with the flow” and, as Teddy Roosevelt said, “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Have a plan to go boating today, but sudden rainstorms have quashed those plans? Instead of wasting energy fretting, simply flow like water to an activity everyone can do in the rain.
Has your business routine included live videos and frequent uploads that have become difficult due to poor Wi-Fi in the mountains? Stop getting angry about it and use it as an opportunity to exercise your “writing kills” and post more written content and less video.
When you come up on a boulder in the mountain stream (i.e., a challenge), don’t just butt your head up against the boulder repeatedly, flow like water around it or over it.
Tune Out the Noise
2020 is one of the most “noisy” years I can remember.
The elections. The virus. The lockdowns. The riots.
You can choose to become a prisoner of the fear and anger and spite and divisiveness. When you do so, you’re living your life according to somebody else’s agenda.
Or you can choose to tune out the noise, find your signal, and flow toward it.
It would be easy for us to come to the peace and quiet of the mountains, but allow our smartphones, iPads, and TV to allow the noise of the world to flood in.
Iffy WiFi and poor mountain cell service helped us to tune it out. That doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s going on the world; it means we’re not obsessing about it.
It means we’re not (like some people), addicted to the regular “ping” of our phone notifications; staring like zombies at hours of cable news hosts; getting sucked for hours into our social media news feeds to feed our anger by gazing at the latest virus/election/riot/whatever news of the day.
You don’t have to move to the mountains to tune it all out. But the fresh air, fall colors, mountain streams, wildlife outside our window — all helps to remind one that we don’t have to participate in the “crazy.”
The choice is up to you.
These are just three high-level lessons that come to mind as we finish Chapter 1 of our adventure and get ready to hit the road again. We’ve had some rough days (especially at the beginning — with our beloved pug, George, having passed away a few days before we left our home behind), but this is a learning experience.
And the more we learn, the more we grow.
If you’re interested in adding some freedom to your lifestyle, please pick up Five Pillars of the Freedom Lifestyle on Amazon today.