I’ve always felt like I’m a bit of a selfish bastard who couldn’t “stick it” at normal life.
I’ve rarely managed to follow what people expected of me. I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum, even though I had no idea where the drum was taking me and who was in charge of the drumsticks.
When my friends were finishing off their architecture, medicine, law, commerce(…) degrees, I was in Dublin, quitting my Masters of Architecture and setting off backpacking.
When my friends and siblings were working long, hard hours in their new jobs, moving swiftly up career ladders, I was vacuuming the ceiling on the 73m superyacht of a Russian billionaire off the coast of Montenegro and consuming excessive quantities of mojito.
When my friends started getting promotions and buying houses, I was quitting my two jobs and using all my superyacht savings to start an online business.
Now my friends and siblings, very many of whom have houses and solid careers, are having many, many babies (at current count, I have 10 pregnant friends and many more with young kids).
I’m at the “should-probably-have-babies-soon” age, but instead I ended my beautiful 5 year relationship last year and am considering buying a van to live and work out of for some of next year.
People often tell me that I’m so lucky to have my own business and to have the freedom to travel (pre-Covid!) and work wherever, and I couldn’t agree more. I do feel ridiculously lucky.
None of what I’ve done has been easy, and I’ve worked my ass off to make my dream a reality, but when I hear friends talking about problems with their bosses, or unable to get leave when they want it, or at the mercy of Covid redundancies, it reminds me how ridiculously lucky I am.
But it also makes me feel selfish, like perhaps it’s unfair that my life is so good now, while others tell me they wish they had a similar amount of freedom or excitement for their job.
We live in a society that tells us that it’s a good idea to squish our desires and dreams in favour of doing the sensible, expected thing.
Self-sacrifice is revered.
Living on the outside of these unspoken rules comes with 12kgs of guilt and 3 pinches of “what is wrong with me”, fortnightly.
Which is why learning to tame my mind has been an absolute life saver. I wouldn’t be living my bloody good life without it.
If I had listened to the voice in my head, I would have stuck at a career that didn’t excite me – perhaps I’d still be doing it. Perhaps I’d be quite enjoying it even… but I’m certain I wouldn’t have a fire in my chest and light in my eyes.
Not that there’s anything wrong at all with sticking with a conventional career – for some people that is exactly what lights them up and it fits them perfectly. That just wasn’t what the beat of my drum had in store for me.
There is a pull inside all of us, our gut instinct. It doesn’t speak in words, just in a pull towards some things and aversion away from other things.
It gives us gentle but firm nudges in one direction or another, usually with no logical explanation.
It’s our compass leading us to fulfillment and growth — but we’re rarely taught to listen for it.
Then there is another pull, the addictive pull of the voice in our head. That voice, our mind, is designed to keep us safe – which means playing the game within the rules that society has silently set for us. It seems that for some people, it is totally possible to play that game and be fairly content with your life.
But if you want to truly thrive, to find what really lights you up, and to have a massive impact on the world with the energy and joy that your purpose inspires in you — following the addictive pull of the mind is not likely to work. At best, following only your mind will lead to a life lived with a slight but perpetual niggle that something is missing.
Because to get what you truly want out of life —if you haven’t already got it— chances are, you’re going to have to go against what is expected of you. Otherwise you’d already have gotten it.
There is no place for “should” in a bloody good life.
And what I’ve finally come to realise through coaching many legends through this process, is that following your gut instinct —your deep inner knowing— isn’t selfish, it’s courageous.
It’s the only way I know of that will give you enough energy to sustainably make a real impact in the world.
Sure you can make an impact other ways, but it’s likely you’ll wear yourself out doing it.
Put your own mask on first before helping others.
Turn your own lights on first before helping others.
Ps — If you’re not sure how to tame your mind and tune back into your gut instinct, my Bloody Good Life D.I.Y. program is made for you – you can check it out here.
If you need more clarity on what will “turn your own lights on”, check out my Nail Your Values & Find Your (Bloody Elusive) Passion program here.