I've been ashamed to admit this for the longest time. I am self-conscious about the car I drive around. I've been driving a 1996 Camry that has over 200,000+ miles on it.
It's got a huge dent in the side of it. A bent antenna. The trunk doesn't work properly. It has rust spots in the hood.
When I got the car 7 years ago I thought I was the man. I had wheels. A car of my own. It meant so much to me to buy my first car.
But something interesting eventually happened. What was once a source of pride became a matter of embarrassment.
I started speaking more, I started getting featured in magazines, but as anyone who has actually made anything happen will tell you, when the press comes it doesn't actually mean you have made it just yet.
There was this huge conflict inside of me. Outwardly, I was starting to become championed, but inwardly I kept feeling more and more like a fraud.
Whether it's right or not doesn't matter. I attached my success and self-worth to driving a nice a car. A luxury car. I tried to fight it. But emotionally it was hard to stop that feeling. I know, I know. It shouldn't matter what car you drive. But it mattered (matters) to me. It was an outward sign of internal success to me. It just is. I hate to admit it. It's not the only thing I value. Having a nice car in a vacuum of not helping others to me would be a failure. I wanted to help others in a big way AND achieve this goal. I didn't want to see them as mutually exclusive. I've been able to impact over 200,000 people through my speaking engagements. I am VERY proud of that.
But I still felt so embarrassed at the idea of pulling up to campuses and seeing students driving nicer cars than I did. It was an emotional thing. Not intellectual.
So when I did my presentations, I would rent cars. Even if it was a local talk. I couldn't bare the risk of someone seeing me driving my car. If I had meetings I would park blocks away to cut down on the chance of someone seeing me.
I frankly couldn't understand how so many people had nice cars on the road. I couldn't afford one. Or I couldn't justify spending that much money on a car when I felt my money was better spent elsewhere, (specifically investing in myself and my business.)
But it gnawed at me. Every time I would go somewhere in Loa (That's the name I gave my car. Stands for Law Of Attraction, because when I needed a car Loa showed up in my life through a course of unique events) I would hope no one saw me. I felt truly ashamed.
During one point in 2011 I came close to a mental breakdown about it. Like seriously. It was bad. Way worse than I could truly do justice with via words. I felt like such an imposter. I was sharing messages with people that I felt I truly didn't deserve to share. "How could someone driving a '96 Camry help anyone achieve their goals," I thought.
I fought this feeling for so long that it started beating me up. Though I never stopped trying, I felt utterly and totally defeated on the inside. However I knew that what one feels does not have to dictate what action one takes.
I would have a big smile in public, but behind closed doors, I resented myself. I struggled with depression. I wasn't always pleasant to be around. My loving soulmate Yolanda probably caught the worst of it. She is my rock for staying with me through it all. It's why I adore her so much. Thick and thin, she's got my back.
But I couldn't get over running a business that was on the outside doing really well but as an individual I felt like my personal success was craptacular.
I had long conversations with people about how they defined success. And most people never answered "a nice car" and I could never tell if it was a politically correct answer or the truth.
Deep down I knew helping others and making the world better than when I left it was a huge part of my definition of success. But you know what else was? A nice car. There. I said it. It was part of my definition. Not my only definition. But part of it. Part of what I wanted since I was a kid.
But I had to down play it in public. People would ask "why do you drive such an old car?" And I would say something like "oh, I don't really care about cars. As long as it gets me from point A to point B". But that wasn't the whole truth. I mean what good was a nice car if it didn't run right? So I justified it in my head. But deep down, I knew it was something I desperately wanted.
And it would eat away at me. Why can't I buy a nice car? Just do it. Just lease one already. But another part of me wouldn't let myself get into unnecessary debt. I didn't want to lease or have monthly payments that would or could cause me to be cash strapped.
So I didn't do it. And my logical brain won, but emotionally I was devastated.
I set a goal of buying a luxury car by my 30th birthday. My 30th came and went and I still didn't have it. Then I said well if I get it before my 31st birthday, it still will count as technically "by my 30th birthday".
