It’s now a little more than three years since the day I woke up and shut down my seven-figure agency at peak revenue, and I often get the question about why I didn’t simply sell the company at a profit, rather than shutting it down so abruptly.
Well, yeah, that would’ve been nice — in theory.
But that would’ve required me to NOT have been in denial for years prior which then would’ve allowed me to build the runway to sell the business.
As I wrote about in my book, the “quiet desperation” of those years built up until it was so loud on that fateful morning that I needed a massive pattern interrupt immediately.
You see, I had been caught in a decades-long pattern of anxiety about the future; about my retirement fund; about the “next $100,000.”
As such, I never had enough, and I lived in a state of fear what would happen if I lost a client.
That fear drove me to continue to build my business, but I did it to the detriment of my health and my relationships. The more I built, the more I feared. The more I feared, the more anxious I became.
My massive pattern interrupt changed all that, and put me and my family on a new trajectory — one that most recently saw us sell our home and most of our possessions to embark on a freedom travel adventure for…well…who knows how long?!?!
We are now three-and-a-half months into this adventure, which has brought us to the mountains and lakes of north Georgia, to a restful visit with family in Illinois, to a month in the foothills of southeast Tennessee, to our current house on the beach in Folly Beach, South Carolina.
I’ve received a lot of requests to “blog” more about our travels, and I’ve fallen down a bit on that mission. But I’m working to make it happen.
But I digress…
In this post, I’d like to share three lessons I’ve learned during the past three months related to interrupting your patterns, focusing on the present, and finding alignment between daily comfort/discomfort:
Interrupting Your Patterns
So, just what is a “pattern interrupt”?
It’s a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique, popularized by Tony Robbins, in which you interrupt the pattern of harmful thoughts or feelings with a loud or sudden “behavior hiccup.” For example, Robbins suggests, if you find yourself in a pattern of anxious thoughts, stop, and yell or laugh really loudly or shout out the funniest word you can think of.
Boom — the harmful thought pattern is interrupted and you can set yourself on another trajectory.
As I write above, interrupting my years-long pattern of fear and anxiety allowed me to put myself on a different path toward freedom and fulfillment.
And our decision this year to hit the road was yet another pattern interrupt in a year of pandemic and political B.S. And when the government forcibly shut down our favorite restaurants, book stores, parks, and beaches — my wife and I realized how attached (perhaps addicted?) we had become to these materials places/things.
While we had broadly considered a travel adventure, the increasing noise and uncertainty of 2020 (culminating in riots and looting here in our little, quaint town of Charleston, SC) really incentivized us to seek a pattern interrupt to free us from the attachment to the material stuff that was taken away when the government, medical “experts”, and media decided to do what was “best for us.”
So we sold our stuff and hit the road.
Yep, it may sound crazy to you. That’s fine.
But I do invite you to look for patterns in your life that are leading you down harmful paths; patterns that might have you trapped in a comfort zone of misery, poor health, non-epic relationships, or an unfulfilling career.
Falling in Love with the Present Moment
My anxieties have always lied in worrying about the future. Your anxiety might come from worrying about the past.
Either way, the root of that anxiety is ignoring and being fully present in THIS moment. The right here and now.
As philosopher Alan Watts wrote of the future…
“Since what we know of the future is made up of purely abstract and logical elements — inferences, guesses, deductions — it cannot be eaten, felt, smelled, seen, heard, or otherwise enjoyed. To pursue it is to pursue a constantly retreating phantom, and the faster you chase it, the faster it runs ahead. This is why all the affairs of civilization are rushed, why hardly anyone enjoys what he has, and is forever seeking more and more.”
And as he wrote of the past…
“We must abandon completely the notion of blaming the past for any kind of situation we’re in and reverse our thinking and see that the past always flows back from the present. That now is the creative point of life. So you see its like the idea of forgiving somebody, you change the meaning of the past by doing that…Also watch the flow of music. The melody as its expressed is changed by notes that come later. Just as the meaning of a sentence…you wait till later to find out what the sentence means…The present is always changing the past.”
Now is the creative point in life.
But it’s so easy to ignore the NOW when we’re in a pattern of anxiety. When we wake up every single day and re-live it over and over and over, there is no creativity required, and so we make it too easy to sit on our couch and fret about last week or next year.
What the first three months of our freedom adventure has taught me is that stripping away most of the comforts to which I had become addicted, and moving to a new home every 30-60 days, really forces me to focus on the present. Because, let’s face it, it’s easy for me to ignore the beautiful Atlantic Ocean sunrises and wave patterns off our current front deck if I’m constantly thinking about our next destination.
So I’m incentivized to, each and every day, breathe and soak in the NOW. Because we’ve ensured the now is always new, and won’t be as “guaranteed” as if, say, we were in the same old house, doing the same old routine each day.
You don’t have to take the massive action we did – but how can you interrupt your daily patterns enough to focus on the NOW instead of worrying about the past and future?
Not Trading an Addiction for Comfort with an Addiction for Adventure
In a recent social media post, I wrote that my biggest stressor used to be the Monday morning meeting or the next day’s work — but now it’s deciding where I want to hike that day.
Was it an over exaggeration? I’m not so sure.
One lesson I’ve learned is that my strength of being an activator, combined my newly-found love for the present, can actually become a harmful addiction of needing and being anxious about a daily adventure.
We HAVE to hike today…
We HAVE to go tubing, or boating, or biking, or whatever today…
Because if not, then we’re wasting a day of our adventure and tempting fate since, you know, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
Does this sound contradictory to my last lesson about falling in love with the present moment? Of course.
But too much of anything can be harmful.
The trick is to love the present moment. Be present in the NOW. Without becoming addicted to the dopamine rush of having to experience an adventure in every moment of NOW.
So we’ve learned that “chill days” are awesome. And we’re learning that right mix of “just enough discomfort and adventure” with “just enough rest and relaxation.”
While it’s true that comfort can kill you, it’s also true that stressing about anything — including how you’re going to strip away the comfort — is harmful, as well.
Live in the present moment, but flow forward in your actions, rather than “striving” and grinding to them.