Categories
Goals Happiness Life

Do We Need to Establish Goals?

Around the turn of each year the conversation tends to revolve around the establishment of goals. “What is your New Year’s Resolution?” seems to be the title of scores of new articles that proliferate this time of year.

One major issue I have with this annual deluge is the fact that so very few posts ever discuss the why.

Why should we bother establishing goals? What is their purpose? What makes one goal better than another goal? Is it okay not to set any goals at all? Does it really matter in the end?

Perhaps this is in the forefront of my brain because I have yet to set any personal goals for myself this year. Try as I may none of the ideas I’ve came up with seem appropriate.

I mean, what’s the point in setting goals if we will be dead in just a few short years? What is the point in trying to accomplish anything aside from survival when we are just a miniscule fish in the giant pond of the world?

I’ve thought about that a lot lately. I am just an old woman who started blogging as a form of self-therapy; a woman who skyrocketed to success in the minimalist arena and whose star faded just as rapidly. I am no one in this grand scheme of things, and now that the only purpose I had for my life has been achieved (being the best mother I could be), I am beginning to wonder if I even have the right to search for another path.

The Connection Between Goals and Purpose

It seems to make logical sense to create goals that align with our purpose, so let’s backtrack and start from there. After all, if we create a goal that doesn’t align with our overall purpose, we may not be motivated to follow through or may even sabotage certain aspects of our life.

The Funk & Wagnall’s Desk Standard Dictionary (1939) defines purpose as “to have or place before oneself, as an aim or intent; determine, resolve, or intend; have a fixed design or determination.” (p. 632). In other words, our purpose is something so important to us that it guides our actions throughout life.

Is there anything so important to you that it has (consciously or unconsciously) guided you so far in your life’s journey?

After giving much thought to this, I believe my personal purpose in life is to leave the world a bit better place than it was before I entered it. I may not have had a choice to be born but if I can somehow improve things a tiny little bit, the struggles I have faced will be worth it.

With that in mind, it is safe to say that my purpose has not changed; I still have a desire to make this world a bit better place. Whatever goal I decide upon should reflect that.

Have you ever contemplated your purpose in life? Do you believe that it is important to have a purpose? Is there any point in establishing a purpose or even to set goals?

And is there anything in your life that you would pursue if money were not an object? If you had enough money in your possession to grant you the freedom to never work at a public job again, what would you do with your time?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Financial Freedom

The Fear of Risk

“So when are you going back to work?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me that question I could live on the money for quite a while. Even my daughter seems puzzled over my decision. Part of that is my fault; in order to blend in I’ve kept quiet about my finances so she doesn’t realize that, at the moment, I am doing okay.

I believe that my friends and family are so concerned because they believe that I am taking a major risk. They believe that I can’t afford to support myself on my royalties and investment income.

They believe that I will have a problem locating a job that paid me as much as I earned at the job I quit.

Eric West wrote a thoughtful piece on the subject of fear entitled You Fear Letting Go Because Humans Suck at Assessing Risk. If you’ve not read it, I highly suggest that you click on the link. Eric used minimalism to achieve his dream of downsizing into an RV so that he could travel full-time with his family. He has an awesome story if you are not familiar with it.

While Eric is focused upon our obsession with material things in his post, the fear of risk is prevalent throughout our society.

We fear needing an item (even if we never use it), so we refuse to throw it away.

We fear new places, so we refuse to relocate.

We even fear failure. This is why so many of us refuse to walk away from our public jobs to pursue freedom.

How to Defeat Fear

One of the best ways to defeat fear is to ask yourself what is the worst that can happen?

That simple question allows you to analyze your fear, to plan ahead for an unpleasant possibility. Bob Knight discussed this process in-depth in his book The Power of Negative Thinking. I believe that his book should be required reading for anyone contemplating a bold decision.

I have taken the advice from his book and applied it to my life several times over the years. I even applied his advice to think through worst-case scenarios as I made the decision to walk away from that job.

What is the worst that can happen in my case?

The absolute worst that can happen is that I will have to get another job.

The funny thing about that worst-case scenario is that any job I take in this area will pay me a higher wage than I received as a manager. Most of the entry-level positions in this area actually start out their workers at a higher price-point than I was earning when I quit. In fact, I received a job offer for a cashier position just yesterday. The pay was $1.00 more an hour than I was earning in my previous job.

That is my worst-case scenario.

What is the worst that could happen if you decided to pursue your dreams? Please share your scenarios in the comments below.

Categories
Happiness Life self-improvement

What Would You Do Today if You Were Scheduled To Die Tomorrow?

“Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour.”

Carnegie, Dale. (1948). How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said this: “I can’t wait to achieve….”

We all do this. We spend our present moments focused upon our future in one way or another. We can’t wait to grow up. We can’t wait for the weekend. We count the years until we can take a vacation or retire.

My parents died at 57 and 61, respectively. While I am not a statistician, this made me realize that my personal time on this planet is limited. I may not live long enough to achieve financial freedom again. I may not live until tomorrow even; I could be hit by a truck as I walk to work for all I know.

Many people realize that, like me, they may never achieve their goals. They decide to enjoy life as it comes since nothing is guaranteed aside from our now.

While I may not live to see tomorrow’s sunrise, I live in hope of experiencing many more. While I may not live to achieve financial freedom I choose to live my life as if I will by planning my life and finances accordingly.

