When a Lifestyle Business Destroys Your Life
Elly McGuinness did the unthinkable: packed her life in a backpack and moved her family to a foreign country, all in the pursuit of wellness.
It's time to move on.
My dream: create a passive income plan that aligns with my values, creating more time to ‘live life’ and spend time with family and friends.
This dream led my partner and I to buy an organic food delivery business.
The organic market showed potential. Once established, we could outsource everything and not be constantly tied to the business. With a background in health and fitness, I was passionate about helping people make organic choices for their wellbeing, as well as the health of farmers, animals, and the planet.
My partner had a strong business background, so it seemed like a perfect pairing; we were excited, passionate, motivated and driven. All we needed was the sales to come.
We were excited, passionate, motivated and driven. It was a match made in heaven really. All we needed was the sales to come.
But they didn’t.
Despite our best efforts, nothing happened. Our small customer base was happy. Others were interested but for whatever reasons, this didn’t convert to sales.
Naturally, our stress levels sky rocketed and our relationships suffered. I got the flu and my health plummeted. Stage three adrenal fatigue ensued. I was rundown, sick constantly, and excessively tired all the time.
I was rundown, sick, and excessively tired all the time.
As a health and fitness professional, this was huge. I was unable to exercise during the worst months because every time I did, I became ill. I was eating extremely well but my body was churning through the nutrients as a result of stress. Sleep was also problematic, despite following every piece of sleep advice I’d ever come across. I have a strong awareness of what goes on in my body. I knew that all of my symptoms were a result of burn out. Knowing that recovery from burn out is far from a ‘quick fix’ thing, I felt frustrated and defeated.
My partner was also going through his own form of adrenal fatigue, and ultimately we both ‘burnt out’.
We knew we had given the business more than a good go and it was time to move on, making the decision to close the business. One week, we were putting in every effort to exceed our customers’ expectations and taking every opportunity we could to market our business. The next week we closed.
The road to recovery...
We didn’t know what was next. Looking at jobs we considered our options. Recovery was the first priority – how could we hold down jobs or start something new in our current state? So, we tied up loose ends, giving away or selling most of our furniture, beginning the process of minimising our lives.
We drove our car to the opposite end of the country with a 3x2 trailer on the back full of the "stuff" we had left. The next three months were spent with friends and family, determining what would come next.
Many well-meaning friends and family members suggested we get jobs, at least for a while. I totally understand this is the sensible option. At the end of the day, we all need to choose a path that is right for us, and the ‘job’ option was not the right one for us.
At the end of the day, we all need to choose a path that is right for us, and the ‘job’ option was not the right one for us.
We saw this as an opportunity to learn from what hadn’t worked, and adopt a different business model. We’d always talked about exposing our daughter to different cultures, and both of us had travelled in the past, and were itching to do it again.
There was no better time than now, our trailer packed away, we were down to a backpack each of belongings, so we booked one way tickets to South East Asia, still without a clear idea about what place we would choose to settle in for a while.
There had to be a different way of doing things differently; within a short space of time we’d set up life in Penang, Malaysia on a quest to reclaim our lifestyle.
The reality is you can get caught up in the ‘rat race’ wherever you go.
Most think it’s a bit ‘odd’ we left the idyllic ‘lifestyle’ New Zealand offers. The reality is you can get caught up in the ‘rat race’ wherever you go. In Malaysia we have the opportunity to simplify life. Living in a furnished condo, we don’t need to tend to gardens, lawns or animals. Yes, it is lovely to have those things, but for now this suits us.
We take turns looking after our daughter while the other person works. She is three and in the course of only a few months she has learned to swim, simply from playing in the pool every day. When we do work, we work a long day in order to get things up and running. But we love what we do so it doesn’t feel like work. Days at home are spent lounging around the pool, playing in the park, exploring the jungle or chilling at the library.
The path we have chosen is not the right one for everyone. We do not know where we will be past March 2018. But, we are okay with that.
You, the person reading this will have your own personal ideas of what your life adventure will entail. I just hope that our story helps you to realise that there is more than one possibility.
Elly has inspired people to make sustainable health, fitness and lifestyle changes for the past 15 years, Offering solutions for those looking to start, or improve their health and fitness. She blogs regularly, contributing to health and wellbeing publications and is the author of a holistic weight loss book.
Mum to a spirited three year old girl, She and her partner Colin embrace a digital nomad, world schooling lifestyle.
Do you have a story like Elly's? Do you wish you could drop everything for the sake of your health? Tell me about it in the comments! Got a story of your own you'd love to share? Let me know!