Entrepreneur Beth Kempton has helped thousands of women to discover their passion and find freedom doing what they love. But a couple of years ago, just as her business was exploding and she was pregnant with her second child, she realised having everything she wanted wasn’t actually making her happy. She felt trapped, when she wanted to feel free. And so began a quest which became her book ‘Freedom Seeker: Live more. Worry less. Do what you love.’ Here she shares what to do when you realise that getting what you want isn’t actually making you happy.
Sometimes, after spending years striving for something, we finally get it and then realise that rather than making us feel fulfilled and alive, it is actually trapping us.
This is devastating, confusing and disorienting. Sometimes it happens because we have been measuring ourselves against someone else’s version of success. Or we have set a goal and pursued it doggedly, without checking in along the way, to see if it is still what we actually want. And sometimes the pursuit of success simply takes so long that our entire context has changed by the time we finally ‘get there’.
Everything would be different if, instead of chasing material success, we focused on the goal of feeling free. For it is that sense of personal freedom that unleashes our creativity, gives us the space to have brilliant ideas, and makes us feel energised and alive. And when we feel like that, anything is possible.
We often build our lives in a way that shuts out freedom. We fill our days with work, our ears with noise and our cupboards with stuff. We weigh ourselves down with worries, debts, obligations, other people’s pain. We make assumptions and blindly follow fashions. We don’t break enough rules. We chase the kind of success that ultimately holds us back. What we thought we wanted isn’t actually making us happy. We often listen to the wrong people, when we should be listening to ourselves.
I know because I have been there.
Two years ago, I found myself overwhelmed with my rapidly growing business, family commitments, a toddler and another baby on the way, throwing money at any problem to make it go away. I had said yes to everything except time for myself, and felt like I was suffocating. I had to find a way out, a way to escape the cage I had built for myself, without sacrificing the gifts of family and a business that I still loved. So I began making space for myself, exploring this enormous question of how to feel free.
If you’re a Freedom Seeker trapped by your own success, you are not alone. Imagine you are on the outside looking down at your own cage. Doesn’t it seem both crazy and sad that you are stuck, having worked so hard to get exactly where you are? Take a moment to recognise how far you’ve come, what you’ve achieved and how proud you can be.
A ‘project’ approach to life
Many of us take a ‘project’ approach to our lives: starting new things with excitement, building them up to a peak and then gradually losing interest as things change, and as we change. We flourish and grow in cycles. Numerology tells us those cycles are nine years long. Within that, you might also have a shorter ‘project cycle’.
Projects have different stages – ideation, creation, implementation, reward and reflection – and the project cycles vary in length from person to person. Mine’s about three years. Yours might be longer, or shorter, before your attention starts to wander and you need a new ‘project’ – a new phase of life with something new to sink your teeth into, inspire you and help you grow further.
Whatever your project cycle length, knowing where you are in that cycle can help you manage your energy, know when to be on the lookout for new opportunities, and understand why your emotional response to any given project may be changing over time.
If you force yourself to remain in the same ‘project’ beyond its natural life cycle, or without evolving the project to suit where you are today, you’ll find yourself trapped. This doesn’t mean you have to close your business, quit your job, split up with your partner or make some other huge life change every time you get to the end of a cycle. But it does mean you need to check in with yourself and innovate your situation – or the project itself – around the time the cycle is coming to a close. And perhaps a new project is actually exactly what you need.
What I discovered on my quest is this: Freedom is actually found within, in the shape of our laughter and the way we love, in the truths that we live by and the stories we become. And freedom is the willingness and ability to choose your own path and experience your life as your true self. So it’s up to you. It’s only you who can make those choices. What will you choose?
Beth’s book ‘Freedom Seeker: Live more. Worry less. Do what you love.’ Is published by Hay House; RRP £10.99. Pre-order on Amazon here.