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Let’s Talk About Making Change Happen Now

Wow, ok… So much. So much to talk about that it’s actually caused apathy. I have this problem that I think many people have where there is just so much that I can’t decide where to start. I just kind of spin my wheels whenever I try to start. It’s not that I do nothing instead. It’s quite the contrary. My mind is always working, always processing. It’s just that I can often get derailed because I can’t just get started.

What’s happening is called procrastination. It gets a bad rap because it’s usually associated with doing nothing at all. My procrastination is actually quite productive, it’s just not focused on what I should be doing, what I know I need to be doing.

Procrastination is a form of stress relief. It feels good to procrastinate, until it doesn’t. When that deadline approaches or someone calls you because you forgot something, that is when it doesn’t feel good. I consider myself a high-level procrastinator, kind of like those high-functioning alcoholics you hear about. You would never know I was drunk on procrastination because I look busy and productive.

With that out of the way, lets talk about change. Change in the form of making adjustments in your life that you only dream about. There are probably a few things in your life that you would love to change only if… We all have them. I know I have spent my life telling myself, if only this, I could do that. Well it’s time for that to stop. That is what this year has been about for me so far and I hope you can start to make that change too. Let me give you some context.

Last year, I made the decision to close down my office to work on creating a new daily routine for myself and to free up some overhead costs. I wasn’t closing my business, I was just getting rid of some overhead expenses because I can work from anywhere. It was tough, I kind of went kicking and screaming. I held on to some of it and didn’t really let go completely. When it got tough working from home because I didn’t get a good routine at home going I started working from the office again from time to time. I was one foot in on change and one foot still in the past.

I knew that the only way I could make change was to take myself out of the environment altogether. I also wanted to make some change happen in my household. I didn’t want my family to just sit around all summer. Modesto summers are hot. It’s been 100+ degrees outside. Unless you have a watermark in your back yard, you don’t want to go outside unless you have to. That led to the decision to travel all summer in our RV Travel Trailer. We completed that trip and got back home to Modesto a little over a week ago.

I learned a lot two months on the road in an RV Travel Trailer as a family of six, and I plan to share about that soon. What it opened me up to was how easy it really is to make change if you just do it. It is hard though, which is why I wanted to talk about it today.

How To Make Lasting Change

The key to making lasting change is to remove the comfort aspect from whatever is keeping you stuck. Why are you stuck? Because it’s not painful enough to make change. The thing you want to change is actually providing you a level of comfort and control even though you seem to be uncomfortable. It’s really easy to stay stuck when it doesn’t really hurt that bad, or at least we don’t think it hurts that bad. But a dull pain always gets worse, doesn’t it?

We do this in our lives in so many ways. We stay at that job because the pay is decent but it is slowly sucking the soul out of us. I have had clients like that in the past and had to get rid of them somehow. The money isn’t always worth it. Sacrificing a little bit of your soul for financial gain just leads to selling more of your soul later for more financial gain. It never stops unless you stop giving yourself away like that forever.

We do this in our home as well. We don’t like the fact that our kids are stuck in the house and spend too much time on technology. We know it is slowly ruining them and that is not the way we wanted to raise them, yet we don’t make any change because it requires some discomfort on our part as parents. Changing this aspect of our household is not an easy task. It would almost be a full time job until everyone is used to existing with less tv and technology time.

We do this with our bodies knowing full well that we need to eat better and be more active. We get a gym membership only to abandon it. We buy healthy food only to go back to convenient packaged foods because it’s easier. We are busy and life can get frustrating. The last thing I want to do is take the time to make a healthy meal when a cheeseburger is waiting for me at a nearby drive through window.

It’s hard to make lasting change. Anyone who makes change and says it is easy is a complete fool and charlatan. Social media gives us that false presumption that people all around us are making change and living their best lives. That simply is not the fact. There are a few outliers who are doing it, but 99.9% of the rest of what you scroll past is marketing. If it’s not a company marketing their product it’s an old friend from high school marketing their perfect life to you. Spoiler Alert: It’s not a perfect life, it’s a curated highlight reel… Marketing! Whether we mean to or not, we mostly share the highlights of our lives because who wants to follow someone who’s falling apart?

