Free Yourself

We gain the greatest freedom from cutting our own ties. Ties that bind us to old agreements and roles, need to be broken, when once freely chosen activities now feel like obligations. istock_000005716223xsmall

Self-created ties are complicated, because like any relationship, liberation is more challenging in the presence of emotional entanglement. Our dysfunctions become comfortable. Fortunately there are effective decision-making tools available to aid this process.

In the comments of my last post, Juliet at Life Made Great, asked me for an example of how I use this question posed by Peter Block in his book, The Answer To How Is Yes. What is the question that if you knew the answer, would set you free?

Here’s my formula for using this powerful transformational tool.

1). Trust yourself. You know what’s best for you better than anyone else could know. Until you recognize your caring wisdom within and act accordingly, you will continue to search for answers outside of yourself.

2). Tell the truth to yourself and identify an unmade decision that is weighting heavily on you, right now. Unmade decisions are fail proof indicators of where you are losing focus and energy. Delay is extremely costly.

You will always suffer when your mind wants two opposing things at once.  Byron Katie

3). Decide to ask the question.  We suffer only because we haven’t chosen. But instead of choosing we try to do more.  It’s crazy because we add when we need to be simplifying.

We often seek productivity and time management solutions that only serve to make us realize how far behind we really are.  Sometimes we just can’t catch up.  Instead we need to declare a fresh start by setting fresh standards.

Time management is not about organization; it’s about boldness.  Steve Chandler

4). Ask the question. What is the question that if you knew the answer, would set you free?

5). Write down your question and answer it.

6). Follow-through and act on the answer. Without action you are disrespecting your own wisdom.

What happens when it all works as designed?

Here’s how I used this process recently.  My coaching business has been booming.  It’s become very clear, that I need to cut way back on some blogging and social media activities, in order to focus more on delivering break through results for an increasing number of clients.

Yet I’ve struggled doing so, mostly because I truly enjoy and value the connections I’ve made with you, my fellow bloggers.  I’ve been grieving the loss of supportive Tom who once visited and return commented on every commenter to his blog.  But I was fearful of cutting back as well.

Fear-Based Marketing

Blogging and social media can become extremely fear-based marketing.  It becomes fear based when we fear the consequences of not doing it well or frequently enough.  Social media by nature, is a reaching-out activity, to those beyond your closest circles.  The further away from intimate connection marketing is, the more fear comes along for the ride.

But that’s the beautiful thing about fear; if you really look at it, fear goes away.  I’ve realized that my true connections will respect my decision.

What is the question that if you knew the answer, would set you free?

My question.  How can I feel really good about my decision to radically simplify my life?

My answer.  I can feel really good about my decision to simplify my life: by cutting ties that feel like obligations, and by declaring new standards for blogging and social media participation.  Here are my new standards.

I do not market based on fear of loss or how I look to others.

Before engaging in social media activity I’ll ask this question.
Is there a more direct way to make connection?

I am free from all obligations and I do nothing that feels like an obligation.

I blog only when I am inspired to encourage and inspire others.

I exercise my right to totally change my mind when it feels right to do so.

I am free.

What is the question that if you knew the answer, would set you free?

What unmade decision will set you free?

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  1. Trust yourself is my favorite one on the list, and one that I have struggled with at times. Do you think it is also true that we also are the ones with the most blind spots that keep ourselves from freeing ourselves ?

    Jays last blog post..Inner Noodle’s Guide to Dream Analysis- Step 3

  2. LifeMadeGreat | Juliet says:

    Hi Tom

    Thank you for answering my question in so much (and so effective) detail. That really helps.

    What has struck me is that you mention suffering because we don’t make a decision. I realise now that sometimes we don’t even know that we aren’t making a decision! Now that I need to ponder.

    And I respect your decision to reassess your involvement in social media. From what I’ve seen around the web, a number of bloggers are in need of this. I think your advice purely in this area will go far.

    I know you like challenge, but, well, I’m at a loss here.


    LifeMadeGreat | Juliets last blog post..Would You Prostitute Your Blogging Style?

  3. I do lie to myself. It’s hard to accept, but it’s true. I tell myself that I’m trying all these ideas to reach a certain level. When in reality I’m trying too many things because I’m afraid of what might really happen. People put their trust in me.

