Although I still don’t have as much attention to the forum as I’d like, as promised, last weekend I did make a video explaining how doing one new thing a day saved and changed my life, also explaining my new one thing a day forum on my website and what I hope to accomplish with that forum.
However, I did not post that video because after watching it I felt it rambled and wandered. It occurred to me that those things I just mentioned are actually at least two separate stories and really there is a story that comes before that, that is probably the most profound step in this process. I want to talk about and share that story now.
About a decade or so ago I was close to retiring from the Army after 20 years. I was married and living in New Jersey. And although I would not say my life was good I would say it had a plan. It was not a good plan or even when I liked but it was still a plan.
As the saying goes Man plans, God laughs.
My marriage was in serious trouble and had been for some time. I was re-assigned to West Point. My wife, at the time, decided not to relocate to West Point with me. She would likely tell you the decision to stay behind in New Jersey was because we thought the move was a short term move but considering that shortly after my move she told me she wanted a divorce, I’m not so sure.
At that time, the Army allowed you to turn in your retirement paperwork a year ahead of time. I did so, in some ways, to attempt to save my marriage, to get back to my family.
So with less than a year left to serve in the army and recently relocated to a place I knew nothing about I was suddenly challenged with a major life development of now getting a divorce. Although our marriage was not a great one and had not been for sometime it was still a very emotionally devastating decision to have to process. I had base my plans, my life, surrounding my family. Now suddenly that family did not exist as it had. With the divorce life changed dramatically. With less than a year I had no home to go back to and no job planned for after my retirement. And, as mentioned, my wife lived in New Jersey. Both my wife and New Jersey are very materialistic entities. And it’s probably important to note that the economy feel apart after I submitted my retirement paperwork, that’s when the recession happened. My emotional state being what it was, I simply did not have the strength to challenge any of the divorce settlements and I foolishly agreed to any and all monetary stipulations. So, on top of the other challenges I mentioned, now, I basically had no money.
My world, as I knew it was gone, my emotional state was disastrous, and I had to figure out some of the biggest challenges in my life.
I was not doing good.
I compare the challenge to being told you need to move a mountain, or three, when you don’t even “think” you have the energy to get out of bed.
The challenges and thoughts became obsessive and oppressive. It’s was all I could think about and I could not think of any way to make it happen. My state became very dark and depressive.
In a futile attempt to organize my thoughts, organize my life, I had purchased and began to write things on a big white board. One morning as I was getting ready for work I caught a glimpse of that white board and for some reason, on that morning, my world crumble. I remember collapsing on the side of the bed (and my bed I mean air mattress) with one boot on and one boot off. Suddenly I just could not do it. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t do anything. I became paralyzed by the thought of how much there was to do and that soon I probably would not have a job, I would probably not have any money in the bank, I probably would not even have a place to live.
I remember thinking, I can’t do it, that’s it, I’m done. I do not know exactly what that meant I just know that that it felt very dark and final and dangerous.
I’m not sure how long I sat there but I am one of those obsessive people that is always ridiculously early to everything, especially work. I know by the time I heard IT I was going to be late for work.
I’m not sure if IT was an actual voice but suddenly I heard, “Get up.”
Suddenly it occurred to me that I had two choices I could indeed sit there, lay down and quit. but that felt scary and permanent and I was not ready to except that. Or I could both literally and figuratively, get up.
I started to think, to realize, that although all my worries may come true. That soon I may not have a job, I may not have a place to live, I may not have money in the bank, it was not true today. Today I had a job. Today I had money in the bank. Today I had a place to live. More importantly today I had the strength, the opportunity, the chance to change my path. Today none of the things I was worried about were true but I was acting as if they were. And I knew that if I quit in this moment that this moment would last forever.
Suddenly I was back, I was still scared, I was still overwhelmed but I was back. I stood up and erased all of the words that were on that white board and replace them with two words. Not today.
Those two words were on that white board for years. As strange as it may sound they got me through some very hard times.
At some point you do have to get to all those things, to face all those things. And the hard truth is they may come true but until that time they are not true. They are not happening today. Today you have the chance to face and even change your reality. And yes the change may be tremendous and seem impossible but it’s likely not. It likely can be accomplished by doing just one new thing a day.