Baby Steps into the Free World: How to Put Yourself First & Succeed

DenaFebruary 16, 2010

Several months ago, a friend of mine wrote an excellent guest post titled, Corporate Fluff. His mission was to free us all from the trenches of corporate slavery!

The post starts off like this: “The corporate world and the office work model are too full of corporate fluff and their own bullshit that business, companies and you as an individual forget what it’s all about.”

As a former cubicle monkey and a current 9 to 5 monkey myself, I could relate to everything that he was saying. Bring down the man! Follow your passion! Focus on providing the maximum value to the end user and cut out the middle men! It all made perfect sense to me. I was leaping out of my chair. I was fired up and ready to make moves… and then the reality hit me: I am tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, and I am not ready to make that leap.

Call it cowardly, call it what you will, but I’m just not ready. I am determined to pay down this debt. I am making enormous sacrifices, working hard, and even practicing the fine art of frugality. And one day soon, I will be ready to join the ranks of The Free World! But for now, I’m still doing the 9 to 5; but here’s the key, I’m doing it my way, having a decent time of it, and learning a hell of a lot along the way.

In this post, I will teach you how you can take baby steps into The Free World by putting yourself first, no matter what your circumstances. Follow these five steps and you will be on the quick path to the Free World.

1. Focus on the Positive

Focusing on the positive is the key to life. Seriously, if you can manage to shift your thought to focus on the positive things around you, you will succeed every single time. It’s really simple — focus on the negative and be miserable, depressed, and unsuccessful or — focus on the positive and be happy, fulfilled, and successful. Which one will you choose?

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” —Mohandas Gandhi

No matter what your job is, there are good points about it. Whether you like it or not, the economy sucks right now. Approximately 195 million people around the world are unemployed and that statistic was taken before the economy took its recent nosedive. Whatever your job is, you are making money. Maybe you can afford to put food in your child’s mouth, maybe you can afford to put a shirt on your own back, maybe you can afford a lot of things and every time you start to complain, think about all of the people who can’t do those things. Think about the mother who can’t put food in her baby’s mouth or the man on the street, in the snow, who doesn’t have a shirt on his back. It’s harsh, but it’s true.

Aside from a paycheck, I know that there are a lot of other really good things about your job. Maybe it’s the view from the window on the second floor or the smile on the janitor’s face in the afternoon or maybe you are the janitor and it’s the steaming hot cup of coffee that you enjoy each morning at the start of your shift. Whatever it is, it’s there. You have to find it.
There are lots of little things to be grateful for, focus on those. …Or focus on the negatives and be miserable. You decide.

2. Never Accept Less Than You Deserve

My attitude toward life goes something like this: I am going to shine at every single thing that I do. I am going to work my ass off until I see positive results. When I fall, I am going to get back up—every, single, time. If you can honestly say that you take that approach in your own life, then you’d better be looking out for yourself along the way.

You’ve got to look out for yourself, because if you don’t do it, no one will. Some people will perceive your kindness and hard work ethic as a weakness. They will try to take advantage of you. The fact is that there are people who refuse to adopt a positive or fair attitude and they will remain miserable. They will try everything to drag you down with them. The key is to never let those people get to you. When they pop up, you keep moving. Pity them, show them kindness, but don’t ever stop on your path. Just keep going.
Take the steps to make sure that you are never taken advantage of. Keep track of your accomplishments, prove yourself, and excel at each task that you tackle. If you are working hard and giving it your all, make sure that you are being compensated & appreciated accordingly. If you are consistently giving 110% but never see the pay off, let it be known.

One time I went to a boss and asked for a substantial raise. I made sure that what I was asking for was legitimate, did my homework, and presented my case. I was scared as hell! But you can not imagine how gratifying it was to stand up for myself — even before I got a positive answer, I felt like a million bucks.

You’ve got to see the good in people but you’ve also got to be realistic. Make sure that you get what you deserve, nothing less.

3. Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Like I said above, I want to enter The Free World and I am getting closer everyday. I am experimenting with all sorts of liberating things lately — blogging, passive income, freelancing, etc. There are hundreds of paths to take in order to get where you want to be; but you’ve got to remember your goals.

Right now one of my main priorities is to pay down my student loan debt. Sometimes that means sacrifice. If I score a small freelance gig that generates some extra cash, I do not head to the shopping mall and buy myself a new purse. I take that money and I apply it toward my debt!

The principle is simple. If you are doing something that is taking you further away from your goal — stop now! Every single thing that you do should take you one step closer to reaching your goal.

4. Know When to Take a Break

Whether you are close to the end of your journey to the Free World or just at the beginning, there’s something you’ve always got to remember: You Come First. You need to take time out of every single day for you. Whether that means a cup of coffee in the morning or an hour of yoga after work, you must take time to clear & focus your mind at least once a day, preferably more.
What makes you happy — Long, quiet walks? Blasting out your ear drums with your Ipod? Writing in a journal? Taking your kids to the park? Whatever it is, embrace it! Work is hard work. Life is hard work. We are all just trying to get by and if we forget to take the time out to do what we love, what centers & focuses us, then we stand no chance to accomplish our goals.

Whether your ambition is to be a globe-trotting blogger or the CEO of a Fortune 500, you must remember that You Come First. Too many people climb their way to the top only to suffer a massive heart attack at age 50, or to look back and discover that there was never an ounce of passion or love.

At the end of the day, there is a lot more to life than money, fortune, and fame. Practice living with intention and you will find the balance between a life of fulfillment and a life of success.

5. Don’t Ever Give Up

It is not going to be easy, but anything that is worth it in the end rarely is.

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never.” —Sir Winston Churchill

You’ve got to keep a positive outlook, fight for yourself, stay focused, and know when to take a break. If you can keep those things at the front of your mind, then you will be on a sure path to success and your way to The Free World in no time at all. You are going to fall down, I can promise you that, but you are also going to get back up—every, single, time.

Remember that I am right here beside you, cheering you on!

Comments (3)

  • Michael Michalowski

    February 17, 2010 at 6:41 am

    I really love this 5 key points you mentioned. What truly speaks to me is #3, because that’s what I have ignored most of the time. #1 and 4# are very important too but nearly a habit already, so no stress about that.

    What really motivates me is a combination of #2 and #3 – being aware of what I deserve and keeping one eye at it.

    I bet keeping your awareness on these 5 key points will push you forward to freedom!

    1. Dena

      February 17, 2010 at 7:04 am

      Thanks very much, Michael! I am so glad that you are so motivated by points 2 and 3. It is important to know where you can improve. Identifying your goals, is the first step in accomplishing them. I’m really glad you’ve found evolution you! I hope you’ll stick around.

  • uberVU – social comments

    February 18, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by DenaBotbyl: Baby Steps into the Free World: How to Put Yourself First & Succeed via @denabotbyl…

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