Three months ago I did the unthinkable. Or, at least the unthinkable for me. When it comes to financial stability I've always been ultra conservative. I don't take career risks and I've always worked jobs I can count on to pay the bills. Most recently, I had a job at a good community bank. I worked an easy schedule (Monday through Friday, 7-3), got home at the same time every day, had good healthcare benefits for my family, 3 weeks paid vacation, etc. I would say it was the ideal scenario based on what the adolescent version of myself imagined adulthood to be.
It was so comfortable that I stopped pushing myself to strive for more. I was in a situation where earning that fourth week of vacation at year 10, or getting that annual raise (which was more of a guarantee than something that needed to be earned) were things that kept me motivated to stay put.
Meanwhile, my wife had been off blazing her own trail. Starting a company that was in perfect harmony with our beliefs and values and doing something that she was very passionate about. I remember when it all started for her. I remember being so proud of how hard she was working to make sure that our children could live their best lives and always have a parent with them. Her family-first mentality was the spark that pushed her to leave the stability of her previous career to become an entrepreneur.
Even with all of this inspiration unfolding right before my eyes, I still couldn't get myself to take the financial risk of quitting my job. We talked about it for over a year. We weighed the pros and cons, calculated our income and expenses and even discussed how it would impact our relationship. Still, after every conversation I walked away with the same predictable decision to stay put, because....well, it was just easier.
Eventually though, this began to wear on me. I became more critical of myself. I started to question what was really important in my life. I would ask myself, is the comfort of this job more important than time with my family? Am I afraid that I won't be able to buy that new pair of shoes, or new computer, or whatever material object I thought would make me happy? I soon realized that my greatest fear was actually regret. I feared that 5 years down the road I would be celebrating that fourth week of paid vacation as if 5 extra days would significantly improve my work/life balance. I feared that I was giving up the opportunity of a lifetime because I was afraid to take a risk. I thought incessantly about all of the memories I would miss because I chose to sit at the same desk, in the same cubicle, in the same building, all because of my own insecurities.
That's when things changed. My conservative, financial mentality had completely flipped. I decided that no matter what happens, even if it only worked for 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, etc. Those would be years that I would cherish forever. Because in the end, I'm not going to remember that time I got coffee in the break room, or the time I got to work early enough to park in the front row. I'm going to remember seeing our son, Milo, smile from ear to ear every day he walked out of pre-school. I'm going to remember making robots out of cardboard boxes, and random (weekday!) lunch dates with my wife.
I'm just 3 months into this new chapter and every day is a reminder that I made the right decision. Don't get me wrong, every day is also filled with challenges, screaming children, and much more work than any job I've had. But in the end, I get to do it with the people I love. And Urban Oreganics is doing better than ever! If I have one piece of advice that adult me could have passed on to adolescent me it would be take more chances and overcome the fears that are holding you back. Because if I didn't do that, I would be sitting at that same desk in that same cubicle, in that same building, thinking about what could have been.