Episode 091 - Give yourself permission to be unconstrained

Recently I’ve been seeing the direct contrast of how we live our lives to be unconstrained and our friends who don’t. In this episode I want to explore mindset. It is one thing to WANT to be unconstrained, but an entirely different thing to give yourself PERMISSION to do it. And that seems to be the #1 obstacle that most of my friends have.

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Show Notes

I’m going to devote this episode to how we think about ourselves and our connection with our society, regarding being unconstrained.


I’ve always been a contrarian

It would be easy to just think of myself as an outsider – an outcast – a rebel, etc.

Being different is fine – I’m an immigrant in the USA and I don’t tend to think like the herd

I have taken onboard the fact that many things here feel like I’m swimming upstream, against the grain

Things are more complex

Things are not commonplace

I have to do a lot more work – there is little natural inertia for me

But the rewards of doing that have been huge – much greater than I ever would have gotten if I just went with the flow

Thank god I have a wife that thinks the same way

The problem, however, is that while we have all the trappings of freedom, my friends here don’t

They are great people, great friends, and I love them

But they were not raised as I was, nor have they often had the same life experiences as I have

In many cases, I feel like I am a spectator sport to many – they are curious and interested at what a day in the life is like for me, but they can’t engage with common experiences

The problem is that I would love for them to have the same benefits that I get

Anyone that pursues a life of being unconstrained is likely to have similar experiences as I have

The same is true of anyone that does the FIRE thing and then exits the normal workforce

I know this is a big issue for many

They see the potential of doing this

Then one day, it comes – they believe they have enough money to do it

But so many just don’t

They keep working

They keep their job

They have their financial freedom, but they don’t give themselves permission to have live freedom

And in some cases, they might quit their job, but they fall right back into another one because it is scary to change routines like that

The shackles can become comforting, even though deep down they resent them


The common ground you once had with friends and even family starts to dilute as you begin to follow a different path

When you don’t have a 9-5 job, you lose common experiences with your friends

When you don’t have debts, etc. then you become the outsider

When you have the time to think deeper about philosophical issues in life, you start to only connect with others that share that same freedom of thought

Your values change – you want to travel freely, you want to explore new things, etc. but all your friends are still stuck in the job

The worst part of this is when you want to engage with friends, and that is something recently was reminded to me


As this podcast is released, I will be in central Mexico, exploring some real estate and living opportunities

Since we are still exploring, we got an AirBnB that is gorgeous.  3 bedrooms, great floorplan, walking distance in the town we are in to everything.  More than we could ever use

So I put an invitation out to an old friend of mine, who I had been sharing what we were discovering

He has spent a large part of his life traveling – much of it his own pilgrimage to explore the world, but in the past few decades, most of it through his work

He has plenty of vacation time booked up

But as is the case, when I put the invitation to come to Mexico and stay with us free in this big place for a week or so, it was met with rejection

It wasn’t a rejection of me – don’t get me wrong there.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to.  The problem was that he didn’t give himself permission to.

What I mean by this is that he (as we all often fall into) is shackled by routine.

Most of us are shackled more by a job that demands 150% of our attention, entices us with promises of glory, money, power, whatever, but we all know the unwritten expectations.

You get vacation time allocated to you because some US Labor law says they have to, but only the “losers” take it

If you decide to take time off, you tell your boss, your collegues, etc. but they either resent that you are doing it, or will tell you on the surface, “That’s great – have a wonderful time!” but in the background they are thinking, “With him or her gone, how will this affect my life here?  Will I get more burden to pick up the slack?  Is there an opportunity that I can seize some promotion in his or her absence?”

There’s an unwritten guilt trip that comes with deciding to take time for yourself

And then you have to coordinate your other activities – pay bills ahead of time since you won’t be there during the month

Your spouse has to do the same with his or her plans also

Your kids may have to be taken out of school for the trip, or you decide to pay the “summer vacation tax” of high travel costs to do it when everyone has time

The whole thing is such a complex ordeal that it doesn’t happen

You either book up the vacation time and take it as extra pay, or you reduce your expectations to a domestic vacation

It is not surprising that retirees immediately hit the travel circuit as soon as they leave their job

They give themselves permission to do it

The problem is that they are old and now their issues are more physical

They don’t realize that visiting London is probably going to put 20,000 steps on their Fitbit as they walk from this art gallery to that museum, etc.

