I was confident once but naive to neglect that it could change. Luckily, I am relatively equipped to deal with change. Change is hard but with a history and personality like mine, you kind of get used to it.

The backgroud

I never thought of myself as one to dive into the self help section of a book store (or should I say eBook store). But after a continued juggling act of being a mum, wife, employee and individual I finally found myself shopping down that isle of the book store.

This all came about, when I started wondering if there was something wrong with me. Why? I love being a mum but I also felt something was missing. Outside of my family life (which I am completely satisfied in), the other parts of my life seem to be lacking the passion and inspiration I once felt.

I thought… maybe my priorities have changed? and maybe I just want to be a full time mum. Tried that, but no resolution.

Maybe I need to go back to work, if it was part-time I could get the best of both worlds. Tried that, but no resolution.

Maybe I needed to work full-time, I always enjoyed learning and growing my skills. Tried that, but no resolution.

Maybe I needed to return to my previous job, I always loved working there and had dedicated 3 years to the company (Which is the longest I have ever committed to a company). Tried that, but no resolution.

After a year and a half of unsuccessful attempts to fill the small gap I felt was missing, I considered seeing a therapist or psychologist. When I saw the average fees it would cost me… me being me… I simply took the self learn approach and here we are – the newly developed obsession with self-help books.

The journey

Something was missing and I was on a mission to find out what that was. Past sources of happiness just weren’t cutting it anymore. I had changed, and it was time to find out what had happened or why I couldn’t reignite the fire within.

I started with psychology podcasts. But like any rookie, you start with a very broad search such as “psychology” as the key search term. WOW… there were lot’s of random podcasts. Most where too technical or uninspiring so I reverted to TED talks. I started to explore the creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders any other random topics about happiness, mindfulness etc.

One day I stumbled upon a podcast called “The Unmistakable Creative” and wow…. my mind was blown away by every episode with inspiring stories of individuals embracing the fullness of their lives. From here I was able to access a wider range of podcasts by referral or following the deeper stories of those who were interviewed. I started listening to shows like “The James Altucher Show” and “The Tim Ferriss Show” then I signed up to audiobooks and commenced the journey of self-help.

I eventually came across the Derek Sivers story in an interview and something about him (not his story) had resonated with me. I begun researching him and read his book “Anything you want” as well as his recommended book “Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert”. I hadn’t realised it yet, but Derek Sivers was the pivot point for my own self discovery.

The turning point

After reading “Anything you want” I started to realise, I wasn’t looking for self help. In fact, I didn’t implement any concepts taught in the podcasts or books I had read over the past year and a half. I gravitated to self help, because I thought something was wrong with me and that I had to change. But being stubborn I also didn’t want to change. That’s when I realised I was looking for validation. The validation that said it was ok to be completely random. It was ok to be completely me and it was Derek’s story showed me that was possible. Why? because despite his riches I believe his true success was his ability to always to true to himself. A purity that is not defined or swayed by anything other then his beliefs. It wouldn’t have mattered if he never built a thriving business, he would have been successful in my eyes anyway. Simply because I define success as living a life where you embrace who you are and what you believe in. But most of all, you’re kind and expect nothing from the world – while appreciating everything it already has to offer.

I’m drawn to people who have a genuine open heart and I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a handful of them. It was great to see a success story behind a person like that. Just the way he positions himself, talks and writes, there seems to be something unique and genuine about him as a person.

The final book that tied it all together for me was “The Art of Creative Thinking, by Rod Judkins”. Derek’s story was validation that it’s ok to do things differently if that’s the way you want to do them. And The Art of Creative Thinking was the reinforcement that there are heaps of people who think and feel the same as I do. And it was better to not be encouraged to conform or restrict creativity.

What I learned about myself

  • I like Derek’s story because;
    • He had no intent to be an entrepreneur. I think of him as the accidental entrepreneur.
    • His kind and genuine and never put self-gain first
    • His honest to himself and embraces everything that makes him unique
    • His unconventional
    • And above all, he was successful being all the above which I never thought was possible. Who knew honest, genuine and non-financially driven people could build striving businesses. So many people I have met in my line of work are all money hungry crooks. (The main reason I never wanted to build a big business, take funding for my own business, or help businesses who are out to take care of themselves only)
  • I’m tired of hearing about the entrepreneur craze. All those inspirational stories about the 1% in the world. It feels like the new norm. Everyone I meet is a budding entrepreneur looking to make the big bucks by working on ideas and concepts for a self generating income, enabling them to live the “life style design” life, free of a boss.
  • I don’t want to be an entrepreneur. I don’t want to brainstorm (or join a team) to come up with cool creative ideas that are going to take the world by storm. I just want to be me.
  • Sure, the life style design idea sounds great. But I also really enjoy my work, plus I don’t like travelling and I already have flexible work arrangements that allow me to spend time with my family – plus more.
  • Despite what it looks like from the outside (i.e. taking on random things like studying law, painting dolls, learning how to code video games) I don’t lack commitment to pre-existing skills. I just have a hunger for knowledge and love learning new things. If it makes me completely random, so be it.
  • When I quit a project, I don’t quit because it’s hard or unsuccessful (which is always the conclusion of others). I quit because I realise it is not what I want anymore or I have learned what I set out to.
  • I am not motivated by money. I have quit 2 financially stable and growing projects simply because I didn’t enjoy it anymore. And have the same  behaviour when it comes to jobs. I’ve taken less pay and rejected counter offer pay increases simply because I knew I was ready to move on.
  • I am however motivated by the ability to explore things I don’t know about, but find interesting and valuable.
  • I have always lived my life following 2 core principle I had set for my self while in primary school (it was the time I realised we were all lemmings):
    • Don’t live your life in a routine. Try something different, learn something new.
    • If you don’t like something in your life. Change it.
  • I’m adding a new principle to my list:
    • Do what you want, when you want. Define your own life.

My conclusion

Self help books are great when you are on this journey of self discovery. Be open and try everything. I think in our subconscious minds we already know the answers to the question we seek. Which is why are are drawn and relate to certain stories. The self-help I was looking for was not to change, but rather to accept myself as I was and embrace that I am weird, but its ok. Everyone seeks help for different reasons. And maybe one day, when I am ready to change I will relate to different books and stories.

For now, I’ve been able to find comfort in shaping the next few steps in my life. I have realised that my learning from an early age taught me that we lived in a conventional world, which was necessary for the quality of life, but I never wanted it to become a restriction. The beauty of life in Australia is that we do have choices. And yes, we can change our paths.

It wasn’t my job that had made me happy. It was me. I was going about it all wrong. Trying to back track into environments that once made me happy wasn’t the solution because the environment never made me happy. It was the principle that I had lived by that put me in that environment which made me happy. I had always changed what didn’t make me happy and continued to change until I found what made me happy. I never tried to force myself to be happy, like I am nowadays. Backtracking and forcing myself to be satisfied instead of moving forward and embracing change was the mistake. I thought… now that I am a mum, I need to be stable. I can’t just job hop and do what I want. I need to be responsible. I was forcing myself to be someone I wasn’t. And now I realise, just because I am a mum, doesn’t mean I can’t be me.

You need to embrace who you are and not measure yourself against others or the preconceived ideas of who think you should be or how you think the world expects you to be.