There are moolians (my new word) of self-help ‘gurus’ out there who will ram the idea of ‘changing your life’ down your throat, so I’m not going to try add to the onslaught. This post is about sharing the life-transition I’ve made over the past 1½ years – just as a little breezing-out. If you can take anything from it, be my guest. If you merely froth at the opportunity to get up in my business – well I suppose the same applies! To me, blogging is about being an open book, so I’m going to go ahead and turn the pages…
Once in every decade of my life I’ve pressed the Re-Start Button, stepped back, reviewed lots of things that I wanted to fundamentally change and made some spirited, principled, courageous, dramatic and drastic. I’ve always been a sponge and was into self-development since I was in my teens – I would deploy the knowledge, experience and wisdom I’d hovered up until that point, to review the things in my life that I wanted to change. Whilst at the time, it felt like a roller-coaster and dropped many a jaw, it just felt natural to me at the time. That’s me – I’m deep and I like to take my life by the horns.
Like the music artist doing the round of PR interviews for their new album who says, “this is my best yet”, I really want to tell you, “this is my best yet”, however I think you may projectile vomit into my face, so I’ll tell you this: this is the happiest I’ve ever felt in my entire life. How about that?
I got to 40 without a hitch – my 30s were about working insanely hard to establish myself in my vocation of human development consulting – challenging & responsible jobs, voluntary work, independent consultancy, studying, buying my first home etc. Towards the latter end of my thirties, at the time where I had ticked all of the boxes I’d set for myself, I started to realise the boxes I’d set at 30 had been ticked and that again. I had a new appetite. My Nicherin Buddhist practice had taught me a lot about challenging myself on a much deeper level to understand what really makes me happy. I had the job I’d dreamt about for 10 years, that I felt deeply challenged in for all the wrong reasons and very unfulfilled in, despite it being great on paper and for the good it was doing for my skill-set; I had a beautiful home in an area I felt totally disenfranchised from, a mortgage that I was proud to have acquired but felt strangled by and a plethora of diverse friends and social interests that kept me active and laughing…but they were being drowned by my spiralling professional commitments – which as I said, was no longer making me happy. I was spiritually dying and had been for a couple of years.
My epiphany niggled at me for months before I really did something about it, then followed, ‘I’ve got to find real happiness in myself again and let that guide my life – not meaningless professional (and cultural) markers.’ I realised that the role as a Senior Consultant, the mortgage, the car, the profession that I was proud of and loved to be a part of, my studies, whilst screaming ‘ambition and success’, were leaving me without a deeply unhealthy work-life balance, a feeling of being unfulfilled and with little room to breathe. I longed to take a break from work to clear my head space and think about the next role I would like to do within my vocation, which would re-motivate and fulfil me to an even more inspiring level. I’d stepped too far into the commercial/aggressive consultancy dark-side of it! I chanted (Nichiren Buddhist meditation – like active prayer) and used the SpiritedStrength model to coach myself. The answer became clear. I needed some time out. I needed to leave my job. I needed to press the Re-Start Button.
After wrestling with it for 10 months privately and with friends, it became clear that it had to be done – it was mere a matter of how. I’d rent my home out, make my life much lighter, physically (furniture) and financially (bills) by doing flat-share, take 9 months away from a full time paid role, and take time to get back to me. Friends and family were horrified that I was doing this at a time when everyone was panicking about the ‘secure’ things in life – lack of job security, keeping hold of their homes, struggling with their mortgages, being battered by increases in the cost of living. Who did I really think I was to do all this when everyone else was putting up with it or had firm & rational (boring & uninspiring) plans of how to transition from one ‘perfect’ means of ‘protecting’ the ‘serious’ life stuff to another? I had a conversation with myself. I told myself that ‘I’ matter. For years I sucked it up and accepted the ridiculously demanding jobs that sucked up every modicum of my sprit, my social life and challenged me deeply to adapt and get on. My long term illness, dyspepsia had seriously flared up and worsened because my stress-levels were through the roof. I felt numb. I’m a responsible, hard-working man and have been independently and successfully looking after myself since my mother died at the age of 16, however I was humble enough to do whatever was necessary to be good to myself. I needed this. Those who didn’t like the idea of me, this iconic SpiritedStrength, the guy who is so successful and is ‘doing so well’ turning his life upside down like a hippy, will just have to get used to a new me for a while, or clear off. They’d have to try and get to know me, just as I was about to again. Who am I without the big profession, the mortgage, the social-standing??? I sure as hell was going to find out, even if they didn’t want to.
Roll on 14 months later, just as I’m week away form my 42nd birthday and it’s all finally clunked into place. Did I say this was my best life-transition yet? I kind of did, but I just needed to re-affirm it – I’m so excited at the moment! I had no idea what I was going to encounter but I was crystal-clear about the following: a) I had to get back to the things that inspired me from the gut – socially and professionally b) nobody can take my vocation away from me – I have a gift of developing people – it was time to work out where I would do it (role) that would be more mutually motivational & beneficial c) I would always be a people-person socially – maturity says I have to make choices about the depth and breathe of what activities I can do, granted, however I will never again make work physically or mentally drain me to the point I cannot do the social activities/adventures that give my life balance d) corporate life needs a man like me as much as I need them – if employer/client doesn’t want to deal with the real me, I’ll move on – I’m not a clone e) I can ONLY be on the path towards fundamental happiness when I have stripped things back professionally and in my personal life and trust myself to allow my raw motivations to lead the way forward. And that’s where I’m at today. That’s why I feel so damn good!
SpiritedStrength = daily life driven by: • heart • realness • liberation • purpose • learning • happiness
There are so many stories, that I could tell you about the journey along my latest life transition – there have been some rock-bottom lows and some inter-galactic highs! Subsequent posts will reveal bits & bobs of it. For now though I just want to state that I am so glad that I have developed and wholly believe in the SpiritedStrength model – it’s saved my life, made my life, and graced my life.
So this is August 2011. Starting an exciting new full-time job in a few weeks, my 42nd birthday coming up, my SpiritedStrength website and blog have been launched, I’ve faced a fear of languages and started learning Spanish, I’ve started back my salsa classes, my fitness is back on track and I’m aiming to run the London Marathon next year. I feel switched-on, connected, liberated, focused, light, joyous and happy. Seriously, let it roll!
I wonder if I’ll want to press the Re-Start Button in my 50s? *covers eyes with iPhone*