In this conversation I talk with Alec Penney whom I met through following his lovely wife and brand photographer Bry on Instagram. I really enjoyed our talk about Alecs take on the world, which is simply wonderful and very aligned with what I‘m all about, so get ready for a richness of inspiration, personal insight and «joie de vivre».
Alec is a web developer and works under his own business «</onTheRoadCoder>». One year ago, he quit his job at the military that he did for twelve years. Four years ago, Alec stood at a point, where he decided, that he wanted a change in his life. He describes the work that he does now as «meeting awesome people and helping them build a website to share with the world what they do».
I ask Alec, what brings him joy? Alec says that his main thing is trying to be in the present, from the very simplest things like taking in the countryside and the surroundings, whatever it is at that moment, «taking in the now and feeling it, that makes me happy».
Alec says – and I fully agree – that you shouldn‘t wait for this or that to happen as a condition to be happy. «While it‘s good to plan, you still have to be very aware of the present moment, you have to take that in».
What I really love about that is, that you can do it wherever you are. Even when you‘re standing in the queue at the local supermarket. You can be so present everywhere. It doesn‘t matter if you‘re in a gorgeous or normal place, when you notice the little details, everything is just wow. : )
Alec says that it‘s something coming from within, that you need to find that person within yourself and accept that you‘re here in this present moment and just make the most out of it. And that‘s what he‘s been doing for a long time. Alec tells me about situations that he found himself in during his time at the military, like when he was working outside in the rain and totally soaked. He says that he could have been miserable and he could have surrendered to the low level vibes but instead he tried to think about later that day when he‘ll hopefully be out and dried up. «In these situations I looked at somebody who was sitting in the same boat and we just laughed together».
Even though you find yourself in a tricky situation, you can still be grateful that you‘re here, that you‘re breathing and alive.
«The decisions we make for ourselves are so important in the everyday life, they sum up and they create our reality, our health, our everything», Ronja
Alec tells me, that he knew from an early stage the army was something he was going to do. «I got into that mindset of what do I need to do to get there and reach that level». He was 15 years old, when he started to regularly work out in order to get fit for the job and becoming fitter and healthier in turn made him happier.
It doesn‘t matter where you are in your life right now, you can choose how you want to feel, what you want to do, how you want to step on this stage of life and how you interact with people. You can choose those things right away; you just have to decide.
I ask Alec if he experienced a moment in his life that marked a turning point. He recalls the time, when he started thinking about leaving the army. There were a couple of changes and Alec felt, that it didn‘t suit him anymore and at first, he was down about it. He says, that he could‘ve easily said that he‘s done and leave right there, but instead he sat down with his wife and they talked about what he wasn‘t happy with, what he wanted to change, what he wanted to get out of life, what he wanted to do. They decided to write all of it down and to make a plan. «The start of that plan for me was finishing at a set point within my military career». Alec decided on not leaving there and then, but push for another four years because that made financial and logistical sense, and was in alignment with their life goals.
«It took me two years to figure out what I wanted to do, it was kind of going with the flow, letting things come naturally and then I stumbled across my new career path», Alec
It wasn‘t easy, it took a lot of extra hours outside of work and it was a steep learning curve, but Alec works now on the road needing only his laptop and wi-fi. «It‘s about getting your mindset right and knowing that everything is possible. If you set your mind to it and you push yourself and you work hard, then you can make it work».
Alec says, that happened to him. Getting out of his old job and into his new work that allows him to spend more time with his wife and with their two huskies.
«You just have to have that belief and that drive and that determination», Alec
«If you‘re happy and grateful in the present moment, you‘re so abundant of good feelings. If you can create amazing «now moments», then you win life», Ronja
Alec talks about his sister, who found herself in a rather unhappy situation some years ago. She didn‘t like the tiny place where she lived and she wasn‘t happy with her job. During a conversation Alec told her, that she should start appreciating the things that surround her. Like her beloved fiancé or having her family just around the corner. «You have to appreciate the little things, to turn a situation on it‘s head». When you ride the train to your workplace, notice the people around you, spin stories in your head about where they‘re going. Take walks in the evening and appreciate everything that is around you. His sister took Alec‘s advice and started noticing and appreciating things, that she hadn‘t thought about before. Fast forward: She now lives in a bigger house, got a pay rise and is overall much happier. «They appreciated what they had at that time and that‘s what managed to get them on that new level».
«I‘m very much about enjoying what it is that surrounds you and being in the present, that allows you to find that happiness which is the core, the very basis of what gets you going. If you‘re able to do that, you can take on the world», Alec
I ask Alec about grumpy days – and if he even experiences those! : )
«I‘m heavy with my energy which is great when I‘m upbeat, but on grumpy days everybody knows about it», Alec responds laughing. He says, that he tries to deal with it by accepting that it‘s there, that he‘s allowed to be grumpy - «don‘t get more grumpy about being grumpy» - and that it‘s a natural feeling. So he tries to make peace with it, to not make it worse and to do something that lifts him up, like taking his huskies out for a walk. It‘s again being in the present that changes his mood, taking in things like the weather or surrounding noises helps focusing his mind on something else.
He says that it‘s definitely a gradual feeling and not something that goes away immediately. «The heavier the mood, the longer the walk».
Regarding his own experiences with the change of his work, I ask Alec about his advice for people that are unhappy with their current job.
He says that to him it‘s super important to start the day with the right mindset. Alec says that when he wakes up, he takes that moment in straight away. «I‘m like «wow, look at all this amazing golden hair (of Bry) everywhere», admitting that he‘s very lucky to have that. After that he walks downstairs where his dogs greet him energetically. «You have to find that thing that makes you happy and that turns your mindset from the get-go to cool, I‘m gonna have an amazing day».
We definitely share our opinion about posts on Social Media that complain about Mondays and how long one has to wait until it‘s Friday again… Post funny things instead, do something that sets up the good mood straight away.
When you find yourself in a situation, like when a work load gets dumped on your desk that you don‘t know how to manage, Alec‘s preferred reaction is to laugh – even when it‘s partly a sarcastic laugh – laughing about the ridiculousness of the situation and doing some punches in the air or some jumping jacks to get the blood running again will turn things around.
You can be angry or sad but complaining is a weak attitude and not helpful at all. Change something or change your attitude. One person is capable of changing the mood of a whole team. Think about random acts of kindness like spreading joyful post-its or bringing croissants for everybody as a surprise. If you prefer to do things silently, taking good care of your own mood can bring change in others too and it definitely changes things for you.
«First and foremost, believe that you can have it», Alec
In a company, people that all have their own lives too, come together and there is only so much you can do. When you find yourself in a situation where nothing helps anymore and you just want to get out of it, Alec says that the best thing for him was to write down his plans: «Write your goals down and think about what you want to change, this itself will make you happy and that‘s what you aim for».
«Appreciate the things that surround you at the time and then set your mind on the goals that make you happy – keep always pushing towards the happiness and towards that next thing», Alec
We wrap our conversation up by talking about the importance of creating a good farewell to start over with good feelings too. «Don‘t hold grudges or resentment towards things that happened», Alec says. That doesn‘t make you happy, so why should you hold onto to it. «What happened, happened and now I‘m looking forward». Alec adds that – although at points during his last 4 years in the army, there were tough times - he‘s grateful for the experiences, the friends and the memories that he made.
This talk started and ended with gratitude and appreciation and I really hope that you got as inspired by Alec‘s refreshing and delightful approach to life as I did. : )
You can find Alec here:
You can watch our conversation here: