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Every year we reflect back on all we’ve done and try to boil it down to a single word that captures it all. 2017 was definitive and this year we’re thinking 2018 will be momentum. But as dope as last year was, it was not without its challenges. In full transparency, neither is this year.
A few months ago we had an awesome opportunity to be featured on the Journey to Launch podcast and had a great time talking with Jamila, the host. While the conversation was positive there was a moment during our discussion where I casually referred to experiencing burnout and how our pursuit of financial independence was also a lowkey effort to shorten our exposure to the stress that comes along with a dual-working household at a high level. Honestly, this is something that’s been weighing on me for months…maybe even longer.
The combination of being new parents, work stress, pursuing financial independence, maintaining activity on our blog, dealing with family issues, trying to maintain a wellness routine, long business trips, rental property damage [more on that later] and oh trying to maintain a happy marriage takes its toll after a while. Knowing that literally everyone I know goes through this and more doesn’t make it any better. But when it comes to work stress, I don’t fully point the blame at the company I work for, I blame myself.
I knew precisely what team I aspired to be on and just how difficult it would be to put measurable and meaningful wins on the board. I saw several friends and co-workers come and go before me and left looking like Obama after two terms. I asked for a seat at the table, I got it and now I was dealing with all that comes with it. But, I also saw some pretty troubling things that gave me a reason to pause.
Well before I started to feel the effects, I saw co-workers quit to pursue jobs that gave them a better work-life-balance. I saw others quit to start their own businesses because the work they were doing wasn’t financially worth the stress they took on. I saw some make a conscious decision to be in less-visible roles and I saw myself gain a solid 15 pounds, blow money on a personal trainer, lose 10 and gain some of it right back.
I also had a co-worker pass away suddenly which just…broke our hearts. While she was definitely older and sick for some time, I fully believe that in addition to her illness, work-stress played a critical role in her inability to take better care of herself. But one co-worker’s departure impacted me the most. Not because we were super-close but because we bonded a bit while on a biz trip to San Diego. Her name is Monique.
After that long flight out west from ATL, we both exhaled and embraced the distance from the mother ship as soon as the Cali sun hit us outside the terminal. Anyone who travels for business consistently can attest to the benefits of being away from the office every now and then. When we weren’t working, we would slip into personal conversations and I shared my ideas on our blog, which at the time hadn’t launched yet. Naturally, that conversation blossomed into a discussion on life and we quickly learned that we shared similar points of view. This made me look forward to working with her more but I would soon learn that I wouldn’t get an opportunity to do that.
As the grips of the grind took hold, Monique’s five minute desk catch-up sessions quickly became drive-by’s. Soon, those drive-by’s became text messages and texts became “sorry I missed your text” emails a day later. A few weeks later, we got the note from her boss with the standard “she’s decided to pursue other opportunities“. Reflecting back on our conversation in San Diego, I knew something was up and shortly afterwards she swung by my desk letting me know that she just needed to take some time off.
She didn’t have to go into detail, but I knew precisely what she meant. I also knew in that moment, that our pursuit of financial independence was without question, the best thing for me and my family. If Monique chose not to do it and others before me fizzled out, there was little reason for me to believe that I was Neo from the Matrix and would somehow change the world with my magic touch. More importantly, I damn sure wasn’t about to risk my health pretending that I could.
A few months later she started a new job that gave her greater flexibility. Even more impressive, she started Self Revolution; a business consultancy as an Executive Health Coach where she teaches her clients about how to manage their stress and to use wellness as a mechanism to optimize their performance.
In a way, you could say her departure was a blessing in disguise because it afforded her the ability to start fresh and to find her purpose. Given my own struggles, I had to know more so I called her up and asked “what happened”? This is what she said…
Monique on her career, her drive and why she decided to leave
Monique on finding “balance” as a high-achiever
Monique’s “aha” moment and establishing boundaries at work
Monique on money and the role it played in her decision to walk away from a lucrative career