I’m not immune to it. Just look at what I shared from our two month long full time travels all over the Northwestern United States. It kind of looks like a magazine. It doesn’t represent the challenges we had on this trip. The photos I posted don’t represent the day I spent in bed because I was too depressed to move or the times I so frustrated with my kids that I just had to step outside. Happy photos get likes.

Nothing worth doing is easy, or even pretty at first. It is usually hard. But isn’t life going to be hard anyway? We know that life is going to be hard, so why don’t we choose what gets to be hard and avoid the rest? That is a question I have been asking myself often this year. How can I better choose what gets to be hard in my life?

That sounds kind of new age guru annoying, but it’s actually kind of possible. Of course we can’t avoid everything and choose only what we want. The world will throw us some curveballs we didn’t see coming, but for the most part, we can control what gets to be hard in our lives, so let’s talk about that.

Choose What Get’s to be Hard in Your Life

Choosing what gets to be a challenge really comes down to getting as many of the typical life decisions we have to make into our control in a healthy way. There are a few things that will make that near impossible so I wanted to touch on those really quick.

  1. Money: Finances are the main thing that take control of our lives. We have to make money to exist and have a few nice things, which means we have to trade our time for money. For most, this means getting a job. Some of us are lucky enough to get to do something we enjoy for work, most are not. The reason most are stuck trading time for money doing something they don’t enjoy is that the pain has not become strong enough to make change. There is a level of comfort there still. We talked about this earlier in this post. If your expenses are close or equal to what you make, you are kind of stuck. The only option you may see is to find another job that pays the same amount doing something else you would enjoy more, but that may be hard to find. You have to make change in your financial situation which will likely mean sacrificing some things so you can save more or take a job you would enjoy more even it it meant you are paid less.
  2. Relationships: The people you surround yourself with can make it hard for you to make the change you want to in your life. If you want to make change but your partner doesn’t, that creates friction that will keep you stuck. If you surround yourself with agreeable friends who make excuses for you rather than challenge you, it is likely you will remain stuck.
  3. Patterns & Addictions: If you have certain patterns and/or addictions that run contrary to the change you want to make, you will often be stuck in those ruts and find it hard to get out of them until you get help from someone who has been there before. If you think making change is hard simply based on the pain vs comfort aspect we talked about earlier in this post, an unhealthy pattern and/or addiction will multiply the likelihood you remain stuck tenfold.
  4. This list could go on forever, but I think you get the point.

There are many things that keep us stuck and not moving towards the change we want. If it was easy, we would all be making awesome change and killing it in life. The hard things to get past are found in the comforts that we have grown accustomed to. I say that they are comforts that we have grown accustomed to because if you actually take a step back, they aren’t really that comfortable. We just deal by adjusting our level of discomfort so we can remain in control. Even by not taking control of a situation we are still exercising a form of control. Everything is a decision, even choosing not to make one.

Now I’m not going to paint you a perfect picture of life and tell you that if you simply run to it you can have it. I am a bit more of a realist than that. I have known plenty of people who left one situation only to take their issues right into the next one. Things are going to be tough no matter where we go and with who we go there with, life promises us that. But we can choose the things that are going to be tough, we’re actually doing it already.

If your finances are tough, that’s because you took on too much debt. If your relationship is tough, that’s because you aligned yourself with someone who doesn’t agree with the same things you do. If your health is suffering, chances are you had a hand in that too, although I do understand that some health situations are out of our control to begin with.

We make choices every day. We make a choice to get up and go to work at a job we don’t like. We make a choice to let our kids run our lives. We make a choice to live where we live. Everything is a choice, whether its good or bad, most of us don’t have a loaded gun pointed at our head even if at times we act like we do.

