My Freedom Story: Lydia of Screw the Cubicle

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The journey to freedom is never the same for everyone. 

Some people are able to achieve their ideal lifestyle, but either run out of resources or get tired of the lack of structure  and choose to go back to the cubicle. But for a select few, the taste of freedom becomes so addicting that they will do anything just to keep that lifestyle and encourage others to do the same. Last week, we've featured Sacha of 8 Miles From Home.

Another such person that I've met this year is Lydia who is the Cubicle Crashing Ninja at Screw The Cubicle. She helps corporate prisoners escape the confines of the 9-5 life and awaken to their true purpose. I've collaborated with her for the Live Your Passion workshop in Bali and learned so much from her. She's not just a dreamer but a doer who is constantly working on her businesses and projects and here's her freedom story:

Lydia of Screw the Cubicle3

What's your idea of freedom?

Freedom in all aspects of life is what I am most interested in, and currently strive to live this vision in my current life. To me, it's about the freedom to be the "real you" on purpose (not what your family or society defines as "you"), freedom to do work you love, freedom to explore (location and lifestyle mobility), and a very important one- the freedom from conditioning and fears that no longer serves us.

The last one is important, as our mindset and perspective of ourselves and life will dictate whether we have the courage to pursue what is true to us, and to follow our own path authentically.

This is what I call full freedom at its finest.

Lydia of Screw the Cubicle2

Share your back story.

I was born in Malaysia, and moved to Canada when I was very young. I have always been very grateful to my parents for making this decision as it opened up education and life opportunities for me that I wouldn't have had otherwise. Growing up in a very traditional household where everything needs to be "safe and not risky" and not to question too much about life, I was quite a little rebellious rascal and got into trouble often for speaking my mind and being over opinionated (or my Mom would say, "bossy")! I don't blame my Mom for not taking too many risks or raising us traditionally. It was what she knew and she lived in a very different time. However, I knew very early on I wasn't very good at following rules.

Fast forward to my adult life. I was successfully working in corporate Canada in industries like real estate, publishing, marketing, hospitality, and international education. In my last corporate job, everything looked great on paper. I was highly paid, travelled half the year around the world, and had everything "they" told you would be the definition of success. I had a comfortable life, with the home and car living in Vancouver.

 But something big was missing from this "formula" of success.

That missing piece...was purpose. I did not feel I was living out my ultimate truth, and I couldn't feel aligned with the work I was doing at all. My lifestyle was great, but I was craving meaning in my life. I had a disturbing feeling that I barely knew who I was, and what I would want my legacy to be in my time in the world.

On a business trip to Moscow one winter, I had an emotional breakdown in my hotel room, which came out of the blue. I simply did not know why I wasn't happy with my life, when everything seemed to be "working out". It wasn't about money or security of a good life. I was so disconnected with my true self I did not know who I was without the title of that job. That breakdown was the tipping point and the moment that changed it all for me.

The "a-ha" moment came for me when I realized that a human life cannot be simply confined in a 9-5 cubicle life, waiting for vacation days to be "free". I made a choice to not conform and accept that, and decided I had to create a life I truly wanted, or this feeling would never stop.

I knew I had to find out who the "real" me was. I started from scratch and went through a sabbatical trip to Asia and hired a coach. I quit that job, started two mobile businesses, and now live a very meaningful and fulfilling life helping others suffering from an "identity crisis" and craving more freedom in their work and lifestyle.

Lydia of Screw the Cubicle1

What steps did you take to achieve freedom?

The first thing that I did, and I would suggest this to others, is to take the time to dig deep personally (not logically, but the true desires from the heart) to find out what you really desired and are passionate about. Knowing this is important so that you are tapped into that internal GPS of yourself to help guide you to the right opportunities and ideas to make that a reality.

Secondly, I had to create a business that encompasses my skills, passions, and the big WHY, so that I moved from the employee life to an entrepreneur lifestyle where I can be creative and inspired. The "why" is the reason for all of it to happen, my mission for myself and the world. It is important to have a meaningful mission for your work, as it keeps you going when the going gets tough in business. It is bigger than yourself, and not to sound morbid, but something where you'll die happily knowing you've been a part of. Figuring out what you're designed to do, from your passions, values, how you express, and how you help will assist in finding the right type of business idea that is in sync with what you do naturally.

The third thing is about support. Hiring a coach and speaking to friends about my desires helped make my vision come to life. It is now real, not just a dream. Being surrounded by people who have similiar value systems about life is great for encouragement and inspiration.

Lastly, I decided where I wanted to explore, and made sure my business was mobile where I could run it from my laptop and live a life that made me happy. I really believe in having a type of work and lifestyle where you can't tell the difference between work and play. Picking a location that allowed me to eat great food, live in an environment I love, and a place where I can fulfill my interests were all very important to me. That's why I've stumbled upon Bali, and have been here for a year! It's a great hub to have my home and continue to travel throughout Asia.