Those of you who read my book, Your Starting Point For Student Success, know how my father changed my life on a car ride we took one day when I was a teen. The thing was my dad had a beat up old car when I was younger so when we took that drive in a wealthy neighborhood I was embarrassed to be seen. I set a goal to buy my dad a car that day when I was 16. I thought I'd do it by the time I was 20. I didn't.
I even wrote on a paper by my alarm clock a list of "I made it goals" and buying my dad a car was one of them. Every day I saw the goal and it equally drove me to attain it as it made me feel inferior that I hadn't achieved it yet.
December 2013, I was able to buy my dad a van (because he is a drummer and needed space for his drums). It was a sweet moment in my life. One of the moments I'll cherish forever. It was the realization of a goal that took 14 years to accomplish. I dream I thought about every freaking day until I did it.
But I still didn't own a car I was proud of. But at the same time, I loved my Loa. She had been with me for so long that I became emotionally attached to her. But I still felt embarrassed if someone I knew saw me in her at a red light. It was very conflicting.
My 31st birthday came and went and I still didn't have my car. Internally it was a really sad birthday for me. November 15th, 2014 marked the deadline I had set for me to achieve my goal of owning a luxury car. It came and went and I didn't achieve the goal.
Almost every day I would close my eyes and envision myself driving a silver Lexus ES 350 since I was a teenager. It was my dream car. I loved the simplicity but stylishness of it. I loved the reliability and longevity it would have. I loved the way the "L" emblem looked. I loved how smooth the ride was.
And I felt bamboozled. How come the law of attraction didn't work? How could I spend my entire 20s not achieving this goal? Why? Why? Why?
I thought maybe I would never achieve it. Whenever I thought I could get it, some business emergency needed my attention or some unforeseen personal situation demanded my resources.
November 15th, 2014 (my birthday was a tough day for me, and until now, I don't think anyone knew how much of a tough marker in the sand that day was for me). I felt like a failure.
Then December 15th 2014 hit. I found an amazing deal on get this. A silver CPO Lexus ES 350. It was almost perfect. Wood trim package. Navigation. All the bells and whistles, I mean everything I dreamed of. I had been saving for the car for a long time. And had to decide whether now was the time to take that much cash off my books and get the car or wait until I had more of a cushion.
I decided to pull the trigger. And traveled 5 hours to get literally, what was for me, the car of my dreams. I'll never forget that day.
I debated profusely with myself whether to share the news. For many reasons I didn't. I was afraid people would look down on me for taking so long to achieve the goal. I thought people would think I was vain. Or judge me for not wanting something like a Ferrari.
But I decided to share this story today because achieving a goal, any goal should be celebrated. The journey to get there is not a straight and easy line. I truly believe it doesn't matter how long it takes to achieve something. It doesn't matter how rough the road is. When you set your mind to some thing... The rough patches... The failures... The disappointment, make the actually achievement of the goal so unbelievable sweet. It makes it truly magical.
I cried the day I sat in my new car. Not because of the car. Because of what the car represented to me. Because of what it symbolized. And I found it funny that I reached my goal exactly one month after my imposed deadline. Some may say the law of attraction doesn't work. I might have agreed at points during my 20s. But achieving a goal, regardless of the deadline is awe inspiring. I missed the goal by a month. Who cares?!? I still have Loa and will drive her until the wheels fall off (which they just might soon!) But she now has a kid sister to keep her company in my driveway.
I named my new car Constance. To remind me that it was only achieved by remaining constant. I pray that the worthy goals you've set for yourself you stay constant toward. Even through the bad times. Even through the rough patches. Even when it seems impossible or foolish. So one day you can experience how good it really feels and you can share with the world your victory to inspire others to not give up on their goals.
I'm sure there are goals I will continue to work toward that will take me much longer to achieve than I would like. I'm sure you have experienced the same. But never quit. And know finally achieving your goal is unbelievably... satisfying. Unbelievably. Fulfilling.
I want others to know this feeling of reaching a lifetime goal so badly. I want to create more ways for people to overcome their excuses and take action. I will provide specific ways for people. I am entering a new phase of living. I'm excited to share more.
Even though people see the results they don't see what it took to get there. Stay the course. Stay constant. It WILL happen. I hope I can help in some way to help you get there so when it does,You can know how so, so so sweet it really is.