Starting over is tough.
In February 2009, I quit my job as a Project Manager for the London 2012 Olympics and flew home to the United States to start up my previous business (the one I was fired from last year). Leaving a great job and one of the most vibrant cities on the planet and my wife in London, I moved into the basement of my childhood home, choosing to live with my parents at the age of 30 years old.
While I was excited about the idea of starting a new business, I vividly remember the first day after flying home. Sitting down at my parent’s dining room table, I opened my laptop, flipped open my notebook and looked at both the empty screen and pages. The following thought ripped through my mind –
“WHAT THE F&CK DO I DO NOW?!”
For several months I had prepared to move home and begin working on this entrepreneurial pursuit, but that was all talk and conjecture. Anyone can put on a face of confidence and both fool themselves and others that they can do something. Actually going out and doing it is a completely different animal. Having made the biggest decision of my life (next to asking my wife to marry me), the feelings of doubt, dread, fear, worry, and confusion all hit me at once as I sat down to begin working on that cold February day. I don’t remember how long I sat there alone looking at emptiness, but I eventually wrote a task list and kept myself and my fears busy.
With those heavy and negative feelings just a pulse away, what drove me in the early days was the inability to turn back and the fear of failure nipping at my heels. What I also remember about that time was looking back on my career as a Project Manager and the 10 years I had put into it. Now, I was starting nearly from scratch, trying to create something new. It felt as though I had just jumped off of a mountain that was my previous career and I would need to scale the peak all over again, for an undetermined period of time with no guarantee I would reach the top. Gulp.
That was the negative part of my psyche. The positive part said, “you’ve scaled a mountain before and have 10 years of experience to lean on. Put one foot in front of the other and get going.” To which the negative side replied, “but, what do I do first?”
This question stumped my positive side for awhile. What’s the correct first thing to do when you are starting a business? Hire a lawyer, register the LLC, get an accountant? I still don’t know what the right answer is to this question, but I don’t think it matters. What matters is, “do something.”
Immediately after getting fired, my wife and I were in a state of complete disarray. We knew there was no hope in fighting things and we had to put our life back together again, but how? In an effort to clear our minds, we decided to flea the country and travel to New Zealand and realize a life long dream. Many people have said we were wise to “turn lemons into lemonade,” but we were really using the trip as therapy in an effort to, “do something.”
While taking the therapeutic trip to New Zealand, we lived out of an RV for the first time. Loving the experience, we came back to the states and decided to buy an RV of our own and travel around the country for 6 months. While traveling the country, I started blogging as a way to update friends and family back home. Thus, “doing something” after the firing, led me to my current state.
Starting over recommendation #1: JUST DO SOMETHING Whatever you do first is probably going to be wrong, but starting is the quickest way to finding what is right.
Today, I find myself going through many of the same emotions I experienced 9 years ago at my parent’s dining room table. The difference is the table I’m sitting at is my own and rather than leaving a wife in London, I’ve gained a 4 and 1 year old running around my feet (mom and dad’s house probably provided a more sane working environment). While, I don’t have the pressure of business partners and investors to satisfy, I do have myself to appease. Surprisingly, the pressure is somewhat similar. There are no expectations that becoming a “professional blogger” will lead to a lucrative future, but like every pursuit I enter into, I would like it to be a success versus a failure.
What’s my definition for blogging success?
While many people make a career out of writing, I’m not sure this is my goal. I’m writing as I feel lost without a professional purpose and blogging helps fill that void. Furthermore, it feels good to be able to turn some of my failures and experiences into learning opportunities for others. With this said, it wasn’t until last week when I created the goal of, “write one blog post a day,” where I had a direction and purpose for my writing. Without this clear goal, writing was a hobby or something I could put off if I wasn’t feeling it. Now, I have a goal to achieve and definition for what a “successful writing day,” entails.
One of the most influential books I have ever read was, “The One Thing,” by Gary Keller. The main premise of the book is, “what is the one thing you can achieve today where upon everything else becomes easier?” The entire book is an outstanding read as to how you can live the life you want to live, but that one sentence was a game changer for me.
In the book, Keller uses some great examples of high performing people and their “one thing”, to include;
- Jerry Seinfeld – how to become a world class comedian = write one joke a day
- Stephen King – how to become a prolific writer = write for 3 hours a day
- Arnold Schwarzenegger – how to become a champion body builder = go to the gym every day
Starting over recommendation #2: CREATE A DAILY GOAL Without having a daily goal, how do you know if you are on the path towards reaching where you want to go?
Even after reading The One Thing three times, listening to podcasts, reading blogs, giving presentations, and attending numerous seminars and trainings all stressing the importance of goal setting, I still floundered for months prior to our trip around the USA and for another month after the trip, while I was trying to pickup the pieces to my career and start over.
Thinking about the wasted time upsets me. With that said, I am a firm believer our failures are what lead to our futures. It is for us to decide if the failure will color our life positively or negatively.
After a healthy (or maybe unhealthy dose) of self loathing and disgust at the wasted time, this blog post is my attempt at turning a failure into a positive.
Starting over recommendation #3: GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK The quicker you can treat yourself with kindness, the quicker you will see the positives in your current situation.
In my opinion, recommendation #3 is the most important. This is also the area where I struggle the most. My biggest holes are dug when I get upset at one mistake causing another to follow and another. A couple of silly instances of wasting time reading worthless news stories or getting distracted with wild ideas like investing in bitcoin, leads to an avalanche of negativity culminating into a full-blown depressive funk. The quicker I can get myself to chill out and forget the past, the quicker I can start over and get busy finding and completing my daily goal.
Photo is from Yosemite National Park
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.
11 thoughts on “How to Start Over”
I love your blog, Dan! It’s so authentic, inspiring, and insightful. Keep ’em coming!
Fired and Free
Thanks for the nice words – it’s much appreciated!
Four Pillar Freedom
I completely agree with the advice to “just start”. I find that whenever I’m stuck or not sure what direction to head, just starting is the most important thing to do. The first step is the hardest. I’m looking forward to following your blog and more down-to-earth posts like this one 🙂
Fired and Free
Thanks Four Pillar Freedom (great name by the way). Not having a job provides a nice freedom – I can be authentic without repercussions 🙂
Troy @ Bull Markets
This is a terrific post. I especially like the third point. When I feel down in the dumps, sometimes i just need a break from everything to clear my head. When I’m so stuck in the moment, it’s hard to make a rational decision that’s best for my future.
Fired and Free
Thanks so much Troy. Amazing how hard it is to get our heads out of the sand sometimes, isn’t it? There’s a genius to knowing when to drop what you’re doing and just go for a walk 🙂
I like the first point – just do something. When you’re starting over, you don’t know everything. You just have to move and keep the momentum going. Fake it til you make it. Enjoy the journey! 2 little kids sounds like a lot of fun. 🙂
Fired and Free
Thanks Joe, much appreciated. In the early phases of starting project, I like to imagine a wheel turning. Initially, it’s hard to get that wheel to budge, but once it starts, it really flies and the key is to stay out of the way.
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