I first "met" Nigel at the beginning of the year when he very kindly sent me a copy of his first book Fat, Forty and Fired after he saw my article in The Mercury. Little did he know how very timely his gift was, as I was facing a similar situation myself. I discovered that not only is Nigel a very entertaining and compelling writer, but he's also a performance coach, one of the founders of the environmental initiative Earth Hour, and he's even spoken at TED:
I've taken a great deal away from Nigel's work and I could sum it up with the line from his video that I quoted in my post yes: if you don't design your life, someone else will design it for you.
At the beginning of the year - and on a handful of days and weeks since (!) - I was rather scared about this new life of mine. Excited, yes, but definitely scared. Reading Fat, Forty and Fired was incredibly fortuitous, not to mention reassuring and inspiring. The book opens with Nigel, a successful and renowned CEO having recently moved with his wife and children from Britain to Australia, struggling to balance the pressures of his career and family life. To top it all off, he's not in the best shape physically either! Then, the unthinkable happens and he loses his job. The book tells the story of what happened after Nigel decided to use it as an opportunity for a year out to take stock and rebalance his life.
If you can imagine Eat Pray Love for guys, this is pretty close to it. Someone falling off the treadmill and taking time out to rediscover (or indeed, find out for the first time) who they really are, what really matters to them and what sort of life they want to live going forward. In Nigel's case it's all of those but also about realising what was in his life all along. In the course of the book he spends more time with his family, particularly his young children, and becomes a more hands-on dad while also training for the Bondi to Bronte ocean swim and conquering some of his personal demons (such as alcoholism). There are so many hilarious stories (I don't often laugh out loud while reading but I did with this book - the chapter "Kindi Gym" in particular!) and fantastic nuggets of wisdom dotted throughout the book as Nigel has epiphanies about life, happiness and balance. I wrote many of them down :)
But that is not to say that Nigel's book has a Hollywood ending. Far from it. That was one of the things I liked the most - the book as a whole was very easy to read and relate to but I liked that it didn't have a neat ending. Life isn't black and white and the end of the book did not have Nigel magically arriving at some final destination. In the same way that me reaching my goal weight was not the end of my journey (it was the beginning, I would argue!), the more balanced life Nigel has at the end of the book is not a sign that everything is now perfect. He writes, "life is hard, and as far as I can see it will always be hard....(so) I started to put my focus on trying to enjoy the struggle rather than attempting to create a mythical stress-free nirvana." As I turned the final page, I definitely got the sense that his year out was the beginning of the journey and that it is still continuing.
And indeed it is, with Nigel's next book Fit, Fifty and Fired Up ready for release in August! I'm really looking forward to finding out what happened next!
Hope to see you on SLSB again soon Nigel! :)