Almost every decision I’ve ever made to follow my passions and ignore my fears.
Turned down a great job offer. When I was 22 I turned down a slightly ridiculous £85k (about $135k) job offer. At the time I was subsisting off donated baked beans and struggling to get my own two-man startup off the ground. 11 years later my business is flourishing, I adore what I do and hope to never stop.
Went to a dance class. This lead to a fantastically rewarding obsession, massively expanded my circle of friends, gave me a new way of enjoying life and I met my partner there. This would be us dancing some years later:
Wrote a short story. Like many I had an idea for a novel that I just had to share, which lead to book / movie offers and conversations with some of my own favourite authors.
Spoke to the people I wanted to. It never ceases to amaze me how many people leave their friendships (and even partners) to chance – who we bump into, who we see the most often. When I’ve met someone who interests me, I make a conscious effort to engage with them, and that has made all the difference.
1: Asked a random girl on my MSN list to be my girlfriend. We’re still together almost a decade later, in a relationship which I would describe as my proudest achievement.
She’s now my wife. :D
2: Let my friends drag me along to a rock concert. Hello, lifelong passion for music! (I also approached the lead singer of one of the bands after the show, and we became close friends, with him becoming a rather important mentor/-figure for me for a few years of my personal development, both musically and otherwise.)
3: Started a website. I had one since I was a kid. I can’t remember why. I just thought it was cool. Somehow, the idea of maintaining a web presence appealed to me.
I think this shaped my perception of myself as a sort of “public figure” or a “man of letters”, and it would influence my personal philosophy- I tend to get very involved in all sorts of discussions, and one thing led to another and I even got invited to meet my country’s Prime Minister as a result.
My friends do keep me grounded by reminding me that I’m full of shit, and that thinking of yourself as a public figure is grandly delusional.
In 2005 I had a boyfriend who was a fan of programming competitions. Once I decided to try and see what is this thing which makes him wake up at 3:30 a.m. or rush home from mid-date in the evening to participate in a competition. I joined TopCoder.
The effects were not immediate but eventually my whole life took a different path:
I met a lot of exceptionally smart people, my husband and most of my friends among them.
I travelled to Las Vegas, Florida and Budapest for 4 different onsite tournaments.
I got several job interviews with companies I’d never thought about applying to otherwise, and in the end moved from Ukraine to USA to work for one of them.
Not to mention the resulting personality changes.
I was 41 years old and the first thing I did when I got out of bed was hobble.
I had plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the tissue that connects the toes with the heels. I also had chronic pain in my hip from frequent hiking.
I suffered from “monkey brain”, a perfectly named term that refers to being in a permanent state of frenzied distraction.
I can name other afflictions: struggle, stress, occasional anhedonia, anxiety, loneliness, melancholy.
I was in the midst of attempting to figure out what to do with my once fortunate, now tepid marriage and felt a general sense of crappiness.
On a whim, I walked into a yoga class. It’s not so much that I liked it. Rather, upon leaving I noticed a sense of peace that I had not felt for a long time.
So I went back for more.
Over time, yoga reversed the clock on my body. It not only made me calmer, happier and more grounded – I credit it for my sanity.
It taught me the power of my own breath.
Yoga is a practice. This means you don’t need to be good at it. You just need to show up.
It also means that if you show up, you will eventually be able to do things you previously didn’t think you could.
This is me. I’m 46 and thanks to deciding to try out a yoga class I don’t hobble out of bed anymore.