Most of Europe is like that – you walk all the time

So many conversations I’ve had with people that went to Italy, talk about the wonderful food, think they are going to put on weight and then come home having lost 10 pounds because of all the walking

Basically age is not compatible with travel, unless you are super fit

So in the years that you have when you can really enjoy this, why is it that people make every excuse not to?

The worst impact of doing this is the regret

When you are older, and you CAN’T do it, you only have your memories of what it was like when you did

Going to a place, only to spend a week at some Marriot or Sheraton resort or hotel is NOT traveling

You can do that in the USA

The real experience comes from immersion into a foreign culture

Challenging yourself to deal with not speaking the language, etc

Seeing a day in the life from their viewpoint and not yours

Those are the memories that will be etched into your brain for the rest of your life – not the great buffet at the Sheraton in Frankfurt

So I want to explore the psychological obstacles that stop people giving themselves permission to be unconstrained

The one thing I’ve noticed in meeting highly successful and independent people is that they give themselves permission

They might have a smartphone with them all the time, but they manage how they interact with people

They realize that their success in their ventures is based on building teams and relationships with customers and business partners

But they have one big difference to most that are not successful


What do I mean by this?

They believe that the world revolves around them – they don’t revolve around the world

They know that they are 100% responsible for their decisions and their actions, but since they are the center of the universe, they mitigate those risks from that perspective

If things don’t go their way, they don’t care

They are still the center of the universe

They make the rules and they play the game according to those rules

Is this not selfish?

No.  Because the benefits of this approach is that they create all the things that you take for granted

They are the founders of the airlines you travel on

They are the landlords of the property you rent

They are the leaders that give you hope for the future

Their confidence in their own abilities is demonstrated not just by their words, but by their actions

And they call the shots as to how a day in their life looks

But surely, they need to be around to work with their teams

Tell that to Sir Richard Branson who operates from an island in the Caribbean

Tell that to Donald Trump who operates from a resort in Florida

Tell that to Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 champion, who lives and operates as many others in his field do, from Monaco, Italy

Well, sure – they can do that – they have their own private planes, etc

The plane usually came after

What came first was the sense that they are the center of their universe

They demanded high performance from themselves

But they also expected to call the shots for how they wanted to live their life

And they know that we are all biological organisms that have a shelf-life

Their life is no different to yours

All will eventually die and all will have the same psychological thoughts of regret, missed opportunities, things you could have done better, etc.

Money or power has no way to change that

Mindset is common to us all – it is how we view the world – the filters we place on it, that makes the difference between the high performers (leaders) and the low performers (followers)

The secret to beginning the path to being unconstrained is first to give yourself permission to do it

You have to put the needs of yourself and your family ahead of others

Think of it like the airline steward saying, “Put your mask on first – then help those next to you with theirs”

You need to take care of you first

Then you hope that others will see what you are doing and want to join in

If they don’t, then you have to accept that

It can be very frustrating

You want to give what you have to them

But they may not be interested in receiving it

All of us want to be proud of who we are and what we have achieved

Those that we grew up with may have had different experiences

Many could identify themselves as successful – have great jobs, raised a great family, etc.

Others might think of themselves as less successful

Health issues


Bad habits, alcohol, drugs, etc.

Bad choices, criminal history, etc

But to the unconstrained we are all the same

The problem is that you can’t change their mindset

If they feel inadequate, they won’t enjoy being with you

And you need to find common ground to have that relationship

The more you find yourself being a contrarian, the less commonground you have

And your frustration with finding common conversation can be misinterpreted as you bragging about something, even though it isn’t

My own experience when I returned to my home city after 6 years away in the USA

I often refer to this as my “Frodo can’t return to the Shire” experience

When I left Australia, about 10 of my close friends saw me off at the airport

They knew I was going and didn’t know for how long

It was originally intended to be a 4 week trip

It ended up being 6 years

I got married, I couldn’t leave while all the immigration was being processed

I had to quit my job by a phone call

I had to lean on my friends to pack up my apartment and put things in storage for me

A friend stored my car in his garage for me

It was quite stressful – but worth it

I had adventures throughout the USA

6 years later I returned

I became an outcast in my home town

After reconnecting with my friends, only a few stayed

They were those that had also traveled extensively

We had common ground to talk about our global experiences

They had interesting stories to tell of their journeys, as I did

But often the friends that were closest to me – those that I grew up with, resented that I returned

They didn’t have the same stories to tell

When they talked about a domestic topic, I could only compare it with how the same issue was handled in London or New York or Los Angeles, etc.

