It was 9:15 am when I pulled up to my pizza joint, to prepare for letting in my staff, receiving deliveries, and opening at 11. There were two guys lounging by a car parked in front. When I started to turn the key in the door, they approached me and introduced themselves. They were agents from the Internal Revenue Service, responding in person to a letter I had sent to the agency, requesting a payment plan to pay my delinquent payroll taxes.
They had a very simple payment plan to offer...
Counting the late penalties and interest, my debt was $55,000. They offered that I write them a check for the total amount on the spot, or they would padlock the door and seize the business. Since the balance in my checking account was at least $54,000 shy of that, they allowed me 15 minutes inside to make some frantic but unsuccessful phone calls and then they applied the padlock.
While the agents were outside, I had emptied the safe and the cash register of the approximately $750 in them to offer my employees as the only severance package possible and called the vendors to explain the situation and cancel all deliveries.
My car was leased, the apartment I lived in was rented, and the few credit cards I had were maxed out. I had no savings, no job, and no resources to fall back on. I drove mindlessly to I-95 and headed north crying by myself in the car, reflecting on the humiliation and shame I would feel trying to explain the situation to my family and friends.
This was my second big entrepreneurial venture and my second big disaster. The first had happened I was 18 or 19. Sold my furniture, slept on the floor, and ate macaroni and cheese three times a day. Not Kraft, the good stuff, because that was three boxes for a dollar. I ate the Grand Union store brand, because that was four boxes for a dollar. (Obviously I’ve just outed myself as a Boomer, because this was many years before it was trendy to be a struggling startup founder eating ramen noodles.)
Make no mistake: If you have never sold all your furniture and slept on the floor – it sucks. I mean totally sucks. Selling a few lamps and end tables is humiliating, but not all that life altering. But when it comes down to “go time” on the kitchen table, sofa, and the bed – suck reality hits quickly. If you’re like me, the last thing you sell is the TV, because you while away your insomnia watching mindless sitcoms and infomercials of get rich quick schemes to try and forget your life of loud desperation.
When you’re 18 or 19, there is still something surreally romantic about it all. Making your way back, building brick and board bookcases, finding someone’s old sofa on the curb you can throw a sheet over, fighting the valiant fight. But when you’re over 30, your friends are married with kids, houses, jobs and money – that perverse romanticism fades real quick-like. It pretty much just plays out as all sucky, all the time.
Making it all worse, my business failures were just the beginning of my drama. A series of health challenges and toxic relationships were also culminating at the same time, to create the perfect storm of a dysfunctional, miserable existence. I wanted to kill myself but didn’t have the guts. Fortunately, I then had a better idea: To once again kill the old me and replace it with a new and better version.
Because I realized that I didn’t just hate my life; I hated myself. Looking at who I had become, I couldn’t stand that guy. He was weak, ignorant, and a professional victim. So I killed him.
Once you have released the negative beliefs in the six core areas we discussed earlier – and replaced them with empowering beliefs – you are at the perfect state of mind to recreate yourself. Creating a new you is not easy. There are lots of unexpected twists, disappointments, and challenges along the way. But if you don’t like the old you and you stay that person, you’ll be miserable for the rest of your life.
You will never pay a higher price for anything than the one you will pay for living your dream. Unless you choose to give up on your dream.
The reason I’m sharing my story is so you can extrapolate it with yours and see your way to creating a new version of you, one that you will love. In my case, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I set out to learn how to be healthy and energized. I hated working 18-hour days in a greasy restaurant and had always dreamed of being a writer. I wrote a story and submitted it cold to the editor at Miami New Times and he bought it. I took the General Equivalency test to get a high school diploma so I could audit some college courses. It would be cool to say that everything changed in an instant, but that would be a lie. It took about two years, but at the end of that time, I felt like a totally different person. (Not coincidentally, it takes about two years for your body to regenerate every single cell in your body. In two years, you are a completely new person, literally.)
Next began the period of transformation from poor to wealthy. This was a process of learning how to build businesses and make money. By learning those skills, I became wealthy. This provided the opportunity to buy exotic sports cars, $10,000 shoes, $65,000 watches, fly the Concorde, purchase art, spend $500 a week on fresh flowers, and get regular massages, manicures, pedicures and facials. (Full disclosure: The rest of the money I just pissed away.)
Those were heady days, filled with success, recognition, and living large. But there was something missing. My daily activity was full, but my life was empty. This led me to unplug from the world and go on a two-year sabbatical. I sold my place and everything in it, left with what fit in my roller board suitcase and headed to the airport.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to be meditate in a cave on a mountain in Tibet, join a lesbian commune, or start a boy band. And didn’t care. All that mattered was killing off that person I didn’t want to be any longer – and creating the new, improved model, I was excited to become.
That sabbatical was a time of deep introspection and discovery. I changed my perspective about money and success and started sifting everything through a filter of meaning. Desire for success gave way to desire for significance. Another rebirth took place.
But transformation into becoming the new you isn’t a “one and done” event. It’s an ongoing, continuing adventure.
It’s been just over five years since the sabbatical and since then I have once again murdered an outdated version of me that was no longer serving me. (What my friends glance knowingly at each other and describe as “Randy’s fourth mid-life crisis.”)
You might think I’m desperately hoping that this version I’ve created now is finally…the one. Actually, quite the opposite.
I’m hoping to hang around on this rock long enough to kill off at least another five or six versions. At any point on the trip, I want to be able to look back and marvel at how ignorant I was three weeks ago.
Hopefully, you feel much the same way…
Hopefully you see life as a series of journeys, shedding old identities, morphing into new ones, and developing your prosperity consciousness to the state I’ll call Divine Discontent. This state of mind is a spiritual experience for you, one in which you can live in gratitude for what you have, yet still have an innate hunger and desire to become more.
You create a bolder vision and bigger dreams. These act as a magnet, pulling you to grow more to achieve them. You discover that your level of thinking to that point won’t get you to where you want to go, so you develop new thought processes. This leads to a perpetual cycle of improvement, a continuous quest to evolve into the highest possible version of yourself. That’s where the breakthroughs live.
It’s the ultimate demonstration of the vacuum law of prosperity. You create a vacuum, then work as a co-creator with the universe to fill that vacuum with good.
The fact that you’re still reading this is a pretty good indication that you may have found yourself traveling a path that isn’t the one you really desire to be on. Or perhaps you woke up one day and realized you really don’t like the person you have become.
Best case scenario, this is simply a case of releasing the old you. But if you’ve been continuing deeply-ingrained, intergenerational toxic patterns – it may require killing off the old you.
For most people, the most liberating day of your life will be the one you realize that some bridges are meant to be burned.
That’s what we will explore in the next post. Before then, please share your thoughts below.