Living Undeterred with Jeffrey Johnston, Episode #132

Living Undeterred Jeffrey Johnston

On October 4, 2016, the trajectory of Jeffrey Johnston’s life changed with one phone call. Before that day, Jeff was living the American Dream. He had a great family, was a successful entrepreneur running a financial services firm in Iowa, and was seemingly coasting through life.

But that morning Jeff received the phone call that is every parent’s worst nightmare. His oldest son, Seth, had died from fentanyl poisoning. He was only 23 years old.

Jeff soon realized that he had two options. He could go down a road of anger and despair and become bitter, or he could use his situation as motivation to become better. He chose the latter.

Jeff took a step back from his career as a financial advisor and focused his attention toward making a difference. In 2020, Jeff founded Choices Network, Ltd. a non-profit dedicated to educating kids, parents, teachers, and coaches on the importance of making positive choices. That same year, he wrote his first book, “This One’s For You: An Inspirational Journey Through Addiction, Death and Meaning” and started the Living Undeterred Project.

In 2021 the project got even more personal for Jeff when he lost his wife, Prudence, to alcoholism. Jeff just completed a 95-day trip across the United States to talk to people about mental health and substance use disorders. Listen in for some takeaways about Jeff’s turning tragedy into a mission to better himself and help other families avoid what he’s experienced.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • The why behind Jeffrey founding Living Undeterred [3:51]
  • What can others learn from this message? [10:48]
  • The catalyst that caused Jeffrey to pivot from his low point [14:18]
  • What prompted Jeffrey’s mission to make a change? [17:46]
  • Purpose becomes Passion when it becomes personal [21:43]
  • What Jeffrey learned from hosting the Living Undeterred Podcast [26:34]
  • A powerful story Jeffrey heard on his tour that he’ll never forget [28:50]
  • Jeffrey’s advice for parents of kids battling drug and alcohol addiction [37:06]
  • What Jeffrey did today that put him in the right mindset for success? [40:58]

What can you learn from Jeffrey’s message?

Jeffrey believes that his son’s death gave him the opportunity to become a better man—not a bitter man. For 14 months after Seth’s death, Jeffrey and his wife drank. He didn’t want to die, but he didn’t want to live. He told his staff he wasn’t coming back to work for a year. He never went back. But on December 24th, 2017, Jeffrey stopped drinking.

What caused him to stop? He needed to model the life he wanted his remaining sons to live.

But he also needed to help his wife. Their environment had become toxic for their two remaining sons. Despite attending rehab, on June 29th, 2021, his wife died of alcohol abuse. He remembers that she was an amazing woman and the best mom to his kids. Her grief was simply more than she could bear.

What prompted Jeffrey’s mission to make a change?

Everything Jeffrey does is his therapy. Each day he steps into a project, he knows he’s helping people. But at the end of the day, he’s doing this for his self-care. What good is he for his boys if he’s drunk and not there for them?

When his wife died, his book had been out for two years. He’d been doing his podcast for a year. He’d purchased the RV to do his tour of the US. His wife’s death made things even more clear. He knew what he needed to do. You honor the dead by living an intentional life.

Purpose becomes Passion when it becomes personal

800 people die every day from overdoses, suicide, and alcohol. Jeffery is tired of it. The majority of these deaths can be prevented. Living Undeterred is designing programs for adolescents to empower them to make better decisions in difficult situations. Jeffrey hopes that it will be the nation’s first individualized mental health planning service (similar to the financial planning industry). It will be free so kids can learn the idea behind a balanced quality of life.

Jeffrey’s advice for parents of kids battling drug and alcohol addiction

There’s a fine line between tough love and enabling. Jeffrey notes that he struggled with it. He gave his son money, bought him a car, paid for his apartment, bailed him out of jail, and visited him in prison. He did all of the right things that a dad “should” do, but his son still died.

He took his wife to rehab, brought her to the emergency room when she was overdosing, and tried to listen. If there is one thing you must do, Jeffrey says listen. Work to understand the pressures your son or daughter is facing. They are significant.

The DEA recently said that there are 80,000 drug dealers on Snapchat. They’re getting into conversations with kids. The number of 12–14-year-olds overdosing on drugs is mind-boggling. So when your children want to talk to you, put your phone down, turn off the tv, and listen. Stop drinking around your kids. Focus on clear and open lines of communication.

Jeffrey seeks to arm parents with the tools they need to have open conversations with their kids and get them help when it’s needed. Listen to the whole episode to learn more about his life’s mission to prevent unnecessary deaths.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Jeffrey Johnston

Bio

On October 4, 2016, the trajectory of Jeff’s life changed with one phone call. Prior to that day, Jeff was living the American Dream. He had a great family, was a successful entrepreneur running a financial services firm in Iowa, and was seemingly coasting through life. The morning of October 4, 2016 Jeff received the phone call that is every parent’s worst nightmare. His oldest son, Seth, had died from fentanyl poisoning. He was 23 years old.

Jeff soon realized that he had two options. He could go down a road of anger and despair and become bitter, or he could use his situation as motivation to become better. He chose the latter. Jeff decided to take a step back from his career as a financial advisor and focus his attention toward making a difference. He became an advocate for bringing awareness to substance use and addiction in teens & young adults. He began speaking at high schools and community events, and joined the board of a local treatment facility that Seth spent time at before his death.

In 2020, Jeff founded his own non-profit, Choices Network, Ltd. dedicated to educating kids, parents, teachers & coaches on the importance of making positive choices.

That same year, he wrote his first book, “This One’s For You: An Inspirational Journey Through Addiction, Death and Meaning” and started the Living Undeterred Project. In 2021 the project got even more personal for Jeff when he lost his wife, Prudence, to alcoholism. Jeff just completed a 95-day trip across the United States to talk to people about mental health & substance use disorders.

Connect With Mitlin Financial

Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.

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