The first three months of 2016 have felt like some insane spiritual obstacle course. We closed on our dream home on January 15th, two weeks after I left my corporate career.
As you’re about to read, the double whammy of full-scale home, and career renovations is not for the faint of heart. It took me past the brink in a few different ways.
However, there were plenty of laughs and major moments of insight along the way. My goal in documenting this saga is to demonstrate how I applied everything I know about spiritual, personal, and professional development along the way.
I also think it’s important to debunk some of the mythology around undertaking massive change. Although it’s often necessary, it doesn’t mean it’s pleasant.
We don’t often get to choose how much change engulfs us all at once. But we do get to choose how we show up to face it. It can be a messy, embarrassing, and often terrifying process.
My hope is that if you stick it through to the end with me, we’ll add a few more tools to your Change Management arsenal.
Recovering nicely. Our new family room.[/caption]
Have you ever had a moment where you become suddenly lucid and wonder, “what the hell has just happened to me?”
A couple weeks ago, I realized I had traveled as far from who I knew myself to be as it’s possible to travel. If there’s a rock bottom, I was coming close.
I was an unshaven, oversleeping, junk food eating, caffeine-addled, out of work Dad racing my kid to school late. And I was wearing fucking warm-up pants!
How did I get here?
My life pre-January had felt pretty awesome. I had spent years creating all sorts of healthy habits and rituals. My workspace was a finely tuned creative paradise. Our family took nine years to restore an old house we loved living in.
My weeks usually included 2-4 plane flights to deliver trainings that inspired me. I only ever needed to drive my car to the airport.
On January 4th, I found out my job as I knew it, (the one I had designed myself and rocked out for 3 years) was no longer going to exist. This news was delivered exactly 5 minutes after faxing our signed closing documents on the house.
Even more interesting, our home loan was written to include an additional 30% of funds to cover a full remodel.
This meant that our Seasonal Affective Disordered (SAD) asses would spend Ohio’s harshest months overseeing the movement of tremendous amounts of cash flow that did not necessarily include income.
We committed to doing more construction in 10 weeks on our new home than what took us nine years in our last one. It also meant our family of five would be crashing with my in-laws.
At some point in February my wife joked that all she wanted for her 39th birthday was to move our kids in with her Mom.
We knew it would be challenging, and result in staggering, irreversible change.
January 15th, 2016. The night we got the keys to our new house we invited friends and family over for champagne & Swenson’s (legendary local burger joint in Akron, OH). Note the Brady Bunch atmospherics.[/caption]
Step 1 – Taking Complete Ownership
There wasn’t much time to indulge in the victim game. My wife, being extremely more down to earth, took my job loss as a sign that we shouldn’t move forward with the house.
I couldn’t imagine it.
I argued that failure would feel like starting the next chapter of my career while looking out the same windows, into the same yards of the same neighbors. We had been feeling like we had outgrown our home, and were ready for an exciting new adventure.
After many deep, open conversations we were on the same page. It reminded me of every other inflection point in our lives. Once Gayle and I are united behind a cross country move, changing industries, or growing the family, then it’s Game On. It’s like we both clone ourselves to move mountains.
We knew the home renovation would bring a new level of momentum and energy. I visualized myself looking out of these windows, and throwing pool parties for friends and coworkers.
Taking ownership of the house was simple. We got the keys, and started demolishing the kitchen the next morning. It would take me much longer to fully process the loss of my job.
Grieving my departure from the company was unavoidable. I had spent 9 remarkable years with amazing people, helping build something great. Although I was mourning the loss, openly crying as I told my kids, I would still need to take full ownership of my role in how it went down.
All of this was something I chose. It was something I pushed for, and asked for repeatedly. The trouble is most of us never recognize what we’ve been asking for when it shows up. It never quite looks exactly like what we asked for. Our souls choose what needs to happen, then God (or the Universe, or the IRS) decides how it goes down.
As I was leaving the temple after meditation, toward the end of my December sabbatical in Encinitas, I asked God and Guru very clearly for some resolution. There had been a growing tension between who I needed to show up for work as each day, and the person I was becoming.
That night a very convincing peace washed over my being, making me stop and realize that my prayers were heard.
When you get hellbent on growth and evolution, you can’t be surprised when life uproots you. I may have not been working toward these specific outcomes, but they are indicative of a lot of other work I had been doing, or not doing.
Taking ownership restores our trusty sense of control in an uncontrollable universe. The other option is to stay locked in victim mode, blaming everyone for how they did us wrong.
This is why we must train ourselves, no matter how hard it is, to smile and say “great work!” every time our kids spill the milk. BTW, we honestly still get pissed off in our house, depending on our stress levels. However, I am likely to shout “awesome!” when I explode a bag of coffee grounds all over the kitchen.
The thousands of spilled milks each year just help us practice.
These seemingly jarring events are just life asking how bad we really want it. These are the problems an overwhelming majority of humanity would kill to have. A great house, healthy family, and time to figure out my next chapter?
All are problems of prosperity.
That doesn’t make them less real, or scary. Many sleepless nights were still ahead of me, as my brain spun around the dream house, and designing a new career to support it.
Have you taken ownership for anything painful you were experiencing lately? Share it in the comments below. It’s a crucial, powerful first step toward getting back in alignment.