Transformation is often slow recreation.
At least that’s how it was for me. My skull is as thick as a brick. It takes a lot to pierce the boney surface and wake me the hell up. But boy, once all the hard decisions were made, life got so much better.
These hard decisions can inspire you to do the same.
Ditching my childhood best friend
The advice you should cut toxic friends is pretty harsh.
I normally prefer to show people empathy and give them chances to change. One great example is my childhood best friend I’d had since the age of 12.
He was like a brother to me despite his mother not loving me.
But he couldn’t kick his drug habit.
He always had to be on something. Or worse, around people who were on something so he could get a freebie. I put up with it for years until one fateful night…
My workplace hosted a Christmas party. “Yo, I’m coming to the city. Can me and a mate join you?”
During the hour he was there he took illegal drugs. Then he took part in a drug deal out the front of the bar where everyone could see. And someone did see. He got into a full-on brawl with them.
Heads got kicked in.
Through some miracle, none of my conservative work colleagues in bank suits saw what happened. If they did, my job would have been toast. That was the last straw. I cut him off after that.
There’s an Aussie saying: Don’t sh*t where you eat.
In other words, don’t bring drama to your job that pays for food and shelter. If friends bring drama to your workplace it’s probably a sign.
Losing a large amount of money is a hard thing to face.
I’ve experienced it a few times. And I don’t mean losing $100 either. I mean losing an amount of money that would rip your face off and have you searching for the nearest therapist and a gallon of alcohol.
Every time you think about the lost money, it sticks the knife further into your heart. It hurts worse than being murdered. What helped me make the hard decision to let the money go was this philosophy…
Accept it. It’s gone. So move on.
Now it doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s just money after all. And most of us hoard more money than we actually need to survive.
One other mindset helped:
If I can make this money and lose it, then I can make this money again with the same skills — and probably make more!
Giving up Jack Daniels
A Jack and coke got me through many hard times.
I was perpetually shy in my 20s due to mental illness that drove my brain off a cliff, daily. I didn’t want anybody to know about it, so I used Jack and coke to paper over the cracks of my life.
Alcohol became a coping mechanism.
As long as I had booze, I could use liquid confidence to get through anything.
The problem is fake confidence created by alcohol doesn’t work in job interviews, or when you’re managing people for the first time. (And don’t worry, I saw a guy once come to a job interview drunk. When we asked him why he did it, he said “I thought it’d help the nerves.)
A near-miss with cancer forced me to get a grip and take care of my health. The first thing Doc told me to quit was booze.
“You’re killing brain cells and destroying your liver. Stop it,” Doc shouted.
So I went cold turkey. What made the decision hard was my banking job relied on socializing to get ahead in my career.
Everyone drank. Alcohol is oxygen to survive for bankers.
So every time we’d go out on the town and I’d order lemon waters, people thought I had a screw loose. But I persisted and eventually it became the trait people most respected me for.
Looking like Mark Zuckerberg
I wear the same outfit most days. Zucks taught me.
This may not sound like a hard decision. It is. Wearing the same outfit most days is you telling yourself that you’re not going to let fashion dictate your life anymore. That’s a bold move.
Society is built on fast fashion and buying new clothes you don’t need every month that helps keep you perpetually broke.
Saying no to society is a tough decision.
Quitting my high-paying job
I sweated this decision for a long time.
I knew I had to make it. My side hustles were making more than twice my 9–5 salary. Still, in the middle of a bat virus that keeps everyone locked in their homes, it’s not easy to quietly quit a job.
Especially when it pays well and you like your colleagues.
It makes you feel ungrateful. You feel western privilege slapping you in the face and saying “do know how lucky you are, pal?”
Eventually I quit. Best decision of my life.
Now my only career goal is to work hard and make enough money to never go back to a cubicle run by a bunch of clueless “suits”.
The hardest career decisions often turn out the best.
Taking risks increases learning levels faster than sitting on the sidelines with a warm blanky inside a room covered in wall-to-wall pillows.
Refusing to let a boss continue to manipulate me
I’ve had some bad bosses over the years, but one takes the cake.
The disgustingly overweight bastard ran our department like a mental asylum. He was crazy and lazy. His leadership team was even crazier and lazier.
Every day was Hunger Games. Just trying to survive, but barely breathing.
The guy ran me around the office in circles just to mess with me. He made me call all the angry customers and cop their abuse. I’d promise to help the poor customers and then he’d leave me hanging to get his managerial remedies that could have allowed me to deliver on my promises.
But no. The bastard wanted me to suffer — and he did.
Thankfully I got fired and never spoke to him again. If a**holes had a headquarters it’d be his home in the middle of a golf course.
Lesson: quit bad bosses. They’re. Never. Worth. Enduring.
Adopting a blank calendar
The worst part of a job isn’t the bad-tasting coffee or tea.
It’s all the meetings. When I went out on my own I made the hard decision to have a blank calendar. It means some days can be a little unstructured. But the mental clarity is not far off what Buddha teaches.
You become so Zen you don’t recognize yourself in the bathroom mirror. Life just gets better. Hard to explain.
What if calendars are a form of prison?
Exiting a toxic relationship
I made the hard decision to leave a 5-year long relationship.
She was a sh*tty partner but you know what I realized? I was an even sh*ttier boyfriend. I learned the person you’re in a relationship with is a mirror. How you act determines how your partner acts.
So if you want a better partner then it starts with being a better partner. Wish I figured it out earlier, but hey, none of us are Jesus in sandals.
11 years ago, I traded my dumb flip phone for a smartphone. Seemed like a genius decision.
“Mate, Steve Jobs’ iPhone is the bee’s knees.”
So I bought one. All was well for a few years. Until gradually more and more apps began to invade my life with their agenda.
I reached boiling point.
My phone was always pinging my brain to exhaustion. So I made the hard decision to turn off all notifications. Even incoming calls.
This has its downsides. Sometimes I miss important calls. It also means I can never say “yes” when someone says “can I call you back.” But somehow it works. I survive without notifications.
Turn off all notifications to recharge your attention.
Asking for professional help
Asking for help is undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I felt weak. I felt stupid. I felt broken and embarrassed. It destroyed my pride. It fractured my ego. It ruined the BS perfect image I had of myself.
How do you even explain mental illness? You can’t.
It’s all in your head.
And you live a bad fantasy every day that feels like you have no control over it. Until you seek help, the fantasy doesn’t become a reality. But once other people can see and hear what you’re experiencing, suddenly the madness starts to look like a lie.
I wish I had asked for help earlier. But I’m so glad I got help at 26 and didn’t waste any more of my life.
Lesson: you’re not weak asking for help. We all feel a little lost sometimes.
Go out there and make some hard decisions. When you don’t, life becomes boring and even a struggle. When you do, life gets better and your courage gets stronger.