Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why Do I Need to Fix My Life?

Changing My Life Begins w/ Fixing My Life

So I have to be honest right off the bat, while it's completely true that I feel like I have to fix my life, and that it won't wait any more, I'm a little bit anxious about sharing this since I never really imagined having a blog online that actually reflected something on my personal life. That said, there are some things I'm not going to be completely open about because there are plenty things in my life that need to have privacy, both for me and those I care about.

But starting in 2010 I find myself in a weird place. Not to sound like some self inflated self help guru who is always pumping pep and sunshine (those people and their fake plaster smiles drive me nuts - if you're THAT happy about a Perkins muffin, how much joy is left when something actually relevant good happens?), but I am definitely at a place where I've reverted back to too many bad habits and old habits, and I'm not happy with this backslide because it's keeping me from being the person I want to be, can be, and who I've even been.

That's right. I said fix my life because I am not one of those people who desperately needs a change because I've never done anything. Quite the contrary, despite having the same anger, self-doubt, and mal-adjustment issues a lot of people have coming out of high school or a small town, I absolutely BLOOMED in college.

I'm not going to go into the full story here, I'll go into an abbreviated version of the back story later, but basically from high school I was ostracized and unpopular for a good portion of the time, and didn't develop a lot of the social skills that came naturally to people who weren't in the same boat as myself. That awkwardness definitely made the beginning of college bumpy, but I came into my own and transformed my life to become one of those rare people who really was "THE MAN."

Not that there's ever just one, and granted the giant beard that made me easily identifiable all across the Coe College campus helped, but I was extremely popular, went from completely introverted to extroverted, depressed personality to out going and happy. I enjoyed every single moment of life, even through huge strings of tragedies and turmoil, loved my friends and fellow classmates dearly and saw a lot of that returned. I had an incredible amount of self confidence in who I was, what I was becoming, and the faith to tackle anything regardless of the obstacles.

And despite amazing adventures, great friends, and more stories in the last 10 years than 99% of people will have in their entire lives, somehow I lost it. The mojo, my confidence, I was beaten back into old habits and fell into an old shell I thought was done for good. It's easy to fall into old habits you don't like. Very easy. It was amazing I held out for as many years as I did, but here I am reflecting on my life in 2010, 10 months away from turning 30 (and how the ((explicative)) it got here this quickly from "college age" is beyond me), one year after the worst year of my life (and 2005 was utterly devastating enough it almost destroyed me - and it didn't even compare to 2009), and so I sat down to look at my life.

There are several clear cut reasons for this reflection now, some bad, and some actually very good. The main ones are:
  • 2009 was so terrible, I threw in the towel in October, so I already had 3 months to look ahead.
  • In 2009 a friend died on my birthday, the 3rd time in 5 years that has happened. That will screw with you pretty badly.
  • A change in environment with a nice apartment, good roommates, and a SAFE area have helped me to stabilize my life and stop the sinking feeling.
  • The freelance work has been FANTASTIC the past 3 months after two terrible years, which also included me losing my dream job in Austin, Texas. My brother and I's business has me excited and passionate for the first time in quite a while.
  • The past 2 years are the first time I haven't been happy, content, or driven (at least one of the 3) on a day to day basis in 10 years. It's also the first time I've had to deal with severe depression again for the the first time in a decade. That scares me, saddens me, and it pisses me off that I'm not getting pissed off enough about it.
  • There have been some really cool/amazing/odd/opportune projects and potential projects both work-related, creative work related, and otherwise that have begun to come my way, seeming to line up very much with each small stride I make in "returning" to being me.
  • There are a LOT of people right now abusing power, wealth, position, and situation to unfairly and unjustly hurt friends and family of mine, and that's brought up a lot of conflict within me of my old self vs. my new self, old codes of honor and faith vs. new ones, and has forced me to examine every part of who exactly I really am right now. There were a lot of things I didn't like at all when I looked honestly, with the scales fallen away from the eyes, so to speak.
So the reflection brought a lot of things clear to me:
  1. I need to fix my life, and I need to do it RIGHT NOW, and I want to fix my life forever - hence the name of the blog.
  2. I'm not the person I want to be, can be, or need to be. I'm a firm believer that everyone has a degree of purpose - maybe not necessarily a specific calling, destiny, or fate, but that if you're really in tune with who you are and who you should be, you're happier when you're on that "path" because you're in line with being who and what you're meant to be. Time for me to get back on that line.
  3. I was a person who could change lives just by being me. I am just as capable of being that person, or even greater, and it's time for me to dig with all the past scars, traumas, and bad habits until I am that person again.
  4. I'm the only one who can drastically change my life, and here comes the rub: I have the power to do it by sheer will alone, if I simply have even half of the old confidence or belief in my abilities that I used to have. So how do I change my life by sheer will power when I don't have it? Well there's the rub again.
  5. I'm not content with being content. I know what my realized potential can be, I've tasted it. Here comes the scary but brutally honest statement: I'd rather die than go back to being stuck in the old shell, bound by the old chains, plopped down in a mediocre life that I depressingly accept as "good enough."
That's not a suicide threat, it's not a cry for help. In some ways it was an INCREDIBLY encouraging revelation for me, because it showed a spark of the old fighting spirit that everyone knew me for. Life could crush me over and over, months could go on where I was a living example of Job (old Testament guy with a real bad stretch - not the synonym for work) but I was always fighting, always moving forward, and always growing.

