The first time that I realized I had to overcome comfort to pursue the life I wanted was when I was a very young newlywed. As a responsible husband and father of a beautiful little daughter, I knew I needed to provide. So I looked for a job that would allow me to make ends meet. I was hired at a warehouse an hour and a half away. I traveled three hours a day, worked a full shift, and came home with $300 a week. By the time I made it back home each evening, it was 8:30 or 9:00 and my baby daughter was already asleep. I remember looking at her lying there, eyes closed, breathing peacefully, and thinking to myself, “Is this the life that I want? Is this the father that she’s going to have, a father that she’s only going to be able to see once a week, who never has time to talk to her?”
I knew I wanted a large family and that my expenses were only going to increase. I wondered how I was going to be able to make enough to send my children to the right schools, to provide a good home, to live in a neighborhood where they could have the kind of friends I wanted for them. I remember thinking to myself: “How can I possibly provide that lifestyle while working this job?”
I began looking around at family and friends; I wanted to see who had a lifestyle I wanted to copy. I had an uncle who was doing very well in the life insurance business. I visited him and asked for advice on what kind of work I could do to provide the life I wanted for my family. He gave me a few ideas and we discussed them, but none of his suggestions appealed to me.
As I sat across from him, I remember looking around at his plush office filled with beautiful, mahogany furniture and seeing the relaxed look on his face that seemed to communicate he didn’t have a care in the world. I wanted what he had. I looked him in the eye and asked, “What do you think about me joining the life insurance business?”
His first response was negative. “Nah, Chaim, listen. I know it’s not for you. You could never be a salesman. You’re not going to succeed at this.”
I don’t blame him. Based on the information he had about me back then, he was right. But there was one thing he didn’t know, something that would change everything. I had an iron determination to succeed, and nothing was going to stop me. I was going to provide the life for my family that they deserved—there was no other option for me.
I continued to press the issue with him for weeks, until he finally relented. “You know what?” he said, “I’m going to give you a chance. It doesn’t cost me anything, so I’ll give you a shot.” He told me which licenses I would need and pointed me in the right direction to begin studying.
My ambition must have gotten the better of me because, the first time I sat for the examination, I had done absolutely no studying or preparation. I wanted to get started as soon as possible! As a result, I failed miserably. Fortunately, though, I had achieved clarity on what I wanted and what it was going to take to get there. My iron-willed determination to better my life and that of my family, kept me focused, taking the exam six more times before passing on my eighth try.
The first two years were a little rocky, but I was making steady progress building a large client base and profitable insurance agency. Six years later I decided to expand my service offerings by becoming a Certified Financial Planner™, earning that designation in 2005. In case you’re wondering, I passed the CFP® examination on my first attempt. Today I have a big, beautiful family, as well as a large insurance agency and financial planning practice.
None of this would have happened if I had chosen to remain imprisoned by the relative comfort of my warehouse job. Every step was difficult, from speaking with my wife about taking a completely new career path, to convincing my uncle to give me a shot, to passing the examinations, learning how to be a successful salesperson, and becoming an entrepreneur.
Breaking out of my comfort prison was absolutely necessary if I was to achieve my dreams for my family and myself. Today I am using the unique talents given to each of us by God to help everyone around me achieve true prosperity in their own lives. And now God has blessed me with my new book, Escape from the Prison of Comfort to Create the Life of Your Dreams. Life is good.
Chaim Ekstein was born at Beth Israel hospital in Manhattan, about ten blocks from Madison Square Garden, and spent most of his early childhood across the East River, just 20 minutes by car in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. In his early teens, his family moved from the city to upstate New York.
Today, in addition to operating a large insurance agency and financial planning practice, Chaim is a bestselling author and international speaker on the topic of self-development. He lives with his wife and family in upstate New York. Go here now to learn about his latest book.