If you’ve ever experienced an existential crisis, you know what it’s like to sit up in bed at 1AM. You’re scrolling through Facebook as your retinas burn from the glow of your iPhone. You contemplate whether or not it’s too late to still redeem yourself from the meaningless vacuum you have been occupying for the past 20-some years.
Earlier in 2017, I began to feel like I was not living the life I knew I could be living and began to rethink the purpose of my existence. Most of these brainstorm sessions happened with a cup of Dewars White scotch whiskey, neat, by myself in bed. Nearly all of them ended the same way, with Netflix and no answers to show for all my ‘hard’ work.
I was living in my parent’s house and working in a fulfilling profession that allowed me to take home a paycheck where I did not have to worry about my finances. It felt good to help people find better jobs and companies find great candidates. I was happy and comfortable, so why was I overthinking it?
Was I not a zen-master that had found my own path to enlightenment? Surely, my contentment with living in my parent’s house and reading myself to sleep at night with a biography about Martin Luther King Jr. with an occasional episode of ‘Stranger Things’ was definitive proof of me having ignored society’s idea of success by eschewing the idolization of famous celebrities and wealthy entrepreneurs. To escape that sort of a pressure is a victory in and of itself.
Why did I feel like I had to do more with my life?
The answer became clearer to me as I was sitting on the couch with my dad watching a news report on what was happening with the Syrian Refugee Crisis.
As I sat there in the comfort of my living room knowing that I had a financially privileged life full of love, opportunity, and safety, the weight of injustice in the world began to weigh down on me.
It was at the moment, I began to realize that being happy, comfortable and fulfilled was not enough anymore, there was more to life than just me.
I told him, I felt like I needed to go on an adventure. Not to help Syrian refugees per-say, but to feel more connected to the world around me and make a larger impact outside of myself.
Being rich and famous took on more meaning, not simply for the shallow sake of appearances, but for the opportunity to be a larger, positive influence on the world.
I knew I wanted to help but I also knew that in order to do so, I would have to work on myself first. Kind of like those flight attendants who tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else.
Most of my life, I lived a safe and sheltered life. Unfortunately, that life prevented me from experiencing the world. I’ve followed enough entrepreneurs to understand that success does not follow people who avoid risk and play things too safely. I knew if I was going to make an impact on anyone, including myself, I would have to live more courageously.
So, I did the scariest thing I could think of.
In the beginning of the year, I wrote down what an ideal life would look like.
I was riding home from work on the bus one night with a friend. We started talking about some goals we had and where we saw our lives heading. In that moment, I caught myself doing it again.
Ever since I wrote those goals, all I did was talk about them. I distinctly remember feeling disappointed one time because I was mentioning it to my family, and they were shaking their heads at me. I was disappointed because I did not feel like I had their support. Now, I realize it was my constant talk without action that made them lose their faith in me. I was like that friend who says they’re going on a diet, and the next moment you see them ripping through an entire chocolate cake. After a while, you stop believing them. That’s what was happening to me.
It was on that bus ride, I knew what I had to do.
I took a class in psychology on goal setting about implementation intentions. Strong intentions are specific and clear, they answer the who, what, where, when, why, and how’s. Strong implementation intentions lead to a higher probability of achieving goals.
As I bid my friend a good night, I scurried up the stairs to my room, adrenaline coursed through my body as I picked up a pen and, with trembling hands, began to write my destiny within a moleskin journal.
In my journal, I created a clear deadline of August 1st to finish planning my trip to South America and wrote down the names of 5 friends I would tell by April 4th about my deadline.
How nut’s is that?! I created a deadline for my deadline. But, I knew myself. I knew I needed social accountability to give me the kick I needed. I went so far as to create calendar invites for us so they could hold me accountable incase I didn’t follow through. I ended up texting them all that night and flying out of Newark airport on June 23rd. Things seem to fall in to place once you take the first step.
While I didn’t manage to accomplish a USA biking trip in 2017, I’m planning that for “2018 Ideal Dan” in the Spring. It’s been 10 years in the making. Better late than never.
8th grade graduation
As for that personal development blog, well, here it is, short of Christian themes. It’s my way of leaving a bigger impact in the world. One word, one post, one story at a time.
Night before my flight
I traded in my career, iPhone, daily comforts and life as I knew it for a one-way flight to Ecuador. Apart from a reservation for a 5-day trek to Macchu Picchu on August 7th, all I brought with me was a loose itinerary and a few things that fit into a 55L backpack. In return, I turned my dreams into a reality.