Before going into business for myself, I felt constrained by the demands of other people. My schedule was at the demands of clients and my bosses. My rates were determined by others. I had no control over when I worked, what I worked on, or how I charged for my time.
I wanted freedom.
When I started my real estate business, I was so in love with the idea of being “free” that I refused to have a schedule. I felt it would limit me.
I was wrong.
The Shadow Side of Freedom
Like many creatives, I both crave and resist structure. I wanted the freedom to create and pursue my passions without feeling confined to timelines or expectations.
But nobody warned me about the shadow side of freedom.
Freedom can feel aimless, like we are drifting through the desert without a compass.
I was constantly reacting to the demands of clients and the urgency of every moment. Every day was different. And although I loved the variety, I resented the unpredictability.
The Moment I Became Free
I transformed my life when I started to put myself first. It started with small rituals through which I said yes to myself before diving into the demands of the day. Slowly, it grew into a morning routine. I created boundaries around my deep work time, my self-care time, and my deep play time. Through this consistent routine and the structure it created for me, I found the freedom to engage in my best work.
The Lesson of Passover
In a religion with a lot of rules, Passover seems like it wins the prize. It’s highly specific in its rules and regulations, which seems ironic for a holiday that celebrates freedom.
The Passover Seder is not a typical meal. The word seder means “order,” and the meal comes with an agenda: a prescribed order of events that directs us from the opening Kiddush, in which we sanctify the day, to the concluding ceremony of Nirtzah.
For a meal in which we are celebrating freedom, it feels like a lot of structure.
This is by design, because this is the lesson: there is no freedom without structure.
Structure gives us freedom
I used to see structure and freedom as opposites. But they are not opposites; they are complements.
Freedom without structure is anarchy. Chaos reigns. When things are unpredictable and disordered, we cannot create. We need some rules and codes of conduct.
This is the fundamental principle of democracy, and it is true for our personal lives as well.
Clarity around expectations and having a clear road map gives us freedom and peace. It allows us to relax and settle in.
This principle shows up at the Seder, in business, in relationships, and in all parts of life.
Look around and you will see this pattern everywhere.
Structure gives you freedom.