I've never shared this before other than at "talks". I think it's high time I do so.
There was a time in my life (not so long ago) when I felt continuously "stuck".
I was making good money, my health was good, loving wife, I had a good circle of friends, I was traveling and enjoying life.
At the same time though, I would wake up in the middle of the night, every single night, and couldn't get back to sleep.
I was anxious, but about what, I had no idea. I had no "reason" to be anxious. I had no "reason to be stressed".
If you were to walk up to me and ask me if I were happy, I would have answered "of course I am, look at my life, why wouldn't I be happy!?".
Except I wasn't. I was "supposed" to be happy given everything I had, but I wasn't.
I see this becoming increasingly common today, especially in a city like Dubai (or London, New York). I love all 3 of these cities and have spent most of my life between the 3 of them.
Most people opt to live in a big city for:
1. Money & career.
2. Friends & socializing.
3. "Enjoying" life.
And guess what, the majority of people DO achieve ALL 3 of these goals.
Yet... they are unhappy.
I achieved these goals myself, but I certainly felt there was something missing - a big hole that needed to be filled... with what? I had no idea, and I spent 3 years searching.
Then I caught the beginning of a thread 3 years ago. It happened when I started coaching triathlon.
Something about coaching felt "real": I was making a difference in someone's life. I was "leaving an impression".
It made my "hungry" again.
Hungry for acquiring knowledge.
Hungry for sharing that knowledge.
But that was just the beginning - I soon realized that I didn't just want to help people get into (and do well in) triathlons.
I wanted to help them achieve that without disrupting their health, career, or social life.
Then that led to something else: I wanted them to become healthy.
Then that led to something else: I wanted them to chose and excel at their careers.
I wanted them to have amazing and fulfilling relationships.
I wanted them to jump out of bed every morning full of enthusiasm for "life" (not just one aspect of life).
What I'm trying to get to here is this: my experience over the past 3 years allowed me to discover my PURPOSE.
Purpose is the FUEL for your FIRE.
Your career isn't.
Your car isn't.
Your friends aren't.
Even your relationships aren't after a while.
But it's easy for me to say "find your purpose". In fact, that's a VERY hard thing to do.
But remember what I mentioned earlier: 3 years ago, I caught a "thread", and I started "pulling on that thread". I pulled slowly, I experimented, I went down the wrong roads and turned back.
Thinking back today, I realize one thing: my "purpose" was always within me, I just never paid attention to it:
From a very young age, I had a strong passion (and I'm told a knack) for teaching.
My first job was teaching computer use to young children when I was 15 years old. I tutored (for free) in college and afterwards. I make it a point to "teach" my team at work every single day.
My "purpose" was always there, it just got blurred in the whirlwind of "life and career".
How can you find your happiness?
During one of my talks, I shared a "matrix" that I use to help people assess different aspects of their life.
Going through this matrix is an eye-opener for most people: they're unhappy, but don't realize why, and it's frustrating!
I'll recap here. (You can watch one my talks in full here).
1. Do an honest assessment of where you are in your life.
Score yourself on a scale of 1-10 (10 being excellent) in the following areas:
- Health (sleep, weight, hormones, immunity).
- Romantic relationship.
- Social relationships.
- Self-development (learning something new, finding time for yourself, hobbies).
- Career (saying that money doesn't matter is naive).
- PURPOSE (do you know what can get you out of bed in the morning every day for the rest of your life?).
Understand this: individual scores do NOT matter: a score of 3 or 4 on only ONE of the above can be the cause of you waking up in the middle of the night every night.
2. Understand that beating your head against the wall doesn't work - learn the tools.
Even when I discovered the reasons for my frustrations, it took me a long time to figure out how to "break out of the vicious circle".
Ultimately, I realized this: breaking out of the vicious circle is NOT just a function of trying - you have to learn the TOOLS and APPLY them.
That's exactly why I found my solace in books: the reason I devour biographies, psychology and self-development books by the dozen each month is because I want to learn the TOOLS to help me move my scores as close to a "10" as possible in EVERY aspect of my life.
Of course I can't talk about the hundreds of tools out there here, but I can give you examples of some I use every day:
- My Vision board: it gives me perspective - it's a place where I can see all my ambitions and dreams taking shape.
- My mission statement: I took the time to write it diligently, and revisit it every day to provide me with an "anchor".
- My productivity tools: they allow me to become more efficient at everything I do, freeing up time for important aspects of my life.
- My supplements: sometimes you need a bit of help to offset life's stressors.
- My running shoes: my meditation.
Please feel free to reach out if you think I can be of any help. I'm always happy to help: I've been there :-).