Late one evening after finishing my work and starting dinner. John continued to work. As he tapped away at the keys of his laptop with his back slouched, he worked on the latest blog post for the real estate website we owned. While I was working in the kitchen, I could see how tired he looked… I also thought the same about myself. It was almost eight o'clock and we just finished a job that took twelve hours. Yet I was there, making another late-night meal. John wrapped things up and he read the progress he made on the post out loud to me. I told him it was good. He rose from his seat to stretch.
He then left his desk to sit on the couch, which was followed by a loud sigh, saying, "I hope we won't be back in Buffalo in a year's time, lamenting why we wasted our time trying to begin a business of our own. I really hope what we’re doing won't end up useless." As he said that, I felt my body tense up, while I stood in the kitchen with the warm water pouring on my hands. Suddenly, my mind shifted from feeling exhausted to freaking out, and in that moment, my body felt tense, my stomach dropped, my heart ached and then my hands started shaking. "Holy shit!" I thought as I could feel my body respond to the negativity those words brought.
This reaction was just the beginning of what could have turned into a nervous breakdown if I didn't bring awareness to what just happened. I immediately snapped out of it, like I was just gifted some form of clarity–that the actions we’d taken were running us down.
As I felt the changes in my body, everything became clear all at once. All the stress and anxiety in the last one month alone hit me in the face like a brick and I realized something crucial… Desperate times do not call for desperate measures.
Every time we got bad news, we made up our minds to work harder and spent a lot of time working through things–often wondering why things kept getting worse. There were deals that didn't work out, issues with investments, health and car issues, and much more. Along with each additional problem came added stress and anxiety which threatened our happiness and wellbeing.
When I saw my fatigued husband, with his hands covering his head, contemplating if his twelve-hour work day would one day be seen as a waste of time… it all came together. I turned the kitchen sink off and almost screamed, "No, we won't be saying that next year. All the stress, desperation and awfulness is here because we did it to ourselves!”
John was surprised by my outburst as I kept speaking. I let him know we didn't cater to ourselves and this is why we couldn’t take care of all the problems that came up. Whenever we had an issue, it knocked us down and we struggled to get back up. We were feeble and sad. As difficult as our situation appeared, we were working against ourselves. As we conversed, we talked about how we watched the sunset, walked the beach and hung out with friends just once the month previous. But we hadn’t gone on any dinner or dates or had any “us” time in a while.
We left our previous jobs so we could have the freedom to do all these things as well as attend to our clients. In our desperation, we missed the point of what we loved. All the fun and spontaneity was gone. We decided to make a change and I wrote a few inspirational posts and hung them all over the house, with a piece of paper saying "January 21 – our turning point."
On Thursday of that month, we went to bed feeling a bit lighter and woke up Friday with excitement. It felt like the first day of business and coincidentally was our sixth year anniversary… we felt optimistic. We made that day a little more interesting by going for a picnic lunch at the park while viewing property. At night, we hung out with a few friends after an amazing day at work. We became more productive than before and happier as well.
Throughout my life, I’ve come to understand that the biggest factor affecting our lives is our mindset. It makes or breaks you. Also, it can do a lot of things at once and can go any which way (either positive or negative). The lesson showed me that my mind would become a continuous work-in-progress. I’ve also seen how important it is to pay attention to what happens around me, so I can make changes for the better.I've always thought it was all about working hard with no play, and it made us feel the way we felt.
No matter how overwhelming life gets, there should always be time for fun.