Should You Use the Force?

I have a confession to make:  I think I’m a real-life Jedi.

This past weekend, while making yet another drastic and unconventional decision in my life (booking a 2-week trip to South Africa that leaves TOMORROW), I started thinking back to all of the seemingly crazy choices I’ve made over the past few years and how they helped get me where I am today.

I’ve come to realize that the majority of the steps I’ve taken to create leveled-up life were in direct opposition to things like “rationality” and “logic”…and things worked out.  Honestly, every time I made a decision because it “looked good on paper,” things wouldn’t work out; compare that to the decisions made “because it felt right” (i.e. “using the Force”), which resulted in me finding success and more happiness than I previously thought possible.

Like Luke, turning off my targeting computer was the best thing I’ve ever done.

However, I am but a single Jedi. 

Does the Force work for you too?

Or does listening to that irrational inner voice throw you off?

Before we get to the discussion, here’s how my knowledge of the Force came to be.

Moving to California

After graduating from college, I moved out to California with my brother and took a stable job in sales because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do in the real world – I hadn’t yet learned of the Force.  We had an place sixty yards from the beach (the above picture was taken outside of my apartment), I drove around in a company car, and made more money than I knew what to do with.  On paper, everything was perfect: I went surfing every day, watched the sun set over the Pacific, and bought every toy, book, magazine, and video game I ever needed.

I was miserable.

After a year and a half, I flew back to Nashville (I went to Vanderbilt University) for a weekend reunion with my college friends, and two of them mentioned they were looking for a third roommate for their new apartment in Atlanta.  On my flight back to San Diego, I had a mini-panic attack on the airplane…and then had a single thought: “what if I moved to Atlanta?”

The Force told me that Atlanta was where I needed to be, and I immediately smiled.

Sure, I knew almost nothing about Atlanta other than the fact that my two friends were going to live there.  I didn’t particularly care for the city (having spent a few nights there in college), there was no ocean anywhere CLOSE, and I had absolutely no job or relationship prospects.  On top of that, I’d be giving up a great job with crazy benefits and leaving behind beachfront property.

It was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.

I walked into my brother’s room that morning and said “I have to leave.”  Within three weeks, I had job interviews lined up in Atlanta, I had let my boss know that I would be leaving within a month, and I began unloading all of my possessions that wouldn’t fit into my crappy car (which I would be driving after returning the company car).

After 18 months spent in California forcing myself to think, “Steve you have it made, find a way to be happy,” I woke up that day actually legitimately HAPPY.  As it turns out, the move to Atlanta was the change that I needed to start building something epic.

Starting A New Job

Before moving to Atlanta, I flew in a few weeks early for job interviews: most of the positions I applied for were in sales or consulting, two industries in which I knew I could excel, with big established companies.  On a whim, I also applied for a job with an incredibly small and relatively unknown company (which I found on Craigslist) that created “concert cruises” (seriously, concert cruises?) – this company wasn’t offering much money (literally HALF of what I was making in California) and was only looking for a marketing assistant.

Still, something about the company just felt right, so I applied.

While in Atlanta for my interviews, I sailed through the consulting and sales interviews with relative ease – I had the qualities and qualifications they were looking for, and they offered impressive salaries with great benefits.  After that, I went to my interview with Sixthman, the concert cruise company offering a much smaller salary and an usual job position, and was blown away…it was easily the best interview I have ever had.

The Force told me Sixthamn was where I was meant to work.  When they called me the day before Thanksgiving and said they wanted to hire me, I walked into my office in San Diego, turned in the keys for my company car, quit my job two weeks early, and scrambled to dump the rest of my belongings.  After 3,000 miles of driving in a car with no heat, I began my job with Sixthman in Atlanta that would forever change how I looked at life, business, and even relationships.

Sure, I had to live on a tight budget for three years, scaling back a lot of outside expenses to make ends meet and minimizing a lot of other activities that took up too much time and money.

I honestly couldn’t have been happier with my decision.

This is when I wholeheartedly put my faith in the Force and made a vow to use it from that point on.  I told myself that I would only make decisions that felt right; no matter how good the idea was on paper or how well I could rationalize in my brain, deep inside I knew the Force would guide me.

Nerd Fitness and the Force

I spent two and a half years working for Sixthman, spending 5-10 weekends a year on cruise ships in the Caribbean with musicians like Kid Rock, John Mayer, Zac Brown Band, O.A.R., Guster, and so on.  While working for Sixthman, I had been working on a blog as a fun hobby to help me pass the time – a blog dedicated to helping nerds get in shape.

