Make July the Month to Declare Your Independence
As you may recall from grade school, on July 4, 1776, the 13 colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on the fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event.
While that may be something of which we are vaguely aware as we break out the barbeque grills, summer beverages of choice and for many, enjoy an extra day (or two) off, the significance of Independence Day should remain in the forefront of our minds. Not just for patriotic reasons but as a powerful reminder that a life lived without independence and freedom provides a diminished quality of life.
Americans live in a land that is blessedly free for which we should be infinitely grateful. Ironically, it is by our own choice that many of us choose to live lives that are confining, restrictive and oppressed. Metaphorical but powerfully real chains bind us and prevent us from being our authentic selves and living the life that we imagine when we allow our minds to wander without fear of judgement, limitations or failure.
Self-limiting beliefs are more powerful than physical restraints. With the right tools and force, chains can be cut or broken. With enough time they grow weak due to rust. There are ways to break free. They are clearly seen and identified as obstacles that curtail our freedom.
Mental chains are invisible without introspection and upon identification, much harder to break. They are sheathed in fear, doubt, loss, guilt, anger; a myriad of emotions, all of which we often feel powerless to face much less conquer. We CAN break the ties that prevent us from living authentic lives and leaving what holds us back as part of our past.
To declare personal independence, we must look at the inner restraints that prevent us from writing a new chapter head on. Until we tackle those demons, we are prevented from creating authentic chapters in our lives.
I call it “Living Life Strategically®. That means establishing a goal and creating the support system and framework to see it through to completion. The steps are clear, but the process requires dedication, courage and a relentless desire to succeed. Breaking the ties that keep us in place, make us unhappy, limit our success and create lives that are limited by fears and feelings are often painful to confront and exhausting to tackle. Living the rest of your life as a slave to these limitations is even worse but many of us chose that option, preferring to avoid the temporary pain, thereby sacrificing the life we were meant to live thoroughly and enjoy.
This journey is one I am currently on and it isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is worth the white-knuckle terror that letting go of old habits and replacing them with healthy ones brings. After 19 years of owning my own strategic planning firm I have acknowledged that planning events no longer challenges me enough to keep me mentally challenged. I had to take a deep look inside to figure out how to augment our business as Strategic Meetings & Events is built on producing events that shorten sales cycles and influence behavior. We are brilliant at what we do but I needed a way to bring more to the table, for our clients and for my personal well being and professional fulfilment.
With my health failing, my happiness fading and my stress headaches a constant companion I decided to face the fact that my reality had to change. It was terrifying. It was also exhilarating. Once I gave myself permission to acknowledge a need for change and the freedom to explore what to add to our business model, I felt lighter. My frustration was replaced with the exhilaration of dreaming without limits. I let my mind wander to all the things I am passionate about; helping people, reading, writing, teaching, speaking, building systems and infrastructure, brainstorming, problem solving, collecting and connecting, mentoring and more.
I then thought about how many of those skills I used as a master strategist. What was preventing me from using them as a new offering for my clients? This realization didn’t mean I was not worried about making a change. The only force stronger than that nauseating fear that staring into the deep abyss of the unknown brings was the elation I felt when I imagined adding a new component to my business model which made room for a new purpose. My personal priorities had shifted but I’d been held in place for years by a lack of awareness habit, security and fear.
Breaking away from the known and charting a new course into unknown territory is how the Fourth of July came into being. My personal fears were nothing compared to those our Founding Father’s faced as they set out to create an entirely new country. When I think of my fear in those terms, I realize I had very little to worry about by comparison. When the Declaration of Independence was written it was based on a vision, a mission and a clarity of purpose. I had those things, so creating my own new beginning was limited only to those I imposed on myself.
Knowing a change needs to happen isn’t a panacea. It’s the first step in giving yourself permission to conquer the ties that bind and create a supportive framework to build a new reality. After years of working through the process I’ve not only come out the other side, I’ve used the journey as the cornerstone of my new mission; to help others strategically forge their own path.
Just coming off Pride Month is another powerful reminder that when we have the courage to live lives reflective of our unencumbered selves, we can overcome oppression, create new norms and live outside the shadow of fear and in the full light of truth.
We all create a personal history. Those who have the courage to live authentically leave legacies. This month I challenge you to start your own chapter to build a life lived genuinely, full of purpose, following your passion and fulfilling your destiny. It’s called “living life strategically” and it’s a wonderful place to be. If you want to start your own journey towards independence, find me at Christy@lifelivedstrategically.com. I’ll help you draw a map of your own.
Happy Independence Day and here’s to yours!