Out of hardship comes growth. And out of growth anything feels possible. As those closest to me know, a few years ago, I was building my last company, The Fresh, a web design and development agency with my co-founder. Our hearts were in the right place. We wanted to do good in the world by focusing on projects that promoted sustainability, community and happiness. And we were ambitious, too.
For a period, we were doing exceptionally well, taking on interesting projects and fostering synergy with our clients. It was an exciting time for us, as we found our calling. We loved what we did and made great money while doing it. We felt like the upward trajectory had no end in sight.
But all good things must come to an end, and this end was abrupt to say the least. In an instant, our business development pipeline dried up, our existing projects were stalling and there was the threat of a six-figure lawsuit from an ex-client. But above all these terrible circumstances, the hardest was the fact that my co-founder and I had a major falling out, which hurt the most.
Coming to terms
From that point on, it was pretty apparent that my company had failed. But more than that, it felt like my entire life had failed. I had no income, huge overheads and a tremendous amount of business debt with of course the potential six figure lawsuit coming down the pipe.
To put it bluntly, all of this was crushing to my spirit and it didn’t feel like there was any way out. I knew I had to get a job to start the long grueling process of financial recovery. But where to even start? My resume hadn’t been updated since college. How in the world am I going to summarize my identity-defining professional experiences of the past several years into a couple of bullet points? It all seemed insurmountable and the seduction of inaction was impossible to resist.
But what’s even more seductive than inaction is the delicious act of throwing yourself the world’s most tragic pity party (catered by the best that Seamless has to offer of course). And that’s exactly what I did. It was satisfying and demoralizing all at the same time. It felt like a death, really. And I was mourning what could have been.
But there was this one moment, where I actually got home in the afternoon from the office, since other than winding down the company, I didn’t really have much work to do. And it was an odd feeling being in my apartment during the daylight. I had all this energy but was without the usual mountain of work that followed me around. So I decided to do something I pretty much never do. I looked up recipes for my favorite dish, Thai Red Curry, and went to the grocery store to buy fresh ingredients and actually made it. Not only that, but I bought candles for my apartment (even though I didn’t even know how I was going to afford next month’s rent) and created an entire ambiance for this culinary experience that I was about to have.
In terms of taste, my curry was pretty meh. But in terms of how it made me feel, well that was an entirely different story. Up until that point, my whole identity was coupled together with these negative circumstances in my life. And for that moment of culinary creativity, I was able to create space. A space between my identity and my circumstances. I was able to obtain enough clarity where I could realistically reflect on myself and my situation. Most of all, I was able to identify what I needed to rise above and who I needed to call upon for support.
The power of mindset
With tremendous encouragement from my parents, brick by brick, I was able to recover both financially and emotionally. I took a job as a teacher, teaching software engineering, as I figured that would be the best place for me to gain back my sense of self-worth. With a disciplined reduction in my expenses, I was able to pay off my business debts and fortunately, that scary lawsuit didn’t actually materialize into anything.
During this time of recovery, what struck me most is how quickly we humans can accomplish things when we’re in the right headspace. This recovery could have taken me years. But it didn’t. And I attribute this to having clarity in mindset and a strong support system.
This undeniable relationship between our mindset and the way we spend and save money is something that really resonated with me. So I spent a year talking to people around the country about their financial problems. The reason I did that, was because I wanted to better understand the role that mindset played within the context of those financial problems. As an empath, this was a pretty tough exercise at times to hear about people’s financial stresses. But ultimately, I discovered that being in financial turmoil cuts really deep. It creates this intense stranglehold on one’s identity, as if they’re not even able to express who they are in the world or even acknowledge what they’re feeling to themselves.
Most of all, I discovered that within the context of mindset and emotional-wellbeing, the existing financial tools and solutions out there are severely lacking. So I’ve joined forces with my incredibly talented co-founder, Katherine. Our mission is to build solutions that will empower our audience to spend more intentionally where their financial lives are aligned with who they are. With Clasp, our vision is to build a financial company that is rooted in empathy, where past circumstances no longer define us, but drive us. Let’s get better together. Stay tuned to learn more about our journey.
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And away we go
This is the beginning of a beautifull friendship. In the meantime, are you curious to know what emotions drive your spending? Take our quiz to find out