In 2008 I completed my Master’s in Sustainable Development and the global financial crash was about to hit its peak, so was my stress.

Like many people in their twenties, I struggled for many years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had always had a love for the environment and understanding why the world was so uneven in wealth and development and so decided to apply for a Master of Science Degree in Sustainable Development.

Unfortunately, when I completed my Master’s Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy and everyone was talking about the dangers of sub-prime mortgages to the global economy. Shortly after that stock markets fell across the globe, bank loans dried up and small to medium sized businesses everywhere were feeling the pinch.

I managed to secure a temporary role as an environmental regulator but that was soon finished when the lady I was covering for returned from her maternity leave. The job market was in a terrible state and the job market in the sustainable development sector was even worse. I had major trouble in securing a position and decided to start a small business. Starting a small business in a recession is not something I would recommend to anyone but I was engaged to be married, had recently bought my first home and I was desperate.

Any business takes time to build into a strong profit making enterprise and I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve quickly. I woke up early in the morning and started work, I ploughed through unrewarding difficult work all day, then I had dinner and started working again until bedtime. I put myself through this routine, day after day, week after week, month after month. Eventually my relationship with my fiance began to suffer badly. Most of our time together was spent in arguments over not spending enough time together and me working too much and, of course, about not having enough money.

I did not notice the clear signs of burnout that were taking hold of my life. I was depressed, my personal hygiene began to suffer and I was irritable all the time. It was all too much for my fiance. Eventually she called time on our relationship. We owned our home together but I couldn’t live there anymore. I ran my business from that home. My burnout peaked and I simply couldn’t cope anymore. I was incapable of working a normal job. So, in one fell swoop I had lost my home, my fiance and my business, all because I hadn’t been able to notice what was happening in my own life. I had become so obsessed with the success of my business that I sacrificed everything.

I could have taken a job at a supermarket or a delivery job, until the economy had gotten a little better. But I was too headstrong to do that. I had recently obtained my Master’s, I was ‘too good’ for a supermarket job. But of course I was wrong and it was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

It took me a while to recover, build up my confidence again, see new opportunities for myself. Now I’ve started a new business providing SEO Northern Ireland services to local businesses and things are going really well. I learned a lot of hard lessons that have stood me in good stead, but I could have learned them a little easier if I’d stopped and taken a look at the patterns that were forming in my life. If I’d done that and changed my choices and my actions I wouldn’t have sacrificed my business, my home and my relationship.

I learned how to teach myself a lot, I taught myself to build a successful SEO Belfast company and I hope that others can learn to do similar things in their lives, without having to make the sacrifices I made.

Author's Bio: 

Simon McCullagh is a business man from Northern Ireland who owns and runs a professional seo company and enjoys long walks in the Mourne Mountains and playing guitar as ways to de-stress after a long day.