In both our on and offline endeavors, we will be hit with perpetual roadblocks and obstacles stemming from a variety of decisions. Note I stated decisions, and not circumstances. Life and challenges that accompany us with such decisions will hand us a two-way ultimatum.
Sink or swim, because those are our only two options with every single decision we make. Some may be acute, but others have long-lasting impacts.
This is because our own, personal decisions create our circumstances. Sure, we may be born into a particular circumstance but once we reach a maturity level where we can dictate our own decisions, such decisions create our circumstances.
They’re our responsibility.
Unfortunately, we’re all human and one of the most damning human traits is that we’re prone to making mistakes. Mistakes are a product of our decision-making, and such mistakes will lead to our roadblocks, challenges and obstacles.
Yes, it is true that good decision-making also leads to the same thing, but it’s a combination of each that will eventually do something that we, in foresight, never think is possible: To strengthen us as individuals in hindsight.
Thank Your Mistakes
Yes, you read that right. Thank your mistakes and thank yourself for making mistakes. Mistakes mean that you’re trying something, so even if your circumstances are worse off, remember that these are temporary in terms of the grandmaster scheme of things, considering you decide to work on overcoming such mistakes rather than simply sit and play the victim card.
For instance, I made a mistake in December 2016 which led to a downward spiral in my own life. Nothing major and I’m sure people have faced worse, but let’s examine just what the hell happened which eventually set me back almost three years.
Or did it actually strengthen me?
My Grandest Life Mistake
In October 2016 I started looking for an escape route from my personal training job in Weirton, which was starting to run its course. The goal was to move to a larger area and start over again from scratch, leaving my established training base (the Matthews Fitness Empire, if you read one of my previous articles) to find something newer.
For me, it was simply expansion. I had established my base from Wintersville, Ohio to the West Virginia-Pennsylvania Border (again, click the link to the backdrop of this article above), and was heading eastward.
So far eastward that I would move to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s South Hills, Bethel Park to be exact, and take my talents to two towns just east of the city. Fantastic area, by the way. I love the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh; for you fantasy fans, you’ll get your dose of rivers, mountains, and forests in good old East Allegheny and Westmorland Counties!
Anyway, back to the mistake at hand.
I had $10,000 saved up, and was ready to embark on a new journey.
Here’s a timeline of events that eventually forced the unthinkable to happen:
January 2017: I found work in nearby Whitehall, PA.
February 2017: I found the work in Whitehall was a poor fit, so I decided to buckle down and start driving a longer distance to Pittsburgh’s East Side in Murrysville and White Oak, respectively.
March 2017-July 2017: I find that I’m still not making ends meet, living an hour away from my hometown, and driving between 30-45 minutes to work each day, depending on traffic. In desperation, I hastily apply for a similar position in Pittsburgh’s North Hills, knowing the area is much more higher-end.
June 2017: I’m offered and accept my latest fitness job on June 1st, 2017, to begin officially on July 15th for presales. Now, I’m driving an average of 47 minutes from Pittsburgh’s winding South Hills to its open North Hills to begin yet another chapter within a six-month time frame.
October 2017: I move to Weirton, West Virginia, which is about 30 minutes from Pittsburgh’s Fort Pitt Tunnels and roughly 45 minutes from my home in Bethel Park. With four months left on my lease, I’m forced to make two rent payments from October through January. Needless to say, my parents weren’t happy with this.
The 2018 Debacle
But wait, it gets better and I promise, I’m not making any of this up. After a spat with my boss, I briefly leave the job for four days in October before returning due to their insistence it was a misunderstanding.
I’m talked into returning and do so the following Monday. At this point, with a job I’m lucky to have back plus a declining income, now at $3,600 from my original $10,000, I’m officially in panic mode.
November-December 2017: I see some good initial returns, which seeps into early January.
January-March 2018: Turbulence in the management department (or at least that was how I saw it then) cause sales to slow for both myself and the place. However, revenue isn’t where the bosses want it, so I’m forced to undergo a pay cut.
April-June 2018: At this point, a year and three months after I began my odyssey, my confidence is shot. Sales are still slow, no one’s coming into this six-month-old club, and I take yet a further cut, leaving me driving 47-50 minutes from my place in Weirton to simply even out, or even take a few losses. I’m starting to dig into my savings once more just to remain afloat.
July 2018: I leave my job for good without even prior warning, and even without another job, completely sick of my situation of driving almost an hour to and from work, putting wear and tear on my car, only to get a daily earful as to why sales have been slow. At that point, I was done, and still very self-righteous.
