Some people, activities, and things are so important that you would give up everything else in order to hold on to them.
The tricky part is that we’re so awash with ‘stuff,’ it becomes hard to tell what’s important and what’s not, and the only way to figure it out is to trim the fat.
This is what I did when I left the US to start traveling the world.
I sold everything short of a bagful of necessities, cut back on all but the most necessary communications and put myself in a situation where I would need to spend more time just learning how to live, leaving less free time in which to do the fun things I’ve always done. This has given me a lot of clarity as to what I value most.
My Freedom is My Life
One lifestyle facet I wouldn’t trade for anything is my freedom of movement and time.
I can wake up, go to sleep, eat, read, work, write, date, chill, drink, and party whenever I want. There is no one looking over my shoulder telling me I should be more productive or dropping subtle hints that I should work less.
What’s mine is mine, and that’s just fine.
There are times, however, when one priority might infringe upon another priority’s turf, creating some tension.
For example, another priority in my life is starting up new ventures and using them to build something out of nothing, and one such venture is ebookling.
After talking with a lot of people, all of whom decided that ebookling is the cat’s meow and would hit it big, no question, I decided that it would be prudent to bring someone else on board to help manage the thing. A capable ‘How’ person to help me convey the ‘Why’ of the project.
I hadn’t even begun to look when a chap from New York named Miles hit me up for a Skype conversation and convinced me that he was the man to get things shaking at ebookling. After having worked with him for a month I’m inclined to believe him.
The crux of the issue isn’t Miles, but rather the fact that now there is someone else involved with a project that, up until now, I had full control over. I controlled the brand, the website, the conversations with customers, and the content that was published. The blueprint in my head was all that mattered, and I had no one to answer to. I could work on it once a week or eight hours a day without recriminations or congratulations.
I don’t really answer to Miles, but as someone who is working on a project I believe in and as someone whose opinions and work ethic I respect, I kind of do. My action or inaction impact him now, and to a greater level than if I were to, say, not blog for a week.
Conflict is Necessary for Continued Evolution
What I’m aiming at here is that no matter how you refine your lifestyle to fit perfectly with how you want to live your life, so long as you are still pushing and challenging yourself, there will still be friction and uncertainty and conflict.
You may be forced to choose between priorities or to meet in the middle with them. You may even have to invent new ways of operating so you can enjoy them both.
You shouldn’t try to run from difficulty, you should seek it out. Embrace it! Take it on, beat it, punch it in the throat, and look for more of its kind.
Minimalism isn’t just about reduction, it’s also about reaffirming daily that what you’ve got is exactly what you need.
You get better at rolling with the punches as you get more practice, and if you want to keep growing as a person while building your ideal lifestyle, you’ll need to be able to do just that.
Update: February 1, 2017
I still prefer to work alone in most things, not because I don’t think other people add something valuable, but because of the concerns mentioned in this post. I like to work in accordance with my own rhythm. I like to be able to change things on the fly, without consulting anyone else.
It’s frankly a bad attitude that I’ll need to balance out someday, if I want to scale anything a lot bigger than what I’ve done in the past, but it works well for the types of projects I usually undertake and operate.