Yet I’ve realized that over the past two years I’ve spent the majority of my time working towards that uncertain future. Instead of savoring the life I have today I have kept myself focused upon the steps I want to take to achieve my overall goals. Instead of today, I’ve consistently focused upon my tomorrow, be it my next day off, my next investment, or the next stage of college.

I’ve taken some time off to consider what I really want in my life, focusing on the areas that don’t require money. I asked myself: if I were scheduled to die tomorrow, how would I want to spend my today?

The answer was surprising in its simplicity. If I were to die tomorrow, I would want to spend my today resting, reading, and writing one last blog post to pass on anything I believed might help you as you continue your journey.

I wouldn’t stress over pinching pennies. I wouldn’t constantly search for my next investment. I wouldn’t send every last dime I’d managed to save to my brokerage account. While I wouldn’t spend myself broke, I would allow myself to buy some new music, download an ebook that caught my interest (as opposed to waiting for a physical copy to arrive after I died), then I would stretch out, take a long relaxing breath of thankfulness, and quietly savor my last day on earth as I listened to the new music playing in the background.

That is something I can do right here and now in my current life. All I have to do is shift my focus. I can achieve the life I desire to an immense degree without having to wait and hope for a future that I may not live to see.

This is why I started taking time off each week to relax. This is why I began to eliminate drama from my life.

And this is why I encourage you to do the same.

Goals are a wonderful thing. They keep us alive and moving forward but it’s neither healthy nor productive to sacrifice every moment of your now striving for a future you may not live to attain or complaining that it hasn’t arrived yet.

Today I want you to take a few moments to step back from your entire life. Ask yourself how you would want to spend today if you were scheduled to die tomorrow. Focus upon the things that don’t require money.

Would you want to spend your last day enjoying your family? If so, make arrangements to simplify your schedule so that you can start doing that now.

Would you prefer to spend your last day free of drama? Then begin cutting the major sources of drama from your life.

Would you like to be free of the endless chores that come with caring for a home? While you may not be able to eliminate them entirely, you can begin to pare down your possessions and streamline your routine to eliminate much of the overhead.

Would you like to take one final trip before you leave this life? Start making plans and saving up so that you can take that trip in the foreseeable future.

You can still work towards the future, but you don’t have to sacrifice the entirety of your now to achieve it. I have discovered that, by simply shifting your priorities a bit, that you can live the life you desire to a significant degree immediately.

Take a moment to comment upon how you would want to spend your last day of life below. Share the steps you intend to take now to make that happen. Then share this post with the one friend is sacrificing their now to worry about an uncertain future.

Thank you.

I plan to discuss the specific ways I’ve began to streamline my life in order to spend more time doing the things I enjoy without sacrificing my goals for the future. If there is a particular subject you would like for me to address, leave a comment below.

Categories
self-improvement Success

Beware the Company You Keep

Do not be misled. Bad company ruins character.
(1 Corinthians 15:33, The Bible: An American Translation, 1931).

If you are reading this blog, chances are that you have a goal you are working to achieve. If so, congratulations. It takes a special kind of determination to begin actively pursuing a goal.

Over time you may have noticed that your progress has slowed if not stopped completely. Or perhaps you want to start working on your goal but you have yet to begin.

If this is the case, you may be thinking that the problem is with you. You aren’t dedicated enough or you don’t have enough time. Perhaps you think that you were just born to be a failure.

Before you castigate yourself any further, take a look at the company you keep.

The people we surround ourselves with directly influence who we are and what we are becoming. In fact,

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn.

If your goal is to get in shape but your best friend is a couch potato, guess what is going to happen? Instead of hanging out at the gym doing squats, you’ll end up camping out on the couch with them watching workout videos.

If your goal is to conserve money and build wealth but your friends are perpetually broke spendthrifts, you’ll spend your time at the mall.

If you goal is to declutter your home but your best friend is a hoarder guess what? Your house will never become clean and tidy.

There is a reason for this. Your friends may like the life they lead. They may enjoy doing the things that you no longer want to do. If a clutterbug sees you cleaning your house, for instance, they may take it (consciously or unconsciously) as a judgement against their personal lifestyle choices. So deep down they aren’t going to want you to clean your home. They may not want you to improve your finances, get in shape, or go back to school. While they may encourage you to your face, deep down they want you to fail.

If you fail, they become justified because they never tried. If you fail, you will be just like them. If you fail, they will gain the opportunity to pretend to sympathize with you while they cheer inwardly.

They want you to fail because it will justify their personal failures. They will do whatever it takes to secretly derail your success.

If you have a person like that in your life, run. Unfriend them on Facebook. Block their phone number. Send their emails to the junk folder and avoid them at all costs. I don’t care if you’ve known them since preschool. It doesn’t matter if they promise to always “have your back.” Their secret goal is to keep you down at their level and they will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

I have had to do this two times in my life. Both were friends I’d had since childhood. Many years ago, the first friend decided to go ballistic after I began making some changes to my life. I dealt with their drama for ages as I tried to figure out why my writing business was spluttering.

Within months of eliminating that person from my life, I was earning enough from my writing to quit my day job. I hadn’t even realized that they were sabotaging things until years later but in hindsight the negative comments, the drama they invariably started whenever I began working on a new blog post or a book, and their insistence that I was “working too hard” formed into a barrier that was impossible to overcome until I cut them out of my life.

