Everybody seems to be travelling on the same busy road, but is it the best route? We humans tend to blindly follow each other, not that different from sheep. For the last 15 years I have been finding my own path, before that I was just a passenger along for the ride. This post is just a summary of that journey and the rest of the blog will reveal the secrets.
Finding my path seems like a lifelong mission, some seem to find it quickly, others never find it, I’m determined to find mine. It is by no means a smooth highway, the road is filled with many bumps along the way. I have had my fair share of mistakes and failure and I have used them as opportunities to learn. As the Sunscreen song goes, “these choices are half chance, don’t berate or congratulate yourself too much”. You make these choices and decisions at a point in time. In hindsight, it might seem like a mistake but at the time it was simply a choice.
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. As an average kid at school I learned that you had to be diligent and work hard, taking nothing for granted. Holidays were a big part of growing up so I grew up with travel and work-life balance. My Mom was super creative, this rubbed off on my brother who has amazing creativity and very entrepreneurial. 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 something that I have. As a young adult with limited experience and few comparisons its not easy to know what your real strengths and interests are. Thats probably what makes carrer choices difficult for young adults.
The outcome of these choices are not always favourable, but that’s ok. I have made some choices that led to problems but then that in turn led to the following choice which was all good. I always learned from these decisions and accepted the path that I followed for what it is. I guess this is what the wisdom and experience of life can teach you. It is that collection of experiences and insight that teaches you to understand why things happen and how they are connected. Looking 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. Thereafter 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. Good times and a lot of fun, not a bad thing, but not the most productive time and a lot of lost opportunities there.
Breaking the Mould
In 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 started thinking proactively about what it was that I wanted in life. I also realised that I had been following the “right thing to do” path. I started to understand and explore how I was completely in control and could steer myself. This came about when I took the bold step to quit corporate life and start my own business. It was a big learning starting my own business and having the full responsibility of not only earning an income but being fully accountable for my own decisions. 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. I now look back and see the most influential time in my life. A critical and necessary path that had to be followed to arrive at where I am today.
Towards the end of my 30s, I attended a Robin Banks talk and discovered John Kehoe’s Mind Power. The fundamental principle which is quite abstract is that energy and vibrations connect your thoughts to the universe. The way that this manifest itself is that you attract the energy that you think and radiate. So you are actually always in control of your life because whatever you believe or think is ultimately what is going to happen to you. 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. If I look back to 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 reinforced my positive frame of mind, focussed my energy and forced me to define clearly what I wanted in future and 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. I left own employment as it was not working financially 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. I started to think more about what was needed for retirement and things just were not adding up. I came across an article on frugality that had mentioned Mr Money Mustache Blog (Money – must – stache). Reading his blog was a revelation and I realised that despite all my efforts I was still just part of and a product of a big system. One by one I started to unravel these ideas and question many of my long-held beliefs about how we live our lives. The principles of his blog and lifestyle are centred around FIRE (financially independent retire early). As an average working person, you can save enough money to reach financial independence in as little as 10 years if you design and manage your life frugally. I wish I had worked this out in my 20s or 30s but it is never too late to start. I have been on this path for almost 4 years now and will share my learnings in future posts.
Getting on with it
I am 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 whatever it is that I am planning to do. Take for example this writing that I am doing now. I have always wanted to write a book but I don’t know how to start and don’t know what it should be about. It’s not that I haven’t written anything, I have created many full content websites, the two most successful being www.landyonline.co.za and www.mtbonline .co.za. This led me to my most recent revelation from the internet, named Gary Vaynerchuck, (www.garyvaynerchuk.com). He is an incredibly prolific content producer and digital marketing genius, the epitome of getting on with it, with a motto of do now, learn as you go and tweak along the way. So I am going to start writing these articles on topics that I think are important and will be useful to others. I have so many ideas and plan to get them out of my head and onto this blog 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
The path that I am on is the one for me, 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. Recently 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, more satisfied more often. What makes this even more significant is that I have been achieving this without spending more or having more, I have made do with less. I think the secret lies in understanding how much choice we have in life and how you can take advantage of this. With this insight, I feel like I can manage and manipulate my life through these choices. I feel like I can control my life direction and have a view of where I am going and how I 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.