This is the word that has been floating around in my head lately. Pivot. Because that's what we have done.
It's been 11 months since Jared quit his engineering job and we committed to working together full-time to support our family. 10 months since we moved to Florida. 8 Months since we launched our shop Coco and Viv. 7 Months since Jared started Ubering weekends and working weekdays as a handyman. 4 Months since I set up shop at Oh Whatever to sell my Coco and Viv wares. 2 months since we moved out of the 700 SF Cottage and 3 weeks since Jared started his job as a project engineer doing something very similar to what he did for many years in Iowa.
In some ways we have come full circle and in other ways we are in a completely different place than we were a year ago: literally and figuratively.
We came down to Florida with very clear objectives in mind: we wanted to pave our own path and live the way we wanted to live and not how Jared's job dictated us to live. We wanted him to thrive away from a job that was the only job he ever had after college and just wasn't fulfilling anymore. We also had the dream of working together, had tasted that during our flip houses and wanted that to be a full-time gig. Lastly, we hoped that working our own hours and on our own business would afford us a more intentional and connected life with our kids.
Moving to my mom's cottage in Florida gave us a free place to live while we got on our feet.
We had wanted to flip houses when we got down here but we didn't end up leaving Iowa with as much money in the bank as we originally projected... again, it would have been too scary (and stupid!) to spend everything on one investment.
So, we had to look for other ways to grow our business.
We started the online shop and it went fairly well but we quickly realized there was no way it was going to support us anytime soon. I know the statistics about businesses taking 5 years to produce a profit but I had hoped if we both worked at it very intensely (full-time and not as a side gig), that we could grow a profitable business much sooner. The first problem was that I was not comfortable gambling away our savings while we worked toward that goal for however long it took. Thousands of dollars were being spent a month to support our family and start our business and at the rate it was going, we were going to be out of money within 6 months. The second problem came when Jared got the handyman job for quick cash flow. We needed it, were so grateful and there was no way around it, but it took him away from our businesses so we weren't able to grow them as quickly. In short, we took an important step forward financially but backwards as far as the businesses were concerned.
My bread and butter had always been in Interior Design work and I wanted to continue that here as well. In Iowa, I had a large design clientele that was fairly easy to come by because I had lived there most of my life. In Florida, I underestimated how hard it would be to build up a totally new clientele in an area where no one knew me. I knew it wouldn't be easy but it felt near impossible. In addition, since I was spending ALL my time on Coco and Viv, I didn't exactly have a lot more to invest in design projects for clients. I love both avenues to our business but can't do them both full-time like they really needed to take off and support us here.
Which brings up the second thing I underestimated: a year's salary goes by very quickly when you've just moved across the country and are starting a new company (think: moving trucks, changing insurance costs, and business start-up costs).
Something else struck me about halfway in: I had completely taken for granted Jared's PTO when he had a salaried job. This past Christmas, we decided we would go home to visit family in Iowa. To save money, we had to buy plane tickets that returned us home to FL well after Christmas. It wasn't until about two weeks before we left that I realized the whole time Jared would be gone, he wouldn't be making any money because he wouldn't be able to work. DUH! Not only would we be paying for Christmas gifts and travel to Iowa, we weren't going to be getting paid for two weeks which was a big deal for us financially. It didn't feel like working for ourselves was giving us the freedom we had hoped for
After Christmas, we knew things weren't sustainable and as much as it felt like we were failing and the world was watching us do so, we did what we knew we needed to do: Jared started job hunting. At first we looked into jobs in other fields, we brainstormed things he could do that he hadn't done before but could possibly be equipped to do. In the end, we kept coming back to project engineering because it's where his experience is and where he was most likely to get a good job.
The interview process was fast yet tedious and he was offered something in the nick of time-- just before we would have to start paying for a rental due to my mom moving down and taking over the cottage. His new job is similar to what he used to do -- large-scale projects for a food manufacturing plant -- but this time it involves travel and is a much bigger, more profitable company that seems more organized and just an overall healthier and better fit for Jared. It's like the older brother version of his last job.
In some ways it feels like we didn't accomplish the goals we set out to do but I think if we look closer, we absolutely did. 1) Our family has never been closer and the memories we have from this past year will stay with all of us.
2) Jared is at a job he enjoys and will hopefully be really good for our family. I couldn't be more grateful that he got a good job in food manufacturing (which never goes away!) right before the pandemic hit.
3) We aren't working together everyday like I had originally hoped but here are my current thoughts on that... A) maybe that will still come and B) If our family is thriving in another way, I'm OK if it doesn't.
4) There are multiple ways to find more freedom. Working for yourself can afford you freedoms working for a corporation won't, like being able to take a spontaneous day off without having to ask anyone. However, depending on how much you make with your own business, it may cost a lot of time or effort for very little pay off. Sometimes having a stable job and good income actually brings you more freedom. Freedom to choose, freedom to vacation and still get paid, freedom to go to a good doctor because you have good health insurance. It all depends what you are willing to pay for said freedoms and what freedoms are the most valuable to you. I think you can find freedom both ways but we didn't have the luxury of endless time and money to figure it out.
Long story short-- if we had more savings and wanted to spend another year or two completely focused on this thing, I think it could have panned out more closely to how we originally envisioned. But the grind of trying to make ends meet was wearing on us and I had more anxiety and depression in the past 6 months than I had any other time in my life besides during my pregnancies.
So that's what I mean by PIVOT. Sometimes you set out for a goal, you try hard and realize that goal needs to shift and change. Over time, you realize you may have different goals for yourself than you did months or years ago. Your focus has shifted, circumstances have changed and it's time to reassess and sometimes, even, pivot. It doesn't make sense to hold fast to a dying dream or to seek after a goal you made in a different frame of mind.
I share this because so many people are afraid to follow big goals and dreams and I'm here to tell you that even though sometimes it can feel like a disaster when you are in the middle of it, it usually doesn't end up as badly as you might originally predict-- even if it doesn't pan out at all like you expected. And truly, if things don't end up exactly like you think they will: it's OK (hey sometimes, it's even better!). It doesn't mean you have failed, it means you have learned and grown and you never have to ask yourself "but what if?" regarding that topic again
I would do this all over. I live in my favorite place, with my favorite people and Jared has a better job than we could ever have hoped. The pressures of making our business work so I can pay the bills have subsided and I am FREE to enjoy my life again. Jared is enjoying his job and eager for what's to come. For us, this is working, and in a round-about-way we arrived to exactly the place we wanted to. At least for now, because I'll fully acknowledge we are still living in the middle of the story :)