Warning: This post contains the F-bomb. Actually, it contains lots of F-bombs, so if you’re offended by strong language click away now. If not read on.
I sold my real estate business in 2006. The story I tell is that I woke up one morning and said enough is enough. I’d looked into the future and didn’t like the picture of a grey haired 55 year-old wearing an Hawaiian shirt and white shoes standing at a home open. But the truth is the seeds of my dissatisfaction started years earlier and many of them were documented in a journal I kept at the time.
Here, in part, is what I wrote in December 2002.
Fuck I hate my business. I hate the shitty attitudes of some of my staff. I hate that everything falls back to me to sort out. I hate that I’m responsible for everything that happens in that place. I hate that people can’t get along and work together in harmony.
…Right now I just want to sell up so I don’t have the responsibility of…making sure that money goes into the right account or audits get done or any of the other 4 million tiny fucking things that need to be done.
…This business is such a fucking drag. I get tired just thinking about it. I want to go to sleep. I just feel tired and drained and exhausted.
There’s a doubt there, something holding me back. My ego [is] telling me to hang in there, be tough, don’t let it break you, don’t be a quitter. They’re all there – the male mantra for doing it tough in the face of adversity. It’s a decision only I can make…Fuck it takes some bravery, some courage some balls.
If I sell I need some sort of coach to hold me to my course of action. Lots of people will try to talk me out of the decision, they’ll make it seem like a bad idea and given time and a few goals I’ll feel better about staying. So why not stay? Why not hang in there? If I know that I’ll feel better about my business in 1,2. 3 months time then why not just grin and bear it? Because I just don’t feel I’ve got enough strength to keep on going. I just don’t feel like I’ve got the strength to keep lifting others up, keep myself pumped up.
As I read this back I sense again my frustration and anger, both negative emotions. Perhaps my business could have been even more successful had I been more positive. I’ll never know. That aside I recall well the sense of running through treacle, of a pressing weight crushing the life out of me. Sure, I had my good moments – in fact they outweighed the bad – but when the tough stuff came along it was all I could do to keep moving.
But what I do know is the day I announced that I sold my business was a day that I got my life back. I felt a giant weight lift from my shoulders and a relief that I no longer needed to live up to the expectation of others.
The lesson I learned from this transition was that this is my life, not someone else’s. And while endurance and sacrifice have their place they’re values that should be used in the service of creating happiness, not of holding us enslaved to outdated societal norms.
So how do you know when enough is enough? My advice is to never compromise on your happiness. Don’t suffer things in your life that drag you down or that make you feel less than invincible. Sure, endure and walk through the suffering but do it because it makes you happy and empowered, not because of some outdated ‘should.’