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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Ann

Paradigm Shift: A Conversation with my Brother

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

My brother Jeffrey came over around 8 o’clock to say goodbye. He was heading back to Colorado in the morning. When he came in, we sat on the couch and talked for over an hour. I told him I’d been working non stop since morning. A client had asked me if I could finish a website sooner than the deadline we originally set. Without thinking I said ‘yes’. That simple ‘yes’ meant I’d be working long hours throughout the day and into the evenings.

I asked him, “When someone asks you to finish a job sooner than you originally told them, what do you say?”

Without skipping a beat he said, “I tell them I can’t do it, I’m a one man show. Sometimes people would offer me a lot of extra money to finish the job sooner. When this happened, I started saying ‘yes’ a lot more. I couldn’t say ‘no’ to the money. Friendships and relationships were slowly falling apart because all my time was spent working. I realized if I wanted to have a life outside of my work, I had to find a way to say ‘no’. Once I realized this, it didn’t matter how much money they offered me.”

I said, “Wow, I need to start saying ‘no’ more often.”

He said, “It’s so hard though, especially when you have something you want and that extra money could make it possible.”

I told him, “I’ve been wanting to buy a house for the last year or so. Having a larger down payment will help lower the monthly payment, so I’ve been working very hard to save as much as possible. I don’t want to keep saying ‘yes’ to everything. If I do, I’ll have to maintain the same level of workaholism once I get a house, just to keep it. That’s a recipe for a very miserable life.”

We both realized that we want to live a simple and fulfilling life more than we want material things or large paychecks.

Recently, he purchased a truck he’s been dreaming of owning for years. When he came to town a few weeks ago, I got to ride in it with him. I’m so proud of him for having a dream and finding a way to make it happen. When we went for a ride in the truck he didn’t seem super excited like I thought he’d be.

I said, “Are you over it?”

He said, “Yeah pretty much. I worked so hard to get it and now that I have it, the excitement is wearing off.”

I hardly knew what to say, because at that moment I completely understood where he was coming from. We are so similar. We see something we want, we figure out a plan, we work the plan, and we make it happen, that’s just who we are. Somehow though, just before we accomplish what we’ve been working so hard for, we pick something else to chase after. Once we get what we’ve been working so hard for, all we can think about is the next goal. I still can’t believe after so many years working so hard, we’ve never actually sat down and talked about this topic together. He’s owned his own business for a little over three years now.

Looking back on the times he spent working at his shop he said, “Man, I was so happy back then, but as soon as there was a new opportunity in Colorado, I couldn’t wait to get the heck out of there. I was booked out for 3 months at a time, but I felt so stuck.”

I relate to that so much. I generally don’t book myself out for 3 months for this very reason. It’s not that we don’t love our work, we love the challenge the work brings. Starting a business is a challenge, getting clients is a challenge, and that challenge