Imagine that today, you wake up early to catch a 3-hour flight to Puerto Vallarta, change a hundred US dollars into pesos upon arrival, and trek over the pedestrian bridge to hop a green-and-white compostela heading north. You settle in for the bumpy 90-minute ride through the jungle, periodically marveling at the way the locals miraculously awaken from what looks like a deep sleep at the very moment the bus pulls up to their stop.
When you arrive in Sayulita, you are floored by how different it is from what you remember. The last time you were here in 2005, it was just a small fishing village, with exactly three restaurants and one bar that blasted American pop music all night long from the deserted central plaza.
Now, you finger a colorful shirt and bawk at the 2,000-peso price tag – more than the whole sum you exchanged at the airport. Now, there are boutiques and galleries and organic produce and falafel and wood-fired pizza and, most distressingly, foursomes of sunburned American tourists riding around in golf carts like they own the place.
After dipping your toes in the Pacific and gasping at the price of an ocean-view margarita, you circle back to town in search of something authentic to feed your grumbling belly. You know you’ve struck gold when you discover a row of blue plastic lawn chairs lined up next to an open grill, where a man expertly wields his cooking machete with ninja-like precision as he shears pineapple-roasted al pastor onto waiting warmed tortillas with his bare hands.
A blue banner above him declares 2-for-1 tacos, in honor of his 13th year in business! You pay 26 pesos for four, and whisk them away with a pile of limes to a nearby public bench.
If you are wondering why you’re here, alone, in Mexico, when everyone else is back home preparing for another week at the office – it’s because this is your office this week.
You’re not actually here to sip overpriced margaritas on the beach – you’re here for a 5-day work/life retreat that you designed yourself.
Tomorrow, you will walk a mile out of town to the Airbnb that’s waiting for you, fully equipped with super fast WiFi and promising an easy jaunt through the jungle to a different beach where no margaritas are served.
For the next five days, you will not do any client work or answer any emails. Instead, you will use this precious time to build the thing you’ve been wanting to build for ages – your inaugural digital product, your very first online course – which constitutes Phase Two of a strategy that will, one day, enable you to stop trading your time for money.
Ah, freedom! Precisely what the path of story promises to anyone willing to work at it.
I know this because it's why I have the freedom to be here in Mexico at this very moment. Story is the most effective path to freedom that I’ve ever come across -- and freedom has always been the big WHY behind everything I do, whether for myself or for my clients.
And the best part is, there are SO MANY flavors of freedom to choose from!
Not just location freedom -- but financial freedom, time freedom, creative freedom, freedom from job dependence, freedom from other people’s agendas, freedom from being misunderstood or put in a box, and freedom to show up as a whole human being everywhere you go, just to name a few.
And yet – all of the above could be called "secondary" forms of freedom. Which is to say that they are very difficult, if not impossible, to arrive at before you’ve attained what we might call “primary freedom.”
The good news is that primary freedom is available to anyone who wants it.
You don’t need to be exceedingly smart or privileged or wealthy or successful to attain primary freedom. You don’t need to own (or want) your own business -- or have any ambitions at all, really.
This is because the most basic form of freedom, through which all others must pass, is entirely in your mind.
Primary freedom is the ability to consciously choose how to make the meaning of your life.
This is where it all begins. This is, incidentally, what led me to story in the first place – the desire to be intellectuallyandspirituallyfree, as in not beholden to other people’s assumptions and interpretations of what’s “real” and “true” and “worth doing” in life. The other freedoms, in my experience at least, can only come after (and as a result of) the first.
So if any of those secondary forms of freedom sound good to you – the freedom to live and work from anywhere, for example, on things you find meaningful and rewarding – I highly recommend you commit to attaining primary freedom first.