how to balance success and happiness
What are your goals for 2021? This question has been very difficult to answer. Do I go big and project to double what I did in 2020 because 2020 was a joke, or do I stick with what I did in 2020 because 2021 is still such an unknown?
I still do not have an answer for where I will land for my 2021 goals, but what I do know is that, in my opinion, going bigger is not always the answer. In 2012, Spencer started his Real Estate business. In his first “year” (August-December) he did 7 deals. 2013-29 solo, 2014-30 solo, 2015-47 (+1 Agent), 2016-62 (+1 Agent), 2017-67 (+4 Agents). As you can tell, we just kept on growing… until 2018. He added team members and other agents to help him scale his presence. We hired an employee to handle more of the work that was not his strength. I scaled back on my work outside of the Real Estate business so I could be more hands on. We were 100% focused on growth. We were going to be a change agent in the Real Estate industry. Growth was all that was on our mind. We were taught that growth equaled success which equaled financial freedom and ultimately freedom as a family. However, what we were not taught was at what cost it would come.
At the end of 2017 and into 2018, we made a very hard decision to pull back. We just could not sustain the growth and expansion we were experiencing. Spencer was burning from both ends of the candle, I was miserable and experiencing anxiety higher than I had ever experienced in my life. Our kids were melting down and having behavior issues we could not explain, and our marriage was on the verge of falling apart. I can not explain to you the stress Spencer was carrying. We had for years believed in and casted the vision for exactly what was happening. Success was the product of all our hard work. Statistically, Spencer was on fire. He was winning every award possible. He was a huge deal, but our home and our souls were dying, and we almost pushed it too far. I honestly think we called it quits just before an explosion occurred within our relationship. We were headed toward Divorce. We just could not hang. It was not because of anything between us. It was because of all the demands of life we could not keep up with. We knew we were at a fork in the road. We had to either choose success and accolades as we understood it or choose our family and risk what that could do to the business.
In 2018, the deconstruction began; Spencer and 2 agents closed 61 deals.
My career journey was parallel in nature to Spencer’s and very much contributed to our near rock bottom. I was engulfed in my job. I loved it so much and could not believe I was given such an incredible role as a Financial Business Specialist for Financial Advisors within Ameriprise Financial. Unfortunately, however, I was drowning. I had not taken time off after Elliot’s traumatic entrance into the world. I was living in an everyday fight or flight pressure cooker. After Elliot’s heart surgery, I was so excited to get back to work that I did not take time to process all that happened to him, or me. After 2 years of living this way, I called it quits. In October of 2018, I walked away from what I believed was my dream job.. So here we were, I no longer had a job and Spencer no longer had his team in place to sustain the growth and expansion we were for so long taught to chase.
During the subsequent years, 2019 and 2020 and beyond, our household as a unit and individually sought out what it would look like to operate as a flourishing family unit. More on how we accomplished this later, but we focused on prioritizing us first. We no longer looked at accomplishment as more accolades and more money. We found out that accomplishment for us meant a healthy home. One that was sustainable, predictable, content, joyful, balanced, and ultimately one that was abundantly whole and healthy from the inside out.
In 2019, Spencer as the solo agent with 1 licensed support staff, closed the year with 51 deals, and I began a new career as a Mortgage Advisor closing 7 loans and in my first 10 months. This year, during a global pandemic, Spencer finished with 47 deals and I closed out the year with 30 loans. However, as we think about what is to come for 2021 for our family and our businesses, we both continue to remind ourselves that our accomplishments are not found in the volume of deals we close, but instead in the health of our hearts and our home. The most beautiful testimony in all of this is not only did we accomplish success in our home emotionally by adjusting, but we also have accomplished our financial goals, our time freedom goals, our travel goals, and our relationship goals. The books all say that the only way to accomplish these things is through financial/business growth. However, we are here to let you know that is not our reality.
In 2019 and 2020, our business productivity recovered to the range we expected out of the business. Our net profit has been the key measure of our business health and our household sustainability. Please see the graph below for statistical evidence of our reality. Based on this evidence, I can assure you the problem was not mismanagement of earnings. It was our inability to maintain the growth while still maintaining our overall soul health. Something had to give to bring better balance overall. Our goal has always been to accomplish both, not one or the other. If at any point our net profit was below 35% (the red line on the graph) I have learned it is a direct impact of more than just market conditions or mismanagement of resources.
What I want to leave you with is this, growth does not always equal success. Growth does not always equal profitability. Growth does not always equal a healthy heart and a healthy home. As you go into goal planning for 2021, be sure to assess not just your numerical goals from 2020, but take note of your overall physical, spiritual, mental and relational health. Growth and success are attributes we aim for in our family, but it is not more valuable than our holistic health as individuals and as a family. I hope you take your goal setting for 2021 and see it as an opportunity to look through the lens of what holistic health looks like for you and not just how you can reach the next level of growth and success.
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