It’s f**king Friday. Fuck yeah.

There stretches ahead of me 48 hours of infinite possibilities. I will be free from my desk & the suffocating atmosphere I find myself in 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

I could drink myself into oblivion, or just have a few beers with friends. I could go to the cinema or do a bit of yoga. I could even go to the Hawaiian hula dancing class I saw advertised on a kebab shop door last night. In essence, I can do whatever the fuck I want.

I now get it. I get why, when I’d meet up with friends on a Friday evening in London after work there was always an electric atmosphere in the air. Everyone lets out a great collective breathe of relief &, for a rare few hours, excitedly takes advantage of having total control over their time.

I’ve always worked for myself & tend to love what I do, so most days are equally as great as Friday. Friday is just a bit more fun as everyone around you is in a great mood.

Yet I question how great Friday really is. People stream out of their offices straight into bars (at least in London) & tend to drink themselves to a point where they have no worries or inhibitions – until they don’t really give a fuck.

 

It’s relief. It’s not really happiness in & of itself.

It’s a celebration of something bad stopping for a little while. It’s like someone constantly hits you in the face for 5 days straight & then you go wild & celebrate – feel gratitude even – when it stops for 2 days.

So it’s not really something to celebrate. It’s escapism. It’s a brief respite from the hard reality of a job lacking purpose.

You see it as time passes throughout the evening; as Friday night slips away, the spectre of ‘real life’ emerges again to remind you that your freedom is finite.

There’s only Saturday night left in between you & that thing on Monday morning you’ve got to do.

There’s Sunday, but most people spend that in limbo, worrying about Monday & preoccupied with the week to come, so it may as well be part of Monday; maybe ‘pre-Monday’ would be apt.

So yeah. It’s Friday. I’m gonna enjoy the sense of relief that comes with that, but I’m also going to use my Saturday & Sunday to make sure I never need to finish the week with a sense of relief ever again.

I’ve got a lot to do: write 2,000-word articles, record our first podcast, set up a website & create a roadmap for the next few weeks.

With a lot of hard work, Monday’s going to be my favourite day of the week. I want to feel excited to build something, to be in a team I love, solving problems I’m passionate about.

Life should never be something you need relief from.

 

 

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The Resignation Letter I Wanted to Send

I did this as an exercise a month before resigning to clarify my own thoughts for resigning & to anger myself, in a way, to keep myself motivated. 

Ironically I ended up getting fired the day before handing it in.

 

I’ll close the door on the way out

 

Dear team,

I have really valued the experience with you all & wanted to clarify that you are not the problem here. I think in another context it would be a joy to work with you. Unfortunately, however, there are a number of factors that have contributed to my resignation, an outcome I have seen as inevitable since the first few weeks, which I will outline below:

 

1) I can’t follow a dictator

Within my first week I was aware that I was working for a dictator. Assuming that you are always right in business is completely wrong & puts the entire business at risk. To be arrogant enough to assume that you are confidently able to predict social trends, markets & human behaviour – as well as be more intelligent than the collective intelligence of an entire team – is something I can’t quite fathom.

Not only is it a risk to the company, it has also alienated those in the company. If people are condescended to, talked down to, trumped in their own area of expertise, then the outcome will only be that you piss them off. And justifiably so.

Furthermore, I have seen clearly narcissistic behaviour in this obsession over projecting a certain image to the world that does not reflect reality.

You use the word ‘family’ when its usage is completely antithetical to the definition of the word &, quite frankly, an affront to our collective intelligence.

You push people to work long hours (let’s not even go into the mass of behavioural psychology studies that show this is unproductive), you encouraged people to come in ill before we lost half the office to illness & you sell us the ‘mission’ when you don’t even seem to believe in it yourself.

The entire ‘mission’ & purpose of the company is – & seemingly always was – an ego project in the pursuit of wealth & social status. The glories of our ‘family’ would be borne by you, our benevolent, omniscient leader.

 

2) The Mission Fallacy

It really seems to me that this whole enterprise simply exists to gain contracts from E-On. The mission is not, as you purport, to ‘revolutionise your home’. It’s simply ‘let’s get a few contracts from E-On over the next 2 years’.

