In May of 2017, I was wandering around the streets of Manhattan—stumbling in and out of the city’s many cozy coffee shops, sitting in the park journaling, and pondering the meaning of life.
A few weeks prior, on a gut instinct, I decided to pack up my life in Sydney and leave everything I owned in storage. I didn’t know my next step at the time, but I was confident it wasn’t there, watching the sunrise over Bondi Beach in the morning. I suspected I was meant to move to the U.S. on a permanent basis, but I had no idea how I was going to get there or what I was going to do when I arrived
The trip to New York was the perfect compromise—a chance to explore without the attachments.
For the first time, I wasn’t tethered to any one location. It was the ultimate form of freedom, but probably not for the reasons you think. I wasn’t trying to become a digital nomad. I just wanted to be sure I was ready to go receive a “sign” from the Universe on where to head next.
I had tied up all the logistical loose ends. I was no longer partially paralyzed by job titles, leases, and material things. I was fully detached, awaiting the next big move and the BIG sign.
One morning, in the city that never sleeps, I sat in mediation and had this vague vision that my childhood home—one that my mom had been trying tirelessly to sell for years—would sell as the sun rose sometime within the last quarter of the year.
It was the kind of vague vision that’s easy to doubt. “Could this actually be real?” I thought to myself. But I know the Universe works in these ambiguous ways sometimes; so despite my lingering doubt, I trusted my instincts and booked a flight back to Perth.
The morning I turned up on my mum’s doorstep, I think I was as surprised as she was. I’d just flown halfway across the world and barely even knew why. What’s crazier is that that same day, my younger brother had left home and boarded a flight to Melbourne to begin his next life adventure. It was almost as if he had passed me the baton (in the sky). It was now my turn to tie up loose ends.
I suspected I had work to do; I just wasn’t sure what it was yet.
I spent the next three months in Perth clearing old energy, working through deep-rooted grief, and lining up the dominos to sell my childhood home. It was a trying time to say the least. I went through what in hindsight was a perfect storm of mild depression meets seasonal affective disorder. Tears streamed down daily.
Nevertheless, it paid off.
The house sold—just as I’d pictured in in that meditation, just as summer was approaching.
My mom, my brother, and I closed that long chapter together tearfully and joyously. In some sense, we all became untethered again—opening up infinite possibilities for each of us to move in the direction of our choosing.
Only a few months later… I’d find myself living in the U.S. like I’d originally dreamed of with the kind of perfect opportunity I could have never dreamed of.
This may sound wacky, but it’s not to me. This kind of thing happens to me all the time—the world just seems to align itself. That’s not to brag or to say I have some special connection with the “other side.” I’m no monk, psychic, or spiritual guru. Far from it actually.
I just figured something out: we are not passive participants in this life and we are not in complete control either. We are co-creators of our reality. Which means, we can actually learn to tap into and work within the flow of life.
And it’s much simpler than you think. It just takes cultivating two core skills: Openness and Strategy.
Choosing to go back to Perth was an extremely important lesson for me in staying open and following what I call “The Pull”—this subtle force that seems to guide you along your life path when you have the courage to let it.
It’s not something that can be easily described, but when you create space in your life, in your mind even—you can easily feel it. For me, it was the vague vision I experienced in my meditation in NYC.
When I sensed it, instead of acting out of fear or doubt, I stayed open, tuned in, and listened.
This is what it means to stay open. Openness is a complete non-negotiable for living a life optimized for fulfillment (in my book) and is the only way you can experience the magic of The Pull.
You can cultivate openness by:
(1) Prodding the edges and boundaries of your comfort zone and current thinking.
(2) Actively and intentionally leaning into your discomfort.
Do this by educating yourself. Read a ton of books on the topic [here are some of my favorites: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, and The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. Open yourself up to situations that will challenge you—things you’ve never done before or ideas you’ve never considered. Have mind-expanding conversations with people who are totally different than you. Work with someone—a coach perhaps—who is trained to question your personal rules, beliefs and assumptions about the world.
You’ll learn quickly that you are safer when you are open. The tension in your shoulders melts away. Your thinking slows down. Life moves at a comfortable place. And you are safe in a place of that you felt unsafe before—listening to the silence instead of speaking just to fill it. This is true openness.
Who knows if my house would have sold if I hadn’t gone to Perth to facilitate it, but what I do know is this: I did facilitate what actually happened. I bought the plane ticket to Perth. I got on the flight. I hired the right brokers, lawyers, and agents.
This wasn’t luck. It was intelligent action—or what most of us like to call strategy.
It’s the key to avoiding the Zen dilemma of inaction—thinking that meditating, carrying crystals, or reading self-help books is enough. It’s not. It’s just the start.
You want to make your vision a reality? You have to f*cking do something.
Strategy is the art of using what the universe is revealing to actually create some result in the material world. You must unlock a series of layers and consider how multiple parts form the whole system. It requires you to think forward through time, reverse-engineer outcomes, and consider multiple paths for how a situation can unfold.
The difference between you and Oprah is that Oprah made some choices early in her career to prioritize her long-term goals over short-term comfort. She implemented resourceful strategies to get her closer to her goals. You want to attain your goals? Start doing the same.
Get going by obsessively mapping your actions to what you want. Make sure your calendar is tight and reflective of what you want to create in the world. Read Ray Dalio’s Principles or any book by Robert Greene. Learn about Systems Thinking. Actively brainstorm ideas for your business. Put plans in place. Take action daily.
Strategy, like openness, is something that must be cultivated. It’s fairly simple to do— The world is giving you constant feedback on whether you are doing it right. If you learn to pay attention, you’ll use this feedback to consistently refine and improve. Every vision can be created and every goal can be accomplished if you are willing to do just this. This is true strategy; this is acting intelligently.
Combining Openness & Strategy
Implementing Strategy by itself can be effective in attaining material things, but you may end up creating that which you don’t want as a result. The fear is that you wake up in a few decades never having asked: “what am I here for?”
By the same token, Openness in its own right can be dangerous. It may feel good, but it doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere. Sitting passively, waiting for the “Law of Attraction” to work its magic simply doesn’t work.
The power of openness and the power of strategy are made exponentially greater when you combine the two. To me opening up is simply the prologue to the good life. It sets the stage for the direction of the story. But the story doesn’t write itself. You have to do that.
That’s what I did. I packed up my life in Sydney on a “gut instinct.” I tied up all the loose logistical ends so I was free to move. I chose to move back to Perth after experiencing that vision. I did the work. I made the calls. I lined up the brokers, agents, and lawyers. The house sold.
And here I am, not too much later, living in Los Angeles. What do you make of that? Might this actually work? Is this the real “Secret” to success?
I don’t know, but it’s my formula for fulfillment on the road to success.
Stay open. Act intelligently. Repeat.