Note: One year ago today, I left my corporate job to pursue a full-time writing career. I wrote this essay reflecting back on the last two years of my life.
Two Years Ago
My mother died two years ago. Her death was a life-changing, horrific experience for me. But it was also the impetus of every change, big or small, that has occurred in my life over the last two years.
If you would have met me twenty-four months ago and told me how my life was going to change in two years, I would have laughed in your face and called you crazy.
But truth be told, good, bad, or ugly, nearly everything in my life changed in two years, and I’m a different person now because of it—a better person after going through these changes.
Two Years of Change
My mother died on October 8, 2009.
I took my first difficult steps into minimalism by letting go of sentimental items.
I sold my three bedroom suburban house and moved into a smaller apartment in the city (Dayton, Ohio, that is).
I realized that minimalism is not a radical lifestyle, so I fully embraced it.
I took a lot of action to make changes in my life: I got rid of my television. I got rid of the internet. I got rid of time. I got rid of gifts. I cleared my plate, so I could live in the moment. I donated 90% of my stuff. I stopped upgrading. I started taking my own advice. I began spending time in solitude. I stopped trying to be cool. And I just stopped trying all together.
I helped my best friend, Ryan, embrace minimalism and live a more meaningful life.
I met and became friends with Colin Wright who was the first person to introduce me to minimalism. He also inspired me to move my writing into the online realm.
I started theminimalists.com with Ryan.
I quit my job.
I got rid of some fairly pernicious relationships that were preventing me from growing.
I strengthened and changed many of my most important relationships and developed some meaningful relationships with new people.
I met some incredibly authentic people who have shaped my life.
I found new ways to add value to people’s lives.
I got into the best shape of my life.
A few of my essays were featured on Zen Habits, In Over Your Head, Illuminated Mind, Becoming Minimalist, 100 Thing Challenge, and dozens of other websites (including an interview in the Wall Street Journal).
I wrote four books, including the best fiction I’ve ever written.
I turned 30 years old.
I met and became friends with Leo Babauta who inspired me to live with no goals.
My best friend left the corporate world to help grow our business together.
We grew our website to more than 100,000 monthly readers who spend more than 11,000 hours on our site per month.
Our first book reached #4 on Amazon in its non-fiction category.
My first fiction book reached #1 on Amazon’s Bestselling Short Stories list.
And I discovered what it meant to live a meaningful life.
Learning from Mistakes and Bad Choices
I write this all not to impress you. Rather, I want you to know you can change everything in your life in a year or two.
I’ve also made a lot of personal mistakes and bad choices, all of which I’m grateful for because they’ve allowed me to learn more about myself and grow as an individual.
Everything changed for me in two years. It’s not easy, but we can accomplish much more than we believe is possible. We can live a meaningful life by taking tiny little actions each day that have a significant long-term impact on our lives.
Living a Meaningful Life
Ryan and I wrote about our troubled pasts in great detail and discuss how we changed our lives in less than two years in Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life. Feel free to pick up a copy for $7.99 (originally $24.99) if you’re interested in reading more.