20 days ago I abandoned my career as an Engineer in search of something else, something unknown. I would like to say that my world has been turned upside down, but it’s more true to say that it was already upside down, and that it has now turned the right way up. For the first time in my life I feel truly free.
There are two simple statements that have been resonating with me of late. Two simple statements that can be heard loud and clear by anyone, but take great attention and contemplation to fully understand.
The first is “Just Do It“. Here and now. This really is it. Right now. Next year we will all be older. Soon we will be dead. There are many things I want to do in my life. My biggest hurdle has not been an inability to achieve my goals, but rather an ignorance of my options and a fear of change. What will I do without my high Income? Will I be able to get another Job? Where will I live? These questions only served to keep me still. To keep me stuck in fear of change and perpetually failing to really live the life I have. The future is uncertain. But regardless, it is always possible that I might fail at what I don’t want to do anyway, so why not at least try and do something I really want to do? Why not pick that thing I want to do, and Just Do It?
The second is “Live and Let Live“. I spent too many years in hate. There are many people in this world, and many different ways of life. Yes, there is one and only one truth about life, the Universe and all that is and will ever be, but who am I to think that I am right in what I ‘know’. I may see many beliefs as silly or unwarranted, but who am I to tell anyone what they should or should not believe. We should express ourselves and our thoughts, and we should listen to others, it is the best way to grow in self. But we must learn to just love each other regardless of what we each choose to believe, be it out of introspective conviction, faith, science, ignorance, whatever. I have found great peace in the past weeks by learning to just accept anyone for who they are, regardless of whether they are willing to accept me or not.
These last few weeks have seen me completely lose who I thought I was. I now know, with absolute certainty, that money and happiness have absolutely nothing to do with each other. All of the best memories I have made over the past year have been in the last few weeks.
My First Game of Jenga
A Road Trip Break
Playing Jenga for the first time. Having a secret party under a bridge. Watching the clouds from a mountain top. Road trips. My friends bucks night at the pub. But most of all, what has brought me the most peace and happiness is people. I have met many new and amazing people.
Craigs Bucks Night
Secret Party @ Undisclosed Location
I don’t know where I will be in 4 months. But wherever it is, it will be somewhere I want to be. Otherwise I wont stay.
Monday morning, on the train, on my way to work. Next week I don’t need to do this anymore. It feels surreal. I don’t really know what to think. I didn’t really sleep at all last night. Just lay awake worrying about what im meant to get done this week knowing just how near impossible it’s getting to continue sitting and pushing buttons.
Yesterday I grabbed all of my work shirts except what I need for this week and cut all of the stitching away so that I now have a whole heap of raw material. Its up to my little sister now to convert it into a pencil case. A nice memento of time behind a desk.
This time next week im heading up to Falls Creek to start my next (more exciting) adventure.
Now a fully grown adult. But still scared of the world.
Life is changing. Life must change. People want to protect me, to keep me from making mistakes. People try to guide and mentor, though it’s more and more obvious that everyone is just winging it. No one really knows what it is we are meant to do or where we are meant to be, though many people seem to think they do. When I get to where I want to be, then I will know. But not before.
I’m diving off the deep end. I have been comfortable for years. Though comfort and happiness are not the same. Everything about the rest of my life is completely unknown. The full time professional world quickly blurs our true passions and it is an arduous task to regain clear focus. Without passion life become mundane. We find routine and perpetuate our actions for the sake of comfort and/or a limited certainty. We do all we can to avoid risk and uncertainty.
For years I have been sitting behind desks. My education suggests that by now I should be feeling some sense of achievement. Though whilst I don’t regret my path so far, I certainly feel very little sense of achievement. I am a robot taking commands and following orders in a system that is built solely around profitability and mitigating risk. Growth and advancement in myself during my time at work is stagnant. I am nothing more than another resource. I AM better than this. I have more than this. My personal bar is way higher then this. This industry and these procedures are an insult to my intelligence. The only thing that remaining a professional in my current position guarantees is that I will never even glimpse the lower bounds of my potential.
I’m freaking out. What’s going to happen? Everything at work (for my remaining one and a half weeks) is URGENT. But it always is. I just don’t think I can take this shit any more. This title of engineer holds no value in my eyes. There is no engineering being done here. Computer says no.
That’s enough of a rant.
I need another good mistake. Only through mistakes do I seem to learn anything valuable.
Well today is a big day for me. 3 months ago I had a 10k debt. Today I am well in the positive. From now on it’s about getting ahead rather then making lost ground.
The ways in which I intend to get ahead could very well set me back again. But I don’t (yet) see a way to get significantly ahead without some degree of risk. So I must try something.
Its been really eye opening to come from such horrendous spending habits to a much tighter budget and realize that I am no less happy. In fact I am happier now then I have been in a long time. On top of all this, in just over two weeks now I get to leave a desk in my past and spend the whole of winter on the snow.
We really can do whatever we want with our lives. Though I have subconsciously known this truth for some time, it’s really starting to hit home now. We must be smart and let go of our fears of things to come, and just chase an ideal.