July-September 2018: I decide to work on my Lord of Columbia urban fantasy series, and in early August, soft-launch Northern Knights on Amazon. I also research ways to improve my blog, however my unstable bank account is growing more unstable by the day, sending me into a freefall from $4,700 (tax returns gave me some leeway) in my savings to roughly $3,600 by August. Not good, I know. Come September, I’m into the $2,000s for the first time since 2014, and again scrambling to find something that works, yet nothing is working. Not to mention I’m bringing in $0 in income at this point.
October 2018: I discover Wealthy Affiliate after reading a review on another Make Money Online System that promised awesome results, but had endless upsells. I see that Wealthy Affiliate is free to test without commitment, so obviously I’m hooked right away. I further discover that WA’s pricing is pretty cheap, but nothing I can afford at the moment, so I confide in my parents what has been happening the last three months and they finance me until I find work. I unleash The Helmet and Jersey Stop which was under a slightly different, broader niche back then. I also make preparations to launch a site dedicated to my book series to become a hybrid affiliate/own product site.
November 2018-December 2018: I find seasonal Holiday work at a local SmartPost about 20 minutes from my apartment. It rebuilds my savings from a measly $440 on November 1st to roughly $1,900 come my last day at the place on December 29th. On December 15th, I launch Book II, Swords of Destiny. I also take Northern Knights through a free promotion, where I sell enough copies to peak at #2 in my genre in the free section on Amazon.
2019: New Year, Same Old, or New Opportunity?
January 2019: I’m offered and take a permanent job at a place I’ll call Ann Arbor Industrials, my first permanent real job since September 2012, when I left a regional grocery store chain to become a personal trainer. Here, I start having flashbacks and very nostalgic moments back to my training heyday from 2012 to 2016.
February-May 2019: My work shift at Ann Arbor Industrials is from 2pm until whenever (sometimes as late as 3:30am…YIKES!). During this time, I continue to build my niche sites.
March 2019: I make a change to my niche, renaming my site The Helmet and Jersey Stop while keeping its GetProFootballApparel domain name.
April 2019: Missing in Columbia is soft-launched and the First Trilogy in Lord of Columbia is complete. Ditch Corporate America is launched.
May 2019: After months of endless self-debate I decide to start, or restart my personal training journey, however my training credentials ran out in September 2018 when I decided I’d never train another client ever again. Things changed over the past nine months and now the vigor is back. I decide to change certifying organizations to the Gold Standard ACSM, which was claimed in studies to grant personal trainers more knowledge than its counterparts.
June 2019: I leave my job at Ann Arbor Industries after saving enough income to last a few months, where I then have the freedom to work on both my niche sites AND return to my original craft of personal training.
July 2019: My Career Gets Going…Again
The Helmet and Jersey Stop makes more strides in traffic than I can ever imagine, leaping and gaining authority in the search engines while average traffic tripled over the course from mid-June to July. As for LoC and DCA, my recent successes at The Helmet and Jersey Stop shows that the techniques I learned at WA really do work, as does their keyword research tool, Jaaxy. The H&JS; sets a blueprint and foreshadowing for what will eventually happen with LoC and DCA; nothing but good things as 2019 enters its second half.
As for personal training, I can attest that I learned much more with ACSM than even what I learned during my “hands on” training phase in my four golden years as a personal trainer between 2012 and 2016, when the Matthews Fitness Empire began and gained strength.
In fact, the night before I wrote this article, I took one of the practice tests not just for CPT, but for their Ep-C as well, scoring an 80%. While I’d like to do better, to score highly on a practice exam without even as much as opening a text also gives me something to ponder about in my offline career as well as my online career.
Not only have I evolved as a fitness professional over the past three months, I have also seen so much increased traffic at The H&JS; that I now have a positive outlook in not one, but two settings.
Second Half of 2019: Leaping into 2020
After a two-and-a-half year struggle, where during the latter part in the Winter of 2019 I felt like a failure, trapped in a job I saw at the time no way out of when I was slaving away in a warehouse at Ann Arbor Industries, not knowing if any of my online endeavors were going to make it or if I would ever return to personal training despite my desires for the good to happen with both.
I asked myself, “Am I going to be just like everyone else? Am I just destined to have a normal job, slave away for a company for thirty to thirty-five years, retire, pay my taxes to the State, and die, like they tell you in government-run public schools?”
I think that’s what causes most to give in; to give up. We’re simply to the point to where we feel we’re destined to fail. But for those of us who persist, we know something that most people never stick around long enough to discover; that if we manage to play the game long enough, we’ll eventually find success, or success will find us.
