Late summer, I had an interesting experience. I went away for a peaceful weekend with my friends, the first and last time since the pandemic struck the world. I discussed work and could not stop myself from comparing my own achievements to those of my successful and ambitious friends. They have great jobs (a disproportionate number of googlers were there) and have, by their 30th birthdays, achieved quite a few of their ambitions.
I has been around 8 years now when I took a different path, one of entrepreneurship instead of employment. And I felt, after comparing myself to them, that I achieved less – not as in money earned, more like where on the path of entrepreneurship I was at the time compared to their path of employment. This odd thought of me having wasted many years, not growing at all, kept nagging me the whole time there and when I got back.
On Monday, having returned home, I met up with my older brother. We talked for nearly 5 hours, about life, our parents and of course, our goals. He was always on that other path, mostly focused on high performance in stable employment (and occasional entrepreneurial ventures), having been coached and reading through tons of literature regarding success.
So one of the things we did that evening was he ran me through a coaching session, wanting me to get some clarity and focus about what I wanted to achieve in the future. I left the cards representing certain things I had to think about on the floor the whole next week, walking around them while I was doing my daily routines.
It worked great. I felt highly motivated to change my life, so I bolted around the city, meeting up with other high performing and ambitious friends, discussing possible partnerships etc. One of them, an email pen-pal at the time congratulated me, seeing that I finally broke off the, as he described, Volkswagen mindset so popular in Lithuania (Volswagen being low performers, unmotivated and easily disgruntled people; the other in that metaphor are Audi, being the middle, and Porsche being the ambitious, motivated high performers, working on amazing great things and never wasting a minute on anything “dumb”). Others, familiar with Tony Robbins’ teachings, called the shift in my mindset a breakthrough.
It all felt really good. Meeting with people, going back home only after 8 or so, having spent the day out, discussing, thinking grand ideas etc. I ran the marathon at that exact time, still finding time and energy to train.
While the pandemic restrictions were still lax, I would spend a lot of time at a nearby coffee shop, Espresinė, partially owned by one of my dearest and amazing friends. I kept bouncing ideas of off him and trying to piece out my thought process the whole time, mostly to sort out how and what I was feeling (I would laugh that he was a great listener, not being able to run away as he had to be in the coffee shop no matter what).
As I said above, being motivated and driven felt damn good. I started pouring through business ideas, entrepreneurial ventures and partnerships, had my whole table at home covered in post it notes and many pages scribbled with goals and ideas. But.. I felt miserable as well. Something just didn’t click with this coached up high performing version of me. I had trouble sleeping, not due to lots of delicious coffee, but of off share frustration that what I was doing somehow was wrong for me, in some capacity.
The week after the marathon, at around September 16-17 I started feeling a bit off, seemingly having caught a cold or some other virus (non covid, as I decided to test myself just in case). I spent the next 2-3 weeks alone at home, sifting through my thoughts and feelings. I would like to thank a few of my friends who listened to me rambling about how and what I felt at the time, being non judgemental in my somewhat fever and isolation induced madness.
At some point during those weeks I found clarity and mental relief. Although the driven high performing motivated coached-up version of me felt good, it was not what I actually wanted my life to be. The coaching I had and the talks with other driven people sold me on the idea that was the only true way of living. The same people would keep reinforcing that mindset, both for their own sakes and mine in order for me not to falter.
When I retrospectively think about this whole situation now, I feel kinda scammed. I was pushed to believe and then decide that earning more money, working harder and more (and on more important world changing problems) should be the true ambitious goal for me in the next 5 10 15 20 years. That saving money for a home of my own, a car or other amenities would make me happier in the long run, that I would only be happy if in 20 years I would be and do X.
Not only I felt scammed, I even got angry – the whole mindset made me despise and tarnish the memories of the past 5 or so years – I voiced them as a complete waste of time, of never growing, of never amounting to anything. Therefore, I should pursue the true goals, ones I was sold on.
I bet this tactic would work even if I was consciously aware of it. Say, for some external reason I needed lots of money (to take care of my family, for example), I could indeed fool myself into that driven mode, keep reinforcing it by doing mastermind groups and regular coaching sessions, reading Tony or other coaches or listening through tons of related podcasts or videos.
But doing that wouldn’t make me happy. I would have to sacrifice my internal happiness because of external requirements or needs (not wants).
I am glad for people who might be truly happy by pursuing those grand goals and in their case coaching is a tool for them to go harder / faster / stronger. For people who derive happiness and pleasure from external sources, most of which require one to pay with hard earned cash.
I asked one friend of mine how he had so much motivation to pursue a business for 8 years, as he is now able to just reap the benefits. He described simply loving new experiences, such as swimming with dolphins, and the business he had was just a great tool of earning enough or more so he could do those. We also discussed some other experiences, such as going to outer space someday, ones that require even more money.
But he, having known me for 6 or so years now, saw me as someone driven by internal feelings and experiences, rather than something external. And this hit me on the head right then and there.
I always found it hard to work just for the sake of someday buying a home, a car or tickets to some fantastical country (although admittedly, I did indeed travel the world in 2014, but even at the time I realised that that was not something I needed or wanted to pursue anymore).
I keep returning to things that I truly enjoy. Waking up at my own time, meeting up with friends I love, spending time with my parents, drinking amazing coffee, being bathed in sunlight while walking outside or going out for runs, the serenity of just being at peace and harmony of life. Divulging myself into fantasy and creativity, in helping both clients and friends with their businesses and lives.
And my coached-up mindset just said that I wasted my time doing those things and I should instead X. I even decided soon after coming back from that particular trip that I would stop running my homebrew D&D campaign as I felt I had no time for that now.
I considered pursuing startup ideas, but realistically that would require me to work for 12-14 hours a day for years, sacrificing my mental well being and the things I love.
Instead, I chose to stop and appreciate the things I have now and the things I love and that make me happy. I’m not being hedonistic in all that though, not just seeking pleasure after pleasure, but balancing my life in some way, coupling work, creativity and peacefulness in a manner that feels good. Not just scaling everything on the work side of things, cutting the rest off as waste.
As one friend of mine noted when I started describing the base of this post, she, having spent a lot of time with coaches and people with similar driven mindsets, suggested other types of coaching, not only the high performing businessy type, but more spiritual. What I realised though is that every one of us are way too different – driven by different things or experiences from our pasts, odd motivations and needs – so all the teachings, be it Tony Robbins or Deepak Chopra (as more spiritual), both work and do not work. Much like in the saying, paraphrased, whether you believe it works or doesn’t work, you’re right.
Finding something that fits you the best, whether which mindset makes you the happiest or you agree with the most, might be an exercise of trial and error. But what it certainly is not is something that according to some, to whom it is the best, must also work and be the best for you as well.
Find your own path <3