Before I share with you this story, I want to thank my husband, Brian, for giving me his blessing to share it with you. He is the best human being I've ever met and allowing me to share part of his story in hopes that it might help someone else just adds to the very long list of why I love him.
My husband Brian worked as a financial advisor for years. It was a stressful job to say the least. After our twin boys were born, Brian began to get very sick. We were in and out of the hospital with him four different times over the period of a year. He had to have infusions and was taking more pills than I had ever seen anyone take a day. He was so sick he was missing out on his kids’ lives.
The summer of 2016 I begged him to quit his job. I said, “just quit and focus on getting better.” He thought it would be incredibly irresponsible for him to quit. After all, his paycheck was providing for our family of five.
In September of 2016, he left his job. He didn’t know what to do. When you’ve done something for so long, whether we like it or not, it kind of becomes part of how we define ourselves. We spend so much of our time working our job that when we don’t have that job anymore we think, “Who am I? What is my purpose now?”
Brian had seen how I had worked really hard to redefine my life. He had seen firsthand the work I had put into changing things so I could have a life I love. He wanted that for himself too. Thankfully, he allowed me to help him on this journey of rediscovery. We sat down and decided he needed some good quality time off for his body to heal. We put a date on the calendar of January 14th, 2017 - that’s when he would start really looking for a new job, but until then, his only job was to get healthy, both mentally and physically. This gave him four months to not worry about finding a job, but to just get better. A dear friend of mine said it best, "It's the whole airplane mentality, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help anyone else."
I know my husband incredibly well and knew without having something to do, he would get down very easily. So I said, “make a list of all the things you’ve had on your mind you’ve wanted to do, but somehow there just never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish them.” He started making a list of things like cleaning out the garage, organizing the tools at the studio, etc.
He also began seeing a career counselor once a week. Usually, this counselor helps people who retire figure out how to spend their time, but he told Brian on his first visit that he really admired Brian and thought he was brave because he was taking a little time off to figure out how he would enjoy spending his days. During his time with this counselor he took a series of tests and a few days before we took Zeke on our one-on-one trip with him, Brian received the results. I remember reading them and just being stumped.
Brian has a masters in business. He is honestly one of the smartest people I know. The test results went into great depth about each of Brian's natural strengths (logical, responsible, organized, calm, adaptable, charming, dedicated, observant) and what is great about this part is these are the strengths Brian was born with. These are the things no amount of education is going to change. This part of the test results was so fun to read because it were spot on! The final page of his results was titled, Occupations you would enjoy based on your character strengths, along with a list of different job titles. The list read:
Heavy Equipment Operator
Rail Yard Engineer
These are all honest, hardworking jobs, but the list surprised me. Somehow I couldn’t imagine him not in some kind of corporate setting. I didn’t really know how to respond to the test results so I just said, “Wow! What do you make of this?”
His answer, “I’m not sure.”
So we just sat with it for a few days.
Another thing that I've learned on this journey that Brian and others in his position feel is a great amount of guilt. I know, for Brian, he felt incredibly guilty he had spent time and money earning degrees and somehow not putting those to direct use seemed irresponsible to him.
At the time, I was reading Grace not Perfection by Emily Ley. In the book she writes a chapter about defining the life you want to live. Here is an excerpt that I read aloud to Brian:
"Your job is just one tiny part of your life. We talk so much about choosing jobs or selecting careers. But what if we chose a life instead? Whether you’re seventeen or seventy-five, you can define the life you want to have. Better yet, you can decide how you want to spend your days. God numbered and gave you every single one of those days, so what if you lived each one to its absolute fullest? Instead of molding your life around your job, choose or create a job that supports and accentuates the life you want to have. Who says you have to work eighty house a week to be financially or professionally successful? In fact, who says you have to work forty? Who says you have to go to work at 8am and clock out at 5pm? You, my friend, have options. You have the freedom to design a life that is beautiful and filling and impactful. Yes, it takes hard work, sacrifice, and planning, but it is possible to create the life you dream of.”
Emily wrote one more thing that is just too good not to share:
"Whatever your calling is, God wrote it on your heart when He made you. It can take a long time to discover that calling, and I believe a person’s calling can change over the course of his/her life. In Luke we are reminded, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (12:34). Whatever you can write, sing, or talk about for hours - that is the calling God’s leading you to."
So I asked Brian this question: "What could you google all day long and never get bored?"
His answer: "Real Estate."
To be honest, when he said that I thought to myself, “Oh no.” Simply because in my mind, real estate meant becoming a real estate agent and while Brian has many, many, many strengths, sales is not one of them. (He is nodding in agreement as I type this!)
A few days later we were driving to Waco with Zeke and we purchased Chip and Joanna’s audiobook, The Magnolia Story, to keep us entertained on the drive down. I will remember the following moment as one of the most defining, pivotal moments in our lives:
We heard Chip Gaines say the following on the audiobook:
"My parents did teach me the value of a dollar - and of hard work too. We were always working together as a family, out in the yard or inside the house. That was the beginning of a thought that became a full-fledged goal after I graduated from college. I told myself that I was going to live the rest of my life as if it were Saturday. I told that to Jo early on, and she was a bit put off by that. At one point she said to me, "Chip, life just isn't like that. Life isn't always Saturday." I realized I needed to clarify what that phrase meant to me - so I suppose I ought to clarify it here too.
When I was growing up, Saturdays weren't always easy for us. In our house, you didn't sleep in until noon and the go to the beach. We would wake up at seven thirty on Saturday mornings and pull weeds until eleven. Once we were all sweating our brains out, then came out the lemonade, or here came the Popsicles. Then it was usually back to work - cleaning the house, cleaning our rooms, maybe helping Dad with some project. But when evening came, we would pack up the car and go for a real treat.
A real treat to us sometimes just meant McDonald's for dinner. If it were a big treat, Mom and Dad would take us camping for the night, or maybe we'd go to a movie once in a while. Whatever it was, it was fun. And that's what Saturday came to mean to me.
For us, Saturdays weren't about work, even though we did a lot of work. They weren't about going to an office somewhere, or to school, and having the whole family separated for the whole day. Saturdays were less structured. They were about getting the work done so you could go jump in the pool or have an ice cream cone.
There was something about school that didn't work for me - something about the fact that you had to turn in these assignments and you had to be there exactly when they said or else there was some disciplinary effort. Even before I got out of college, I vividly remember thinking, I'm gonna put up with this for as long as I have to. But the second I don't have to put up with it anymore, I'm out. And I'm gonna live every day for the rest of my life as if it's Saturday.
And then Brian, reached for the volume, turned off the audiobook and said, “That’s it. That’s exactly what my test results mean.”
So here it was, November and he knew what he wanted to do. He spent the next two months soaking in all the knowledge he possibly could on flipping houses.
I’ve always said Brian has one thing that can’t be taught to even the smartest of people and that’s his like-ability factor. He just has a way of making everyone in the room feel important. Somehow the combination of his financial background and his like-ability factor was the perfect combination for flipping a house.
He purchased, renovated, and sold this home in 60 days. More importantly, he came home every single day during this time saying, “I’ve never been happier.”