How the Pandemic Pushed Me to Start My Dream Career
2020 has been tough. Pandemics, social unrest, and financial burdens have become a norm this year. Like many people with a young family, I was also hit with a wave of challenges. At the beginning of last year, I quit my job as a financial planner to begin working on what I thought would be my dream career as a digital marketer.
The new company I was working for had made big investments in the seminar events space. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit and there was a wave of location closures. My employer was losing money rapidly and had to make hard choices. The options were to either fall further into debt or lay me off. You can guess what happened.
Imagine having to share this news with your wife and kids after having just bought a new house. It was supposed to be an exciting new chapter in our lives. My wife was justifiably concerned about our finances and wanted me to begin looking for a new job. However, I didn’t want just any job to pay the bills. I had left a financial planning position that I didn’t enjoy and I took on what I thought was my dream job before I got laid off. I wanted to take the time to plan out my next move.
One day while walking home from my morning workout routine, I started reflecting on two defining moments of my life.
One of those moments was In high school. At one point in high school, I was placed in a remedial class because of low grades and bad behavior. This was your typical classroom for troubled students. It was like the cast of The Breakfast Club without the jock. We had the sexy temptress who dressed inappropriately for a highschool girl, the violent kid who loved to jab people with pencils, and the playboy who didn’t care about anything except the way he looked. Then you had me. I found ways to minimize my school attendance and maintain a grade point average that was passable. Well, that was until my grades slipped and I got thrown into the class for future criminals.
Luckily I had one teacher who took an interest in me. Her name was Mrs. Cooper. Mrs. Cooper changed my life for the better. She realised that my problem wasn’t a lack of intelligence but on the contrary, I was a little too smart. She guessed I needed both motivation and maturity. She realised that I didn’t see the value of school, so she went out of her way to understand my point of view. Ultimately she changed my perspective on the importance of school and I ended up graduating high school earlier than my peers.
This memory of my past high school days and a situation with my son kept creeping up in my head. Before the school closures, my wife and I had a meeting with my son’s school where the teacher was telling us that he was not fitting in. There were especially concerned about his lack of focus during class time. As a parent, I was extremely disappointed because I knew my son was following in my footsteps and I wanted him to avoid the same mistakes I’d made.
So, on the drive home I began lecturing him on the importance of fitting in. I wanted him to fit in so he wouldn’t be thrown into the underbelly of the school system. If I’m being really honest, I wanted him to be safe.
Looking back I realise the advice I was giving him didn’t take into consideration his perspective. I was pushing him to forsake his truth and follow what I thought was important. My son didn’t need to “fit in.” He needed a path to success that matched his approach to life and a goal that mattered to him. I was forcing him the same way I felt forced in high school and in my career to appease other people’s expectations. I was like the teachers before Mrs. Cooper, who didn’t listen to my goals. Mrs. Cooper found ways to motivate me based on what she learned that I wanted.
My son… need to follow his truth
My son didn’t need a father who lied to himself. He needed his very own Mrs. Cooper. A person who understood who he was, allowed him to find his path to success and encouraged him to think outside of the box. He needed to follow his truth. Looking at these two different situations pulled me to realise my truth, which was that I didn’t want to work for anyone ever again. I wanted to be a role model for my two boys and practiced what I preached.
Once I realised that everything started falling into place. I’d had an idea a while back when I was a financial planner looking to get into shape. I used to carry four different bags to function throughout the day. I had a bag for my lunches, work, suit, and my gym clothes. I always wished there was a bag that could carry everything. So I created the Hustleandfit Meal Carrier. This bag can hold your suits, gym clothes, meals, shoes, and a laptop. It comes with four meal containers, a multi-purpose shaker cup, and a laptop sleeve. It can even convert into a backpack and has a luggage sleeve for long trips.
I had already been in contact with manufacturers but I wasn’t as serious about the whole idea until after the layoff. Starting a business is scary enough but even worse when you don’t have a stable income. I couldn’t let my fears hold me back any longer so I invested to start production.
Through a lot of hard work, the business started to take off. I have a couple of fitness facilities that are interested in selling the bag at their locations. I have over 15,000 followers on Instagram, a Youtube channel that’s growing, and I’ve been featured in local publications. The product is now being shipped in preparation for a Kickstarter campaign.
I’m not going to pretend that this was easy. Once I started to walk my path, things got better at home and in my professional life.
The whole family is doing better as well. We started watching Shark Tank and Dragons Den which sparks up great conversations. I’m also a lot more honest with myself and with my kids.
My wife is a lot happier because she can see my renewed sense of excitement. Life isn’t perfect and sometimes stuff happens but I truly believe it’s what we make of challenging circumstances that define us. The pandemic became my wake-up call. It woke me up from a lie that has been affecting my life for years. A lie that would have also affected my children.
I’ve got a long way to go but at least I know what I want, and it’s up to me to get there.
David Walcott is the father of two boys and the owner of Hustleandfit.