“Only in hindsight will the miracles become obvious, will you see you were guided,
and will you find there was order all along.” – The Universe
AS A BOY
I remember, as all kids must, being asked, “What are you going be when you grow up?” As long as you have an answer (mine was “fireman, policeman, astronaut”) everybody’s happy.
When you don’t have an answer, no matter your age, 7 or 70, it’s as if alarm bells sound: “Oh, Mike doesn’t know what he’s going to be when he grows up. Mike, don’t you know you can be anything? Anything you want?”
That’s the problem! Too many choices. Along with the implication you could choose wrong! Every year the world changes so much. Wouldn’t it be a travesty, we reason, if we choose poorly? What if next year the Internet goes in a new direction, making our career path crystal clear. Maybe we should just wait and see what happens…
AS A MAN
Despite my fun answers as a boy, I grew up to become a certified public accountant, which, of course, was my choice, and frankly was a great thing for six years… until I wanted more. Not knowing what that “more” would be, I decided to force the answer by quitting my job at Price Waterhouse without knowing what was next.
Suddenly, the funk was on. I was 29 years old, without the self-confidence that came with working for a prestigious global firm and struggling to define myself to the world. For a long time I wondered if I had just made the biggest mistake of my life, leaving a salary that in today’s dollars would be six figures.
For months, unemployed, I snooped around for business opportunities, looking into franchises, attending fairs and tradeshows, and reading Fortune, Forbes, and similar magazines for inspiration. Nothing turned up.
Meanwhile, my brother had several freelance jobs working at Universal Studios in film production, and was simultaneously receiving monthly royalty payments of over $1,000 for T-shirt designs he had created back in art school!
Fortunately, while I was green with envy, my mom had a vision, and she urged, nagged, and begged us to start our own T-shirt company: “Mike, you’re the accountant, Andy, you’re the designer, and I’ll join you doing whatever I can to help!” I couldn’t really argue with her. Humbled, desperate, and in a fear-induced paralysis, I remember getting on my knees and praying before bed at night, “Dear God…”
After a wickedly slow start, our little T-shirt company had a great run (selling over a million T-shirts!). By the tenth year, as trends were declining, we liquidated to avoid going out of business. Ugh! What happened? I’m almost 40 years old, and I have no career momentum? I’m starting over again… and I don’t even know what I’m starting?
People talk about seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. I had no tunnel. I did have, however, enough money to coast for two years… but my mortgage was many times larger than my savings. So, I worried and wondered if the best of my life was behind me, with seemingly nothing in front of me.
I’d wonder: What did I do that I shouldn’t have done, that could have avoided this seeming catastrophe in my life? Or, what didn’t I do that I should have done, that could have avoided this nightmare? I remember thinking: Maybe this is the way my life was supposed to go (as if some things were predetermined, not).
Humbled, desperate, and once again in a fear-induced paralysis, I remember getting on my knees and praying before bed at night, “Dear God… I have no idea how I’ve created the mess I’m in, but I know what I want! I want enough money to not worry about losing my home (and then some). I want to have a rocking career, although I have no idea what that might be. I want to live the rest of my life surrounded by friends and laughter. And I want to start traveling again, internationally, please.”
Those were my wishes:
1. Wealth and abundance
2. Creative, fulfilling work
3. Friends and laughter, and
4. Traveling internationally, again
I most distinctly remember punctuating that prayer with a rather abrupt, if not annoyed, “You figure it out!” Not that I was angry at God. I was angry at myself for feeling so helpless.
LO AND BEHOLD, A MASTER PLAN EMERGED
Do you notice a common trait among my four desires? They’re generally stated! Not that I had any idea of what I was doing at the time. It most certainly wasn’t because I was clever. I was desperate and scared, having micromanaged the heck out of everything up until then, which at the time had seemed the most effective way to live deliberately.
I had already worn all the hats that seemed to suit me, but they no longer fit! I couldn’t think of what else to ask “God” for, in terms of details, so by accident, not knowing any better, at the end of my micromanaging rope, I got general! (Now I know, focusing on the “big picture” is step one).
In the days and weeks that followed my nightly bedside prayers, I instinctively knew (as do we all) that I had to maintain some sense of optimism and buoyancy. How might one do this? Vision boards! Reading favorite empowering books kept on my nightstand! Creative visualization! Fun pictures stuck on my refrigerator! Using affirmations! (Now I know, maintaining optimism and buoyancy is step two).
In those same days and weeks, I also instinctively knew (as do we all) that if I wanted my life to change, I had to show up in the world and take action. Get out of the house. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. I asked friends and acquaintances for help and guidance, knocked on doors, turned over stones, and rustled the bushes. (Now I know, showing up and taking action is step three).
I had a lot of sucky paths to consider, I guess we all do. But my least sucky paths were as follows:
- Go back into the corporate world
I polished off my accountant’s résumé and started sending it out, which soon made it clear that nobody wanted to hire me… probably because I didn’t want to be hired.
- Dabble with creative writing
I started sending out Monday Morning Motivators to the small list of email addresses I had from the t-shirt business, which eventually evolved into today’s Notes from the Universe – sent to over 750,000 subscribers.
- Become a webmaster
I created a website, designed my own “Ask Mike” section featuring questions I asked myself and answered, created some free e-cards, etc. and over years it evolved and grew into what it is now.
- Explore becoming a professional speaker
I joined Toastmasters, spoke for free at Rotary Clubs and Unity Churches, and eventually decided to launch my own “World Tour” – traveling wherever I wanted and telling people about it through the Notes.
To spare you the long and winding story, the steps above led me to record my first audio program, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams, which has been a perennial best-seller since its release in 2001 (over 250,000 CDs sold), and in 2009 the book edition was published, which debuted at #7 on the New York Times bestseller list. The upward spiral has taken my breath away! I’m now published by Hay House; I’ve spoken in 34 countries, on 6 continents, before hundreds of thousands of people; sent over 1 billion Notes from the Universe; appeared in the bestselling book and DVD, The Secret; authored 14 books (two of which are NY Times bestsellers) published in 25 languages. And perhaps, most incredibly, a few years ago, I finally got married and became a first time dad.
Whether you want to kick-start a new career, turn your passions into your livelihood, find your bliss, quit your day job, or create more joy and freedom in your daily life, you can do it (I did!)
You are adored!