10 Decisions That Probably Saved My Life

10 Decisions That Saved My Life

I was living a pretty bleak existence until I did these 10 things

Today I’m taking a break from the norm and am going to talk about life. Because it’s not all about making money and being in shape. It’s about slowly creating a better version of yourself.

To begin – let’s discuss childhood reading materials.

Remember choose your own adventure books? Those books where you make decisions at certain points that change the outcome of the story? Make the right decision and you discover a buried treasure, make the wrong decision and you get killed by a Troll.

Your Life is a Choose Your Own Adventure.

footprintsYour personal story, as it stands today – is not a result of the city you were born in, the family you was born into or the things that happened to you and around you throughout your life.

Your life has been created by you – with every decision that you have ever made. Today we meet as a result of your most recent decision – which was to read this blog post. Hello my friend.

In this post I’m going to break down 10 decisions that I made that have helped create the story I’m living today. Which is a better life than I ever dreamed of.

If you are currently lost from a long history of your own decisions – May these ideas serve as lights to guide you on your way out. Because it’s all out there, waiting.

10 Decisions That Probably Saved My Life

Decision 1: Stop Drinking

jager_3

From the first day I experimented with alcohol (age 13 maybe) drinking was a problem for me. The first time I drank – I had a physical, allergic reaction that made me black out for several hours.

By “black out” I mean my brain went to sleep but my body kept operating. I walked and talked like a normal person but the next day I couldn’t remember anything.

It was like time travel.

One minute I’d be drinking with friends. Seconds later I’d wake up on a sidewalk with no shirt on and it would be the next day.

But that wasn’t the problem.

The real problem was that I liked blacking out. Because it helped me escape my problems. And as a teenager dealing with my Dad’s suicide – I had a lot on my mind. In my early 20s my older brother also committed suicide and to deal with that – I drank even more.

People around me couldn’t understand why I continued to drink because so many bad things (total chaos) happened when I blacked out. What they didn’t understand was that when I was blackout drunk I may have been physically out of control – but mentally I was at peace.

I played this game for many years.

Then slowly – the tables turned on me and alcohol (the solution to my problems) became my biggest problem of all.

So I had to quit.

People had been recommending AA to me for years. So when I decided that the time had come – I dove into the program head first and attended 3-7 meetings a week for several years. But to be honest, my life changed almost immediately.

Less than six months after I quit drinking I moved to California, started my online marketing company and it exploded out from under me. In less than a year I went from drunken lunatic to thriving creative entrepreneur.

All I needed to do was to face my fears and keep a clear head.

Takeaway:

If drinking is a problem for you – do something about it. Millions of people have gotten sober who were much worse than you. I once met a man who was so sick from booze that he vomited every time he took a drink. He had no money and couldn’t afford to waste his liquor. His solution was to vomit into his whiskey glass and then drink it again.

Last time we talked, he’d been sober for 20 years. If he can do it, you can too.

Decision 2: Quit My Job

iquitbw

Before I started doing online marketing full time I had two gigs. I sang in a band and worked as a designer and creative director at marketing agencies.

At my final agency job I made more money than I’d ever made in my life. My boss was one of my best friends. I had a design team, we worked on million dollar projects. I had health benefits and everything else that comes with working a corporate gig.

The decision to quit was terrifying.

This job was the most stable thing I’d ever had in my life and here I was ready to leave it. But I was always determined to do my own thing – even if it meant making less money.

In October 2008 I put in my two weeks notice and left.

Just a few months later the company fired everyone I worked with and closed the department.

By the time my friends were getting their walking papers – I was living in California with an online business that was booming. Leaving on my own terms turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

Takeaway:

Quitting your job and working for yourself is highly recommended. But don’t be an idiot. Save up enough money to live on for 6 months before you quit. And have a solid plan on what you’re going to do next.

If you pull it off, it’ll be the most freeing thing you’ve ever done. If it doesn’t work out – you’ll have enough cash saved to buy yourself a nice shirt to wear for your next job interview.

Decision 3: Move To California

california

The first day I woke up in California I knew I’d made the right decision. The reasons?