So why not choose things that we can enjoy even if at times they still get tough? Choose a job that challenges us but is also very fulfilling. Choose to improve our relationships, which will be tough work. Make uncomfortable choices for our kids sometimes because we know it will be better for them in the long run. Choose to turn off a few of the monthly subscription services because we could use the extra money in the bank and the time they took from our lives.

Making change happen now starts with making the right next decision now. You don’t have to have it all planned out in advance, you just have to start taking steps towards it. Big change starts one step at a time.

Make Uncomfortably Tough Decisions

Chances are some of the choices you will have to make will be uncomfortable. Whether the choice have to do with work, relationships, food, kids, where you live, or anything else, it’s probably going to require some sacrifice. You need to become a pro at sacrificing yourself daily to get to where you want to go.

I went to lunch with my dad today and had the most bogus salad. I was at a Mexican Food Restaurant and would have given my left kidney for a grilled steak super burrito, but I got a chicken salad with no dressing at all because none of their dressings were going to work for me.

Multiple times I have taken my family out to dinner at a restaurant where I could have easily ordered a giant burger and fries but instead I ordered a bland salad or on a few occasions, nothing at all for myself. Do I deserve to eat out with my family especially if I am the one paying the bill? Yes! But my family is not on the same path as I am with food so it is not fair for me to try and force them to eat the way I want to eat.

I used to like having an office outside of the home. It was my own space that my wife and kids had no jurisdiction over. I don’t have that space in my home so I deserved to have that office, but I had to make the decision to get rid of it because I wanted to save money and it was the easiest thing for our family to sacrifice.

I took my family on the road in our RV Travel Trailer for two months knowing fully in advance that it was going to be very tough for all of us to be in close quarters like that for so long. I knew that it wouldn’t be convenient for me at all to work from the road and to constantly have to be breaking up little fights between my kids due to the close proximity, but I made the sacrifice so we could travel the Northwestern United States and experience all of it’s beauty.

Being able to make uncomfortable decisions is the only way to move forward in life. Most people are going to make decisions based on what results in maintaining the level of comfort they have or obtaining more of it, and at any cost. That is not how you have a fulfilling life.

Never Stop Dreaming

You kind of have to be a dreamer to want a better life. If you have made it this far through this post, you probably are at some level, a dreamer. Dreamers often spend time thinking about the possibilities of what life would be like if they could make change. I know that I am a dreamer, but in the past I often looked at the things mentioned above as obstacles.

I felt stuck in Modesto because I had built my business here and all of my family lives here. I thought that the only way I would ever be able to move or travel long term would be to places like Modesto or larger. Never until I made some sacrifices did I think I could spend long periods of time in the mountains away from big cities. I stopped believing I couldn’t do it and just did it this summer and it was the best thing our family has done to date.

I felt defeated when it came to the food I consume because my wife and kids would never get on board with a diet that would lead to a more healthy body and mental clarity. My wife and I didn’t really eat that unhealthy to begin with, but I realized that if I was going to make the change I wanted for my own body, I would have to make big changes, and I would have to do it alone. That doesn’t mean I can’t have a burger and fries. It just means I am only going to to that once a month. I never stopped dreaming of being healthier, but I was in my own way. Once I got out of my own way, I started losing weight. I’m down 25lbs at the time of writing this.

I have been very passive in my marriage doing everything I can to not make waves while at the same time inadvertently causing most of the problems in my marriage subsequently. I don’t want to get into my own childhood in this post, but there are traumas from my childhood that resulted in how I handle my relationships today. These issues range from how I was talked to as a child to abandonment issues. I carried all of this trauma into my marriage and they have also influenced how I parent my own children. It has been very uncomfortable to drill down into my life to better understand where everything within me has come from. It will actually require a lifetime of discomfort, but it’s worth it. I am working on improving the way I communicate to and treat my family so that that don’t have to feel nervous around me or always wonder if they are doing something wrong like I did growing up.

