What I Did When I Realized That My Work Was Pointless

I have worked hard at every venture I put my mind to.

In the past, I’ve tried to build up multiple start ups from the ground. I tried to swerve my way to financial success.

I wanted to have it all. 

Money. Power. Respect. 

In my journey, I’ve had anything that could go wrong… Go wrong on me. I was in a situation where I was experiencing Murphy’s law first hand.

I lost the woman of whom I loved with my whole heart, that I had intended to marry.

I tried to become a real estate mogul. I was on track to selling 25 $300,000 homes a month.  I tried to build a respectful broker dealer / BDC (Business Development Company).  I tried to expand an entertainment company to achieve new heights.  I tried to create a leading edge lead generation firm.  I tried to boost a musician’s career to heights that only a professional could accomplish.  I tried to make a discount membership a national phenomenon, or at least a state wide success.  I tried to create a platform that would revolutionize the nightlife industry and solve the problems many consumers face when booking a party.  I tried to rescue a bar and bring it back to life.   I tried to rapidly excel my career at my job.  I tried to create a fashion line with a backbone engraved within philanthropy. 

I tried to have another successful relationship.

I tried everything, yet I failed. I failed at it all.

Sure, at first, I was on track. I was gaining traction. Momentum was picking up. The future looked as if it would bring eminent success.

But something always went wrong. In no particular order:

  • I messed everything up.
  • The global economy collapsed.
  • The timing wasn’t right.
  • The company messed up on accounting so money went missing.
  • A business partner would endanger the company by embezzling funds and using them to cover their personal expenses.
  • A business partner would want to change directions in a whim against everyone’s will.
  • Someone would have a personal vendetta to take me down.
  • The company was underfunded.
  • My programmer ran off with the money we paid him without delivering the program we paid for.
  • My investor got cold feet.
  • My ego got in the way.
  • I was betrayed.
  • My business partner used me to create a business outline then betrayed me to do it on her own.
  • I was sued.
  • And the list goes on…
Something always seems to have gotten in the way on my journey to success.

My journey to have it all…

Filled with expectation of being part of the next big thing, I was left with nothing but disappointment.

I was left with nothing but broken dreams.

Each day was excruciatingly painful. I attempted to rise up above the situation and win.

I couldn’t.

I couldn’t go on any longer. 

I Lost Everything.

My home. My car. My friends.

I lost who I was.

I lost my will to live.

I wanted to end it all.

Nothing seemed possible anymore.

Failure seemed evident.

I would never succeed in life. I would never have power. I would never be rich. I would never find the love of my life.

I would be in a life with one end result.

Failure. 

Failure followed by death.

I couldn’t ask for advice. I couldn’t get myself out of a slump. I couldn’t find a reason to keep trying.

So, after experiencing failure after failure, realizing I had no purpose, I could only think of one thing to do.

To quit.  Forever. 

So I did.

I plotted out a scheme.

A scheme that would no longer have anyone require anything of me. A scheme where I would never have to worry about falling short upon my goals ever again. A scheme where I would never be a burden to anyone.

I decided that it was time for me to take my own life.

I figured that I couldn’t be a part of this world anymore.  I felt as if I was lost and would never be found.  I knew that no matter how hard I tried to achieve success, I would always end up right back where I started, with absolutely nothing…

I plotted for weeks on end trying to figure out the best way to go.

What could I do to guarantee my suicide would be a success?

Should I jump in front of a subway train?  No, they slow down too much at each stop. They don’t accelerate fast enough to be deadly enough to ensure death.

Should I jump in front of a train?  There are no trains in Southern California…

Should I jump in front of a car?  What if he were to slam his brakes? I would be seriously injured and in the hospital, worse off than I was.

Should I cut myself?  No, I’m too scared of pain.

So I calculated for weeks. After carefully analyzing each scenario, I figured out the best way to go.

Then I decided to write and send out goodbye letters to all the people dearest to me.

My letters basically summed up the following points:

I failed at my life.

I lost everything I valued the most.

I had nothing.

I tossed in the towel.

There was no reason to keep moving forward.

I was ready to go. I was ready to end it all.

It was November of 2011.  I was ready to take my leap of faith.

Is there really an afterlife?

Only one way to really find out…

I planned it all out.

I went to work, thinking this was my last day on this planet. I sat at my desk, knowing this would be my last time I would see anyone. I was going to take the bus to downtown, then jump off the bridge to the 5 freeway and land into an oncoming car going 65 mph.

It would be all over now.

Never again would I ever feel any type of pain of disappointment.

But then… While I was at work… My ex called me.

She said she was going to pick me up from work.

She forced me to get in her car.

She forced me to stay with her all night.

She told me of how stupid I was.

She told me about all the people who would be miserable if I was gone.

She basically saved me.

From there, I had no clue what to do with my life.

What was my purpose?

Why was I alive?

What is the meaning of life?

If I failed so much, will I ever succeed? 

I used that time, what you may consider to be my mid life crisis, to answer these questions.

Whose fault was it that I couldn’t succeed?

Was it the fault of my network? 

No. I am friends with some of the richest, most successful people in southern California.

Was it the fault of the economy? 

