Being stuck in a rut sucks. Especially when that rut lasts for more than a decade.
My story is not an uncommon one and sadly is most likely what the majority of people live on a daily basis. It's the story of
being feeling trapped in a life you never thought you'd have.
Growing up, I didn't dream of being Jose Canseco, Warren Buffett, or Neil Armstrong. I dreamed of being free. I dreamed of living a life where I was able to pursue what I loved to do, whatever that may be at that moment.
I didn't want to box myself into a particular life, but rather wanted freedom and autonomy. I wanted to travel, see the world, meet new people, and have experiences that I would never forget.
And for years I actually did just that. I chose to forego college in order to pursue my passion for the unknown. Instead of getting a job in a corporation and working my way up the ranks throughout my twenties, I traveled throughout the country working in bars and gyms.
And when I got bored or complacent, I packed up all my shit and loaded up as much as I could into my car and moved. That was it. New town. New job. New people. New experiences.
And it was fucking awesome!
Those were some of the happiest times in my life not because I had any particular material things ( I was always almost broke), but because of my experiences. I had complete control over my life; what I did each day, who I worked with (I was prone to quitting jobs I didn't like), and where I lived.
Some will look at this as irresponsibility, but I look as it as an experience that was invaluable.
And then when I turned 30, I thought that my time of enjoying my life and being carefree needed to stop because that's what adults did, right?
So without any experience at all in finance, I took a job at a brokerage firm, bought 2 cheap suits, and took my seat in my new cubicle home. How inspiring!
Following the new job came a new wife, a new home, two children, and a new life. And I didn't yet know it, but that was my beginning of a 10 year grind that would turn my hair gray, add 20 pounds of fat to my body, and take the zest for life right out from under me.
And I could rant about all the injustices I felt were happening to me, all the things I wish I had done differently, and all the times I could have changed it all but didn't. But I won't. I have accepted them and am at peace with everything that's happened in my life.
But it wasn't easy. Not at all. I've had to make many changes to my daily habits, my mindset, and my attitude. And I've had to let go of things that at one point, wasn't sure I would ever be able to.
But I'd be lying if I said I didn't still get bitch slapped with these feelings on occasion, but they wake me up to my reality. I (and you do too) have the ability to change our lives this very instant based on what we believe. And in order to believe we are powerful enough to realize our potential, we must let go of all the fucking noise in our heads.
Letting Go Of The Bullshit
When my wife and I split in 2012, I knew I was given a new lease on life. I knew I would one day be able to wake up feeling happy and content. And I knew it wouldn't happen overnight.
And over the past 4 years, I have let go of some very self defeating thoughts that had prevented me from finding my little slice of happiness in life for many years.
These lies have taken a toll on my life and play a huge role in where I am today. Letting go of them is incredibly difficult but critical if we are to realize our potential and live our lives.
1) I'm not good enough.
This had been my defining thought process throughout much of my life. I'm not exactly sure where it stemmed from but it could be attributed to my parents going through a bitter divorce and custody battle.
It could be due to that fact that I was bullied throughout middle school. It could also be due in part to the fact that I was a very late bloomer and didn't hit puberty until I was almost 20. It may also be because I spent 13 years with a person who didn't believe in me.
But that's all the past and merely excuses as to why I didn't/couldn't/wouldn't/haven't done more with my life. It's just a conversation in my head that is based on experiences, but has nothing to do with what I am actually capable of.
And the same goes for you. Fuck that negativity because you and I are good enough to be, do, and have anything we desire.
We really do!
2) I'm being selfish by choosing happiness.
I won't lie. I had a very hard time with this when my wife and I split. Although I knew it was the best thing for us and my daughters, I had a deep, unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach that told me I was being selfish. My conversation to myself sounded like this:
- Who the fuck am I to leave this marriage and start over?
- Does this make me a bad father or less of a parent?
- Am I going to negatively impact the future of my daughters?
- Millions of people suck it up and grind out their lives. What makes me so special?
- Am I a selfish asshole to quit my job, get divorced, and pursue a life that actually means something?
And after some serious soul searching, I've found my answer to all of these questions..
I am not being selfish by breaking out of the norm, doing the unfathomable, and going for it.
There is zero nobility in accepting a shitty life because your commitments tell you that you have to. Life is too short for that. I never in a million years would have thought I would get divorced, but it was the only decision that would allow me to find happiness again and allow me to be the best dad I was capable of being.
Feeling selfish is nothing more than guilt, which is simply the resistance fucking with your mind and preventing you from living a better life.
And as Steven Pressfield says in his book, The War of Art:
“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
3) I can't do it.
Most of us will take the path of least resistance in life. That's human nature. We are inherently lazy beings and becoming the best versions of ourselves takes work. A ton of it!
It's infinitely easier to say "I can't do it" and never try than to say "I can do it" and absolutely get after it.
Think of why you aren't where you want to be in your life. With your health and fitness. With your career. With your relationships.
When I quit my job in 2013, I was freaking the fuck out. I left a huge financial opportunity on the table in order to make $40,000 per year running a gym. In the DC Metro area, that's basically the poverty line. And when I left that job in order to start my own fitness business, that feeling increased ten fold.
I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to pay my bills, take care of my children, and keep my apartment. So I hustled day and night. I had an overwhelming sense that I wouldn't be able to do it all. The words "I can't do it" played in my head constantly and it took all my willpower not to run back to the safety of a steady job.
And then I realized something..
I could do it and am doing it!
And so can you. If you don't think you can, you are dead fucking wrong. Don't listen to that bullshit voice in your head that stops you from going for broke. You are far more powerful than you think...