  1. It was sunny and 75 degrees
  2. The sky was clear and blue
  3. I could breathe

I grew up in Oklahoma. I spent most of my childhood sneezing and coughing. By my teens I had developed a system of stuffing tissues up my nose so I could sleep.

Moving to California eliminated the sinus problems I thought I’d have for the rest of my life. And there’s something about palm trees, sunshine and 75 degrees that can make even a bad day feel better. And for a guy like me – that’s a pretty big deal.

Takeaway:

Move to California. Yes the taxes and the traffic suck. But everything else is fucking amazing.

Decision 4: Let Go of the Past

Let Go Of The Past

When I stopped drinking I realized that alcohol wasn’t my problem. It was a temporary solution to my real problem. The real problem was dealing with the suicides of my Dad and my older brother.

So I did a lot of work and let them go. Then I changed my inner dialogue.

  • Instead of telling myself “those events ruined my life”
  • I admitted that “the way I reacted to those events was ruining my life”

With that simple script edit – I was able to progress.

Today I work on the only part of the situation I can control – Myself and my reactions to the things (past and present) that happen in my life. I can’t change what happens, but I can decide how I react to it.

Takeaway:

If you’re dragging things from your past behind you – it’s time to let go of them and move on. You cannot change the past, but you can change the way you are reacting to your past.

If you need to speak to someone about it, do it. It doesn’t have to be a doctor. If you find someone with a brain in their heads it can actually be a good time.

We’re all a bit mad dear – it’s really no big deal. (Tweet this)

Decision 5: Don’t Have Kids

embryobw

I’ve never been married and I don’t have kids. This has worked out well for me – and for the children I would have had if I started early. Let’s just say that having the 25 year old version of me as your father would not have been a good time.

Being single has given me the opportunity to continuously pursue my dreams. I’ve advanced further than I ever imagined I could. If I’d been focusing on a family during this time – I would not have been able to do that.

If you have kids and a family that’s great. I’m just not ready for that. I’m still dealing with me. Because if I ever do decide to have a kid. I want to make sure they get the best Dad ever.

Takeaway:

If you’re a train wreck – please don’t have kids yet. Especially if you’re dealing with problems like alcohol and drugs. No kids deserves to grow up watching that. Fix yourself first – then do it the right way. Regardless of what your mother is telling you – there is no hurry.

If you already have kids. Get your shit together. A parent’s only job is to set a good example. Kids don’t learn from rules, regulations and punishments. They learn from you. And they’re going to grow up to be just like you.

So if you get your shit together – they will too.

Decision 6: Switch to Mac

macbw

I was a PC guy for a  long time. I argued with Mac people in the art and design field about how Windows was just as good as Mac. I was a proud Windows user.

Then I got an iPhone.

I now have the equivalent of a small Apple store in my home. There are at least 10 Apple devices here that I currently use or am deciding what to do with.

My old PC with windows felt like an old car I had to put oil in every day.
My Mac feels like a teleportation device that I control with my mind.

Takeaway:

Suck it up and buy a Mac. It costs more but it will never break. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a Mac and then going back to PC. And if they do – they are probably a jackass in the first place.

Decision 7: Figure Out Nutrition

nutritionbw

A few years ago I hired a personal trainer. After several months of training he decided I needed to get my nutrition together and created a meal plan for me on paper.

I got interested. (And remember, if I decide to learn something – I’ll devote my entire life to it). I studied how food works with the body. I learned the basics of Calories, Macronutrients (fat, carb, protein) and Micronutrients (fiber, potassium, sodium, etc.).

Today I can lose or gain as much weight as I want at any time. I’ve recently experimented with dropping from 159 lbs to 149 and am now gaining it back at 1 pound per month. If I do this right I’ll be 160 lbs of solid muscle by November 2014.

Takeaway:

You can take control of your body. Find out how many calories your body needs per day with this calculator.  Tell it if you want lose weight or gain weight. Eat the number of calories it tells you to eat. Track your calories with MyFitnessPal. If you also want some tone – workout a few times per week.

P.S. I just gave you the foundation to weight loss and muscle building in human beings. Almost everything else is bullshit.

