Let me begin by saying that New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite holidays each year. That of course along with my birthday, Christmas, and Independence Day. New Year’s for 2017 was different. I would like to rank it up there with one of the worst New Year’s but honestly it might have been my saving grace. New Year’s Eve itself was fine. I was enjoying the night with friends at a neighborhood house party but something inside of me felt off; I felt unbalanced if that makes sense. We watched the ball drop, Mariah Carey make a memorable performance, and called it a night. Now just like most people, I’ve had my fair share of peaks and valleys in life but I wouldn’t consider myself depressed. Ginger Zee says so poetically in her latest book Natural Disaster: I cover them. I am one that storms don’t last forever and the sun will always shine again. Often times, we don’t know what we are truly made of until we have nothing else to lose. That night I fell asleep and in my dream I had glimpses of suicidal thoughts; thoughts that have never even crossed my mind before. I woke up in a cold sweat, with feelings I can’t even describe. I do know one thing though; after a few minutes of thoughts and trying to make sense of everything I settled one final thought, goal, promise, resolution: “Not this year 2017; you will not win. I. Am. The. Storm.”
2016 was a year where I needed to figure out the next step was for me, both professionally and personally. I knew there could be a chance that a promotion would open at my current institution but I wasn’t so sure that’s what I necessarily wanted. The universe had been working its magic for me and I began getting calls from national and international companies discussing national director positions with me and if I was interested in them. Some even dangled carrots in front of me such as more than 3 times my current salary, company cars, private jets, tour buses, and a life of luxury. All of these positions were great but would have only been stepping stones to get me closer to my dream, becoming an entrepreneur. I thought I should take one of these and once I saved enough money for 2-3 years then I would open my own company. I remember one company discussing how they liked to “hire to retire;” my heart skipped a beat. I had a flashback to participating in a study that another university’s IO Psych graduate department was doing on my department. One of the questions they asked was “How likely are you to see yourself retiring from this department?” and my Likert Scale response was strongly disagree. It’s not that I disliked my job, department, university, career, or that I was a flight risk but it was more that I couldn’t imagine seeing myself anywhere for 30 years. I am in my low 30s and I want to see the world; I’ve got goals and ambitions which include having a larger impact by working with multiple locations not just one institution. This makes perfect sense when you look at all the external committees, contracts, and speaking engagements I was already doing. I remember what I told myself when I came back to my institution in 2014 “Steven, you are going back for 3 years, save money, get out of debt, then move back to the beach and open a business or gym.” I was in the middle of year 3 and wasn’t completely out of debt yet but knew that sometimes you just have to jump and you’ll learn how to fly or as we like to say in the south, “shit or get off the pot.”
On January 1, 2017 we had a huge feast of New Year’s Day good luck food. We had the traditional southern day but we also had an italian themed course by our friends. Every year I always eat the traditional southern course because of the prosperity and good health it’s suppose to bring. I wouldn’t say I am superstitious but I am a little stitious. When I got back to my house in Virginia I sat down, thought about that dream again, and made my list of New Year’s promises. I call them promises because I always keep those. I wrote down that I was going to read 12 books this year, start a business, and a few other items. I knew that I had contract work for about 10 out of the 12 months in 2016 and that if I actually focused 100% of my efforts on that then I could actually make a career out of consulting, speaking, and continuing education. I also knew that previously I had lost more than 130 lbs over two years in high school, completed undergrad while essentially working full-time, and completed grad school in 9 months while working in a full-time position so I knew that with an action plan fueled with passion (and the help of God and some espresso) that I could do this.
I wrote my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) down so I could see it everywhere. I wrote my checkpoints/macro goals on my bathroom mirror so I would see them everyday. These included things such as save 3 months salary, my next move (whether it beach Atlanta, San Diego, or back to the beach in Wilmington), and goal weight. I took a small notebook/journal and completed Mike Dooley’s How to Love your Life in 30 days. I also started my day journal again of 5 small/infinite steps that I was going to do daily to get me to this BHAG.
I still hadn’t answer the question of when or if 100% I was going to do this but that would soon change. At the end of January 2017, I was working on a project in Miami that I had been contracted out for and on the last day after we finished our assignment we were relaxing by the rooftop infinity pool of our south beach hotel (I get it; it sounds bougie). I was chatting with the other contractors (a few of them knew my BHAG) and one looked at me and asked me how old I was; I responded “well I turn 32 in less than 2 weeks” and he said “yeah I was about 32 when I started my company.” I watched the sunset and that’s the day, January 29, 2017 that I quit my job, except no one knew yet.
I flew back to Virginia and after I had been in the office for a few hours on Monday something came across my desk that I will call a “sign from the universe.” I believe the universe has many important things to say to us if we actually listen. We see these signs often. I use the term “universe” as an interchangeable term. For some people the term is the universe, for some people (me included) it’s God, and for some people it’s their psychic friend Miss Cleo. One thing is for sure though, there is something out there that is greater than us. A few other signs started showing up over the next week as I started to iron out the details on the when and where (Wilmington vs. Atlanta as I had already ruled out San Diego for this time). I finalized the where and I called my best friend and told him my plans; I wanted his support and reaction. He is basically 100% logical and I border at 51% logic/thinking and 49% feeling. He asked me a few important questions to ensure that I had an answer or at least a plan before making this jump; he then said “sounds great, I am happy and excited for you.” As I was still planning this leap out, I still really had only told my best friend, a business partner for the second business (yes there’s two businesses), and my parents. At the end of February I was at a conference and had coffee with a mentor/colleague of mine to make sure I was thinking about everything I needed to do. After that coffee I nailed down the when. On the last day of the conference I was having lunch with a good friend and former colleague of mine. She knew I had been struggling the past few months and we would often call each other to vent or talk through our personal/professional issues. I looked at her square in the eye and I said, “I have something to tell you and I trust that you will keep it between us for the next 2 weeks. Next Friday I have to go to Wilmington to work on my house as my current tenants are leaving and I have temporary tenants moving in until mid-June. While I am there I am filing the documents and paperwork to open a business and when I get back to work that following Monday, I’m turning in my notice that I will be leaving at the end of the semester.” We continued our conversation and concluded that more people would be better off if they limited their decisions based on the “what could go wrong mentality” and utilized more of the “why the hell not mentality.”