No-one really cares about reducing electricity consumption or making people’s lives easier. It’s a game of how much money can we spend before it runs out.

I’m just surprised to think that you didn’t think people wouldn’t realise they had been deceived.

 

3) Work Culture

I refuse to work in an office environment that shows no genuine empathy for others & works on archaic working traditions.

Firstly, we have a culture of staying late. This to me shows immaturity & a failure to organise yourself properly. If you are unable to focus during the day, busy yourself with emails & Slack & don’t get your work done during normal hours, then there’s a problem there.

It is not only counter-productive to stay late, it has come to represent hard work & dedication to the company. Are we really that immature? Do we need to act like children? I used to get my work done by lunchtime, yet what’s the point? I’m dis-incentivised to be productive, as I have to stay until an arbitrary hour anyway, so what’s the point?

Secondly, we try to paste over the lack of culture & empathy with gin & tonics. Are you serious? If you’re aiming to dominate a market then you need world-class culture. Throwing a few limes at it isn’t going to work.

Not only is there a clear lack of any sense of team, there is also a clear lack of empathy. HR seems to be purely focused on getting people through the door & signing a contract. Once their in that’s that. Just leave them at their desk to produce.

We have people moving here with no apartment & no friends. Who else has made an effort to help these people? Apart from Jonathan I have seen no attempt at genuinely helping out or showing true empathy for others.

The only reason I think the company is still going is because of the quality & friendliness of people that work here. What a shame that is betrayed by the failure of management to instil any authentic attempt at community-building.

 

4) Violating my contract

A final confirmation of the lack of empathy & giving-a-shit in this company was two months ago.

In my contract, it stated that I would have 30 days holiday per year. When I queried the fact that I had only been allocated 25, I was told that this was ‘an old contract’.

I think HR misunderstands the purpose of a contract. There is only ‘the contract’ & the whole purpose of ‘the contract’ is that it may not be violated under German law.

I find the fact that this situation even ever came about a sign of gross incompetence & a sign that the rights of employees are, simply, an inconvenience.

This situation has still not been resolved – or even addressed since I raised it – so I will be taking legal action if it is not resolved by the end of the week.

 

So I found myself: deeply unhappy with my work, feeling like a cog in a wheel that is going nowhere & entirely lacking purpose. For me that realisation means that leaving was inevitable & imminent. It is unacceptable for me to look myself in the mirror & continue working on something I don’t believe in.

I urge you to not fall victim to the sunk-cost bias, continuing to put your lives into something you have already invested time & energy into.

Please consider the fact that life is short. You should not be wasting it on making money & ego-stroking.

You are all such talented, interesting & caring people capable of making a real impact in the world with whatever you set out to achieve. Please set out to make that impact.

 

I challenge you to do the same. Write out why you’re unhappy in your current job & face the truth. Hopefully the clarity it provides you will motivate you to take action.

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9 weeks to go

6.55am

I hate my job. I really, really hate it with a passion. I feel a sense of existential dread whenever I walk up those stairs. I feel the desire to just hide, rather than deal with anything related to it. If I wasn’t scared of getting dysentary, I’d eat under-cooked chicken just to legitimately take a few days off work.

I’ve lost my purpose & my passion for life. Temporarily at least.

Talk of salaries, promotions, mission, family, team, office, gin & tonic. All of it seems so vacuous.

I pray for the weekend & feel down on Sunday. That’s no way to live life.

9 weeks to go.

 

9.45pm

If morning felt like a kick in the teeth having to go into work, this afternoon was far worse.

I’m pretty sure I’ve hit my low point. Today was the final nail in the coffin; the little doubt left in me about sticking with it has been driven out.

I was a few seconds from crying today in the office. I’m also someone quite conscious of the fact that I’m not normally under-emotional. Therefore the fact that work – something so unimportant in life – brought me to that point is really quite telling.

I laugh at it now, but at 2pm this afternoon I felt physically sick: cold, shaking hands, near the point of vomiting. Purely from the prospect of having to work on a new project. That’s pretty fucked up, no?

It’s not like I sell crack cocaine to kids or anything. I just help build heating devices that no-one is ever going to use. It shouldn’t feel like the world is about to end when all I am obliged to do is design a few app screens.

