How to live life on your terms

Man wearing blue shirt, leaning back with hands behind his head.

“Lead a life of your own design, on your own terms. Not one that others or the environment have scripted for you.”

Tony Robbins

“I will one day accept death with gratitude if I meet it having lived a life that became truly my own.”

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

To live life on your own terms is one of the highest achievements a human being can reach, and many would say the ultimate goal in life. It means to have a life in which you are not a slave to anyone, anything or life circumstance. For living your life on your terms means you are the writer, director and producer of your own story that you want to tell. You are secure in who you are and what you have. People who live on their own terms live relatively stress free lives because they are not a prisoner to the chains of life because they are the masters of their lives instead of the other way around. They are keenly aware that they have only one life to live, and they live life with no regrets.

“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.”

Terry Pratchett

Now this does not mean that everything in their life is 100% perfect, 100% of the time, but because they are the masters of their life they are more equipped than most to deal with comes. They embrace challenges that make them improve and keep them on their A game.

Below are 14 tips that will put you on the path to living life on your terms.

1) Maintain a healthy diet and exercise

First and foremost the people who live life on their own terms are highly conscious of their health. They make a commitment to do some kind of exercise each week because they know that without good health, nothing else matters. You can’t help other people if you don’t help yourself first, and the primary way you help yourself is by staying healthy. You also can’t live life on your own terms if poor health is dictating what you can and can’t do.

2) Think For Yourself

Everyone is trying to, in one way or another, tell you what to think. It starts with your parents and siblings when you’re growing up to after adulthood with your spouse, your boss, co-workers and even the media. Sometimes what they are telling you is right, but quite often they are not 100% correct and other times they are flat out wrong. Sometimes people try to get you to think a certain way because they simply are trying to be helpful, but be aware that other times people are doing it to control you. So, one of the first steps on your path to living life on your own terms is to question everything, evaluate and weigh facts and think for yourself.

3) Don’t follow the crowd

The day you stop following the crowd is the day you begin your first step to living on your terms. Many people are not happy with their lives, they are not really successful and can’t think for themselves to know any better than to follow the crowd. They blindly follow the crowd because they think that is the thing to do. If you blindly follow the crowd you are living life according to the crowd’s terms. The crowd can sometimes lead you astray. What everyone else is doing may not necessarily work for you. And also, the crowd can be stupid sometimes. The term “groupthink” comes to mind here. Yes, following the crowd is OK generally speaking, but only if you have learned to think for yourself like I spoke about earlier and if it’s in your best interest.

4) Set goals

Living life on your terms means you have achieved a certain lifestyle makes you a free spirited, independent person. Individuals who live their life, their way worked hard to get there and they got their by knowing what they wanted to achieve in life. To this end, you must set goals for yourself. Not just goals, but realistic goals, and you must have some discipline to hold yourself accountable to reach them. Write those goals down, look at them often, and track your progress. Goal setting is an important step in the mastery of your life.

5) Focus on the positive

Negative thinking will hold you back. It is destructive to you emotionally, mentally and even physically. So don’t succumb to the negative thought processes that will kill any chance you have of being the successful person you ultimately can be. Living the life of independence, happiness and abundance that living on your own terms will bring depends on positive thinking. One very helpful way to overcome the negative thought processes that can sabotage you is by using Positive Daily Affirmations. Also, you should make a habit of reading motivational, inspirational and positive books,videos and blogs, such as this one. If you have a habit of thinking negatively, such material can be a kind of daily medicine for you.

6) Learn from your mistakes and make peace with yourself

We’ve all made mistakes, I know I have. But often times you will find you are your own worst enemy and critic. Beating yourself up over past mistakes and setbacks will hold you back because you will be living in the past. If you are burdened by the past, you are not living on your own terms, you are chained by the what haunts you from the past. I realize it is easier said than done, but you must learn from your past mistakes and setbacks and let go of what burdens you. Come to terms with what happened, accept it and move on. It’s called making peace with yourself and your past.

Related: 8 Ways to not be a prisoner of your past

“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”

John Dewey

7) Digital detox

When you own something, sometimes it can “own” you. Our electronic devices are an example of this, especially smartphones. I know this also means our computer and TV, but I’ll focus on the phone since that seems to be the biggest problem for most people.

Anyhow, for many people their phone is constantly demanding attention from them with social media, phone calls, texts and an endless stream of notifications. We like to think we control our phone, but more realistically, it controls us. Think about it, one phone call, text or notification and we’ll drop everything or ignore whoever we are with to see what our “master,” the smartphone wants. If you are a smartphone addict, you are not living on your terms, you’re living on its terms.

I am not sugesting rid of your smartphone, I am just saying that you need to learn how to be its master and not the other way around. One way you can do this is to deliberately take a break by turning it off for several hours or perhaps a day or more. Or at least put it on silent, turn it upside down and enjoy life without it for awhile.