As for fitness, the North Hills wasn’t my version of Waterloo. Instead, it was my winter hiatus, and the past year was simply Valley Forge. Tired, beaten, ransacked, demoralized, all the above, those were my feelings. Stressed, and on the verge of tears every single time I had to put on those steel-toed work boots, hard hat, and blue-collar uniform, working in a job I vowed I would never have to go to.
Wrapping it Up
I saw a lot of low moments in 2018, but I would say my lowest moments occurred in 2019, on January 31st, when I did a ride-along with one of our company’s truck drivers, as was required for the three-week employee onboarding.
Driving all over Pittsburgh, we had a single stop that became my biggest epiphany; a stop where my heart sank a few hours before when the driver told me where we would be headed on that snowy Friday morning.
The University of Pittsburgh.
It was here in 2014 I would go for a run with one of my best friends before they started school, when the Matthews Fitness Empire just started its peak phase and the seeds of potential expansion within the next few years were set.
It was at the University of Pittsburgh where numerous friends of mine went to school, where I’d see them again in the gym during the Holidays and over the summer between 2013 and 2016, when they returned to the gym party, as I called it.
I even knew a couple people who played for their sports teams, and I thought of them, too.
There they were, walking this campus, perhaps a few now working there, giving to the place and the surrounding community, and making a positive impact.
And here I was, in a semi-truck, delivering steel products to theater students. Seated for twelve hours and looking at a camera where when the red light kicked on, I knew I was being watched at corporate headquarters.
What the hell happened to my life and what the hell made me lose control of my life?
That twelve-hour ride-along symbolized the loss of control I had experienced in my life. And when we ventured into Murrysville, another fit of nostalgia plagued me; that longing to return to fitness flared up. And finally, before our last stop in Paris, PA, just a five-minute drive from my apartment (we passed the street I lived on), we ended up taking the back way, Old 22, back to the warehouse, as the sun set at 5:30pm on that January evening.
We drove past a state park and lake, where a friend of mine from a time that once was placed a picture of on their Facebook cover photo. That particular person, from age 19-22, became everything, in a way, that I was striving to become at 27 in a year when I’d later turn 28. Making impact after impact.
It was then I told myself this “failure” wasn’t going to define me. I don’t care who in my “past life” would see such turbulence as failure. I was at WA, where I had a supportive, online community. I was making new friends and meeting new people from all over the world.
And here in July 2019, the fruits of both my online and offline comeback are starting to pay off. They’re not over yet, but they’re starting to pay off.
So, if you’re feeling like a failure, disheartened, demoralized, trapped, out of options, let me tell you that there’s hope. There is hope that you will break free of Corporate America and set your own path.
DCA isn’t just a site that shows you how to succeed online and in life; it’s a site that motivates you to do so, and that’s the point of this long article. I wanted to share with you my own struggles, from glory to dormancy. From success to failure. And from failure to success.
I feel like the 1992 Buffalo Bills, who came back and won a Wildcard Playoff Game against the Houston Oilers of Old after being down by 32 points in the third quarter, or the 2016 New England Patriots, who won Super Bowl LI after being down 28-3 in the third. Or the Cleveland Browns, who are favored to win the AFC North here in 2019 two years removed from an 0-16 season in 2017, one of the worst if not the worst in NFL history.
Damn it, there’s hope. You just have to take action, be persistent, and see it through. Take another look at that ugly timeline, and listen to me: If I had to go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
As for blogging, I had a blog back then and it failed. I was scrambling back in August 2018 to make it work, but nothing worked and eventually I started The H&JS; with hopes it would work in conjunction with joining WA. It did work.
I thought I was done training clients, as nothing that I did converted into sales. Where was I falling short? Fast forward to May 2019, and I found the answer. Everywhere from pre-exercise testing knowledge to hospitality to customer service. No wonder no one bought. My services sucked, even if my training style and workouts didn’t.
Hell, it never was bad management or whatever other excuses I had cooked up.
Know what happened?
I grew. I had to take a step back, or even two steps back, to take multiple steps forward. And now that I’ve taken those steps forward, there’s nothing in front of me but green. Maybe I have another defender or two to beat, but let me tell you this, I’m in a much better position here in July 2019 than I was in July 2018.
And now that I know quitting is no longer an option, July 2020 and July 2021 are going to be a blast. Growing periods, yes. Obstacles, roadblocks, setbacks, yes. But it’ll be a blast.