The Painful Truth About Building Something You Love.
I met Jason when I was 18.
My friends and I were underage, and in exchange for a ride to a mutual acquaintances’ party, he agreed to buy us liquor. I would say the rest is history, but it’s not.
Jason was and is my best friend, even through the building of my blogs. Even through the late nights stooped over a laptop on the couch. Jason knew me as I went through the growing pains of my late teens and early twenties. He loved me before I loved blogging. Before I loved writing online.
We married in July 2014. He proposed before I decided I had enough of my job and quit for a temporary contract. When we tied the knot on July 19, he stood at the altar, as did I, unaware of what the future held for my career.
Three weeks after our wedding, I came across the catalyst for my deciding that I wouldn’t renew my contract with the company I worked for. He was already knee-deep in our marriage when I sat down with him to discuss my plans to cancel my contract, to grow those side businesses I was never starting, and to pursue a location-independent career.
Supportive at first, he gave me his stamp of approval. He cheered me on when I decided that, the day after I left my job and after my 26th birthday, I would leave for Europe for an extended trip, not seeing him for weeks on end. Then, I became shrouded by the dark cloud of entrepreneurship.
When I want something, I make it happen, and when I’ve committed to something, I’m like a dog with a bone. Nobody is taking it away from me. I started to build Unsettle, waking up at 5:00 AM to work on this thing for two hours before getting ready and going to work. On my breaks, I would work some more.
I’d get home, and after scarfing down some food, would sit down on the couch with my laptop on my lap and spend three, four hours pounding away on my keyboard, researching, taking courses, writing.
In the background, there was Jason. Wondering what he’d agreed to. Where his wife went, and how he could get her back.
He took on my side of the cooking, the cleaning, the pet parenting responsibilities. He got groceries and worked on the house. He would ask if I wanted to go for a walk, go on a date, or just sit and chat and I’d wave my hand, dismissing him. He sat at the wayside watching me slip into the entrepreneurial vortex, largely ignored and alone.
We’d argue about how much time I spent on my laptop. He saw it as evil — as the monster that was taking his wife away from him.
After three months of furiously working on Unsettle, my relationship with Jason came to its most tense point yet.
We fought more than ever, and spent so little time together that he told me he thought I was avoiding him. Entrepreneurship was eating me alive. I spent time with some friends, sure. I had weekly power hours with my cousin and took breaks when my family would come to town.
But the truth is that unless somebody scheduled time with me, it wasn’t happening. And Jason never scheduled time with me. So he was neglected.
The Sad Irony of it All
As our relationship slowly unraveled around us and my businesses thrived, a sense of irony struck me.
When I started Unsettle, when I quit my job and then didn’t renew my contract to work on side businesses, there was one driving factor: to build an awesome life for both Jason and myself.
I did the perfect day exercise, where I envisioned living in a little house on the lake in the town we got engaged in. I pictured Jason having to work only when it was something he said Hell yes! to. I wanted to grow my side businesses to the point where they could support the both of us.
I pictured slow mornings with him, kayaking and eating breakfast together, building a life together, spending more time together. In pursuit of that, the opposite happened. The dogged determinedness that is admired in entrepreneurship lit the match that was held to the wick of the dynamite that was my marriage.
I know that I’m the type of person who goes all in. Where other people have addictive personalities for mood-altering substances, I have an addicted personality when it comes to growth.
But I don’t think I’m alone in this.
And it’s easy to read my story and think to yourself: “Well, I would never do that.” But it’s a different ball game when you’re in the trenches building something you’re passionate about.
The high when you reach those subscriber milestones. That hit you feel when big names notice you. The rush you get when people offer you more money per hour to do what you love than you’d have made in an entire day before.
It’s addictive. It will pull you in. And, like any addiction, it will suck you dry. If you let it.
I’m happy to report that Jason and I are better now than ever but I hate to think about what would have happened if I didn’t have a come-to-Jesus moment and change things for good.
So my advice to you?
When you find that one thing, that one thing that you’re so passionate about doing that the word passionate becomes obvious, rather than a cliché? That one thing that keeps you up all night and makes it easy to get up a 4:30 AM? When you’re lucky enough to find that thing, remember why.
What’s it all for?
Because… if you neglect your Why, building your dream becomes redundant.
So write it down. Why are you doing this? Why do you want it? Know your Why. Write it on a Post-It and stick it to your mirror. Set a reminder on your laptop or your phone. Paint it on your wall, if you have to. Just remember it.
And the best part about this? The best part about remembering why you’re building what you’re building? Is that it will sharpen your saw. You’ll see more progress, and faster. Every milestone will be so much better. And you’ll actually be able to do what you love without sacrificing other things and people you love.
Sarah Peterson is the author of Unsettle.org, where she encourages people to never settle for careers they don’t love. Sign up for her free course to find the perfect idea for a lifestyle business so you can gain flexibility and freedom and do work you love.