As I sit here in the mall composing my thoughts about writing this article, I am overcome with a sense of joy and accomplishment from achieving “financial independence.” This term that we throw around — “financial freedom” — has a different definition for every single one of us. I would like to expand upon what financial freedom means to me, the definitions of achievement and success, and what I have been able to focus upon during this transitional period in my life. Want more articles like this? Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox Sign up for free I have the date March 1, 2016 etched into my mind because that is the day I officially retired from the restaurant that I had owned for the past 22 years. I had several reasons for wanting to get out of the restaurant business. One of the main motivating factors for me w as that I had become bored and unsatisfied at work. I was not growing and contributing in any meaningful way. I recently wrote an article about the six human needs. At the time, I was satisfying the first four fundamental needs, but the fifth need of growth and the six need of contribution were sorely lacking. Enjoy the Climb Through my journey towards financial freedom, I discovered the definition of achievement and success. An achievement is the attainment of a goal, while success is a feeling. When I began investing in real estate to pursue my goal of exiting the rat race, I remember buying my first deal. It was a huge achievement, but I lacked the feeling of success. I experienced the same feeling with my second and third purchase. I only experienced the feeling of success when I realized that it’s not about reaching the peak of the mountain; it’s about enjoying the climb. I was always focused upon the next goal or step without enjoying the moment. Financial freedom has allowed me to live and focus in the present and to enjoy the climb. I am able to focus on all of the tasks that I want to. I can choose who I work with, dedicate my energy to the tasks that I am passionate about, and most importantly, not always focus on that next paycheck. The Privilege of Giving Back I was always driven by earning money, and with six children, you can see my dilemma. But once I achieved financial freedom, I became more concerned with other people’s problems and issues. I now have time to give more of myself and to help others out, with expecting nothing in return. If you want to feel great, go out and do something for someone who can’t reciprocate. It is an amazing feeling of giving yourself freely with expecting nothing back. It was difficult for me to have these thoughts and feelings when all I thought about was paying the bills. I began a life coaching business and started a real estate education company while I was running the restaurant. Remember the word “focus” I mentioned earlier? Whatever you focus upon grows. I was unable to focus on these two passions while I was working. Once I left my business, these two endeavors flourished because that is all I focused upon. As a result, I now have a very popular podcast on iTunes that is impacting and motivating thousands of listeners every day, and my coaching business allows me to help those who are in the same quandary that I once found myself in. Reclaiming the Most Important Resource Financial freedom has also allowed me to reclaim my time, one of the resources that most of us crave. My life was very structured, and I had very little flexibility. I used to work every holiday and every weekend in the restaurant business. This past Christmas was the first time I had Christmas Eve off since 1995. There is no price that you can put on that freedom. I still work just as many hours; I just choose when I work those hours. I decided in May of last year to take an extended vacation. With the restaurant business, I was lucky to be able to take a week off for a vacation. I packed my wife and kids into the minivan and headed to St. Augustine for two and a half months to experience Florida living to see if I would like to relocate there. I was pleasantly surprised, and I now have my home on the market, “patiently” waiting to sell so I can move down South. Three years ago, this was not even in the realm of possibility, but financial freedom explodes your possibilities. Finally, I can focus on growing my portfolio and networking with other real estate investors and professionals. I am doing what I want to do, and this has given me the confidence and the passion to be more successful. I now know why I only owned one restaurant location. I lacked the passion to grow the business. With real estate, I was able to expand the portfolio rapidly because it is my true passion and I derive joy from coming to work every day. To sum it up, financial freedom has allowed me to look at life through a very different lens. When I achieved financial freedom, I realized it is not about retiring and sitting on a beach. For me, it is about choosing what I want to do, with whomever I choose, whenever I want. Financial freedom has led me to so many more enriching relationships and opportunities. When I look back on my life, I know that I will remember all those important relationships that I developed throughout my life. I hope that this article has inspired you to focus on achieving financial freedom. If a pizza guy can do it, then there’s nothing stopping you. If you have enough reasons why like me, then you will find out how. 10 Cool Things Financial Independence Has Allowed Me These are my top 10 cool things about reaching financial independence: Time freedom Confidence New opportunities Passion for work Living in the here and now Focus Being more engaged in life The opportunity to grow and become more fulfilled The ability to contribute and give more freely of myself Freedom from constant worry about paying the bills What are the coolest things financial freedom has allowed YOU to do? Has achieving this freedom been different than you imagined? Let’s talk below!