My Path

Life with kids is a wild ride.  If you put in the right work, then you earn the feeling of actually being in control while riding that bull (at least some of the time 😉 ).  If you don’t make the necessary, intentional choices, then it’s common to feel totally out of control.  I have felt both.

My wife, Jessica, and I both work full time; we’re raising two young children; we’re rehabbing an old home from the late 1800s… and we’re trying to find time for as many memory-making adventures as possible!

Between school pick-up and drop-off, laundry, dishes, keeping our fridge stocked with healthy food (and convincing our kiddo’s to eat it), picking up after our kids, fixing things around the house, taxes, work… I’m sure you know the feeling… we’re constantly looking for ways to increase the quantity and quality of family bonding time.  (Sound familiar to your family life?)

One way we do that is traveling as a family.  While it’s not always exactly easy, that feeling you get when you’re out making memories ensures that it’s 100% worth it.

One day I am going to turn around and the kids will be 10, 20 or older and I am going to wonder where the time has gone.

Look, I know they will grow up no matter what.  But, my goal is that when those moments of introspection happen, I will be able to look back at a massive amount of happy memories, terabytes of travel videos and photos, and friends from around the world.

The importance of finding time to be more present with my family has taken on increased importance in my life as I and the kids get older.

In Bronnie Ware’s book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, she summarizes her conversations with those in her care as a hospice nurse.  She routinely asked her patients the same questions regarding “any regrets they had or anything they would do different”.

The most common regret of the dying was: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” 

I am seeking to live a life true to myself and my family.

For me, there are two parts to living a life true to myself.

  1. I have a burning desire to help others, perform work I find interesting from anywhere, and leave a legacy I can be proud of and that my kids will remember me by.
  2. Nurture the relationships most important to me by maximizing and optimizing the time I have with my family.

I was not meeting either of these intentions while I worked as a manufacturing engineer for 11 years for a Fortune 500 company.

If I was meeting one and not the other, I probably would still be a manufacturing engineer today.  But, the job was not aligned with either my primary life goals.

My passion for nurturing the relationships with my wife and kids comes through in the blog posts and videos that are on this website.  Before I had a coaching business, I had a blog.  Before I had a blog, I made videos of our family traveling.

Creating these memories are what I do for fun.  It takes work, but I love it.  I will always create memories like these in some shape or form.  To me, it’s part of the spice of life.  I look back on these posts and videos with pride and nostalgia.

They are also created to invoke some action in my readers.  I hope that you, too, can gain some tips, tricks, and skills that help you to nurture your relationships with your family.

Travel is simply a means to an end.  Your family past time may be the same as ours, or it may be different.  But, what you do during your family time is just one piece of the puzzle.

To really create a life you love you have to design your professional life to be in tune with your goals and desires.

You stand a much better chance of being successful at home if you are successful at work.  And, I don’t mean just climbing the ladder.

I did that.  It didn’t make me happy.

I was climbing the ladder of success, but I found out that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.

While my professional life during my manufacturing days wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, it did bring about an absolute home run in one regard.

How We Met

In Nov 2010, I was en route to Minneapolis for a work trip. I was boarding the airplane when I noticed that someone was sitting in my assigned window seat. At the same time, I also observed a cute girl sitting in the aisle seat. Without complaint, I sat down in the middle seat.

Before long, we had learned that we both owned houses about 6 blocks away from each other. In order to keep her talking (as one does when interested in someone🤷‍♂️) I perused the Sky Mall magazine and made light conversation of the wacky gadgets.

Upon exiting the aircraft, I couldn’t wait to go on a date with this girl and she was excited to make a friend (emphasis on the friend) in the area.

After a handful of times where Jessica tried to find every excuse not to hang out with me, I finally wiggled my way into seeing her (with her friends present as well🤷‍♂️). It was a slow start, but with just a few weeks’ time I was basically living at her house.

Within a few weeks we were inseparable including our first trip to Dallas to see her friend. The next few years included a handful of trips per year, which was absolutely record-breaking in my book.

I started out my career with two weeks of vacation and didn’t even use all of it every year. Well, that changed when I met Jess.