No. Only when it came to real estate and stocks. That was just horrid timing.

Was it the fault of my consumer base?

No. Consumers were spending money. The market was moving.

Was it me?

After a long hard reflection on my life, I realized that I was the person who got myself in this mess.

I once heard a quote, “Where you are today is exactly where you are supposed to be.”

My decisions, my ego, my high expectations, my naiveté, and my philosophy led me to my ultimate demise.

I had to change, or I would be forever doomed.
  • First, I stopped spending all my money erratically on alcohol and women.

I started to save money. I saved money for rainy days.  I put money aside in a 401k.  I started investing in the stock market.

  • Then, I reflected back on every event in my life.

Never had I done this before… As when one event collapsed, I was on to the next.

I watched the actions I made in my life as if it were to be a movie.

I figured out every mistake I made. Everywhere I let my guard down. Each careful plot that was made against me.

I carefully analyzed why each scenario ended the way it did.

I started to learn more about myself and who I was. I tried my hardest to reflect upon my whole life, from being a young child to where I was at that moment.

This process took well over a year to figure out, and I’m still not done. There are many years of hardship that I have wiped out from my conscious memory that I need to dig deep to find.

Thank you amygdala, or lizard brain, for burying tragedies deep within my subconscious…

  • I picked up an attitude of gratitude.

I started to appreciate what I had. Not what I lost.

  • I took time to find joy in the little things in life.

The squirrel that hopped into the tree at work. Analyzing the leaves changing color on a daily basis, or watching how a fruit grows. The hummingbird sitting on top of a branch.

  • I started exercising.

I walked at least a mile a day.  I used the time to clear my mind.  It also helped me slightly get more in shape.

  • Then I lowered my expectations on life.

I stopped expecting anything from anyone. I was out on my own and I knew that the only person I could depend on was me. I didn’t expect to reap rewards for any of the seeds I had sown.

  • I stopped allowing money to define who I was.

I thought the world would only value me if I was rich. I had to come to the realization that money is nothing more than a tool. Not a definition to who I was.

  • I became humble.

No longer did I want massive success. No longer did I fight to achieve it. No longer did I walk around with a huge ego.

  • I cared.

No longer were my selfish needs at the top of the priority list. I decided it was in my best interest to help others, not myself.

  • I rebuilt lost friendships.

I apologized for who I was. For the actions I made. I rekindled friendships that were once lost.

  • I accepted help.

I realized I have my limitations. I reached out for all the help and support I could get.

  • I started documenting my life journey.

The writing helped me realize, in detail, what I had learned. It help me relive each moment, taking time to figure out exactly why each event happened.

  • I found joy.

I realized that in the grand scheme of things, the most important thing in your life are your health, your family, and you friends. I put their interests above mine.

  • I started to help others.

I became selfless.

I wanted to improve the world, slowly. I reached out and provided support where I could.

I have found a new journey to pursue, and I hope that I could make an influence in the lives of other hopeless people, who have felt like the loser that I have became in life.

But at times I mess up. Just this week, I decided to join a dating platform called Coffee Meets Bagel. This application matches you up with ONE person each day at noon. If you both click like, you get a phone number.

I clicked like on three women, all of whom I would’ve never seen myself ever approaching in my life just to see if the application worked.

None of them clicked like back.

My hopes of ever finding someone to love me were destroyed. I was once again a depressed hopeless mess.

Last night, I deleted the app and I just wanted to cry.

This morning, I tried to be grateful for everything in my life, but I couldn’t. I was too sad about what had happened. It was a very gloomy morning full of disgust.

Then I wrote this and felt better.

Thank you for asking me this question Pankaj Kadwadkar! It helped me reflect back on why I shouldn’t be bitter about the circumstances of life that I can’t control. It helped me realize how far I have come.

It helped me realize, that if I’m always going to be poor and alone, it will be okay, because I should have no expectations out of my life.

However, if I do end up finding someone, or a ton of money gets placed into my lap, I won’t hesitate to have a little celebration. Yay!

Originally posted on Quora.

Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.

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4 Replies to “What I Did When I Realized That My Work Was Pointless”

  1. Nice post. Very real. I don’t know you, but for what it’s worth, I’m glad you didn’t “end it all”.

    I’m a father of five who definitely has his challenges, believe me. Money’s tighter than ever and things don’t always go as planned to say the least.

    But *most* of the time I’m happy despite it all.

    This is one of my all time favorite guides for being “happy”.

    “TWO RULES FOR HAPPY LIVING

    “1. Be able to experience anything.

    “2. Cause only those things which others are able to experience easily.”

    If you think about it, it covers everything. You can’t go wrong with it as an approach as long as you do both.

    It’s from L. Ron Hubbard, the guy who founded Dianetics and Scientology.

    I would also recommend one of this books, A New Slant On Life. It has a chapter on “Is it possible to be happy?”

    It’s a very good book. Here’s a link to it:
    http://www.scientology.org/books/catalog/scientology-a-new-slant-on-life-paperback.html

    It’s helped me “keep it together” in more ways than I can say.

    There were more practical answers per “square page” in that book than just about any other I had read.

    Hope this helps.

    Keep your head up and try those two rules. 😉

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