Photo by gjsethexplores
When 2016 began I was preparing to complete my final semester of college. Just 3 years prior I decided to return to school and complete this unfinished portion of my journey. I was registered as a full time student while working full time as a permanent substitute teacher at a middle school, and more importantly I was still a single, full time father. Like the previous 3 years I was busy, and dedicated very little of my time to achieving what I am truly passionate about.
As the semester came to a close I watched as other students were excited to finish, and begin the next phase of their journey. For me, I was going to miss college, but I knew it was time to move on. Completing college was something that I did to not only prove to myself that it was possible, but also prove to anyone else who ever has any self doubt that anything is possible. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your circumstances are, if you want something bad enough you’ll find a way to do it. As the old adage says, if I can do it anyone can do it.
I told myself that once I take my last exam I would begin the next phase of my life, which was to work on projects that have been put on hold since heading back to college. What happened next wasn’t this, but it would reshape my mind and give me some of the greatest lessons that I’ve ever received. Here is what I learned.
1. MAKE A DECISION, AND STICK WITH IT
I knew what I wanted and needed to do, but once a “to good to be true” type of opportunity presented itself I became hypnotized. I sold all of my furniture, relocated, and followed a path down a road that tested me greater than I’ve ever been tested before. I was pursuing someone else’s dream, and it didn’t take long before things began to crumble. I lost every dollar that I had and nearly became homeless. If I would’ve been committed to doing what I initially decided to do this wouldn’t have happened. But I also believe that life has a way of making us stronger by kicking our ass to prepare us for the journey ahead. I now know I wasn’t fully ready or committed to work on the ideas that so often dance around in my head. This experience gave me more focus and determination to tackle these ideas than I had previously.
2. KEEP COOL NO MATTER WHAT
Life throws stuff at us from all angles. Sometimes we drink the cool-aid, and other times we dodge the bullet and keep on track. I drank the cool-aid, and my life detoured down a dark road. At times I would become angry at what happened and at the people who mislead me. Depression and anxiety showed it’s face on some days and I couldn’t believe what was happening. I could’ve crumbled with the situation, but instead I fought and found ways to remain calm, which allowed me to keep moving forward. I focused on getting out of there.
Some moments were more difficult than others, but by remaining optimistic I was able to do what was necessary to remain calm. I knew, and repeatedly told myself, that this would pass and I would look back and be grateful for the lesson. Even as it was happening, through all of the anger and frustration, I was excited for when I would be able to look back and understand why this happened.
3. EXERCISE, DIET, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY MEDITATION
We can sit around and put bandaids on our problems, or we can put on our big kid pants and deal with them head-on. I could’ve sat around feeling sorry for myself drank some beer and wine, or even binge ate an unhealthy diet, but I didn’t. You know what I did? I went to the gym.
When I was feeling frustrated or angry at my current situation I worked out and fed my ego. I would exercise at a high enough intensity that allowed me to use my frustration to push myself as I worked out. After intense workouts I would come home and meditate for about 30 minutes. I meditated for 3 months straight (and still regularly today). I can say without a doubt that meditation played a large part in allowing me to remain grounded and calm, and eventually allowing me to find an apartment and move back to where I was before I left.
4. START NOW
It’s the recent adventure that took me down the road into the unknown that I will look back on as a life changing moment. I know it’s recent, but I also know how I feel today. I am more focused and determined than I’ve ever been before, and I have clear goals on how I will achieve what I am after. I learned to not waste a moment when it comes to my goals and do whatever I can with whatever resources I have. We don’t need money to get started, only a creative mind. I spend every waking moment thinking about it, and I’m working on it throughout the day (In addition to working my job that pays me). I know things will arise and invitations will be given to head down another road into the unknown, but unless it has to do with what I’m passionate about you can be sure I will not be entering. This is my time to get what I want.
5. MAKE DAILY RESOLUTIONS TO STAY ON TRACK
For some of us we need the idea of a new year to motivate us to go after the things we want, but unfortunately most people who make a New Years resolutions will fall short. We need to learn to wake up everyday and go after what we’re passionate about. If something isn’t working for you, start making daily resolutions. Get in the habit of evaluating your progress on a daily basis. Set goals for the upcoming day and keep them. Before you go to bed reflect back and ask yourself if there’s anything that you could have done better. Don’t waste time. And never live a life with regrets.
As you read this, ask yourself, if today was my last day alive is there anything that I regret not doing?
If yes, what are you waiting for?