Choose your sacrifice

In the words of Jordan B Peterson, as we go through life we are presented with various opportunities and challenges that require sacrifice. He leverages the story of Peter Pan to remind us that we must all choose sacrifices along life’s journey in order to find success or choose nihilism. You do not become the world’s best brain surgeon by studying HVAC. Somewhere along the way you have to choose where to invest your time and what opportunities to forego through that decision.

One of my former managers along the way looked at me and said, “you are missing your calling”, after we talked about my part time dog training work and his personal dogs. He further clarified, you are a good underwriter but dog ownership is on the rise and it is rare for any one of us to have opportunity and passion align. I heard what he had to say but stuck with the conventional route and continued to pursue a career in insurance. Risk assessment and looking for subtle nuances that can indicate a bigger picture is interesting whether on paper or in working with a highly reactive dog.

It came time to choose my sacrifice. My wife had pretended to dispatch her little bother on a tricycle using walkie talkies as a young child and she had attained her dream career as a 911 dispatcher after years in early childhood education. To make things more complicated, we were having this baby in the middle of a global pandemic. I know a lot of people were forced to juggle parenthood and their careers during COVID 19 and were offered plenty of flexibility by corporate to accommodate those needs. The problem was, my wife works 12 hour shifts and there is no one besides her who I wanted to be a cornerstone in raising our baby, and I certainly wasn’t about to ask her to leave her dream career. Our daughter was suffering from silent reflux which included apnea in the early months. We didn’t know when that would go away and my wife’s insurance through the union was leagues better than what the insurance company was offering. I was going to have to choose my sacrifice, the quality of parenting I could offer my daughter(distracted with work throughout the day), sending her to childcare in the middle of a pandemic, ask my wife to leave her dream career, or abandon the career I spent thousands of dollars and years of my education dedicated towards.

The interesting thing about parenthood is how it shifts your perspective. I do not regret the critical thinking, analysis, and autonomous discipline I gained from college, but my daughter’s well being and my wife’s dreams were more valuable than the time and money I had already committed or even my pride. The reality is that time is our most valuable asset and the present is worth more than the past or future. I can’t control what has happened or what will happen, but I can control what I am doing now. I chose to be a full time Dad and build up our dog training business around fatherhood. I still work during naps once I have scrubbed the high chair and cleaned her bottles, and I still work late at night after cooking dinner and running the laundry, but I never have to compromise time with my daughter. It’s not conventional, but the conventional sacrifices simply weren’t for me.

Whether it is working on training your dog, developing your career, or trying to enrich the relationships in your life, it all starts with self-awareness and making mindful sacrifices. Know yourself and choose your sacrifice.

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