So, continuing from Blog #5, I worked a job in social services and farmed part-time for almost 20 years. During that timeframe, my wife and I had 3 wonderful children, each 7 years apart from each other (not planned that way!). This went well for the first 16 years.
During the final 4 or so years, things became difficult, particularly with my job. Several people around me were laid off and many of their responsibilities were added to mine. Our social service programs were struggling financially so my salary was cut by 6%, pension contributions were eliminated and 401K contributions were eliminated. It was common for me to work 80 hours/week just to keep my head above water. I was responsible for 8 programs spread from Central PA east to the outskirts of Philly with 68 employees and on average 250 kids in programs each day. Looking back on it now, burn out was absolutely inevitable! At the time, my identity had become my job. As much as I had a dream of farming and was still doing it. I spent 95% of my time thinking about work and 5% was shared between the farm and my family. This was the most unhealthy time of my life in all areas: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
One day during a financial review, my superiors informed me I would need to trim $500,000 from my operating budget. To do this, I would need to close some programs and lay off staff. I did this. When I returned to my superiors to review how the $500K was trimmed and review our finances again, I was told to trim another $100,000!
This was the death blow. Without going into all the expletive's describing how I felt, I'll just explain what I did. I went back to my office and started trying to figure out how to trim more from our budgets. Around 1 am, I made one of the top 2 or 3 most critical decisions of my life so far. I added up my salary and benefits package and it equaled almost exactly $100,000. To make a long story from there short. I submitted a proposal to cut my position and it was accepted.
This decision shows how burnt out I was. Up to this point in my life I was always a planful, steady and responsible person. I had no plans for where I was going to land after this. No job lined up and no idea what I wanted to do. Looking back on it, I had to do what I did to survive. Otherwise, I was on the fast track to an early death from being overworked, stressed way beyond my limits and loss of mental fortitude.
You may ask, "why did you think, you had no where to land, you had the farm?" The reason is, I was still stuck in the mindset that I could not make a living farming. I did not yet BELIEVE, I could do it. So, as much as it was still my dream, that's all it was, a dream.
So, what did I do...