For many years I wondered around aimlessly, pondering what I should be doing with my life. I had no passion and no idea what I wanted out of life, never mind how I was going to get there. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was uneasy with my current situation.
The bland emptiness of living a life that pleased others, yet I was completely unfulfilled. Simmering below the surface was intense fear and the false notion that I needed a guaranteed plan, a definitive path to breathe life back into my bland existence where the future looked bleak, hazy, and uncertain.
The pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.Michelle Ruiz
By this time I was already in my late thirties. I believed this false notion that at this age, I should already know what I want and how I’m going to get it. The treacherous, debilitating feeling of failure and lack of purpose paralyzed me. I went numb and felt like there was no way out.
Sure I was pretty well off, and life wasn’t too bad. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was merely a grey shadow floating in a world swarming with movement and color.
I could feel my essence fading. Like I had breath, but no air. I could no longer ignore my own shortcomings and the ridiculous beliefs instilled in me by society. So I took my first shaky steps into uncertain territory, full of fear and doubt, and catapulted my way into a life I truly wanted.
This is how I did it, and how you can do it too.
1. Stop trying to find yourself
Surely my first step was to find myself…….right? So I got out my yoga mat and started meditating. My meditation lasted all of 5 seconds before I started thinking about what I was going to have for lunch. Frustrated by my failure to even sit quietly, I gave up and rain checked my meditation for the next day.
This failed attempt to clear my mind of the old and let in the new, lasted about a week before I noticed a permanent frown on my face. Not exactly the objective of meditation! So there I was, even more frustrated than before, even more time wasted and no closer to my purpose.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourselfGeorge Bernard Shaw
That’s when I decided, to hell with this, get me my laptop. I needed to start searching. But for what, I had no idea. It was time to dig deep, to the root of the problem, and boy was I terrified.
2. Get to the root of the problem
Would you believe I didn’t even have a clue what my problem was? That thought alone made me want to pump the breaks and just return to my spineless, fearful existence full of self-doubt.
But I knew that if I didn’t get this one absolutely right, then all my efforts to breathe life back into my existence would be in vain. There was no way I was going to waste any more time. So I took my time and made sure that I was thorough, no matter how terrifying and confusing that might be, or how long it would take.
A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going onC.S Lewis
Everyday I paid extra attention to what was altering my emotions. I noticed that every time I was getting ready for work, I felt a sinking feeling, though I did not know why. When I arrived at work I was fine, until someone told me what to do and my blood began to boil. The next time a colleague tried to cause me unnecessary drama and pass their tasks down to me I wanted to head-butt someone.
The day passed by like watching paint dry, and I couldn’t wait to go home and comfort eat. Clearly my work or the environment was the root of my problem.
Finally, I figured it out!
Throughout the day I wrote down everything that pained me, and why I thought that was the case. It turns out I was tired of being told what to do when I already knew the best way to do. I was fed up with doing the work of less competent people, as well as my own, and still being underappreciated (with less pay). Then being grilled when it wasn’t done the way they wanted it. I was tired of having my time controlled. I was tired in general, burnt out.
Every time I was stuck in traffic or in a queue I was impatiently tapping my foot, looking at my watch and slowly getting heart palpitations, as I knew I’d be late for some thing or another.
What I was lacking in life was FREEDOM. Freedom of time, place, finances, and choice. I didn’t realize how confident I was in my own capabilities and how others were holding me back with their own limitations. I wanted to do things the way I wanted at my own pace and in my own time.
3. Change your train of thought.
Great, I found my pain point, now where do I go from here? The first thing that came to mind is that I have to find a way to do what I like and somehow generate an income from it. The next thing that came to mind was…….oh sh*t, that means I have to do this on my own. No salary cushion, no comfort zone, no certainty. And what did I do? Retracted into a mental fetal position, and pumped the breaks again!
My fear of failure and taking accountability was palpable. All the confidence I thought I had suddenly dissolved, and I was back to square one.
We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created themAlbert Einstein
It took me a while to snap out of this one. But all it took was yet another traffic jam and delusional boss to shake me out of my productivity coma. This could not continue.
I had to change my thought patterns from oh sh*t to hell yes! I had to start thinking like a leader, even if I was only leading myself. This was something that I knew I had to work on consistently. Even though I had some confidence left in me, I was still not audacious enough to think big.
So I started to think about what would make me feel powerful. The one thing that no one can take away from me AND empower me at the same time is EDUCATION! Immediately I started searching for courses on skills that I could use in any industry, anywhere and that would give me the opportunity to generate an income doing something I actually enjoy.
This was no easy feat as there is so much information out there that it could easily become overwhelming. But I promised myself that nothing would make me pump the breaks again.
Liberation in 1 package
I persevered and found 1 resource that taught me skills beyond what I could imagine. Starting from scratch and not having a clue what I was doing, I slowly acquired the skills that I could transfer to any industry. It would give me complete geographic freedom, and provide me with the opportunity to generate alternative sources of income. Basically it covered all the ticks in my box of wants.
The results of my new-found knowledge were noticeable in my communication style and posture (confirmed by my friends and colleagues). I was undergoing a transformation that I did not see coming. I was becoming the boss of my own circumstances.
If you want to know what I did and how I did it, click here.
4. Build a strong resistance to problems
I was strong, I was confident, and I was beginning my journey to freedom and independence. My way has been paved, I could see a start and finish line and I was on my way to being a boss to be reckoned with. Until I started facing the problems, obstacles, and confusion that comes with starting something new! Once again my mindset was being challenged to find ways to cope with finding solutions to problems I’ve never even heard of before.
I could feel ‘my old friend self-doubt’ creep back in again. The biggest battle I ever fought was with my mind. I was firmly placed in the middle of the battlefield, fighting a mental war I did not know I could win.
Getting through that first hurdle was horrendous. There was literal blood, sweat and tears, but the feeling of solving my first problem and succeeding beyond measure was a natural high. It took me months to solve, but when I did I learned another timeless valuable lesson.
All my problems bow before my stubbornnessAmit Kalantri
I almost welcomed the next problem, not even realizing that this will be a consistent battle being independent. Yes, I have some battle scars, but my resistance has strengthened over time. With every failure came a lesson. My fear of failure is slowly diminishing, as all my failures have taught me some of the most valuable lessons. And trust me, I stumble and fall with every step, but I’d rather drag myself up than face the consequences of a living a meager existence again, void of any possibilities or excitement.
The resistance to problems takes time. Soldiers without battle scars rarely win battles consistently.
5. Stop old beliefs and practices dead in their tracks
The feeling of empowerment brought on by achievements and independence is priceless. It is the one thing that never fails to breathe life back into a glum, grey existence. People in your environment will notice a difference in your demeanor.
You will notice people responding to you differently. Your quiet confidence will effortlessly command respect and authority. No longer will you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, always searching for opportunities that could disappear overnight even if they were handed to you.
I’ve been strong because I’ve been weak. I am fearless because I’ve been afraid. I am wise because I’ve been foolish.Unknown
Being strong is such a cliche’ I think. When people say the words “I am strong” I roll my eyes (not to their face!). Because real strength comes from within. And no words can describe it. True strength can only be shown by actions. You’ll have the knowledge and experience to prove it.
Dragging yourself out of a slump to individualism and empowerment is only the beginning. Your new-found strength does not make you invincible and those old negative thought patterns and self-doubts can easily creep back in if you’re not consciously aware of it.
Don’t beat yourself up when it does happen, it’s human nature. However, recognizing that you’re experiencing it and then stopping it dead in its tracks will keep those monsters at bay for the long haul.
Continuous improvement is a surefire way to keep your positive juices flowing. No one can take your accomplishments away from you. You grow, you learn and you thrive. That is my philosophy.