Fast forwarding a bit: “Hey, I have an idea. Let’s sell two houses, buy two cars, buy and move into a fixer-upper house and have a baby!” Yep, that was our 2014. Just writing and re-reading it now makes me rethink our sanity.

I was just completing my MBA that I earned while working full-time, so it felt like I would have tons of time.

Our first born went on 6 trips before his first birthday, and now the four of us travel about 12 weeks per year!

Jessica

JessicaIn addition to being my source of comedy, moral compass, and general counsel, Jessica is also my local vacation inventor.  She spends many nights in bed on her phone searching for our next travel destination.  If she’s not looking up travel, she usually is planning the next home project that I’ll be working on.

In terms of employment, she’s a software developer who works from home for a Silicon Valley hardware company.  The flexibility that she has earned in her career is a major influence in my life design.

She has always been ahead of me, and most people really, in the journey towards more flexibility due to her work arrangement.  And, flexibility at work becomes way more valuable than money when kids come along.

There are times that the nanny calls in sick, doctor appointments are always during the day, the dog is sick, a kid is sick, a contractor needs to work on the house, and on and on.

Jessica has carried team Butler as long as we’ve been together until March 2019 dramatically changed our team dynamics.

How I Got Here

I followed the rules and societal norms – go to college, acquire student loan debt, then get a job to pay off the debt.  I had an additional belief that more education means more money.  As a result, I acquired a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering (also because I didn’t know what else to do).

The schooling led to a decent paying job for a Fortune 500 company.  For 11 years, I acted my way through a seemingly successful career. As a manufacturing engineer, I had the opportunity to solve interesting problems, I lead a team of productive individuals, and I achieved healthy raises every year.

So, what was the problem?

It took me many years to figure out what was happening.  I knew immediately that work was tough.  That’s exactly how I always figured “work” to be.  But, getting to work promptly by 6:30am, dealing with abrasive personalities and harsh work environments were not the biggest problems.

It was clear to me from early on that there really wasn’t a great future for me at that corporation.  When I looked up at my manager and my manager’s manager, I was not eager or excited to have their jobs or their lives.  The work hours typically got longer the higher up the chain you go, and the stress just piled higher and higher.  Honestly, if you looked closely enough, no one really looked all that happy.

It wasn’t until the later years that I realized there was a very strong mismatch between what I wanted out of my professional life vs what corporate employment could offer.

I was working towards someone else’s dream, not mine.

“As long as you are alive, you will either live to accomplish your own goals and dreams or be used as a resource to accomplish someone else’s.”  – Grant Cardone

I was a resource to accomplish someone else’s goals.

The problem was, actually, that everything was fine.  It was good. But, it was nowhere near great. I didn’t even know what “great” looked like.

“Good is the enemy of great…  Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” – Jim Rohn

I had totally settled for a “good” life.  I could not see how to get myself from a good life to a spectacular one.

I felt like I was meant for greater things, although I didn’t know what.  So, I stayed there.  I kept doing the things I was supposed to do, saying the things it takes to keep moving up the ladder.

A musician creates music by releasing the melodies that are within them.  I felt like the music was dying still inside of me.

The angst was building to a point in the fall and winter of ’18.  We knew that something was going to change.

At that point, I had been listening to personal development and online business podcasts for about 2 years.  I had been racking my brain to try to figure out how I would quit my job and start a new venture.  But, nothing really stuck as the obvious next step.

I had all the education required, but I couldn’t come up with an idea that really lit the fire that would be needed to fight through all the obstacles to come.

Initial Attempts at the Next Chapter

I attempted several projects, but nothing really stuck.

During the summer of ’18, we would have a babysitter once a week when Jess and I would go to a coffee shop and work on side projects.  I created Process Engineer School where I made videos and blog posts designed to teach people how to do what I did for a living.  I found the project interesting, but it didn’t completely light me up.  I eventually abandoned the idea.

This was my first lesson in how absolutely critical it is to choose a project you are 100% passionate about.  Without the idea ringing absolutely true to who you are, then it will be nearly impossible to stick with through the inevitable challenges.

