In the workplace, the term "free spirit" might be equated with a flighty hippie who shows up late and doesn’t commit herself to her work – but if that’s the way you’ve been regarding the free spirits among you, it’s time for a change. Being a free spirit is not about being flighty or noncommittal. It’s about learning not to be bogged down by the trivialities of life, and learning to enjoy what you have.
This is not to say you should show up at work wearing peace beads, but believe it or not, being more of a free spirit can actually help you in your career. Here’s how to start working on it.
1. Let go of pleasing everyone
It’s important to do good work when you’re at work – but there’s a fine line between working hard and letting yourself be overcome with worry about whether you’re keeping everyone happy. Some people are going to like you, some aren’t – no matter how hard you try. It’s important to maintain positive working relationships, but when someone doesn’t like you or treats you badly, let go of trying to change it.
2. Stop feeling guilty
In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements, one "agreement" is to always do your best. When you do your best, you know that you’ve given it your all, and that’s all you can do. Psychology professor John A. Johnson says the agreements are reminiscent of cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of treatment which helps people treat problems by changing their behaviors, emotions and thoughts.
By always doing your best, you can stop feeling guilty about things you did or didn’t do, and rest easier knowing that you’ve given it your all.
3. Find work that makes you happy
Every job has its ups and downs, and its annoyances, but when you’re working in a field that you really, truly belong in, a lot of other things fall into place. When you’re working in an office – or an industry – that you really don’t like, on the other hand, getting through the days can feel like an immense burden. It might not happen today, tomorrow or next month, but by setting an intention and then working toward your goal of changing careers, you can be on your way toward a freer, happier life. If you need help, talk to a career counselor or hire a life coach to guide you.
4. Find contentment in the little things
Be here now. Just be present. Enjoy the moment.
You’ve heard it a dozen different ways, but the main point is the same: you have to enjoy what you have right here in this moment, because that’s all there is. Sure, you might want to eventually change where you live or work or how you dress, but don’t let those goals for the future interrupt your enjoyment of what you have right in front of you. When you make an attempt to live in the now, you give yourself permission to appreciate the little things. Take a moment to observe your breath. Watch the breezes blow the leaves around. Life is not all about go, go, go... all the way to the grave.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that "living in the now" means not planning for the future. It just means you’ll look at those planning activities as a pleasant act, and not as something you have to get through to move onto the next thing.
5. Surround yourself with happy people
Being around people who are content with their lives can help you learn other techniques for freedom and happiness. They might not look like free-spirited hippie types, but free spirits are all around you. They’re the people who love what they do. They’re the people who laugh even in spite of sticky situations. They’re the people who make you feel good. Purge your life of the people who make you feel bad – even if you don’t know exactly why they make you feel bad – and you’ll be surprised at how much freer you can feel.
Some people are born with more of a Type A personality, but that doesn’t mean you have to live a life of fear, worry, guilt or unhappiness. Take a cue from the free, content people in your life, and you’ll be on your way to being a free spirit yourself.