This, hands down, is the number one question I’m asked — by consulting clients, people who buy me coffee, entrepreneurs I meet at events, or the guy who’s been doing what he does for 17 years and dreams of what’s next.
Where do I begin?
Until I meet you and you share your story with me, I don’t know the answer to that question. I’d be lying if I said I did.
But what I can tell you is a story about the Olda Sisters. Some of my readers will have heard this one before, but for others, it will be new.
Shoulda, Coulda, and Woulda — they’re sisters and they’re bitches. All three of them. I became friends with the Oulda Sisters back in 1995, right before I graduated from college and was facing a dilemma about walking down the aisle.
Do I do what I should do or do I do what my heart tells me to do?
I was 22. I didn’t know the answer. So I made the best possible decision I could.
And for the next 17 years, the Oulda Sisters and I were tight. They were in every job, relationship, and conversation I had. Every trip I never took, every comment I swallowed, and every bit of envy I felt as I looked around my life. Every day I saw people who were doing amazing things and all I could think was, “I coulda done that. In fact, I should do that!”
But I never did.
One day in February of 2008, I was told my life would be changing. I’d be taking (immediately) a 40% pay cut for doing the shit job that I hated that was making me total bank (and 40% of OMG is still roughly Oh…).
I went home that evening and looked at my life. My bank accounts. My (ugh) credit cards. And I faced two decisions:
- Stay in this job where a 40% pay cut would still mean over six figures a year, do work I hated for someone I didn’t respect, and swallow that pill of fuckall every day…
I took my dog for a run, came home, made dinner, and sat at my dining room table eating in silence. The only thing I could think about was writing.
I didn’t think about money or bills or mortgages or whatever perceived prestige was attached to working in the investment industry.
I thought about writing.
The next day, I walked into the office I hated going to and told them I wasn’t going to be there on Monday.
The Power of NOT
I sure as hell didn’t know where I was going to be on Monday when those words came out of my mouth. What I did know, however, is that it wasn’t going to be there. I knew I wasn’t going to swallow that pill of fuckall for one more morning.
I coulda stayed. And part of me felt like I shoulda stayed.
But that day in February back in 2008, I stopped returning the Oulda Sisters’ calls.
I didn’t know what was next. But I knew what was NOT next.
When you don’t know where to begin, sometimes the first step is knowing what’s NOT next. That was enough to take me on a path to the life I live today — just over four years later. And each day, I face another demon.
The Oulda Sisters call every damned day.
But I continue to know what’s NOT next is inviting them back into my life.
Knowing what’s NOT isn’t about giving into the neg. It’s about making room for everything else. And yeah — it’s scarier than knowing anyone gives Rand Paul any sort of airtime.
But you won’t get unless you make room.
So…Where Will You Begin?
I can’t tell you — yet. I can help you work through it if that’s what you want. But sometimes the first step is to admit and own everything:
- You’re sick of feeling.
- You’re tired of hearing.
- You can’t stand doing.
- You can’t stop thinking about.
- You dream about.
- You want.
- You see.
- That is YOU.
And in those, you’ll find the small step to take that gives you permission to begin.
Because you’re the only one who’s been withholding permission this entire time.
PS: I’ve shared this before. Today, I think it’s plenty worthy of re-sharing (and especially on this theme). If you’re viewing this via email, click here to watch the video.