8) Surround yourself with people who force you to level up

On your road to the ultimate life you want, you have to learn to be an independent, free thinking person who is comfortable enough in your own skin and your life so you really don’t need anyone. But, before you get there you have to improve yourself emotionally, mentally and financially. So what people you do spend time with should help you to improve on some level.

You should cut the haters out from your life and the people who are draining you emotionally. At least you should minimize your exposure to them. You should look to meet new people who are more successful than you and are living the lifestyle you want. This will likely require to step outside your comfort zone to meet and be around such people, but it will be worth it.

9) Don’t compare yourself to others

Part of what living your life on your terms means is that you are secure in your life. You are grateful for what you have and who you are. Comparing yourself to others is dangerous in a way because there is always someone who looks better than you, has more money than you and seemingly has their act together better than you. Comparing yourself to your neighbor, your friend or that person on TV or social media will lead you down a rabbit hole of self doubt and insecurity that will keep you trapped. If you don’t escape from this you will waste your whole life feeling inadequate and lacking self-confidence, which are negative thought processes that will sabotage your success like I spoke about earlier.

Related: How to improve your self-esteem – 14 Tips

10) Don’t worry about what others think

In a very similar vein to not comparing yourself to others is not worrying about what others think. Independent, motivated, free spirited people don’t worry about what their neighbor thinks or their friends or family – for the most part. They are too busy going out and getting what life has to offer them than to worry about what you or I think. These individuals are able to live life their way, due in part, to not wasting time wondering if others will approve of them and what they are doing. They’ve learned that most people are really not thinking about them as much as one might think. You see, most people are too wrapped up with their own daily affairs and bullsh*t than to worry about yours. Remember, it doesn’t matter if people think what you are doing is stupid or whatever because when they see your eventual success and you living the life they they wish they could have, they will change their tune. You may find they will stop being haters and become your fans, but in any case, don’t worry about that they think, just concern yourself with what you think.

“Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.”

Lao Tzu

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!”

Olin Miller

11) You Do You

“You do you,” is the essence of living life on your terms. It means that you do what makes you happy. You should take time to do what makes you happy and less stressed as often as possible. It is good for your mental and emotional health. Taking care of your own happiness is something you need to do so you will be more emotionally, mentally and physically equipped and empowered to take care of others. You will also find yourself having a more positive attitude when you attend to your happiness.

When you are taking time out of your life to do things you enjoy, you are being responsible for your own happiness. Work, family obligations and finances will make this difficult, I know, but you must make it a priority when you can. It can be something something simple going on a short trip by yourself to someplace you want to visit or getting a pedicure – if it makes you happy, then do it. You doing things to make yourself happy and relieve stress is called self-care, which I talk about in some of my other blog posts. Self-care is an important step in living life according to your own design.

12) Learn to be alone

You must learn the value of being alone. From time to time, being alone, away from people, away from distractions will teach you listen to yourself, depend on yourself and to be more comfortable with yourself. It will force you to be more independent.

Being around the crowd can drown out that inner voice that is trying to tell you something. You need to learn to trust it. To live life on your own terms you must learn what those terms are and you can only do that if you learn to be alone from time to time.

There is an African proverb that says “If you want to go far, go with others. If you want to go fast, go alone.” In your quest to pursue your goals and dreams, you may very well find others who will hold you back with their negativity, discouragement and monopolizing your time with other activities that don’t serve your objectives. So you must learn to let go of your dependence on others and learn to be alone and on occasions.

“It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.”

K.T. Jong

13) Play the long game

Playing the long game starts with setting goals as I talked about earlier. Playing the long game is more or a broader approach to looking at your overall life and where you want to be in 5, 10 or 20 years from now so you don’t fall victim the tides and currents of life that besiege others who don’t have a plan. If you want to be free to do what you want, when you want, you got to have an end goal to get their. You will also need an exit strategy to get out of the rat race that is keeping you trapped.

14) Financial independence

Money and the lack of financial planning is the single most important factor that will hold you back from living on your terms. I hate to say it because it seems that I am saying that money is everything because it is not, BUT, let’s be real, how free are you if you have a mountain of debt and you are not making enough to make ends meet? And, don’t get me wrong, you can still achieve happiness in life without a lot of money, but if you want real freedom, you will need to get your financial ducks in a row.

“Money may not buy happiness but I rather be miserable in my Lamborghini than on the bus.”


It is beyond the scope of this blog post to give financial advice, so I would advise you should make it one of your goals, if you are not doing so already, to educate yourself in money and finances. It’s a good idea to plan for your retirement if you are not already doing so, get out of debt and find ways to invest your money. Also, if your financial situation can tolerate the risk, you might consider starting your own business – or better yet, look for a way to make money passively. Passive income is a way of making money without having to do anything (or very little) to keep it going.

So make it one of your priorities to achieve financial independence. Your ability to live on your terms depends on it.


Other than spiritual enlightenment, living life on your own terms is the highest achievement in life. Even if you never reach such a destination in life, the going down the road to get there is a worthy goal that can still make your life better. Even if you only manage to accomplish just a few of these tips in this blog post, you will be much better off and happier and more fulfilled has an individual.

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