That fire is an inherent part of me, and I want it back. All of it.

So now we're getting down to the nitty-gritty. Fixing my life, changing my life. I don't intend to get back to being the person I was, I intend to become better and work tirelessly on becoming the full embodiment of the person I know I'm capable of being when that potential is being realized and I'm following MY path.

So I don't want this post to go on too much longer since it is the introduction, but just a little bit more and I'm sure there's tons of stuff about fixing my life in this post that will eventually be full blown posts in and of themselves. So I'll end with several points, observations, caveats, rules, whatever. You'll get the gist of it while reading.

  • A lot of these posts are going to be about money and business. I'm passionate about the business Jon and I are starting, I'm passionate about freelancing, and since these (and paying off debt to free myself) are huge parts of my life, there will be a LOT of posting about these topics.
  • I recognize everything is connected. Dropping 50 pounds so the downstairs neighbors think I'm cuter isn't just a vanity thing - it's health, it's self confidence, it's a self image thing, it's emotional, it's the type of thing that can cause an avalanche of positive side effects. The same could go for paying off credit cards. Less stress, confidence from a goal achieved, money freed up can allow me to travel, help others, pay for a gym membership, take an arts class, etc. It's all connected. Little things matter a whole lot.
  • Spiritual is important to me. If you don't believe in any of that, fine. We all have a right to our own point of view, but if you don't like reading about how the spiritual impacts my life, just skip those sections. That said, I'm not going to over-spiritualize things, either. I'll talk about what's going on as I'm viewing things at the time I'm blogging and fixing up my life, and that's how it stands either way. I'm okay with positive or critical comments in the comments section as long as it's not a flame out.
  • Goals are important. Does 99.9% of the world think that building a functioning recliner out of nothing but cardboard and duct tape has nothing to do with self improvement? Probably - but this is something I've wanted to do since 2002. I can't tell you why it would be important to me, but it is and I'm not going to feel guilty or odd about it. If something on my upcoming list of 150 goals for 2010 sounds bizarre - feel free to ask about it in the comments. Could lead to some really lively conversations, but step one is admitting the problem and being honest so there will be some weird stuff on there.
  • I have no idea where this blog is going. Yes, it's about fixing my life, and if even one reader fixes their life because of it, or just improves their life, or if one person even thinks about self improvement, great. But this blog is kind of an odd experiment, so no promises about where it is or isn't going. I just don't know.
  • Personal can get uncomfortable. Just a fair warning.
  • Some situational information I just can't share. I'm going to be as open and honest as possible, and maybe putting myself out there with something like this that I'm kind of uncomfortable with is that first step to re-gaining the lost confidence and swagger
One last point that is important enough for me to hold by itself. This blog, and the entire idea behind it, is from me deciding, simply deciding, back in December of 2009 that 2010 was going to be MY year, no matter how certain events turn out for better or worse. I'm coming back, I'm going to own it, going to dominate it, and it's all going to happen because I decided it would.

Call it metaphysical, call it fringe quantum physics (if this sounds confusing, take a look at the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know" the title will be all in mathematical symbols and this movie is stunning even if I don't completely agree with some of the more controversial claims or interpretations - it's still worth seeing), call it destiny. Call it overly optimistic raving lunacy.

All of those descriptions have a point, but I honestly believe that reaching a breaking point where I simply decided to change my life forever is enough to do just that. So call it what you will, but I'm already beginning to see it this year, and future blog posts will show what has already happened, where I started from, and where I'm going bit by bit.

So thanks for reading guys. I put myself out there, went against every single old instinct screaming at me to NOT share this on Facebook so others could see, and so now I'm out there and vulnerable. But it feels good. It feels like the first step to being back.