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I Am Not A Machine!

How I made the decision to leave it all behind

A beach day with my three little ones! 

I used to think that a portion of my body was a machine able to withstand an insane work schedule until I read Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder. The book opens with Huffington’s story where she describes how working eighteen hour days to build her business led to financial success and unfortunately, the moment she woke up in a pool of blood after collapsing from exhaustion. Her story resonated with me because when I read it, I was following a similar path in regards to the number of hours I worked each day to provide for my family. I was employed as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring with the University of Illinois at Chicago, and I owned a company that specialized in martial arts instruction for adults and youth. My days often began at 4 am and ended at 10 pm; Huffington’s book that discusses the importance of being more mindful of stress, getting adequate rest, and incorporating other concepts of well-being, influenced me to rethink my work, quit my job, and ultimately leave the United States.

The daily struggle

Before deciding to move with my wife and three kids from our lives in the United States to Mexico, I was risking my life in the hope of gaining financial success. My day began at 4 am when I woke to pray, write, exercise, and meditate. These essential components of my morning routine in addition to breakfast and getting prepared for my university position took approximately three hours. On most mornings, I pulled out of my driveway at 7:30 am to sit in traffic for one hour and thirty minutes. I often did not return home until, 8:00 pm, after a full day of work, and a couple of additional hours in my business where I taught a martial called capoeira. On multiple occasions, I drifted asleep on the commute to and from south suburban Lansing, Illinois to my job and business in Chicago.

The traffic was unpredictable and so my travel time fluctuated depending on the weather, accidents, and construction. As an avid reader, I purchased an Audible subscription to listen to audio books during my commute to and from the city. My work and business schedule did not allow for leisure reading, and my subscription enabled me to listen to Huffington’s book. After learning about her work habits and how they eventually caught up to her in a hospital where she waited to hear a doctor’s diagnosis, I decided that I needed to make a change. Every day I went to work, and my business guided my passion for teaching and in hope for significant financial returns.

Still struggling

I was grateful for a job and business that covered many of my immediate household expenses, but I was drowning in credit card debt and not getting adequate rest at night. As a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Honors College, I was responsible for teaching undergraduate students, advising students on their course and career selections, and co-directing a co-curricular mentorship initiative. My business operated out of a Chicago elementary school in the evenings and on the weekends. Together the job and my company provided some income; however, I was making the wrong types of sacrifices.

As mentioned above, my day began at 4 am and ended at 10 pm. When I made it home at 8 pm, I ate and spent a few minutes with my children before helping my wife put them to bed. Frequently, I fell asleep while reading my kids a bedtime story and did not give my wife the attention she deserved because I was exhausted. After doing this for three years, I decided it was time to make a change.

Making my dream a reality

I declined an offer to return to my job in July of 2016, informed my martial art students that I would be reorganizing my approach from in person to online instruction, and on October 15, 2016, I moved to Mazatlán, Sinaloa on Mexico’s Pacific coast. My wife and I decided to go to Mexico to be more mindful parents and to dedicate ourselves to our dreams. I work now as an education and business consultant, writer, and teacher of capoeira. My wife is also pursuing her dreams as a writer and business coach. The decision to leave my job and pursue my life’s callings as a husband, father, and entrepreneur was challenging and necessary to work toward creating a different life mindful of my physical limitations.

When I lived in the United States, I thought that I was part machine, because I was able to work long hours and avoid car accidents, despite falling asleep on multiple occasions in the commute to and from work. Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive, Illustrated the potential outcome of my work habits and influenced me to make substantial life changes. In response to this book, I found “the road less traveled” and began to discover a path that more adequately integrates my personal and professional life. If you read this post, maybe it is your turn to leave a life of comfort with the intention to live a life of possibility.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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