I’ve often wondered what this particular day – Oct 22nd, 2015 – would feel like, and now here it is… actually, I wondered mostly if I’d look back at the past 365 days and be overwhelmed with remorse, or worse; would I find myself facing a mountain of debt, and overwhelmingly angry for selfishly putting my family on the brink of financial disaster?
Seriously: Despite boldly touting the benefits of “the pain of discipline” in my TEDx Stanley Park talk last May, I wondered if instead I’d be fraudulently wallowing in the dreaded “pain of regret” I warned everyone about – Would I?
The reason these things have hall been on my mind is simple; it’s because exactly one year ago I walked away from a job I’d worked at for seven+ years all so I could tackle the world on my own terms. At the time my goal was to figure out how best to use my talents, skills and interests to help as many people as possible make the world a better place by doing whatever I could, whenever I could.
Put this way my mission almost sounds naive, possibly even idealistic; and to some degree, I think at the time it was a little of both. To be honest, I’d originally planned to make this radical life change in June of 2015; however this huge shift was moved up/prompted by southward spiral of my then “employee/employer” relationship, something that made me fully realize just how desperately I needed a change from both them, and the daily grind in general.
So yes, it was defintiely time for a change; and with things being the way they were it only made sense for me to seize this opportunity and “go for it” once and for all, despite having no real idea what the hell I was getting myself into… And so with the support and blessing of my wife Paula that’s what I did, exactly one year ago this past Thursday.
So how did it turn out? Has the past been all doom and gloom like I predicted? Was I the major financial screw up I was so worried I’d become? Did the Apocolypse finally show up due to my insecurities and ill-begotten steps along the way? The answer is no, no and no; in fact I’d describe the last year – in a word – AWESOME.
Actually, “awesome” alone doesn’t begin to describe the many ways that life have become incredible this past year for both me and my family, so let me share the top seven things that have changed most since leaving my job to pursue my dreams:
SEVEN KEY WAYS
MY LIFE OUR LIVES HAVE CHANGED THIS YEAR
Being Totally, Unabashedly 100% Debt Free: It’s important to note that before Paula and I decided to part ways with my employment that we made a plan to set ourselves up to be financially able to live without the $80 K per year I was used to bringing through the door. I’m not going to deny it; deciding to live without this huge injection each fortnight was daunting; but since we’d put so much effort on paying off our mortgage the four years prior, (meaning all my pay plus some went directly to the bank) we never saw my pay cheque anyway, so our day-to-day “spending cash” really didn’t change.
I can’t stress this next point enough! Being “mortgage free” is so much more than just not paying a mortgage every two weeks; it’s given us security, confidence and above all, a sense of pride knowing we are in control of our lives that we never had before. Better still, it’s allowed us to (Quoting Dame Helen Mirren) say “Fuck off” to certain people/institutions who figured they could control us because of our relationships with them and money; ridding ourselves of these “relationships” has truly been the best feeling of all. Freedom!
The People We’ve Met and Connected With: Besides the sense of finanical independence we’ve gained, the next best thing from the past year are all the like-minded, wonderful, supportive, kind, warm and genuine people we’ve been able to connect/become friends with over the past year. I’ve totally learned just HOW extremely important it is to reach out to as many people as possible, and do whatever possible to help them achieve their goals, dreams and passions; by doing this two amazing things happen.
First, we’ve connected with some incredible, passionate people who have become dear friends; and secondly, they’ve supported me, and us in achieving our own goals. I had no idea such wonderful synergy and friendship was even possible before, and now it’s just part of our daily lives. This alone, is INCREDIBLE! (I’m talking about YOU Crystal, Karl, Erin, Erin, Emma, Mike, Marvin & Jo, Melissa, Roger, Kevin, Kevin, Sarah and Justin… just to name a few!)
World Domination Summit: I know, I know – you are all tired of hearing me say “You’ve got to check out WDS!” but those of you who’ve been there know it to be what it was, and is: Mecca for all of us like-minded world changers. Thanks to Chris and Jolie Guillebeau for creating this insanely fantastic place for us to come together once a year; it’s truly become the biggest game changer in my life, as I think it has in the lives of many others. We can’t wait to return next year!
Time With Family: Other than the free corndogs, one of the best benefits of my old job was the degree of flexibilty it gave me, somthing vitaly important when dealing with Tristan’s many needs. Since I left, in addition to having time needed to run to doctors appointments, specialist appointments and wheelchair fitting sessions (which are a total drag!) I’ve had quality time to spend with Tristan “the young adult”; and it’s during these times that I’ve become more aware of him, his needs and who is wants to become as a person.*
Now, to be clear I’m still his father, it’s just now I have more time to make sure I can help him (make that “gently nudge” him) towards his goals rather than “hope” they get attended to. By having time to be a bigger part of the process has helped bring me closer to him, and work on being the loving father I want to be for him. All I can say is that I’m so proud of what a nice guy he’s become.
Ditto for Paula – I have more time to make sure she has the things she needs each day; you know, things like tasty hot meals, a clean home, clean socks in the drawer, and the occasional glass of wine after a hard days work. Believe me, it’s not lost on me that my new lifestyle is largely possible because I have a loving, supportive partner for a wife who is both behind me 100%, and encourages me to be successful… So being all those things back for her is the very best thing I could do, and now I have the time to do them. Besides that, I truly do love her like crazy. (xo!)
Opportunities to Contribute: Having both the opportunity and time to write, prepare and practice a TEDx Stanley Park talk (er… seven months total) was a major coup for my new life; besides giving me a huge upgrade in my speaking skills, it has given me a platform to help others – case in point, Muscular Dystrophy Canada. After the event was over, I approached them and offered to help speak on there behalf, which they readily accepted, and booked me into four events in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary; in fact I’m writing this post in Calgary where I’ll be speaking tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
In addition I’ve been able to offer my services to others, speaking both at WDS (Yay!) as well as at Victoria’s own “Evening to Inspire” that benefits the Vancouver Childrens Hospital. Giving my time and talents to these worthy causes has also helped me connect with some incredible people, and families; something that has enriched my life greatly.
The Travel: First there was India in May, Portland in July, Australia in Sept, and Edmonton and Calgary in October and back to Portland… need I say more? #Lovinglife
Happiness: Let’s sum it all up, shall we? Trading in an unsupportive environment for one filled with incredible people, multiple opportunities to make a real difference, surreal travel experiences both at home and abroad, quality time with the people most important to me, and (not exactly none) but very few money worries… it all adds up to a good life, and one I’m very grateful for.
So those are the seven ways that my life has dramatically changed since I left my job a year ago, and as you can imagine, it’s pretty awesome. But most of all what I’ve learned is that I really didn’t need to make such a drastic change to actually begin incorporating most of these things into my life; and I guess what I’d really like to impart with this post is the idea that any of these things (even the debt-free portion of the program) is there for the taking… They just take a little planning, guts, grit, hustle and courage to want them enough to go get them.
So if you’d also like to experience a bit more freedom in your life the way we have, I just have one question: What are you waiting for? Get the plan in place and get started!
Oh, and as always, feel free to let me know how I can help you!