We’re all just ships at the mercy of the tides.
I look back on my life, how its stride has quickened and its step increases the older I grow. Yet, do I continue to grow or just exist – with my good job, my city apartment, and my insecurities. A question I seem to be asking myself a lot lately, am I living the life I want?
The short answer, is no. The longer answer isn’t that simple…obviously.
I recently moved back to my home town because of my ability to work wherever there is wifi. I moved all my stuff back down into my parent’s basement cluttering their life with my weighty and burdensome possessions. Stuff I like to call stuff. Stuff I know I don’t need, but hold onto anyway. Why, as a people, are we tethered to goods and objects? I believe it’s because we feel like we’re made of substance when we are surrounded by substance, but it’s mock substance, not real palpable, absolute substance that stems from your passion, your desire.
Last weekend, I saw an old high school friend who I hadn’t seen in close to 15 years. She knew me a long time ago when I was…well, when I wasn’t what I am now. Which is a success story (her words!). But after I thought about it, she’s right, I am a success. In my early twenties after the whole “rock star” dream didn’t come to fruition, I went into somewhat of a downward spiral, drinking a lot, and feeling sorry for myself.
I got my life back on track and worked in a number of different industries including sales, construction, and tech. I fell in love, then out of it. I went to college, didn’t graduate, but I went and learned. Wandered until I found a place I thought I belonged. I like being in Providence, the city is ripe with authenticity, she’s quirky and cool, and walking down Westminster will always cheer me up.
Today, I am on my way to Austin for a tech conference (WOOConference to be exact!) and I’m really looking forward to it! I love events. I like my job, a lot! I make good money, I can work anywhere, I’ve met amazing people over the last few years, and for those of you who know me from the old days – I am definitely a success story. But I’m not so sure I feel like one—and here’s why:
- Work – I work an obscene amount of hours. On average I work about 65-70 hours per week. Which, in this day in age, is getting to be the norm. And when I’m done with my day, my head aches and all I want to do is veg.
- Stress – the amount of stress you incur working for a fast-paced tech company is demanding. It’s in the air, it’s always there. I’ve learned to recognize it and deal with it, but it can still be hard.
- Always on – this means that being in sales at a global tech company you are always on. I go to events a lot (which is cool), but I’m always on. Always talking with someone, always getting an answer for someone, emailing, texting, skyping, slacking, and on and on.
- Time – it flies by, literally so fast and I can never get that time back. Which saddens me, I used to be good at time management when my time wasn’t so limited (lol!), but now that my time is spread thin, I need to rework where I allocate my time. This is the world’s (and your life’s) greatest commodity.
- Sleep – I’ll wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I sent that email or signed a proposal. My brain operates 24/7 and that’s just a part of the job.
But I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, believe me, I am not. Because here are all the pro’s of being successful.
- Accomplishment – I feel really good about myself. I look at the things I’ve learned in a short amount of time and I’m amazed. The fact that my brain has the capacity to compute all this shit is pretty cool.
- Stability – ahhh..this is one I have never really had in my entire life. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve lived on my own before and survived in two of the toughest cities in North America, but what I have now is real stability. I have a portfolio, 401k, I think about retirement, hahaha. If you knew me, this is laughable, sincerely, and in a good way!
- Freedom – Because I have money now, I have more freedom. And we all know that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can alleviate some of the issues you’re facing and it’s nice to not have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore.
- Networking – I meet a lot of people. People on the entire spectrum from CEO’s to sales guys, to strategist to founders. I’ve made friends and I have mentors.
- Reputation – I’ve done pretty well in my career so far and have gained a reputation as a solid, truthful biz dev guy. This means a lot to me because I have principles and like to know that they’re noticed.
So, you take the good with the bad. When I worked construction, my body ached, I was dirty and smelled pretty bad when I got home, but I had time to play my guitar, I had time to hang out with my friends. Now, things are limited. However, lately I’ve been taking 10 minute breaks throughout the day to get in a small jam session, it feels incredible!
But where do we go from here? My sister wants to start a business and I’m down for that, but where am I going to find the time? I really have to budget more time to getting the things I want to do done. And that’s the hard part. Do I get less sleep? Maybe, but I’ll be honest, I don’t get that much sleep anyway!
So, are we at the mercy of the tides?
I don’t know, I think I am right now, but every single day I get a little better at allocating my time, for me. Not allowing nonsense to fill up in my reserves and run on empty. Balance the workload with the lifeload. Because, honestly, I want more. I deserve more, like we all do. Whether that means to be my own boss, or just play solo acoustic shows on the Connecticut shoreline once a month, I’m not sure. But I do know that if I don’t get behind the wheel of the ship, I won’t be able to steer it in the direction I need to go. The direction I want and have to go in. It’s the way to my life, that thing I’ll look back on and call extraordinary.