Over the past few months I have re-invented my decision making process when it comes to life and happiness.
As the previous subtitle to my blog “Adventures in Creating a Life of Freedom and Choice” indicated, for a long time I had been making decisions based on what would give me greater freedom in life.
To that end, I had achieved quite a lot of freedom. I work from home, have enough income that I can play a little, I’m debt free, and have a modest cushion in my savings account should I be out of work or income for a while. I own no pets or property that tie me down or make it difficult to simply pack up and move. Whenever something comes up that looks like it would be an onerous long-term obligation, I just say no. I can pretty much come and go as I please, and do as I please.
I should be living the dream. However, there’s just one problem. I got bored.
I had put so much energy into freeing myself from the unnecessary burdens of life that a void was left in their wake.
I began to realize I needed a new paradigm.
If you’ve made your life plug-and-play, you still need to find something to plug yourself into.
The ultimate purpose of having freedom in your life isn’t just to rid yourself of the things you don’t want to do, it’s to be free to do the things that you actually do want to do. We don’t want to live lives of emptiness, we want to live lives full of rich, meaningful, and memorable experiences.
When you have a goal in mind and are faced with a choice I find it helps to use filter questions.
My old filter question was, “which option would give me the most freedom?”
My new filter question is, “which option would give me the more memorable experiences?”
This subtle shift in thinking can dramatically change the fabric of your life.
For example, if you’re considering having kids the answer to the freedom question is a simple “no.” Having kids places an enormous burden on your time and money, not to mention say goodbye to your travel plans for the next few years.
However, if you apply the memorable experiences question you get a very different answer. Yes, having kids adds burden and commitment to your life, but you also will have many memorable experiences raising your child and the pleasure of a family. On the other hand, having kids may still not be right for you–or at least not yet. You might decide that you still have a lot of fire in the belly to start a business or travel the world, so it might be better if you put off having kids for a while.
If you are at a crossroads in your job or career, you also wind up with a very different result by changing your filter questions. Recently a friend of mine was choosing between taking a long coveted position at a new company or a promotion at her old company that would allow her to travel and do a lot of work in Germany.
The promotion would have afforded her lots of travel and lot more personal discretion over her work, clearly the freer choice. However, even though the new job would lock her down for a few years and require more hours, there would be opportunity for lots of learning and potential to go in a new and exciting directions with her work.
It’s silly to make this type of choice based on freedom alone. Clearly this decision comes down to a matter of which one you want more. Or which job would give you the more memorable experience.
If you were in a situation like this you might still choose the freedom and the travel, and that’s okay too. The important thing is not passing up on something that could be an incredible experience for you solely because it would create more burden and obligation.
One change I’ve made to reflect the new paradigm in my life is updating my blog subtitle to “Adventures in Multi-Passionate Living.” I’m sure I will change it at some point as my own personal philosophy evolves, but for now it’s a closer match. I am passionate about many things and choose to live a memorable life by experiencing them as fully as I can.
Filtering your choices for the most memorable experience forces you to look deeply into what you really want out of life and make decisions that bring you closer to that path.