The month started out with some significant snow fall, backloading winter. It only made the desire for spring, undoubtedly just beyond the horizon, to grow stronger. By the end of March, I had been working on Proactive in a full-time capacity for 1 month.
On March 1st, we visited Black Rock Forest, but I couldn’t concentrate. The trail was snow-covered, and the views of the Hudson Highlands were vibrant against the blue sky and lively clouds. My eyes were on the views, but my mind was darting among the dozens of projects that we’d planned. It took a few days to get into a comfortable routine on days where I wasn’t hiking.
For the exception of a few very late nights, I haven’t slept past 7:00AM. I make the coffee and then I immediately get into something related to Proactive – there’s a lot to do! I have found it much easier to exercise consistently as (if I’m not hiking) I’m free during the times where I’m at peak energy as opposed to counting down hours in an office. The work is all-encompassing and sometimes feels overwhelming but knowing that everything I’m doing is personally beneficial and inherently necessary makes it rewarding.
Those first few days after I left the hotel had me thinking deeply about quite a bit. We live in a society where success balances on contradictory principles. If you take a risky path and decide to do something radical, some may see you as honorable, while others will see you as stupid. This all depends, after all, on the outcome of the risk; if you become a success then the risk was brave, but if you fail, well then, you’ll probably hear that you shouldn’t have ever tried.
How does one find out whether they would have been a successful without trying? There is no good answer to that question. You’re fate as a successful genius or a pathetic failure depends on whether you’re willing to find out to begin with.
Not to be mistaken, I understand that my situation leaves me well-suited to even try to strike out on my own. For people who have superseding responsibilities, I understand why a radical shift in direction could be difficult. It is sad though, that most people need to make a choice between providing for their family by clocking into a job they don’t necessarily find personal value in as opposed to pursuing any number of dreams they may have.
Society has always had a funny way of viewing jobs. I personally prescribe to the idea that any job somebody is doing, they should do it to the best of their ability. With that said, I worked “hard” as a hotel manager, but no matter how hard I performed, my true contribution to society was very minimal. Nevertheless, each week a paycheck arrived and so the work is considered honorable by others.
The funny thing is, I find that I’m doing more actual work now on Proactive than I ever did at a job! All the work I do now is on my own schedule, for my own benefit, and within my own parameters. I also feel that with all we have planned, my actual social contribution is far greater than it ever was as a hotel manager.
Understandably, attempting to build Proactive into a regional outdoor adventure brand from the ground up may seem confounding for some as I was making a decent living as a hotel manager. Why would I leave a well-paid position to pursue a dream that will unquestionably be very difficult to achieve? Because I’d rather work as hard for myself as I have for others in the past and I believe that hard work will ultimately pay off. All the while, I'll be doing something I'm passionate about, something I want to do.
From scrolling through Facebook on a recent Sunday evening, I came upon a lot of memes and messages lamenting the fact that Monday was rapidly approaching and that those who posted would need to go back to “reality” or work in a mere few hours. As Gary Vaynerchuk is always saying, nobody should be living for the weekends; yet, a whole lot of people seem to be.
Like a lot of people, especially before I had ever even conceived of Proactive, my entire life was based around the 45-60 hours I was spending at work each week. I work expend most of my energy and by the time my days off rolled around, I was exhausted mentally and physically. I would generally drag through my errands, spend a few hours with friends, and suddenly I would be preparing to go back to work.
Feelings of sadness, anxiety, and despair were commonplace when the sun went down on Sunday (it would likely be a Tuesday or Wednesday as I worked just about every weekend, but the same principle applies); I would worry about short-term workplace nonsense. The 48 hours most people have to themselves almost feels as though it is meant to keep you disorientated and without time to even consider other options before you find yourself dragging yourself back to work again!
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that not everybody feels so negatively about their work. However, for those of you who enjoy what you do – you’re in the minority. I also understand, as I said before, that a lot of people have extenuating circumstances that don’t allow them the ability to strike out on their own. For those people, I know you’re probably plotting about how you might be able to!
Since I’ve been working for myself, I still worry quite a bit. I worry about whether I’m effectively using my time properly. I worry about whether I’m efficiently budgeting. I worry about whether there is more I could be doing at that very moment to grow Proactive. One thing I don’t worry about is anything I would consider nonsense and that is refreshing.
I’m finding I feel better physically (also thanks to my uptick in hiking and physical activity), I am thinking more clearly (I have focus and a clear lack of nonsense), and I am finding that despite the uncertainty that I have taken on, I feel more optimistic about things than I did when I felt almost captive to the 24/7 hospitality lifestyle.
One of the long-term goals of a successful Proactive-AHW would be to become an escape for some of those who find themselves lingering in the despair-zone when it comes to their jobs. I have met many people since Proactive launched that don’t really enjoy what they do for much of their week and spend most of that time thinking about pursuing their passion.
From the early days, I have envisioned Proactive as a highly collaborative project and have called it a “blank canvas.” Being able to, one day, bring others into the fold and provide them an outlet, rewarding work, or a supportive community would be the ultimate sign of success.
Within the next month or so, I will be unveiling details on what Proactive plans to do to begin working towards that goal. For those of you who have already seen the plans and have supported us, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your support goes a long way. Stay tuned for some really exciting stuff. Be proactive, join the adventure.
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