You need to be a dreamer so you have ambitions to grow into something better than you were yesterday. You have to put in the hard work in order to make change. It is going to be uncomfortable so you need to learn to enjoy the discomfort that comes with hard work. It doesn’t mean that you have to constantly fall on your own sword to make other people happy. This is not about making them happy, it is about making yourself happy through making healthy choices that are right for you and the people in your life. That will result in a win for everybody involved. My family wins when I am happy and healthy. They lose when I isolate and withdraw from my dreams.

Where to go from here

I just read what I wrote and it’s a lot. It’s a lot to take in and it’s a lot to think about. I am feeling apathetic just having spent a moment thinking about the work I still have ahead. I am nowhere near out of the dust yet. I am constantly blowing things up in order to prevent tripping over them again. I try new things so I can be open to something better than what I am used to, even if it’s challenging.

You need to do this too. You need to delete Netflix off of your phone even if it means you will have to figure out something to do with yourself for multiple hours each evening or do whatever you need to do to get wasted time back. You need to throw away all of the unhealthy food you spent perfectly good money on because if you wait to start eating better until it’s gone, you will just buy more. I know because that is me. Whatever it is for you, you need to do it.

Making change is going to require you look inward. Depending on how much time you avoid looking inward, this could suck, but it’s necessary. You have to choose to see and love the potential you have, not what you are currently see yourself as. You have to flip the script. I like the phrase “flip the script” because a script is a story that contains a beginning, middle, and end. Right now, you are in the middle. You need to understand the beginning so you can rewrite the middle and live your best end.

What do you need to do to make change? What are you doing in your life to maintain a false sense of comfort? I hope my sharing helped you. In turn, your sharing will help me. Feel free to use up that comment section below this post. I read every comment and reply to them when I can.

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Disrupting My Own Life

Disrupting My Own Life

Most of us strive for comfort. I know I have. Our society is full of comforts and panderings to the smallest of inconveniences. As human beings, we don’t like pain, so we do whatever we can to get away from it. Some pain physically hurts. If something is wrong with our body, it often notifies us through the sensation of pain. If something traumatic happens to us, we experience emotional pain, and this is where pain gets really interesting.

I have had a lot of trauma in my life, most of it is self-inflicted trauma, but it was trauma none-the-less. When you experience trauma there are a couple of different reactions that are common. The first is to fall into the victim role and sometimes we are the victim. If the actions of someone else hurt you, you have a right to be a victim. The problem with being the victim is that it is easy to get stuck there. We live in a society that makes it very comfortable to be the victim, so comfortable that it is likely you will become the very trauma that you were once the victim of. We all want to belong to something and to be understood so when someone understands our trauma and sympathizes with us it is easy to become addicted to that.

The different traumas I have experienced in life have never been more talked about before and that is the case for most traumas out there. If you were molested as a child, people talk about that now whereas not too long ago it was something people hid from others. Considering all of the hurt in the world, it is a great time to be alive because of the breaking down of these kinds of walls in society. It is now normal to admit that you struggled with something and that is a great thing. Being able to find and converse with others who have gone through what you went through is a good thing. The problem is that many people have allowed their identity to become the trauma they experienced and outside of that, they have no identity. People end up reliving their trauma day to day because it’s the only thing connecting them to people “who understand them.” People, we were not put here on earth to get hurt and then shut ourselves in around others who were hurt in the same way. How will you ever grow and become stronger if the only thing holding you together is other hurting people?

The other reaction is to grow from the trauma you experienced. Now obviously the best way to grow as a person is to just live a life in search of enlightenment and self-awareness, but we were not raised that way. I was raised by the generation who believed all advertising was truthful and that the Government is only trying to help us lead healthier better lives. It is only now that some of the Babyboomer generation is becoming more self-aware and understanding that there is a better way, but they already finished raising us so now we have to figure out how to undo the tendencies we have to microwave our boxed dinners and wash them down with “Sugar Free” beverages laced with chemicals we don’t understand. We were raised by the first generation to experience true convenience living and the last to experience the real “American Dream” as it was. We have our own version of the American Dream but it looks different and does not revolve around a single career and home ownership. Or at least it shouldn’t.