    That’s why trusting yourself is so important. As long as I care and do my best that’s all that matters.

    I can’t be perfect. I want to be perfect, but it’s a lie. I can only do what feels right and let it fall where it may.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Nows last blog post..How to Change Your Company’s Office Culture

  4. bloginsane says:

    The hardest thing is to recognize and accept our weak spots.And be frank with ourselves, if we do not free ourselves and understand ourselves, who will be able to do that? You always raise vital topics, i like how you mix the essential life wisdom with business practices. I feel that i need some changes in my life, as well as in the professional sphere.

  5. The bottom line
    ” I am free” answers all of the above, I love simplicity and your post begs me to as myself the simple question as you did.

    Very enlightening thank you and look forward to your new unfolding and for your openess and honesty.

    I relate to those self created ties- they can appear in many ways and take different faces.

    Suzie Cheels last blog post..Abundance Cafe March 2 2009

  6. How ironic – today I was thinking about the gap between knowing what to do and doing what we know.

    We’re definitely creatures of habit.

    I like the fact your step 5 includes writing it down. Thinking on paper is powerful and helps you get perspective.

    I think when you live your values, you improve your congruence and your passion. That’s the staying power for survival in today’s world.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..How to Pave a Path Forward

  7. Jay – Blind spots exist for all of us and of course they are much easier for others to see. Yet most of us have so many unmade decisions that we could spend the rest of our lives working on what we know we need to work on. When we can see a what we were previously blind to it does often illuminate shortcuts.

    Karl – That’s a powerful realization about trying too many paths and why you are doing so. That dilutes your focus and keeps you safe. Be bold brother, pick one thing and do it so well that the world beats a path to you.

    Juliet – We may not know on the surface but by using this transformational process you will surface the areas in which a decision is called for. You do know where you are uneasy. Begin there.

    Suzie – Thanks you. You have your eyes and heart wide open so the good is definitely on its way to you.

    J.D. – Yes that is a powerful ponder so is the gap between what we think and what we unequivocally know.

  8. Hi Tom – I know what you mean about social media being fear based marketing.

    In your interview on Blogging Without A Blog, you recommended that I cut back on blogging and concentrate on developing my product. And that was my intention for the beginning of this year.

    Trouble is, I’ve been ill for most of the year, so I haven’t had much time to spend on blogging or developing my product. And I’ve tried not to panic over the missed couple of months – but it’s not easy.

    I would really like to join your telephone conference but I have a couple of questions. I haven’t done one of these before – do I just dial the number you give me at the right time?

    Then what happens – do you talk to a whole group of people on the phone? Do we just listen, or do we speak too? Can we all hear everyone else who is taking part?

    And lastly – will it still work if I’m calling from the UK? And is Eastern time the same as Florida time?


    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Sleazy Sales & Why Your Neighbours Make You Poor

  9. Cath – Your situation sounds like it would be perfect for a breakthrough. This class is an actual coaching experience. In order to deliver maximum value I’m asking participants to follow-through on some preparation steps after registering.

    So I’ll have some questionnaires returned so I can coach on issues that are common to most of the participants.

    Answers to your questions.

    Yes, you will dial the number and incur what ever long distance charges you normally would and it is that same as Florida time.

    Yes, it’s a true conference call and we can not only hear you but dogs barking and babies crying in the background. So I always ask folks to dial in form a quite location.

    I deliver a coaching tool and then ask for a volunteer to be coached on her or his issue. We only use first names so confidentiality isn’t breached. So there is also participation to the degree that participants are willing and you hear it all.

    My calls are very transformational. It’s fun and effective. Join us!

  10. Hi Tom – It sounds really interesting – thank you. I’m going to take the plunge and fill out the form.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Dear Blogger – Are You Trying To Sell To The Faithless?

  11. You go Tom! Be Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
    I would much rather read fewer posts that are truly inspiring than more that are not as meaty being written to fulfill an obligation. It will be interesting to see if your readership decreases. I guess it depends on their reason for coming to your blog.

    I found the big question I asked myself that led to more freedom for me was, “What other ways can I use my skills as a teacher other than being in a classroom and being beaten up by the public school system?” It was when I allowed myself to think in a different way that I began to be more creative with what I could do. Now I am loving it so much! I am brainstorming new ways to use what I have done to create more streams of income. It is a fun and challenging thing to play with. I really believe there are many creative ways to go that will be profitable for me. I can’t limit myself to what is typical or expected. I need to think outside of the box (and beyond!).