In addition to New Year’s Resolutions/Promises, another tradition I have is that I usually have a phrase or word that I resonate with each year. Mike Ashcraft co-authored a book called My One Word and although I haven’t read it yet it is first up for 2018. I am lucky though to attend the church he pastors where I am moved every time I am there or listen to the podcast if traveling. Usually I don’t come up with these phrases; I allow the universe to tell me what it will be by being present in my surroundings. In 2016 my phrase was “let it go.” It seemed this phrase was everywhere from my yoga or BODYFLOW classes to coming across it on my travels. Let it go was about letting go what no longer serves you to allow space for what does.
2017 my phrase was “why the hell not” and I decided instead of making reasons for why not to do something or go somewhere I started operating with a why the hell not philosophy. I walked by my fridge everyday and saw the ripples card on there that reinforced the idea that “you don’t always need a plan and sometimes you just need to breathe, let go, and see what happens.” In review, 2017 was an amazing year. It had its peaks and it sure as hell had its valleys. In 2017 I quit my job, I launched a company and also already signed an international client, I moved back to the beach, I reached gold elite status with Marriott, I taught as an adjunct professor at a primarily military community college, I bought a new car after having the same one for almost 10 years, I’ve donated money to the campus recreation departments at both my undergraduate and graduate institutions, I took 2 weeks to travel which included 5 cities, 4 flights, 3 speaking engagements, 2 days of nothing but relaxing by a pool, and a train ride down the pacific coast with breathtaking views. In 2017 I also hit all time lows in the valleys, met with an awesome therapist to work on my “vulnerability, control, commitment, people-pleasing, perfectionism issues” and after many years of being CPR certified and a CPR Instructor I finally had to perform CPR on someone, in the middle of a highway, that I couldn’t save.” While on a trip in Portland, my friend took me to an amazing taco place called Por Que No and if you're wondering if that will be the name of the first book I write (yes there will be a book) the answer is no; It will be the second as I already have the name picked for my first book.
As we embark on 2018, I will say that my phrase for this year is “the majority of people are doing the best they can.” This phrase came to me from a few of the books I’ve read by Dr. Brene Brown, an author, professor, and all around badass. She says that the world will be a better place if we operate with this mentality. I believe she is right. As we go into 2018 my promise is to operate from this mindset in both my personal and professional lives. I’ve started keeping extra cash in my car along with water and non-perishable snacks so if I see one of our local community members in need I can give them a little something to get them through the day. I’ve also put an effort in being more patient with people even when they drive too slow in the left lane or take to long to walk through an airport or find their seat on a plane. I think we have to remember that about ourselves too. In the wellness industry we find it easier to take care of others than ourselves. We have to believe that we too are, for the most part, doing the best that we can.
In 2018, I am promising to continue to read, find opportunities to move in every day, and to continue giving when I am able. In 2018 I am going to continue to work on being vulnerable and showing up and being seen. At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t even define what “vulnerability” even meant but a few weeks ago it finally clicked. I was reading one of Brene Brown’s books and I realized it truly is just showing up and being seen. Not everything has to be perfect. This blog post most likely breaks every rule of how you should blog but if you ask most people they will tell you that I view rules as recommendations or suggestions if your way isn’t working. I promise to accept myself for who I am, where I’m from, and to celebrate that my southern accent is never going away, and to remember that the only one who’s opinion counts is the man in the arena. In France on April 23, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt delivered a compelling speech that defined the man in the arena. He states “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
So here’s me showing up and being seen as I click “post” on this New Year’s Eve themed blog at the same Starbucks (in the same seat actually) where I took a leap of faith on March 8, 2017 when I clicked “publish” to make my website live. In 2018 I’m going to keep changing the world, grow Globetrotter Wellness Solutions even larger, and keep spreading our mission of “taking people to a place they can’t get on their own.”
Remember that New Year’s is a opportunity for everyone to take a pulse, see where we are in life and begin to write a new chapter. In the wellness industry we may see a few naysayers, both practitioners and members, scoff at people and their whole “New Year, New Me” mindset. Don’t be a naysayer. Making comments like “ugh I can’t wait for the mid- to late- February for the gyms to clear out so I can have my treadmill and squat rack back” discourage those trying to make a change. Everyone’s day one (or ground zero) began somewhere; for some of us that day one was in August, some in March, for me it was February 12, 2001, so don’t judge people that choose their day as January 1st. Just think about how many times you (myself included) have sought out to try something new and we stop because we are either judged by our ability (or lack thereof) or not supported by those that love us. I would propose that if we polled people who had an exercise based New Year’s resolution why they stopped exercising quite a few would say that they had a negative interaction with a participant or staff member, felt judged, or didn’t feel supported. As you write down your own thoughts, hopes, dreams, and promises for 2018 keep in mind that “Doubts, fears, and other people’s rules are no match for a heart on a mission.” - Jen Sincero, You Are A Badass At Making Money
What are your promises to 2018?
Who we are
Just a team of round pegs in a square hole changing the world one interaction at a time.
Look back at it