Forcing Function: 90 Days to a Decision

As mentioned previously, it has taken a long time to settle on my next full-time role. Following a period of professional experimentation that turned into full-blown commitment phobia, I have finally given myself a firm deadline: 90 days.

While these past nearly four (!) years since I left my last CEO position have brought the kind of freedom I once dreamed about, I’ve also learned that the risk of paralysis between projects is real and dangerous. With no forcing function to choose a next step, I was guilty of over-analyzing all options and comparing each of them to previous gigs.

No longer the broke, hungry young entrepreneur, I now live in beautiful Marin county, surrounded by soccer games and middle-aged triathletes. I’ve had a whole football team of people to support the navel-gazing lifestyle: therapist, trainer, yoga instructor, life coach, chef (trust me, it goes on in even more embarrassing directions). I had become one of the lotus-eaters from Homer’s Odyssey.

Now whosoever of them did eat the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus, had no more wish to bring tidings nor to come back, but there he chose to abide with the lotus-eating men, ever feeding on the lotus and forgetful of his homeward way.

While some of my guy friends tell me I’m suffering from a severe case of “affluenza,” I’d argue that my problem is not about money, but too much comfort. I had the same issue when I had a “comfortable” job early in my career. The underlying question is: how do you break out of crippling patterns of ease and security. Where does the catalyst come from? I could go on forever in the beautiful ether with no grounding, but would end up medicated in one way or another, possibly becoming the Hunter S. Thompson of greater Marin.

I thought I had checked the box on success and was on to other bucket list items (“Invent next turducken” still not complete), but slowly became miserable. I was at home more often, but less happy when I was there. Outside of family, purpose was fuzzy (no “homeward way”) and I was trapped in the American Dream, filling in life’s gaps with empty-calorie activities.

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And I wasn’t paying enough attention to life’s bank statement to see the shrinking balance. As Seneca said:

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”

Pity is the last thing I expect. I’m not that self-absorbed. Instead, I’m hoping you’ll help hold me accountable to my time frame and my goals.

I’ve only been “on the clock” for a week, but so far, so good. (“Bought whiteboard: check, Publish blog: check, Have second thoughts about arbitrary timeline idea: check.”)

Reservations aside, I’m awake, purposeful and have numerous interesting conversations going. Instead of considering all options, I am forcing myself to whittle down the list aggressively – make choices, stick with them and figure out what matters most.

I want to get back at it. I miss the fight, the blood and sweat. Climbing a mountain with a tribe. The burning desire to build something is still in me at 41, and I can’t meditate my way past it. And frankly, I don’t want to.