Yet when you do something that fundamentally goes against everything you believe, your body & mind refuse it. It creates, at least in my case, a gut reaction; a rejection of what you are spending your time & energy doing.

Nothing is worth that feeling. The only benefit I see is that every moment of despair is fuelling me to get up earlier, to work harder, to think more deeply about my future.

Just 24 more work days until it’s done.

 

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Complaining Keeps Me Motivated

When I complain, it’s because something is wrong

My default status at work at the moment is being miserable. I’ve already decided I’m leaving the job, but it still doesn’t make every day any less worse.

As somebody that has always been highly autonomous & purpose-driven, I find the idea of working towards a goal I don’t believe in, for somebody I neither believe in or like, difficult to swallow.

Every time I’m required to do anything that goes towards those goals, I feel a sense of dread & tension in myself. I think to myself, ‘only a few more weeks’.

I disagree so fundamentally with much of what I need to do for the majority of the day that the knock-on effect in my social life has been significant: I find myself complaining about anything & everything work-related.

But, what surprises me about this is that I hate complaining. On principle I tend to avoid it. If you’ve got a problem, you go & fix it.

Has it got so bad that my only outlet, my brief respite, is bitching to a friend for a few hours about my boss using the word ‘family’ to make myself feel a little bit better.

Or is it just a game? A way to amuse myself in the evenings, whilst I’m safe in the knowledge that it will not last? That, as of this morning, I have 5 weeks,1 day & 2.5 hours until I will hand in my resignation. That my temporary, torturous state of limbo is lessening by the day.

 

At least mine are productive

Complaining generally lacks substance & any attempt at conflict resolution. At its worst it can be seeing injustice & personal affronts at every turn. It is a failure to recognise that it is the complainer’s responsibility to take action to resolve whatever is pissing you off.

Usually, nothing good comes of it & it just leaves you in a permanent state of self-pity & unhappiness.

I see my complaints in a different light, however. I see my actions as ‘productive complaining’ that creates motivation to fuel my own fire. By constantly repeating & reinforcing the things that make me unhappy with my current job, it forces me to confront them every day.

Yet this only works because I have a plan in place. I decided to leave 2 months ago & have been up at 6.30am every morning to start building an alternative future for myself.

There has, therefore, been a steady snowballing of momentum towards my highly-anticipated – at least for me – exit on December 1st. Every complaint energises me & keeps me going. Every negative thought gets me up even earlier & working even harder.

Because I feel in control, despite the constant state of apathy & misery I feel when I walk through the office door, my complaints do not drown me in negativity & unproductive thoughts.

They are, funnily enough, a constant companion fuelling my fire to get me to the exit door.

 

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How Only a Verbal Punch in the Face Can Motivate You to Change

I am finally going to use the word. It’s been 3 months in the making & a few days since it has crystallised in my mind. I feel like I need to be honest about it with myself.

The fact is, I’ve thought of myself as ‘unhappy’ over the last few months in this job, but it would be more accurate to say ‘miserable’.

I am miserable.

 

There’s no point taking the edge off it or painting over the cracks. There are too many warning signs to ignore this truth: it’s affecting my mood at all times, regardless of what I’m doing & who I’m with.

It is important to be honest with yourself for piece of mind, true. But it is also dangerous. Lie to yourself & you trick yourself into believing a false reality.

If I start thinking it’s not that bad then I’ll start believing it. I’ll start thinking it’ll be fine to carry on working in a job I find unfulfilling for another year, maybe even two. I’ll start believing that my current, miserable state is the norm. That happiness is, in fact, just a fleeting feeling you might get once a week as you leave the office on a Friday afternoon.

Don’t avoid the bitter reality: if you are miserable, then write it down on paper & let it sink in. Just take it like a jab in the face. Let it sting & wake you from your apathy.

 

Let it fuel your fire

I don’t write this to garner sympathy or to feel sorry for myself. I write it to instil action in myself.

Could you look yourself in the mirror & accept that you will do nothing about being miserable? Would you not force yourself to confront the fact that things need to change? Would you be able to excuse inaction?