Supposedly, the easiest time to eliminate old habits and form new ones is whilst undergoing a major change in living circumstances. For example moving house. So I figured that given I am going to be moving to Falls Creek for the Snow Season I should start thinking about what habits I currently have that I should cut out and what things might be worth trying to adopt regularly in my life.
In the last 2 months I have already had huge success in changing my lifestyle for the better. Primarily with regards to smoking and excessive spending. Though there is always a way to continue to improve. So what is next? Ironically (though I guess it couldn’t have happened any other way) whilst obsessively scanning facebook yesterday I began stumbling across a whole bunch of content (such as the videos below) regarding how obsessed with technology we have become and how dissociative it can cause us to be.
I definitely spend too much of my time on social media. I have begun to loose the art of conversation and am numb. My phone is always on me and I easily check it 100 times a day. There is only so much I get out of digital conversation. They lack emotion and tone. They are checked and optimized and lack genuine error. I do not truly know the people that I converse with online and they do not know me. What defines us is so much more than anything anyone can write on a screen.
So when I get to Falls Creek, in about a months time, I am going to leave my phone at home during the days. I’m only going to check it in the morning and at night. During the day I am going to commit my complete and full attention to everyone and anyone that wishes to share some of their time engaging with me. I am also going to make an active effort to engage others, simply to share a short moment in friendly conversation. I wish to learn to converse once more and make some new genuine friends. Some friends that get to know who I really am and not how I appear online.
Well. I was going to try and come up with a few new habits to try and adopt, but my work break is nearlyover. Running. I’m going to try and run at least 3 times a week. But lets not commit to too much hey. The phone is already a big one
I started this blog for a few reasons. Primarily because I knew that my life wasn’t going in the right direction. Rather that I was accelerating in the wrong direction. Secondly because I want to live a free life, full of adventure. I often contemplate the things that I could do, and the places I could go, however have been unable to act on many of my thoughts due to ties such as work.
On the Monday 24 February, I submitted my resignation as an engineer. On Tuesday 25 February, I quit smoking and ‘another’ dirty habit. On Wednesday 26 February, I completely cut out my disgraceful spending habits and started climbing out of a $10k debt. Then on Friday, 28 February I started this blog.
Today, the smoking doesn’t even get thought about. I told myself that I would write a post about quitting when I got to the stage that I no longer thought about smoking *facepalm*. I remember once my aunt sent my uncle a message that read “Call me if you don’t get this”. Same deal.
In 13 days now, I will be completely debt free. It has been very hard to pay off debt so quickly, but it has become much easier towards the end. Not spending money now feels normal. It is true that we learn to live within our means. If I wanted something I would just buy it, there was never a second thought. What I find liberating is that as each day ends, I am no less happy due to not having spent money. In fact I am probably healthier for not having spent money. I didn’t get the extra coke, I drink more water. I didn’t go for a burger and chips at lunch, I got fruit because it’s cheaper. I am no doubt going to struggle for a while without a big pay slip every fortnight. But ultimately, after having it for so long, I don’t feel I have become a better man, or am in any way more in touch with myself. Truth is I have lost a lot of who I am due to so much time spent behind a desk. Money does not buy happiness. We need to do that much for ourselves.
The progress I have made in myself since starting this blog is phenomenal. I have been writing down my thoughts and ideas for some time now, though writing them down in a space where anyone can read them has inspired a sense of urgency in me. A sense that this is my chance right now to get on with living my life. For another 4 weeks I am still living the life of an engineer, then all bets are off.
This blog now needs to get interesting. Since it is about my life it follows that it requires my life to become interesting. Engineering wont cut it.
25 years ago. If I could have comprehended the question, I may have reported that my most prized possession was my blanket.
20 years ago, perhaps it was my Humphrey Bear teddy.
15 years ago I may have said it was my karate outfit.
10 years ago my skateboard.
5 years ago my xbox and excessive collection of games.
I no longer own any of the above items. I have given away/lost/sold every last one. Yet at the time it would have been obscene to suggest that life would continue as normal without.
I, like many, have found great comfort in objects. Though not just in any object. Objects that are mine. I have found release from a reality that at times I did not desire by relying emotionally on the presence of something external to myself that I knew specifically belonged to me. Me me me. To posses a block of chocolate in times of emotional turmoil may be a subtle and familiar example to many.
Today, my most prized possession is my baby fluff face stuble. I play with it daily until its itch infuriates me. When I feel inadequate or unwise I stroke the sides of my chin hair and gain immediate sophistication. The point being that despite what my brain tells me, I do not need anything but myself to deal with the situations life throws at me. In most cases turning to possessions for comfort or distraction only serves to inhibit the growth of self.
Well. I could use a never ending pack of tim tams……
30 days now until I finish my engineering career. Less than a month. Wow. It has been an incredibly difficult year, but the next episode is only just around the corner.
