I recently came across a powerful quote that gets to the core of what lead me to start this blog:
“It’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb, than half way up one you don’t.”
When I was in my mid-20’s, I went through something of a quarter-life crisis (apparently this is typical after crossing the threshold into adult life).
Appearances can be powerful, and as appearances go, I had it all figured out. I had a house, I had a budding career in the stable and well-compensated IT field, and I had a healthy social life filled with friends and family. I was young, healthy, and (by conventional measures) successful.
However, I felt an undeniable emptiness inside. This void was occupied with a persistent angst about what I was doing with my life. Was I really meant to spend my formative years of adulthood working at a job that left me feeling at best varying levels of indifference, or at worst burned out and depressed?
I was climbing a ladder I didn’t want to climb, and it was a scary realization.
What do you do when you determine the things you’ve worked for largely conflict with the things you want? It’s a huge problem with no single clear answer. It’s such a massive problem that it’s hard to know where to even begin addressing it.
To cope with this problem, I constructed an internal dialogue focused on guilt and shame. This gave me space to convince myself that I should be happy with what I had. But as it turns out, it only made things worse. I was denying myself the ability to be honest with myself. And that is a classic recipe for unhappiness.
What I was failing to understand is that my crisis wasn’t fueled by a feeling of entitlement. On the contrary, it was fueled by a paradox. This paradox was created when I sought out the things I thought I should want, thus leaving no room to understand what I actually wanted. As a result, I felt trapped and helpless.
In an attempt to unpack what this meant for me, I started journaling.
When I found myself feeling motivated or inspired, I’d get my thoughts onto paper. I’d do the same when I found myself feeling anxious or depressed.
I remember writing in my journal one evening after a particularly bad day of work. As I wrote, I was overwhelmed with frustration and anger because I knew there was more to life than the stress I was feeling at my job. I needed to reclaim control of my life in order to move beyond it.
There had to be a way out, and I needed to find it. On this particular evening, I believed with every fiber of my being that I would find it.
If I can pinpoint the beginning of my shift upwards, this was it. It didn’t matter what there was for me to learn. What mattered was opening up my mind to finding it. As it turns out, a closed mind had been a primary barrier to achieving a happier life.
Through my journaling, I discovered a love for writing.
And through the curiosity that my writing fueled, I discovered ideas, concepts, and people that resonated deeply with me. Over the years, the journey has taken me to incredible realizations, places, and accomplishments.
Reflecting back on my journey, there are three themes that combined to bring me to where I am today. These are the three overarching themes that will be incorporated into the content you will find on Shift Upwards.
- Money Mastery: Making the most of your financial situation to achieve more freedom and flexibility
- Mindset & Habits: Developing a balanced approach to achieving your goals.
- Lifestyle Design: Building the pillars of your life around the things you value most.
These three topics are closely intertwined.
Money alone does not buy happiness, but it can be used as a powerful tool to build a happier life. We are socialized to believe that we never have enough, that we must always be buying more and upgrading our lives. But the power of money does not lie in its ability to buy stuff. The power of money lies in its ability to buy freedom and to buy time. Mastering money will help you achieve this.
To build the lifestyle you want, you need to identify what you value in life and build around those things, spending money on the things that matter and eliminating expenses that don’t align.
You need to understand your social and personal mindsets and how to balance the two of them to ensure decisions are being informed by your genuine values, instead of what you think you should want or what others in your life say you should want.
But all the knowledge of money and mindset will do no good without building habits to engrain it into your life. If you don’t build habits, it will be difficult to sustain forward momentum. Without building habits, you might get energized by an idea, and work feverishly for a short period of time before burning out and abandoning it.
Looking back on my life – the ups and downs, successes and failures – being able to connect the dots on these these three is powerful and helps me pave my path forward.
I am still learning and growing, always trying to shift further and further upwards.
I don’t have it all figured out, and I never will – it’s impossible. But I will spend my life figuring out as much as I can. And I will use this blog to share my learnings, successes, and struggles along the way.
Always be shifting upwards.
And remember that it’s never too late to switch to a ladder you actually want to be climbing.