Addiction is something that I thought would never touch me. It’s something that people in movies deal with, or alcoholics, or people who are part of the town gossip because of their crazy behavior…but not me.
I lived in Los Angeles the majority of my twenties and I was surrounded by people in the entertainment business, so there was an ample amount of drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll everywhere you turned. It was just normal. However, even though I had grown up in a small town and basically been sheltered, I could take it or leave it. I was never tempted. I couldn’t care less. Nothing in me needed to partake because I was so focused on my career and the bigger picture. That sort of lifestyle would just drag me down. I basically thought addiction would never apply to me. I thought I was above it. And then I got into super luxe sales and everything changed. It became my addiction!
After years of being an artist, I was finally making REAL money as a sales person. I had steady income and if I hustled it grew. Well hustling was in my DNA, it was something I’d done since I was very young, so it all made sense to me. Every time I made another sale the money increased and there was no limit. It seemed so easy and it quickly became my motivation for everything. I was no longer a struggling artist whose income was up and down every few months, I was crushing it and the money was pouring in.
I had finally figured out a way to support my artist career, support myself and my lifestyle, and make valuable contacts in the process. But the rest of my life was deteriorating. I would literally be watching a movie with my love and answer the phone in the middle of it. I’d be out at dinner and take a sales call because I didn’t want to miss out on the deal. I would be sleeping with my partner and I’d answer the phone at 2am to help a client stranded who couldn’t find their roadside assistance number. Whatever the case….I answered! At first I would use the excuse that we needed the money and I didn’t want to jeopardize the deals. I would spend all hours a day selling and within months I was able to pay off my debt. It was so addictive and it felt great! It was the ultimate high! But then it really started to consume me and all the people around me. It started to destroy me. I had no boundaries because I wanted the client’s to realize that they could always reach me. I wanted them to become addicted to the service I provided! But what I didn’t realize is that by having no boundaries I was diluting myself and the quality of service I was providing, more importantly I was losing my mind. I was jeopardising any personal life I had and my personal relationships that were supposed to matter to me.
After about three years of burning the candle at both ends, I started to have panic attacks. Even though my addiction was obvious to everyone else, I wasn’t sure why. I was clearly in denial. I went and saw my doctor and after realizing that my blood work was text book, we knew it had to be stress. I was forced to set boundaries for the first time in my life. It was brutal and I could barely do it. Turning my phone was like ripping a limb off. In the beginning, I caught myself trying to take time away from the phone but I couldn’t stop thinking about the calls I might be missing, the money, and the contacts…..Would they wait until in the morning or would they call someone else? It was so hard to disconnect. After a bit of a transition though, I started to realize that this concern came down to my own confidence. I realized that if I treated the clients exceptionally, then they would wait until the morning to speak to me. A few hours would not make or break the deal. So as I started to ease into these newly set boundaries, a freedom developed and I began to find a new found love for my job!
Now I successfully set boundaries and that freedom has become my new found “healthy” addiction. Now…When I’m off, I’m OFF! Once I get home I turn my phone off and I don’t look at it again until the morning. I make sure I get 8 hours of sleep, I eat healthy, I do Pilates, spend time outdoors, and I respect time with my family and loved ones. I rarely have panic attacks and I feel that I give my client’s even better service than before. I’m a whole new me and I’ve finally figured out the meaning of balance.
So why did I write this blog? Because I know you….I know what it’s like to be an aspiring entrepreneur, artist or sales guru. It’s so addicting to finally get the power you’ve worked so hard to obtain but you can’t lose yourself in the process. You have to also find balance. Without balance you will eventually fold and that’s the last thing you need on your way up. So take a long hard look at yourself and your life. Are you an addict? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you spending as much time with your significant other or your children or your pets as you do working? You have to ask yourself these tough questions and if need be, you have to readjust your life accordingly.
As Thomas Kinkead said…”Balance, Peace, and Joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts by recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them”. But what I would add to that is, “Don’t forget to serve yourself in the meantime, you deserve it and will ultimately succeed more if you truly master a work/life balance”.