It was late evening, and I had just finished up my work day and began to start prepping our dinner. John was still hard at work, his back hunched as he tapped away at his laptop keyboard, working on the monthly blog post for our real estate website. From where I stood in the kitchen, washing leaves of chard, I observed how exhausted he looked, and thought to myself that I felt the same way. It was nearly eight o’clock, we had just finished a twelve hour work day, and here I was preparing to cook yet another late-night meal. As John finished up his work and read me the progress he’d made on the blog post, I complemented him on how good it was, and he finally got up from his desk and stretched.
He moved from his desk to the couch and sat down with a loud sigh. “I hope a year from now we aren’t sitting back in Buffalo wondering why we wasted so much time trying to start our own business. I just hope all our efforts right now aren’t futile and useless,” were the exhausted words that came tumbling from his mouth. As I stood there at the kitchen sink, warm water pouring over my hands holding the chard, I could physically feel my body tense up. My mentality immediately went from exhausted to freak-out, and in a split second I felt my body tense, my stomach drop, my heart ache, and my arms begin to shake. “Holy shit,” I thought to myself as I could literally sense my body reacting from the negativity that those two simple sentences had brought with them.
This negative physical reaction I was experiencing was just the start of what would have been a nervous breakdown if I hadn’t been so aware of what had just happened. I was immediately cognizant, as if my whole world had just been given the gift of clarity, that our own actions were bringing us down.
In my last blog post, You Have Everything You Need, I wrote about some of the hardships John and I were experiencing during the month of December. Looking back on last month, even now, less than thirty days later, it seemed as though every single morning of December we’d wake up scared and wondering how things could get any worse. Anything negative that happened just seemed to add to our overwhelming pile of “life shit” that we couldn’t seem to pick ourselves up from.
Back to the kitchen, where I still stood at the sink, noticing the dramatic bodily changes I had just experienced, and everything seemed to click for me, all at once. It was as if all the stress, anxiety, and overwhelming energy of the past month hit me straight in the face, as I realized one key thing – desperate times do not call for desperate measures.
Each time we’d received bad news last month, John and I were determined to work even harder. We spent grueling day after grueling day working our butts off, wondering why things seemed to keep getting worse and worse. We had deals fall out, problems with our investments, car troubles, rent issues, health problems, and the list goes on and on. With each additional problem, we became that much more stressed and anxious, putting our health, wellbeing, and happiness on a back burner that we were paying absolutely no attention to.
In that split second standing at the sink, seeing my poor exhausted husband with his head in his hands, wondering if his twelve hour work day would one day be looked back upon with a feeling of waste, and everything came together, washing over me in such an aggressive way that I literally almost fell over. I turned off the kitchen sink and nearly shouted, “No! That is NOT what we will be saying in a year. This stress and desperation and awfulness of the past month has been US, we are doing this to OURSELVES!”
John, startled by my outburst looked up as I continued to let the words pour out of my mouth. I explained that we hadn’t been taking care of ourselves, and therefore weren’t able to take care of all our arising problems. Each time we had a problem, it was completely knocking us down and we’d have to struggle to get back up on our feet. We were weak, unhappy, and anguished. Frustrated that everything seemed to be working against us, yet the bottom line was that we’d been working against ourselves. As we now both excitedly discussed, looking back on the prior month, we hadn’t watched the sun set once, we hadn’t taken any walks on the beach, we’d hung out with friends once, and we hadn’t gone out to dinner or had any dates together in all of December. Our “balls-to-the-wall”, “keep working, things will work themselves out” mentality had killed our spirit, gusto, and fervor, and caused us to forget why we started our own business in the first place.
We embarked on our own early last year to be fulfilled – to have freedom to watch the sunset, take walks in the middle of the day, and have picnic lunches at the beach. We quit our jobs so we could work from coffee shops, view properties mid-morning, and accommodate our clients’ busy schedules. During our desperation, we completely lost sight of all the things that we love about our work – autonomy, flexibility, and most importantly, fun. We both resolved to make a change, I wrote out inspirational post-its and hung them in different areas of our apartment, and I hung a piece of paper on the fridge that said “January 21- turning point!”
We went to bed on Thursday feeling lighter than we had in weeks, both excited to wake up on Friday and see what was in store for our day. Friday morning, (coincidentally the sixth year anniversary of the day John and I met!) we both woke up as if it was the first day of business – we were excited, enthusiastic, and PUMPED to see what our day would bring. We added some spice to our day with a picnic lunch in the park as we were out viewing property, we hung out with some friends Friday night, and we had an amazing day of work. We were more productive than we’d been the day before, we were so much happier than we had been in weeks, and any speed bumps that we hit just weren’t a big deal.
In my life, I have learned that mindset is the biggest factor affecting all things life. Mindset can literally make or break a person. It can turn any bad situation into an opportunity. It can make you happy or sad, healthy or sick, stressed or relaxed. My mindset journey is always a continual work-in-progress, but last Thursday’s lesson was an important one that had been staring me in the face all month, ignored until it physically impacted me. I’ve learned that it’s important to listen to what’s going on around and inside you. Be aware of how life patterns, hardships, and happenings affect you, because then you can work on changing them for the better. I had ignored the way I was feeling all month because I thought our “work hard, no play” solution was the only option. It clearly wasn’t, and no matter how overwhelming life may seem, there is always time for fun, always time to take a moment or a break, and always enough time to “stop and smell the roses”. I’m excited we had a turning point, and am eager to see what’s in store for us going forward.