By all accounts, I failed severely in 2010.
If any accountant, business consultant, or even lay person looked at my business after last year they would’ve agreed…”What the heck was he thinking?”
Fired nearly all clients.
One of the first things I did in the first quarter of 2010 was fire nearly 80% of my clients. Not that they had done anything wrong, but I wasn’t interested anymore in spending energy at all hours of the day, doing work for them. Believe me, it wasn’t them…it was me. I did it to myself. I should’ve never have helped launch over 200+ websites/businesses in the previous two years. For the clients I kept, new boundaries were established (we didn’t have healthy boundaries prior to that) and they all now understood that most of their communication would happen with me Monday – Thursday anywhere from 8am – 5pm. Weekends were off-limits. There are still a couple clients that I break those rules with, but they are also such great friends/clients that I don’t feel like it’s work. Plus most of the time we are also talking family, fun, and other things so it’s good because they fill my soul in other ways.
Either way, this is what I needed to do the most. The crazy days of working 20 hour days, nearly 7 days a week had to end. It wasn’t fair to me, my wife, my family, my friends, my clients, and my business. They needed me to be completely present when I was with them and there was no way I was able to do that the way I was doing it.
Got rid of nearly all community service.
Most people are like, “Give, give, give” and for the longest time, I just did that. I gave a lot…to a lot of people and organizations that I thought were good. That’s why it surprised many people when I fired most of the organizations that I belonged to. I held many positions in various organizations including the Board of Directors for the local Chamber of Commerce.
“Why did you quit?”
I’m not a guy who puts up with negative energy for very long. I tend to only be around positive people who are doing positive things with their life to move forward. When you live in a small town, there is a tendency for a large group of people who have an opinion on everything, yet are willing to do nothing to help out. It’s small town politics at its best. Honestly, I don’t know if people loved me or hated me (usually its both, but nothing in the middle), but I didn’t really care. I just kept on doing work for the good of the community. After dealing with this for a couple years, I decided last year it was enough. Why was I wasting an hour of my month, going to meetings that was filled with such constant negativity, only to work on projects that no-one else wanted to do or with only a handful of the same positive people that wanted to help out. Oh yes, then to pay to be part of an organization like that. No thanks. No more.
Not many people know that one of my true loves/passions is coaching softball. Not the slow-pitch, drunk-fest type of softball, but more like high school softball. For the past three years I was the Head Coach of a High School Varsity Softball team. I loved nearly every single second of it. The kids were amazing to work with and just a blast. The parents were…..well there was a reason that this thing was invented called a dugout, so you didn’t have to listen to them. Most of the parents were great and supportive too, there were just a handful, that were exactly that….just a handful. Even before I started coaching, I was umpiring high school softball 6 days a week throughout the entire summer for the longest time. I’ve been coaching/umpiring softball most summers for the past 18 years.
At the end of last season, I decided to step away from it, for now. It wasn’t fair to me or my wife to be away most nights for 10 hours each day, six days a week. She works during the day, so she would come home and I would be gone, then she would go to bed and I would get home to do stats. We’d usually see each other on Sundays. I’m not sure how exactly how I am going to deal with not have anything to do for the first time in MANY summers. Drive by and you might just see me pacing outside in the backyard.
Now, softball was something I truly did enjoy. It just didn’t fit my lifestyle. I plan on still keeping connected in some sort of fashion. I plan on going back to coaching again at some level, but one with less time commitments.
By now, some of you are feeling like I am having some sort of Eat. Pray. Love. type of thing happening to me. LOL! Nah, that’s not really the case, but I was really trying to clear out the way so I could begin to get clear on some things in my life that I truly wanted to hyper-focus on. I really wanted to figure out what I wanted my lifestyle to look like; my relationship with my wife; my business; my hobbies; my health; and more.
After spending a lot of time thinking (and after I had been accepted into Dream Year), I decided that for my business I wanted to combine all the projects I’ve nearly ever done and put it all into one resource on the internet to help people start and grow businesses that conform to their lifestyles. This also includes ongoing training, instruction, ideas, etc for people who want help at an affordable price to get started. When I was working on the pricing, I wanted to do something where I felt like they would be committed to being part of the program, yet a price that wouldn’t cheat me for my time, the quality of the product, or the people that I would serve. I would rather serve 100 people paying $47/mo than 1,000 people who are paying $7/mo. That’s just me.
I’ve also committed to being a better husband to my wife by spending 2-3 hours per day being fully present with her. Most nights we eat dinner together, talk about life, play board games, go for walks, watch TV/movies, do projects around the house, go grocery shopping, etc. Honestly, I’ve watched more movies/TV in the last year than I have in the last 15 years combined. HAHA! When I’m not with her, I have spent more time on personal development, reading about being a better husband/father, and more. It’s all paid off dearly. I feel more connected to her than probably ever in our 8 years of marriage.
One of the most amazing things that I’ve really experienced this past year has come from truly learning how to give. I used to give to anything and everything, just because I did. My dear friend, Dr. Mollie Marti, gave me a book that has transformed my thinking and it’s called “Giving Thanks” by Paula Langguth Ryan. Now I don’t just give to give. I give with purpose and pretty much only give to things that feed my soul.
While these might be called the downsides, I don’t think they’re really the downsides. Yes, I am making less money now, but I’m also working much less. Before, I was working 120+ hours per week and now I work around 60. While some people might be upset about the income: 1) First of all, when you live in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa where the average home price is $54,000 you don’t need to make much 2) Second, I know the income will bounce back up once this other project gets rolling in the right direction. I’ve been a business owner for 18 years, so I’ve done this before and I’m not worried about it.
The big reward.
While going through this whole transition and also kicking off Dream Year in January, we got the news that my wife and I will be expecting our first child in October. It was a surprise and a blessing all at the same time. We were under the mindset that if it was meant to be, then it was meant to be. If not, then we were super okay with adopting. As I write this, we’re over halfway done with the pregnancy and by October we’ll have a beautiful little baby girl. We’re beyond excited. Even more than that, I’m glad that I made the changes back when I did, because I would literally be hitting a brick wall right now. HAHA!
The evolution of me.
The bottom line is that because I have technically “failed” in 2010 by definition in the book, but in reality, I have gained soo much more. I’m enjoying life more now than ever. I feel refreshed each morning I come to work and every night that I get to spend time with my family. This is the evolution that has taken place, but this is one that not only was much needed, but much deserved for everyone.