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One of my goals/themes for 2020, set waaaaay back in January, was to find more flexibility in my schedule – for my kids. Because I realized quickly, after having a second kid, trying *trying* to work from home, managing a house in need of 1,000 repairs, and just generally feeling like our lives were a lot more chaotic than I remember, say, 1 year ago or especially 3 years ago… something dramatic could happen and we’d be in big trouble.

Did I predict that 2020 would be THIS DRAMATIC? No. But. Wow.

Our baby, Oscar, had pneumonia in January. This, after we had all just been passing around colds and what-not for months. Our kitchen was ripped apart. We were cooking on a hot plate at the dining table. Our house was always cold because our vent system wasn’t hooked up properly. And our work suffered. And, this isn’t great when you’re a self-employed couple.

It felt a bit like a black-hole… after multiple trips to the ER with our baby and a few clients who, you might suspect, weren’t happy with us. I realized that we had way too much on our shoulders. 

These are the tough parts of running a business and having a family I don’t hear much about – when everything depends on you, what do you do when things veer off path?

It sparked something in me where I knew I needed relief and flexibility. I don’t love having people mad at me. I don’t even really like having people emailing me just to “check in”, honestly. I always prided myself on my over-communication skills. Like, no email left unread! Inbox zero! 

That is no longer my reality. Something had to change.

I couldn’t bear the idea of closing up shop completely with alder|creative. It would put a huge weight on our existing clients, and I don’t like leaving people in the lurch. I also have realized through trial and error that I’m not currently interested in being a manager of employees. I also just couldn’t handle trying to manage website updates on Saturday nights while I’m trying to potty train a toddler and spend *literally* hours trying to get her to go to sleep.

So, we decided to do something drastic-ish and sell our business under the pretense that we would continue to work for the company. It was an important step. This allowed us the ability to share some of that communication burden with a larger staff without having to manage it ourselves. Also, we could have more freedom (oddly enough – isn’t that why people want to own a business?) by working as employees. 

It really is odd – the idea that people want to start a business for their freedom. I think it’s important to really REALLY dig in to what “freedom” means to you if you are thinking about starting a business – or really doing just about anything. Because everything you give your time or money to, is essentially a trade off of something else. 

For me, my freedom includes: not feeling like I’m *needed* by other people (except my family though I still struggle with that), being able to sleep in (when my family allows it anyway), taking breaks to watch YouTube in the middle of the day if I’m not feeling productive (again, kids, I didn’t mean LOL doll unboxing video), being able to change my mind, seeing a potential for something big and exciting to come, never talking on the phone, eating my meals at home, not commuting every day.

When I write this down, it really feels like I’m asking for some absurd demands though I do actually live this way and it does actually work for me and my family – for the most part, still working some kinks out. I know a lot of people don’t live the same way, because these are my own honed list of personal freedoms that I love and make me a better human being to myself and my family. 

And reading that list has given me some insight, along with experience when I’ve made the mistake of putting trading them in for something else – like money or prestige… I probably suck at having a full-time job. I really should never schedule morning meetings. I absolutely should not fill up my calendar to the brim. Mundane tasks, simple as they may seem – might never get done if put in my hands. I need good internet.

All this to say – before you make a big decision, listen to your gut. But also, if you’re like me and like to listen to your gut and think “but what if that feeling is just me needing to rise to the challenge?” and then you make a mistake, consider making your freedom list first.

What are you struggling to decide? Right now, the wild 2020’s are really hitting me hard. There seems to be a lot left *up in the air* and it can make decision making, or even taking the next step a really difficult journey. What could you do, based on your freedom wish list, to actually make a step in that direction today or this week?