I tend to believe that when it comes to success, whatever success may mean for you, you will fall into a grey area that I call a “purgatory”. It is the area between your old life and your new one. Let me explain.
You have a goal. For this example, your goal is to become a world class marathon runner. You love running. You dream, sleep, fantasize about running. When you are done running, you feel sorry and you want to do it again. When you have to take a day off, you feel withdrawal pains. This is the kind of dedication and persistence required to reach the top 10% in any field, no matter if you want to be a world class doctor or to break the record for the fastest marathon in your home country.
Then you have your environment. This includes other people, family, friends, the place you live, the type of behaviors you are surrounded with. On one extreme, in the left are people who do not care about running and find your endeavor stupid. They are actively discoursing you to give up. On the other extreme you have other people like you who are putting it in all in to achieve their goal.
When you are starting on your path to mastery, at first, you will be like everyone else. You’ll join others for drinks. You’ll have the occasional McDonalds. You’ll smoke and waste your time. You’ll be average and here average means like the average of your group. The more you dedicate yourself to your goal, the less you can relate to others. You don’t see the pleasure in doing what they are doing. You still have friends but you feel like you can’t spend 30 minutes with them without a sense of obligation to do so. Then, you will reach the other extreme. You will be surrounded only with people who want the same thing as you and with whom you can relate.
Then you have the middle ground. This is where you are working hard but you don’t feel a connection with those around you. You are putting in the effort but there is a strong lack of congruency between your environment and your actions. Maybe you are waking up each day at 05:00 to go for a run while your significant other is gaining weight by the month. You feel like you are not in the right place but there is no right place for you. You would like to spend your time with people who are healthy and take care of themselves but you don’t know any such people.
This is what I define as the purgatory. Is that section of life where you will feel extremely alone because you find it hard to relate with anyone around you but at the same time, you don’t have any better options. It is like a criminal that served his time and now wants to become a productive member of society, but he is still surrounded only by other criminals. He doesn’t want to do what they do but he is not accepted into the ranks of those he wants to be like either. So his only option is to distance himself from the old world while slowly progressing to his new one.
The life of an entrepreneur is like this. Entrepreneurs are obsessed. I’m using the world lightly here. As someone that can be considered an entrepreneur or at least, a professional, I can say that I dream, breathe, eat the desire to succeed in this field. I want to talk only business, I am excited to start my work day and at the end of the day, I’m sorry that I could invest only so many hours into my dream.
I am in such a purgatory. I am not interested in what I was interested before. I used to like movies, video games and having fun in general. I don’t anymore. Those that I’ve met, I’ve met when it was a different version of myself. I bonded with them because then I wanted the same thing as they did. Now, I want other things while they’re the same. At the same time, my phone doesn’t ring inviting me to cocktail parties and business conferences. Nobody invites me to dinner to take me as a mentee or simply have a pleasant evening discussing business and self-improvement.
As I have said, the purgatory. Going back means that I will not feel lonely but I’ll give up on the obsession that is helping me grow daily. Moving forward means working hard enough to get remarked by those that I want to associate myself with. The space between, the transition is a space filled with a lot of solitude (the good kind), looniness (the bad kind) and a lot of self-discovery.
I am not saying this to bitch. It is a normal process. It is not just about me or some fictional runner. Couples that become parents are in the same situation. In the past, maybe they were the soul of the party, drinking scotch and dancing on the table. They’ve built a circle around shared interests. Now, they are most interested in their child while their old friends are still partying every night. They can not go back to the party life nor will their friends become interested in children overnight. So, until they meet other couples that embraced parenthood, they are in the same purgatory of not belonging anywhere.
I’m not making qualitative judgements here. I’m not saying one is better than the other. I’m saying simply that when you make major life changes that change your values and your daily focus, you will not belong anymore to the world you’ve belonged before. At the same time, the world to which you want to belong will not open its gate overnight.
Thinking about my romantic relationships of the past, a trend surfaced. I attracted high quality, mature woman that also felt alienated to the world. I’ve attracted a lady that wrote several books, an amazing young lady that was or is a programmer, a ambitious woman that left her home country and started a new life somewhere else and others following this trend.
I attracted people that were in a purgatory of their own. They could not relate to their old life nor did they acclimated to their new one. And there is a conclusion to this … a quite important one.
We will attract in our lives the people who match the phase of our personal development. Mature people attract other mature people. Successful people spend time with successful people. Lazy people find comfort in other lazy people. It is not looks or age that makes two people come closer (in the case of a romantic relationship). It’s their deepest value at that given moment and how they interact. The same is true for non-romantic scenarios too. People build tribes, no matter if it is out of five or five hundred around shared values and principles.
The hardest time to attract them is when you’re growing, in that period between “I’m not doing anything” and “I’ve arrived”. But if you keep working at it, the floodgates of abundance will open and you’ll be rewarded with the environment that you deserve.