Setting yourself free is an important part of living a fulfilled life. However, life has a nasty habit of getting in the way.
We get bogged down in our to-do lists and find it difficult to make time for things that we want to do. We have an idea of who we want to be but can’t match our daily actions to this ideal version of ourselves.
All of these feelings are completely normal and natural, so don’t feel bad if any of them resonate with you.
Life is a constant evolution. It’s only through experience and practice that we learn to let go of toxic habits that are keeping us stuck. It’s only through trying new things and gaining wisdom along the way that we learn the difference between what we want and what we need.
In this article, we’ll discuss actionable tips for setting yourself free and living a life that is more congruent with the type of person you want to become.
What Does It Mean To Set Yourself Free?
What the hell does “setting yourself free” even mean?
On the surface, the phrase sounds a little cliche. Kinda like one of those feel-good platitudes that doesn’t really mean much. It seems to mix in with phrases like “follow your heart” or “you’re perfect just the way you are.”
The truth is that setting yourself free is not a cliche, it simply means living life without feeling trapped by your external environment or your internal dialogue.
It’s about foregoing the luxury of pursuing an easy life shrouded in comfort and exchanging it for a difficult one that makes you feel better about who you are:
- Doing the right things even if they make you feel afraid or uncomfortable.
- Facing up to your insecurities and working daily to address them.
- Re-defining your goals and ensuring they actually align with your deepest values.
- Getting rid of distractions that aren’t good for anything except a quick dopamine hit
These are the kinds of choices that lead to a state of congruence. When what you do starts lining up with who you want to become, that’s when you begin the process of setting yourself free.
7 Tips For Setting Yourself Free & Living Authentically
Let’s talk about some specific choices that you can make which will start the process of setting yourself free and becoming the best version of yourself.
The only person who knows what’s best for you, is you. So feel free to read through these actionable tips and pick an area of focus that you feel is mostly responsible for keeping you bogged down.
#1: Start Keeping Promises To Yourself
Answer this question honestly – when you tell yourself that you’re going to do something, how often do you actually follow through?
Almost all of the time? Half of the time? Sometimes? Never?
One of the key characteristics of happy people is that they hold themselves accountable. When they say they are going to do something, they’re telling the truth.
Can you say the same?
All too often in life we tell ourselves that we’re going to work on that presentation, or get up early and go to the gym, or start spending more time with the people around us.
And all too often, our habitual behavior patterns take over and we fail to follow through on these intentions.
We feel ashamed that we didn’t live up to our own expectations. It instills the belief that we’re the type of person who doesn’t follow through on the changes we want to make.
Mastering the art of not lying to yourself is a lifelong process, but like anything in life, you can start small and slowly build yourself up.
If you show up and act on what you say you’re going to do, even if it’s something small, you’ll build up evidence that you’re the type of person who keeps promises to yourself.
You’ll walk around with a more positive self-image as you begin to act in alignment with the type of person you want to become.
Before you go to bed each night, write down one thing that absolutely has to get done the next day.
Make this task your number one priority. Even if nothing else gets done that day, make sure that thing gets done. The difficulty of the task doesn’t matter because you can always challenge yourself once you get better at following through.
#2: One Goal, One Habit
When designing our future, it’s easy to let ambition take over and lay out all of the things that we want to achieve.
If you’re reading this right now, there’s probably several things about your life that you want to change. It feels good to vow to change your diet, build a consistent workout habit, and beat down procrastination all at once.
But the truth is that trying to change multiple aspects of our lives in one swoop has disastrous consequences. We often get so overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge that it becomes difficult to see real progress in any of these areas.
The best way to combat your tendency to overreach is to focus on one thing.
Keep things simple:
- Pick one goal that you’re absolutely committed to achieving over the next 12 months
- Pick one habit and focus on making it an automatic part of your life for the next 90 days.
It’s that easy: One goal, one habit. By doing this, you’re effectively priortizing your life and leaving space for the one pursuit that means the most to you.
