Eleven years ago, I was in a tight spot.
I was married with a three-year-old daughter and a two-year-old daughter.
I had followed what society taught me to do to be successful.
I was an excellent student in high school and earned a scholarship to college.
While growing up, I dreamed of being a physician.
However, after my second year of college, I abandoned the idea of a career in medicine.
It was a perplexing time for me.
My life goal was removed from me, and I floated around like a boat without a rudder.
I took some odd dead-end jobs and found myself living paycheck to paycheck.
After a few months of this meager existence, I took myself to the Army recruiters office and signed my life away to Uncle Sam for the next three years of my life.
My short Army career brought stability back into my life and helped me figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
While I was in the Army, I took a few accounting classes and really took a liking to the business and money.
After my enlistment ended in the Army, I spent three years getting my undergrad degree in accounting.
While in college, I bought a janitorial business.
Owning the janitorial business was wonderful.
I was making good money and the freedom that comes with business ownership.
As I finished my accounting degree, the old societal programming overtook my mind.
Get good grades, they said.
Go to college, they said.
Get a good job, they said.
You’ll be happy, they said.
I had checked two of the three boxes off on the Societal Happiness Master Plan.
I’m almost there, I thought.
Now all I have to do is get a good job and then I’ll be happy.
I got a job as an accountant at a small business and was elated at the new doors of opportunity and happiness that would now be mine to grab hold of.
There I was.
Good grades -> Check!
Go to college -> Check!
Get a good job -> Check!
Happy I was?
No, happy I was not.
I stayed with that good job for two years and moved onto another good job.
The initial enjoyment I had from the job had now faded.
I still had the good job, but happiness was elusive.
So, I looked back to the Societal Happiness Master Plan and concluded I needed more college.
I enrolled in a Master of Business Administration degree program.
The next three years were a whirlwind as I worked full time at my good job and pursued my MBA part-time in the evening and weekends.
Two years into the MBA program, I came to a breaking point.
I was burnt out and exhausted from burning the candle at both ends so much that the candle was completely depleted
What was once a bright shining beacon of light was now nothing more than a few ashes.
That’s when my boss informed me that my services were no longer needed for my good job.
I spent the next several months, finishing up the MBA program thinking expectantly that finishing up this second degree would land me to the path of happiness.
Then I came to the fateful day.
Pomp and circumstance blissfully filled the air.
I was dressed up in my cap and gown.
I walked across the stage and received my diploma for the past three years of diligent effort.
I went back to the Societal Happiness Master Plan.
Good grades -> Check! Check!
Go to college -> Check! Check!
Get a good job -> Check! Check! Uncheck!
Happiness was nonexistent.
The Societal Happiness Master Plan wasn’t working for me.
I tried as I could to get a new job, but it was the beginning of the Great Recession, and new jobs were scarce.
I started to draw a weekly unemployment check to help make ends meet while I endeavored to come up with a solution to my depressing life.
I looked back at my years of work experience and asked myself a few questions.
When I enjoyed my work the most?
What were my unique strengths?
What kind of difference did I want to make in people’s lives?
How can I combine work I enjoy with my unique strengths in a way that makes a difference in people’s lives?
The answers to these questions led me to opening an accounting business to help small businesses.
I slowly built a client base, and as I learned of different challenges they faced, I developed solutions to their challenges.
While I experienced income growth in my first two years in business, I made a critical mistake.
I allowed my business to overspend.
My business spent more than it made most months.
I kept telling myself that all I needed was more revenue to fill the gap between what I was making and what I was spending.
After two years of this flawed thinking, I examined the results of my thinking and business behavior.
The results I saw caused my heart to sink.
All my credit cards were maxed out, and my personal savings was depleted.
I took a long, deliberate look at the man in the mirror.
It was shameful.
How could I have gotten myself into this predicament?
How could I have dwindled my nest egg?
How could I have destroyed my finances?
I thought I knew better.
After all, I had an accounting degree. This should have meant I knew a thing or two about money.
After all, I had an MBA degree. This should have meant I knew a thing or two about business.
After all, I had run a successful business for several years. This should have given me practical experience about business.
However, all my knowledge did me no good because I didn’t have the right actions in place.
I had allowed myself to have sloppy business spending habits that broke the two pivotal pillars of money.
- Pay Yourself First.
- Spend Less Than You Earn.
I recognized the folly of my ways.
I changed my behavior by paying myself first and keeping my business spending below my business income.
Slowly but surely, I began to right the ship of my failing business.
Over the next few years, I changed my business from one that had negative profits to a business that had profits greater than 75% of income.
My life changed because I changed my business and forced it to live within its means.