  12. I have a lot of little, unmade decisions that are hanging over me. Or decisions that have been made, but not acted upon to completion. It is true that the more of those one has in their mind, the less free and more stressed they become.

    ~ Kristi

    Kikolani | Blogging, Poetry, Photographys last blog post..Prolonging a Productivity Drought

  13. Hi Tom

    Great post the part that speaks to me the most is #6 “Follow-through and act on the answer. Without action you are disrespecting your own wisdom.” SO true 🙂
    Thank you,
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  14. Tom, I especially loved your first and second points of trusting yourself and telling the truth to yourself.

    When our mind is telling us to do two opposing things, it can be very difficult to trust ourselves and we are often left in constant search of an answer. Unfortunately, we aren’t searching for information that supports one notion, but conflicting information that will support both conflicting notions. This complicates matters even more.

    This is why it is so important to be decisive and take action. You may never fully know which is the right action to take until you go ahead and try anyway.

    Matt Thomass last blog post..How to Make More Money on Your Products

  15. Laurie – Good for you that you actually asked the question and answered it. It always leads to greater possibilities.

    Kristi – Start small and let go of one unmade decision each week. You don’t have to decide, just take remove them form consideration. Simplify for sanity.

    Giovanna – You are the action gal – all the way.

    Matt – Well said, once we are in motion we can always adjust.

  16. Hi Tom: This post made me think of how there’s so much advice out there on how to blog: how many times you should post per week, what you should write about, how you should title your posts, and so on. I think really succesful bloggers are the ones that do things as they feel they should be done and this authenticity shines through.

  17. Tell the truth to yourself. That brought the most freedom for me. When I finally acknowledged what I REALLY wanted to do – I will never forget the day I told myself the truth – doors opened, what seemed like, immediately. I also read Peter Block’s book (most of it) and found it very useful.

  18. Hi there Tom – great to hear your business is booming!

    You bring up some really great points – we all need to keep tuning in to see what direction to go in. (it would be worth doing a phone hook-up with you just to hear your beautiful voice – heheh)

    Robins last blog post..The Journey, With Brandon Bays

  19. Beautiful and powerful. You kick butt and I love the refreshing list of your standards.

    So many people only wish they were that decisive and true to themselves. Rock on.

    Christine Gallaghers last blog post..Recession Marketing: Communicating Value is Even More Crucial Now

  20. Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve also been “getting out into the world” some more myself recently, and I’ve also noticed a drop in the pace of my posting. What I’ve been recognizing is that, if I were giving a workshop every evening, that would be infinitely more rewarding, even if, as a matter of quantity, that would have me reach fewer people than blogging. I’m looking forward to making that happen.

    Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coachings last blog post..Everyone Has Different Places To Grow

  21. Mare – Thank you. I do follow-through on my own intuitive flashes to blog in a way that suits me. My blog has really taken on a very personal tone of late because of the transformation I’ve been working through. It is what it is and the right readers find me. It’s all good.

    Stacey – Our own truth does set us free, especially when we are honest about what we really want. Kudos to you for standing tall in your truth.

    Robin – Feel free to register for a coaching call and you can hear me all you want. 🙂

    Christine – Thanks so much for acknowledging that. Decisiveness is very freeing.

  22. Hi
    We’re multi-faceted as you know and every now and then it’s a good idea to check in with our facets. One of them being the immature & unhealthy voice of fear. It’s the one that can scare the shit out of you!
    Usually once you’ve checked in…. it’s a good idea to then talk to the mature healthy voice of fear……… who keeps you safe, but’s not unreasonable in its requests.
    I think that addressing our fears is a good thing so you can stay conscious and of course in a conscious state you have a hell of a lot more control in your life. You get more of what you want and not what you want to avoid.

    The little that I have read on your blog, makes me believe that you are totally on the right track to making your own heart sing and of course in turn others will do so too.

    Hope I’m making some useful sense here.
    I’m a big fan of the Zen master Genpo Roshi and of course he is way better at explaining these concepts.

    🙂 Best wishes Ribbon

  23. Hi Tom – First, congratulations on your success.

    I think you nailed it when you said, “We suffer only because we haven’t chosen”.