During the winter and into the spring of ’19, I worked on developing the Luna Light.  It was the world’s first hanging pendant light that was lit from a spot light below.  It reflected the light, although it appeared to be the source of it.  It could be hung with near-zero installation and be taken with you upon moving to a new house or apartment.

It was an interesting project, but the spot light technology just isn’t available to provide the product I was interested in making.

To give myself some time to further Luna Light or even consider other products, I transitioned to a 4-day work week.  This was a difficult challenge because it was not a typical request in my work place (although formally an option offered by HR) and it came with a 20% pay cut.

The End of an Era

But, we were reaching the point where the opportunity cost was a worthwhile investment in my (and our) happiness.  While I don’t think I was explicit about my complaints, Jess was tired of seeing the job wear me down.  She would see me slog through the days, to not feel the satisfaction of a job well done.

Everything changed when I, and we, had had enough.  Every week, anxiety filled Sunday evenings were replaced with a dull feeling of dread through the weekday evenings.

After Christmas of ’18, we decided that we were ready to set some goals to move on to the next chapter.  We estimated what Jessica’s take-home pay would be if we nearly eliminated her 401(k) contributions and added me and the kids to her insurance.  We took that number and came up with a spending budget in Mint.

If we could hit that number for 3 months in a row, then we would feel confident sacrificing my income for an unknown amount of time.  

The Next Step

With the end in sight, I knew what I wasn’t going to be doing every day, but I didn’t know what I was going to do.  Plan A was to take Busy Finding Time as a family travel blog to the next level and pursue it full time.  We would travel, take video, write blog posts – teach families how to travel with kids easier and cheaper.

Plan B came out of nowhere.  During an amazing snow day, we were chatting with a friend’s mom who said that her friend was moving out of a neighborhood that we had always had our eye on here in St. Louis: Lafayette Square.  It is a neighborhood full of historic mansions (ours is not one of them), contains our favorite park and would be just 0.2 miles away from a school that we would love to send the kids to.

Long story short, we bought the house.  It made sense because I could complete the total remodel that was needed to make it what we wanted while starting a new blog centered around the transformation.  I would teach people with kids how to renovate historic homes and survive the process.  Plan B (turned Plan A) became This Old Family Home.

Meanwhile, we nailed our household spending budget.  I gave my 2 week notice March 1st.  My last day was March 14th.

This Old Family Home

The first day of unemployment, I hit the ground running and didn’t stop.  I continued my habit of waking up at 5am.  I worked on the house, and I blogged.

The blog, Youtube Channel and Instagram profile were entertaining enough for me to find value in it.  I worked on it for 6 months, but gathered a relatively small amount of momentum in terms of subscribers and followers.

But, the nail in the coffin came from a comment from a peer who suggested that perhaps it wasn’t what I was most passionate about.  The suggestion rang true to how I was feeling.

I am extremely capable of performing any home improvement task, and I enjoy creating videos and blog posts.  But, the work didn’t quite flow out of me like the family videos did.  I have always created family videos for fun.  I have proven over and over again that that is exactly what I would do for free.  This Old Family Home was part of me, but it was more geared to what I thought could earn money in the long run.  

There is no escaping the house we live in that is in need of a complete remodel.  It will be a long term project for us, but it is no longer the focus.

Busy Finding Time 2.0

And, that is the birth of Busy Finding Time 2.0.  It is unapologetically me.  It is who I am.  It is what I am passionate about.

I am passionate about helping families with exactly what I am working on.

I coach others and create content all geared towards the goal of helping people achieve the lifestyle they crave.  My clients get the benefit of having access to 100% of my experiences that have helped me achieve my ideal life design.

Travel was the original topic that I wrote about on this blog from Jan ’17 – Oct ’19.  What I have come to realize is that travel is a means to an end.  You’ll also see topics that are more wide ranging than just travel.

The ultimate goal is to spend quality time with the family.  It’s about living an intentional life.

Designing your professional life around your personal life is the key to that.

The Heart of Busy Finding Time

The heart of Busy Finding Time, though, is business coaching.  As I have found, you will not live a life totally true to yourself without a well aligned professional life.