I recently noticed a similar pattern with another longstanding friendship. The more I worked towards my goals, the more concerned they became. “You need to stop working so hard!” They stated repeatedly. They seemed determined to keep me chatting for hours online to the point where I would have to ignore them when I was working. When I would ignore their texts, they would show up at my job since they were “in the area” around my quitting time. It would take 30 minutes to an hour to escape their litany of complaints.

I tolerated the situation. They were my friend, I reasoned.

But then I pounced upon the opportunity to go to college.

This person immediately began a series of rants concerning the subject. An unrelated rant left me with the distinct impression that they wanted me to cancel my plans to attend college since they weren’t willing or able to go as well.

I thought I was being paranoid but as the evidence continued to mount over the next few weeks I took a few days away from the friendship to clear my head.

The peace I felt was immense. I had not realized how much stress this person was adding to my life until it was gone. The difference was noticeable enough that others began to comment on my change in mood.

That helped me to realize just how unhealthy the friendship had become.

As I considered the person I want to become I realized that this was not a person I would choose to associate with in my future life. Even sadder, I realized that if I were to meet a complete stranger that was exactly like my friend tomorrow that I would want nothing to do with them or their chosen lifestyle.

I realized that the only thing we had in common any more was the time we had known each other.

It is a hard thing to lose a friend; harder still when you have to actively purge them from your life. Even so, as one must prune the diseased branches from a tree so it can flourish, we must prune away our toxic relationships if we want to grow.

Before you go to bed tonight, think about the company you keep. Do you see yourself wanting to associate with them once you reach your goals? Do they show any indications of trying to sabotage your progress through discouragement or distraction?

Do they live the life you want to live, or the life you’re leaving behind?

Do what you have to do.

Much thanks to John Grebe, author of Pray As You Can: Exploring The Diverse Nature of Christian Prayer. His donation of Bibles to my private collection helped immensely as I came to a decision in the situation described above. I received a copy of his book some time ago and I found his thoughts on prayer immensely refreshing.

REFERENCES

Maarten van Doorn. (2018). You Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With. Retrieved from https://medium.com/the-polymath-project/you-are-the-average-of-the-five-people-you-spend-the-most-time-with-a2ea32d08c72

Categories
Education Life Success

How to Defeat Panic and Accomplish Your Goals

My daughter and I started college this past Thursday. We woke up bright and early to eat breakfast before we got started.

Katie began to cook while I turned on some relaxing classical music. After a brief phone call from Auntie wishing us a happy first day of college, we talked quietly as we ate before settling down in our spots to begin our studies.

I felt my chest tighten the moment I saw the tasks listed in this week’s unit. There was a list of items to read, a video that was suggested to watch, and a number of assignments to complete.

It is easy to become overwhelmed when we start a new project. Our mind gravitates to the big picture and we feel fear as that little voice inside of us screams that we’ll never get it done.

We’ll fail, so why should we even bother trying?

While our lizard brain is trying to protect us, it doesn’t understand is that we don’t have to do everything at once. We don’t have to complete everything in an instant.

All we have to do is focus on one step at a time and plod our way through. We are certain to reach the end as long as we keep walking.

The hardest part is getting through that first moment of terror.

My mind was screaming. What in hell were you thinking?!? There is no possible way you can do this on top of your job and everything else! You are going to fail, just like you failed the other times. You’re just throwing your money away and wasting your time. Quit now while you’re ahead!

I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and waited for the moment to pass. Fortunately for me, this isn’t my first rodeo. When I left my husband I had no clue how I would survive. While I accepted the panic, I picked one thing and got to work.

Since then I’ve managed to raise my kids and build a successful writing business. I’ve accomplished other things during that time as well. While I may not know just how I’ll manage this new project, I know I will do just fine.

I just have to focus on the next step.

The very first thing I needed to do was download all of my reading materials. Once that was complete, I selected the reading assignment at the top of the list and got started.

One by one I went down that list. I didn’t worry about the next step; there wasn’t any point in worrying about it until I reached it. Before I knew what was happening I had reached my first written assignment.

While I may be discussing a college class in this post, the knowledge I used to get through this first week can be applied to anything we want to achieve in life.

The steps are simple:

  1. Close your eyes and allow yourself to breathe through that moment of panic.
  2. Determine the very first step you need to take.
  3. Focus exclusively upon that step until it is accomplished.
  4. Determine the next step and repeat #3.

Don’t worry about the big picture. It will only make you insane if you do. Just focus on the task that is immediately in front of you.

The journey will take care of itself.

If you have a friend who feels overwhelmed, take a moment to share this post with them. You may be helping them achieve greatness.

On another note, I recently signed up all of my books for the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, that occurs during the entire month of July. Every single book I have listed there will be offered for free or at a significant discount so I urge you to take advantage of the opportunity. You can find my profile here.

Categories
Future Me Happiness Law of Attraction self-improvement Success

The Magic of Dreaming

Beep! Beep! Beep!

The alarm clock blares, signaling another day of drudgery. You hit the snooze for as long as you dare, dreading the oncoming day until you finally jump up, catch a shower, and race to work.

You punch in at the time clock only to be greeted by your boss who has a litany of complaints and a hundred things they need you to accomplish ASAP, only to return home so brain dead that the only thing you want to do is scarf down the stale chips in your pantry and crash on the couch.

It never seems to end, does it?

Day by day, you barely have enough energy to survive, much less focus on escaping.

But you know what?

They may have enslaved your body but they can’t stop you from dreaming.

