I walked outside to the rooftop patio overlooking the city and breathed it in.
New roof. New view. New city. New friends. New career. New path. New me.
A lot has changed in the past 365 days.
I’ve come a long way.
I’ll be even further 365 days from today.
This time last year, I was at rock bottom. Personally and professionally. A slow, self-inflicted fall from grace.
How I got there, and the details of my decline and depression are inconsequential for now. I’ll share those stories with you sometime.
I’ve been a best-selling author, published books all over the world in multiple languages from the likes of Random House, I’ve appeared in everything from The Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone. I’ve made tons of money. I’ve advised some of the top executives and companies in America, I’ve loved hard, and I’ve raised three amazing children.
I’ve also fallen as far and hard as a person in America can fall without being homeless.
I’ve also come back!
It’s not been pretty… but I’m clutch. I bounce back stronger. I always do.
I’m not the only person to experience success, only to fall and hit the pavement hard.
Some of you have been there. Some of you may even be going through a dark period right now. It’s heavy, but it does get better. It WILL BE better… 365 days from today. I can tell you that to be true from experience.
It wasn’t drugs, alcohol or other vices that put me there... it was fear and self-doubt.
For too long, I’d listened to others. I tried to meet and live up to the expectations, approval or acceptance of others. As a result, I was always being pulled between being my best authentic self and living a life that wasn’t my design.
At this same time last year, I’d lost my confidence, my mojo, and my belief in myself.
I was stuck in an extended midlife crisis, where I’d replaced decisiveness, action, and authenticity with overthinking, playing small and people pleasing.
After years of being a chameleon attempting to please others, I'd forgotten what my original color was.
I’d become paralyzed, frozen, having put my dreams, my potential and my true and best self in a state of hibernation. I couldn’t motivate, medicate or snap myself out of it. I was depressed.
Few people (especially men my age 40’s-50’s) talk about the hard stuff, including depression. (See Anthony Bourdain among countless others who aren’t household names and the increased suicide rates among middle aged men)
We are a society (or at least in America) whose lives resemble the McMansion’s that dot suburbs in cities like Dallas where I’m from… A picture perfect facade and exterior, but little depth, quality or character inside.
Instead of being real, we suffer in silence and put on the brave face and look “insta” perfect. “Everything is awesome. Just look at my job, money, kids, hot wife, etc.”
However, on those rare occasions when someone opens up and allows themself to be vulnaerable, you discover, “Hey man, really? You too? I thought I was the only one.”
We all have more in common than we let on.
I’m not writing this to be cathartic, or emotional, self-indulgent verbal vomit… I’m sharing this because I KNOW that there is a “grown-ass” adult out there who is going through a similarly hard and lonely season… just like I did.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or your income, education, background, career, gender, or culture, there are times in our lives when we all can feel broken, alone, lost, rudderless, or like we don’t even remotely have our shit together.
If you’ve never felt this way, congrats. You are either a unicorn or a sociopath and this message won’t resonate with you.
For the rest of us however, that lack of control can make you feel that your life is not your own, that you are on the wrong path or worse, that you’re living someone else’s life. It makes you feel like a bit player in someone else story, rather than writing, directing and starring in your own.
As for me, I’d lost myself doing what I thought was expected to take care of others or make them happy.
Unfortunately, in doing so, I watered down what made me… me.
That dilution caused me not only to become useless and ineffective, but I lost what made me most valuable to everyone, especially the ones I loved and myself.
I wanted (NEEDED) a change and imagined the comeback, the possibilities… but something was missing.
I tried to psych myself up with fake motivation, which lasted about a week and felt more like Chinese food. (I felt great then was hungry a couple of hours later)
I tried to shake myself out of it by doubling down the familiar work, people or things that weren’t working for me in the first place. “Oh, that’s not working… then do more of it. Just work harder.”
At times thought it was an “effort” issue. Not even close.
You can’t “grind” your way out of some problems.
Have you ever wanted to hit the reset button or shake the “Etch A Sketch?
Last year, I did just that. And so can YOU.
That is when everything changed.
365 days from now how do you want your life to look?
What is keeping you from it?
It’s not your past, your parents, your ex, your boss, or any other excuse we love to cling to.
Most likely, it’s you.
How do you get back on track, the right track, YOUR track?
You take action. Massive fucking action. You go all in, believe and bet on yourself again… but above all, you take action.
What does that mean?
It starts with being accountable and taking care of yourself. Nobody will rescue you, save you, or fill the empty hole. There is no man or woman, no deal, no amount of money, no drug, job, location or object that will save you. It’s is all up to you.
It is a classic example of the airplane oxygen mask… put yours on first. You can’t properly care for anyone or anything else… unless you care for yourself first. Don’t be the victim or use others as an excuse… take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
That’s not selfish… that’s smart.
There are no bonus points for martyrdom, self-pity, unnecessary sacrifice, or playing small.
What is your metaphorical oxygen mask? What does it mean to take care of YOURSELF?
To me, it meant being my most authentic self professionally and personally. It meant being strong mentally, physically, and emotionally. It meant giving zero fucks (in the best Mark Manson sense)
That didn’t mean being flippant or carefree, rather the opposite. I cared completely and totally about what mattered, and said fuck it to everything and everyone else that stood in the way. That included my own baggage, dialog and excuses.
I stopped caring about things, people, environments, opinions, and expectations that didn’t serve me or were negative and instead, I DOUBLED DOWN on the things I DO CARE DEEPLY about, and gave energy to the things and people I love and are positive or healthy in my life. I pushed all my fuck chips in the middle of the table and bet on me.
I shook the “etch a sketch” and made hard, uncomfortable, unpopular, scary as hell but necessary changes, and life is dramatically different and better because of it.
Nothing changes… until YOU change.
It begins with a decision to hit reset and then ACT decisively upon it.
Once you do that, you’ll quickly see things start to fall in place for you. They may be small at first. I know that sounds woo woo, but it’s true.
You’re also going to see certain things, people, situations disappear from your life.
That’s going to be hard but necessary. We often would rather hold on to a miserable but familiar situation or person than change and face the unknown.
A friend once told me, “God can’t fill closed hands.” Let go of your excuses and crutches… and make space for the good stuff.
You can call it God, the Universe, whatever you wish, but these familiar energy sucks will be replaced by people, ideas, opportunities that are in line with your beliefs and direction that you care about but were too scared or blind to see before.
Why? Because YOU took ACTION.
And when you decide to cut the cord and take control of your life back… RUN!
Run for daylight. Run hard, run fast and don’t look back.
Don’t look in that rear view mirror. Just go full speed and don’t take your foot off the gas.
Don’t listen to the doubters or haters, or the “well-meaning” voices trying to pull you back or tell you “you’re different”, ‘’you can’t” or “you’ve changed”… especially if those voices are between your own ears.
And when look you finally look up a few months from now you will be amazed. You will feel lighter.
You will wake up and be happy. You will feel comfortable in your skin and with your surroundings.
You’ll be unrecognizable to those who "knew you as your past self" or who only saw you in a certain dim light.
But to the people who truly love you, the new people in your life who see you shine, and most importantly when you look at yourself in the mirror, there is the familiar feeling of, “Oh, there you are. We’ve missed you. We’re glad you’re back."
A lot will change for you 365 days from now.
It will be different. It will be better... but only because YOU MAKE THE CHOICE TO BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND TAKE MASSIVE ACTION.
YOU AREN’T ALONE.
Make your move. Be Yourself. Keep going and leave nothing in the tank.
Here is to you and your next 365 days.