You know what I remember? The gray cubicle walls. Whenever I start feeling like I’m drifting… like I’m going nowhere, I remember the gray cubicle walls. I remember the gray carpet. I remember the off-gray ceiling tile. That’s right. I remember a time when the monotony of my life was broken up by off-gray ceiling tiles.
I’ve come a long way. But, it didn’t happen overnight.
It seems this machine is not what we dreamed
Just Like You
No Kidding. I’m just like you.
We see so many “follow your passion” guys say they used to be like us, then after these 3 simple steps, they live this awesome life!
I’m not that guy.
I still worry about where the money is going to come from. I still wonder whether the choices I made – and still make – are the right ones. I still feel like I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing.
I flounder with relationships. I struggle with goals. I waste time.
Honestly, the only difference between you and me – at this very moment – is that I started leaning into those feelings that we know deep in our hearts are what we really need. I make my choices based on those feelings. Between you and me, I’ve never regretted the choices. Sure, sometimes things didn’t work out great, but I know now.
I’m not wondering what if…
The Breaking Point
If I had to pin down a starting point to this self-evolution, I would say it was a day like any other.
I was in a crappy relationship. I had a job I hated. I struggled to get through each day, while everyone around me congratulated me on how amazing my life was – how I had “everything“.
Can you imagine being surrounded by people that simply don’t understand you at all?
Black and Gold was on the radio when I got in the car. I was at a time where that was the highlight of my day. I had just walked out of the house leaving a screaming nightmare relationship inside while I made the hour trek through horrendous traffic to a job that felt more like jail than opportunity.
The day was an eight hour disaster of pointless meetings, awful assignments, and mindless small talk.
As I escaped that sentence for the day, I wearily walked to the car trying not to think about the disaster of a relationship I was driving home to. Traffic sucked, of course. I took the phone call from my girlfriend screaming about why I wasn’t home yet.
As I pulled into the parking lot, Black and Gold came on the radio… again.
I couldn’t help but wonder, “what just happened to my day?”
Relationships are important. We get caught in the idea that we need to have a relationship. We lose sight of how the quality of relationships define our world. We de-emphasize the importance of the people we have around us.
Thanksgiving – a few months after the day above – I couldn’t do it anymore. I threw a tantrum. I kicked my girlfriend out.
I ended a relationship that was roughly eight years long. It was comfortable. It was easy. It was routine. It was also horrible with yelling and conflicting ideas which ultimately left us both unable to do the things we wanted to do in life. But, we weren’t alone. For some reason, the thought of being alone scares the crap out of us… and we stay in horrible relationships.
But, being alone for the rest of my life seemed better than being yelled at for the rest of it… and a catalyst for change was born.
I had recently gotten custody of my daughter. This may be hard to imagine, but that transition wasn’t easy with her mother or her mother’s side of the family used to having whatever they wanted time wise.
Everyone wanted to see my daughter on Christmas. Her mother. Her mother’s family. My family. The 8yr ex’s family. Me. I asked my daughter, what I thought was a simple question. A matter of opinion or desire. “I see you all the time. What do you want to do Christmas day?” Her answer actually surprised me.
“I just want to wake up to a peaceful morning without a bunch of running around.“
Isn’t that what we want everyday?
Peace. The freedom to do what we want instead of having our time littered with obligations.
The pulling this direction and that. The guilt that you’re not doing x. The “easier to just do it than argue about it.” Do you ever just want to say “Enough! I’m just not doing this crap anymore!”
I get that.
So, I did what any self-respecting person trying to achieve peace and balance would do.
I booked a two-week trip to the Caribbean and gave my daughter a peaceful Christmas morning without a bunch of running around. It just so happened to be in the middle of the ocean with a few hours in San Juan. Burritos are traditional Christmas dinner, right?
When we returned, I felt like I had bleached my soul.
I left a long relationship. I abandoned a bunch of other people’s obligations. And the world was still turning. In fact, I felt… better.
My life… began to feel like it was mine!
Well, the personal life felt like it mine. And frankly, that soul-sucking 8 to something drain on your existence, seemed to feel like it was serving a purpose, but…
Do you wonder how exactly you got where you are? I mean, you liked doing some part of your job when you first took it, right? Then, another job came along for more money. Then, another job came along with better benefits. Then, another job with a cooler title. Then another job…
Well, then you began to realize you lost your soul somewhere back there. Little by little, tiny pieces of your dream were traded for a bigger salary, better title, and more benefits. And you kinda… sorta… really want that soul back, right?
But still, we stare at the cubicle wall, afraid to “pull the trigger,” unsure of how we’re going to pay our bills or keep our commitments. We’re afraid of what people will say. Most of all, we’re afraid of losing what we’ve worked so hard all these years for. We’re afraid we’re going to fail. We’re afraid people are going to say “I told you so.”
Can I do something for you right here and right now? You’re going to make it work. You’re going to be successful.
Now, when you do make it, I’m going to say “I told you so.” Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. Might as well do, then.
While sitting at my corporate job, I planned to build a website and blog; to write books and sell them online; to build affiliate websites for passive income. But, I would get home so exhausted and stressed that I couldn’t do anything but try to decompress.
Eventually – after a LOT of planning – I did quit my 15 year IT career four years ago because I just couldn’t take it! For some of us, the routine we’re in is just too much of a burden to allow for growth. I needed the freedom of my own time. I quit with enough savings to pay bills and expenses for one year. I figured if I couldn’t make something work in a year, I’d just go back to IT. That was over four years ago.
I did make something work.
It wasn’t, however, what I thought I wanted.
I quit to be a writer. I wrote that one book and have been shirking being a writer ever since. I have, however, completely failed at single’s coaching, abandoned a few blogs, parked cars, waited tables, built websites, and taught yoga. I currently have enough savings to last one year and one month without any more income. That’s more of a cushion than when I quit.
That’s success in my book: being able to keep going.
Do you have more saved today than one year ago? Do you even know?
The fact is, I earn a living sitting on decks in the sun. I do my work from Chicago, from Seattle, from Portland, from Texas. I could keep earning an income from Mexico, the Caribbean, Thailand, or Southern California – but when I’m in those places, I’d rather play… so I do, because the freedom of my time allows that.
Time is spent with amazing people all over the world, first. That group of people is steadily getting larger… steadily growing closer… steadily becoming a tribe of supportive, inspiring, beautiful people.
You know what that sounds like, right?
Yeah, life is kind of one big party.
I’ve got great relationships. I’ve got work that lets me live how I want, and doesn’t feel like prison.
But, It wasn’t really easy. And that’s where the third part of the equation comes in. It’s what you do daily that makes life “worth it.” Those are your habits… and changing habits isn’t easy.
Seldom is it the easy things that are worth it in the long run.
Yeah, I quit my career without know exactly how I was going to make things work. Frankly, things didn’t go as planned, either. But, they did go and I am supporting myself with income not generated from an office. That was really the goal.
I’m a successful entrepreneur. I do work I want, when I want to, and with who I want… but I still do work.
I teach yoga because I absolutely love it. I spend a significant amount of my days working on the things I want for my body and my soul. I live the way I want to live, where I want to live it, with the people I want in my life.
And I’m making that work.
In the end, is work that fuels us and sustains us… good company… and a beach all we really need?
Or does that just open more questions: What work? Who is there? Which beach? …and where is my hula girl towel?!?!
Maybe, maybe it’s just the search for a towel that’s meant to fulfill us.