That’s because that was where I had been

But they saw that as my bragging (or at least I felt it was like that)

It wasn’t – it was that this was my perspective

I wanted to talk about challenges I had faced or were still facing – they wanted to talk about the local football team

When it came to upcoming goals, aspirations, places they wanted to visit, etc. they thought domestically – I thought internationally

Was it because I was different?

Not exactly

It was because I had given myself permission to live my life without constraint – they had not

Society told them that either they were not entitled to do what I had done

Some had been dealt a hand with family that they had to care for, etc.

I could only feel sorry there

Surprisingly they were the ones I built stronger relationships with

They couldn’t do what I had done, yet understood it

It was those that had nothing stopping them from living their lives other than their own perspective

They were the ones that we more vindictive – I threatened their sense of self or their sense of their success

The “Tall Poppy Syndrome” is alive & well in Australia

But rather than them taking the olive branch to come with me and experience what I have experienced, they would outright reject it

Why am I telling you this?

Because whether you are on a path to FIRE or you are already unconstrained by society, you will encounter this

It is often the bridge many refuse to cross, even though they are independently wealthy and able to

Society has a nasty habit of setting standards for all, and those standards are often built around those at the bottom of the pyramid rather than the top

The concept of leaders helping those beneath them sounds great in a Tony Robbins seminar, or some business self-help book

But our society doesn’t always see things that way

Success can be a target – govt regulations, IRS, etc.

Your success is great as long as it doesn’t tarnish my perspective of my success

Many feel that under-performance can be justified by just changing social rules



UBI, etc

The debate of supporting the leaders and the rest will follow vs. supporting the lowest on the pyramid will always be ongoing

You have to choose where you sit here and who you are

And that begins if you take the perspective that YOU ARE THE CENTER OF YOUR UNIVERSE

By giving yourself permission, you remove the shackles entirely

You can find every excuse why you can’t do something, but successful people just see those as obstacles that can be overcome

It is a mindset thing

Sure, it is a pain to get a passport so you can travel

But it is not impossible and it is not unobtainable

The question is whether you want to

The effort & costs are justified if you have given yourself permission to travel

They are not if you haven’t

And that’s 90% of the reason why Americans are one of the countries in the world with the lowest number of passports issued to its citizenry

It is not because they don’t want to travel

It is because society preaches an unwritten dogma through jobs, etc. that you SHOULDN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT

So given that wall to climb, is it not surprising that many don’t?

And it gets worse when you see the corporate owned media spinning lies and false stories about the dangers of other countries – a way to further reduce the number of people willing to go there

Because a workforce that is not enslaved to the employer cannot be controlled

And if there is one thing that a corporation wants, is a large army of highly predictable worker ants to do their bidding

Until they can replace them with robots and AI

So before you dismiss outright an opportunity

Understand the regret that your life may live with by not doing it

Understand your friends won’t understand you

Know that over the hill, there are no dragons

Know that you won’t develop as an individual until you challenge yourself outside of your domestic habitual world

And that you won’t be able to relate to your friends who have given themselves permission

And that this isn’t about some trip overseas

This is about how you view yourself in relation to everything around you


Are you the leader that goes out to find answers?

Do you demonstrate to your family, your kids, etc. by your actions?

Do you live a “buck stops here” life where you balance the freedom you desire with the responsibility of your actions?

Do you understand that respect must be given to all around you, if you first wish to receive it back?  You are not entitled to it until you earn it

Because if you have embraced the mindset of being the center of your universe, then it is not a matter of IF you become unconstrained and financially independent, but when

Blindly just following some “system” that someone else has devised without first making this mindset change, won’t work

Or at least won’t last for very long

Give yourself the permission to be unconstrained

Once you do, you’ll wonder what took you so long

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