On the fourth day of every July, Americans celebrate our independence. Freedom is one of those things that is hard to explain, but it’s easy to notice the lack thereof. Anybody can be a follower – in fact, it’s hard not to find people looking for followers. One must only exist to be dependent, but these steps are necessary to become independent.

1. Fake It Till You Make It

You don’t have to be successful to act like it. As long as you are confident and friendly, people will generally accept you are who you say you are (provided, of course, you can back it up when necessary). As a matter of fact, I’m writing this piece from Denver, CO, where I’m attending the Cannabis Cup as a journalist. I didn’t have a press pass when I showed up, but I have one now, because I acted like I belonged. Now I do.

2. Create A Plan

If you’re independent without a plan, you’re not independent – you’re actually just blind to how dependent you actually are. This drives your friends and family absolutely crazy, so stop it. Get yourself a plan, and make it a good one. Sticking to your own plan is how you avoid following or obstructing others.

3. Form Habits

Now that you have plans, turn those plans into habits by making a conscious effort to continue following them. Every time you follow through with your plan, you’re one step closer to making it a habit. Habits are much easier to follow, as they’re ingrained in your very nature. You become unconsciously drawn to these actions to the point that it actually takes effort to stop. This is when you know you have made it.

4. Make Decisions

As you become more and more comfortable in your independence, it’s vital to exercise your freedom. It’s in exercising your freedoms that they become stronger. Deciding is the easiest way to exercise your freedoms. By deciding, you’re creating your path, your way. Start deciding what you want and learn to get it.

5. Learn Your Role

Remember you are never isolated. You’re always in a world surrounded by other people, and it’s important to be compassionate to those around you. Just because you’re independent doesn’t make you an automatic CEO, nor will you be treated as one. Learn where you really fit in and play your cards to the best of your ability instead of wishing for a new hand.

6. Take Chances

The only way you can survive independently is to take chances. Even if you have the best plans in the world, there will always be someone ready, willing and able to stop you. You’d be naïve to think you’re the one exception, so be willing to take risks. When these risks pay off, you’ll be a success, and if they fail, you at least have a great story.

7. Think Independently

If people are agreeing with you, you’re not disrupting enough to be independent. This isn’t to say you need to be an obnoxious jerk, but you do need to shake things up. Anyone can be agreeable up to a point, but if you’re always agreeing with people, you’re following them. Think for yourself and play devil’s advocate every so often, just to keep everyone on their toes.

Our forefathers fought and died in the name of freedom. In July 1776, they drafted our Declaration of Independence to provide guidelines to preserve the independence of each and every one of us. In order to honor their sacrifices it’s important for each of us to become independent. Get started right now… because I said so…

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