I recently hit a breaking point in my life. I was feeling burnt out, depressed, and very lonely. Life wasn’t going exactly the way I would’ve wanted it to go.
Things kept getting worse and worse, as external circumstances were also making things more complicated. If life were a game of Scrabble, it felt like I had pulled the Q, Z, X, J, K, Y, and W out of the bag and it was my turn to make the first word. And so, in order to play the game of life, I needed to forfeit my turn, get all my tiles back in the bag, and hope to get better letters out of the bag this time.
And so I did. First off, I quit my job. The move was the equivalent of ‘forfeiting your turn’ and it came with the expected downsides―financial stress, I’m-unemployed-by-choice monologues, and a few others. But the ‘changing of tiles’ came with some pleasant surprises. I used the time to help people in need, including a close friend, my family, and victims of recent natural disasters who very much needed a hand. The experience was quite special, as philanthropy was something I had always wanted to do, but never had the time for (because 20-hour work days).
I also used the time to do a full ‘thought reset’ which has been quite life changing, to say the least. Every day, I would set time aside to think about my life, what I didn’t like about it and why I didn’t like it. I would journal the whole experience in a little notebook and a personal video log, both for my eyes only. In the process, I landed on a few self discoveries that were quite eye opening. For one, I realized I have been living in fear―the fear of failure and making a fool of myself while at it (something us perfectionists often struggle with, which I’ll talk about in a future blog post). Living in fear meant I would rarely give anything a chance―a relationship, a dream, and even happiness―only because there was always the chance of failure.
And like that, I was an observer of life. Life was like a highway filled with cars going at 60+ mph and I was standing on the shoulder afraid to get on a car and drive forward.
Scrabble & Cars … What About the 4 Types of People?
Hang on, I’m getting there.
While standing on the metaphorical shoulder, I realized I had become my biggest fear―I had always feared about becoming a failure, when in reality, I was already one. A failing scaredy cat.
And that’s when I thought of the people who’ve truly succeeded in life and how they’ve been anything but afraid. Some would say they’re also lucky. But one way ore another, they achieved success by their own standards (and often times, by society’s). Now, don’t get me wrong―failure and success are things only one can define for oneself, and while I may be a ‘failure’ to myself, I also recognize that I am one of the luckiest, most blessed people on Earth. I am full of health, have a roof to live under, and there’s food in the fridge.
But, to me, failure is simply the act of living a life you’re not happy with, and waking up the next day to do it all over again. I didn’t like working 20-hour days, being single, or overweight. I wanted to live a more balanced life, be in a loving relationship, live healthy, and feel at peace. But I was doing nothing to change my circumstances. And while I observed my ‘life of failure’ in the shoulder of life, some of my peers were already on the highway knowing exactly where they wanted to go and determined to get there. I am close friends with many of them, and they embody the definition of fearless, while also not being at all concerned of making a fool of themselves in the process.
Of course there’s always bumps on the road that could mean ‘game over’ to even the most determined. This means luck can play a role in someone’s road to success. Which leads me to how you can pretty much categorize people in four personality groups:
- Those with guts and luck. These are the people who not only dare to set sail on choppy waters with a small sailboat and a prayer, but they know exactly where they want to go and the wind is taking them in that very direction. This is not to say these people have an easy life. Au contraire, mon frère, these people work hard to make their dreams come true and will not take anything short of success to accomplish them. They also have to put up with many who will try to stop them or who’ll tell them they’re batshit crazy. They truly believe in themselves, like we all should, and push through the fear that would’ve easily deterred others.
- Those with luck, but no guts. These are the truly blessed. With little effort, things seem to work out in their favor, time and time again. They are the subject of great envy from those who don’t seem to be as lucky, but that rarely bothers them―after all, they’re busy enjoying their luck! Most of them are either oblivious about their luck, or fully aware and grateful for it.
- Those with guts, but no luck. These are the never-ending yet truly remarkable stories of perseverance and courage. These people are tough, and deal really well with adversity. They are the failed actors and businessmen, the divorcées and the bankrupt. What makes their stories unfortunate is that their ‘failure’ is not due to a lack of trying. Their stories cling to our hearts, much like that of Olympic ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards (go ahead, Google him).
- Those without guts or luck. This is the category we hope we never end up in. There’s little we can do about luck, but there’s a lot most of us can do about guts. I’d like to think all of us are born with a drive to achieve whatever it is that we dream of doing, but circumstances we experience as we grow up can make us more or less likely to take a chance on ourselves. That said, it is never too late to unlearn anything that is holding you back, and take a calculated risk that will get you closer to the life you were meant to live.
Now, you may not be able to put yourself in a category until, well, your life is over. But what we can do is give everything in our power to increase our chances of getting in that top left quadrant. That’s what I’m doing right now, and why I’m grateful to have done a full life reset in hopes of re-starting on the right (or, at least, better) path. After all―no guts, no glory!
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