How to transform your life, if you want to
Often we hear of transformations that are one-dimensional, i.e. a person loses tons of weight or gets rich. When I hear of such examples, I am left wondering how the rest of his or her life is going. Are they actually happy?
Recently, I ran into a fellow coach in one of my professional development classes, who not only got my attention because of his personal and professional transformations but also because of his charismatic and non-judgmental style.
His name is Dave Walker and he’s a career transition and “Halftime Life Journey” coach as well as a storyteller and professional speaker. His writing includes blogs that describe his personal experiences and knowledge; he is writing a book “Tell Me Why I Now Love Mondays” that shares what he learned from his mid-life transformation.
The story began seven years ago when Walker woke up one Monday morning (his least favorite day of the week), deciding he had had enough of his life and couldn’t take his consulting job any longer. He had recently hit 265 lbs, drank too much, lacked energy and motivation, felt isolated and disconnected from his friends and his family. He didn't know it yet, but he was clinically depressed.
Dave Walker is a career transition and “HALFTIME Life Journey” coach as well as a storyteller and professional speaker. His writing includes blog posts that describe his personal experiences and knowledge; he is writing a book “Tell Me Why I Now Love Mondays” that shares what he learned from his mid-life transformation.
That day, he went to work and asked to quit. He said it was scary, as he had a family to support. Instead of accepting his quitting, his boss offered him a new role in another division—which Walker describes as giving him a “sense of relief” and validation. Walker took the job.
Then, one and a half years later, after a divorce that left him a single parent, he stood looking at himself in the mirror, and he had another self-revelation.
“I’m going to die of a heart attack and I’m going to leave my kids without a father,” he said to himself.
The thought was so horrifying that he put on his roller blades and started exercising. Yes, roller blades! You see… Walker loves having fun. As a matter of fact, fun is one of his motivators. He says it’s one of the ways of making things easy and sustainable. He also loves to connect with people and facilitate groups; he does so by creating workshops and writing.
Forward five and a half years--or seven years since he woke up on that fateful Monday morning wanting to quit his job--Walker now weighs 195 lbs and feels passionate about his career. He wakes up feeling excited, even on Monday mornings. He feels close to his kids, his extended family and his friends. He’s even found a partner, with whom he feels a deep connection.
So I asked him, if he could give us three tips or take-aways to make transformational change in our lives, and he gave me the following:
1. It’s your choice: His first point is that change is only possible when we want to change. I call this “hitting bottom” or reaching such a painful stage in life, that it is unbearable to continue in the same way. “I was tired of giving up on life,” he says.
2. Don’t take on the world: Change starts with just one step at a time. Walker divided his life into four quadrants: 1. Career; 2. Self; 3. Family and friends; 4. Soul mate. He focused on only one “quadrant” at a time.
“I see people who are not taking care of themselves, and I just want them to understand the concept of putting the oxygen mask on themselves first,” he says.
He believes that it is important to start with one’s personal and professional foundations in order to have the energy for the other quadrants.
“We often try to start with the others and run out of steam,” he says.
Each change gave him the energy to make further changes.
“I was like a kid each time I hit a new quadrant."
If he had tried to do everything at the same time, it probably would have been too overwhelming and would have deprived him of the energy and motivation needed to accomplish the things in the other quadrants.
To illustrate this, Walker describes how after he lost the weight, his suits no longer fit him, prompting him to order new ones in the same cut as those worn by Daniel Craig, the James Bond actor. Walker (a 007 fan) admires Craig’s portrayal of Bond for his vulnerable yet tough image.
Wearing his new suit, he took a selfie. When he looked at it, he thought he resembled Craig. This external change gave him the confidence and courage to tackle internal areas.
“I became addicted to change,” he says.
3. It takes time, effort and grit: So for the past seven years, Walker has been getting to know himself and as a result “feels like he’s been more in his skin.” He’s built momentum, allowing each change to lead to another. Now, he’s focused on writing his book describing his transformation, on coaching his clients, running workshops, public speaking and working on building his business. He admits to some fear associated with the financial end of things, but he is confident that by applying the same determination and commitment that he placed on the other quadrants of his life, he will attain his new career goals too.