60: Six Random Life Lessons I Learned From Selling Everything & Going Travelling


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Around 18 months ago, I was in deep internal crisis mode.

I had a growing personal training business I’d spent the previous three years striving to build up.

My own gym, my own brand, my own rules. It was exactly what I had been dreaming of and what I thought would bring me the happiness, fulfilment and success that I craved.

But it didn’t. All it ended up bringing was constant work, loneliness and an ever expanding black hole of guilt and shame within me.

I loved my clients. But I did not love myself or my life and it was tearing me up inside.

So one day I just decided to sell everything – the business, the equipment, my car, my stuff – and embark on a journey to figure this shit out.

I went to parts of Europe I had always been planning on going to ‘someday’, I met a beautiful American girlfriend in the amazing Dublin and I spent three months in the incredible South East Asia with nothing but a backpack and my own thoughts.

Now I know this sounds all idealistic and wonderful. And, in a way, it was.

But it also wasn’t all about sunsets and rainbows. There was a lot of soul searching, anxiety and dark times to accompany the light involved throughout the entire experience.

So in this blog I just wanted to share a few of the things I learned by making that decision 18 months ago and embarking on this journey that I will continue to be on for the rest of my life.

#1 Actually, It’s Not a Journey

I know I literally just mentioned the word journey in that last sentence.

But, actually, something I discovered about this whole ‘thing’ that I was trying to do is that there is no journey involved.

For so long I believed I was headed to a specific destination in life.

It wasn’t really a conscious awareness, but more of an underlying acknowledgment that when I got to a certain job, status, business level, monthly income or whatever then everything would be cool and I would have ‘made it’.

The trouble with viewing life as a journey is that we sometimes forget about what’s actually going on right now.

We make sacrifices and tell ourselves to ‘just hold on’ and it will all be ok once we get around the next corner.

Quite logically in most cases, we tend to think about travelling in terms of journeys and destinations.

Truth is, when I left London last year I knew I was set to arrive in Vietnam 36 hours later with just two nights’ worth of accommodation booked and no return flight organised. I just didn’t wanted to savour each moment without forever thinking about getting to the next destination.

Something that really struck a chord with me was a concept first suggested to me by the awesome Bob Buckley, who was a fantastic guest on the podcast.

Bob said to think of life like a song, as opposed to a journey. When you’re listening to or playing a song, you don’t sit there waiting to get to the end so you can complete it and get it done (unless it’s some kind of One Direction garbage). You enjoy every moment, every beat and every note of it. And life can be the same.

#2 Destroy to Create & Grow

I’ve spent a lot of my life living from a place of fear.

Fearful over what could happen and holding on to everything in my life for fear that I miss out or someone or something might come in and take everything away.

This is a great way, however, to keep ourselves stuck in our ways and limited in what we can do and experience.

The most obvious example here is me taking the step of, effectively, destroying my personal training business in order to make space for me to grow and create something new.

It wasn’t just the physical act of literally destroying the existence of that business to allow myself more time and freedom, but also the mental and spiritual effect this had on me too. I destroyed the entire identity I held for myself along with that business, in order to allow room for creating a new, better serving one.

It obviously took a lot of thinking and courage to do, but if I hadn’t have destroyed that and given up holding on to certain things then I would still be stuck there now. So destroying certain things can be good to make space within us for more growth.

Now I’m obviously not saying if you have a bad day you should instantly go out and willy nilly destroy everything you’ve worked for. You don’t have to do what I did and literally tear everything down and start again.

But just be aware of if you are holding on to thoughts, beliefs, businesses or anything in your life, that maybe being willing to destroy that to make room for the next level of growth and creation could be a vital first step.

#3 Connection is Key

For way too long I pretty much ignored a lot of people in my life and alienated certain people and family members in the name of needing to build my business.

Again, this was borne out of a mindset of “when I’m successful, then I will reconnect with people and have time for friends and proper relationships”.

There’s a huge flaw in this logic, which is that most people crave connection to some degree. Despite unquestionably being deeply introverted, this is the same for me as well.

In the final weeks of being in my personal training business, I realised just how cut off and isolated from anyone outside of my business and immediate family I had become. Although I could (and still can) be very happy spending long periods by myself, I got myself into a position of desperate loneliness.

A huge lack of self-worth and a belief that I would perennially be ‘the quiet one’ nobody wanted to listen to left me thinking for a time that I just didn’t have it in me to truly connect with people.

But as I embarked on my travels and began connecting with myself at a deeper level, I soon realised how to embrace and unshackle the real me in order to connect with people on a deeper level.

And as I progressed on my travels, it became very apparent how even the ugliest of places can be made beautiful when you have the right people around you.

#4 The Answers Are All Within

Sounds super corny and esoteric, I know. But it’s true nonetheless.

At my lowest points, I would always look externally for ways to solve my problems.

The quest for the ‘magic bullet’ was something I was continually on, investing in all kinds of people and programmes that would provide tools, tips, blueprints and ‘strategies’. All of which I went into expecting them to magically ‘fix’ my problems instantly.

I call these ‘surface solutions’ because they look good from the outside but they always remain external and simply scratch the surface of what is actually going on inside.

After these ‘surface solutions’ failed to give me the outcome I expected, I simply began filling myself up with resentment, frustration and blame around the fact I had spent money on these and yet still remained stuck. I had all the answers and ‘strategy’ I needed, but still the internal stuff was holding me back.

We tend to do this in all areas of life – buying workout DVDs, diet programmes, online courses, self-help books, how-to guides and all kinds of stuff that end up being used for a very small amount of time before being cast to the back of the cupboard in an act of ‘self-sabotage’. By the way, check out podcast “Ep #034: Building A Badass Brain Pt 1” where I go into detail about what self-sabotage actually is and how to deal with it.

But somewhere along the way, as soon as I stopped looking outside of myself for all the answers, I realised that everything I needed was already inside me. That no matter how many courses I bought or books I read, if I didn’t dig deep into discovering myself and getting my mindset right then nothing would ever work in the way I wanted it to.

Since coming to this realisation, I now notice myself scrolling past the vast majority of Facebook ads for this and that I would have been easily pulled into previously and resisting the temptation to sign up for everyone’s webinar or online course.

Of course, I still invest in coaching and help. But the difference is that I only do this with very few people and with only those who I truly resonate with, as opposed to getting overwhelmed with other people’s blueprints, formulas and systems.

#5 Your Values Are Your Guiding Compass

When I was in Thailand, I took part in a 10-day retreat that changed my life and the way I look at the world.

Before I arrived in the stunning location of Phuket, I was massively confused still.

It had been around six months since I closed my gym and, despite trying a few things online asking myself some deep questions, I still felt lost when it came to figuring out who I was and what I wanted to ‘do’.

In fact, I was beginning to question if I was doing the right thing and whether I should have just stayed in my old business and grafted it out like a ‘proper business person’ would have.

I’d been travelling for a few months by this point and I remember feeling like I was just moving along without any real purpose or passion. I was just ‘being’. And while at times this was an incredibly liberating feeling, at others it was, to be honest, boring!

I didn’t require a specific destination to get to in life, but I wanted at least to be moving in a purposeful direction instead of just being blown whichever way the wind took me.

Then we took some time on the retreat to dig into figuring out our values. And everything just started to click. We looked internally at what we truly believe about the world and who we are at the deepest depths of our core to find out what we truly value in life.

Suddenly, there was a guiding light.

Not an external voice shouting what you ‘should’ be doing and where you ‘should’ be going, but an internal compass that has been trying to pull you where you really want to go all along.

Because, at the end of the day, the only real truth in this world is our own truth. We just need to find the clarity and courage to find and follow it.

For more on beginning to find your own core values, check out Episode #025 of the podcast.

#6 Spend More Time Thinking Like a Child

There were many occasions where travelling around in South East Asia left me staying with random people I didn’t know in hostels and as a Couchsurfing guest.

Many of the places I stayed were simply local families who had spare rooms available and recognised they could rent them out to passing travellers.

And, of course, this often meant there were children around.

I’m normally pretty nervous around kids as I convinced myself I’m no good with them, don’t know how to talk to them and worry about whether they will think I’m fun or not. Turns out, however, I’m pretty good with kids when I want to be.

When I visited Chiang Mai up in northern Thailand, I ended up going on a trek through the jungle that involved staying with a local tribe village in bamboo huts at the top of a mountain. It was a stunning location surrounded by nothing but incredible views, secluded rainforest and phenomenal waterfalls.

But the part of this that really drew my attention was the children living there.

These kids were so happy all the time, as most kids are. Despite not having running water or electricity, they would run around and love life. In fact, one of the guys I was with brought out an electric razor he used to shave his hair and the kids were so amazed by it that they queued up to each get a haircut.

Another time, while I was staying with a family on the beautiful Malaysian island of Langkawi, there was a kid who just seemed obsessed with learning everything about me and using my iPhone to take pictures of himself.

My point here is that I often forgot about the value of being able to look at the world like children do.

We get to a certain age and no longer want to be seen as children anymore. And then we grow up and get into ‘the real world’ and start playing all the games ‘real world adults’ do.

But through a child’s eyes, the world is a playground. It is a place to be inquisitive, learn and grow without judgement or worry about what others will think. In fact, it could be said that a child’s main role at this time in their life is to learn and grow.

For some reason, though, we get to a certain point where we feel like we’ve done enough growing, had enough fun and gained a ‘realistic’ perspective on the world that sets us up for a ‘good life’.

Seeing these children while travelling and being exposed to how most live their lives just opened my eyes to how much we can, as adults, learn from them if we choose to.

Take a listen to the podcast episode for this blog post via the player at the top.

Or head over to iTunes and subscribe there for Apple lovers, and over on Stitcher for non-Apple peeps.

Love, Laughter & Light, Mike

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