When Alec and I decided to finish up with Godfreys to pursue the wide open spaces of our own independent business, we faced the thrilling brand-new-start combination of excitement and terror. Alec wanted nothing more than to make his online store work for us, and I wanted to fulfil the deep hunger that I had for autonomy. We were flying high on optimistic wings of hope and opportunity, choosing to be the masters of our own fate. We were pursuing the dreams of our heart. We were chasing down our deal-breakers of happiness.
In some ways I had the easy job, because I already knew that teaching was my passion, so the main part I had to play in our new business directions was simply to get busy building a steady income from the career I had already begun. And in my spare time, I got to be Alec’s lackey, doing whatever I could to help with the bigger goal of freedom. For Alec, he had some work to do. The Nelson Vacuums eBay store had shown a very promising start, but it was not turning over a sustainable amount of money. We needed to do something else pretty quickly if we were going to keep our promising ship afloat.
We sat down on our bed a couple of nights later and had a big, clean slate kind of talk. The very act of piling up our cushions there was like hitting the Pause button on our life. The world had to Hold while we redefined it for ourselves. I asked the question that has become like a lantern to light my way through every dark season: “What would our perfect life look like?” For Alec, this question was a blank cheque that allowed him to imagine the daring risks he needed to take to pursue his deepest desires. More than anything else, Alec wanted a successful online business, but to do that, he would need to set up a bricks and mortar store to act as a financial bridge to that dream. With access to suppliers, contractors and warranty agents in the appliance industry already set up from Godfreys, we decided to open a small appliance repair outlet. We proudly called it That Repair Shop.
We were both starry-eyed with optimism. We had visions of us growing quickly into business success that looked like a glamorous 80s episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Granted, the visions were strangely set on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, with the image replacing exclusive night clubs with live bands at the local pub, but still, we felt footloose and fancy free for the pursuit of big dreams.
As a measure of grounding our wild aspirations, Alec did make a promise that inspired confidence and security in me. He knew we were taking a big, daring risk that would stretch us financially. To jump in, we needed to invest in a store fit out and signage, expert technical staff, and advertising. So he assured me that if That Repair Shop wasn’t making a healthy turnover we needed to cover the week to week expenses by the end of the first year, we would shut up shop, and he would find more conservative retail sales work while he continued to build his online masterpiece.
This assurance was exactly what I needed to give myself completely to the plan. I was happy because it was a sensible plan that included levels of priority, the ultimate goal being the growth of the online store that would set us both up in the longer term. I loved that we were using every resource we had to build the Grand Plan. The strategy of a looser commitment to That Repair Shop, and a flexible approach with my teaching, was the opposite of a compromise. It was us throwing everything we had into the Perfect Life that existed only in our imagination at first. It was us giving ourselves solely to the autonomy and empowerment of a life that we built to suit our unique selves, from scratch, on purpose. It was us investing wholly into those things that we knew were essential to our own deep, lasting happiness.