It had finally happened. I was staring at a book sitting on the shelf of my local Barnes and Noble. Many times before I had seen a friend or colleagues book in that same spot and thought to myself, “one day that will be me.” This time, it was the book I’d written, It’s Your Life, LIVE BIG. I can’t really express the pride and joy I felt in that moment.
It was like the well over a decade’s effort I had put in had finally come to fruition. It wasn’t just one thing I did that got me to that point. It was a combination of years of writing, sharing, and building the community I had started many years before. Like most “big goals”, my wanting to become a “traditionally” published author grew overtime.
If you’re not familiar with my story here’s the condensed version…
In the mid 1990’s I started a website that began as a hobby. I shared personal development resources and the messages of many of the people whose work I admired with others. Overtime the audience grew. That website is still alive and well today at GetMotivation.com. At first I was really just sharing other’s work. Then I got a wild hair and decided to try my hand at writing and sharing my own messages of encouragement. That’s how I went from being primarily a conduit for sharing motivational resources, to also writing myself. Overtime I branched out into offering some coaching and consulting. But primarily I was sharing the work of others, and writing. Things prospered, and I truly loved the place I was at.
Overtime the feeling kept building up that I should focus more on my own work. I got it in my mind that to truly “arrive” I needed to be doing more public speaking, and also have books of my own in stores to help prove my expertise. Looking at it from my current vantage point I can see now how silly it was to think that. It was my ego that drove that line of thinking.
First of all, I already had a pretty large audience through my own website that I was sharing my work with. Plus, I loved helping others share their messages, enjoyed publishing the accompanying newsletter and above all, just helping folks from all over lead big lives and develop into their best selves. If I’d really thought it through perhaps I would have realized that in many ways I had “already arrived.” But like they say, sometimes hindsight is 20 / 20.
So, I was still feeling the pull to build my own brand, and make that my primary goal. I ended up adjusting my focus to make that happen. And in doing so, inadvertently lost sight of, and as you can imagine stopped doing many of the things I used to do which had gotten me to the point I was with the website community I was running. To make a long story short, the book deal came. I will say, I am blessed in that I have a great book publisher. My original contact from the company is someone I consider a personal friend and I have a great deal of respect for. I’m totally grateful for the opportunity to have the book out in print.
How Getting Back to Where I Started was a Catalyst for Greater Professional Fulfillment
I’ve come to realize a funny thing, sometimes it’s at the point you find yourself at the pinnacle of a particular achievement that you realize it was the journey of getting there, more so than the end result where you experienced the most joy. At least that was the case for me. In fairly short order I realized I wanted to get back to the place I’d started.
I didn’t want to keep pushing to become a “great speaker.” At least not in the same way that others viewed it. I’ll always practice my craft of communication, but I don’t strive to judge my own success in that area upon how many times I speak before a group per year, nor how many people are in a particular audience for example. I didn’t want to live a life where I was constantly travelling from one location to the next.
I had clarity for what I wanted, and it looked like what I’d already experienced in the past. A resource where people would go to get encouragement, and personal development resources. I knew in that moment that I needed to get back to what had gotten me started on my professional path in the first place. I would get back to growing and developing the web site community I’d founded many years before (GetMotivation.com). Of course I would continue to write. It’s something I truly enjoy. I would speak and consult with groups as well. It just wouldn’t be my primary focus, and I wouldn’t neglect other things in order to pursue it.
I would spend more time seeking out, and sharing the messages of others who I believe could benefit my readers. That was an important piece of what I believe made the site successful to begin with. I was syndicating articles, my own, and sharing those of other experts and thought leaders years before people even called it “guest blogging.” In short, it was time to get back to my professional roots. Once I made that decision and got started in this direction I immediately felt better about things.
Friend, in life, we all pursue different paths and I’ve found that it’s not all that uncommon to figure out after accomplishing something particularly big, that it doesn’t always feel like you envisioned it would. That’s not necessarily a bad thing at all. It’s just a part of your growth. All life’s experiences bring with them the opportunity to grow in some way. It’s also worth pointing out that at the same time I decided to change course in my business, I also made other changes.
Embracing Minimalism Taught me to Appreciate Life Experiences Over Stuff
Another big change for me was that I ended up embracing minimalism in my life. I realize now that I was a minimalist long before it got its trendy name, and became popular. I’ve always felt more comfortable keeping things simple. Distraction free. When the “stuff” in my life is light I feel more at ease. So I ended up taking inventory of things in my life and shrinking (i.e. getting rid of) things that didn’t fit with my new found minimalism.
Fortunately, I never really got myself into debt, but I did have some at the time I decided to make the change. I had the regular stuff like a house payment, and at times I’d keep debt on a revolving account from time to time. Still, I’d find that any amount of debt — even if society says not to worry about it because it is “good debt” would keep me from feeling totally free. I wasn’t a fanatic about it. I just didn’t feel totally free either.
So I ended up getting rid of a lot of the “stuff” and all the debt. I can’t begin to tell you how much more free I feel in order to pursue the things I really enjoy. It’s not like I wasn’t doing that already — it’s just that now I have a different perspective as I’m doing so. It’s personally freeing to know that I can make a move in whatever direction I want to pursue and doing so won’t have some unexpected financial repercussion that goes along with it. If I want something I don’t necessarily begrudge myself of it, I just either pay for it outright, or figure out a way to do so. It’s not a mindset that’s going to work for everyone, but I can say it works for me, and I do think everyone would benefit from developing — at least to some degree.
So in summary, there are times where we all find that what we thought was going to be our place of arrival doesn’t end up quite like we envisioned it. It doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing, or that you even took the wrong path. It just means you get to decide to course correct, and in doing so choose whatever new path you want to forge ahead on. The great thing about it though, is that as you set out on your new journey you get to take with you all the learned skills that got you to where you are at this point in your life. You don’t have to relearn or totally start over. That my friend is an exciting place to be.
Enjoy the journey, the tough times, the times things don’t end up like you think they should. The great times. The times you don’t feel like you’re making any progress at all. The times you feel like everything you do turns to gold and you can’t help but eventually succeed. Embrace all those moments. Fully embrace them as they all go into the journey that you will eventually look back on and realize was part of your “Big Life.”
If you find yourself in a place where you want life change — know that you have the ability to make it happen. I don’t say this lightly. It’s true, I don’t know your personal circumstances, but I know my own journey. And I know the stories of many others who set out to change their own lives, in spite of some pretty serious obstacles. You’re only stuck where you are if you never take the first step in the direction you want to go.
It’s Your life, LIVE BIG