Today I will tell you three stories.
Then I will tie them together and share a moral.
Hopefully you can use these experiences to enrich your life.
Let’s get started, shall we?
It is a week before New Year’s Eve, I am in Latvia. I had traveled to Lithuania to meet my mentor, who gave me some great advice, but one piece of advice in particular which blew all the others out of the water.
But more on that in another one of these stories.
I am swiping on Tinder, eager to meet some Latvian beauties and learn more about the culture and social circles here from the inside.
I had been on a few dates, one of them with a couch surfing host after I stayed at her place. She worked as a movie extra and a tour guide, so she had a lot to share when it came to Latvian culture.
One girl with very professional photos named Laima came up on my phone.
Some background on the name… Laima is one of three Latvian fate dieties, the one who takes care of destiny, luck and happiness. It is also the name of the national chocolate company. It is one of the most Latvian names you can have.
She also is a singer/songwriter, as it shared on her Tinder profile, with a great smile. So I swiped right.
A few days later she swiped right as well, so I asked her “Laima like the chocolate?”
And a connection was born.
Meeting her sister, her brothers, her producer at his wedding… Going to the zoo, the Laima (chocolate) museum… We made the most of the three weeks we would have to spend time with each other.
Travel accelerates things. I have written about how travel accelerates personal development and independence.
Now I write about how travel accelerates connection between people.
We spend many nights together, started watching a show on Netflix with each other and essentially formed a relationship for the time I had left in Latvia before my flight back to the USA.
The last 4 days we rented an AirBnB together and enjoyed each others’ company while we were both not working.
It was amazing, the most in-depth relationship I’ve been in (which is both happy and sad at the same time, I don’t think it’s clearly one or the other.)
As my time came up and I was a week away from leaving, reality set in. We realized this was not going to last unless we found a way to continue our connection long-distance. I, who had polyamorous relationships in the past, suggested we open ourselves up to other people while keeping our commitment to each other. To fulfill our physical needs while we are 5,000 miles apart.
In Latvia, relationships are more traditional. People don’t talk about non-monogamy much, except in close friend circles, and even then that’s moreso the foreigners that moved to Latvia in my experience. The culture mostly recognizes man/woman exclusively-committed relationships and not much else.
Laima was open, but she was not emotionally ready to embark on such a journey, even with my support.
So the time came where I had to leave, and we had some loose plans to meet up later in the year.
It grated on her psyche though, and she had trouble after I left focusing on her work. I decided to plan a Summer get-together sooner and called her to set up plans for a summer visit.
She was too frustrated though, and was not able to focus on her everyday life like she wanted. I told her I wanted her, and would continue building our relationship, and if she needed to make a decision to end her involvement I would honor it and move on…
I respect myself too much to invest in a one-sided relationship. I told her she could lean on me for a time while she was making a decision, but eventually she had to either meet me in the middle and commit too or call it off.
She called it off.
I packed up our memories, the ones I wanted to keep. Some I’ve shared, and some I will keep to myself. I put them in a special part of my memory, to keep the good ones alive and well, helping me see what a passionate, enjoyable relationship is like, and showing me it is possible to be loved and appreciated in a relationship, and that I deserve to feel loved.
And I moved on.
It was October 2017, and I was frustrated.
I was traveling through Colombia and I kept running against financial blocks. Completing video editing and graphic design work on Fiverr was paying off too slowly for me to fund my living expenses and travels.
In a month I would travel to Lithuania to visit my mentor, and every day I would send him a to-do-list on steroids, which we called a “Daily Report.”
- questions for advice
- a list of how I won the day before to solifidy in my mind the habit of achievement
- a to-do list
- a self-evaluation before I slept
- and more…
As I said… a to-do list on steroids.
And every week or two we got on a live call, just one on one where I would ask him for advice on what I needed to know.
“Matt! I don’t know what I’m doing with graphic design… Shopify is supposed to be a gold mine right now, how do I do that???”
He knew a guy (who I met in Lithuania) who makes $300k in sales or profit each month on his store. I remember it being profit but I’m not 100% sure.
