I purchased a ticket to Portland this week. Not a one-way, "I'm coming back home" ticket, but rather a round-trip which will return me back to Maui a week later. It's a short visit for Thanksgiving, to see friends and partake in one of my favorite traditions - Red Friday. On that special day during which the mainstream media does its darnedest to remind American's to spend what little money they have on things they don't need – my friends and I opt to skip the mall and instead head out to Oregon wine country to sip pinot noir and explore smaller family-run vineyards which aren't typically open for guests. It's been a great way to discover smaller producers and some delicious wines, and I'm very much looking forward to it.
When I moved to Maui it was only going to be for the winter. Last winter that is. Obviously once spring had come around my attitude had changed and so the weeks turned into months, and here I am fast approaching my one year anniversary. Truth be told, prior to coming out for the winter, I had often remarked that in a "perfect world" I would split my time between Maui and Portland. I would love to own properties in both places, and then rent out my Maui residence when I'm back on the mainland or traveling someplace else. Alas, I'm not presently in the financial position to purchase a single home, let alone two residences. However, I've found that in life if you wait for the right moment to live the way you desire, you'll discover that moment never arrives. Opportunities rarely present themselves in an ideal form and it's nearly impossible to be totally prepared for any situation. The best advice I can give is "act as if".
When I first moved out to Oregon over a decade ago I worked for a couple of start-ups. It's was the early naughts and working for a start-up was the cool thing to do. We worked insane hours, made no money, had no real business plan and assumed we'd make millions. I was part of a group called "Starve-Ups" – a networking group of other start-up businesses and we'd sit around and discuss business strategies, learn sales techniques and plot how our companies would someday be worth millions. One or two companies actually did... most did not. After a few years of this and growing frustrated with the company I'd help build – I decided to quit a start-up I'd put several years into and go out on my own. I had no money saved up, no wealthy relatives (a somewhat common characteristic to many of the "entrepreneurs" I'd met in start-up world), no major clients to rely on, nor even a reputation to build upon. With no financial resources or major business plan, one could say I was the ideal "start-up" candidate. However, I didn't want to create a start-up, I wanted to own a business. A successful business at that. There was really only one choice – act as if.
When I started my company in 2007 I made zero mention of where it had come from or where it was going - it just was. I named it The Interactive Dept. and from day one acted as if we'd always been there. We weren't a start-up, I didn't announce a new company or contact friends and family to let them know I started a business. I simply filed the paperwork with the State and explained to potential clients that I wasn't a freelance developer any longer – I worked for The Interactive Dept. Even though I had never taken a business class in college and was little more than a junior web developer, I took on the roles of CEO, Director of Sales, Director of Marketing, Senior Web Developer, as well as accountant, custodian and anything else that was required.
Was I ready to start a business? NO!
Did I make mistakes? Tons!
Did it work out? Of course!
Today The Interactive Dept is a thriving web development studio, with over 45 clients and counting. Since I didn't take out loans or borrow money from family in the traditional "start-up" fashion, my company was profitable from day one. While I had no experience in many of the roles required to run a business, I learned on the job and fashioned myself into a solid business owner, a senior-level web developer, and most surprisingly to myself, a damn good salesman.
If I had thought rationally seven years ago about whether I was prepared or skilled enough to own my own business, I would have certainly passed on the opportunity. I'd most likely be working some crappy agency gig, or worse, sitting in a cubicle out on the Intel campus instead of at my desk here in Maui, overlooking the plumeria trees in my yard.
'Acting as if' does not mean lying or deceiving. It means taking a leap of faith and knowing that your raw talents and skills will rise to the occasion. It means understanding that opportunities can only present themselves from certain vantage points – most of which only appear when you are engaged in the endeavor you're attempting to find success in. It means putting your attention towards achieving your goals, not simply contemplating them. While thoughts certainly increase the probability of circumstance, thoughts combined with action literally transform your reality. By taking those first steps towards your vision, whether prepared or not, you inevitably attract that reality into your world and can then deal with unforeseen situations as they arise, all the while acquiring the skills, talent and connections required for mastery. Skills, talent and connections you couldn't have acquired sitting on the sideline waiting for opportunity to knock.
One might argue that I'm no closer to dividing my time between Portland and Maui today than I was a year ago. They could point to my bank account and complete lack of property deeds and say "you haven't achieved your goal." However, while they would be correct that I haven't achieved the ultimate goal, have I not spent the past ten months living in paradise? Did I not spend August in NY visiting family and friends? Is this not my second trip to Portland so far in 2014?
I split my time between Portland and Maui. It's my story and I'm sticking to it, as they say. Had I not taken the chance to leave Portland and live for several months in Maui, it would have simply stayed as a nagging thought, rather than the amazing experience it has been. I've landed one of my best clients ever out here, the world famous restaurant Mama's Fish House. I've had business dinners with two other clients who specialize in the vacation rental market and have asked me to get more involved in those businesses. I am slowly but surely finding connections and resources here on Maui that will inevitably lead me to some form of property ownership with the goal of renting out that property part of the year. As I start scheduling more visits to Portland I will figure out the best way to manage those trips as well. My office in Old Town was a great spot to stay last time, and I only see those opportunities growing as I visit more often. By simply living the way I desire as best I can in the current moment, I move step by step closer to the life that I envision.
We all have dreams. We all have a vision for a better life beyond the current cards we're holding. So often this other life seems beyond our capacity to acquire. We can see others who achieve it, but often use them not as inspiration to guide us, but for comparison to identify what we lack. The truth is, you lack nothing. The universe is abundant – there is no limit on potential – there is no finite amount of success. All you lack is the confidence to proceed, the drive to move forward and the courage to act as if. You needn't convince the world that you're ready... you need only convince yourself.
"The danger of venturing into uncharted waters is not nearly as dangerous as staying on shore, waiting for your boat to come in."
- Charles F. Glassman MD, "Brain Drain"