“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
5 months ago, as 2020 was turning into the dumpster fire we see today, I made a decision that would change my life.
I decided to change my life.
I had been tripping around America for almost a year, meeting new people and wonderful women, exploring, going on excursions to new cities by myself, enjoying the new life that I had yearned for for so long.
But a funny thing happened as I was doing this…
I realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
Not in terms of location, mind you. I saw much of the US that I’d never seen and was doing it alone, for the first time in my life.
But the base, the home, the foundation of myself wasn’t where I wanted it to be.
I had met the men of FoE and forged tighter bonds with them.
I had met Twitter people who became friends and more. Great folks who I truly thank for having in my life.
New things started occurring when I came back from my last trip. And no, it wasn’t COVID, but the timing was the same.
It was time for a good ol’ fashioned self imposed time out.
It was time to get the sectors of my life in order, starting with finances, fitness, mental health, my kids, and my home base.
This base to which I tethered to was not what it should have been. It was rotting from the inside out.
My finances were suffering, I was increasing my debt after I had just spent 3 years whittling it down from $75,000 to just under $23,000. But I was racking up credit card debt with my traveling, wining and dining women, and spending money on meetups with new friends. Something had to give, and it was my wallet.
I had never fully committed to doing all I could to get my debt down. I had hoped I could just wing it by half-assing it, and it didn’t work.
The debt principles I’ve lived with my whole life were being ignored in the pursuit of a good time, and while I had a lot (a whole lot) of fun, when I got back to see the receipts I was writing checks my ass couldn’t cash.
My kids were suffering from my absence. My oldest daughter had a panic attack in November and was going through the teenage angst a bit early, and with me not there to help her, it was left to her mother, who tried her damnedest to carry it, but ultimately couldn’t. She needed her dad. She needed the calming presence that I had become to her, but I was gone a lot. She couldn’t keep it in line.
We ended up having to work with my daughter in therapy, and had I not been here for any of that, I don’t think she would be where she is now. But more on that later.
My home was being neglected. For four years I’ve lived here and not once have I made an effort to really take back control of my house. Landscaping, keeping it clean, minor repairs, all left undone while I tromped around not caring if they ever did get done. I didn’t have a nice place that I could call my home, it was a pit where I threw my shit in between airport visits.
My work was suffering. As an owner of a small business, I had to step away time and time again, leaving others to handle issues that should have been handled by me. Important, company changing issues that need my attention. It was only after COVID hit that I understood the scope of what my company was dealing with, and if I wasn’t there to face it with the other owners and employees head on, let’s just say we’d be on thin ice.
And finally, my mental health needed a reset. I was constantly traveling, driving, eating out, staying in Airbnbs and hotels, all over the place. I was tired, burning the candle at both ends at times, meeting new people but never having time to really get myself right. Vacations weren’t vacations, and it was becoming difficult to balance it all.
So, against everything inside of me that was saying keep going, let the world sort itself out, I stopped and held up. I was planning trips for April, May and June, and then COVID hit. I still could’ve gone, I thought. Rack up some more debt but then be done and take the winter to catch up.
Wasn’t happening. Not even close.
When COVID hit in March, the uncertainty of it all hit my life like a ton of bricks. My business started to suffer due to closures of customers, trucks backed up, and we were left to scramble to figure out what to do. Had I not been there, I don’t know what would’ve happened. But the team all got together and after having to furlough several employees and part ways with a couple of others, we had stabilized in May. Small business has been kicked in the nuts during this pandemic for sure, and my team made it happen.
My daughter, after having multiple panic attacks and increased anxiety, went to intense therapy with me at her side. It was a struggle at first as she did not want to talk about what she was going through, but with our family together again, my ex and I co-parenting strongly with my presence there, she started to improve little by little. She was put on medication after seeing what a small dose did to improve her mood. She was put on the same medicine I am on, Zoloft, and we’ve seen her life improve this summer and do a complete 180 in terms of her outlooks on life.
My attendance in her life at this crucial moment was imperative. She needed the calm, guiding, levelheadedness that I provided, as well as her mother’s staunch work to keep her calm. Our whole family came together and broke through. It would not have happened unless I hit the reset button.
After gaining 15 lbs over my travels, I had to take care of my fitness once and for all. I hired a personal trainer to help me get to my goal, life goal of 15% body fat. I knew I was headed back down a road I didn’t want to go to, and while in decent shape, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. So I dropped everything and started to seriously take my fitness into account. I threw out all the old, bad food. I started getting to sleep at 9-10pm instead of 1-2am. I had already stopped drinking, but I took more steps to remove bad food from my life. No more eating out at fast food, no more carbs. The time to fuck around had passed.
And with that, I decided to completely renovate the outside of my house. I started by tearing out all the old landscaping and redid the entirety of my home in new mulch, landscaping guard, and decor. New hose reels, siding repairs, wood trim replacement, chairs, tables, and power washing. I was determined to get control of my home again.
My debt needed to be reigned in. I cancelled all credit cards except my business one. I started to throw entire paychecks at my bank debt from my divorce. I then chewed through my credit card debt. Knocking out over $14,000 in just 4 months, I currently sit (as of this blog post) at $8000 left to pay my ex-wife for my settlement. And I’m not looking back.
All of this combined has improved my mental health. I joined a men’s group to continue to improve my mind as well as help other men try to work on their lives. My home, now handled, became a place of peace, where I could work and live without stress. As of this writing, I’m sitting on my improved back porch typing, with everything cleaned, fixed, and improved.
So what’s the point of this self imposed exile?
It was and always has been about getting better.
When you feel like you’re the best you can be, you don’t see that there are ALWAYS areas you can improve.
My whole life has been 75%. I would do up to about 3/4 of the improvement then stop and do something else.
Not this time.
This time, I will see it through. This is my future. I’m trying to shape my life the way I want it, and half to 3/4 ass isn’t going to cut it.
It’s time to stop playing games and start pushing through the tough bits to get to where I want to be.
Debt free except the house.
15% body fat.
Stress reduced living.
Making moves in my side hustle.
Continuing to help men get through their lives.
Monk mode is needed for you to get better.
Take the time to work on yourself with no distractions, no apologies, and no bullshit.
You have the keys to it, you just have to cut out the meaningless crap to get through it.
And it never stops.
My self imposed exile will end at the end of this year. At that time, I will have:
- Lost almost 100 lbs
- Paid off over $75,000 of debt
- Created a safe, healthy mental environment for myself and my family
- Made my home a better place to live
All of this to take off into 2021. Regardless of what happens, I’ll know that the steps I took this year put me ahead for good, and I’m not looking back.