Chasing Dreams is Hard Yakka

Steve Johnson, a happy man today!
When Steve and I came back to Singapore about 18 months ago, we decided it was time to chase our dreams. There are plenty of dreams in the mix, but the fundamental thing we’re chasing is freedom – the freedom to work hard doing the things we LOVE, have enough mullah in the bank to do the things we want, to not be controlled by someone else’s schedule, to live in a beautiful home and enjoy adventures as a family, and to have the extra time we need in the day to be there for our mini loves and each other. Since that time, every day we have gotten closer to achieving our dreams and then the next day have taken about 10 steps back. I can definitely say it ain’t been easy and my aching jaw is testament to the stresses and strains of this time.

About 12 months ago we recognised a fundamental flaw in our strategy – there is only room for one entrepreneur in any relationship, and that entrepreneur needs the time and space to grow an empire. We’ve both been trying to do it together, which has caused a lot of instability, and that means mega stress! So we agreed that Steve would find work, which would give me the space I need to grow the business. Once I am successful, Steve can retire and play golf every day.

Unfortunately, my love is extremely specialised and very senior in his field, so finding a job has not been an easy task. In the last 12 months he’s been on the hunt, he’s had a lot of intense disappointment along the way. Not easy for a man to deal with - especially a man like Steve. But today we got some awesome news. After four months of back and forth with two companies, he has secured a position running the region for both across Asia Pacific and the Middle East. It’s actually a very unique opportunity – one that lets him do something he’s brilliant at – building a business across this region. It also maintains our ultimate goal of freedom, because even though he’ll be working for someone else, he’ll be completely independent and building it how he sees fit. It gives him space to grow other opportunities as well – and that makes him happy. I’ve got to say it’s been a long process - one that often looked like failing - and that alone has been exhausting. So Steve my love – congratulations, we can breathe again.

On my side, I’ve had more of a mish-mash of experiences along the way.  I want to write for a living – full stop. I write lots of different stuff already, but professionally I’m a business story teller, predominantly for the IT industry, but I can write about any business. The challenge is finding the right people who have a serious need for someone with my skills. Most of the big companies remain dependent on headquarters for content, while the smaller companies either don’t see the value or just don’t have the budgets. Sometimes it feels like what I offer is ahead of its time for Asia, and other times, I’m just not speaking to the right people. But I keep building, I’ve picked up a fabulous new client recently, won another deal with a major IT player that is significant professionally but not financially, and there are a few more opportunities in the mix. So I too am getting there after a long slog.

Up until this point, we haven’t been able to achieve “the flow.” Any new business takes time to get to that point, and if I was speaking to anyone else about setting up a business, I’d say you might get lucky, but your ultimate goal needs to be about achieving the flow – that’s when you succeed - because until then, it’s a bumpy old ride. We can now finally leave the bumpy stage, which is just in time, because we’re fucken exhausted.

One of the things I’ve discovered in the last 18 months is the impact of stress on your mind and body. When you get stressed your entire body aches and you get sick easily. You also feel really really tired, and while we’ve both battled through it, surprising ourselves with our determination and commitment to succeed somehow, it takes pieces out of you. Self confidence gets a battering, as does self belief. You can feel 10 men (or women) some days, but most of your days are spent feeling feeble, fearful and anxious. It’s also hard to think and keep track of your thoughts, let alone getting a good night’s sleep. Stress is definitely a brutal master – especially with two kids in the mix - but of course, you’ve got to let the worry go and just focus 100 per cent on where you want to be.

I focused on succeeding for the first 15 months – I believed! But the last three or four months haven’t been so easy when it comes to harnessing hope. Of the many things I’ve learnt in the last 18 months - fear, worry, stress, and all those yucky things, serve absolutely no purpose, other than crippling you in every way possible. You just can’t move forward when you feel those things. So I’ve learnt to let them go, but sometimes I couldn’t let them go, because things just got too intense - to the point I wanted to explode.

My goal for freedom has definitely been expanded to have no stress in my life. From today we can start to build a life with some stability in the mix, because it is very important – even for a freedom junky like me. No wonder people say stress gives you cancer – I can definitely believe this having felt the physical ramifications of stress on my body these last few years.

My life has always been topsy turvy because I’ve wanted to get the most out of this living malarkey. I like moving around, taking chances, changing things and experiencing stuff. But perhaps for now it’s time to stop, breathe, solidify our life, focus on the good stuff, and just live again? We certainly don’t feel like we’ve been able to live these last couple of years.

If I’d known how hard it would be getting our business off the ground, I honestly don’t know if I would have done it. I wonder if I’ll look back on these times fondly and say to Steve “hey, we survived right?” We’ve certainly learnt a lot about ourselves and each other during this time. We’ve learnt that:

  • Somehow you can get through anything
  • Whatever you go through there is an end point
  • Miracles do happen – especially if you believe in them
  • It’s alright to want an easy ride
  • Giving up is always an option, but are the rewards greater if you keep going, no matter how hard it is right now?
  • When you think you can’t cope with anymore, somehow you can
  • Take action, take action, take action
We’ve learnt a lot more than that, but the thing I take away most of all is that Steve and I handle stress quite differently. That’s been a real insight. Steve definitely thrives better with stability as a core foundation, and perhaps that has become the same for me as well?

We can’t say thank you enough to everyone for the moral (and sometimes financial) support and belief in us along the way – especially Steve’s folks and our beloved Aunty Suzie. Some of you have lived every moment with us, and that has made a huge difference getting through it every day. It’s been incredibly intense and I’m really looking forward to good sleeps and for this ache to leave my jaw.

Tonight we are drinking champagne – anyone want to join us?

Yours, without the bollocks
Andrea

BTW Hard Yakka means hard work - feel free to check out Australian English or Aussie Slang for more details :)
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