“What do you do all day,” is a question I get asked somewhat frequently. If I had to speculate, I’d guess friends and family are curious what one does all day long when there is no job to attend and no real retirement to enjoy. It’s not an unfair question and I’d probably ask the same.
Since coming back from our roadtrip around the country in late October, I’ve had about 4 solid months to settle into “real life after getting fired” and “life after going through a near mental breakdown.” Today, I have completely moved on from the pain, confusion, and disorientation of losing my business to the point where I can drive by the company headquarters (a couple blocks from my house) and not “feel all the feels” as they say. Seeing company marketing material, talking to employees I hired, and hearing news about the business really doesn’t move my emotional needle much anymore. This is a marked improvement from a year ago when I would nearly be brought to tears after reaching for a mug in the morning and notice the cup with the company logo on it.
Time certainly heals, and I needed the better part of a year to heal to the point where I could look forward without regret, bitterness, and anger towards the past. It feels liberating to look to the future without the chains of the past holding me back. With confidence, I can say I have finally moved on.
With the past no longer (negatively) in the picture, here’s what I’m doing – I’m living each day with the goal of giving 100% of my focus on the present. It’s the only goal I currently have. For me, this couldn’t be a bigger and more challenging goal. While I am extremely fortunate to have no family, health, or financial worries, I consider myself to be HORRIBLE at living in the moment. You would think without work related stress, not having problems with my wife (we’re good, right Jenny?), eating right, and meditating every day would lead to a perfect mindsight, capable of unparalleled focus and attention on the current moment, but for me, it still takes work. Lots of work.
If you had asked me over a year ago, while I was CEO of my “dream company”, how I could focus more on the present moment, I would have probably answered, “take this work stress off of me and I’d be feeling the flow like Eckhart Tolle.” Well, that’s exactly what happened, and the present moment is nearly as elusive as before. The work stress has been replaced with, stresses about the future such as; what’s my purpose or how do I choose to spend the rest of my life. Nearly impossible questions to answer as I sit in my pajamas eating my morning eggs.
These monstrous thoughts are never far from my mind. Sometimes it feels as though the big questions mount an all-out assault in a coordinated effort while I’m trying to enjoy playing with my kids, reading a book, or making a call about a potential investment. Funny how when I’m most tired or vulnerable, the thoughts seem to be most powerful. Currently, I’ve found only one line of defense. My breath. Not bad garlic and coffee breath, but the ability to take one focused breath and wash away the mental garbage for that one fleeting second. It’s the same breath that got me through big presentations, the stress of having to fire someone, or the nervous anticipation of trying to close a deal. Today, that breath helps me do what we are all trying to figure out how to do, live.
So, what am I doing with my days? I’m living. It’s not a sexy answer like, “I’m figuring out the multiverse under some grant from the National Academy of Sciences” or “I just went through the first round of funding for the next instagoogle”, but it’s pretty rewarding nonetheless. It can be difficult sometimes to realize how incredibly fortunate I am to simply be alive; watching my kids run around, walking outside, laughing with friends, doing all of this without the auspices of an RV roadtrip or some other fancy identifier of who I am. Being me and living is good enough. Frankly, it’s better than good enough – it’s everything.
If I had to predict the future, I anticipate I will look back on this period of my life as one that gave me the confidence to let go of the past, the strength to disregard the future, and the comfort to simply enjoy the now. I might even look back on this time as some of the most important days of my life. If I’m right, there’s no looking back.