I know that I can’t.

By facing the reality that I am miserable, I am creating a deep, powerful drive in myself to change my circumstances. I am making a promise to myself that I will never return to such a state. That I will, at least, do everything in my power to live a happy, fulfilling life.

And the beauty of it? The worse it gets, the more driven you become.

I started realising this job was not quite for me 2-3 months ago. I started looking for the exit – doing a bit of writing, browsing for other jobs, having conversations with other entrepreneurial friends.

Yet everything was fine. The job was OK, the people were great, the perks were nice, I was out the office at around 6. It was all just fine, OK, nothing-to-complain-about.

In the last 2 months, I’ve come to face the reality that I was less happy than I realised – that I was miserable – & it was time to take concrete steps towards forging my own future.

So I went from browsing around for jobs twice a week to writing 1,000 words every morning, getting up at 6.30am & spending all of my free time working on a business plan & defining precisely what I wanted to do in life.

If I had just lied to myself & said that everything was ‘fine’, that I was ‘just a bit unhappy’? I don’t think any of this every would have happened.

 

Next time you look in the mirror, take a long hard look at yourself. Are you being honest with yourself? Are you willing to accept a life that’s just ‘fine’? If not, what are you going to do about it?

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Escape: Running away from it isn’t the answer

“Nowhere can man find a quiet or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul”

― Marcus Aurelius

 

Inner Turmoil

Every moment of every day, for your whole life, the greatest challenges you will face will come from within.

Inner turmoil will be your closed, most constant companion in life, dominating your thoughts & determining the actions you take.

Most people’s minds tend to be in a state of constant flux & conflict, with the past competing with the future, the positive with the negative, the rational with the instinctive.

If depression stems from looking into the past, & anxiety from looking towards the future, then to be at inner peace we must look to the present. Yet in the midst of this inner war of thoughts, the present gets forgotten.

We are either unable to focus on it, or are too afraid to confront our present reality.

 

Running Away

To escape, we run to beaches, spas, mountains – even other countries. We unquestioningly accept the belief that you can find respite in a few days away, free from the stressful demands of city life & a regular job.

In a sense, holidays are a way to desperately gulp in a breath of air before being plunged back into the waters of ‘real life’ – the stress, the lack of sleep, the depressed commuters, the grey office blocks.

It is normal to need to go & ‘re-charge your batteries’ for a few days.

But this norm is problematic.

All of our lives we build up to this certain view of what success looks like, generally wealth & social status. We get the ‘dream job’, yet find ourselves needing to escape from it every few months in order to keep ourselves motivated & energised enough to continue with it.

We spend thousands of Euros a year, earned from our ‘dream job’, in order to escape. The further away & more exotic, the better.

 

Should your ‘dream job’ not be one where you feel energised by it? Where you don’t feel the intermittent need to just get away from it? Where the lifestyle you desire is very much achievable?

 

Quell the inner turmoil

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Gandhi

 

It’s the hardest thing to do though, to align your actions with your inner mind, but it’s the most important thing you could do.

If you know your current job or lifestyle are incompatible with your beliefs, then you must take action. (You’ll know from that little niggling voice in your head & how much inner conflict you are experiencing.)

If you free yourself from the past & the future, then you will find your mind quietly at peace in the present.

If every day you do what you genuinely want to be doing in life, then you will find you don’t need a beach, fancy resort or weekend spa trip to make you happy & feel energised.

 

“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

 

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I have something remarkable to say.

Remarkable: ‘Worthy of attention; striking;’

 

Stumbling upon writing

I started journaling out of a desire to clarify my thoughts; to get things down on paper so they didn’t form a frenzied mess in my head. However interesting or mundane a thought, the simple act of writing it down seemed to instantly calm my over-active mind.

Every few months, a short journal entry would get out of control. I would continue writing until a whole blog post took form on the page without any conscious control over it.

I published two or three on Medium when an egotistical urge for recognition struck me or when something, like the Brexit result, angered me.

I put them out into the infinite depths of the internet & forgot about it.

A few months ago I looked through my Medium account to realise that 250 people had read one particular post. I hadn’t publicised it – I remember writing a short post on Facebook (under a comment like ‘My two cents on Brexit’) & that was my marketing done.

