“On the evening I returned home to find the sheriff’s eviction notice on my front door, I smiled. I smiled because I knew a secret… “–Walt F.J. Goodridge
If you’re hoping that one of the lessons I learned by my third eviction was “how not to get evicted,” then you might be disappointed by what I have to share. However, what I did learn may be more valuable to you if you are facing a similar situation.
Several years ago, in the process of transitioning from being an employee to being a full-time “passionpreneur,” I was, in fact, evicted on three separate occasions from three separate apartments. Once in the Bronx, New York, and twice in Silver Spring, MD. The records exist!
Not once during those episodes, however, did I doubt my decision to walk away from my well-paying civil engineering job to pursue my passion. Not once did I consider going back to corporate employment. Not once did I believe I made a mistake.
You see, from the very beginning, I saw my journey as a quest for freedom that was the equivalent of getting from one side of a deep canyon to the other. On the side I was dwelling at the time, there was the soul-draining unhappiness, restriction, sense of imprisonment and lack of fulfillment of my nine-to-five job. On the other side-where I really wanted to be-was the freedom of being self-employed, the fulfillment of living my function, and the fun of being in control of my days.
I knew there was a way to get from “here” to “there.” There had to be. I knew that every journey from point “A” to point “B” is nothing more than a series of steps. I knew that if others could quit their jobs and become successful entrepreneurs, then I could too. As a civil engineer, I knew there had to be formula. I knew was smart enough to figure it out.
So, on the day I returned to find the sheriff’s eviction notice on front door, I smiled. I smiled because I knew a secret. I knew that if my dream life existed on the other side of the chasm, I knew that the only way to get to the other side was to take the journey and risk the uncertainty and the fall. The eviction notice was a clear indication that something was changing. This was my fall. Bring it on, I thought as I smiled to myself!
By welcoming and enduring those changes, I came out on the other side with a few lessons. Here, therefore, are the things I learned from my evictions:
I learned about the reconstruction crisis
Based on what I had learned from the many self-help books I had read, and courses I had taken, I knew there might be chaos. I knew there might be drama. I knew there might be ups and downs. In fact, by the third eviction, I coined a name for it that I now share with my coaching clients who find themselves at similar crossroads in their own lives. I call it the “Reconstruction Crisis.” Here’s how I define it in Living True to Your Self:
“If you are living in a house and wish to build a bigger better house, it may be necessary to demolish the existing structure to its very foundation before you start building anew. In much the same way, once this creative universe we live in gets its orders from you that you want to change your reality, forces are set in motion that begin making the necessary changes in your life. If you’ve been living with people who think negatively, who are going nowhere in their lives, you may find that you argue more frequently. You may realize that a person you thought you knew, has grown in an entirely different direction from where you are now. You may have to make some hard decisions about who to keep with you on your journey, and who to leave along the way. If not, these individuals may hold you back from reaching your dreams.
Similarly, if you’ve found your self in a nowhere job, and you wish for the fulfillment and freedom of living true to your self, don’t be surprised if things start happening which lead to a (forced or voluntary) separation from your present place of employment.
These strange occurrences, which at first may appear to be the onset of chaos in your life, are part of a phenomenon I call “reality reconstruction.” It usually happens right after a new reality is wished for and committed to significantly.” [end excerpt]
Yes, my evictions taught me about the “Reconstruction Crisis.”
I learned there’s life beyond eviction
Being evicted is not a death sentence. As you think about it now from the safety and comfort of your home, it may seem that it would be embarrassing. It may seem that it would be humiliating. It may seem like the worst thing that could happen to you. Trust me, it is not. It is survivable. There are options. There are choices. For me, it meant living on a friend’s couch until I could see my way clear of the chaos. For others it may mean leaning on friends, relatives or the federal government. My evictions taught me that there’s life beyond eviction. I’m here as proof.
I increased my tolerance for risk and uncertainty
I knew intuitively that my evictions were the necessary path that life had carved out for me–or more accurately, that I had crafted for myself–by my choices here on this plane, as well as from on the “other side.”
Yes, my evictions taught me to live with a certain amount of risk and uncertainty.
I learned how to let go
I’ve learned that most all of life’s lessons are designed to teach tolerance, patience, faith and detachment. In the pursuit of freedom, function and fun (my definition of living true to my self), I can never be free if I am attached to anything. In the process of going through three evictions, I learned how to give up many things: my attachment to a particular definition of my self; my attachment to money; my attachment to what others think of me. All of these were weights and shackles that kept me bound. I had to let go.
Years later, this ability to let go served me well when I pursued my dream of being a nomadpreneur and escaped from America to live on an island in the Pacific. Yes, my evictions taught me how to let go.
I increased my confidence
My evictions–and the subsequent turnaround and upswing in my life–increased my confidence in what I was capable of enduring as well as what I was capable of accomplishing.
I learned how to conjure up money
Today, I live a magical life. Money comes when I need it-sometimes at the eleventh hour and last minute. My evictions taught me that I live in an abundant, supportive universe, and that money and assistance can come from the most unexpected places once I was free to recognize the source and my relationship to it.
You see, my three evictions taught me that money does not come from an employer. It does not come from a job. It does not come from people. It may come through these individuals and institutions, but it comes as a result of the value you bring and offer to the world. The people who hand you money are compelled to do so, and will merely be reacting in response to a natural law of exchange that exists in the universe.
Yes, my three evictions taught me that the exchange of value is the key to creating money. This brings me to a very important lesson.
I learned what I needed to do while couch surfing
The purpose of my evictions, therefore, was essentially to teach me a new way of being, thinking and acting. While I was surfing my friends’ couches, I was not looking for a job. I was not sending out my resume. I was creating a different concept of myself. I was creating a different relationship with money. I was creating value. I was building websites, experimenting with business ideas, creating products and services based on my concept of myself and the unique value I bring to the world. I was developing my passion. I was un-becoming an employee, and becoming a passionpreneur.
Yes, my three evictions taught me how to mine the value-real value-within me.
I learned the secret to it all
The secret to it all is this: I learned that you can achieve anything you desire if you have two qualities–courage and discipline. These two qualities are essentially two sides of the same coin. Courage is discipline in the face of fear. Discipline is courage in the face of distraction.
If, despite the fear, you have the courage to jump into the chaos to see where it takes you, and if, despite the distraction or derision of others, you have the discipline to keep doing so, eventually the dust will settle, the path will become clear, you will see what the chaos was creating for you in the reconstruction, and you will eventually discover the you you have been dreaming about is waiting for you on the other side of the canyon.
I learned to view them as friends
I think of my three evictions as friends who appeared in my life to teach me certain lessons. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
As I said, being asked to leave a place of residence because of failure to pay my rent is something that happened to me three times within the space of a few years. I joke that what I dreamt for myself was so different from who and where I was, that it took three different evictions to teach and reinforce who and what I needed to become in order to move to the land of my dreams. It was like taking a qualifying test-like the bar exam-if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. (If your life is going through a similar shakeup, let’s hope you don’t have to go through three of them yourself in order to get it right, but you never know!)
Of course, sometimes evictions bring with them the simple reminder that you need to live life more responsibly. Sometimes, however, evictions appear in your life because they are exactly what YOU have requested of the universe in order to shake things up, help you let go of limiting beliefs about yourself, about others and the world you live in, reveal your strength to you, place you in a different reality, and lead you to the life you’ve been dreaming of! Here’s hoping your eviction serves you well in discovering the real you!
Finally, for the record, I have learned how to create value and earn money to pay my rents (i.e. “how not to get evicted”). However, that lesson is not nearly as important as the knowledge, strength, perspective and attitude I’ve gained along the way. I’ve learned how to live true to my self so that my “evictions” (our new metaphor for the chaos of change) are not as drastic as they once were. However, as I evolve and redefine myself, if I ever find myself living my life in a way that is inconsistent with my ethics, purpose or the aspirations of who or where I want to be, another “eviction” may just be required to shake me up and set me free! That’s why they happen!
That’s what I learned from my three evictions!
p.s. This article was inspired by a friend who, right now, seems to be going through a similar reconstruction crisis. I’ll share with you what I shared with him:
“The symphony of change often begins with an overture of chaos. Listen to it well. Embrace it. It means changes are afoot. Run towards them as fast as you can! Resistance is futile, and simply delays the inevitable.”