Why I “Quit” My Business

I find it impressive when someone takes control of their life, whether under extraneous circumstances or not.

I used to think success was defined by how much money you gross or the “status” or title you earn yourself professionally.

Like someone’s self worth is dictated by these principles — by a career, not by a life of personal choices and actions.

My revelation didn’t happen the first time I almost died. Not even the second time…

I could say it’s because I was too young to understand then, but that’s not entirely the case.

This Quality of Life realization happened when I became very sick after having my third daughter.

My body was seemingly breaking down from the inside out, little by little.

I was experiencing constant abdominal discomfort which gradually became pinching, then stabbing pain. It was so bad I became couch ridden (I hated staying in bed) for over a year.

My skin became intolerant to sunlight, later finding that heat was almost just as damaging.

I’d been passed from doctor to doctor, had a hysterectomy because someone thought it was my uterus (it wasn’t—good thing I was done using it, huh?).

Within a few weeks after, the pain came right back, only worse.

Finally, a gastroenterologist diagnosed me with [severe] Celiac Disease in late June of 2017, and at this point in time I hope the damage to my enlarged liver and spleen have been healing since eliminating gluten.

(I’ll find out later this year with more imaging tests.)

It took almost 3 years of internal beatings to wake the hell up professionally.

I want to say that anyone going through something like that or worse would deserve the chance to take some time off, but I know not everyone gets that ability.

Like my mom working almost until the day she died with inoperable lung cancer. Or another woman I follow who gets a few hours off weekly for her radiation and chemotherapy treatments for an inoperable brain tumor, but has to start and end each day at the office.

Without judgement on anyone else for lifestyle choices (or lack there of choice), we made the decision when we first got married to live as a one-income family. So me choosing to only contribute maybe 10 to 30 minutes into my business each week didn’t hurt them—maybe just my self-worth in the beginning.

But I was and am lucky — in more ways than one.

Outside of the financial decline to our emergency fund contribution by dousing full-time work with my business, I love my work and what it offers to people. Even so, when I “quit” I was working on a big project that would have been another catalyst in my already blooming business’s growth, yet I questioned why I was doing the work in the first place.

As a creative, why had I chosen to be a business educator over following the artistic path I used to dream about?

After some time and some serious self-exploration, I realized my business was entirely for other people. Sure, I make a small profit from it and feel fulfilled knowing it is actually helping people. But it was birthed from guilt and the desire to make something up to people.

I left my dad’s business when he really needed me (but I needed to pay my bills). I left direct sales and a director and a team who “needed me” just before assuming a leadership position (when I realized I hated the work and—from my perspective—the lack of morals needed for success).

I felt like I owed the universe or something for bailing and decided the best way to make it up was to help by better preparing direct sellers and solo entrepreneurs to run effective, honest businesses from the start.

It was always for and about other people.

Well, screw that.

I was dying, I could be selfish.

I had this idea that people go one of two ways when they think (or know) that their lives are coming to an end:

They either try to be completely selfless and do as much good as they can before their ticket gets punched. Or there’s the other half that say fuck this and live the rest of their lives obtaining pleasure, where little else matters.

In my case, I never felt selfless prior to getting sick. Rather, I was always told I was selfish growing up.

Maybe that’s why I focused so hard on changing my life after I got married.

I felt like I didn’t deserve my husband (who was clearly way too good of a person for who and what I felt I was—everyone had to know that), so I felt like I needed to be better…

See the trend here?

So, instead of going even more extreme in trying to be “the best person” I could be, or completely falling off the wagon and living a life for me, me, me! I reassessed.

I had been spending so much time doing things for other people, I was neglecting my health and even my family in the process.

So I slowed down.

I bailed on the project I was working on for my business — funny thing is, nobody cared. All the promise and buzz and not a single person asked how it was coming along — not even the early buyers who seemingly forgot about the purchase and only asked what happened after they got their couple hundred dollars refunded with a vague email apologizing for the project’s closure.

Nobody noticed.

I based my career and almost my life around this business that nobody gave a shit about but me.

It was eye opening.

So, I decided to “quit”.

I drafted a mass email to my subscribers, explaining what I was doing and why — no plan for the future in mind, by the way — and before sending it out, I decided to sleep on it and check it again in the morning.

(I have a tendency to not apply proper logic when I’m emotional and do things in haste, only to regret them later. So, I slept on it this time.)

In the morning, I checked my email and saw a message from a new customer and subscriber, thanking me for the work I do.

My content “rescued” her business in a time of struggle and she was “so grateful for the resource”.

That’s when realization Number Two happened:

I didn’t have to all-out quit. I could leave it running as a resource but step away at the full-time capacity.

It could still help people while I go off and help myself.

And with that, I put another month of work in, automating everything (I’d already had about 50% of the emails automated beforehand), and decided that I’d continue to do 10 minutes of work on social media for the business, and maybe 20 minutes in email response each week.

That’s it.

That’s all I’ve “needed” to keep the business alive, bringing in a decent amount of extra money each week, but no longer letting it take all of my time, energy, and happiness.

Now, I write.

I take the summers off with my children and write full-time during the school years.

I don’t have a clear plan yet, and I’m okay with that.

What I do know is that I’m done living and working for other people constantly. This renewed lease on life is going to be spent on me and my family.

And that’s the best I’m willing to give right now.

I’m Sara Eatherton-Goff, a non-fiction and fiction writer, visual artist, and entrepreneur mom-person currently writing on Medium and other publications. Check out some of my collective works on my website, and join my Creative Community for a weekly update, story share, and more.