time freedom paradox diane lee

This is the third post in my series, Freedom Road. Photo by Heather Zabriskie. Used with permission.

When I first agreed to write for WFA.Life, I was very excited. I was chuffed to be asked by Andy to document my journey and share it with y’all. After all, what better way to be accountable than to be public in my declarations of moving forward? If I said it here, in this space, in this forum, I had to do it, right?

I admit that I’m a little bit stuck.

In my last post, I berated myself (hyperbole for effect!) for making a number of mistakes that have held up my journey to freedom. I had a plan, and trying to rectify my working situation was taking up huge amounts of energy that I could have expended on Freedom Road. I had neither the energy or inclination to work on my plan. I’m single and have to have money coming in. Not working is not an option for me. I didn’t have the luxury of saying to my partner: Tag. You’re it. I’m taking a year or so off to focus on this alternative income thing, and you’re going to have to cover things for me.  It will be your turn in a year or so when I am a gazillionaire. To be fair, I don’t think anyone really has this luxury any more!

My plan, like any good plan, needs time to come to fruition. Certain things have to happen for other things to follow. I had intended on doing a whole bunch of Udemy courses (which, incidentally I had purchased in the New Year when they had their sale) to position myself with more up-to-date, in demand skills: SEO, social media, Google Adwords. That sort of thing. I even have an Udemy course on Affiliate Marketing. I’ve got to maybe two of them, and it’s been in a very ad hoc, slap dash way. So ad hoc and slap dash, in fact, that I’m going to have to got back over material because I haven’t retained anything, let alone put it into practice.

I’ve been to workshops and seminars and thought: Yep! I can do that. Hell, I need to do that. But I haven’t.

Not having the energy and the inclination because I am worried about my work situation means that I don’t have time.

I need time

But I need time.

I need time to write my business plan. And my marketing communications plan. I need time to build my websites (I have four) and increase the traffic to each of them. All four have very different target audiences, and content, and so require a different traffic acquisition strategy. I need time to organically build my social media followers and my email subscribers, because organic is best. It takes time to work out which platform I should be focusing my blog republishing efforts. And my guest blogging efforts. It takes time to republish. And to comment… and engage… and interact. To produce content—good quality content irrespective of whether it’s written, visual or auditory—and disseminate it into various channels, takes time.

It breaks my heart (again with the hyperbole!) to realise that I am only one person and I don’t have a lot of time to focus on the things I need to focus on to make the next chapter of my life play out.

I don’t have a lot of time, because I don’t have a lot of energy.

I don’t have a lot of energy because I am having to direct my efforts into making sure that my life right now is ok and do-able and workable. That I actually have a life. That I don’t spend all my time like a hamster on a wheel, nose to the grindstone, just churning out stuff.

And this is the paradox in which I find myself.

I need freedom

In order to have freedom, I need time. But I don’t have the time unless I have freedom.

So maybe I need to redefine and unpack the concepts of freedom and time, what they mean to me and why.

I always thought freedom meant being able to work on awesome projects with awesome people and get paid really, really well to do it. Location isn’t important; it’s more about being able to work wherever I want, even if it’s close to home or in my own city. It’s more the idea of being able to be geographically nimble—if I so choose—that’s important. It’s about being free to work on my own creative projects too, as well as with others on theirs.

I’m aware that I need to scrutinise how I use my time. We all have 24 hours in a day. Of course, some of that is taken up with rest and sleep and down time, as it should. My health is important to me, so I factor exercise in to my day. I usually work on my own projects on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. And then there’s my paid work, and the amount of time that consumes.

And that’s where the energy thing comes in. After a full day at work, battling (and it is a battle!) with politics and personal agendas and just trying to survive, I don’t want to do anything when I get home, although I know I need to. I’m exhausted!

So I think I can be forgiven for coming home from work and putting on my PJs and cuddling up with the cat and drinking wine and watching all the TV instead of taking more steps down Freedom Road.