When you collapse into bed each night, imagine that you are laying down in the bed of your dreams. Use the good sheets if you have them and keep them scrupulously clean. Inhale the sweet scent of your pillow and relax because right now, at this moment, you are not a slave. You are free, and you are stretched out in your new life.

Imagine looking around at the tidy bedroom of the life you want. See yourself padding to the kitchen for a glass of milk or a midnight snack. Live your future life each night as you fall asleep.

Wake up a bit earlier each morning, turn on some classical music (classical makes one think of wealth), sit down, and think.

What can you do, right now, that will allow you to live your dream?

Write down the ideas that result from your brainstorming. In time, one of the ideas will click but for now just think.

Take a day off and just relax. Turn off the alarm clock. Cancel your appointments. Turn off the phone and ignore social media. Listen to the music that makes you feel wealthy and walk through your home. Pretend that you’ve made it; you’ve already achieved the life of your dreams.

Does your dream home contain empty take-out boxes scattered all over creation?

If not, then fix it.

Tidy the home of your future while you live in the home of your now.

Once you’re done with your quick clean-up, treat yourself to a long soak in the tub or an indulgent shower. Dress in your nicest comfy clothes and settle into your favorite spot.

For now, at this moment, you are wealthy. You’ve achieved your dream. You don’t have to go to the job. You’ve got food in your belly, clothes on your back, and your time is your own.

How will you spend it?

Perhaps wealthy you would like to research one of the ideas from your earlier brainstorming session? If so, then read a book or watch some videos on the subject. Whatever it is that you see wealthy you doing in a moment of peaceful down-time at home, do it the best that you can.

When you go to bed that night, know that you have lived the life of your dreams for a day. Savor the fact that, despite your current circumstances, they didn’t stop you from resting your body and opening your mind.

It sounds insane but it works. Taking the time to imagine the life you want to lead, to live in it now, where you currently are, will work wonders not only for your mood but for your future progress. It allows you to escape the ruts that you’ve fallen into, clear your head, and take those first tiny steps towards your dreams.

That was how I started down my path. At first, I took long soaks in the tub to hide from the misery of my life. Next, I started cleaning my home while my husband was away, pretending that I was free from my unhappy marriage and getting my life sorted.

In time I dreamed of a life where I could raise my kids without having to work in a public job. I started brainstorming ways to make it happen.

Since I loved to write and help people, I imagined a life where I could sit at home and raise my children in peace while I typed at my computer. I didn’t know how I would make that happen; I simply pretended that I was doing just that whenever I sat down to write a journal entry or whatnot.

Before I knew what hit me I had a successful website and a number of books published. Those books produced enough royalties for me to stop working entirely.

I started it all by dreaming.

I Have a Confession to Make

I had forgotten about those early days when all I could do was dream. I didn’t even realize until recently that those dreams were the first steps I took to create my reality. If not for dreaming about the life I wanted to lead, living it the best I was able in the moments I could, I would have never been inspired to start this website or write my first book.

Now that my kids are grown it is time for another dream. I’m living it now as I write this.

What do you dream?

Categories
Finances self-improvement Success

The Accumulative Power of Small Steps

I recently achieved a milestone in my goal of restoring the older posts on this blog. By just uploading a single post a day I’ve managed to restore all of the posts from 2009.

It doesn’t take long to restore a single post. I can take care of it in moments before I go on with my day. Yet that tiny little bit of progress each day allows me to inch a bit closer to my ultimate goal.

I do the same thing with my finances. Today I calculated the gross amount of my last raise and transferred that amount into my emergency savings account. While the amount isn’t very much it adds up bit by bit along with the pennies I manage to save in my daily life.

Just by saving money a few pennies at a time and using those savings to invest in the stock market I’ve managed to go from absolute zero to an investment account containing several thousand dollars that provides an extra half months’ worth of passive income each year.

The average person laughs at the thought of baby steps. They believe that a single penny is worthless so they don’t bother to save it. They believe that writing a few words a day won’t ever result in a book that they could publish. If they can’t achieve their goals in a short amount of time they don’t even bother.

When the average person thinks of improvement they think that it’s the massive changes that make the difference but it is the opposite that holds the truth. Tiny little changes hold the keys to massive progress. As with money, those miniscule steps you can make in your day to day life will compound into massive results.

Today, instead of asking yourself how you can build an emergency savings account start tossing your spare change into a jar. As the jar fills, so your emergency account grows.

Instead of asking yourself how to complete a massive project now, pick one tiny thing that you can do each day and watch the progress build.

Don’t worry about the end goal. Just focus on what you can achieve now. The goal will take care of itself if you feed it with daily progress.

What is one thing that you can do each day that will take you closer to your goals? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Productivity Success

Why the Turtle Beats the Hare to Success

One of the blessings that come with age is patience. Time has a way of making you realize that instant wealth or success is a fairy tale concocted by marketers to place your cash in their pocket by taking advantage of your impatience.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses how mediocre companies develop long-lasting success. His research demonstrated that the companies that made sudden, drastic changes weren’t the ones who succeeded.

It was the companies that made tiny, incremental changes over time that achieved lasting success.

This principle applies to every single endeavor.

If your house is a pigsty, cleaning it from top to bottom might provide a rush of pleasure as you look upon your freshly cleaned home but it won’t stay that way for very long unless you change the habits that allowed your home to get out of control in the first place.

