My question to you is what Motivates you and is your Passion? Passion is not a job. Rethink your answer if you assumed it is the same thing. Also, rethink the tangible and the intangible. I am talking from experience and misconstrued priorities. I believed what I had been taught that tangible things and status would make me happy. These were things I was brought up to believe were the end-all. I quickly, but not soon enough, came to realize how wrong this message is. So, if you are trying to set the world on fire and climb the social ladder for status and success and think this will bring you happiness and contentment, please read this and think about your priorities and your passions.
I am going to step back to my younger self who was confident that I had made it and knew all of the answers. I am a planner, so I thought I had reached the pinnacle when I graduated college with an accounting degree, secured a job with Deloitte, was working to pass my CPA exam, had gotten married to my long-time girlfriend, and was on my way to making partner – all as I had planned. My wife and I thought I would climb my way up the corporate ladder for about 40 years, have a couple of children, and live happily and contentedly ever after. I was not only wrong, but I was disenchanted. I had bought into a false narrative. I also realized that my plans did not play out as smoothly and as easily as I had expected. Just because I wrote it down, didn’t mean it came to fruition. Wow! This was mind-blowing and unexpected.
First, I hit a brick wall with the CPA exam. I did pass it eventually, but it was an arduous two-year long undertaking which was also very humbling. Still, my wife and I plowed ahead – AS PLANNED. Remember, I was going to climb the corporate ladder and become a partner at Deloitte which would create bliss and be the answer to everything. I wrongly thought reaching the level of being a partner would make our lives so easy. Shortly after getting my CPA, I had an epiphany about all of this. In retrospect, I wonder why I was thinking EASY was the right way and the best way and why I was so consumed with income and status. With a new mindset, my wife and I paid off $76,000.00 of non-related mortgage debt and were undertaking the process of paying off our mortgage at breakneck speed.
So, what was the epiphany that changed my perspective? According to my PLAN, the thing that drove me was to become a partner in the company, have my wife stay home to raise our children, and relish in the status and affluence that came with climbing the social ladder. There is nothing wrong with this plan EXCEPT this would NEVER have brought me happiness and was only what I was striving for because I did not really understand passion nor did I have my priorities straight. Quite honestly, my EGO was what was driving me. I was worried about my reputation and my ego blinded me.
It wasn’t until one late night when I was doing an audit which was going to continue into the wee hours of the morning when my colleague, who was also striving to become a partner and had been clawing his way to the top of a daunting list for a long time, called his children to say good night. At that moment, I KNEW to the depths of my being that this life was not for me. What is the price of success? If not being fully present in my family’s life was the price for “status” and “success” as deemed by the masses, then I was out. I was not and am not willing to sacrifice time and experiences with my wife and our daughter to be a partner in any corporation or for anything else.
What an interesting concept – success. How do we define success? What is our passion? Are things more important than time with our loved ones? What is the price we are willing to pay to kiss our child or children and spouse good night? For me, there was no price. I knew when my colleague made that call that I would never pay the price of time with my family like that to be deemed “successful” according to society. Moreover, it also gave me pause to realize that my side hobby of helping others with their financial journeys was my real passion. It no longer mattered to me if it would be that lucrative, but I was certain it would be more fulfilling and that it would afford me precious time with my family. It would also allow me the freedom to reach the heights I wanted to reach without having to be a sycophant, feeling like a puppet in a costume trying to impress the higher-ups and groveling for any accolades that came my way.
That is how Budgetdog came to be. Some of you have heard my story of Budgetdog before, but it was at that moment, late at night in a gloomy office, when I decided that that life was not for me. I knew I needed more but not in the way society dictates or that our culture tells us is good and right. I have remained steadfast in my journey since that day to follow my passion and to align my priorities to what is helpful and good – not financially but moralistically – despite the fact that I didn’t even make a penny for the first sixteen months of its beginning. What began as my passion to help people and an attempt to find something more meaningful than my existence doing the same meaningless and rote job even amidst the gibes at a bachelor party in Las Vegas as my friends taunted me with “Budgetdog, Budgetdog, Budgetdog” is a life that affords me the time and ability to live life fully.
I remain resolute in my decision. I understand the difference between a job and one’s passion or mission. What began as a hobby and a desire to help others is now my full time endeavor. To date, I have aided countless to improve their lives financially and perhaps even emotionally by helping them alleviate undo financial stress. What is the price for that? There is not a price tag that I can put on it.The jeers did not and do not bother me. I am no longer a coward with a misplaced ego. Even when a Deloitte partner mocked me when I gave my two week notice as I told him about Budgetdog, I was not daunted. Laugh! That is fine. Now I have the last laugh. I am living a life of freedom and passion.
Think about your priorities – not those of others or of society. Often those are flawed. My priority is to my family. I quit my job a month before my daughter, Logan, was born. Her birth has even more profoundly changed my priorities. Partner? No thanks. Possessions? I don’t need or want them. Staying home, being with my baby girl is my priority. At all costs, our lives are about our families, not status which is such a subjective rating. Interestingly, our daughter was born with a rare genetic mutation called Dravet Syndrome which means constant care and monitoring as well as endless doctor visits, trips to the ER, and other things that are time-consuming that go beyond the normal scope of parenting. How blessed am I that I made the choice that I did, so I am able to be the caregiver for her. I can’t ever imagine putting work ahead of her needs. Life is too short and my time with my wife and daughter is worth more than anything. That is my passion, motivation, and priority.
So, I challenge you to assess where you are and to ask yourself the tough questions. Don’t define yourself by false definitions or what society has instilled as what you need and want. What are you willing to sacrifice and for what? This is truly personal. For me, time and freedom are more important than money and possessions. Of course, we need money to live, but how much and at what expense? Only you can answer that. Finally, don’t be surprised that when you do find your passion and trust your abilities, that you won’t exceed your expectations and that of others. I know I have but that was not the point. Passion and Priorities are!