Life is dotted with moments of waking up. In those moments, your eyes open to a new reality and you’re able to change course. In this article, I am going to share 4 positive, pivotal moments in my life in the hopes that you can take my learnings and apply them to your life as well.
1. City Life
Until I took a semester abroad in busy Buenos Aires, I had only lived under my parent’s roof or sheltered within the ‘semi-real’ world of American universities. I was on track to get a nice job in Finance and go the way that everyone seemed to go.
Moving abroad opened my eyes to a different culture but more importantly, it opened my eyes to solo, city living. No one was watching over me.
Outside the confines of family structure and peer pressure, I was free to live life how and when I wanted. I was an insignificant face walking down the street. I didn’t matter to most people.
It was then that I realized, what mattered most is that I’m happy with the life that I choose to live – not the life my parents, friends or teachers want me to live – because, ultimately we’re all on this journey alone.
While that can be seen as a depressing thought, it is also liberating. Realizing how little you matter gives you freedom. I took that freedom, finished college, turned down a job at a Big 4 accounting firm, and moved back to Argentina where I started a hot sauce company.
Key Lesson: Chase your bliss, not someone else’s.
2. Moving To San Francisco
Another pivotal life moment caused by changing locations. However, this moment came in combination with a book that shifted my perspective on life.
I was done with Argentina and decided to check out San Francisco. At the same time, I somehow came across the book “The Power of Now.” This was my first foray into the ideas of meditation, and understanding the mind.
This shift moved me away from a pleasure seeking party boy and into the idea of looking inward, polishing the mirror, and becoming the best Mark I could be. Following this path lead me to eventually live in a 23 person artist community for 2 years, and then travel the country playing music in a van with a girl (who has since become my wife!).
Key Lesson: Listen to your inner workings so that you can polish and present them to the outside world.
3. Getting a Corporate Job
Sometimes you need to face your demons head on. This point circles back, and almost contradicts point 1. As mentioned, I came off a stint of studying abroad and went straight into a summer internship in the corporate accounting world. It scared me shitless.
I equated all jobs to 8 hour days of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance testing in a full suit. When the summer came to an end, I turned down the job offer and ran back to Argentina after graduating.
For the next 6 years, I scraped by financially – starting little companies or taking odd jobs. I preached that everyone should quit their corporate job and follow their bliss. Meanwhile, behind the scenes I was leaning heavily on credit cards.
(Side note: Credit card debt is the modern day devil. Do everything you can to avoid it and/or fight like hell to get out of it. But anyway, moving on…)
A few years ago, I sucked it up and applied for “real” jobs. And surprisingly, I found a job that I enjoy. The people, the subject, the mission. Working within a company has enabled me to learn so much about how to work with teams and gain financial stability.
Now, I do equate getting my “dream job” with all my years of exploration and experimentation. So that being said, I still highly encourage people to take risks, get out of dead end, soul-sucking jobs, and experience the world. However, I also realize you don’t have to shun the system completely and it is possible to find something you enjoy.
Key Learning: You don’t have to choose between being a starving artist or selling your soul. There is a way to be prosperous and chase your dreams without having to compromise too much.
4. Reframing Drinking/Drugs
This shift has only happened in the past 6 months, but it seems like it is sticking 🙂
I’ve always liked to have a good time. I’m not an alcoholic or a junkie but like most people who grew up in America, I’d go hard a few nights a week. In fact, I’m fortunate to be a “happy drunk” or a “creative high”. No fights, or even just being a couch potato. Generally, partying has always been awesome.
However, I realized recently that despite no direct problems to point to something still wasn’t right.
I was wasting too much time. I was diverting too much energy from what mattered.
It wasn’t just the time spent going out. It’s the mornings after. It’s continually suppressing your baseline energy so that it is NEVER 100%.
If I want to make an impact. I have to change. But it’s hard, because again, I love having a good time. The last thing I want is to be that lame guy at the party. But luckily, my mind recently shifted.
I realized I subconsciously saw drinking as a strength rather than a weakness. Speaking from the perspective of a male who went to a state college, I was ingrained with the thought that the more drinks/drugs I could handle, the stronger/ cooler I was. But that just isn’t true.
True strength comes from moderation. It comes from creating a life and a mindset that you don’t need to escape from.
Once I internally embodied that fact, I was better able to commit to cutting back or even completely stopping consumption. It doesn’t make me weaker for not going out, or not having those extra (10) beers. It makes me stronger and it feels amazing!
Key learning: Moderation or abstinence from drugs and alcohol is a strength, not a weakness. Channel your energy into your dreams and you’ll find that those vices begin to feel more like what they truly are: a waste of time.
(Side Note: Addiction is a disease. I am fortunate enough to be speaking from a place where I don’t have what most would consider an “actual problem.” If you are struggling with addiction or other deep issues, there is counseling, online therapy and other options to help you overcome your struggles.)
I hope you learned something from my 4 major life turning points. By no means are they definitive lessons that apply to everyone. Everything is always in flux, but so far these lessons have taught me well.
I’m alive, so I know I still have so far to go on my journey and can’t wait to continue to have even more moments of growth and clarity. If you have anything you think could help me or others, please share it in the comments below.
I appreciate your attention and best of luck living your life to the fullest.