What a crazy couple of years my life has been. Quite a few of my friends often accuse me of TMI, and I confess I’m guilty as charged. Today may be one of those TMI days, but I’m a pretty open book. I like it that way.
Two years ago on May 2, 2016, I was released, fired, from an amazing company working in the personal finance education space. After fifteen years and seeing the company grow from 30 people to 550, it was my time to go. I tell people one of the best things that ever happened to me was joining that company, and when it was my time to leave, one of the best things that happened to me was to leave. Although I found it emotionally easier than I expected to move on, the resetting of life and career had to take place, and after fifteen years with the same company, some unplugging too. In the midst of all this, the timing was uncanny.
My mother-in-law had been battling cancer for about a year. She passed away in July 2016 and was buried on July 29th, my youngest son’s birthday. Without a job, I was better able to support my wife, her family, and my family through this time.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer in August 2016. She passed away in early November and was buried on November 15th, my middle daughter’s birthday.
As you can imagine, 2016 was quite an upheaval time for our family, and in the midst of it all, I spent an enormous amount of time delving into politics. I discovered how utterly naive I was about our national and global politics. What I learned truly shocked me and transformed my thinking, but I’ll save that for in person discussions with interested parties.
In January 2017, I found myself yet again working in the personal financial education space for a small company out of Salt Lake City, UT. I hadn’t sought out our planned to re-enter the personal finance space, but there I was as COO for a company that was trying to compete with my previous employer. With a little team of 12 people, my new journey began.
In the first 30 days, I stopped a $500,000 mobile app project, released 4 people, discovered how bad our financial position really was, and put together a brand, product and marketing plan to get things moving in the right direction.
In the next 30 days, the CEO revealed he and his five companies were under investigation. As expected, investment funds dried up quickly, and my time with the company ended May 31, 2017. After a short five month stint, I was once again unemployed. Five months, may not sound like a long time, but its what you do with the time that matters.
During my five months in Salt Lake City, I did a lot of soul searching and thinking. A lot. Searching for what was really important to me as 46 year old husband, father of six, Christian, and digital entrepreneurial minded guy. I thought about what possibilities the future held and where I wanted to go.
Being away from family five days a week, three weeks a month, makes you realize how valuable your family really is. Working sixteen hours a day, five days a week, makes you realize how valuable life really is. Seeing people struggle with life and money helps you realize how important people really are. Helping and inspiring struggling people is extremely satisfying.
And then there was all this free time I had from being unemployed. Hmmm. I kinda liked this freedom. Freedom to explore new endeavors. Freedom to be with my family. Freedom to be with my kids. Freedom to be with my wife as I sit in a coffee shop now with her writing this blog post. I rather enjoy this freedom, and I am very reluctant to give it up. It was interesting to me why hadn’t I thought this way before.
Since childhood, I was programmed for the job mentality getting my first real job at thirteen. From there, the job mentality continued to get more deeply ingrained. Over the last two years, I have been blessed to meet dozens of people who have broken free of the “job” mentality, and they have inspired me to do the same. Jobs are great tools for many people, but for me, they’ve run their course. I’m looking forward to taking months off with my kids through the summer and traveling. Even as a top level executive, I wouldn’t get that level of freedom if I’d stayed with either of my former employers.
Where has my journey and all of my thinking and soul searching led me over the last two years? Well, it has led me to a place I never imagined. In May 2017, I decided to write a book and began the task. In June 2017 with all my free time, I completed the first draft of 60,000 words. This month, I am putting on the finishing touches, and turning over a finished manuscript to my publisher on Monday, April 2 with my book due to release later this year. Crazy.
So let’s do an inventory of the last three years, marriage on the rocks in 2015 (did I forget to mention that?), lost job of 15 years as top level executive, loss of mother in law and mother due to cancer, and “reboot” job ended. Yet, through all of that, now my family is stronger and happier than it has ever been, my marriage is better than its ever been (pretty freaking amazing actually), and I’m finishing my first book (more to follow).
Aren’t the detours on life’s journey interesting? Even when things are crashing around you, do your best to keep moving forward. You’ll be amazed at what can happen.
Through this season of life, I found a few things that really helped me keep moving forward.
Marriage Counseling. Recently, I’ve spoken with several friends that are going through divorces, and I admit that my wife and I were dangerously close as well. However, we chose a different road when facing our marital issues.
I’ve spoken with people that say, “we went to marriage counseling.” Then I ask, “how often?”, and they reply monthly for three months. Sadly, my friends were not serious about saving their marriage.
When I first suggested marriage counseling to my wife, she was reluctant and a bit afraid. I simply asked, “Do you want the next 18 years of our marriage to look like the last 18 years?”, and she replied, “No.”
At the end of our first session, the counselor asked when we would like to come back. I said next month. My wife said next week. That was the beginning of weekly marriage counseling for six months, and it was the beginning of reshaping our marriage into what we have today as we sit together at the coffee shop writing. She’s amazing.
Learn and explore. When I lost my job, I spent a lot of time learning about politics, real estate, investing, raising kids, being a better husband and other things. I should have been doing that all along, but with a job and six kids, life gets a little overwhelming.
During my jobless season, we were fortunate to have enough money in place to give me flexibility to learn and explore new areas in life. Now once again, it’s a continuing part of who I am. My reading list has ballooned into new topics causing my mind to expand.
Good people. It is so important to surround yourself with good people. As a working family man, I had allowed myself to become too isolated from other men. Truthfully, my parents had very few friends and were very isolated. I followed their example, and it was unhealthy. The additional free time to reflect on life, allowed me to address this issue in my life.
Be open to new things and new opportunities. Over the last year, I’ve been exposed to new ideas and opportunities. Things like cryptocurrency which I’ve avoided for the last seven years are now on my radar. While one day I wanted to write a book, I didn’t think it would be in my 40s, and I didn’t think I’d write it an be published all in one year! But, I had the time, idea, and desire, so why not? After that, it just became work to do.
Life’s detours sure can be interesting.