During my second tour in Iraq, I decided to leave the Army. I wanted to see my baby girls grow up-not something I’d be able to do while on government sponsored camping trips in the desert. If I wanted a relationship with my children, it was clear that a career as a soldier wasn’t for me.
I didn’t know what I’d do after leaving, though.
I knew I didn’t want to go back to my old life as an auditor. I knew I didn’t want to leave home before my wife woke up and get back after she went to bed. I didn’t want to wear a suit, spend over two hours in my car every day, and sit in a cubicle all day developing a bad back and pressure sores on my derriere.
What was an auditor turned soldier to do?
After discussing the situation with my wife, and ‘running the numbers’, I decided to build a business of my own. Since then, I’ve managed advertising for a virtual television station and a gaming magazine, provided contract consulting services for various publishers, and started a media company with a friend. Over the last three years, I’ve beat the odds-I’ve successfully provided food and shelter for my family, growing my business, even in the face of an economic downturn.
I’m tired, though.
When you have a ‘real job’, there are no guarantees. You can trick yourself into thinking you are safe, though, and that gives you peace of mind. When you work for yourself, particularly when you’re starting out, you are always aware that you are one lost customer (or two) away from red ink. You work twice as hard for twice as long, and try to ignore constant calls from head hunters, beckoning you into that nice cozy cubicle like spiders sweet-talking a fly. It can be a mentally, and spiritually, draining experience.
I’ve been long distance sprinting for a long time.
Lately, I’ve been taking steps to streamline my hellish schedule. I’ve started being smart about how I check email, and I’m slowly chipping away at my huge TO DO list. This isn’t something I’m doing because I’m oh-so-smart. It’s a matter of self-preservation. There’s no way I can keep up this pace anymore.
At Deloitte & Touche, they harped at us to establish some work-life balance. I’m hoping to slide more and more life into the equation by the end of the year.
Do you work for yourself? Do you run your own business? How do you balance your schedule? What skills have you developed to help you run your race with endurance?
Icon courtesy: Open Clip Art