Why long term plans and expectations will destroy your happiness

When I was 18, I studied at a top musical theatre program in the United States. I was on track to be a performer on Broadway. I was dedicated to honing my craft as an actor/dancer/singer, especially after graduating from a prestigious performing arts boarding school on a scholarship.

Funny thing about the college musical theatre program is that it was a cut program. There were 120+ freshmen aspiring to major in musical theatre. Through a series of auditions, the professors cut the class size to 10 students by junior year.

The environment was highly competitive and stressful.

Adding onto the stress of this program, I started to grapple with my sexuality. I realized my attraction to men and I hated myself for having feelings that I thought were unacceptable.

Over a short period of time toward the end of freshman year, I got cut from the musical theatre program and moved back to my family’s home in Las Vegas.

My anxiety increased exponentially and I suffered several severe panic attacks.

I gained 40 pounds from the medication that was prescribed to me and I became extremely lethargic.

I had no ambition to do anything with my life anymore, I didn’t have any back up plan, and I didn’t know what to do.

I was sent to see a talented LGBTQ therapist who helped me grapple with coming out. We also devised a short term plan for me to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas while I sort out what to do longer term.

In the first semester of sophomore year, I hated college and I still had my dream to perform on Broadway.

I decided to purchase a roundtrip ticket to New York City to try out for the national tour of Grease. At the audition, I had to perform a fast jazz dance combination.

The caliber and stakes were high.

In the middle of the audition, I fell on the ground and tore my ACL, meniscus, and fractured part of the bone near my knee. Being overweight and immobile for months was a blow to my ego.

I went back home to Las Vegas and spent two years in a depression while I continued studies at UNLV. Smiling and feeling an ounce of joy was physically impossible sometimes.

I challenged myself to explore alternative career paths and switched majors five times in college.

I took a course in psychology and a bright, lightbulb turned on. I found human behavior extremely fascinating, and studying psychology allowed me to better understand my challenges and mental barriers.

I decided to declare psychology as my major.

Before graduating, I took a course called motivation and emotion where I learned about positive psychology and human potential.

This class inspired me to set new goals and create a life centered around joy and pleasure.

I steered away from pursuing clinical psychology because it usually focuses on negative behaviors and what’s wrong with people.

Positive psychology asks, “what do you love?” instead of “what’s wrong with you?”

I graduated college in 2008 with a bachelors in psychology. Then I went on a road trip throughout the western U.S. to explore and decide how to begin a new chapter.

After visiting friends in Portland Oregon, I knew that’s where I wanted to live.

Without any money in my bank account, I did anything just to get by. I took a part time job at a local gym as a front desk receptionist, taught myself how to network, and improved my social skills since making friends was always a challenge for me as a shy gay man.

I landed an internship at a local start-up company which turned into a full-time role. I worked side-by-side with the original founder of PetSmart in his new start-up venture.

During free time outside of work, I honed my business, marketing, and communication skills with pioneers in the online education industry like Ramit Sethi, Lewis Howes and Vanessa Van Edwards.

After working at the start up for three years, I decided to leave so I could knock off two items on the bucket list I created for myself after college:

1. Become a certified yoga instructor
2. Save someone’s life

I went through yoga teacher training at one of the top ten yoga studios in the country and they offered me a teaching gig after the program ended.

Shortly after yoga teacher training, I rebranded YourSuccessLaunch.com with the mission to teach mindfulness and social skills to courageous gay men and ambitious adults.

The business has reached a global audience with readers and students in the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and Canada.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be featured in the Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Amazon, LifeHack and the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network.

One of my readers, Greg, recently wrote me an email saying:

“Max helped me believe in myself and understand how past bullying, emotional abuse, and feeling “not normal” for being gay have shaped my ability to trust in true friendship, but it was his guidance and thoughtful questions that helped me see my thoughts and anxieties in a more manageable way and put a plan into action. This is a really good place to be.”

This message is a testament to my mission: to serve gay men and courageous adults who’ve experienced shame, low self-worth, and trauma because I know what it’s like to suffer and I believe that people deserve to live with peace, happiness, and joy.

If I save at least one person’s life in this mission, it’s a journey well spent.

Coming out of the closet as a gay man, getting cut from the musical theatre program in college, getting injured at a Broadway audition, and spending two years in a depression were huge setbacks that led me to become stronger and happier in the long run.

I share this story with you because I thought the only route to happiness as a teenager was to be heterosexual and become a Broadway performer. My mom once told me there’s no blue print for life. When I finally realized the truth in this statement, it made complete sense.

Lesson: There’s no blueprint for your life.

Anxiety and depression are extremely challenging and debilitating, especially amongst gay men who deal with shame and low self-worth. Whenever I turned to qualified, talented therapists (the word talented is key, not all therapists are good at what they do), my mental health improved dramatically.

Lesson: Get help when you’re in the shit-hole (pardon my language, but seriously).

Stumbling upon psychology, yoga, and the online education field was completely unpredictable. My perspective expanded when I realized alternative interests and passions aside from musical theatre.

Lesson: Expose yourself to new opportunities and perspectives.

Self doubt, loneliness, and insecurities still creep into my mushy, brain every now and then. It happens. We’re only human.

When I prioritize mindfulness and self-care, these issues dissipate and I feel awesome again.

Lesson: Meditate for ten minutes every morning, make friends with people who support you unconditionally, surround yourself with a loving community, eat healthy food, exercise, practice yoga, and aim for a minimum of eight hours of sleep every night. If you slip on the sleep one night, make up for it the next night.

Your Success Launch has an amazing supportive community where we help each other accept ourselves unconditionally, make friends, and get confident. If you haven’t joined our free exclusive Facebook group yet, join now and you’ll get access to the group within 48 hours.

From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate your energy and dedication to growth.

At the end of every yoga class, I usually say “The light in me honors and bows down to the light in you.”

I sincerely honor your strength, courage, and perseverance to live in your truth and be 100% honest with yourself even in times of challenge.

I believe you have the incredible ability to live with peace, happiness, and joy.

Peace and gratitude,

Max

  • Rebounz

    Appreciate your comment about recognizing there is no blueprint. I like the idea of living life in themes rather than concrete long term goals.

  • Thank you Rebounz :) Themes are a lovely way to shift the perception of how we make goals and look at living our lives.