Decision 8: Start Working Out

weight_bw

I’m a naturally melancholy person. And if I don’t do things to keep myself going I’ll run the risk of disappearing into a black hole. Working out is the best anti-depression medication I have ever found.

My scientific results living with and without exercise:

  • Being fat and lazy makes me want to die
  • Working out makes me feel like the Champion of the Universe

That’s really all I need to know.

Takeaway:

If you feel like shit a lot – consider hitting the gym a few days a week. The hardest part is the beginning. Force yourself to go for the first month. Soon you’ll have to force yourself not to go.

Pick a program you can live with and do it for the rest of your life.

Decision 9: Read Books

books

I was not born a book worm. I hated school and books were part of school therefore, I hated books. By age 24 the only books I’d read were a few parts of The Lord of The Rings Series, most of The Bible and nothing else.

Then I met a girl who read books.

She started giving me books. Lots of them. I read Isaac Asimov, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Bukowski and Hemingway, author after author, story after story, book after book. For a while I was burning through a book every 48 hours.

Here is the childish truth about how I learn (still true):

  • If you tell me to learn something – I’ll tell you shove it up your ass
  • If I decide to learn something – I’ll devote my entire life to it

These days I have a book going at all times. I read everything from Business Advice to Rock-n-Roll Biographies to Philosophy to Personal Development.

Takeaway:

Reading non-fiction books will make you smarter. If you have trouble focusing that is no excuse. Sometimes I can only manage to read 1-2 pages per day. But I am always reading.

Remember, school is bullshit – but learning is good.

Decision 10: Be Myself

tothineownself

The most painful thing I ever experienced was trying to be something, or someone that I am not.

When your life sucks you become an actor. For years I became whoever I was around. Whoever I thought you’d like best. I was never comfortable. I was never myself.

Last year I read a story about a little girl who was having problems at school.

Her teachers said she had too much energy. She was disruptive and could not sit still in class. She was regularly scolded and punished but it didn’t help.

Her teachers persuaded her parents to take her to a doctor and have her put on medication. The doctor interviewed the girl and later told her parents:

“Your daughter is not sick, your daughter is a dancer.”

Instead of being prescribed meds the girl was placed in a dance program where she quickly excelled. Years later she became a world famous dance phenomenon and multi-millionaire.

Takeaway:

Be yourself. Don’t listen to TV, magazines or billboards that attempt to tell you who you should be. All of those things are fads and by the time you get the haircut – it will already be out of style.

History remembers originals. You were born an original. You will only happen once.

Don’t screw it up.

In Conclusion

These 10 Decisions helped to change my life. And these days I’m moving in a pretty positive direction. But be assured I’m no saint – I made hundreds of bad decisions that could have cost me everything along the way.

As you can see I didn’t mention ‘Fall in Love’ in that list. That’s one of the many things I am still trying to figure out.

To be very honest

This is not a how-to guide. This is me – humbly sharing some major decisions that helped me in my personal life. I HOPE you can use some of them. But I am by no means telling you what to do.

Actually – maybe you could help me?

  • What decisions have you made and where have they taken you?
  • Do you struggle with any of these 10 things? If not, then anything else?
  • Are you caught in a web of bad decisions?

Remember: It’s Your Life. And it’s never too late to change your mind. (Tweet this)

Even if you’re clutching a trembling whiskey glass, preparing to drink your last shot of vomit.

*P.S. I’ve continued this post in a Free eBook titled ’10 Decisions’. It is currently available to my newsletter members. If you’re not on it – Click here to sign up.

  • fooder

    Thanks for sharing man. Great advice and success story.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Thanks for reading fooder. Your feedback gives me motivation to keep writing

  • traffiking

    Malan,
    This is one of the best posts I have ever read period. It’s actually too deep for me. You’re right when you say life is more than aff marketing and making money.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Thanks traffiking – I almost didn’t post this one. Good to see that you guys get it.

