When I was 12, I had my first panic attack. For the next 6 years, I would regularly suffer from horrible symptoms related to anxiety and was hospitalized a few times. I don’t think the words exist to explain what it feels like but let’s just say that it was so bad, that from that moment on I had my life’s mission clearly spelled out for me.
I knew I didn’t have the tools needed to achieve this goal so I set out to learn. I started asking questions to myself about myself. What things and events did I react to? Why did I react to these things? Why did I react the way I did? And so on… I asked the people close to me to tell me what they thought were my strengths and weaknesses [side note: I found out that if you are known for your quick temper, this may take some convincing on your part for them to agree to tell you the truth].
One day, at the beginning of my journey as a teenager, I was talking with my mother in the kitchen while watching her cook dinner for us. I felt a bit lost from all of my questions and felt I needed some outside help. I told her I wanted a mentor, a guide to help me along. She thought about it a bit and said “I understand. Life can be hard and confusing, we all want someone to show us the way. But that’s not how it works. You’ll need to figure this out on your own.” I was very confused. Surely, there are mentors in the world who could help out? Why couldn’t I find someone to show me the way? It took me a long time but later in life I finally understood what she meant. A mentor can guide you but ultimately you have to make the decisions and take the actions. Also, you are the one who needs to live with the consequences of your decisions and actions. The responsibility is completely yours, so the first responsibility you have to learn to take is to make your own decisions.
Realizing guidance could be found anywhere and being a voracious reader, I started with books. At a family member’s office, I found the book “The 7 Habits of Effective People”. To this day, the one lesson that has changed my life the most is from that book. Since I was still trying to understand who I wanted to be, the first thing I did was to write the eulogies I wanted others to say about me at my funeral. I later learned a better exercise to do, one that is more aligned with my views on interpersonal relationships, but as a starting point this was incredible. It helped focus my thoughts on who I wanted to be. The second exercise I did was the most memorable to my grandmother who had given me one of the apartments she owned to live in. The walls were painted white. No stains, no aging of color, just pure white. One day, I went to a shop, bought black paint and in big black letters I painted a phrase on the wall in front of my bed. ‘Between stimulus and response man has the ability to choose’. The idea was that that would be the first thing I saw every morning as I got up to face the world and it would be the last thing I would see before sinking into sleep. My grandmother was not happy with it (apparently it’s not so simple to just paint over it) but the changes it helped me make in my life softened the blow.
I remembered that during my childhood there were many times my hard-working single mother had money on her mind. Not because she was greedy but because raising a kid is an expensive endeavour. So, looking back on my own life experiences and in my quest for serenity, I decided that I needed to amass incredible wealth and then I could simply live without worry, without forcing myself to do things I didn’t want to do and especially not forcing myself to deal with people I didn’t want to deal with. That, for sure would be the end of all worries and the way to serenity. So I started working. I worked hard. Very hard. I did every type of sales imaginable. Door to door, telemarketing, office settings, stopping people in the mall, etc. From each one I learned a different aspect of sales. Each day I came in early and repeat the presentations, the body language that I needed to read and to learn, the words, the tonality, the rhythm. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I did this until it became second nature. You know what I did then? I repeated again. Looking for the little nuances. This tenacity in my training brought me extraordinary success. I was being flown out and put up in hotels and private villas just to work with a company for a few months.
I had amassed a small fortune and was certain I was on my way to my goal of massive wealth. Alas, this was still in my early twenties and there were still many life lessons I had not yet learned. And so, after a few more years, I was back at my starting point. This was a very humbling experience. And, since when it rains, it pours, my personal life went to hell at about the same time. I needed to take a gigantic step back and assess my situation.
I realized this was a blessing of sorts. It gave me the opportunity to look at myself and decide again who I was going to be. Just like when I had first started out. Except that this time I would be doing that with a lot more life experience to guide my decisions.
Wanting to give this the proper time but still needing to pay bills, I took a factory job. The work was physically very demanding but there was no intellectual and mental requirement at all on my part. This gave me the ability to keep my mind free to think for those eight hours a day. Exactly what I needed.
During those few months I reviewed my goals and hatched a new game plan. Serenity was still my goal but I understood that the path to it was much different than what I had initially thought and decided.
[Side note: We each have different goals and a different journey. Even if your goal is serenity, it may mean something different to you than it does to me. Keep this in mind as you read my journey. Yours will be different.]
Here are some examples of the changes made in those months.
With these new understandings (amongst others) and with my new plan, I left the job I was at with a pained realization I’d lose a lot of the physique I had built over those past few months and I started taking the actions towards my new vision.
One of the milestones chosen was that once I had 3 streams of passive income, I’d work on making my knowledge and experience public for the benefit of others.
Which brings us to now.
Welcome to The Good Life Manifesto.