Now, instead of waking up each day and thinking, “Alright I’ve gotta do my daily meditation to improve my mindfulness, get myself to the gym to improve my physique, and concentrate on my top 3 tasks for the day to improve my productivity…”
You get up each day with laser-like focus towards the one thing that you want most, “Alright, today I just need to do X because it moves me towards my 12 month goal of X…”
That doesn’t mean you’re foregoing your pursuit of everything else. It just means that those other changes you want to make are on the back burner while you focus on that one thing that will contribute most to your overall level of life-satisfaction.
#3: Start The Process of Fixing Your Insecurities
One of the biggest obstacles to setting yourself free comes from the insecurities that you can’t stop thinking about.
These insecurities are different for everybody:
- Maybe you’re ashamed of your body
- Maybe you’re ashamed that you can’t overcome procrastination
- Maybe you’re ashamed of your lack of confidence
- Maybe you’re ashamed of the kind of husband/wife you are
Whatever it is, it weighs heavy on you. It feels like a 300 pound weight on your shoulder that just doesn’t go away.
Yet, the upside of insecurities is that they tell you exactly where to spend your time. That inner voice isn’t trying to diminish you, it’s trying to give you a hint as to where you need to focus your energy.
Setting yourself free from your biggest insecurity will often create a domino effect – as you slay your biggest demon, the other ones don’t affect you as much. The positive momentum you gain from tackling the thing that eats at you daily will begin to spark other positive changes as well.
Pick the biggest insecurity that runs through your head on a daily basis. Think about that one flaw that brings you the most shame and make the commitment to address it.
Then, pick one daily habit you can perform every day that will work to address that insecurity. The habit you pick should be a small step, not a gargantuan leap.
Don’t make the classic mistake of overestimating your willpower and motivation by setting a daily target that will be impossible to maintain.
A good rule of thumb for forming new habits is to make them so easy that you can’t say no – start with a habit that takes you less than two minutes to do.
#4: Spend Less Time With Negative People
The people we hang out with have a tremendous impact on our own worldview.
You’re the average of the five people that you hang out with. If you spend a majority of your time with four people who preach negativity and feel victimized by life, you’ll become the fifth.
On the other hand, if you spend time with people who feel fulfilled and radiate positivity, then those same traits will begin to take hold in your life.
It’s really that simple – spend time with people who exhibit the traits that you want to develop.
We’re hard-wired to feel the urge to be accepted by our “tribe.” Thousands of years ago, being rejected by the people around us meant certain death. If we failed to fit in, we would have been exiled from our small community and thrown out into the world to fend for ourselves.
Leverage the hard-wired instinct for approval to your advantage. Spend time with people that turn this trait into an asset, not a liability.
You’ll find that evolution will work in your favor and the changes you want to make in your life will occur naturally as you try to fit in with people who’ve already made them.
Choose one friend that isn’t adding value to your life and begin spending less time with them.
Then, choose one person you know that exhibits certain traits you admire. Start reaching to them more often and spending more time with them.
This simple trade-off will have a surprisingly significant impact on your worldview.
#5: Consider Minimizing Your Life
Sometimes, setting yourself free means not letting things bother you. That’s exactly what minimalism is all about.
One of the most common misconceptions about practicing minimalism is that you have to live like a monk.
You don’t need to sell your home and trade it in for a 400 square foot apartment. You don’t have to throw out all of your electronics and disconnect from the outside world.
You simply need to realize that you don’t need many of the things you think you need. The basic principle of minimalism is that we should declutter our lives to make more room for meaningful pursuits.
We all tend to keep things around even though they don’t add value. As a result, our external environment hinders our ability to reach our goals because distractions and temptations are always just around the corner.
These distractions often act as a safety net when we feel stressed or bored. It’s comforting to know that when we need to feel stimulated, we can mindlessly scroll through social media or throw on a Netflix show that we’ve already seen three times.
