As a working mom, it’s easy for me to simply say that it’s my family that drives me to work hard. When we got married, my husband and I both decided that we would live a dual income lifestyle, until one of us could afford to stop working and be a full-time stay at home parent.

It seemed like a good plan. After I had Vito, we were living quite comfortably. I had just begun my side hustle as a blog coach, and was gainfully employed as a department head in a marketing startup. I remember thinking, “Wow, I love being a work at home mom,” and I wrote about it passionately. It was around this time I also started experimenting with workshops and creating offline events for my readers, sold-out learning events that really boosted my brand.

Almost five years into this somewhat ideal lifestyle, I thought, “Hey, this is pretty great. Let’s have another kid, shall we?” and I got pregnant with my daughter, Krista. All the while, I thought “No sweat.” Vito was old enough to take care of himself in terms of self-care, and we were financially secure (or so we thought). Meanwhile my pregnancy was moderately publicized through my blog and social media channels because, well, that’s what bloggers did when they got pregnant. Krista’s birth was met with heaps of support from readers and supporters, and everything seemed pretty and charmed. It was the same old, same old. Work hard as working parents, earn our keep, make sure the family is provided for, saved up for, clothed, fed, and happy.

It wasn’t until one day, when Krista was two weeks short of her 9th month birthday, that we were stirred up out of our comfort zone. Ton got a phone call from his boss in the U.K., — that dreaded call no employee wants to hear — that the company was shifting gears, and redundants would have to force-resign. In short, our lifestyle as a dual income family was — in two short weeks — reduced to one: mine. 

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It was then I realized something important. My “why” for working so hard was so small and basic: provide for our lifestyle; make sure the bills could be paid; make sure we have food on the table and a roof over our heads; set savings aside for whatever might come up. I never aspired for anything else, and so our level of capability stayed at that comfort zone. 

Our savings were OK but even if we could find another job for Ton and maintain our lifestyle, our state would still be the same. What if he or I lost our clients? What’s more, what if one of us gets sick and we can’t work? Savings and investments alone couldn’t and wouldn’t assure us. So when 2016 rolled in, I started to read books and listen to podcasts, but different from those I had listened to in the past. In the past, I would listen to podcasts and read books about blogging or freelancing, but hardly any on mindset, abundance and wealth. Having seen that my freelance pursuits alone would never be able to afford my family the true lifestyle I believed they deserved, as knew I had to do something different. It was during this time I learned about the power of clarity of the “why.” I’ve talked about having a “why” before as a blogger, but having an ultimate “why” as an individual in this world? That is something I hadn’t touched on.

Having a clear, big “why” that drives you as an individual is and must be so much more than just the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and savings. 

We’re not talking about the ability to pay the bills or buy a house here. A “why” that drives us must be much more than having an “emergency fund” to fall back on (which we had, at the time). It must be so much more than “so I can afford tuition for the kids next year” or “I need to build my emergency fund.” These things are a given, we should be able to afford these things without aspiring for them anymore. Why are philanthropists able to help charities, for instance? Why can some people afford a high quality of life but at the same time make a difference in the lives of others, without compromising their own families’ lives?

“Don’t build a business to make money. Build a LIFE,” said one of my mentors and business partners.

When we start a business, do we stop and think of our ultimate “why” in starting it? Not the profits it will bring in, but the quality of life we will have while we grow that business? Most times when we start a business, we are laden with stress, just to make ends meet. We are burdened with lack when we don’t see results (and the payables are stacking up). We lose time with the ones we are working for.

Don’t work just to be able to pay the bills.

If we just worked for money, then we could very well do any job we wanted to. This is what I realized was doing with freelancing and setting up my own small business. While it has been good, I have always been trading off time for work. While we as a family could save, make some investments, Ton and I could never do so at a rate that would help us to free up more time for our kids NOW. I realized as my son Vito grew older, his needs were changing, too, and required more of my time. But because I have always been working, always in front of my laptop or phone or in a workshop, I missed out on lots of his needs. I wasn’t thinking bigger, beyond our obvious needs: tuition, living expenses, holiday fund, doctor’s bills. These were all for present value only.

I had to think bigger, think beyond just working for present value.

Last year, I began growing my third business. An angel in the form of a former blog client, sent me a proposal and I decided to partner with her in building this business with a solid passive income stream. It was a business I’d never ventured into before, at least with a success rate. But out of every business I’ve begun, it’s the business that’s given me and my family the best results financially, health-wise, and in terms of self-development. It’s made me a better person, wife, mother. It’s made running Make it Blissful even more purposeful, because I can see myself eventually doing my workshops for free, because this brand won’t have to be my entire source of income.

One of the best things that’s happened lately is that my husband even became a business partner, and we’ve been growing this new business together. I love it more than anything else I’ve started, including my brand, blog and all the wonderful things I’ve done in the past. Why? Because now I’m really doing a business that isn’t just paying the bills, but enabling Ton and I to create a good life, one that our kids can truly enjoy that is free of concern.

The goal is to DESIGN A LIFE we love where money is just a tool for us to be able to DO what we want, not what we work for. A life on our own terms means doing what we want — a business, or early retirement — with the people we want to do these things with, whenever we want to,” said Anthony Robbins.

That’s my ultimate why.

We are all going to work hard anyway. 

So if we are going to work hard anyway, doesn’t it follow that we should consider WHERE our hard work is going to take us? Are we going to work til we’re too old to enjoy our lives? Do we glorify the “hustle” so much that we forget to consider creating a passive income, which can enable us to stop working so hard, so that we can truly live instead of just make a living? Do we just work for Friday nights and the next vacation?

If we are going to work hard anyway, doesn’t it make sense to work on what will give us future value, so that we can really enjoy LIVING, without worrying? I hope we all are able to look at our lives down the road and really answer the question: “Am I working just to pay the bills, or to really design the life I deserve, that my family deserves?”

I’m excited for where we are right now as a family. My new business is a solution for everything Ton and I have planned for the future. We’ve learned to go beyond the paycheck-to-paycheck life. It’s all new, unfamiliar, challenging and we are constantly unlearning everything we thought we knew about having a business and working in a job. We are really finding our bliss, doing a meaningful business that is really helping others, not just ourselves.

Because in the bigger scheme of things, designing a life is really about being able to live it on your own terms.

Let me leave you with this thought from Warren Buffet, who said it perfectly: