I’m going through a breakup right now.
Not with a girl.
I broke up with a business that wasn’t just a business. It was a business I was going to share my life with. A business I’d wake up every day excited, motivated, fired up to put myself into. A business that kept me company through all of life’s tough moments. A business that made me feel like the luckiest man in the world.
A business that wasn’t moving forward no matter how much I’d refine my sales and marketing.
The decision to break up with it was easy. I didn’t resist it or rationalize reasons to stay in it. I took an objective, holistic look at it and at myself and realized we weren’t destined to stay together in the long run. Took me less than a day to pull the plug after that realization.
What IS difficult now, is starting from zero. The last time I’ve broken up with not just a life pursuit, but a life PATH was 3 years ago. Then, it was the typical “school then degree then well-paying career” path. Now, it was the “make a full-time income online like the Twitter gurus you look up to” path.
But I’m a hustler. I hate the idea of being a do-nothing loser. Work is what I live for. I understand that this breakup is a necessary step preceding me finding more meaningful work, a more meaningful life path, so while it hurts like a motherfucker, I own my decisions and their consequences. Staying on that path longer would have felt twice as empty and aimless.
As soon as I ended that relationship, I decided to be a male dumbass, and started putting together an action plan for my next big thing.
I took almost no actual steps on it besides studying the theory.
Here’s the thing:
I have a personal rule where I never FORCE myself to work on anything.
I’ve tried force as a motivator before. Force has only ever helped me produce shite-quality work that had no resonance to it.
All my best work comes when I feel that divine inspiration and act on it. Every newsletter I wrote in the last half-year of being a dating coach came from that genuine, intense, loving inspiration. I never forced myself to work on this business back in those days. I did it out of love, and I did it well.
So now I’m trying to pick myself back up, trying to have work days again, but the work days just aren’t happening.
These last few days, I’ve sat in front of my computer “working”, but not really. Whereas before, I could get 1k-word pieces done in a sitting or two, the couple blog posts I have in the works right now are moving forward about as quickly as a corpse.
So since I’m a good emotional problem-solver, I haven’t been beating myself up about my lack of productivity, nor trying to motivate myself to do anything. I don’t believe in motivation. I believe in responsibility. I believe that knowledge is power. I believe that if I was really supposed to be finishing these things, I’d already be working hard on them.
I’ve been asking myself what my needs really are, and how I can best meet them.
I’ve been rediscovering my identity outside of work.
That’s exactly the advice I would have given a guy going through a breakup, as a dating coach. Don’t attempt to go back to her. She’s your ex for a reason. When she left, she took part of you with her. It’s up to you to rebuild that lost part of your identity now.
I was in a relationship for 3 years before this week – with an online business. And that relationship went through a ton of seasons, a ton of struggles, but I never gave up when I faced a struggle. I took every challenging moment as an opportunity to git gud and deepen our relationship. Every time we faced a trial together, our relationship emerged strong and revitalized.
I’m unconsciously avoiding rebounds now, no matter what work I’ve tried or planned to throw myself into.
My guy friends mean well when they’ve tried giving me advice about what to do next, but they’re meeting me where they’re at, not where I’m at. They’re telling me to find something productive to do, take action and have faith, take up X skill/hobby, that if I want a high-quality woman, I need to be the type of man who’ll attract her, well no fucking shit.
Fuck you guys. It’s a fallacy of our male minds to think human, emotional problems can be fixed like a broken household appliance.
Right now, I need to HURT.
I wouldn’t tell a guy who just got out of a relationship that he needs to find a new girl to get super close to, and give him a step-by-step system to get her. For reasons I hope you already get, dear reader.
If a girl was telling her girl friend who just went through a breakup that she needs to put herself out there and find a new boyfriend ASAP, you’d think she’s a dumbass.
She should instead roll with the punches and surrender to where life’s taking her. Be okay with being single. Build up an identity for herself that isn’t dependent on the types of men she used to date, or on her ex-boyfriend. Then find herself a new man once she’s worked through all the baggage of her last relationship.
I’m the same way with my life purpose right now.
It hurts not to have one. Believe me, the stigma of working and hustling making you a man is far from lost on me. It’s a stigma I’ve bought into for the entire past decade, which has been mostly work for me – in sports and fitness, game, sex, relationships, my hobbies, and of course, work and business.
I defined my identity by work. I measured myself by how productive and competent I’d be. I measured other people by how ambitious and go-getting they’d be.
I was going to write an article about exactly that, but I already did that way back in the day. I can’t be arsed to try recreating my past, where one aspiration of mine was being a Mark Manson-esque self-improvement blogger. (that’s the life pursuit that eventually turned into my dating coaching biz!)
Just like you can’t go back to your ex and expect things to be different. They may be, but not in the “we’re actually a great fit for each other now!” way, more like in the “holy shit, this is much more of a dumpster fire than before” way. This is what people who avoid pain do.
