The advice was so simple, yet for years it had eluded me.
I came into Men’s Work – into the Arka Brotherhood Community – almost by accident. I wasn’t seeking growth or solutions to the problems in my life. Actually, I hadn’t yet realized that there was a problem that needed a solution at all.
By all accounts, my life was great.
I was in a long term, committed relationship with an amazing woman. I lived downtown in a beautiful condo, a 30 second walk to my favourite coffee shop. I had a great full time job and an exciting side hustle – an Artist Management business I had built from the ground up – a business that aligned well with what I, at that time, considered to be my purpose. I worked long hours, running myself ragged at times, but that was all part of what ‘success’ was supposed to look like for a driven, entrepreneurial-minded young guy, right?
At no point had it occurred to me that I needed to make a change.
I felt that I needed to double down. I needed to work longer hours. I needed to hustle harder.
Any time I felt behind, that healthy entrepreneurial mindset would kick in: “You just need to pull a couple of all-nighters. You’ll get caught up. Everything is going to work out.”
But I was lying to myself.
My business wasn’t working. It was taking from me much more than it was giving back. It wasn’t financially viable – not yet anyway. My energy was low. I was struggling to be present in my life. I was living in a reactive state, shifting my focus from crisis to crisis, giving my attention to whichever task or client was making the most noise in that moment.
I was showing up to everything in my life with 50% of myself (on a good day). I was getting by, but just barely.
My ego and identity had become so inextricably intertwined with my work and my purpose that I couldn’t see a way out. I just had to make it work. I had to succeed. That was the only option.
Work harder. Stay up all night. DON’T. GIVE. UP.
The problem was an obvious one to most of the men in my squad, even when it hadn’t yet registered for me.
I wasn’t cultivating a life for myself, I was just living within shackles I had created and locked to my limbs willingly. I felt as though I had identified my purpose, and maybe I had for a time, but something had changed along the way. It was almost as if my life were an episode of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’. I had identified my path – my purpose – and I had locked it in. Final answer, Regis.
I wasn’t cultivating a life for myself, I was just living within shackles I had created and locked to my limbs willingly.
And then one Tuesday night in November 2016, I found myself sitting in the hot seat. My squad captain gave me the prompt…
“What are some things that aren’t working in your life right now?”
I’m not sure what it was about that day, or that moment, that gave me a pathway to the truth within myself – but whatever it was, the truth found its way loose.
I spoke about my business, how it took so much of my time and energy, yet didn’t seem to be working. I admitted that, in-spite of growth within the business, the financial growth wasn’t following, and didn’t look like it would any time soon. I spoke about my inability to turn work ‘off’ – I worked at home much of the time, so somewhere in my mind, I was always at work. I spoke of feeling disconnected from my friends, family, and girlfriend. It just wasn’t working for me. The challenge wasn’t igniting any passion in me anymore, it was just burning me up from the inside out.
I admitted that I didn’t know if I wanted to be an Artist Manager anymore.
Nick, my squad captain at the time, looked at me with a bit of a grin. The kind of grin that says: somewhere, deep down, you already know this, but…
“It’s okay to change your mind. You can change your mind any time you want.”
It was that simple.
Those words changed everything.
Those words gave me the key to make a change in my life that I didn’t, until that moment, know that I needed to make. Those words gave me permission to be okay with the fact that a career path that had once seemed like the only option for me – the thing that I wanted more than anything else – was no longer the right path for me to continue down.
I can change my mind any time I want.
And so began the process of having some difficult conversations and doing the work necessary to change my path in life.
The change didn’t happen over night, and there were definitely consequences to making that change – but with the realization that a change was necessary, came a sort of re-alignment in my life. I was suddenly living in line with what was actually true for me, and so the work that such a change required didn’t seem all that difficult any more. I was willing to have difficult conversations and deal with the consequences.
I was suddenly living in line with what was actually true for me, and so the work that such a change required didn’t seem all that difficult any more. I was willing to have difficult conversations and deal with the consequences.
And here I am, 18 months later.
I am now married to the same amazing woman I was with when this all started. I still live downtown in a beautiful condo, a 30 second walk from my favourite coffee shop. I still have a great full-time job and a few exciting side hustles. I still work long hours, but I don’t run myself ragged anymore. I now know that’s not what ’success’ looks like.
I am better than I was at turning work off. I don’t stay up all night.
My life is more proactive than it is reactive.
I still have a bit of an ego, but I know that my worth and identity are not tied solely to what I do for work.
I have made strides in confidence and leadership in my life, now holding a co-captaincy role in the Arka Brotherhood, standing amongst 18 men in leadership of a community of over 150 members.
And while I may not have it all figured out just yet, I’m okay with that. After all, it’s not so much about having it all figured out in life – but it is important that we continue learning, and seeking, and striving to be the best version of self that we can be – even if that journey has us changing our minds once in a while.
Great share Gregory,
This truth resonates well and you’re correct. By allowing ourselves the space to be and pivot we in turn grow and expand naturally without the confines of we “should” be, rather than “could” be.
Thanks Greg. My biggest take away was the same one that you got from Nick, “you can change your mind at any time.” By sharing this story of how you gave yourself permission to make a change, you’re helping others (including myself!) to find permission to do the same. Rock on Brother.