On Monday, February 10, 2020, after returning home to Philadelphia from a four-day business conference down in Miami at the American Airlines Arena, I had been fired from my job…over the phone.
And, to cap it all off that morning, I got to call AAA to tow my car to the nearest tire repair shop after coming home and seeing I had a flat tire.
Still, everything was alright. I spent the remainder of my day with my lovely girlfriend as her personal assistant (PA) as we had lunch at South Philly Barbacoa, we worked for a few hours on our Macbook’s and iPhones, I shipped an item out to an eBay buyer, and I helped Lynn pack up as I drove her to her photo shoot at Haven Wellness Center.
I’ve come to embrace and learned how to eat problems for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So, that’s what I did. Because you aren’t succeeding until you are solving more problems. Not just for yourself but for others too!
“You cannot bring a W2 mindset to a 1099 party.”
I used to spend 8+ hours doing shit I despised.
And that doesn’t even include the hours I spent traveling to and from work, or the time it took getting ready in the morning, just so I could get to the office on time, sit down all day which is the worst thing ergonomically for our bodies and health, and start doing shit for other people that I hated. Not them particularly but the work itself, just for clarification.
Have you ever wondered or asked yourself why do we do what we do?
Well, I don’t know about you, but for me, it was because I thought I had no other choice.
Like most of us growing up, I decided what I wanted to study at a private college at the age of 18. So, from there I was accepted at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, which I’m still wondering how I got in there…it must have been me writing a good essay during my senior year of high school. I am grateful for the opportunity so don’t misunderstand me!
I chose to study business and economics, and off I went happily on my way.
The combination of total independence from home, copious amounts of alcohol, drugs, and living with my best friends and fraternity brothers kept me “fresh” for those four years. But in the back of my mind, I could already feel something uncomfortable inside of me. Was I truly studying and doing what I loved? Hindsight is 20/20.
So what did I do?
I brushed it to the side, of course, as most people do.
Why cause unnecessary stress? I already had enough of that with my grandmother passing away after the holidays and beginning of 2012.
By the time I entered the “real world” and got my first job as an associate financial advisor for a newer company in center city Philadelphia, I knew something was up. And it wasn’t my salary at the time because I was working strictly on commissions at 22 and briefly worked part-time at a Macy’s department store down the road from me in Plymouth Meeting, which now isn’t there anymore and has been replaced by a Dick’s Sporting Goods.
When people asked what I did for a living and I told them, they’d think it was the best thing since sliced bread. Wow, some people probably thought, he’s got a four-year degree from one of the states finest private institutions, is working full-time in financial services and insurance, and is living in a major U.S. city and, trust me, I found I was convincing myself of this entire story too.
Except I was deeply unhappy. My heart was no longer in it and was still healing from a two-year relationship in college, and I knew this wasn’t where I was meant to be. I went down a path for someone else and not necessarily 100% for myself.
But what could I do? I didn’t know how to do anything apart from talking to people about financial literacy, explaining to them why they need whole life insurance or term insurance to protect themselves and their families, to make hundreds of thousands of outbound calls and to service clients for someone else’s financial success, not necessarily for mine.
“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” — Andrew Carnegie
Who was I to even believe I could be successful at doing something else?
Those were the limiting beliefs I told myself almost every day and I stuck on to them like glue as if they were my identity. Only later did I recognize they weren’t.
But the universe had other plans for me.
The longer I stayed unhappy in my shitty 9–5’s, the more conflict, negative energy, and bullshit I seemed to attract into my world.
Looking back on it now, I know this was simply the universe kicking my ass and teaching me lessons until I woke up and listened.
I struggled to get along with anyone or even talk to strangers I openly met in public. Generally speaking, I consider myself a positive person but let’s be honest, we can all have resting bitch face (RBF) or I’m too cool syndrome (ITC) every now and then. If there’s anything I’ve learned from those experiences it’s don’t go inward and retreat but be open, happy and inviting to others.
Along with teaching financial literacy and discussing business, my other love has always been writing. I have so many damn spiral notebooks filled and a 14,000+ Word/Google Doc filled with words I’ve put to paper or typed with thousands of keystrokes. To be honest, I’m still working on the eBook and book that will be published much later. I still have many lessons, failures, businesses to build, and experience to gain before that comes to be a reality.
I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get someone to pay me to write in my early 20's, but in my heart, I still loved it after all these years and grueling writing classes in college. I am grateful for Medium which has become an incredible platform for me to express my creative side and, yes, money has come my way and more will be coming. It’s not just for the money but for the experience, collaborations, relationships, and community that I’ve built.
One day, I sat down at my laptop, and I allowed the words to flow freely out of me. And I felt a little rush of warmth and passion and love flow through my entire being. That was on November 14, 2016, when I nervously, but reluctantly, published my first blog here. Boy oh boy have we improved since then but the best part was the action was taken!
It’s similar and another humbling experience just like when I had started my own internet marketing business back in November of 2015.
These were the feelings I’d been looking for my whole life. This was what I was supposed to be doing — there was no doubt in my mind. Freelance writing and entrepreneurship were paths so much more enjoyable to me than just working from 9–5. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on jobs just up on opportunities!
Aside from the ones where I told myself I wasn’t good enough, these were three reoccurring thoughts that I kept having in my mind:
- What if I end up broke, in more debt and back living with my parents for the rest of my life?
- What if I have to go crawling back to a dead-end job again?
- What if I look stupid in front of all my friends and family as they began buying houses and getting married, having kids, and I’m in exactly the same position as I was before?
It’s funny some of the tricks our minds play on us. We have to do our best to limit this self-doubt and self-belief which is easier said than done. But it is possible. It takes work and years and years and years of practice!
“You can’t change the people in your life, but you can change the people in your life.”
To come in for a brief landing, I have always enjoyed posing questions. And, a lot of times these questions are directed not only at you, the reader but also at me to reflect and gain more awareness.
Ask yourself, how are you choosing to look at your life?
If you practically realize the opportunities at hand you’ve been dealt with, be grateful as hell for what you have. Because someone always has it worse than you. Everything gets very interesting at that point because once you stop grinding and hustling, someone is always right behind you looking to take your spot. The lesson I’ve learned here is to stay humble, stay coachable, and stay committed to your growth and personal development.
In knowing your true worth and thinking much bigger much faster, most people take the contrary approach by trying to get whatever job they can get that gives them the most money. That’s the wrong thinking and mindset.
However, how you need to be thinking is what job gives you the most experience and the most relationships.
Because we all need to remember that money only spends once. Whereas knowledge, once applied, monetizes forever. A lesson many mentors of mine have always been preaching: Time is money.
The fact that people are always chasing after short-term dollars at the expense of the long-term leverage you get from knowing something useful (skills & information) and someone of value (network & relationships) is mind-boggling to me.
Once you focus on these values for real utility everything can change. Just remember, you have to change too.
My Very Best,
Donovan E. Vogel