Being single hurts because pain is a good thing. The pain isn’t my enemy. It’s the forging fire that’ll make me sharper, more integrated, and more effective, should I choose to embrace it for what it is.
I could write an entire blog post about that concept today or tomorrow, but I already did that too back when I was taking the first steps of my Mark Manson-esque life pursuit that would end up as benfoth.com.
“What are my next steps now?”
“How will I move forward?”
“What’s the action plan?”
I’m a man, so my brain is defaulting to this method of problem-solving and attempting to act on it. But my prescriptions weren’t what made me a competent dating coach. My ability to challenge assumptions and frameworks was the reason my clients got results.
Why do I feel like I need a life purpose to be happy, at least at this moment in my timeline?
What if the lesson I need to learn here ISN’T what work, what mission, what edge should be my next one, but rather to challenge my identity?
What if this time, I have to learn what kind of man, what kind of holistic person I am BEYOND my works and my missions and my edges?
Competent as I got at every mission I’ve pursued in my adult life so far, I’ve learnt that I can put a fuckton of reps into something, but if there isn’t a market that resonates with ME AS THAT, then I’ll hit a wall with it eventually and have to either stagnate or move to a new edge.
Still, I have no regrets about these aborted missions. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be as physically fit and strong as I am today (powerlifting training got me there!), I couldn’t give or take a hard hit (kickboxing training and putting YEARS of reps into my striking ability got me there), I wouldn’t be such a competent writer (guess how I got good at that), I wouldn’t be so masculine and attractive to women, and I wouldn’t have made so many memories that I fondly look back on.
So when I open up about what I’m going through to my guy friends, and their knee-jerk instinct is to try solving my problems for me, two things go through my head:
- FUCK YOU
- Why do you assume my problems need to be solved?
(though I don’t say this to their face. they won’t get it)
Half the fun of life is not knowing what to do next.
Half the fun of life is facing some unexpected bullshit with no guide out of it.
Half the fun of life is having seemingly insurmountable problems.
Half the fun of life is the damage, the trauma, the regrets, the pain and the hurt and the struggle.
Life would be no fun if it was easy and predictable, if there was a manual to it with step-by-step instructions on how to optimize every part of it.
But sadly, that’s how many people try to live.
The seasons of your life where you’re in great shape, successful on your path, great at seducing the ladies and befriending the gents, those are fun and all. They do make life worth living.
Too many people forget that the other half of life is lived in the struggles.
The times where you DON’T know what to do next. The times when you DON’T measure up, no matter how hard and smart you work.
The times where you lose part of yourself, and have to indulge the pain and move forward instead of being a little bitch about it (not the same thing as one-dimensional, purely logical problem-solving)
The times where the problems overwhelm you and seem impossible, then divine inspiration hits, and you gain the faith to keep going, or at least become a better person in their forging fire.
The times when everything’s falling apart and you just have to smile and bear it. Those moments of mine have been some of the fondest I look back on.
I used to think my life sucked because of my problems – I started losing my hair when I was 14, I’ve had a ton of emotional baggage and trauma, I used to be skinny and weak and the least athletic guy around, I had a late start in the social world and wasn’t cool in high school, I’ve lost much to addiction, and I used to be clueless and hopeless with the ladies. And that’s just the stuff that’s coming to mind right now.
If I could live life again, I’d make those same mistakes sooner. I’d face those same problems sooner. They made my life worth living as much as the “happier” moments did.
I’m reminding myself to love this Winter I’m in right now, and get intimate with it instead of closing my heart to it wishing it was different.
Not to force myself to be anything – a self-improvement guy, a guy who gives great advice, an ambitious young lad, a workaholic, a success, a dating coach, et freakin cetera.
It’s okay not to have it all figured out. It’s okay not to know what your next steps are. It’s okay for things to fall apart, because C’EST LA VIE. As long as you let yourself feel it for what it is, and take some real responsibility for it instead of blaming the world for your problems.
Life is cyclical.
There’s times of growth and challenge, times of abundance and adventure, times of destruction and loss, and times of death and reflection.
I’m single right now, both in terms of romance and in terms of life purpose, and c’est la vie. The only problem with it is assuming there’s a problem with it, assuming that your pains are meant to be fixed like a broken car, not alchemized like a burning flame.
Thank God I have a new problem to get intimate with. I’m without a life purpose for the first time in a decade. This is the type of singlehood I have no frame of reference in handling. It’s the latest trial of mine.
And I have no fucking idea how I’ll be alchemizing this one.
But it won’t be through being a workaholic again.
It won’t be through trying to avoid it or end it by finding something new to do ASAP.
I don’t know how I’m getting through this one, nor what to expect moving forward. I have no action plan that’s tried and tested and exactly what I need to follow to get out of this Winter into a new Spring.
I have a new, unexpected, unexplored, seemingly unsolvable problem right now.
And I’m a happier man for it 🙂
Yeah, that breakup didn’t last.