If your finances are a disaster, a spending moratorium may help you achieve breakeven and get caught up on your bills, but unless you alter your habits to the point where you routinely live beneath your means you are one splurge away from catastrophe despite your best efforts.

This is why the turtle always wins. The hare starts out at a rush, going full-tilt to defeat the challenge in one fell swoop. He may be able to achieve breakeven on his finances by not spending any money for a month. He may be able to deep clean his house in a weekend by tossing a bunch of crap out and scrubbing it from top to bottom. He may even be able to jump start his business income by following the tips in one of those get-rich-quick tutorials.

But none of the hare’s success will last for very long. By the time he completes the massive accomplishment of cleaning his house, catching up on his bills, or bringing in the first few dollars of business income he will be so exhausted he will be forced to take a break. During that break things will go back to what they were before he began.

The story ends differently for the turtle. They start very slow, focusing on one tiny aspect of the thing they want to change. They may make it a personal rule to scoop the litterbox once a day. They may start washing their dishes up as they use them. In their business, they may start out by writing one tiny article or blog post, or by investing a few dollars in the stock market every month. The goal they set for themselves may be so tiny that no one around them even notices at first. Those whom the turtle shares with may even laugh at his progress.

While everyone is clapping the hare on his back for his massive weight loss the turtle will be plucking away in the background, altering the habits that made him overweight one meal at a time. As the hare starts to regain the weight he lost in his drastic fast, the turtle will grow continually slimmer and maintain his smaller figure.

While the hare is out celebrating his business success with his buddies the turtle will be at home tinkering on another aspect of his business venture. The hare will look at his bank balance and realize that his income is dropping. He may get desperate, repeat the actions he did to generate the first flow of funds but then decide that it’s too much work and quit.

The turtle will still be plucking away, happy because his business is steadily growing.

I’ve seen this scenario play out more times than I can count in the writing business and in life. Friends who stopped spending money for a month, who ended up asking me for cash because they’d blown every penny they’d gained celebrating with a major purchase after. Acquaintances who quit their job after making a sudden success in a business venture ending up broke in a town far away because they took their eyes off of the prize for a moment too long.

One by one I’ve watched my writing and business friends throw up their hands and quit. I’ve listened to them rant about the unfairness of it all so many times that I can almost predict what the recent quitters are going to say before they open the chat box.

But I am the Turtle. I chugged away for years before I gained my first success, so when that initial flood of cash began to slow I made a few adjustments and just kept going.

It would have been easy to quit. I was tempted to do just that when I went back to working a public job. All of my writer friends were dropping like flies, going back to their day jobs because the Internet life “didn’t pan out.”

But I didn’t. Instead, I took a long, hard look at my life. I analyzed what I’d done right and what mistakes I had made. Instead of throwing my hands up in surrender I started making adjustments and kept going.

That slow, steady pace is quietly paying off. Month by month I can see a small uptick in my book sales. Month by month I can see a tiny increase in the readership of this website.

Month by month I can see my investments growing, building towards my ultimate goal bit by tiny bit. So far this month I’ve received $60 in dividends and more will arrive before the calendar flips.

This turtle isn’t going to rest on her laurels, however. This turtle will do the same thing she’s been doing since she started. She will keep her expenses as low as she comfortably can and continue her steady march towards lasting freedom.

Whatever you desire in life can be achieved by taking slow, steady steps. It’s not as glamorous as throwing out all of your stuff, going on a financial fast, or hitting the gym in a frenzy but if you want to make a lasting change in your life it is the only method that works.

Stop trying to imitate the hare. It’s the turtle that wins in the end.

Categories
Success

Frustrated? Stick to Your Plan

Last night Murphy’s Law seemed to reign at my job. I awoke this morning with the frustration still eating at me.

The details don’t matter. You’ve probably felt the same, that desire to just say “fuck it” and change your plan.

So what can you do when that desire hits?

You can do the same thing that I do.

You can stand tall, pull up your panties, and keep working towards your goals.

Every single day you need to do something to bring your dreams closer. Every single day you need to wake up and take one step towards your goals.

You may not see any results at first. Like the Chinese Bamboo, it can take years to see progress. Like the Chinese Bamboo, you need to feed and water your dreams every day.

And like the Chinese Bamboo, when the time comes, success will appear so suddenly that you will be amazed.

That was exactly what happened when I achieved my freedom for the first time. I had spent two years of my life writing nonstop as I struggled to support my family. I had almost given up. I had taken yet another public job making shit for pay and resigned myself to a life of struggle.

But I kept writing.

Despite the fact that I had resigned myself to the fact that I would always be forced to work at a public job I still kept working on my plan. Each and every day I wrote a little bit more. I wrote on this blog. I wrote on my books. I would not allow myself to go to bed at night until I had done at least one thing, had taken one step towards my goal.

You know what? It worked. One day I woke up and checked on my progress. My jaw bounced off of the floor. There was more than enough book royalties coming to me to cover three months of living expenses.

I was finally free.

A dream that I had first allowed myself to dream back at the turn of the century had finally come to fruition. A dream that I hadn’t seriously started working towards until 2009 had become reality with a suddenness that left me amazed.

Now I have a new dream. In order to achieve that dream I find myself in yet another public job, earning less as a manager than I would make as an entry-level burger flipper at the local McDonalds and right now that grates, especially after the frustration of last night.

It would be easy to throw in the towel. It is hard when you look around and you feel as if you are barely making progress. You look around, questioning yourself as you wonder if you made the right decision.

