This year is the first time in my life I’m using the start of the new year as a milestone to reinvent my life. After a
sobering disastrous 2014 I let myself fall down a nasty spirally rut of negativism. It’s amazing what few negative thoughts, repeated, can have us believe. Yet I could not avoid the time of reflection that comes with the turn of the year. Maybe it’s all the “Year in Review” posts, or the slow days for the unemployed and B2B, but I caved, and found myself thinking about what my life had been, and what it could be.
And I wrote. Did I write. I mean, longest. Facebook. Post. Ever.
I was not ready for what happened after I published it. The support I received. The relief of “putting it out there”. All amazing and empowering. And I felt I again started connecting to my true self.
That is why I’ve decided to share it here.
Some people will read this and disapprove. They will judge me based not on who I am or what I’ve done, but who they think I am, or worse, who they are. They will think it’s “not professional”, “business-like”. It may hurt some people’s sensibilities. Potential hiring managers will straight up toss my résumé when they read this. Whatever.
Others will read this and understand, maybe see themselves in it. Maybe there’s one person that needs to read this and understand he or she is not alone in this world. Maybe that one more person will feel stronger and feel they can beat their own set of seemingly unbeatable odds.
If that’s you, this is for you:
Dec. 31, 2014
Tonight ends one of the worst years of my life. Not so much because of what happened, but because of what it did to me.
The year began with a fast growing business pushing the limits of what a single person can do. A bad partnership had me working ineffectively and way longer hours than I should have. At a growth rate that more than doubled the business, the temptation to push sales was too rich for my business partner. So while he focused on pushing sales, with no evident concern for delivering quality service or delivering at all, I was the one trying to satisfy this unsustainable growth. At the same time, I was constantly having to manage said partner, trying not just to get him to contribute work to the business, but to keep him from getting us in more trouble.
All the while, my recovery from the previous year injuries had taken toll in my body. That, and I suspect stress, had me physically hurting, with much reduced stamina.
To say this didn’t help at home is a major understatement.
Physically and emotionally spent, I decided to call it quits. It was April when I realized this situation would never get better. After a particularly stressful situation with a client, I was unhinged. So my business partner called me out to lunch “to talk”. Wouldn’t you know it he wanted to talk to me about “my attitude”.
You will know when I really lose it by how quiet and calm I turn. I mean, I can calm stormy waters. After hearing him bitch me out, I calmly laid it down. I said:
“You’re right. I should have a better attitude. It’s not fair to you or anyone else that my stress makes it stressful for anyone else. I will work on becoming better. It’s only fair. If you think, however, this changes what I think, you’re setting yourself for major disappointment. So, I suggest you talk to your wealthy friends about financing and you buy me out of this business. I’m done with this bullshit.”
It felt good knowing I’d free myself from this, but the next few months tested every ounce of patience, decency, and will in me. Every notion of meritocracy, or karma, dead. Every Ideal about doing things right being its own reward, washed away, as I practically walked away from the sum total of years of slaving away, building something valuable based on years of experience, multiple skills, massive knowledge and effort, thousands of hours… (I had to finance the sale of my half of the business, and the way it’s going, I doubt I’ll ever see the full payment). The most recent months have seen the start of the demise of what was my best and biggest creation.
Back to being financially broken, again, after most of my adult life clawing my way out of poverty first and almost bankruptcy –which I didn’t file for on the advise of a very wise friend— helped me feel like a new kind of failure.
There is something deceiving about the bottom. Just when you think you’ve reached it, it falls from underneath you.
I started looking for a job, thinking “certainly, others would appreciate a self-taught individual capable of growing a service company from nothing to a quarter million bucks in two years, in spite of a bad partnership. Certainly recruiters can identity the world of potential in an unconventional candidate that has more entrepreneurial drive, diverse knowledge, and skills than most.” Right? Nope.
So I let the lame job descriptions and lousy pay rates get to me. Pretty soon I started doubting myself. Jaded, resentful of a world where it seems what you do well doesn’t matter. A place that appears to only reward the next ass-kissing conformist in line, or the con artists.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like bursting out in tears in the least expected of situations, or how many times I’ve actually cried, alone. Too frustrated to keep fighting, too scared to stop.
What I let 2014 do was make me think I’d lost the fight in me. 2014 made me quit.
I quit believing I can succeed. I quit believing in dreams. I quit believing that I can reach my goals while providing value to others. I quit believing there are good people worth fighting alongside. I let the “conventional wisdom” corner me into some kind of misfit stereotype.
Then one night, reading a comment from a friend on social media, I recalled the poem “If”, by Rudyard Kipling. These lines have haunted me since:
“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ ”
I used to think the new year didn’t mean a thing. Maybe it’s an 80’s nihilism thing to blame on U2, but I really did think “nothing changes on New Year’s day”.
I now understand that’s an excuse; a rationalization. A way to accept what was my reality. And in a way, to make it my reality.
If believing that nothing changes in New Year’s day is true makes it true, then it stands to reason believing everything can change in New Year’s day can also be true. Not because of magic of some New Agey shit, but because the New Year is as good as any other milestone to change how one thinks about life. We can pick this milestone and make it a painful reminder of decades’ worth of failure. Or, we can make this milestone a watershed moment.
Sometimes it takes an experience so brutal it rips so deep into the self it messes with the core. I think it took having been beaten to a pulp by 2014 to get there for me. And I gotta tell you, I don’t appreciate it.
2014, you’ve only managed to seriously piss me off.
I don’t give a shit about your or anyone’s “karma”. If there was such a thing I’d already made it. I don’t give a shit about “luck”, as I intend to make my own. And I most certainly will not be “waiting for 2015” to bring me anything. I will bring my own, thankyouverymuch. I will create my destiny, and wipe out once and for all this lousy run that started some two decades ago. I will not go down without a fight.
You’ll go to hell, 2014, as years do, and 2015, you had better be ready for me, because I’m the one “bringing it”. I have every bit of fight in me I’ve had before and then some, because I’ve had it with the unbearable sense of loss and failure I’ve carried for so long.
I know very well what I’m going to do.
I choose to fight.
I choose to fight
And to start, any day is a great day. I’ve now been feverishly working on several projects for two weeks:
First, I rescued my pet project of a long time ago, Chronic Cycling, my brand of cycling themed apparel. This one is mostly for fun, and I’ve been needing that. I launched the first product on January 1st, and reached the initial goal of 25 units within 48hrs.
Second, I’ve re-defined my services to work mostly on revenue share, retainer, or a combination of both. This seems to better satisfy the financial needs of most of the prospects best-suited for my services. It also satisfies my need for a compensation based on my own sense of ownership of my client’s business.
Third, I’m launching a new company today: Ally Digital. Ally Digital is founded on the idea that small businesses need someone to fight alongside them. Way too little is done to help the little business. For that reason I’m focusing on affordable internet marketing solutions for small business. A lot will be going on there, so please check it out and tell others.
Fourth, You bet your ass this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.
Choose to fight
I wrote this as I got back from filing for a new holding company to consolidate my many projects, fully anticipating it’ll be big.
Start something big, today is as great a day to start as any other,