This is a picture of me flying over the Atlantic, nestled in a first class down comforter. If you’ve never had the opportunity to fly this way, I’m going to honest—it doesn’t suck. You arrive at your destination refreshed and ready for whatever adventures lie ahead, without a kink in your neck or bags under your eyes.
Our ability to lay flat and sleep on the plane didn’t come easy. It came from a whole lot of consistent hard work. And that hard work happened in part because we’re driven people who are wired to want to make a difference. But also because we were scared as hell to wind up back where we were when we first started a family.
While many of you may know the story of where John and I were professionally and personally when I first started our direct sales business (getting by but not getting ahead), you probably don’t know how lean the first couple years of parenting were for us and that our sleeping conditions 35,000 miles high were far more comfortable than those just a dozen years ago.
When John graduated from medical school, we moved to Montana to start his practice and our family. I was seven months pregnant with Nate as we drove with my sister Connie from Seattle to Bozeman, excited for our new town and the house that we had been building from afar. We were just a few weeks from completing construction, transitioning the construction loan to a mortgage and getting all settled before John had to take his board exams and the baby came.
When we arrived in Bozeman we were shocked to find that the house was far from completed and the GC on the project had left us with a slew of unpaid invoices to subs and liens on the house. While my sister graciously outfitted her bonus room into a studio apartment and nursery, John took on the role of GC in addition to his round-the-clock studying and searching for the location for his practice. Finishing the house cleaned out our savings that was supposed to get us through he start-up of John’s practice and my unpaid maternity leave, plus a gift from my sister, and shortly after Nate was born we were able to move in.
As winter approached, his practice wasn’t in the black yet, and while I was grateful for my PR job, it was a big paycut from Seattle. We scrimped wherever we could, mostly living on rice and beans and discounted bagged salads. We couldn’t afford window coverings to keep the heat in and couldn’t afford to heat the whole house. So we focused the dampers on the baby’s room to keep Nate warm, while we slept huddled together in two pairs of sweats and blankets piled on us. There were mornings we woke up and could see our breath as we said good morning.
Within a year, because the success of John’s practice and my continued pay raises, we were able to get back to a comfortable financial picture. Yet we knew we were one you-gotta-be-kidding-me event away from being back to that scary struggle. So when the chance to start my own turn-key skincare business fell in my lap, we both knew we’d be nuts not to go for it.
And so I did, working every day for three years until we had built financial security. I worked on weekends and vacations, and with the same intensity during the summers that I gave the rest of the year. Was it hard? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Absofrickinlutely. And not because I get to cozy up in a Heavenly Bed comforter at 35,000 feet. But because of everything that comes with being able to fly first class. The freedom of choice. The luxury of time. The ability to give back. And all the priceless relationships and experiences that come with substantial success.
So when I hear aspiring entrepreneurs say they’re going to take it easy over the Summer, or they allow excuses to derail their progress, I think back to our winter of discontent. And I can’t help but ask, “How badly do you want success?” Are a few hard-working Summers worth it to create a life you don’t need to take a vacation from? I sure think so, in fact I’m living proof of it.