When I left Los Angeles in 2009, I wasn't just leaving a city; I was leaving behind almost everything I owned.
I'd been an entrepreneur for what seemed like forever but had only begun to see financial success a few years prior. I used money to gauge my self-worth, so that payoff felt good, but the moment I had the chance to step back, I realized that my achievement had come with a cost.
My health was suffering. My relationships had become superficial. My sense of identity and worth were inextricably tied to the number of digits in my bank account. This should not have come as a surprise. I was, after all, getting maybe four hours of sleep per night, eating whatever I could grab in between meetings, and carrying a worryingly high level of stress all day, every day. But recognizing what my life had become in the pursuit of that cash-centric definition of success was still a shock.
It's amazing what we have the capacity to ignore when we focus on the wrong things.
This all changed when I stopped and took a look at the bigger picture. The increased context allowed me to see where my life was headed and helped me realize that the dreams I'd been sold were misaligned with what I actually wanted out of life. Not wanting to spend any more of my time pursuing goals that were never really mine to begin with, I gave myself a deadline. In four months, I would leave LA to start pursuing my actual dream: I would start traveling the world, full-time.