He would say, whenever I asked something like that
“Joe, during our time together, you have changed your mind several times about what you wanted to do. If you stuck with ONE of the things you planned to do, you would be making $$$ right now. Just stick with ONE thing.”
And he was right.
This time I asked him about Shopify, since I lost focus on my graphic design/video editing business and had built a store where I sold my own t-shirt designs. I was asking him how to get traffic.
He gave me an unexpected assignment on something completely different.
“Joe, send me a spreadsheet with 150 reasons you can commit to something in general. And 150 reasons you can commit to graphic design specifically. Send it to me today.”
So I hung up and got to work.
An hour later, I sent him the Google Sheet with all 300 reasons.
My mind started solidifying in that moment, but it wouldn’t show tangible changes for a few more months, with results especially after the retreat in Lithuania.
I stopped getting distracted by quick fixes, narrowed my focus to just logo/branding design, and decided on a specific place to live after 5 months of constant travel. I will be moving there in the next few weeks as I continue to build my branding agency, Vigor Visuals.
It is the last day of the retreat in Trakai, Lithuania. Matt scheduled a one-on-one with all 16 attendees at the retreat, and mine as well as Giuseppe’s was to be in the sauna with our mentor at our final day celebration.
Matt had been telling me the whole retreat, among other, practical how-tos (including an easy real-estate business which takes $500k capital, very little effort but can make more than $10k a month in cash flow indefinitely) that I needed to focus. To focus and to cut out distractions.
And during our sauna sesh, while we both sat dripping in our bathing suits, he shared the same with me.
I needed to focus and to cut out distractions. One thing. Build up my graphic design agency to my pre-set goal and THEN I can think about other things.
These past few weeks, after I sold my logos for pennies for a while, I raised my price point to reflect the value I am giving and to enable me to make a satisfying living, and am following up on leads somewhat consistently. I also have a couple people each week reaching out to me on Facebook where I do most of my advertising, seeking to work with me.
I’m not where I need to be, but I am much closer to it, with a lot more momentum than when I started.
So what is the moral of all these stories?
In one word: commitment.
Commitment is power. When you decide to take something to the end, and to adapt to circumstances, finding your own way over obstacles, with enough time, willpower and money, you can solve anything.
It took Thomas Edison over a year of attempts to create an efficient electricity storage battery. He tried “several thousand” (quoted in memory by his close friend Walter S. Mallory) materials and “learned several thousand things that won’t work!”
He eventually created it.
Now sometimes, and especially in dating, there is an element of self-respect which comes into play. You must be getting a return of some sort to justify your investment, whether it’s an emotional return, financial return or otherwise for the effort, emotions, money or time you spend on a project or with a person.
If you’re getting a return on your investment, or are getting closer to a return on your investment, go ahead and keep your commitment.
If nothing is coming back from your efforts, sometimes you need to respect yourself and move on.
With Laima, she was becoming more distant and less available once I returned to the USA. I did what I could to patch the damage from my move to the USA, finding ways we could get our needs met with other people, creating future plans to meet up again and spend time together… But ultimately she had to CHOOSE to meet me in the middle.
We spent three marvelous weeks together, where both of our investments were met with a larger return from the other partner. Yet once I moved, I could tell she wasn’t willing to meet me in the middle. I was willing to let her lean on me for a time, but in the end, she had to be willing to meet me in the middle and invest in “us.”
I don’t fault her for her decision at all. I understand it. I may have made the same decision had I been her. In my decision to commit, it was contingent on her willingness to meet me in the middle and commit as well, which I made clear to her. In the end, I tried what I could, and am pleased knowing I exhausted my options and our situations just weren’t conducive to a win-win relationship.
As for my career path, committing to one thing has given me clarity, purpose, direction, stability and momentum. The more I commit to branding design, the more I move forward along the path and the more I gain in return in the form of clients, leads and opportunities. I am truly seeing how when some doors close, others open.
There’s much more to commitment I am learning, like how commitment and exclusivity are completely different categories and you can have one without the other.
But for now, I invite you to learn from my experience and take what you can.
Keep on approaching congruence, my dear readers,