Now 250 readers, most of whom probably didn’t read more than a paragraph, does not mean I will be going for the Pulitzer Prize any time soon, but it’s a start.

It made me realise that there are people who find value in my writing. They have – I hope – considered my thoughts & amalgamated them into their own complex web of thoughts & beliefs.

It made me realise that there is at least somebody out there like me, that has similar questions they want answering, that is actively looking for those answers & that, I hope, finds some solace from my attempts at answering some of the questions life throws up at us.

Most people don’t bother writing because some things seem obvious to us. We don’t really see the point.

However, what may seem obvious to me is, in fact, remarkable to others. I forget that my experiences are unique, so my perspective is unique. My knowledge & opinions form a unique voice that is very much different from any other person, let alone writer, on the planet. It then seemed logical for me to share that unique voice with whoever is interested in hearing it.

 

And then self-doubt struck like a wave:

“I’m not a writer. I don’t write. I just put some words into my journal at a whim.

I’m not qualified for this. Who am I, with my unused degree in Politics & Spanish? Where’s my MBA from Stanford? What do I know about psychology? About politics? About anything?”

 

Why I write

And then, after the self-doubt rationally returned & I realised my response was typical of the ‘Imposter Syndrome’, where we have a tendency to feel under-qualified or to attribute success to luck rather than individual merit. I then found myself asking the question:

“Well, who really is qualified? What does that even mean?”

 

If you write, then you are a writer. If people read your content & learn something from it, then you are a successful writer. It’s as simple as that.

The qualifications don’t matter with writing. When did they ever matter other than to lend you a sense of grandiosity & self-importance? To give you society’s stamp of approval that you are one of the lucky few able to pursue this path?

Yes, there are hundreds of experts on behavioural psychology, there are thousands of business gurus & endless productivity hacks around. They are better in their way, but they do not have my voice. As long as I don’t try to categorise myself as something I’m not – & mimic somebody else’s voice -then I will always have a unique voice.

It’s not better than anyone else, but it’s different from everyone else.

All that matters is that somebody, somewhere finds your writing remarkable – and I use the word ‘remarkable’ in the definitive sense: ‘worthy of attention; striking.’

It means you don’t need to have a global audience or a New York Times Bestseller. All it means is that you need one person to stop & pay attention. Just one person to stop, read your work & re-consider their belief system in some way.

With that realisation, I find my writing liberated from self-limiting beliefs. I write what I want, on what I want, with a new-found sense of confidence.

If the whole world turned around & told me my writing was crap*, then who cares? As long as it interests me, then I’ve still got an audience.

 

An audience of you

I would even suggest starting with a readership of one: yourself.

Journaling has been one of the most transformative habits in my life, improving my well-being enormously. Your mental clarity improves & evidence suggests you are a less stressed, happy person because of this daily habit.

Try the following steps for 2 weeks & see whether you find value in your own writing:

1. Download the ‘Bear’ or ‘Evernote’ note-taking apps on your phone and/or laptop

2. Set a 5-minute reminder in your calendar for when you wake up to journal.

3. Write for 2-5 minutes in your journal on anything & everything that comes to mind. Some days you’ll write a mundane line or two, others you’ll find yourself writing a mini-essay. It doesn’t matter what the result, as long as you’re getting thoughts down on the page**

4. After the two weeks, read over your entries & consider the psychological improvements you will hopefully have noticed

5. Continue the habit for a life-time

 

Not only will you be improving your current life, but you may find it starts a whole new chapter.

 

 


 

* One of the most under-used words in the English dictionary, in my opinion, to describe something that’s a bit worse than ‘bad’ but not quite ‘shit’.

 

** Here are a couple of my very mundane journal entries, just so you don’t feel you need to write a masterpiece on your first attempt:

“A fairly uneventful day that blurs into yesterday and tomorrow. Although I am still motivated to work at home, I think it’s really important to start walking everyday and work outside of the house at least for half the day, so I’ll start this tomorrow morning rather than procrastinate.” (2016/1/2)

“I definitely had a moment where work was a bit overwhelming yesterday, so I’ve got to get on top of it all today. I’ll also start thinking of ways of rewarding/punishing myself for failed tasks. E.g. If I finish all my work early then having the day off or sacrificing a social event if I’m unproductive?” (2016/1/10)

 

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That Sunday feeling won’t go unless you change

For the first time in my life, I get it.

