Finding the Path Less Travelled

Finding my path seems like a lifelong mission, some seem to find it quickly, others never find it, I’m determined to find mine. Everyone will tell you that it is fine to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. This has certainly been the case in my life. I don’t really like to think of them as mistakes though, for me they are more like choices and decisions that were made. You make these choices and decisions based on the information and experience at hand, in hindsight it might seem like a mistake but at the time it was simply a choice and decision.

I grew up in a middle-class family of four and had a great childhood. My Dad was well educated and a diligent hard worker but not a workaholic. I inherited these qualities from my Dad, as an average kid at school I learned that you had to be diligent and work hard and didn’t take anything for granted. We also went on holidays a lot and travelled, so a work life balance is something that I grew up with. My Mom on the other hand was extremely creative as well as intelligent. This rubbed off most on my brother who has amazing creativity and is an entrepreneur through and through. Against a backdrop of an exceptionally creative family I often thought of myself as not creative. However, looking around now I realise that although I am not as creative as my family, it is definitely something that I have. As a young adult it is difficult to know what your strengths are especially when with limited experience you don’t have that many comparisons. Based on these strengths and interests I made my decisions on a career path.

When the outcome of a choice that you made is less favourable then it can be easy to assume that you should not have made that choice. But you have to take the good with the bad because I have made some choices that led to problems but then that in turn led to the following choice which was all good. So the path that I have followed is what it is, but I have always accepted and learned from the decisions that I made and how I could make them differently in future. I guess this is what the wisdom and experience of life can teach you. It is that collection of experiences and insight that allow you to understand what and why things happened and how they are connected. As I look back I can pick out many of the major turning points in my life that have steered me to where I am.

Going with the flow

Finishing school there were many decisions about what and where to study and ultimately what work to do. It can be a time of great opportunity but also great confusion unless you have some sort of calling or a deep burning desire to pursue something. I have always been a person who has and still tries to do the right things, never really wanting to do something wrong. So obligingly and partly as a way to work out which path to follow I did my obligatory national service at the time. There after I ended up following the traditional route of university and then a job, met a lady and got married. For that period of my 20s I just followed the path that life took me. I think this is common for most 20-year olds, mostly good times and a lot of fun, not a bad thing, but obviously not the most productive time and a lot of lost opportunities there.

Breaking the Mould

When I reached my 30s there were a few speedbumps as life started happening, a divorce, a marriage and a dive into entrepreneurship. It was a period with some of the worst times in my life but also the best time in my life. I made many mistakes in this time and I learned the most too. It was the first time that I really started thinking proactively about what it was that I wanted in life, and I also realised that I had been following the “right thing to do” path. I also started to understand and explore how I was completely in control and could steer myself. This came about when I decided to take the bold step to quit corporate life and start my own business. Starting my own business and having the full responsibility of not only earning an income but being fully accountable for my own decisions was a big learning. This was my first real realisation about sorting and sifting what was important and what was not. After experiencing many failures during this time, I often berated myself for deviating from the “traditional path” and felt like I was a failure. However, as time goes on I now look back and see the most influential time in my life and a critical and necessary path that had to be followed to arrive where I am today.

Mind power

Towards the end of my 30s I attended a talk by Robin Banks where I discovered John Kehoe’s  Mind Power. The fundamental principle which is quite abstract is that your thoughts are connected to the universe by energy and vibrations. The way that this manifest itself is that you basically attract the energy that you think and radiate. So, in simple terms whatever you believe, or think is ultimately what is going to happen to you and so actually you do have and can control what happens in your life. Even if you don’t believe in the energy thing, at the very least if you practice these thoughts regularly and focus on them then your actions will follow and eventually the results. Although I don’t practice it daily now, if I look back at the time when I did and when I started mind power it is incredible to see how much of what I had dreamed of has materialised and continues to do so. It is an incredibly powerful concept that had many benefits like reinforcing my positive frame of mind, focussing my energy and most of all forcing me to define clearly what I wanted in future and in life. So now I have short term, annual and long-term goals, and they have kept me on course.

Unhooking from consumerism

Into my 40s and I re-entered corporate life with many lessons learned, new parameters for work life balance, life priorities and goals for success. Part of the reason for leaving own employment was that financially it was not working and there were better opportunities elsewhere. However, it wasn’t long before a new set of questions started to crop up. I was working harder and earning more but still not achieving my wealth and happiness objectives. Also getting older now I started to think more about what was needed for retirement and things just were not adding up. Then by some random chance I came across an article on frugality that had mentioned Mr Money Mustache Blog (Money – must – stache). Reading his blog was a revelation and it made me realise that despite all my efforts I was still just part of and a product of a big system. Then one by one I started to unravel these ideas and question many of my long-held beliefs about how we live our lives. I will share my learnings in future articles but the principles of his blog and lifestyle are centred around FIRE (financially independent retire early). As an average working person, you can design and mange your life in such a way that you can save enough money to reach financial independence in as little as 10 years. I wish I had worked this out in my 20s or 30s but it is never too late, so I have started this process now.

Getting on with it

I have always been quiet and more of a thinker which means that I carefully consider most things before I act. The downside of this is that I tend to spend more time thinking than I should and less time doing. Often over contemplating how to tackle what ever it is that I am planning to do. Take for example this writing that I am doing now. For a long time now, I have wanted to write a book but I don’t know how to start and don’t know what it should be about. Its not that I haven’t written anything, I have created many full content website, the two most successful being www.landyonline.co.za and www.mtbonline.co.za . This has led me to my most recent revelation from the internet, named Gary Vaynerchuck, (www.garyvaynerchuk.com). As an incredibly prolific content producer and digital marketing genius he is the epitome of getting on with it, with a motto of do now, learn as you go and tweak along the way. So I have decided just to start writing these articles on topics that I think are important and will be useful to others. It has been incredible to see how many ideas start coming once you start, so long may that continue, and I get them out of my head and onto this bog and other platforms.

“If you went back and fixed all the mistakes you’ve made, you’d erase yourself.” -Louis C.K.

New Happier Path

After many years it finally feels like the path that I am on is the one for me, as I have adapted, adjusted and changed after all the experiences that I have had so far. My measure for that is happiness, I am and have always been a happy positive person, however in this recent time I have achieved and felt happier than ever before. Not all is ever rosy and perfect all the time, but I have been consistently happier with more intense happiness and more satisfied more often. What makes this even more significant is that I have been achieving this without spending more or having more, in fact I have made do with less. A large part of that happiness comes from having a better understanding of how we have so much choice in life and how these relate to our life path and situation. With this insight I feel like I can better manage and manipulate my life through these choices. This gives a feeling like I am more in control of my life direction and have a clearer view of where I am going and how I am going to get there.   The best part of all is that I also feel like this is just the start as I discover more and more life hacks.

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