I have been living on this 6 sextillion-ton orderly body of dirt for the last 44 years and I must say that 2019 has been by far, and unexpectedly so, the best year of my life. And here is why.
Going back to 2012, I actively started investing in my own personal growth and development. Annually, I spent on average ~$1-3k in knowledge-acquisition (e.g., books, seminars, podcasts, etc) to better understand and develop my strengths and shore up my growth opportunities.
Relative to the time and money I had been investing in my personal development, I did not see any significant returns for the first few years. The improvements relating to my relational, financial, and professional objectives were barely noticeable and the outcomes were slightly above average. At times, I wondered if the extra effort was worth it.
Then something happened. It was as if a switch was turned on and activated a different part of my brain. I remember as clear as a springtime noonday when I made the transition.
You see, during those years of investing in personal development, I centered my attention primarily on seeking knowledge. When the switch was turned on, I refocused my energy toward self-discovery and self-mastery. I painstakingly reexamined my objectives and priorities. I was locked in.
While I made a conscious effort to apply new knowledge through daily practice, the truth is, I was tired of being wedged between possibilities. I was tired of having just enough to get by. I was tired of being an average husband and father. I was tired of ignoring my gut instincts, which led to missed opportunities. I was tired of being pulled by opposing forces and getting stuck in the middle.
Growing frustrations combined with a genuine desire to create and experience a better life led me to the following lifestyle changes.
Guided Contemplation [purposeful and deep thinking to the point where you are experiencing the emotions connected to the events you are reflecting on, which in turn signals changes in your environment to match what you are experiencing internally].
For example, I saw myself spending quality time with my wife and children. I envisioned what life would be like earning more money. I imagined living in an environment that matched my aims and ambitions, which leads me to the next lifestyle change.
Change of Environment
I lived in Northern Alabama in a small community of around 43,000 people. Folks within my concentric circle all had similar experiences. Our kids went to the same schools. We attended the same churches. We were present at the same events. We spent lots of time in each other’s homes. Our incomes were about the same, in the $30-60k range, with a handful of exceptions.
The reality is, our behaviors, attitudes, and results are influenced and reinforced by the people we surround ourselves with. And in order to stimulate forward progress and momentum, some elements of one’s environment must be altered.
Although I loved my N. Ala community, it was neither ready nor equipped to facilitate my inward and outward expansion. So my family and I began plotting our “escape.” It took years of planning and preparation. I started scouting what would be our new home (State) in December of 2015. Everything came together in July 2018 and we landed in Southern California in May of 2019.
No one likes starting over. And successfully transitioning to a new career is not easy and requires some gumption. I loved my life as an adjunct university professor. Sharing sacred space with learners was the highlight of my professional career and there was not anything I enjoyed more.
The lifestyle I was seeking for my family, however, could not be supported on a part-time lecturer’s salary. I also understood that transitioning to a new career or industry did not mean I would have to start from the bottom. I made the inexplicable leap from academia to the construction industry. The change in career led to a 14x increase in my income, which went from an average annual salary of $20k to finishing 2019 slightly below $300k.
The byproduct of the lifestyle changes I implemented enabled me to control my destiny in a way that I was unable to in previous years.
As phenomenal as 2019 was, I expect even greater experiences and outcomes in 2020. I no longer see personal development as a task, instead, I treat personal development as a lifestyle. I actively seek ways to increase my value, solve problems, and monetize solutions.
I am more purposeful about nurturing both my mental and physical health. This means I am mindful of what I eat and drink. I am proactive as it relates to focusing on positive thoughts and depositing positivity into my sphere.
With our passports ready in hand, my family and I have already started budgeting for upcoming travel plans. We are considering a handful of places and will publish a vlog of our trips when the time comes.
Lastly, if I were to choose one word to describe my 2020 expectations, that word would be intentional.
How was your 2019? And what are you looking forward to in 2020?
Featured image credit: Unsplash