Is This It? Screw You Crappy Milestones (Part 2)

This post follows on from part 1, which you can read here.

A Catalytic Moment.

When we’re young, we’re finding our way. It’s paint by numbers. We all need some guidance, and if we don’t get it then we’ll paint outside the lines and learn from our mistakes. Well, that’s the hope at least.

When the ‘Is This It?’ moment first hit me, I was 25 and had started to carve myself a decent career in advertising, I was living in a great flat in London, and was having a really good time discovering my new city. But I really quickly burned the candle at both ends and was ready for something different. Yet I didn’t feel ready to move to the next major milestone in life – that of settling down… equally, I was growing tired of the young person lifestyle. I felt like I was trapped in a no-man’s land of young adulthood.

I was also probably suffering from PTSD but had no way of knowing that’s what was going on, as I didn’t feel like I ought to feel anything other than gratitude that I survived.

My biggest challenges were that I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my life, especially if I wasn’t hitting the milestones that everyone else around me were working toward, such as being:

  • In a career they loved OR paid them good money
  • In a healthy romantic relationship OR having a great time being single
  • In a financial situation where one could save for a mortgage
  • In a position where one could start a family

I didn’t want to settle down until I had unlocked my full potential and got all my ducks in a row and lived a little. But I felt a huge amount of pressure to conform and work towards goals that felt out of reach to me. Actually, some part of me wanted these goals too – I think we’re all conditioned on some level to want them – but on top of feeling like these things were out of reach to me, I had major FOMO. I missed the very things I suppose I was unsure of, and was in some regards running away from. It was a total head fuck!

So I kicked the notion of traditional milestones to the curb.

I figured they’d work themselves out, either way they weren’t for me to control and instead I spent the next 12 years exploring what it means to find a different way.

From the moment I moved to the Caribbean to take a job on a business newspaper when I was 27, I felt free. I saw a different type of life, participated in a community, and lived right on the beach in a cute one bed apartment. Parties still had a good knack for finding me and me them, but I started to take ownership of my time in a different way, and instead of forcing myself to be social and extroverted, I listened to an inner voice that said ‘stay in tonight’. I lived alone for the first time in my life, and it was soulful. I found my own slice of heaven there.

This experience evolved into a personal mission – to turn 30 feeling like I’d earned the right to celebrate it. Turning 30 was emotionally attached to my childhood perception of adult milestones and since I wasn’t reaching any of them it could have felt shrouded in failure if I didn’t take some serious action, quickly.  Another stint back in London saw me working for a high profile broadsheet newspaper doing a new more creative role that I loved; but something still wasn’t sitting right with me about the way I’d chosen to make money for myself, so I quit my job, took career break #2 and turned 30 on a beach in Malawi dancing to African rhythms and drum & bass. When I returned I got a minimum wage job in a pub, decided to take stock for a bit and reassured myself that I was going to land on my feet.

The universe has a sick sense of humour because I got the sack from the pub after one week and they never paid me for the week that I worked. 

Discovering a Parallel Universe.

Since then I’ve lived and worked in 8 other countries around the world. I orchestrated a complete career change out of advertising and started a career breaks company for burned out business professionals also asking ‘Is This It?’.

Following 10 years in a career I fell into where I used to help businesses grow through advertising, I now help entrepreneurs do business better, with considerations for their societal and environmental impact. I train people to start businesses, and help those on career breaks find more purpose in their lives and careers. I didn’t become a documentary maker or war-zone correspondent, but my passion to tell the stories of the world is satiated through the writing I do and the inspiring clients I work with who work tirelessly make a positive difference in the world.

A lot of people seem to be asking ‘Is This It?’ and some of them have approached me over the last few years asking for help.

I therefore cannot wait to finish writing my book, perhaps not so un-surprisingly titled: Is This It? How to Have A Life And Career With 21st Century Meaning. I’m looking forward to taking others through the key tactics I’ve used to change my life and start living in a complete different parallel to the one I was previously on.

Fast-tracking the process.

I don’t want anyone else to spend 12 years finding their own unique life and career milestones. I want to help you fast-track this process.

The book will aim to help you avoid some of the pitfalls I made, whilst still giving you a space to learn via your own trial and error process, something I think is really important.

Ultimately I want this book to show you how you can cultivate a life and career that you could never have imagined of or only ever dreamed about. Or perhaps for the ambitious amongst you, it’s about helping you find your way to the life and career you always imagined.