I made a conscious choice to prepare my transition for mobile living, sell all my belongings in Canada, and pack my life into one bag.

Lydia of Screw the Cubicle6

How long did it take for you to live freely?

From the moment I knew what business idea I wanted to start, it took about 6 months for me to be running my first business. In between that time, I had hired a coach and it really helped me to see myself and perspectives that I couldn't have done alone. She didn't allow me to self sabotage or live in fear, and kept reminding me of why this was important to me. I am very grateful for that.

The ultimate freedom of a mobile lifestyle came to me as an idea 6 months after I started my business. Then 4 months after that, I was on a one way plane ticket to Asia!

What was the biggest challenge you've faced?

I would say that being a "Type A" person, it was hard for me in the beginning to let go and let things flow. I was so used to the old formula of working super hard to get what I want, and pushing against the grain. It was my work style, but I knew it didn't make me happy. So it was having to re-condition and re-program my mind to have less control, and to just live in the moment. I had to create a harmonious balance between my heart and mind so that they played nice together.

Exploring and living in places foreign to me required a sense of trust and intuition. I had to learn to quiet down the critical monkey that sometimes exists in my head, and to learn to take things easy. Even in my business, I found that the more I relaxed and just be real, opportunities always showed up. Allowing myself to be as authentic as I can be, and be open to what I need to receive instead of controlling every aspect of my life and business, gave me the ease to be in flow. And a lot more peaceful night's sleep!

Lydia of Screw the Cubicle5

What advice can you give to others who want to live life on their own terms?

Find out what you're designed to do authentically, and do whatever it takes to turn your skills and passion into a valuable service to help others. And know why it matters to you. Get comfortable honing your skills and understand how you serve others. Keep going until you find an idea of work that you would have done for free because it comes to you so naturally. It is your birthright to know your calling and for you to live on purpose.

Be aware of what you desire in all aspects of your life, and what freedom means to you. Be in the mindset of knowing that all is possible, because others have done it. Talk to people who are doing it and living a life you admire, do the research. Continuously bring more things and people in your life that are aligned with what you love.

Travel, get inspired, and be in the community of people who are living their dreams. There is more to the world than just what you are familiar with. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to experiencing what you need to experience. Make a choice to be happy, and step away from anything that doesn't give you those feelings of joy that make your heart sing. Be curious about yourself and life. The world is waiting for you to express your authentic self and you, like everyone else, have a unique "secret sauce" to create impact in the world. Don't settle until you find out what that is and turn up that sense of presence and awareness for opportunities that allow you to share that unique part of you.

Forget what society has told you about what is possible, you get to be the pilot in your own life flight. Get accountable for this amazing gift we call life. Seize it!

Can you tell us of other people who are on the same path?

I really admire Anne Perry, the editor in chief of Business Heroine Magazine, as she's a big advocate and supporter of women in business to create freedom lifestyles through business.

I also love Natalie Sisson from The Suitcase Entrepreneur. She is living what she is teaching, and helping others build a mobile business with resources and technology tips to make it happen. Her website is .

Ash Ambirge is an awesome chick with a potty mouth like me! I love her concept of "screw business as usual", and her website at The Middle Finger Project is one that I visit often for straight up marketing tips, with a dash of sarcasm to boot.

More Freedom Stories here

Lydia of Screw the Cubicle4

Lydia is the Cubicle Crashing Ninja at Screw The Cubicle. She helps corporate prisoners escape the confines of the 9-5 life and awaken to their true purpose. Lydia left a well paying but unfulfilling cubicle job in Canada to launch small business startups. Now based in Bali, she enjoys location independency, self-expression, and a purposeful career coaching others to gain full freedom at its finest.

Utilizing her own unique The “Real You” Roadmap program, she guides people towards careers and lives of authenticity. She combines their passions with skills and talents they already have to live a life of meaning, play and service. Certified as a True Purpose™ coach and Neuro-linguistics Programming (NLP), she also shares her many years of experience in small business. Lydia taps into people's "sweet spot" by discovering what they're designed to do and why, then helps them craft practical steps to deliver that purpose in a vehicle of a mobile business.

Lydia is also getting ready to fly to the Philippines in November to conduct YOUR FREEDOM BUSINESS ROADMAP workshop. If you're interested in the Freedom Lifestyle and need that extra kick to launch your own escape, email us at solesisters(dot)weare(at) with your most preferred dates below and we'll put you on the priority list.

Nov 15-16 (weekend)
Nov 22-23 (weekend)
Weekdays between Nov 15-23 (please specify dates)

And if you have friends who might be interested, feel free to hit the FORWARD button!

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1 sole trails

  1. you are awesome. my father and I own land/ villa in north bali. what a special part of the world. I am currently working on my business. love your site. Adrien


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