Making lists can feel like the opposite of personal freedom—where’s the spontaneity? But truly successful people know that, to get what you want in life, you must first know what you want.
Neuroscience supports this claim: setting your intentions and creating a way to document your progress increases your chances of reaching your goals. Taking some time to dream, explore possibilities, and get to know yourself better can help you clarify your desires, set goals, and make plans for how to achieve them—and how to pay for them.
From buying a house to traveling the world to starting a family to retiring, the freedom to choose our best lives begins with financial freedom. As paradoxical as it may sound, budgeting, saving, and even cutting back on certain kinds of spending are often necessary to having the kind of life we want.
To help you start, I’ve put together a list of my own: six “F’s” for financial freedom. Setting goals in each of these areas can help you see the big picture that is the arc of your life, and create a map for where you want to be and how to pursue getting there:
- Family. If you are not part of a couple, do you want to be? Is having children in your DNA? If you already have a partner or spouse and/or children, what are your responsibilities to them, as well as to your parents, siblings, and other family members?
- Friends. Giving and receiving friendship is a core requirement for well-being. Good friends are worth their weight in gold: we need trusted people with whom we can share successes and joys, root and cheer for, and shore each other up through the bad times. On the other hand, some relationships are toxic, and must be rooted out. If our “friends” don’t lift us up toward our higher purpose, they aren’t friends at all.
- Fitness. For maximum enjoyment of all that life has to offer, you must take care of your physical well-being. Eat well; exercise. Having a fit and healthy body can increase your productivity, reduce stress and sick days, and create balance that empowers you to take care of others.
- Faith. Are you part of an organized religion? Attending services and other activities can help you connect with others and also to revisit your purpose. If that isn’t your cup of tea, a simple five-minute meditation can reduce stress and help you focus. The key is to take some time every day to create calm and tap into your higher self.
- Fun. What do you love to do? What activities consistently bring a smile to your face? You need those serotonin releases in your brain to help you relax and feel motivated in other areas of your life, so make sure to schedule in time for fun. On the other hand, too much of a good thing can be counterproductive, decreasing enjoyment. Again, balance is key. We have 24 hours in a day: why not devote eight to sleep, eight to work, and eight (or as close as possible) to fun?
- Field. There’s a reason why most of us keep work at the top of our minds. The job we have can be, in this day and age, integral to who, and how, we are. If you’re in a profession that you love, count your blessings; if it earns you an income that supports the other five “F”s, you are fortunate, indeed. (And if you don’t, or think you don’t, wise planning can change that.) I list “Field” last because too many see it as all-important, and neglect the other important aspects of life. Work is important, but balance is everything.
Once you’ve set your priorities and goals, I suggest creating a “vision board” as a visual aid toward realizing your dreams. On a poster board, paste photos that represent your goals along with words of affirmation to support these goals. Then, add a “mind map” with colors and other visuals, and place the board in a location where you will see it daily—near your bed, perhaps, so you can be reminded before going to sleep, and in the morning when waking up, of what you want to achieve, and how to aspire getting there.
To know where we’re going, we must first know where we stand. Then we can choose our path consciously, avoiding distractions and pitfalls and, when we do stray, using our map to find our way back. Freedom to choose includes the freedom to stay on track, and to reach our goals—which is, to me, freedom of the very best kind.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual