The following is a chapter from my free eBook “Overcoming the Two Roadblocks to Change”
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The Moment I Walked Away
I was lying in bed staring at the light reflected on the ceiling. It was just after midnight and like many recent nights I couldn't sleep as my mind danced around a question I heard earlier by the great Alan Watts... he asked, “If money were no object, what would you do with your life?”
I could feel an answer pulsing but tried to deny its existence, not knowing how to deal with the heaviness of it. When I finally stopped dodging and looked at it honestly, I knew this was one of the most important questions I could ask and it would mean dismantling my life completely.
The agency I was running, the place I lived in, all the stuff I had accumulated; I wanted none of it.
I was stressed out, overworked and tired of our western culture full of overconsumption and ego-gratification.
A recent doctor’s visit revealed that my cortisol levels were through the roof and I was given very specific instructions “If you don’t love what you’re doing, change it.” I remembered back to a few months prior when I stood in my brand new office with my account manager overlooking the level below. I had just spent a significant amount of money on new furniture and lighting and was running around like crazy trying to get everything set up.
Upon completion, instead of feeling joy and gratitude for everything we had built, I remember telling her “I don’t feel like I’m handling stress well these days, I can’t seem to get rid of this feeling inside my body.” It all felt so heavy. There was so much to manage, so much responsibility. I looked around and saw that I had built my own glorified prison, forcing me to hustle beyond what felt natural just to keep it all going.
I started to fantasize about what it would feel like to let it all go.
My doctor looked me in the eye and explained “You can’t keep going like this. With just a single year of levels like this and you’ll be in for some serious health issues.” It was already showing up on my skin and my nearly absent menstrual cycle. I knew I needed to change. I wanted nothing more than to travel the world with a backpack and a camera but had no idea how to do that, how to stop the wheels on the very active business I’d been running for the last 7 years. This time though, I knew I had to listen, I knew this voice couldn’t be ignored. So I grabbed my phone and started taking notes, writing down my ideas and action steps for how I could actually accomplish this.
So many thoughts and fears raced through my mind, “My clients are gonna freak out. My employees are gonna be pissed. People will think I'm crazy. Where will the money come from?” And on and on it went until I had a pretty accurate roadmap of how to close up shop in two months and plan my escape.
I jumped head first into change and what happened next can only be explained as a miracle.
The money showed up to support my endeavors without having to work a single hour for over a year, everything closed out harmoniously and people moved on. I got to travel to far off distant places and meet some of the most courageous people on the planet and I didn’t miss a single thing I sold. It was as if the universe was saying, “Thank you, for finally listening.”
But despite the carefree adventure-based lifestyle I promoted to the outside world through social media and my travel blog, I felt like I completely lost myself in the process. To say I was depressed and confused is an understatement. I could feel the stress response still highly active within my body and had no idea how to stop it. Backpacking through poverty-stricken countries and being in a relationship that was tumultuous only added to the complex formula I set up for myself. There were moments of deep frustration and despair where I really started to question my life, my purpose and myself.
I’ve noticed this can happen with big changes.
I experienced it when I first took the leap into entrepreneurship and have felt it at some level with every major life change I’ve undergone, although it’s gotten easier as I’ve found healthy ways to deal with the challenges and internal roadblocks.
I’ve since undergone a few more dramatic shifts, from the businesses I’ve launched to the healing that’s taken place in my life and I can say with confidence that there’s a distinct pattern that shows up around change, especially a big one, and a very clear path to the other side.