So trauma has definitely put me on a different path than I would have been on without it. Some people don’t need to experience much trauma because they were either raised in a way where they were taught to seek enlightenment on their own or they were an observant enough person to see what was going on around them in the world and were able to learn from what was happening to others. While I believe I am very observant and can easily learn from the mistakes of others, that has not stopped me from making my own mistakes and allowing myself to fall victim to trauma.

So now that I have explained a bit about where I am at on my path to becoming a more enlightened and self-aware person, let’s talk about this whole concept of Disrupting One’s Own Life. What does it mean to purposely disrupt your life in a world where most people are looking for the least about of disruption? First, let’s take a look at where I’ve been the past few years.

About two years ago I made some decisions to start dealing with some of my own junk which meant talking about it. That started first with my wife, some family, friends, and getting a counselor. I was in a rut and I also felt that I was dragging those around me into that rut as well. There were some things I needed to talk about that I had never talked about and unbeknownst to me at the time, I would end up going super deep into those things with my counselor over the coming years. The decision to talk to a counselor, and the right counselor, not just any counselor, was the best decision I have ever made. I plan to talk more about the importance of having people in your life that are deep thinkers and how this has helped me. The problem is that at first, it was kind of depressing. A lot was coming to the surface and it was really bumming me out. All of this stuff I was dealing with was already there as it was stuff I buried down inside me so I was not dealing with anything new other than the realization that this damage had been done.

I apologize if some of what I am saying sounds a bit cryptic. I very much plan on getting into the deeper details of my past on this blog and in other ways in the future but I am also wanting to make sure that I do that in a way that is beneficial. There is no purpose in me simply dumping my mess all over the internet with no real context. I was not given the experiences I have had in this life to present them that way. I need to not only honor my past appropriately but also make sure I share it in a context that will be able to help people. Otherwise, what was it all for?

So for about a year, I was super depressed. I was so depressed I wanted to isolate myself from everybody. There were moments I believed in my mind (thankfully only moments) that my family would be better off without me. I would keep them supported financially of course, but they would be better off without me around. Thankfully those dark moments were nothing more than moments, but thoughts like that haunted me for quite some time. I was not a very effective human during those months. If I didn’t have a business to run and others whose livelihood was my responsibility, I probably would have gone deeper into that darkness, but thankfully I had responsibilities and enough resilience left to keep moving forward.

After Thanksgiving of 2017, I had had enough. I had spent enough time sad and needed out of the rut I had gotten myself into. I was not doing anybody any favors by living in the mindset I had been in so I decided to change it. I literally changed my mind and decided I was no longer going to be depressed about where I was in life at that moment. You see, I think that we have done ourselves a disservice by giving everything a name and a personality. Depression is a big thing and affects a lot of people but giving it a name and a personality has only grown the depression epidemic. More people suffer from anxiety and depression than ever before, even during the depression era where people had good reason to be extremely bummed out about life and the outlook of the future. A few months prior to pulling myself out of the depression I had gone to see a therapist through my medical provider. My counselor even suggested it. The Psychologist was quick to diagnose me as clinically depressed and recommended I start medication, which I did. The problem is that I took medication for about three months and felt no different. I was told and believed that the medication would make my life better, but that was not my experience at all. For all I knew I was taking sugar pills. After about three months of being on medication, I slowly backed off my dose over the course of three weeks to nothing at all. I don’t want to get into an argument with anyone here about whether the medication works or not, whether or not I was truly depressed or argue any other unknown factors influence on how it all went down, but I pulled myself out of depression, not medication. It is possible people (but please only do this after consulting with your doctor). You just have to have had enough. And yes I know that not every person out there is capable of this due to the varying degrees of mental illness. What I am saying though is that there are many people out there who were told they are clinically depressed when really they are just going through a patch of depression. I now know that there is a difference and I am sad that clinicians treat all depression and anxiety the same way.