And I don’t think it’s going to let up any time soon, because I’m still sorting through an uncertain work situation.

Permission granted

All I can do, in the circumstances, is lots of little, non-time consuming things that add up to big things, instead of trying to do it all. I can focus on one Udemy course and watch a few lectures at a time, instead of looking at all my Udemy courses and being overwhelmed with how much material I have to get through.  I can post to Instagram and Twitter every day, which builds up my profile and increases my followers over the long term. I can do bits and pieces of my business and marketing plans whenever I get a few spare moments. I don’t have to republish content every week. Once a month is enough. I just need to do one print run of one book. That’s ok.

It is in these little things that we find our power. The power of persistence, the power of perseverance, the power of permission.

Because more than anything, there is power in permission. Permission to not do. Permission to choose. Permission to just be. Permission to park things until another day. Permission to say: You are doing a good job in difficult circumstances. 

And sometimes that is more than enough.


If you liked this post, you’ll love my other essays, which are available as a box set for just .99c. Just go to the Kindle Store here and grab your copy. 

Andy Willis
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Andy Willis

Andy is the founder of WFA.Life, he has a passion for unlocking freedom in peoples lives by finding, testing and sharing the tips, tools and advice to allow people to live the "Working from Anywhere" Lifestyle.
Andy spends his time away from the computer cycling or hiking up mountains or catching a wave on his SUP.
Andy Willis
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4 Comments
  1. Andy Willis Author
    Andy Willis 2 years ago

    Hey Diane
    What a great post, love how you tell it like it really is and this one so resonates with me. I’m sure there are many others out there that could also see themselves as part of this story.
    Breaking it down into focusing on the individual items rather than dealing with the overwhelm of the big picture is definitely the way to go. It’s the method I’m using at the moment.Let’s hope it works for both of use.
    Thank you so much for sharing this, we are so grateful that you have generously used some of your precious time to share your story.

  2. Diane Lee 2 years ago

    Thank you, Andy! I love writing for WFA.Life because it helps clarify and crystallise my thinking as I wend my way on this fascinating journey. I’m committed to moving forward—even if the progress is slower than I originally thought it would be—as staying still is not an option!

  3. Karen 2 years ago

    I can so relate to this Di. I was working full time (in fact more than full time… it was my ‘life’) when I started up Sharing Bali. I lived a double life for so many years. I had 2 phones. 2 laptops. I would work on the Sharing Bali business at lunchtime. At night. On planes. I was super professional and responsible about giving the usual 150% to my job. I had to come to terms with a lot of frustration and failure for Sharing Bali. Every day!

    I often thought it was just not worthwhile. I was kidding myself right?!

    My work situation started to become toxic and it affected me badly. Until one day I had the ‘aha’ moment and decided that it was time to detach myself. They no longer deserved 150% of me. But I still needed the income. So I decided I would still behave responsibly and productively but no longer would I fight the fight or go the extra humungous mile for them. I think I actually became more productive as I was no longer so emotionally involved! I learnt to say no. I stayed away from politics, the stuff that sucks the life out of you. The anger, the second guessing, the frustrations. I got a fresh perspective. It was like I was viewing it all from the outside. Looking back I wonder what the hell took me so long.

    Meanwhile my commitment to me was… I would do “one” thing every day for Wayan and I and Sharing Bali. It could be really small, but it had to be action. 1 thing only. I got there. I step at a time.

    Hang in there… K

  4. Diane Lee 2 years ago

    Wow. Just wow. I am so glad I’m not alone with this Karen! I struggle with marrying my paid work with my yearn for freedom (and what I need to do to be free), and it has been a struggle. I’m almost at a place where I can park the struggle (because I’ve done a bit of internal manoeuvring) and concentrate on freedom. I love your philosophy of doing just one thing every day, because it’s impossible to do every thing, without something suffering… and I don’t want it to be my health. If I burn out, I’m not going to be any good to anyone, most of all me!

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