  • MT

    Interesting stuff, and good advice. But I certainly won’t even think about switching to Mac until they have far better gaming support. As they stand right now, Windows is the must-have if you want to game on PC, while Linux works if you’re very computer-savvy. Mac, on the other hand, definitely has a few games that work, but, since Apple is so rigid with its products, it’s hard to ensure that a game will work on it, so most companies won’t even waste the time/ money to try to port it. Apple’s rigid parts and construction, as well as the insistence to manufacture and design most of their hardware and software completely on their own, ensure a solid machine, but it makes it hard for other software, ESPECIALLY games (which are finicky to begin with) to be ported to Macs or be used on Macs. Unless there is a game that is being designed from ground-up to be played on a Mac, there’s a good chance it won’t ever make it to the OS. Indie games are the bulk of the OS’s game market, since they are smaller and take less time to port, but most Triple-A titles won’t get ported over, since they are designed for the flexibility (which can cause insecurity, yes) Of a PC. And I’ve never had a problem with malware or anything on my PC anyway.

    Anyway, I’m a gamer who just stumbled upon this article by chance, and thought I’d throw my 2 cents in.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Thanks for your feedback MT – I guess I don’t make my tech choices based on games. They’re too addictive and time consuming. So I avoid them completely.

  • Marco

    Very interesting post with many parallels to my life. I stopped smoking 15 months ago, completely quit drinking 7 months ago and started working out in a gmy a few months ago.
    I would be interesting if you could could write an article with book recommendations (non-fiction and maybe also fiction).
    You have a great blog, keep going 😉

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Marco – thank you. I’ll do some book recommendations in the future. Great idea.

      And it sounds like you’re heading in the right direction my friend. Keep going. What kind of workouts are you doing?

  • Jonathan Pierce

    This is a great example of an instance where, when we share in the most vulnerable way, we allow others to connect to us the most. When we see yahoo’s home page “quick gimmick” tag line and photo, we only want to read the few sentences that explain what’s happening in the picture, and we’re gone. It’s posts like this that create a connection, and future interest. I thought it was great.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      That’s exactly what I hope happens on this site Jonathan… Connection #boom

  • rw

    To thine own self be true, unless you don’t want to use a Mac. Because then you’re clearly a jackass.

    I’d love to take this article as an uplifting and encouraging read, but honestly, I found this one idea to be so jarringly offensive. It isn’t even about the mac vs pc debate, it’s about the blatant disregard for difference of opinion, and the labeling of strangers you have never met as a whole.

  • Cleo Maxine Faulkner

    This is my favorite. <3

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      That’s probably because you’re in it. 🙂 For the record – ^^ Cleo is the girl that gave me all the books. Pretty cool, right?

  • Rick M

    Awesome blog/post Malan. Got here through Dr Ngo.

    How do you find good books to read? how do you decide if it is worth reading? (even after starting reading it).

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Rick – I find books to read mainly via personal recommendations (online or offline). Luckily I have a pretty diverse group of friends. If someone I trust recommends it, I order it the same day.

      Deciding whether or not to read after starting it is an interesting question. If I read the first few chapters and it’s obviously total BS – I’ll give it away or put it on the shelf. But that rarely happens.

      For example – I got The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss a week ago. The book is gigantic and I didn’t connect with it at first at all. I considered giving it away. But I forced myself to read a few pages a day – and now I love it and am learning a lot from it.

      Hope that helps – I’ll have to do some book recommendations here in the future.

  • Tina

    You gave a lot of great advice. I am proud of the positive direction you have taken. I hope your advice helps many people. I only wish God was on your list. I can’t imagine life without Him.

  • barman

    Great post Malan… but I disagree with the Mac thing. I don’t think the type of computer is going to change anyones life ( full disclosure: I use PC’s )

  • Rory

    Malan – my hat’s off to you man. Such an honest and human post. Thanks for sharing… far more inspiring than any income report could ever be.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Glad you get it Rory. See you around.

  • KS

    Great post! Stopped drinking/smoking a few years ago (though never abused it too much). Been working out for like 6 years and started eating healthier just a year ago. But life is completely different on this side. People who drink every weekend and eat anything seem like aliens to me. I agree on all of the points, including the mac hehe. Keep up the good posts like this in the blog.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      KS – congrats on the lifestyle change and you’re right. Once you make the switch, life is much much different. (thankfully)

  • Kang

    I use a Macbook Air as my mobile computer; and I love it.

