By all accounts, Tom Shadyac had it made as an in-demand Hollywood director living in a 17,000 square foot house and flying on private jets. Shadyac’s movies such as Ace Ventura, Nutty Professor, Evan Almighty, and Liar, Liar grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. In 2007 he suffered post-concussion syndrome after a near-fatal bicycle accident which gave him severe headaches. This led him to re-evaluate his life and his extreme wealth.
So, seven years ago, he traded in the sports cars, private jet and Hollywood mansion for a modest home on the beach and a bicycle. As he started giving away his possessions and money, the better he felt. According to Shadyac, “The return was so much greater than what I gave away.” He donated money to open a homeless shelter, plus other charities that protect the environment and animals. Shadyac believes that material accumulation is what weighs us down from discovering our true calling and purpose. “It’s a trapping – we call it the spoils of success for a reason.”
CBS This Morning chronicled Shadyac in a story about his new book, Life’s Operating Manual, that asks readers to question what is the purpose and calling of life. His story reminds me of another favorite, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. It’s a short read with a similar topic about fulfilling your dreams and reaching your destiny. The common thread in both books in how much the authors gained by letting go of the “must haves” in their lives.
It’s an interesting and timely question for me personally right now. I feel a huge desire to “SHED” as Julie Morgenstern calls it. It would be wonderful to spend less time taking care of things and more time spending time with people. But I’m stuck – possibly overwhelmed is a better description. Where does one start the process of giving away what is no longer needed or wanted? How do you determine what is really necessary to live with and enjoy a quality life? Our own Nancy Mills is a master at this and discovered her calling to create the Spirited Woman community when she streamlined her life.
Some motivational speakers have put this eternal question to a 5-second quiz – variations include if your house was on fire, what/who would you save or if you were going down in an airplane crash, what would your final message be to your loved ones? OK, those answers are fairly easy and have to deal with how much we care about others. My challenge is making the transition to living daily without the distraction of “stuff.”
Does anyone have an idea on where to start? How do we begin living the concept that both authors promote – giving away the unnecessary in order to find clarity and focus on what you truly came to accomplish? Please post your suggestions, strategies and best practices – perhaps you’ll “gain” from helping out your Spirited Woman sisters!