I have had a successful corporate career.  From the outside, my life looked like everything was perfect.  I had a wonderful family.  I was able to customize our home to exactly how we wanted it.  We took about 5 vacations per year.

But, inside, I knew that I had needs that were not being met.

I wasn’t directly helping others.  I wasn’t spending enough time or energy with my family.  I wasn’t able to travel as much as I wanted.  I wasn’t working on what I had a burning desire to pursue.

Now that I have designed my life how I want it to be, I have all of this.  And, I can officially say that it is life changing.

This is the result I aim for with every client.  What exactly that looks like will be different for every person, but the feeling is the same.  The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction is priceless.

The work is never-ending, and you won’t want it to.

Your Ideal Life’s Design

Imagine that you wake up in the morning excited to bound off to work.  “Work” might be just a few steps, a drive,  or a flight away.  In your ideal life, your location of employment is your choice.

You start the morning by picking up right where you left off on a super-exciting project.  You’ve been dying to start this project and now it is almost unimaginable that this is what you get to do every day.

As excited as you are to keep working, you take an extended break for lunch.  First, you get to share the meal with someone who is special to you.

Next, you need to run a quick errand for the family.  It may be to pick up the kids from school or gather a few items from the grocery store.  Maybe it’s not all that exciting, but you are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to your family.

After crushing work for the afternoon, you end the day getting ready for dinner with the fam.  Because you have the flexibility to do so, you have a special meal in mind.  You picked up the groceries ahead of time and quit work a little early to provide a delicious, healthy meal for your family.  

While you are cooking, eating and then playing together after dinner, you realize how grateful you are for the necessary energy to devote to your family.

It took a massive amount of energy to get to this place, but it was worth it.  It was worth the early mornings or late nights.  It was worth setting the habits that increase your energy.  The exercise routine, journaling and reading is paying off.  You feel like you can accomplish any goal you set.

This is just one type of typical evening that I get to experience with my family.  It’s more representative of a winter evening.  In summer, we head out to one of the many events held nearly every evening somewhere in St. Louis.

The point is that we are a busy family, and we love it that way.  I’m busy during the day doing something immensely satisfying.  My evenings are full of nurturing relationships with my family.

I am driven to spread this same passion-fueled lifestyle to as many people as I can.  

Our Kids

Honestly, for me it comes down to my legacy, my kids.  It’s critical to teach our kids that work can be exciting and fun. Think for a minute about what they think about YOUR work. Do they see you get anxious on Sunday night about the impending day? Do they hear you talk negatively about what your boss said to you?

Is that the message you want to send to them? That work is something we are just forced to do to pay the bills?

Look, time is of the essence.  It often feels like we have plenty of time ahead of us to get this right, but that’s just not the case.

“The days are long, but the years are short” – Gretchen Rubin

You can’t afford to wait until next year or the year after to get your professional life in order.

I want to role model now how I want my kids to approach their goals.

I know that I want my kids to work tirelessly towards the goals that are important to them.

I talk about all the awesome things I get to do at work, and my kids use the same language about their “work”.  When they are bored with me, they gleefully let me know that they need to get back to work.

Now, of course there’s a difference between our work and their work.

But, what’s the same is that we should both do it because we have an inner passion to create something of value and purpose.

My inner passion is to create a business doing something that I love to do, helps other people be happier, allows me the flexibility to travel with my family, and generally leaves me enough time and energy to spend with my family.

Your goals may be similar or very different.  Regardless, I will help you reach them.

I live to accomplish my own goals.  And, reaching my own goals means helping others reach their goals, too.

Through years of soul-searching, I have finally found what absolutely sets me on fire.

I am passionate about YOU!

I Want To Hear From You

If any of these challenges that I’ve faced or goals that I’ve reached resonate with you, continue over to the coaching page to learn more about my process.  

During my time as a business coach, I have put together a start to finish process.  Because coaching is inherently completely customizable, we will start with where you are now.  You will inevitably end up with a life that you love.  

I would love to hear from you!  Follow me on Instagram.  Let me know either in a DM or comment what you are working on to find more time to be present with your family. Or, what is your biggest challenge to creating a life you love?