Do you go through life experiencing a permanent case of the blahs, or struggle with the constant feeling you’re destined for more — only you don’t know what that “more” is? Or perhaps you feel stuck in a job that is less than fulfilling and doesn’t allow you to fully invest in your relationships or self-care? Curt Mercadante knows these feelings all too well because he’s lived them.
He was trapped in what Henry David Thoreau called a life of “quiet desperation.” But Curt broke free, and in his book Five Pillars of the Freedom Lifestyle: How to Escape Your Comfort Zone of Misery, he shares the antidote he found. Curt wants to help people unleash their superpower so they can live in a state of flow, just like he does every day. I caught up with Curt to learn the moment he decided to write the book and his favorite idea that he shares with readers.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
For me, this journey goes back to that day when I shut down my seven-figure agency at peak revenue. There’s a couple reasons I did this. First, I was not fulfilled by the work I did. Second, I felt the company I’d built was more like a prison than a business. I had a desire to have a life of freedom and fulfillment, which to me meant speaking, training, and communicating the ideas that you find in this book to help others live lives of freedom and fulfillment, as well.
I began to speak around the world and share my ideas online. With several million views on LinkedIn, people listening to my podcast, and direct feedback from people I was coaching, I took my nine step program down to the five core pillars that are found in the book. I wrote this book to share my ideas with a wider audience. Not everyone will be able to hear me speak, or can afford to pay me for training. But everyone who wants access to a roadmap that will help them build lives of freedom and fulfillment can find that in my book.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
I think about the section on gratitude and achievement. A lot of people bastardize the term “gratitude” by using it as an excuse for guilt and stagnation. Or a lot of people say, “You should just be happy with what you have. Why do you want more? There are a lot of people in this world who are worse off than you.” While it’s true that you should always be grateful for what you have, you also have to pair that with a sense of forward looking purpose.
Here’s what that looks like in action. When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself, “What’s awesome about today?” That’s the gratitude portion. Then ask the second question, which is, “What will make today even more awesome, and what am I going to do to make those things happen?” So you pair gratitude with a sense of achievement.
So instead of waking up and saying, “There’s these shitty things I have to do today,” you flip it around, you reframe the story, and you say, “What can I do to make it even more awesome?” That will help cultivate an abundance mindset by pairing gratitude with a sense of forward looking purpose and achievement. That abundance mindset — instead of a scarcity mindset — is a vital piece of getting to a place where you design a life of freedom and fulfillment.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
For so long, I thought I was confined to a lifestyle by default. I had a scarcity mindset. Yes, I was making a lot of money. I had founded a few companies. I had this great agency (at least it was great on the surface), but I was dying inside. I was having anxiety attacks. My relationships were suffering, my mental and physical health were suffering. But because of my scarcity mindset, I was confined to the false belief that this is what I was supposed to be doing. I actually felt guilty for wanting more because I was always taught as a man: it’s about bringing home the bacon for your family so you can live in a nice house and enjoy nice things.
Well, I had a nice paycheck, we had nice cars, but I didn’t have what was most important, which was a life of fulfillment and meaning. My relationships and my self-care were not in alignment with my work. By cultivating that abundance mindset, I realized that I’m an autonomous human being and I can design a lifestyle that I actually desire. So, I decided to do that.
The mindset shift I made is what allowed me to shut down my agency at peak revenue. Ever since then, we’ve been living a life that we actually want, regardless of what the scarcity pimps — those people who think that we should be confined, that we should just be happy with what we have, that we shouldn’t rock the boat or work for more — tell us we should think. We build a lifestyle we designed and my mission in life is to help others do the same.
For more advice on building a lifestyle of freedom and fulfillment, you can find Five Pillars of the Freedom Lifestyle: How to Escape Your Comfort Zone of Misery on Amazon.