*This is a guest post written by Matt Inglot, entrepreneur and stress-minimizer 😉
It was 5 AM on an all-too-common winter morning and running a web agency had officially utterly consumed my life.
I pulled into the office, and juggled holding onto my cream cheese bagel and extra large coffee while fumbling with the keys to open the dark office building.
I’d sit down and get to work, trying to ignore my exhaustion.
At 6 AM I’d make another coffee. Then another. Coffee was all that fueled my ability to get through the crazy amount of emails, projects, fires, and opportunities that required my attention.
By the time I was done it was dark outside again. Often times the nightly cleaning staff had come and gone.
Outwardly, I was a successful consultant and entrepreneur running my own business.
Inwardly, I was falling apart.
For several years straight I spent the majority of my days in a state of stress and anxiety, multiplied by an excess of caffeine and a chronic lack of sleep in the belief that I had to work this hard to “make it”.
I told myself that if I just pressed on then “things would get better”. But of course they didn’t; if you keep following the same course of action, things won’t change.
On one of those 14 hour winter days I finally cracked and accepted what I had suspected for a long time – the business that I had built just wasn’t working.
It was time to stop lying to myself and face reality.
This was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. It meant walking away from at least $70,000 sunk into office renovations and rent. And far worst than the financial loss, it meant the dreaded “F word” – Failure.
But it was also the easiest thing to do. In an instant, the gigantic weight of stress, frustration, and self-doubt vanished. The day before I had felt hopelessly trapped, resigned to toiling away in a barely successful business with absolutely no way out.
With a simple mental shift, just giving myself the freedom to not continue on the path I had committed to, I was suddenly free.
I had learned something very powerful. Often times the difference between being stuck and having the power to change circumstances lies entirely within ourselves.
Hardly a new thought, but the difference between academically “knowing” this and actually believing it was the difference between being miserable and helpless, and regaining control of my life.
Of course life didn’t instantly get better. I had debt, an office lease to get out of, and still needed money coming in to pay the bills. But I was free to make the big scary irreversible actions that I had thought would be impossible.
I dramatically cut expenses. I utilized my network of contacts to find a tenant to take over the lease. I dug deep into my business to figure out what I was actually doing right, and what was broken about my business model.
Over the next couple years I rebuilt my web agency business. And today it provides a satisfying and fortunate life. In fact now, I also get to help others build their consulting businesses the right way.
Tim Ferriss of the 4 Hour Work Week states that “reality is negotiable”. That doesn’t mean we can get whatever we want. But it does mean that we have the option to sit down at the negotiation table, something that most of us forget to do.
Feeling stuck? What would you need to do TOMORROW to change it all?
Sometimes the hardest choices lead to the best results. What is the tough action that you need to take?
Is it a job that isn’t going to give you the life that you desire? Maybe it’s time to have that frank decision with your boss. Or seriously look elsewhere for alternate employment. Or change your career path entirely.
Maybe it’s a relationship that has run its course. Or a business model that just isn’t working. Or a family problem.
Instead of continuing on the path that doesn’t work, what action can you take that will put you back in control?
It might be time to make that tough decision, deal with the consequences, and get on with it.