After spending eighteen months building Nerd Fitness every morning before work and every night after, I had an epiphany one day at a bar in Cozumel, Mexico.  As I sat there with my dad and brother (they were guests on this particular cruise), I finally allowed myself to use the Force that I had been ignoring for months because I loved Sixthman so much:

  • Me: Dad, I need to quit my job.
  • Dad: Okay, what’s your plan?
  • Me: I’m going to turn Nerd Fitness into a business.
  • Dad: Do you have money saved up?
  • Me: Not much.
  • Dad: Do you have money coming in through the site?
  • Me: Not yet.
  • Dad: Do you have a backup plan if it doesn’t work out?
  • Me: No.
  • Dad: You sure about this?
  • Me: Yep.  This is what I need to do.
  • Dad: Alright, I know you’ll figure it out.  Good luck!

Two days later in Atlanta, I went to my bosses at Sixthman, eyes filled with tears, and told them that I had to leave the company.  With less than $4,000 in the bank and no income coming in, I set out to turn Nerd Fitness into the company/community/brand that you see today.  At the time it was certainly a risky decision (who gives up a job that sends you to the Caribbean to hang out with musicians all year long!?), but I knew deep inside what needed to be done.

18 months, 60,000+ miles of travel, and one awesomely inspiring community later, I don’t regret my decision for a second.

Why I use the Force

I now try to make all of my important decisions based on the Force, and I’m constantly reminded each time why it’s the right thing to do for me.

I’ve turned down lots of guaranteed-win opportunities while embarking on far more risky ones, simply because The Force told me so – It’s why I’m in DC right now, and it’s why I’m off to South Africa tomorrow…these “drastic” decisions just felt right.

Since becoming a real life Jedi, I’ve had countless friends and former coworkers come to me for advice on life.  When I ask them to explain their decision making process for whatever it is they’re struggling with (new company idea, relationships, etc.), they say something like: “well this one makes more sense logistically,” “it provides more of this,” “it pays more and has better benefits,” or “…but he’s got a great job and is really nice.”

I let them talk for a few minutes, and then I then I ask “Okay forget all of that.  Right now, lightsaber to your throat, what does your gut say?”

(okay so maybe I don’t say “lightsaber to your throat,” but maybe I should.)

More often then not, it’s something that they’ve been trying to rationalize themselves away from following through with.

Maybe it’s the way I’m wired, but I love the Force and think it’s something worth listening to.  The longer you ignore The Force, the quieter it will become, and the decision to use it will become riskier and riskier in your mind.  Unfortunately, if you spend too many years rationalizing your behavior of ignoring the Force, you may become completely deaf to it.

This is the life we want to avoid: one of ignorance, boredom, complacency, and mediocrity.  Life-Jedis don’t do “mediocre.”

Neither do Nerd Fitness Rebels.

What if the Force tells you to pick the difficult path?

This will probably happen.  The decision you’ll make when using the Force is probably the tougher one to make, which is why so many people ignore it:

  • You might need to get out of a crappy relationship that you’ve been stuck in for months.
  • You might need to quit just an okay (but not awful) job and move to a cheaper apartment.
  • You might need to get a second job waiting tables while building your future.

On top of that, you’ll probably have most people in your life telling you to be realistic…and ignore the Force.   Be careful here if you’re a Force believer, as more often than not, these are people who have already rationalized away their Force into obscurity and don’t want you to hear yours.

If you are faced with a tough decision, and The Force is telling you strongly to choose one path over the other, try listening to it.  Suddenly all of the extra decisions that need to be made are no longer decisions – because you’re doing what you know in your heart is right, they are now merely things that need to be done to get you further down that path.

One last piece of advice, if you plan on using the Force, do so quickly, as the longer you wait the more difficult it will become to implement.  In other words, rip off that band-aid.  If the “realistic” and “rational” decision doesn’t make you say hell yeah…it’s probably not the one that will result in your happiness.

And don’t we all just want to be happy?

Do you use the force?

I know the Force works for me; but does it work for you?

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts, both for and against The Force.  Can you think of a decision you made in the past where you listened to it, gone against rationality and common sense, and succeeded?  Or maybe an instance where you listened to The Force and things fell apart?  Hopefully we can get some good discussion going on this one.

Are you wired to go with your gut?  Or do you need to be more like George Costanza?

Does listening to the Force screw you over, or does not listening to it lead to regret?

Leave your story in the comments, I’m excited to hear your thoughts.

I realize this conclusion is biased, but you knew it was coming…

May the Force be with you.

-Steve

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