Those are the moments that define you. Those are the moments when you discover if you are dedicated to your plan. How you move through those moments determines whether you are destined for success or failure.

I know what I intend to do. In fact, I’m doing it right now.

Are you?

Categories
Housing Personal

How I Spent My Day Off

I set my alarm bright and early. I had plans to visit the library book sale and have lunch with a friend before applying at some local factories so I wanted to get all of my daily tasks completed. That way, when I arrived home after lunch I could dedicate the rest of my afternoon to decimating the jungle in my back yard. My days off may be split up this week but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t get stuff done.

I knocked out my daily tasks, washing loads of laundry as I worked while I waited for my friend to awaken so we could head out.

By 10am it became obvious that my friend had decided to sleep in. I couldn’t blame her; she works more hours at her public job than I do so I knew that she needed the rest.

However, I had things I wanted to accomplish. I needed to have everything done by early afternoon in order to tackle the back yard since the chants of “Feed me Seymour!” were starting to get annoying.

Did I want to be the friend who blows up someone’s phone because they’re exhausted and overslept?

No, I did not.

I chuckled. She needed her rest; I needed to get stuff done. Lunch and job hunting could wait for another day, especially since I’m in no hurry to start working full-time. The money might be nice but it’s not essential since I’ve got money left over to invest each month even at my current wage.

Rather than bother her I grabbed my shopping bags and headed to the library.

I walked into the room filled with books and froze. Do I really need more books? I asked myself. I have quite a stack at home that I’ve yet to read. Even worse, many of the business and financial titles I’ve encountered lately hadn’t exactly been written for cheapskates like me. I certainly didn’t want to acquire more fiction; I’ve got quite the stack waiting to be read at home already.

I do not want to be the woman who accumulates stuff for the sake of accumulation. I may not be a minimalist but I am not a hoarder.

Heavy on my mind was the fact that every dollar I manage to keep brings me that much closer to financial freedom. With a 10% dividend, every dollar I invest equates to ten cents in annual income a year.

Eighty dollars invested in this way brings me an hour’s wage closer to my goal. Did I really want to spend the $50 I’d budgeted for the book sale or did I want my freedom more?

The voices in my head were unanimous: freedom was much more important than acquiring more books.

I couldn’t even look at the selections. My heart wouldn’t let me. You’ve got enough, my brain kept screaming.

I left that book sale without purchasing a single title.

Disquieted at the sudden change of heart, I wandered around town a bit to think. It wasn’t like me to pass up the offer to acquire inexpensive books but I’d noticed myself doing that more and more lately. I barely even visit the freebie section at the library these days.

Why was that? Was it just because I had an assortment of books already, or was there something deeper at work? I ignored the scenery as I pondered this.

I realized that my time is limited. There are only 24 hours in a day; I have to spend at least eight of those sleeping in order to function properly. That gives me 16 hours each day to work a public job, take care of my home, socialize with family and friends, and work towards my goals. I’ve reached my limit when it comes to juggling everything. Should I take a full-time job I will be forced to make cutbacks in other areas of my life.

According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of our efforts produce 80% of the results. If I selected the books I choose to read more carefully I would not only learn more, I could save time as a result. It might cost more to acquire the individual books but the time savings would be immense.

The goal is to learn, not just to spend my days reading, after all. If I spent less time reading things that aren’t relevant to my objectives, I would have more time to not only work on improving my home but to rest as well.

Considering how many nights I’ve face-planted into my keyboard lately, rest is something I desperately need.

It felt odd and uncomfortable to realize that, in a year’s time, I’ve managed to grow beyond the basic financial texts that I’ve been able to acquire locally. It felt odd to realize that I could no longer pick up just any old book and learn from it.

It felt really odd to realize that I had absolutely no desire to even look through the offerings at the library book sale and to know that I needed to thin down my current collection to narrow my focus and conserve my time.

I returned home, mind filled with my recent epiphany as I ate my lunch. I didn’t even bother to wash the dishes. I piled them into the sink, sat down, and began to share my thoughts with my journal.

My friend showed up at my door while I was writing. I’d been so wrapped up in my thoughts that I hadn’t realized she’d been messaging me. While she was apologetic about oversleeping, she was ready to grab lunch and go job hunting finally.

I looked at the clock. It was one in the afternoon. I still had that back yard to tackle and despite everything I was still on schedule to get it done.

I no longer had time to go job hunting, however. I explained to her that I had arranged my schedule so that we would have been done by that point. I had to start working on my yard. It wasn’t going to mow itself. With the current rain forecast and my public job schedule, I had to get it done.

I’m not certain if she was more upset at me or herself but she settled down at my kitchen table, went online, and started filling out job applications. I puttered around the house a bit, working on my laundry as I offered her lunch. She refused so I went back to work. I headed out back and started mowing.

“You need to sit down and take a break,” she counseled when I paused to catch my breath.

“If I sit down I won’t get back up,” I replied bluntly. “Sitting on my ass isn’t going to get this yard done. I am getting this yard done today, period.”

I got it done.

I wondered what thoughts were going through my friend’s head as she left once I’d finished mowing. Was she upset that I’d insisted upon keeping to my schedule? Was she angry that I had plans for my life, plans to improve my home and regain my freedom? Was she upset at the fact that I wouldn’t just drop everything I’d had planned for the remainder of the day to go hang out and apply for some jobs after she’d overslept?

