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.
Your 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
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.
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
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.
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
The first day I woke up in California I knew I’d made the right decision. The reasons?
- It was sunny and 75 degrees
- The sky was clear and blue
- 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.
Move to California. Yes the taxes and the traffic suck. But everything else is fucking amazing.
Decision 4: 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.