A year to change my life
What a year. It must have been around this time last year that I realised, no recognised, just how unhappy I was, that things had to change. Digitia was out of control, my depression was at an all-time high and I was miserable because I wasn’t being honest with myself and the people around me. I was wearing a mask, playing the game and blending in and I couldn’t do it any longer.
In many ways, she saved my life – Alice Allum. She looked right at me, challenged me to be honest with myself and never flinched when I did finally share my fears, ambitions and plans – big and crazy and stupid as they were. She never judged me and she never laughed. She just looked right back at me and said “okay, what’s first?”. I can’t remember, exactly, the order of things now but change was inevitable. The debt was mounting, my passion for running a business of that size was waning and there was no infrastructure for growth. Things would collapse if I didn’t take drastic action and that was far more irresponsible than taking control.
We sat there, one sunny day in Seaham and I told her my plans. We grabbed a coffee from town and then proceeded to write out everything that was involved. Telling clients, shutting down offices and talking to my team. It wasn’t until many, many months later that I actually tallied the debt to clear.
The funny thing is that the financial situation in Digitia influenced heavily what we did for the next year but it also, somehow, allowed us the ultimate freedom to move to Manchester, to spend nearly every day together and to work on our personal projects every week – DARETOGROW and The Be Platform. It also introduced us to so many new strategies in marketing and positioning and ‘digital’ that will underpin our endeavours with those projects and allowed us to connect with people in a way we never had before – honestly.
As tough as this year has this year has been, for both of us, neither of us would change a moment of it. I know I’ve grown so much as a person. I’m more honest and up front now. I’ve told the truth, faced my debt and my personal relationships and I’ve faced myself. I’ve given up on the expectations of others, the fancy offices, the suits, the business bullshit. I’ve pursued my passions and become more mindful: the baking, the running, the time off. And now I’m beginning to examine my mental and spiritual baggage through yoga and meditation. I think the true healing is about to begin!
I’ve learnt that nothing really exists – money, debt, fear, time. They’re all manmade monstrosities that take us further and further away from our source, from stillness, from peace. Fear is in the mind – it’s literally the creation of horrible scenarios that will likely never happen. Funnily enough, thinking about them can make them happen and even if they do happen they’re never as bad as you imagine! For example, I remember the first time a payment of some £10k to HMRC bounced. The money went out, what there was anyway, and it came back in. A few weeks later a letter and a few weeks after that a call and a payment plan. It was shit, yes, but it wasn’t world ending. I still had my health, my outlook and my ability to repay that money.
I’ve learnt that the people who were around you when you were falling can help to pick you back up (sometimes) but they can’t help you to change course. You really are an average of the people you hang around with and if you’re growing and they’re not then friction will arise quickly. I mean, I read a book a week at least. I try new things every day – new food, new rituals, new ideas, new ways of thinking. I listen to, and follow, millionaires, spiritual leaders and others who have overcome the greatest odds and you can only imagine the crazy conversations Alice and I have about how we’ll change the world. I can do all of this and go back to people who have continued to watch soaps, avoid decisions, gossip and comfort themselves with all sorts of things. I’m not judging them – we’re all on our own journey but when you walk side by side with someone – anyone – they will either quicken to match your pace or you’ll slow to match theirs. I learnt to set my own pace and limit my time with people who wanted to sit on the bench and let life happen to them.
Some of the hardest things I had to do in my personal transformation were to walk away from people I cared about, turn down a car from my dad when I desperately needed one, part ways with long-term clients because I knew I could no longer help them and find the courage and faith to launch my dream business whilst £70k in debt, personally broke and emotionally drained. I know, again, I sound harsh but I’ve learnt that you can’t stay out of duty, you can’t take things out of fear and you can’t stand still waiting for the perfect moment. You’ve got to be true to yourself and seize the day.
No-one will really know what I went through, apart from my mum who saw almost every tear, who recognised the sadness and fear in my face and kept me going with ‘happy socks’, boiled eggs for the train, £20 here and there and the most non-judgemental heart you will ever know. And Alice, who shook me, pushed me and comforted me when I was at my lowest, most terrified and highest, hiding her own tears to stay strong for me knowing I would do the same for her, as I did. She dropped to an £8k wage with me and found incredible ways to have fun with no money – badminton in the park I didn’t know existed, home retreats to live for and movies in the snug. And me: the ‘I’ inside that stayed strong and focused when needed, and delivered the plan I’d written all those months ago with Alice in that sunny office in Seaham. The ‘I’ that read books to fuel my mind, learnt to cook to fuel my body and pushed me out the door on runs to kick depression up the arse!
In this last year, I have paid off £70k in debt, avoided bankruptcy, met my soulmate, launched my dream business, become a vegetarian, begun meditating and survived weeks on silver from a piggy bank. I have cried, loved, forgiven, tried, learnt and grown. I have conquered depression. I have changed my habits around money, food and work. I have said no. I have said yes. I have said sorry. I have said thank you.
This has been my journey and something tells me it’s only the beginning.
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