    I use a PC as my work powerhouse; and I love it too.

    My partner at the next table uses an iMac, and I’ve toyed around with it and even considered using it as my main computer, but it just doesn’t feel comfortable to me. One day I might just try for the heck of it but still think it boils down to individual preference.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      Kang – yes personal preference is what matters most. I just found that using a mac for a month changed my personal preference, real fast. haha. – Malan

  • http://affcali.com Cali818

    Very Inspiring Stuff. I’m also an ex-alcoholic turned affiliate/personal-development freak! lol So i can really relate to this.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      glad you can relate and thanks for reading. hope to see you around on the FB group or email list.

  • Desmond

    I read this post few days ago in my bed and had a question since 🙂

    Decision 7: Figure Out Nutrition – can you recommend a book that explains basics of Calories, Macronutrients and Micronutrients?

    Right now I am following a workout with a diet plan, it has been 3 weeks and the result is awesome. But the problem is, I am following it blindly and don’t understand the reason behind the list of meals 🙂

    Thanks.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      no book to recommend but you can just Google “basics of Calories, Macronutrients and Micronutrients” and it’s all out there.

  • Andrea Costa

    nice stuff

  • Rebecca Platt

    I think the most important thing you did wasn’t the actual decisions, but the decision to make some decisions. it was your first step. My decisions look very different but it only matters that I, too, knew I needed to make decisions to conquer my depression. Good post and God bless.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      hell yeah Rebecca. I love that and totally agree. “the most important thing you did wasn’t the actual decisions, but the decision to make some decisions.” #boom thank you for that one.

  • Elise

    You’re a great man Malan. Just like me, well I’m a great girl actually lol.
    Anyway, I had came a bit long way to become who I am right now also. “My story” is about my dad’s death when I was 12. The problem wasn’t his death but my mom’s depression and the negativity she put on everything and so on. Growing up in that environment affected my ability greatly. Since 17 I left home for college until 22, in 5 years I had chance to wake me up. Now I’m 24 and things are great now. (Well except for the fact I haven’t earned enough money to change city hmmm).
    Except for the 1st one cause I don’t have the drinking problem, all the others I’ve done just like you. And yes it’s pretty cool.
    It’s nice to know someone like us are out there. By the way I’m just started to learn about affiliate marketing. Not sure if it suits me but I will give it a try 🙂

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      hey Elise, thanks for your comment. and there are A LOT of out there (and here).

      By the way, how did you find this post?

  • Erik van Heumen

    “If you tell me to learn something – I’ll tell you shove it up your ass
    If I decide to learn something – I’ll devote my entire life to it”
    Haha sounds like me!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      the only way to fly

  • Christa

    Fantastic post Malan! Same reaction to alcohol! I’ve been sober for almost 20 years. Changed my world!

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      i’ve been off it for 8 years. if this is Christa J. then I remember your drinking activities… haha you were as wild as I was 🙂

  • Willy Enrione

    First of all Thanks! SO motivating to read. And two things i want to share.
    Yes Iv been there, also quit my job, so scared. but opened SO many doors! No Im in affiliate marketing and Network marketing and I love it!
    Secon, to be brave enough to be myself, was also an eye-opening revelation to me, I started for the first time in my life to love myself.

  • Brett Pemberton

    Re #5, I went the other way and decided to become a father at 26.

    It hasn’t been an easy road, and there are have been times where I have felt ‘held back’ by the responsibility of being a father.

    However, over time I have come to the realisation that having a child is actually an unfair advantage. I have a motivating force made of flesh and bone, a living, walking, talking representation of my mission statement that lights a fire under my ass every day. When I feel like slacking, I can just hug my son and I’m back in the game.

    #8 is a new introduction to my life and I can already attest to the benefits.

    • http://www.highballblog.com/ Constantin Gabor

      Congrats for the kid! I had mine 6 month ago (I’m 32)