Maybe she thought I was being a jerk?

I honestly don’t know. I do know that I wasn’t trying to be rude; I simply did not have the luxury of procrastinating.

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting my rooftop. I had made a sound decision the day before; my yard would have gotten completely out of control if I had delayed.

Time to get back to work.

Categories
Life Personal

Stiffly Moving Forward

My first thought this morning was that someone had replaced my joints with a box of Rice Krispies. Every part of my body snapped, cracked, and popped after yesterday’s adventure.

But at least I got the front yard mowed.

I may not feel like moving from this spot but I still had stuff to get done. While I’ve accomplished a lot towards my 2019 goals, there is one area I’ve barely touched:

My will.

I went online, revisiting the websites I’d trolled earlier. I located some examples along with a form where one writes out their funeral desires and printed it out.

In the next few weeks I’ll sort through the data, design the legalese, and concoct the paper that will serve as my Last Will and Testament until this cheapskate decides she can afford to have an attorney work up a better one. Once that is done I’ll round up a couple of friends and track down a Notary to make it legal.

For now I am going to swallow some pain meds, get dressed, and head to work. Sore muscles or no, this girl has got to make some money.

Categories
Education Finances Investments self-improvement Success

2019 Goal Update

I received a call on my day off from work yesterday, asking if I would come work for a couple of hours. I wasn’t thrilled at first but then I realized that those hours worked would take me a tiny bit closer to my goal.

I worked that short shift with a smile on my face.

I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my goals for this year. To recap, my goals were:

  • Have a will drawn up.
  • Get dentures
  • Get new eyeglasses
  • Get my driving permit/license
  • Determine job/career path for my next steps
  • Continue investing
  • Continue writing
  • Continue reading and learning
  • Change the stories I tell myself
  • Establish an official Emergency Fund account
  • Establish the habit of going to bed around 10pm and waking up around 6am

I placed one of my goals, acquiring dentures, on hold. I would like to avoid having my jawbone scraped (dentists occasionally have to level the bone so that dentures will fit properly), so I’ve decided to let Nature take its course for another year before I consider getting them. I’ve still got tiny little shards of bone working out of my gums; while normal, I’ve decided to wait as a result.

I’ve done some research concerning wills. I may be able to download a basic will on the Internet, make alterations as needed, and create one without the need to hire an attorney. A friend of mine is a Notary Public so I could make it official easily enough. That would save a small fortune should I decide to go that route.

I’ve made my optometrist appointment and gotten my insurance sorted. The place didn’t realize that they accepted my vision insurance at first, despite the fact that my insurance had them listed as a provider. I’ve reserved my copay from my income tax refund so I am on track to not only acquire glasses but to take the next step in my game plan–reacquiring my drivers license. While I don’t intend to purchase another vehicle at the moment I may have to at some point in the future. I want to be prepared for that eventuality.

Since I’ve recently received a promotion at work, I’ve decided to remain where I’m at for the moment. I want to see if I can eventually attain a full-time position there instead of finding another job. Since a full-time position there is only 35 hours a week, that would still allow plenty of time to pursue my other projects, which is a large concern should I find another job.

I’m still investing, studying, and writing. I’ve read 18 books so far this year; as long as I continue my progress throughout the remainder of the year I will consider this goal as attained.

Amazingly, the majority of my progress started once I began to change the stories I told myself. I allow myself to think about how my life will be once I attain my goals each night as I fall asleep; every morning before I climb out of bed I go through a small litany of affirmations as I restate my goal. When I begin to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, I take a moment to look at myself in the mirror to tell myself that I’m okay and that I can handle anything Life throws at me.

When I can’t look into a mirror I focus on the rage that has built up inside of me from decades of people who have called me worthless and crazy. I replay the day when Henry Walters, my old A.P. US History teacher, told me that I could do anything I set my mind to once I made the decision. I replay the times when my Dad encouraged me with those same words, then I pull out the coin from my very first investment and tell myself firmly that I will do whatever it takes to become wealthy just to prove the haters wrong.

The energy burst I receive from that helps me to power through.

While I’ve yet to completely acquire the habit of going to bed at 10 pm. and waking up at 6 am., I’ve managed to shift my bedtime to 11 pm. so that I wake up around 7 am. I’ve gotten to the point where I will begin to doze off if I try to ignore my bedtime so I’ve made a bit of progress in that area.

Yesterday I finally decided to bite the bullet concerning the Emergency Fund goal. I’ve been keeping the money in my checking account; I want to shift those funds into a savings account so that I can draw a bit of interest on the money as well as keep it completely separate from my primary account. I’ve had my debit card cloned in the past so I really needed to establish a financial buffer there. I started the process to open a savings account at my local bank yesterday to accomplish that goal.

Speaking of financial buffers, I’ve decided to take my Auntie’s advice since you agreed that it was a wise decision. I plan to acquire a credit card this year to not only build my credit but to use while making my daily purchases. I’ll keep you posted as I move forward on that plan.

To my surprise, I’ve made more progress on my annual goals so far this year than I have in any other year that I can recall. I’m not sure what the difference is but I’m definitely not going to complain!

How are you doing with your goals for this year? Nosey old biddies would like to know, so please share your stories in the comments below.

Hmm…that rhymed. I kinda like that :).

Have a nice day!

Categories
Life self-improvement Success

Carpe Annum

This is it. The dawn of an entirely new year.