    This post is a great reminder that by not choosing, we’re making a choice (to do nothing).

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..When Non-Blogger Friends Don’t Get It

  24. Tom,

    OF COURSE your business is booming!!! Posts like these make you and your coaching services positively IRRESISTIBLE!!!

    It’s been said here before – sometimes you don’t know how MUCH you’re “enduring” until you make a decision to stop “tolerating” it.

    I recently made a choice to stop tolerating a situation. Before I made the decision – the decision to STOP tolerating this situation – I literally COULD NOT see the bondage it had me in.

    This is not the FIRST time I’ve made a decision to make a life altering change – so you’d think I’d quit being amazed by how liberating it can be.

    Before I made the decision to change – when I was actively choosing to “do nothing” – I couldn’t even comprehend that there was a question to be asked let alone try to fashion an answer.

    Outstanding post! Again – it’s no secret WHY your coaching business is booming!

    Kathy | Virtual Impaxs last blog post..An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

  25. Interesting question.

    My first response was: How to know what products people will buy that I am interested in creating?

    This wouldn’t set me entirely free. Though I am pretty much free of past conditioning in some ways. (The key to this for me is authenticity.)

    I think it is probably the question I need to focus on for now.

    Evans last blog post..One Hundred Years – and counting

  26. Hi Tom — This post makes me really think. I realize that trusting myself is a big issue and that may be the question I need to ask myself. How can learn to trust myself and go with what my intuition tells me, without second-guessing all the time? I’ll have to think on this.

    Thanks for this post. It was very helpful. Also, as other said, congratulations on your booming practice. You deserve it :~)

    Saras last blog post..Online Dating: The Rejection Letter

  27. Chris – Yes we do need to weight our investments and rewards frequently. As a fellow coach you know that we can reach more blogging but by coaching we help change the world one inspired client at a time. I think coaching is a higher payoff activity for us and for the world.

    Ribbon – Of course you’ve made sense. You are aware and cognizant of what makes your own heart sing. Living with that possibility in the face of your fears, is powerful.

    Barbara – Yes, a default, do-nothing choice, is still a choice and often a poor one.

    Kathy – I see you couldn’t resist joining us to play a bigger game. 🙂 I admire your courage. Never quit being amazed by chosen emancipation. Thanks for your heartfelt recognition and intend to be stretched on the call.

    Evan – How about this question? What product could only I create that would be so authentic that thousands would by it?

    Sara – You don’t have to learn how to trust yourself. You could just act before the second-guessing begins to take root. Why put an extra step in there? Here’s how

  28. “Tell the truth to yourself” – taking it with me from here. I think what would set me free is the answer to this question “would i regret if i do X?” – i think it gets back to the fear factor. It gets harder i think when you you have obligations to your closest – it’s harder to make really bold decisions, and that means the the question that actually bothers me is “would it hurt my beloved if do X?”

  29. Hi Tom,

    I think I like your formula better than mine.

    I think I’ve created an authentic product that only I could have. My challenge is to find out whether thousands will buy it. I hope to start finding out soon.

    Evans last blog post..One Hundred Years – and counting

  30. Nice Post Tom, keep up the great work 🙂
    To venture off into the unknown is to jump into freedom. People say they want to be free, but freedom creates fear. They are afraid of the reality they know would make them feel truly alive and integrated with life. Freedom and the unknown make people afraid because there is danger in insecurity. The danger lies in that they feel they are going to loose themselves, and lose everything they have ever known. They are right, but the only thing they are loosing is their false sense of self (ego), living in the unknown your ego falls apart and the real you begins to emerge. The thing we have to understand is that life is constantly changing, there is nothing we can do, so don’t worry about trying to change it. The uncertainty of life is its very nature. Just remember that the only responsibility you have is towards your own being.

    Ivan Campuzanos last blog post..How To Improve Your Likability To Make Quick Connections


  1. Social Media Transparency says:

    […] about authenticity and transparency, I can’t help but mention Tom Volkar.   In his post Free Yourself Tom writes: My coaching business has been booming.  It’s become very clear, that I need to cut […]

  2. […] previous posts, many readers commented on my challenge of telling the whole truth to yourself about yourself.  It’s an essential component of playing a bigger […]

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