As my newly minted 3 year old practices his deep breathing exercises that he’s learned at school this year, I find myself doing the same. I don’t think that in my entire life I’ve ever had to say to myself, “take a deep breath” so many times throughout the day, in fact I might have scoffed a bit at doing so. Yet, over the last 10 weeks, that’s been a constant coping mechanism!
After a tumultuous year, which saw me move countries, begin a new job, have a new kid and more I was ready for stability. I looked forward to beginning a new academic year with a bit more predictability and stability. But as luck would have it, a job opportunity presented itself in the first week of August and after some careful consideration I decided to take it on. This meant that I had a mere three weeks to prepare for an entirely new job with high stakes expectations and deadlines that would require a ton of learning! Combine this with the fact that I was renovating three houses at once (more on that in forthcoming blog posts) and the result was a lot of stress.
From mid August until present, my schedule has been as follows:
5:15 – Wake up and work for 30-45 minutes (kids permitting)
7:35 – Leave for work
5:35 – Return from work, cook, play with kids, perhaps field a couple of phone calls
8:00-9:30 – Make phone calls to hvac guy, electrician, insurance company, utility company, city, realtor, property manager, project manager, plumber, closing company, attorney, mentor, and more. (Oh and of course still keep in touch with family and friends)
9:30-10:30 – Catch up on work and follow up on the 65-75 work emails I receiving each day.
Needless to say, I’ve struggled to keep up with the blog!
So what has this all taught me?
I wish I could say that I’ve learned I need to focus solely on what makes me a better person or makes more money but the equation isn’t that straight forward. On the one hand, a good flip earns me 4-6 months salary, so there’s a little part of me that wonders on those paydays if it’s worth working in a position which demands a great deal of time, energy and emotion. But at the end of the day, I have too much commitment to the students I work for, the colleagues who brought me on board and commitment to my own personal code of ethics to short change my students.
Maybe what I’ve learned is that when working at my full capacity, there come times when I have to be okay with things falling through the cracks. It’s going to happen. And for the most part, I have to prioritize my 9-5 job over other commitments because students’s college application deadlines don’t wait, test registrations don’t wait and a student’s personal crisis certainly won’t wait! At the end of the day my real estate investing is something I need to fit around my other responsibilities (although I hope that changes some day).
Additionally, I’ve had to remind myself frequently that there are seasons in life. As I’ve paid a babysitter for the past 6 weeks to watch the kids so my wife and I could go to a cafe and work or run errands, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that this is a season. I’ll eventually master my new job, I won’t always have three rehabs going on, college application deadlines will be wrapped up soon. Again, I breath.
Finally, I am reminded that prioritizing work-life balance isn’t a bad thing. There have been a number of times when I have intentionally prioritized a student issue, time with family, a run to clear my head or watching Netflix with my wife over something stressful that’s looming. As a real estate investor and school counselor, I’m acutely aware that both professions leave people prone to frustration, and an early exit from the profession due to burnout. I’m not going to let this happen! So when an unexpected expense pops up, an install gets delayed or I’m just too damn tired to muster the energy to make phone calls at 9:00 pm after getting my kids to bed, I sit, close my eyes and: