Ben Harvey was overweight, $137,000 in debt after five years without a job and clinically depressed.
One day, two of his friends took their own lives. That was the turning point.
In the space of just a few years, the Sydneysider cleared his debt, shed around 35kg, weaned himself off a cocktail of medication and became a self-made millionaire.
"I said to myself, 'There has to be a better way of doing things,'" he told news.com.au. "I started studying mindset and transforming my reality to live the life I wanted to live.
"I'd got my weight well over 100kg, I lost about 35kg, got married and had a child."
The 39-year-old, who runs a training company for "getting out of the rat race", Authentic Education, realised his efforts to set goals and make long-term plans were working against him. "You have to set goals that line up with who you are," he said.
"People are chasing other people's goals. They're not achieving more, they're getting sicker."
Ben realised he needed to stop thinking about being happy in the future, and start thinking about right now. "Too many people are delaying the outcome they want tomorrow, or next year.
"I started setting goals in reverse fashion by looking at how I want to feel today."
He began researching different types of psychological techniques such as reiki and hypnotherapy, and checking in to see how he felt, and if he had noticed "tangible results."
THE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
• List the ways you want to feel and how you'd like your life to be right now.
• Think about what actions would make you feel those things.
• If you performed those actions every day for 12 months, what would the outcome be?
• You want to be successful.
• You could learn new skills and ideas from reading books.
• If you read every afternoon for 12 months, you could be knowledgeable about a subject key to progressing your career.
'BE TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE'
Ben believes that if you set goals, you spend your life stressed out about reaching them. When you do reach them, you feel depressed because you seem to have lost that meaning.
"The critical thing people need to do is fall in love with the process," said Ben. "Going to work, doing an interview, typing, not just the finished product."
Ben's business helps people identify what they love and "get on track as quickly as possible."
When it comes to how we find that, he says, "Be true to who you are."
He believes people can benefit from social media, but others are there because their lives are unsatisfying. "If you love it stay. If you're there because your life in unfulfilling, go out and find what is meaningful to you."
As for email: "Your inbox is someone else's to-do list. Someone else is taking control of your time."
He suggests archiving everything, and then creating a triage of folders - a "high priority" folder for things to work on in the next few hours, a "today" folder and a "this month" folder.
Ben believes we learn at a young age to mirror people around us, and we continue doing things other people's way for our whole lives. "Let go of having to copy people you look up to. Our lives have been hijacked, we're living our parents', colleagues' and friends' lives.
"Children play with things until they are bored. The schooling system convinces you otherwise ... you can't do things until they are boring and move on.
"Give yourself permission to do things that are fulfilling in the moment."
• Find out more about Ben Harvey and Authentic Education here.