A humbling uncomfortable experience that became a great gift

Boston Spring Flowers

In January 2019, I had pulled away from coaching. I felt uninspired. I didn’t take on new clients. I couldn’t get myself to do anything in my business so I looked for other means for income.

I wasn’t sure where to start. I hadn’t been employed in a regular job for at least 9 years so the thought of doing that was hard. I chose to drive for GrubHub (delivering food) and for Lyft (delivering people) instead. I liked to drive and liked the idea of time flexibility. My wife, Olga, and I have a weekly daytime Tango lesson and we travel a lot, so being able to continue to do that while working was a big plus.

Even though this was my choice and even though I knew that people from all income levels drive for extra income, I had so much resistance and self-judgment.

Initially, I felt shame for needing to drive for income. I thought I had failed somehow. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t simply push myself even more to get new coaching clients. (But I also knew that this was not the energy I wanted to create from.) So even though I was out driving, I didn’t do it full out because I was afraid that I would run into someone I knew and then they would judge me the way I was judging myself. I couldn’t risk such embarrassment so I held back.

My coach helped me see that I could feel proud, instead of feeling embarrassed, for doing what I needed to support myself and my family.

The first weeks of driving were really humbling. I would spend 2 hours on the road and make $15 to $30 before taxes and expenses. Later, when I started driving for Lyft, I would do 3-4 hour shifts during the morning rush hours, come home for a break, lie on the floor to decompress and fall immediately asleep. The truth is that I never had to work this hard to make ends meet. The experienced opened my eyes to how much easier life was for me even though I complained about not having enough all the time.

To encourage me to play full out, my coach challenged me to meet specific revenue goals. Together we decided that I would generate $1000 each week from driving. I kept detailed records on mileage, hours spent driving and revenue generated. $1000 per week meant that I was out driving for 40-50 hours each week!

Again, even though I accepted the challenge, I still had huge resistance to it. I didn’t want to spend that much time on the road. I barely saw Olga during this time. I was exhausted. My neck and shoulders were starting to hurt from the stress. I wished I was doing something else but I didn’t want to be employed and I saw no other options at the time.
  
But I got out on the road anyway. And, my experience started to improve when I shifted my focus. It happened little by little.

For example, on a given morning, I would wake up to my alarm, feel super tired, gripe about how little sleep I got, resist getting up but knowing that I needed to, then… I would step outside and feel how delicious the cool air and the sun’s warmth felt. Suddenly I was appreciating being alive and how grateful I was to be up that early to experience that. That moment changed my mood for the next hour at least.

Another time while I was out driving, I was in my head mentally griping about how tired I was when I suddenly noticed the trees lining the street up ahead. They were full of pink and white flowers in full bloom. (See photo above) I was in awe with the beauty and my mood shifted in this one moment.

What I started to notice was that the more I resisted what-was and griped about what I didn’t like, the more emotionally and physically drained I was. The more I let go and found things to appreciate, the better and more energized I felt.

So, little by little, I learned to receive what life was presenting to me. I was still out driving for hours each day, but I didn’t need that to change in order to feel better. I actually started to enjoy being out on the road.

Here’s what I loved most:

  • Having conversations I initiated about what lit up my passengers
  • Seeing Spring unfold day by day – flowers blooming, greener grass, trees becoming full with leaves
  • The adventure of Lyft – not knowing where I would go next until I picked up my passenger
  • Taking a bathroom break at facilities next to the beach and having the whole beach to myself during the middle of the day
  • Using ‘No Turn on Red’ signs as reminders to breathe, relax and be present
  • Ending up in a part of Boston that I never would have gone on my own and discovering a beautiful vista

These days I’m incredibly grateful that my life unfolded in the way it did. Turns out that it was actually a good thing that I was uninspired and pulled away from coaching, that I started driving for income, and that my coach challenged me. Yes, my ego had a big fit but I gained so much from those experiences.

My biggest takeaways?

  • Self judgement was the biggest reason I felt so drained and stressed out
  • Life’s circumstances don’t need to be different for me to feel better nor do they need to change for me to value who I am.
  • Beauty is ever present. When I took the time to notice and appreciate what was beautiful, I immediately felt lighter and less stressed.

If you catch you feeling stressed out and drained, check in with yourself to see if you’re judging yourself harshly, trying to fix what you perceive is wrong about you, or simply focused on what you don’t prefer. Easing away from these tendencies can give you the boost of energy and satisfaction you’re craving.

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