Your job isn't real. Money isn't real. It is a game.
Why are you doing what you are doing?

To live differently

If you want to end up like your parents, then you should listen to their advice. If you want to be just like your neighbors, friends, or colleagues at work then you should say the things that they agree with do exactly as they do. If you want to live as they do then your path is clear. Follow the same rules, put off the same uncomfortable decisions, avoid the same risks, go for the sure thing even if it isn't what you want. You may think that you are an exception. You may tell yourself that you can do it your way, that your life will not end up like theirs, but the way you spend your time is the way you become. What you do with your days becomes who you are. The path ahead of you is as predictable as the Monday morning alarm clock.

There is no way to have a radically better life without radically different action. Only a radical takes the risks required to break through to something better. If you want something better for your life, then you should question everything (especially the things that everyone agrees on). If you catch yourself seeking approval, ask yourself whether you want to become like the person you seek approval from. In truth, everything you do is your choice. Nobody has to agree with you. Nobody has to understand. You are the only one who needs to be right about who you are and what you want.

To be a radical isn't to be a fool. A fool acts on impulse. He fails to consider the consequences of his actions. He fails to plan and then he fails to execute. A fool has unrealistic dreams and lacks discipline. But a radical sees the world as a clean slate with unlimited possibilities. He understands exactly how things work (if he doesn't, he studies and observes). Only when he is sure, he executes on a realistic plan or a strategy that can actually work. He is honest with himself about what it will take, what it will feel like to work toward the goal, and what reality will look like when it has been achieved. He questions himself each day and changes what isn't working. He shows no concern for the opinions or judgments of others unless they have accomplished what he hopes to accomplish.

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You cannot live differently unless you are free. You cannot be free unless you are radical. People talk of freedom, but so few know what it is. If you have a job, you are not free. If you depend on daddy or on a husband for money (and there are any strings attached), then you are not free. If you are attending university and learning what you are told, you are not free. If you are in a monogamous relationship because your partner is jealous, you are not free. Most people are only free during those brief moments of shame when they are deceptively hiding something. When they are caught, they are punished. This is not freedom. Even a slave has this luxury.

To be free is to be openly in control of your time, openly doing what you choose, and openly navigating your relationships on your terms. If you can find a way to do this without living in poverty and without being alone and isolated, then you have become a master of your own life. If you are capable of loving others fully just as you maintain both your honesty and your freedom, then you have achieved enlightenment. Despite what anybody tells you, all of this is possible.

It takes radical action to be free. People may not understand your choices, but they will envy the result. So forget about seeking their approval now because one day they will come to you for advice.

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

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