I had spent a lovely weekend in London catching up with all my close friend & spending quality time with my family. That Sunday evening I flew back to Berlin for work on Monday morning. And it hit.

A wave of deep sadness & apathy crashed upon me as I sat squeezed into my Easyjet window seat. Sadness because I knew I would be spending the majority of my scarce resources – energy & time – on something I did not enjoy. Apathetic because I just didn’t care. I think at that point if someone had offered me a week off work if in exchange for deliberately contracting a horrible strain of flu, it would have been an easy decision.

This is the first time in my life this has happened. I would like to think that I make very deliberate steps in life: I joined this – and my last – company after 2 years of entrepreneurship because I felt there were specific things I could learn from the experience of joining more experienced startups.

Therefore, even when the work has been hard over the last year, I have enjoyed it & remained motivated enough to avoid experiencing the Sunday Blues.

This time was different however. Somewhere deep inside me I knew that this was no longer something leading towards my goals in life.

 

Being ‘Fine’

What really scared me about this experience is that some people will experience it every single Sunday for the rest of their lives. Assuming you work ~50 years, that means you will spend over 2500 Sundays (7+ years) of your working life in a state of dread, anxiety & depression, hoping that tomorrow does not come.

This is, in fact, the norm. It is accepted that you should do something you don’t enjoy for years on end because ‘that’s just life’. Well fuck that.

It is totally unacceptable for me not to enjoy every day; to not feel a sense of excitement at the thought of tomorrow. Everyday should be an exciting opportunity to build something of your own. Everyday should be building towards something meaningful in your life.

Never, ever find yourself saying your job or life is ‘good enough’, ‘fine’, ‘alright’.

Every day you settle for just FINE, you’re losing out” – Ramit Sethi

You never take risks, you ignore opportunities right in front of you & always live in a world of hypothetical promises to yourself, like ‘I’ll just do this for a few years & then do something I enjoy.’ Sadly, most people never make it past the hypotheticals.

Even when others ask how we are, we are very good at disguising the truth. We project an external image of ourselves that exudes positivity.

Even more tragic, most of us internalise this belief, tricking ourselves into believing we are OK with our current situation despite the fact that there is a niggling voice in your head that says this is not OK, that you lack purpose, that you are, deep-down, unhappy.

Hold yourself to a standard

If you don’t control your time- someone else will. If you don’t protect your dream- you will fulfill someone else ‘s dream.” ― Wayde Goodall

As humans, we have this infuriating tendency to rationalise our way out of doing something, whether it’s going to the gym or quitting your job. There are always a hundred excuses why not to make a change.

Just remember that not taking action is the same as taking action. It is still a decision you must make.

Don’t fail by default.” ― Richard Paul Evans

 

To avoid the trap of inertia, set yourself certain standards in life – certain ‘if this then that’ scenarios that compel you to make change:

“When you raise your standards and turn “should” into “must,” you are making an inner shift to take control over the quality of your life. Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”Tony Robbins

 

By setting crystal clear standards for yourself, you set clear guidelines on what action must be taken in certain situations. For example, you could state that ‘If I am unhappy with my current job, I must change that job within 3 months’.

This means that, as soon as you start feeling unhappy, you have a written statement holding yourself to a certain standard: that it is unacceptable for you to not take clear action when you are unhappy in your job.

These standards provide not only a moral framework to live your life, but they prevent you rationalising your way out of taking action. This forces you to adapt & make change in order to live your life to a certain standard of happiness & fulfilment.

Take Action

The standard I have set myself is that it is unacceptable for me to be unhappy in life.

The Sunday Blues have provided me with a clear signal that change is needed. I have set my own standards & defined a clear action: writing a blog & building this business for 2 hours every morning in order to be able to quit my full-time job in 3 months time.

What standards can you set in your own life? Which situations are you always able to find an excuse to not take action? What things make you unhappy? Uncomfortable? Morally-conflicted?

