A picture from TsiTsiKamma National Park, not far from where I’m at now
I’m in Durban South Africa. I’m in a warm far off place right now. I’ve had more money come into my bank account in the last week than I used to get in a month. I’m with a beautiful woman who cares about me and is with me for whatever adventure I want to have, without any strings attached or promises of anything long term.
However, I’m still not feeling great. I don’t really feel good at all. I feel kind of shitty to be honest. I feel annoyed, everything just feels like a bit of a drag. I feel overwhelmed by having to pick the next country I want to go to. I don’t really want to move around anymore, but I don’t want to stay put. I’ve gotten exactly what I wanted, exactly what I set out for just about 3 years ago. It still feels empty, I don’t feel satisfied. I can feel a part of myself working to sabotage it all. My life feels way too easy and way too overwhelming all at the same time.
Right now there are people fleeing from war zones, people fighting to breath, people being separated from their families forever and I can’t overcome feeling uninspired. I’m losing interest in the work that I’m doing. I’m not hungry anymore like I used to be. I don’t care about my clients businesses like I used to. I don’t feel excited by the work. I don’t have this burning desire to learn more, to get better, to absorb as much information about marketing as possible. I feel like I’m kind of going through the motions.
This feels familiar though, I’ve been here before. Back in Vietnam in 2015. I was in the position I always wanted to be in and I hated it. I hated how simultaneously easy and difficult my life was. So I gave up on what I was doing and I re-started my life back in the US with no money, no job, no car, living on my buddy’s couch for months. You know what happened the first day I got back to the US though? I woke up excited for the morning. I woke up and I couldn’t wait to get the day going. I had one goal that first day. My goal was to get my bicycle so I could more easily get around. In the upcoming months I lived day by day like that. I’d wake up and I had a goal. I was excited for life. I had nothing going on, and honestly it was exciting. I loved building my life from zero, I loved learning about marketing, I loved fighting and struggling toward a goal. Even talking about it now brings back some of that passion.
Do I still have that fight in me? The fight to bust my ass, to persevere, to fight for something, to have a purpose and work toward it everyday. I question that, I question how much of that drive to excel was driven by hyper-competitiveness.
When I talk about hyper-competitiveness, I’m referring to this toxic software I had running in my mind (and still do to a lesser extent) that compares me to everyone I meet. That wants to take anyone I view as competition and find a way to beat them. To prove to them beyond the shadow of a doubt how much better I am than them. Can I get back that excitement for life again and business without turning that competitive side of me into an all-consuming monster?
Even talking about this hyper-competitive drive gets me motivated. Describing the desire to be better than everyone I meet, to prove myself to everyone else. Especially white kids that grew up with more money than I did. Ones who’s parents paid for their schooling, gave them introductions to get into marketing, paid their bills when they didn’t have money. I fucking love beating those people in my career, I love that I’ve passed up so many of those rich kids.
I still remember the first day we had a new account manager at a job I was interning at. The account manager hadn’t met me yet and she called me “the intern” while talking to others. She said something to the degree that “Ohh you’re gonna make me go get coffee with the intern.” She said it right in front of me, and didn’t seem to care to know my name. A couple months later she lost her job and I took over about half of her workload and while I was friendly to her face, deep down I resented her deeply for calling me the intern. When she got fired I jumped on the opportunity to work my way up the ladder at the company, and also to do her job better than she could. There are a million of those stories, people who didn’t treat me with enough “respect”. People who made comments they likely didn’t mean anything by and forgot immediately afterwards, but comments that stick in my brain today. Comments that I play over in my head when I see them now.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find any motivation as powerful as that hyper-competitiveness, however I can’t allow myself to feed off of that energy anymore. It’s unhealthy it’s not good for others or for myself.
So what do I do? How do I stay motivated now? I’ve achieved what I want to achieve and any other goals I try to make I’m not as excited about. My goals don’t have the force of anger behind them anymore, so they’re harder to get excited about.
I need to re-calibrate on what I want now. I have to spend more time on introspection. I can’t just speed through my journalling in the morning so I can get to working “on important stuff”. Journalling is the most important part of my day. It lays the foundation for anything else that I do that day. I need to remind myself about my dream for my life and how everything I’m doing is helping me get there. I need to figure out a dream for LRoss Marketing Consulting, my digital marketing business. Currently I’m just accepting anyone who comes with enough money. I don’t have a vision, I don’t have a plan for where I want the business to go and I’m finding myself far more interested in the money that’s coming in, and not the work that I’m doing. That’s a dangerous place to be, and it’s not how I want to run my businesses. However, it’s hard, it’s hard not to just let the business keep growing. It’s hard not to allow life to happen and just accept what happens.
It might be better for me to take a more Zen approach to life just accepting whatever happens, but that’s not me. I need to play a role in how my future manifests. I need to be excited about what I’m doing. I need to have goals I’m excited about that I work toward everyday. I’ll figure it out because the quality of my life depends on it. I’m not going to allow myself to fall back into depression and waste the short amount of time I have left on this planet. I’m not doing that.