Deciding to be done with sadness was not enough though. After deciding to pick myself up off the floor my life did not change. I still had the same struggles and battles to fight each day and I continued to fight them for almost an entire year. About five months ago, my last employee quit to move on to different work. That left me alone at my office. Each day I would go to work, and work alone. It was just me, the tasks I needed to complete, and my thoughts. At first, I had a lot of work to catch up on as I had enough work for two people, actually enough for four people, but two of us were supposed to be there for it. It took me until the end of September to get caught up, so three months after my last employee quit. After I was caught up I had some time to think and think I did. I found myself looking around my office at all of the equipment I had acquired over the years feeling anxious about it. I didn’t have to be at the office by any certain time anymore because nobody else was going to be there so I started looking into my daily routine, which seemed to have been causing me anxiety as well. I started making notes about my day and logging my activities which quickly led me to the realization that I was not being very effective with my time. I knew something with my work life needed to change.

I had also been chasing the goal of building passive income revenue streams that would offset and eventually replace my need for a traditional source of income. I have been chasing freedom from the traditional occupation for my entire life. Now not having employee overhead I realized that if I didn’t have the overhead of my office, I would already be there. Between the income I was receiving from my YouTube channels and online content combined with the recurring revenue from managed services I provide through my online marketing agency, I had enough income to live that freedom now. Recognizing that and the fact that I needed to change my current daily routine led me to the disruption of my own life, where I am at today, and my new plans for the future.

I started off this blog talking about comfort. It is comfort that is unnatural. We were not designed to be comfortable and comfort is why so many of us are unhappy and end up depressed. Comfort keeps us from living out our true potential and from becoming what we were told we could be when we were young which was “anything you put your mind to.” I knew that I needed to be more productive with my time and that was not going to happen in my current routine so I needed to disrupt it. The disruption started by deciding to close my office and work from home. I had worked from home before, so I knew I was capable of it, I just didn’t have three children before. Working from home meant that I would have to be as productive as I could during the hours they were at school. After they were home from school the house was theirs so my entire routine would need to change in order to make sure I got stuff done within this new window of time. To be honest, when they are home from school, I want to be able to hang out with them, not be stuck at an office until dinner time. I am running out of days where my kids will prioritize hanging out with me over friends. I need to prioritize them now when they are young. It would be much harder for me to make this change later in life when they are older and all they know is that there Dad works all day and gives them his leftover attention. They deserve the best of me and I want them to have that.

Because we live in a world of comfort I think it is important to disrupt ourselves from time to time. In the past, trauma has disrupted my life and I noticed that I have always come out stronger because of it. This time I wanted to be the one leading the disruption, not circumstances. This disruption is just the first of many to come as I never want to become complacent about where I am at or what I have achieved. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. I want to raise my children to be adults that see every opportunity as a chance to be enlightened. I want them to be self-aware and able to quickly recover from life’s hurts. On this Earth, we will never be free of trauma or pain, but we can choose to learn from it, better ourselves, and empower others through it.

Discussing what I have been doing with others seems to be unsettling with them, which is why I know I am heading in the right direction. Disruption is a good thing. It keeps us moving and learning. Industries are being disrupted because their providers got too comfortable. General Motors announced today that they are laying off 10,000 employees and closing down five factories when Tesla is hiring like mad and building factories. GM is refocusing on electric vehicle production and will scramble to catch up to companies that have been moving in that direction for years now. I want to be the one proactively disrupting my life rather than being reactionary to what is going on around me.

If this post stirred you in any way or if you are at all interested in what I am doing, I would love to hear your thoughts. Let’s talk about it in the comments section below this post. You can also be notified when I post new content by signing up for my email newsletter.

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