2019: Everything in Balance
From starting side hustles to dealing with depression. It was both amazing and at times a MAJOR fuck up.
2019 started out with a driving obsession to change my situation – mostly referring to where my career had taken me. Midway through 2018 I hit burn out. For the 2 years prior, I’d been pushing so hard at work, but a lack of clear work-life boundaries left me drained, burnt out, numb, not creative and as blunt as this may sound… I felt like I was shit at my job. I was in a bad place.
I changed roles in October 2018 and joined a new team. Those first few months in the team was spent rediscovering that spark and energy I’d felt a few years ago when I first joined Woolies. It took 6 months, but eventually I was feeling that flow again. My new manager gave me time to find my feet in the area – something that I will forever be grateful for.
But nothing prepared me for the hurricane that would smash me in the first quarter of 2019.
After one too many Grant Cardone vids on YouTube, I came to the realization that the only way to really free myself and deliver my purpose (more on this to come in other posts) was to leave corporate and start my own business(es). The average millionaire has seven streams of income in the US. So here I was, fresh from burnout ready to go HAM and push my blog leavethecouch.com, start side hustles and just burn all the candles I had to unlock this idea of wealth and the freedoms that come with it. Bad fucking idea.
Aside: For those wondering why I’m so focussed on material wealth or money, there’s more to this story. We won’t get into it here, but it starts with being a kid from the township of Mitchell’s Plain and wanting to change their situation. We all have our back stories.
Back to the present…
Not once did I think, “Maybe you don’t just miraculously refill your tanks after going through burnout. Maybe that dam of energy is still pretty shallow and going HAM on fuckall petrol isn’t a smart move.”
It culminated in massive anxiety attacks which I posted about on leavethecouch.com. Here’s a vlog I made about it:
At the time, I was posting regularly on leavethecouch.com, started working on launching an adventure touring company (Find Ventures) with my mates as well as helping another shape his idea of starting an online store – which would eventually become flatmountainliving.com.
I re-read the last few paragraphs and laughed at myself. The hurricane wasn’t just heading my way, I was running head-first into it.
It all came crashing down and I had to finally face all the shit that had been bottled up post-divorce and I admitted that I needed therapy. Little did I know it wasn’t all because of my divorce. I’ve been looking at life through a very distorted lens. Deep core beliefs of not feeling good enough and being extremely hard on myself for so long had driven me right into the ground.
Months of dealing with depression followed and life was fucking bleak all the way through to July.
Don’t get me wrong. There were amazing moments between February and July that really added positivity to that first half of the year. But dealing with my demons was an experience that took so much energy to just get through. And I now know its going to continue for a long time. I’ve accepted that I’ve been dealing with depression for a number of years and this state was amplified by very poor sleep. The poor sleep was a result of trying to solve all the stuff constantly going on in my head that I either needed to deal with or ideas that I needed to get out onto paper. I’d grown accustomed to zero boundaries for way too long and always being “on” after a career in management consulting – something which is par for the course.
I still dip into lows and have to use the tools that I’ve worked on with my therapist to make sense of what’s triggering these feelings. It’s become a constant fight, but the positive thing for me is that I now have tools and accepting what’s happening to me has been freeing.
The second half of 2019 was a whole lot better. Armed with these tools now to really deal with my shit, I started re-crafting my life.
I went at it from all angles:
I crafted healthier habits into my week, cut myself some slack, learnt what I wanted and what I didn’t want, started running for fun again and not to blog or create content – yes, I stopped using social media the way I did before.
My weeks are structured very differently now than the last few years and I am actively chasing some semblance of “balance”.
I’ll probably write a post about all the habits that I tested and things that I found which worked for me. But the one thing I can say with certainty is that speaking to a Psychologist is the BEST THING I DID FOR MYSELF IN 2019.
It’s definitely not been the Hollywood-esque meteoric rise from the ashes from February. This is real life shit. Things take energy and time. I still slip up and default to my old habits, but now I have structures, people and tools around me to get out of the hole before I go too deep. As uncomfortable a process as it was, I was forced to break down the old version of Fareed and have been actively trying to rebuild a stronger version.
I like the way Sherrilyn Kenyon puts it:
“The strongest steel is forged by the fires of hell. It is pounded and struck repeatedly before it’s plunged back into the molten fire. The fire gives it power and flexibility, and the blows give it STRENGTH. Those two things make the metal pliable and able to withstand every battle it’s called upon to fight.”
I’m still not completely out of the woods. But I’m real about fixing me.
There were some great successes from this year. Flatmountainliving.com is a proper online store and we have some amazing supporters – thank you to everyone that believes in where it’s going. Find Ventures is up and running and I have decided to move on to free up some capacity for other projects in 2020. I project managed and was part of the roll-out of an Africa Code Week project where our team exposed 8300 people to coding – what an amazing way to give back. My day job has been great and I’ve really found my creative feet again doing some proper strategic work for a dynamic organization.
My personal relationships are back to being truly meaningful again. For those people that matter to me, I’ve really focused and put in time to show that I love and care for them – I’ve been distracted for too long and now am pleased that I am present in those moments spent together.
It’s probably time for a re-evaluation of those big personal drivers for me: The Why’s that Drive Me and a deeper look into my values. But, I’ll leave that exercise for early 2020. Right now, I want to soak up the Cape Town summer and just have fun after a long-ass year.
Reflecting on 2019 has left me feeling really proud of how things have turned out. A lot has happened this year. Both unbelievable and really fucked up at times – I suppose everything in balance.