We closed on our dream home and took on a full remodel two weeks after I left my corporate career. I’m sharing our saga in the hopes of adding a few more tools to your Change Management arsenal. Find the previous installments here: Part 1 or Part 2 or Part 3
Writing, and living a new story.
Somewhere in my personal development journey, I learned that people greatly overestimate what they can accomplish in a year. The good news, is we massively underestimate what can be accomplished in 5 years.
Every single year we prove this out, and yet we still enter a new year with expectations of massive change.
We want things to be different, to be better than whatever groove we’ve been living in. Yet, we’re somehow incapable of connecting the dots toward that new life we envision.
We attack the year on all angles: I want to make the money, to find the partner, to leave the corporate gig and do my life’s work. It’s like waging a war on a hundred fronts.
What this year is teaching me on a minute-to-minute basis, is that transformation cannot be approached from the outside-in. You can’t work it out on to-do lists.
At least, I couldn’t.
Evaluating our success in yearly increments has an advantage in terms of benchmarking, but it’s also limiting. This morning in meditation I pictured my 5-years younger self sitting next to me. First of all, I wouldn’t have been able to sit for 30 min, let alone 80.
In 2011 I was working as a sales director, rocking a fauxhawk hairdo, and expecting our 3rd child. I was actively improving myself but I didn’t have any clear end game. Everything made me happy enough, but there was some deeper, unfulfilled longing eating away at me.
Sales commissions paid for major home improvements, which seemed to be getting us the life we wanted. I was on the path of drinking too frequently. I would hide any shameful habits beneath a wicked sense of humor and a perma-grin mask. I was multitalented, but unfocused at best.
In contrast, today I’m a happy work in progress. My mountains of needed self-improvements have only grown, but I noticed they are far more refined. They don’t require the same levels of scaffolding.
Do you have any friends who can’t survive without being in a relationship, or in a job? As one ends, they are immediately into another one?
It always struck me how terrified we are of being alone with ourselves. Back in the day I noticed this on long drives across my sales territory. I needed to be on the phone, like Clark’s boss in Christmas Vacation: “Get me someone, anyone!”
Over the years I suggested to people who were leaving a job, or their latest relationship to take a breather in between. It seemed like common sense. You can’t expect to be a different/better partner or team member the very next day. Why not take a pause and figure out who we are first before the next round?
Secretly, this was a far-fetched luxury I had never given myself. I met my wife Gayle (17 years married, 21 together) the night I was out with my high school girlfriend. Kids, careers, and a whole lotta life followed. Every job teed up the next one starting the following Monday. We were blessed to find the right partner so young, but I wonder how that need for through-lines held us back.
We grow up to a chorus of “always have the next job before you leave your current one” and “better have a back-up plan”. Safety becomes so alluring we design a life around it without noticing.
Our greatest rally points come when we’re painted into a corner, when change becomes the only viable option. Those moments aren’t particularly fun. No wonder we avoided them!
I am *not* saying to invite chaos into your life, or to take crazy financial risks. Especially if you have a family.
In retrospect aren’t we always grateful to have hit an inflection point? Nobody gets sober without a moment of surrender. No underdog saves the universe without the odds impossibly stacked against them.
Nobody starts living a new story while simultaneously telling the old one. <-Click to Tweet>
I start crying when I realize I’ve been slowly (sometimes painfully) becoming the man I always wanted to be. Living where I dreamed of living, on my own terms. Working with idealistic clients on amplifying strengths, versus shoveling sand to fix broke. Sitting at an altar of God & guru, in the basement of one massive Family Altar. My Pops would be yelling “Tremendous!”
Do I want to expand my life from here? I’m still breathing, right? Life is expansion.
I’m capable of basking in my gratitude because I’m doing the work. We aren’t required to suffer, only to notice how most the world would kill to have our problems.
When I look back on a life spent safely swinging from vine to vine, I can see how scared I was to learn what gravity needed to teach me. This year is about new views from every vantage point. Many of them are far more inspiring than 5 months ago, let alone 5 years.
Yet, some are more obstructed, or murky. Daunting.
When I told Gayle my corporate career was ending, I insisted on moving forward with the home move and renovation. This was financially counterintuitive. It could’ve been like missing a vine and grabbing a lead balloon instead.
But there are much larger forces at work than I could tackle through action. No single next employer interested me. I’m excited to serve many. This time I’d hire mydamnself. Same guy who built this one of a kind family and life.
I realized immediately it couldn’t have been the exact same guy who drove home in January. Building what needs built while expanding our lives takes something deeper. Every story needed to be rewritten.
We need to increase our capability to discover ourselves, & rescue ourselves from any sketchy circumstances. <- Click to Tweet
Transformation is an inside-out process.
Uproot every one of my diseased, egoic habits, or attachments. Bring to light every one of my self-serving, manipulative behaviors. Trace back all those bullshit story lines we started believing as children. Challenge every faulty, old story.
There is no way forward while dragging a lifetime full of anchors.
And besides, I’m not merely trying to move forward. Don’t we want Upward? Outward? Onward? Navigating life with a 6th grade understanding of geometry is incremental. This stuff is physics, bitch.
As we purge, and upgrade our habits we see a new story has been writing itself. Notice how all of your circumstances and metrics only improve in direct relation to Y-O-U.
We’ve never meant to be bad people, or ineffective. Exactly the opposite! We only ever wanted to be loved, starting with ourselves.
Do you want to snap your fingers and start living a new story?
Meditate. Get quiet, and start practicing being alone with yourself. Someday soon, you’ll start knowing yourself. Maybe for the first time.
Meditation is the crucial habit to form because it upgrades all other habits. This is true in my experience, especially over the last 5 years. It accelerated everything, which I know sounds insane because it requires slowing wayyyy downnn. But I’ve seen that it works, and I’ll be doubling down my efforts over the next 5 years.
Do you believe that we grow more in 5 years than we realize? Are you beating yourself up for not growing fast enough year over year? Would love to hear from you below.