5 steps took Corey Jahnke from misery and blame to a life of joy and gratitude.
I couldn’t believe how hard my hands were shaking.
I felt like my blood pressure was 500 over 500, and my heart was pounding so hard that I expected it to leap out of my chest and land on the floor.
I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in more than a week.
I felt awful.
I had just had yet another argument with my supervisor about cutting staffing. I was a Pharmacy Manager/Pharmacist at a super busy chain store and several months earlier, I had drawn a boss who wasn’t a pharmacist, he was an administrator, and all he cared about was short-term profits.
My wait times at the pharmacy counter had already gone from 20 minutes to well over an hour and my customers had gone from “singing my praises” to lining up to yell at me.
I felt defeated.
I placed my keys on the counter in front of him and I took three steps towards the door, when an image of my wife Tonya, and my son Christopher, popped into my head.
“If I quit or got fired for insubordination, how would they eat? How would we maintain the life we’ve built?”
I turned around, put the keys in my pocket, and somehow made it through the rest of my shift.
I felt humiliated.
When I got home, Tonya asked me to watch the movie Marley And Me with her, and since I had no idea what else to do, I sat there like a zombie until I started bawling uncontrollably.
I felt like an idiot.
There is a scene in the movie where Owen Wilson is sitting in his driveway and he doesn’t want to go into his house because he hates his life.
I felt like that guy.
Tonya, who in 18 years together, had never seen me cry, panicked and said: “You know I love you don’t you?”
I responded coldly, with the unthinkable.
“Don’t ever say that to me again! It’s because of you that I have to keep doing this!”
I’ll NEVER forget the look on her face.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I wanted the Earth to open up and swallow me whole.
I don’t know how well Tonya slept that night, but I didn’t. I milled around my own house like a stranger in a strange land, and at some point, out of pure exhaustion, I plopped into a chair by the fireplace and sat there for hours with millions of random thoughts firing through my head.
I felt lonely and confused.
Fortunately, one of those random thoughts saved my life; “Do you really want your beautiful 7 year old son to grow up without a father over some stupid job?”
IT FELT LIKE A SUPER NOVA HAD GONE OFF IN MY HEAD!
It was as if I was Indiana Jones in The Temple Of Doom, and Short Round had just intentionally burned me so that I would awaken from “The Black Sleep Of Delhi”.
I noticed a coffee cup on the kitchen counter, and I realized that it was just a cup. My couch was just a couch. In fact, my house was just a house.
I had been killing myself, over a job that was killing me, just so that I could maintain “all of this stuff”.
I remembered hearing George Carlin say that a house is nothing more than a pile of stuff with a lid on it.
I realized that over time, my fear of losing “all I had gained” had become my goal.
That goal sucked.
I made a decision that nothing I owned was worth the price of worrying how to keep it.
I resolved, that if I had to, I would live in a one-bedroom apartment and sleep on the floor.
I felt free.
I promised myself that I would create a new goal; a goal I could be proud of. I realized that if I wanted my life to get better, I had to get better.
I felt optimistic.
Here is what I did:
1.) I apologized to my wife and promised her that I was a changed man.
2.) I took a spiral notebook to a restaurant 90 minutes from my house. At the top of page one, I wrote the sentence: “If my life were perfect in every way it would look like this…” and I kept writing until the notebook was full. In a sense, I created my “dream life” in advance.
3.) I practiced imagining my dream life until it became so real that I could taste it.
4.) I hired a coach to help me turn my “dream” into a 10-year action plan.
5.) I did at least one thing every day to move me in the direction of making that plan a reality.
I am now five years into my plan, and although I still work at the same place, my boss has moved on and I have learned to focus on the things I love about my job; my customers, and my coworkers.
My family is doing well, and my writing, speaking, and coaching business is beginning to take off.
I feel great!
Looking back on it now, if there is one thing I have learned, it’s this
Your current conditions and circumstance do not define your life. They are only the sum total of the decisions that you have made and the actions that you have taken.
If you want to change your life, you have to start by changing the way you think about it.
Photo: Flickr/Sam Catanzaro