My work ethic is pathetic (perhaps my fate is in poetry) at the moment. It’s not something I’m proud of. I feel terrible about my present performance. I need to be doing so much more so that I don’t leave problems behind me for someone else to deal with.
Looking at what needs to be done, it seems perfectly fair and reasonable. Without doubt it could all be achieved ahead of time. But I am not a robot. I am Matt. A big kid. When all passion is lost, all enthusiasm has been drained by a desk, the drive to achieve has been eliminated by the realization that hard work and crap work as an employee result in almost identical personal outcomes. The ability to sit and work crashes and burns.
It’s in times like these that I must hold on to the future. My time will come. It is only just around the corner. It is in one month now that rather than hold on to the future I will be holding myself in the present. The first sight of snow for the season. My first ride up a chair lift. The first run down a slope. Sunrise from a mountain top. ‘Hopefully’ a lady under my arm. Life on Falls Creek. My endless ‘now’ will be my moment to hold on to.
One more month. I need to subdue my overwhelming urge to scream, yell, smash and destroy shit for only one more month. My strength is in understanding that no matter the events of the next 30 days, soon I will be on the snow. The stresses of this life will come to pass. Soon.
Here I sit, contemplating once again the larger purpose of my life. My desk is relatively clean, a few ‘important’ yet so distant pieces of paper scattered on its surface. The usual promise toying on my mind that everything I am currently working on must be completed by yesterday. There was a point in my professional life where the terms ‘important’, ‘quickly’, ‘urgently’ etcetera lost all meaning. When everything is always critical, and so much control is lost to unnecessary and underqualified authority, the will to excel diminishes.
As each day behind my desk has passed I have quietly, and sometimes very vocally and violently, observed my surroundings. I have tried to understand the overall goal of the profession I am working within and tried to understand the methods by which we aim to achieve our goals. We provide a service to a client, though the aim of our business has so obviously become making money as opposed to providing a brilliant service. Yes, every business needs to make money to maintain its service, though when so much of the focus diverges from the product and shifts to the amount that is being invoiced does not the quality of the product lose its value.
The core of any business is in the people that produce its product. It is critical to keep excellent people. It is critical to be able to motivate people and inspire them to output great work and it is critical to reward them appropriately. So how does an employer motivate employees? It seems that the all too common answer is to pay them a lot, though this hasn’t worked in my workplace, and my experience suggests that no matter how much someone is paid they only ever want to be paid more. It seems that income has little to no impact on attitude towards work.
I no longer have any pride in the work I output for my employer. I no longer have a sense of urgency no matter how much pressure is placed on me. I have become relatively calm as I have realized that at the end of the day, my effort and the quality of my work in no way distinguishes me from my peers. An employer needs to motivate employees by thinking outside of the box. Life is too short to continue working, providing a service, in a field I have no passion for because of a large pay cheque. We need to be proud of what we do day to day. We need to go home with a sense of achievement. Not a warning as to how much more we need to make, or invoice, for our employer.
I have been contemplating a lot lately the concept of living each day like it is my last. I look around me and see people living in fear of the future, only not realizing that in fear they are neglecting to live in the present. So how do I make sure that I live every day like it is my last? What does this really mean?
Tomorrow I must go to my desk. I am hardly convinced that by doing so I am living each day like it is my last, however I find myself part of this absurd world which has allowed me to put myself in a position where (temporarily at least) I must continue to do so. Perhaps in this world it is not possible to live each day as if it were our last. If we have a dream, a goal for our life, we must work towards that goal in order to achieve success. In this process we are inevitably forced to not live as if we will die tomorrow. There will be days, weeks, months and even years full of tiring hard work. Right? Hard work that will not result in immediate gratification. Hard work that may not ever pay off at all. Could it be that it is the journey, and not the destination, that really counts?
Being true to myself. Pursuing my own dreams and pleasures. Facing my fears. Taking risks. Perhaps to live each day as if it were my last simply means to live each day doing those things that I am passionate about. But therein lays another problem. What if the thing that I am passionate about do not get me paid (yet)? Then I am forced, by the pressures of this absurd world, to earn an income by another means.
It is here, in earning an income, that I believe many people make a profound mistake, myself up to now included. The mistake being learning in order to get paid, chasing a high wage and a promotion by becoming progressively better and more efficient at some specific thing. But this is not living. I no longer fear the future. Not because I know what it is going to bring, I don’t have a clue. But rather because I know that I have the ability to achieve my wildest dreams and I have so much time.
From May 23 forward, I work to learn, not for money (though it is required in small amounts to survive), then I will apply my knowledge in my own life and in my own business. Not only will I work to learn, I will work only in fields that I have a genuine and real interest in. Life is meant to be lived! Why not be who we want to be? Why not really live it? Is it ignorance that causes so many of us live in fear? I only have 23 more days of work behind a desk left. From then on my adventure really begins. Every day, I will ask myself these deep existential questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Am I living each day as if it were my last? I don’t expect to ever find an answer to any of these questions, but I will live as if the answer is just around the next corner.