Maintaining balance when opportunities abound

Maintaining balance when opportunities abound

From the time I was a senior in high school, through college, and early in my career, everything worked for me.  Everything I touched, it seemed, turned to gold.  Having been a C, D, F student pretty much my entire school career, as a junior Mr. Babbitt entered — and changed — my life.  (Read this guest post I wrote about Mr. Babbitt, Miracle Teacher).  As a freshman, I guess I made an immediate impression on my peers and just a few weeks into my college experience was selected to homecoming court.  Later, I would be elected student body president.  When I graduated, I took my dream job and was the highest paid right-out-of-college employee the organization had ever hired.

I had a crazy amount of success in my career.

And then the shit hit the fan.

I quit my job just as the early birth pangs of the Great Recession were being felt.  Then, over a period of a few years, it seemed that nothing I tried worked.  I’d lost my mojo.

This all culminated in moving into my in-laws garage with my wife and two kids.

Losing everything was the best thing that ever happened to us.  Having lost everything once, my wife and I now understand that losing everything isn’t all that bad, therefore we’ve lost all fear of failure.  Rebuilding from the ground up also gave us an opportunity to rebuild by design.

In 2010 we began the slow, methodical process of rebuilding.  I need to emphasize those two words.

Slow.

Methodical.

In December of 2010, 5 months into our new life, we had our best month yet up to that point financially.  We made $217.

We resisted, though, any attempt to make money not on our terms.  If my goal is to be a present husband and father and to spend time doing things I enjoy, like traveling or skiing, it does not matter how much money you’ll pay me — if I have to just put my head down and wait till I’m 65 and can retire — taking that job doesn’t help me achieve my goals in life.

Three years ago we were just beginning our quest.  We’ve had tiny little successes, amidst many things that never worked out, that have brought us to where we are today.

I’ve often said that I thought that life “would get easier for us” over time for two reasons.

  1. Our approach to work and income — freelance, consultative, patchwork — is the direction the world is moving.  As the world moves more and more this direction, it will come more in line with where we already are.  We are already living in the future.
  2. We’ll get better.  More experienced.  Smarter.

And here we are.

We’ve come to this place where it’s not a matter of pursuing opportunities, but figuring out which opportunities to pursue.

Our quest to work less, live more, and travel the world as a family has been disrupted by a ton of work.

The great thing about the work is that I decided a while ago that I wanted to do great work and I took to heart the words of Steve Jobs in his famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford that the only way to do great work is to do work that you love.  All of the work that I have before me is work that I love.

What life looks like for a work-from-home dad.

What life looks like for a work-from-home dad.

My wife, who is both my life partner and my business partner, is right here with me.

And we find ourselves at a point that we need to pause.

For the past few years, our life has worked with the two of us “trading-off” time working, time with the kids, and time that we are all together.  We are committed to being the primary educators of our kids and believe in our approach to educating our kids, yet we find ourselves a little jealous of friends who suddenly have all this time on their hands having sent their kids off to school.

How do we find balance?

Maintaining-Balance-in-Life

How do we maintain the lifestyle we’ve chosen when opportunities abound?

For the past three years, one thing we have had very little of in our lives is routine.  We’ve kind of just gone with the flow and have done what we’ve wanted to whenever we’ve wanted to.  I haven’t used a calendar in years as I have easily been able to keep track of any meetings or commitments in my head.  In fact, I’ve avoided scheduling out too many things because I never knew if I’d feel like doing whatever was scheduled when the appointed time came!

Now, my wife and I find it necessary to settle for a while.  While we’d planned to spend 6 weeks traveling this fall, we’ve decided to just take a 2 week trip to Southern California and go on a few weekend camping trips with friends.  We’ve decided that we are going to have to seek out some programs and some kind of childcare for our kids so we can have dedicated time on our calendar each week so we can work.

We are embracing routine.

We’re not changing our lifestyle — we’re trying to figure out how to maintain our lifestyle amidst our new reality.

What about you?  My wife and I share equally responsibilities for maintaining our home, caring for and educating our kids, and working and making money.  I’m curious how others in a position similar to us manage everything.

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I’m glad you found our blog and that you’ve stuck around long enough to make it all the way to the bottom of this post!  I’m Clark, and my wife Monica and I are on a quest to work less, live more, and travel the world with our family.  We view life as a great adventure — that’s why we never really got too down even when we were moving into her parents garage.  On this blog you’ll read about many of our traveling adventures as well as how to live a life of your own design.  I hope this won’t be your last visit here. You can also like us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

  • Great post! It’s hard work creating a life that’s lived on your own terms! Hard work and a gajillion small steps all taken in the same general direction.

    We, too, are struggling to find the balance. Sometimes it seems like it’s all crazy and that we should go find teaching jobs again, but at other times we’re confident that it will work out. Lots of of ups and downs and putting one foot in front of the other.

  • Maybe the key is to have goals so you don’t get carried away with unlimited work opportunities. Many people say “if I ever made that much money, I’d retire or work half time.” But when they find themselves making “that much money,” they say, “it still isn’t enough, we are broke.”

    Perhaps if you have goals and reach them then you give yourself permission to relax.

    I haven’t learned this lesson yet 🙂

    But one thing I’ve learned is that when I work, I work hard, for maximum pay, so that I’m not wasting my time. That’s an important lesson I think.

  • Pingback: Unexpected Loneliness and Jealousy in the Life of a Homeschooler. | Family Trek()

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