To understand me and why I started LifeStyle Detox it is important for me to share how I became a workaholic in the first place…
My work career started at the very early age of 7 when I started to help my dad process expense reports for his team by making sure the math added up. At 10, I became a neighborhood entrepreneur by mowing lawns when it was warm and shoveling snow when it was cold. I was a high energy kid so between playing sports and working I constantly challenged myself to become better at whatever I was doing. Academics were also important and I did very well in school. At 13, I got a paper route. By 14, I had a daily route and two routes for a weekly paper. At 16, I went to work where most other kids go, fast food.
At this point in the story, I wish to interject that each of these jobs was performed in addition to the others. So by the time I graduated high school I was: helping my dad with paperwork, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, delivering papers AND working 20 hours doing fast food. But that my friends, is not all. I was also playing or training to play a sport all four seasons of the year. I golfed, I skied, I played soccer, I played baseball, I rode my mountain bike and in my senior year of high school I played lacrosse. Sometimes I was playing two or more sports at the same time. Basically I was addicted to doing stuff.
After graduating high school, I attended university where I played varsity lacrosse and studied Computer Science. Since that didn’t keep me busy enough, I also had a job on campus providing IT support and continued to work fast food on the weekends so I had money for a car and spending. Somewhere in my freshman year, I became obsessed with cramming as much learning as I could in to my four years…by learning I mean academics. I did so much learning that I actually graduated after 3.5 years with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Business.
Onward to Corporate Life
Around the time I graduated (December 2001), 9/11 had just recently happened and the dotcom bubble burst which means my BS was BS in the market place. Since I finished up early I thought I could beat my peers to the job market and land a great position. Even though I technically graduated in December, I chose to formally graduate in May with my classmates. At this point, I finished up school early, I was no longer playing any sports, not much else going on and I was spending my time in front of a computer looking for a job so I did what everyone would do in that situation…I put on 20 lbs.
Flash forward five months and I decided to “settle” for a job at a call center working in customer service. The pay wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t minimum wage. If you have never worked in a call center you probably don’t realize how hellish of a scenario it is. You get yelled at a lot, your schedule is fixed and is measured by adherence (deviate from your scheduled times and it becomes a performance issue), your calls are randomly monitored and “scored”, and you typically also have to handle the call in a certain amount of time. After doing this for a couple months I was going to work each day truly believing it was my last… I was that ready to quit. Since I am naturally a bit introverted, putting me on a phone and making me “connect” with 50+ individuals each day isn’t what I would call fun.
Luckily for me, my company was starting to grow and I was able to transition in to technical support which was more about resolving the issue than answering billing questions. Mind you, this change was after only 3.5 months in my job when it typically takes 6 months before you can change jobs. I am sure at this point you are already guessing that my obsession with “doing more” helped me quickly develop the skills and knowledge I needed to step into the new role. I naturally settled into the new position since I now was closer to my comfort zone. Time moved on and I became an expert in less than 6 months, mastering all the skills. Like always, when I get bored, I find more stuff to do. I started to work overtime when it became available, used my free time in between calls to study and read information to become more proficient.
I was in that role for a couple years at which point a newer, higher level technical support job became available. At 24 years of age, I aggressively went after the position and got it. I proceeded to kill myself at the new position because I had recently purchased a small house and needed money by working the maximum amount of overtime that I could (roughly 20 hours a week or five 12 hour days). My dedication didn’t go unnoticed; they gave me more work to do and a higher level of responsibility, which was basically the same as folks that had more tenure but didn’t work remotely as long or hard as I did. Being a workaholic, this made me very happy at the time. After being in the position for roughly seven months, I was called into the office of my boss’ boss and asked if I would be willing to leave my job for six weeks and help train a new call center. How exciting, more work…so I went.
While I was out of town for six weeks and beholden to the job of helping to train this new center I got bored. So what do I do when I get bored? I started to study for an even better job! Once I finished my time training others I came home and started to apply for other positions and go out on interviews. Fortunately, one of the positions I applied for I got. Unfortunately the position was a salaried position, which means no more overtime pay.
For the first three years, I killed myself working 50+ hours a week plus using my free time to learn more for my position. I checked e-mails constantly, even when I was on vacation. Funny thing is, I was advancing at the same rate or slower than people that put half the effort in that I did. At that moment, somewhere deep in my gut I started to realize that I missed out on a lot of my life. This fact was only further compounded in 2008 as I was approaching my ten year high school reunion…
You may have noticed, I haven’t talked a lot about my life outside of work at this point. There is a fairly straightforward reason, it didn’t really exist. Since that early age, my primary goal had always been to achieve at sports, at academics, or at my career. Success at “living” and relationships were never a high priority. That’s not to say that I haven’t had relationships; I have. I just had the tendency to put them on the back burner until they became more convenient. In doing so, I largely distanced myself from those that I deeply cared about and struggled to nurture new relationships when they were still in their infancy so they withered.
As I approached 30, I vowed to turn my life around. I needed a lifestyle detox…