Life can make it hard to see a future beyond what you have. Sometimes you just need a squeegee.
I’d had it with the negative comments, the lack of desire, and his lack of purposefulness. I sat across the table from him and asked, “What happened to your smile? Where did it go?”
His animated answer caught me off guard, “Work is exhausting and I’m tired of feeling like my balls are in a vice.”
I said, “Then quit. I’m willing to sleep in a tent if it brings your smile back.”
Sanity won out. He didn’t quit, but it opened discussions about this stage of life we find ourselves in.
I love my man. He works hard to support us. We’re a two income family and both of us were working more hours than allowed us to live life. He’d reached the point of exhaustion working for someone else, and constantly feeling cautious that he might step out of line and lose his job, our health insurance, and his retirement. Some companies might be outstanding to work for, aware of the frontline worker who keeps them in business, but often once companies move beyond the ‘family size’ they become more about numbers and forget that it’s people who make them successful.
All of a sudden the things we owned, seemed to own us. In an effort to help take back his power, I asked him, “If you didn’t do this job, what else would you want to do?”
He had also reached a point in his life where the things of our twenties and thirties were the things of our twenties and thirties. We no longer are the couple who could play five softball games in one day, come back and do it for a championship on Sunday and still walk on Monday. The kids were off to college, and retirement is still years away…Now what? We weren’t ready to sit in recliners every day after work only looking forward to America’s Got Talent, or the ten o’clock news.
After much discussion, he created a bucket list and answered the question, “If I lose this job, what else would I do?”
He surprised me when he said he would like to wash windows. Being a naturally charismatic guy, I knew customers would love him. He did some research on what it took to be a good window washer, and found the supplies. For Christmas that year, I bought his company name, set up his business bank account, and business cards. We bought him a work truck and we plastered his business name and number on it.
He started slowly doing bids, got the jobs and I did the scheduling and billing. Before long he was making more in a few hours a day than he did all day at his warehouse job. He’s taken his power back. During job negotiations, he refused to take a salaried position knowing once that happens, they dictate your hours. His new perception of his control over his life helped him take a stand that is better for him.
I know my guy is not unique. Many men feel so responsible for their families they stay stuck in a job for more years then they should, and their dreams begin to die. There’s nothing wrong with being a responsible partner that supports a family, but dreams can make working to live bearable.
But an amazing thing happened. The business grew faster than we could keep up. Before long, I was washing windows along side him. He no longer worried about what he would do if his warehouse business shut down, or he got frustrated enough to quit.
His bucket list began to grow. In high school he was a competitive surfer. He’d surfed all of Oahu, but had always wondered what it would be like to surf other famous spots. So he added, Malibu, Maui, Huntington, Kauai, the Big Island, Australia, and Baja. To date, he’s surfed all those spots save the last two.
His business is growing, we’re having a blast working on our bucket lists and the best thing yet is—his smile is back.
Photo Credit: chucka_nc/flickr