Life is made up of a series of moments.
Most of these moments come and go without making much of an impact.
Then there are the moments that shape our future and who we are as a person. These moments may not seem like much, but they end up rippling through your future for years afterwards.
It’s hard to tell if you’re experiencing a defining moment at the time, but when you look back with the clarity of hind sight, it’s clear to see which moments had a life changing impact.
These defining moments always have a few life lessons and gems nestled within them, so looking back at them can be valuable.
Looking back at my own personal defining moments I spotted a trend. All of my defining moments followed a decision, and in every case that decision scared the shit out of me.
Some of these moments were enjoyable. Most of them, I couldn’t wait until they were over.
One thing is consistent across all the defining moments of my life. I wouldn’t turn back the clock and change a thing, no matter how difficult some of these moments were.
Here are a few of my most defining moments, and the lessons I learned from them.
One defining moment that comes to mind is my decision to go to Texas for fire fighting academy.
At the time this was terrifying. Exciting, but terrifying.
The thought of travelling to the south end of a different country, renting an apartment and navigating my way through a very demanding academy scared me. The thought of doing it by myself scared me even more.
Using my trusty hind sight I can see now that I didn’t do it by myself. Sure, I went to Texas alone, but I made life long friends within the first 90 seconds (not even kidding). I also developed solid work ethic for the first time in my entire life.
The instructors at this school have all my respect and admiration. They played a huge roll in my development for many years following the academy.
I showed up to fire academy insecure yet arrogant, lazy and lacking focus.
I left with a new found pride and self esteem. I walked different, talked different, and approached everything I did with respect and focus.
The biggest lesson I took away from fire academy was ‘move with a purpose.’
When the instructors said ‘move with a purpose’, they meant to walk quickly, move with intention and never hesitate.
There were a few times I was caught moving without purpose. Let’s just say I regretted it. This regret came in the form of push ups and burpees while wearing bunker gear.
‘Move with a purpose’ is a lesson I’ve taken from the training ground in College Station, Texas to every area of my life.
The discipline to apply focus and purpose to every move you make has a massive effect on your efficiency and effectiveness.
While I was doing burpees in bunker gear in 110 degree heat I didn’t realize I was experiencing a defining moment. All I knew is that I wanted it to be over as soon as possible. But this experience changed the way I do everything.
Moving to Alberta
Once I finished fire academy it was time to find a job as a fire fighter. Getting a municipal fire fighting job in Canada is kind of like winning the lottery. It takes a long time, a pile of applications and a lot of money spent.
Luckily the oilfield in Alberta Canada employed thousand of firefighters to watch over frac sites.
I did a Google search and saw there was a company hiring in a small town called Onoway (Aptly named because there’s nothing there, but it’s onoway to wherever you’re going).
The company web site looked sketchy. It had that tile background that web sites in the 90’s had, but I didn’t care. This was a potential fire fighting job and I was excited.
I applied for the job and the next day received a text message asking me when I can come out.
A text message. Weird right? I thought so, but who cares, I had the job.
I moved out to Alberta on 100% credit. I had $0 to my name, but figured I’ll be raking it in pretty soon anyway.
I was living in a hotel which racked up my card pretty quickly but I expected to start work in a day or two. I was just waiting on the phone call.
My scheduled start date came and went with no call. It turns out this company was in it’s first 6 months of operation and had next to no work.
I went broke (actually in debt, which is worse), and stayed that way for about 8 months.
I faced a never ending series of challenges during my time here (I’ll get into these in more detail in the Cowboy Adventures of a Jacked Canadian Hipster series- one of these challenges includes me being homeless and sleeping on the floor of the gym) but the biggest challenge was being alone.
I had no friends or family in Alberta, and I often didn’t have cell service because we would be working in some remote areas.
I didn’t view any of this as a defining moment at the time, but it was possibly the most defining moment of my life so far.
It was during this time that I began to build myself into what I wanted to be. From the ground up, brick by brick, habit by habit.
I began meditating for the first time. This added a sense of clarity, calm and focus which was desperately needed.
I started to read psychology and philosophy. This has been vital in my coaching relationships and content creation.
Most important, I learned how to be alone.
Before I moved to Alberta I was constantly surrounded by friends or family. I claimed I was an extrovert which is why I liked to spend every waking moment with people around.
Really, I just couldn’t stand being alone with myself. In Alberta I was forced to be alone for days on end. This alone time is what brought on this aggressive process of self development.
These new practices laid the foundation for where I currently am now. I had no idea what the future held during these moments. I just knew that I desperately needed growth, so I started creating it. It turned out to be the most developmental period in my life.
During these 2 years in Alberta I wanted nothing more but for them to end. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade this time for the world.
When I left Alberta I had no idea what was next for me, but I knew whatever it was was on it’s way.
In October 2014 I had just finished up Emergency Medical Technician school and was working on an ambulance in north Dallas.
I was brand new to the USA and the state of Texas and was still getting my life established.
When scrolling through Facebook one afternoon I saw a status posted by a guy I used to work for in Canada.
He said he was running an online fitness coaching program and was looking for another fitness coach to assist him.
At the time I was still considering continuing my career in the fire/medical field, but I still had a ton of love for helping people through fitness. I decided to shoot him a message letting him know I’m interested in helping out.
This turned out to be a giga ton of work for not a lot of pay (I believe it worked out to be just a few dollars per hour), but it was a pivotal moment that ultimately changed everything.
Working on this fitness coaching program is what allowed me to really get my feet wet with online coaching. While I had an extensive background in personal training and had a tiny online fitness coaching ‘business’ set up, I hadn’t gone all in yet.
During this time I learned the importance of systems, and some of the best and worst ways to communicate with people.
I also learned how to create the framework for my own online coaching business which has only grown since this time. In fact, it was only a couple years ago that the thought of having my own full time fitness coaching business was just a fantasy in motion.
The greatest takeaway from this defining moment was a simple affirmation.
Throughout life I’ve noticed that when you want something but don’t make the focused and deliberate decision to achieve it, then you won’t. I’ve also noticed that when you do make a deliberate decision to achieve it, you do.
It feels like just a few months ago when I was riding the ambulance and imagining what it would be like to write and coach for a living.
When you decide to achieve something and make that decision with ferocious intention, the world seems to get out of your way.
Replying to that Facebook post was a small and simple moment that materialized into a life changing experience.
For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m in my river (as in, where I need to be, in the flow of my life).
It starts with a decision (usually a scary one) and ends up a defining moment. A moment that doesn’t seem special in any way, but ends up changing the course of your life forever.
Looking back over your life and evaluating these defining moments is something I have found to be valuable. Sometimes there are lessons and gems hidden in there that we haven’t realized yet.
If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to take a look back over your life thus far. Which moments changed the direction you were headed in? What lessons and life gems did you pull out of those moments?
The Jacked Hipster is dedicated to inspiring your personal progress and evolution. We do this through fitness, nutrition and lifestyle changes.
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