I am 29 years old and graduated college about nine years ago. Since then, I have worked pretty much non-stop in ad agencies in Montana, Seattle, LA, Portland now LA again. Next to work, I have launched websites, published a book, figured out various eBay schemes, traveled across China and Europe, bought a couple of condos, spent lots of time backpacking up and down the West Coast, ran a marathon, finished an Ironman and buried my father. I spent the last nine years trying to achieve things, often times things I really didn’t feel that passionate about. But things that would make me more money, get me a bigger title or a prettier girlfriend.
Most of what I have been doing these past nine years were activities that boosted my ego. And whenever my ego got a bit out of whack, I’d turn away from whatever was bothering me and just shoot for a bigger goal. I took on bigger jobs, ran more miles and ran away from relationships that mattered to me. All things that kept me from having to confront my own ego. All things that ultimately led to a much bigger ego. Having recently completed my first Ironman has left me with a gaping hole, chubbier abs and lots of time on Saturday mornings. And my initial reaction was to, of course, fill that hole by coming up with another huge challenge to tackle. I mean, who wants chubby abs?
But unfortunately, I am really quite happy with the life I have and it wouldn’t be physically responsible for me to try and top the Ironman. So, the only thing that stands between myself and myself being really fulfilled is me. And by me, I am referring to my ego, which I have been carefully cultivating over the past decade. Now, having an ego doesn’t necessarily mean that I am cocky, selfish or self-absorbed, even though it might. When I am referring to my ego, I am more thinking about my “unconscious mind,” which makes irrational, rational and sometimes fictional judgments on my behalf. It keeps me from me being me. So, how do I get out of the way of my own ego? I am going to starve it.
How? Well, first of all, I am going to take some time to think about what is important to me. And then I am going to stop feeding my ego some of the things that it really enjoys. Sort of like when I weaned Otto off Tuna.
Starting next week, I am going to go into a more part-time role at work. Less time in the office, for less pay. Not something that I could have ever imagined myself doing, but I am fortunate that my bosses are accommodating me, and well, that I need time more than I need money. I am going to take that time, and work on myself, grow the IdeaMensch community, write my first book and most importantly, invest into my relationships with people near and dear to my heart.
And I’ll still kick butt at work, by being myself. But rather than define success by the impact on my salary, job title or athletic endeavors, I am going to define it by the impact I have on others. Everything else will fall into place.