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This is a guest post from Greg at lilmanIT.com

“Once you’ve done the mental work, there comes a point when you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line.” – Phil Jackson What you have to understand is that all grinders are fighting a war of 2 fronts:

  1. The Daily Grind: This is the grind you think you’re trying to escape. The one you see everyday. This is the alarm going off every morning, getting up, going somewhere you don’t want to be, and figuring out ways to stop this pattern.
  2. The Existential Grind: This grind is the real beast and the hardest to beat. It is the grind that is comprised of who you are and who you want to be. The internal manifestation of you.

The Battle Begins

braveheart

I started battling my Existential Grind on December 15th, 2009 at 3:06pm. But in order for you to understand how I remember that, let’s rewind a bit. 2009 started out as a great year. I experienced the greatest day of my life thus far when my wife and I exchanged our vows on February 16th.

While on our beautiful honeymoon in Aruba we discussed the future and how we planned on achieving our goals of children, a home, and careers. A week after returning from our tropical escape, my wife was laid off. While this put somewhat of a dent in the plans we discussed, I was still working a full-time job, so it wasn’t the end of the world. I simply told her we just have to be more creative in achieving what we want.

At the time I was working for a small IT consulting company, a job that I really liked. But it slowly began to deteriorate with nail after nail being hammered into the coffin. We let go of one guy, then another. We lost clients and then the owner decided it would be easier to just close the office and work from home. Soon after that he fired my manager, leaving me as the last man standing. My new reality was far from what I envisioned it was going to be, so I did the only thing I knew how to do at the time. I looked for another job.

This Can’t Be It

December 15th, 2009 was a month and a half after starting my new job. And it was on that day that I sat in my office looked around and asked myself, is this it? Is this what I have to look forward to for the next 40 years? I couldn’t comprehend being there for 5 years never mind 40 of them. I could no longer see myself climbing the ladder or having anything else to prove in the corporate world. It was at that moment that other thoughts and ideas began to surface. For a long time I had thought about starting a business, but always stopped myself with the typical excuses:

  • You don’t know enough
  • You need more experience
  • What do you know about business
  • You can’t do it

I was 27 years old but I felt like I was 17 again and asking myself, what do I want to do with my life? So it was at that moment that I opened Gmail and wrote an e-mail to myself. I reminded myself of all that I had accomplished thus far and all that I was capable of. I told myself what my next adventure was going to be. It was that day that I took on the challenge of battling my Existential Grind in order to find another way.

Peter Gibbons Had It Easy

Like Steve, I LOVE OFFICE SPACE!!! For anyone who has worked in corporate America it is a must see because we have all at one point worked for Initech. The main character, Peter Gibbons, hated his job, he hated the grind. But he never got the opportunity to actually battle his Existential Grind. He had it easy.

Unfortunately we don’t all have the luxury of being half-ass hypnotized like Peter Gibbons. The problem isn’t that we need to be hypnotized in order to beat our Existential Grind, we need to be un-hypnotized in order to free ourselves. We have to start looking beyond the template that we’ve been taught and have been living up to this point and realize our uniqueness and the value we actually are capable of bringing to others.

And ultimately we must come to the realization that we are our own salvation. It was 2010 that I began cultivating the skills necessary to embark on an entrepreneurial venture. I was like Johnny 5 in Short Circuit (Please tell me you’ve seen that one). I needed input and I absorbed every blog and book I could to help me on my new path, my new mission, my new adventure. But there comes a point when you have to put down the books.

Unfortunately, working in IT I tend to be too logical and I approach everything from a rational point of view. But for this next phase I have to learn how to trust my intuition and lead with passion.

Looking Down From the Top

ledge

February 16th, 2011 was my 2 year wedding anniversary. My wife and I went to Las Vegas for the first time. While there, we went to the top of the Stratosphere hotel where they have the Sky Jump Ride. Essentially you get to jump off the side of the building (108 stories) and land safely as your harness slows you down the closer you get to the ground.

It was really interesting being up there and watching people stand on the ledge, ready to jump. It is at that moment where your Existential Grind is working in overdrive. Fear leads to perceived rational thinking, excuses, and doubts. Right now it feels like I’m standing at the top of that ledge, looking down, ready to jump.

And even though I’ve tried to prepare myself for the moment both mentally and financially, the grind within me keeps fighting back. Because it’s not just quitting a job, it’s destroying a part of yourself that you worked so hard to be. The person who I want to be is fighting to the death with the person who I’ve been. One of them has to win and be victorious, the only question is which one.

Greg Miller runs Lil Man IT Consulting LLC in NJ and helps very small businesses leverage emerging technologies to compete with the big guys. He’s been working in IT for over 7 years and is now on a journey to become self-employed and end his grind of the 9 to 5. Keep up with the Lil Man on Twitter @lilmanIT and like him on Facebook.

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