Whatever they are, just hold yourself to a standard, whatever that may be. You deserve better than living a life that is just fine. The fact is that we live in an exciting time to be alive. Despite the pessimism of the media, the world is a fascinating place of infinite opportunities. It would be a waste of life not to take advantage of it.

 

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Fuck this. Time to change. How you can do the same.

I am unhappy, so I must make changes. What is more important than waking up excited to tackle the day? To take one more step towards your goals? To simply enjoy the moment?

What if you wake up every day and these goals are not your own? What if you wake up and you would prefer to escape the day rather than confront it head on? What if you become apathetic, unmoved by whatever happens to you or what you achieve that day?

For the first time in my career, I am asking myself these questions. Now that I see it for what it is, that these questions are ones I face every day, the time has come to take action.

Sometimes it takes a moment of clarity to realise the last months or years have been a lie. For me, the last 3 months in my new job have been a lie.

Where before I was a leader, I now dully follow orders and wait for direction, acting more like an ant than the leader I have been in the past.

Where before I was charismatic, I now leave the talking up to others and interact with others with mild disinterest. Where has that energy gone? Why am I not inspiring others and improving their lives with each interaction?

Where before I had purpose, I now feel like I’m consigned to limbo, waiting in a metaphorical airport lounge for an idea to strike or a more inspiring opportunity to come my way. I am waiting, though, for something that will never come unless I take action.

Where before I was happy, I now feel melancholic, with a sense of resignation to an unhappy year or two: apathetic, lacking energy, excited about nothing.

‘Now I’ve committed to it, I don’t want to admit failure by quitting.’

 

Now that I see these truths emblazoned on paper, I am shocked to realise that they describe me. They are words I would never let become reality if I caught the signs earlier. They are now inescapable, however, and lead me to question:

If this describes my life, then why have I not already made radical changes?

 

 

How have I got to this situation and how can I make radical change?

I got here out of fear. I will get myself out by being brave.

For the last year, I have avoided confronting the inescapable reality that I need to run my own business. I have made excuses about needing more experience, learning from mentors, mastering my design skills, etc.

However, the reality has always been there that I am highly independent & have run a business before. Mentors, mastery & experience – all these are best achieved in the frenetic, uncertain world of entrepreneurship.

Despite this, I joined a startup in São Paulo which I loved, but it was not my passion. When I left them, I did so in order to pursue something more challenging, so applied for startups in Berlin.

After finding a really exciting opportunity in Berlin, I flew over for the interview, met the team, agreed on a contract and moved here full-time.

It was only a week or two after starting that things started to go wrong. A lack of autonomy, leadership and direction quickly brought about an oppressive state of apathy and unhappiness.

However, how could I admit to myself that I had made the wrong decision after only a couple of weeks? What about all my family and friends? What would they think if I gave up a well-paid contract in a new city?

 

This was my ego & the Sunk-Cost bias in play.

Essentially, the Sunk-Cost bias is a human tendency to continue committing resources to something purely because you have already committed resources to it. This can be seen with, for example, a poker player continuing to play in order to win back their money or an investor funding a second stage of investment for a failing company just because they invested in the company before. It’s bad economics in action and is a strong driver of human behaviour.

 

But fuck that. If you worry too much about what others think you should do then you’ll never end up doing what you want to do. Who is the one living your life 24/7? You or your social circle?

If you are someone with a niggling thought at the back of your mind saying ‘Is this really what I want to do with my life? Does this really make me happy? Am I passionate about it?’ then it’s time to make changes.

 

Useful Tools: Meditation and Journaling

Self-awareness is a very powerful tool when it comes to focusing on what makes you happy or provides purpose in your life. Self-awareness is not something that I have been naturally bestowed with, but rather something I have cultivated.

By doing a 10-minute daily journal you cannot escape the streams of thought that are constantly with you. Writing them down every morning allows you to confront your problems, clarify your thoughts on a subject and has been proven to make you happier.

Combine this with 10 minutes of meditation every morning (try the free Headspace starter course) and you’ll not only feel 10-20% happier every day, but you will also find much greater calm & clarity in your day-to-day life.

 

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