I'm not willing to trade

Monday, September 11, 2006

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her.
Proverbs 3:13-18, NKJV

Last time, I wrote about my realization that this season of my life is “next” and about my decision to stop actively pursuing whatever may come after that. The reason for this post is to expand on one thing I wrote: “Continuing in a great career which still allows me to be engaged in my family’s daily life is NEXT.”

I do have a great career. While working a full time job, I started as a part time independent computer consultant and trainer in 1994 and incorporated as Pragmatic Computing (PC, Inc. - isn’t that cute) in 1st quarter of 1996. Then I rode the Y2K wave all the way into the new century. As companies upgraded their time and billing software, they upgraded their productivity software - and I did everything I could to make sure I was there to help. Monday through Thursday I scheduled classes for staff in the mornings and afternoons and for attorneys in the evenings. Fridays would usually be spent “floating” around the company assisting and troubleshooting. Countless hours at home and between classes were spent creating curriculum, arranging facility and computer rentals, learning every nook and cranny of the software I was teaching and preparing books and handouts for in class time. I longed for the weeks when I trained at companies other than law firms, because I got the evenings off! I had thrown myself into my career and achieved things I never thought I could. I generated an income I never thought I would. After a few years, I was physically and emotionally worn OUT and missed my family. I had discovered the price for all this “success” was too high and that I had defined success by worldly standards that I didn’t really buy into. My journal entries from that time in my life spells it out. This demanding, consuming schedule was NOT something I wanted for my family.

So, rather than ramp up our lifestyle to match our income, my husband and I stayed steady, made what we hoped were wise financial choices and prepared for me to cut back at work to focus on our family. I was able to cut WAY back on my business for the last five years. I retained a few of my favorite clients and only accepted new clients by referral. On average, I worked 10 to 20 hours per month. It was the right decision for our family at the time.

Last month, my daughter entered kindergarten and, armed with my family’s support, I believe we all are ready for my business to constitute a larger percentage of our lives. This time, I have a very different idea of success and have defined limitations for work which I fully intend to keep. So, I’m putting more time and effort into my existing business. But this time, I’m not willing to sacrifice what is important to my family for financial gain or career advancement. While those things would be wonderful, I’m not willing to trade my life (and my family’s life) for them. I’m still only accepting new clients by referral. I’ve gotten some new referrals and some of my current, but inactive clients have been calling. My hours are picking up, seemingly all on their own, but, barring a RARE exception here and there, I limit my work time to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, while my kids are at school.

We’ll see how I do. I’m very determined now, but I haven’t had to turn down any work yet. That will be the real test of my resolve.

The scripture at the beginning of this post was from the NKJV. But I also like what “The Message” has to say:

You're blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. She's worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. She's the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight-and be blessed! Proverbs 3:13-18, The Message