These are the kind of actions that keep us stuck where we don’t belong. Minimizing your life by removing some of the “fluff” that you don’t really need is a great way to set yourself free.
It removes the tendency to waste time and slip into mindless habits. So if you want to live in an environment that promotes success, start getting rid of good uses of time in order to make room for great uses of time.
Think about some of the things in your life that take away focus from your goals. Can you remove any of them?
Would it kill you to get rid of your TV? Do you really need all of the clothes that you have? Are these certain apps on your phone like Tik Tok or Instagram that just take up way too much time?
Ask yourself these questions and see if anything can be expelled. At the very least, try to focus on cutting down on one daily activity that you’d consider to be “mindless.” (scrolling through social media, watching Youtube, binge-watching Netflix)
#6: Embrace The Process And Think Long-Term
One of the reasons why people are so anxious in today’s world is because there is so much emphasis placed on hitting certain targets.
On one hand, our goals are sexy and exciting. They instill hope in our lives by bridging the gap between where we are and where we could be.
On the other hand, the process is grueling and boring. We look forward to reaching our desired state, but dread the path that we need to take to get there.
We want the six pack abs without the daily grind of hitting the gym. We want deeper personal relationships without putting in the work to maintain them. We want the million dollar business but don’t want to message prospects or make cold calls every day.
If you don’t fall in love with the process, your goal will always be out of reach.
Think about it – setting a goal doesn’t really do much for you. Does it give your life a sense of direction? Sure, but what next?
You still need a system, you still need a consistent process that you can repeat day in and day out to achieve it. The real question you need to ask yourself is this – what daily habits are going to help me reach my goal?
In other words, what’s your process? What’s the system you’re going to use that will make achieving your goals inevitable?
The beauty of focusing on the process is that you set yourself free from arbitrary targets that you may or may not hit. Because the ugly truth about goals is that you can do everything right and still not achieve them.
Enjoying the process of incremental improvement detaches you from the outcome. It’s not so much about what you get, but more about who you become.
So should you set goals? The answer is yes.
But once you set a goal, put it on the shelf for a while. Focus all of your efforts on the daily habits that will give you a shot to achieve it. Just ensure that you show every day and let the chips fall where they may.
Even if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll still have changed your life and instilled keystone habits that move the needle in a positive direction.
#7 Practice Living In The Moment
When you wake up in the morning, do you immediately start thinking about your to-do list? Do you find yourself constantly thinking about the future or the past?
Congrats! You’re a perfectly normal human being.
One of the biggest obstacles that you’re going to encounter on the path towards setting yourself free is your own mind.
Your mind loves to redirect your attention towards stuff that just doesn’t matter – future scenarios, past experiences, useless thoughts, etc.
Reducing your mental chatter by engaging in mindfulness practices is one of the easiest ways to improve your quality of life. Detaching from negative thoughts and being fully engaged in whatever you are doing is a meta-skill that applies to pretty much anything you do.
Your mind is going to wonder whether you want it to or not – the key is to detach from these thoughts and master the art of controlling your attention.
It takes time to develop mindfulness, but it’s quite easy to practice. Here are a few suggestions for daily habits that will improve your ability to stay present and be mindful.
- Daily Meditation – Concentrate on deep breathing and reigning in your thoughts as your mind waders
- Mindful Eating – At each meal, eat without checking your phone or watching TV.
- Mindfulness Walks – Walk outside for 10-15 minutes each day – just sit back and observe your surroundings as you concentrate on your breathing.
Final Thoughts On Setting Yourself Free
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that there’s some secret formula or productivity hack to setting yourself free and living a more authentic life.
But there’s not – it’s simply about focusing on the things that you already know how to do and making them a big priority in your life. Pick one of these tips that resonated with you and make it your main focus for the 90 days.
Start becoming more mindful. Be more careful with who you spend your time with. Face down your biggest insecurity by taking small steps every day to address it.
Whatever you choose, make it non-negotiable in your daily routine. You’ll be amazed at how narrowing your focus expands the possibilities for your life.