I couldn’t wait to greet it. I woke up, made my coffee, and journaled as I watched the sun rise.

I changed so much in 2018. I started out the year without a single serious idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Aside from my work schedule, I didn’t even keep track of my days and I published only a single post a week on this website.

But look at me now! I came through the doldrums. I figured out what I wanted from my life. I set a new goal of financial freedom and I actively started working towards it. Starting at absolute zero, with no experience whatsoever, I managed to invest a total of $2,153.20 in stocks and precious metals.

Wow.

I did that. I did that on a part-time minimum wage income, not even bringing in $700 a month between my public job and my writing.

I accomplished more since my birthday on April 5, 2018 than I have since I can remember.

And I did it with less money coming in each month than many people earn in a week.

You look at that. You look at that long and hard. And you pay attention.

If I can invest over two thousand dollars in a year making as little as I do, knowing as little as I know then guess what?

You have no excuse.

You have absolutely no excuse for being broke. You have absolutely no excuse for living paycheck to paycheck. If I can accomplish this much making so much less than you, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t manage to save money and invest towards your future as well.

So stop your whining. Stop saying that it can’t be done. Stop with the bullshit, get off your ass, and get to work.

Cut your expenses. Do your research. And start investing towards a better future now.

Read a book. Create a habit. Start a business. Open a savings account. Invest. Do something, even if it’s wrong! Just get started. You can work out the details as you go along.

You will never change your life unless you actually do something to make it happen. So start doing it.

This is a brand-new year. This is your fresh start, your chance to transform your life into something magical.

Don’t pass it up.

Categories
Organization Productivity self-improvement

Preparing for the New Year

Twenty-eighteen has been an incredibly eventful year. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the previous stage of my life is ending and determined a new direction for my life.

I may not know yet how I’ll get to there from here. That’s okay. All I have to do is continue to move forward with my end goal in mind; the rest will fall into place in time.

The primary way that I maintain my focus on a daily basis is through my planner/diary. The book allots one page per day to keep track of schedules, tasks, notes, and highlights. This not only allows me to keep track of the things that I want/need to do but to look back and remind myself of what I’ve already accomplished.

One major change I have made in this habit over the past year was to finally settle on the At-A-Glance Diary instead of just using the computer or a cheap composition notebook as I have in the past. My plans are extremely important to me, I can afford the expense, and I’ve realized that it’s high time that I break myself of the habit of going cheap on everything. It is time I began to utilize the Diderot Effect for a positive purpose.

I’ve fallen into the habit of using a modified version of the Bullet Journal method of notation to log my entries. This allows me to jot down things as I think of them in a format that is easy to review. My primary changes are using a “$” signifier for financial information, an exclamation point (!) for important items (as opposed to an asterisk), a lower-case “i” to note informative/inspirational notes, the letter “w” for my writing, and the letter “s” for self-improvement items.

As I’ve prepared for what 2019 will bring I’ve transferred recurring events to my new planner and dedicated an empty page in the back for both my annual and long-term goals.

They are as follows:

Long-Term Goals:

  • Multiple streams of passive income. More than enough to live on comfortably.
  • Own my own home.
  • Long, healthy, active life.

I made a note after this set of goals to remind myself that I’m just hitting my groove. I’ve got 50 years of life left at a minimum with modern medical technology so it isn’t going to hurt one bit to utilize 20 of those years to attain my goal of financial independence.

2019 Goals:

With my long-term goals in mind, I sat down to figure out just what I wanted to accomplish next year.

  • Have a will created. I need to get in the habit of keeping one of these. Wealthy people understand the importance of these; since I intend to become wealthy I need to adopt this practice.
  • Acquire dentures. I want a set of partials to correct my smile as I move forward. This will not only improve my ability to eat, it will also give me an advantage as I strive to increase my income.
  • Acquire new eyeglasses. These will aid immensely as I study and continue to write.
  • Re-acquire driving permit/license. This will be necessary if I decide to invest in real estate or enter a field that requires me to drive.
  • Continue investing. I must keep moving forward, doing what I can do with what I currently have, if I want to accomplish my long-term goals so I cannot allow this to fall to the wayside.
  • Determine if a career change is necessary. This concerns my public job. I know I will have to keep a public job for the next few years at the least so I need to decide if I want to continue life as a cashier or take steps to shift into a different profession. This does not concern my writing and investing whatsoever–just what I do to pay the bills and earn extra money to invest towards my future.
  • Continue reading/studying. I’ve got a lot of educational ground to cover as I change my mindset and work out the best way to achieve my goal. This will be a priority to me.
  • Continue writing. I want to share my journey with others in order to provide hope and prove that one can accomplish anything they set their mind to. It will also serve as a form of personal clarification and therapy. I also want to brainstorm and write a new book before the end of 2019.
  • Change the stories that I tell myself. Life is 99% of the stories we tell ourselves. I’ve realized that I need to change a few of my personal stories. I’ll discuss this in a later post.

Now that I know where I’m going it will simply be a matter of keeping on track. To close out the year (and eliminate the stress of drama) I worked out what I could personally do about a private situation, took a deep breath, and got it over with. Now that I know I have done all I can personally do I am free to let that issue go and continue with my plans to move forward.

I refuse to allow anyone’s actions to derail my plans for my future.

Taking Care of My Now

I’ve done all I can do to prepare for next year so it is time to focus on my now. I made another small investment in the stock market to celebrate, I’m composing a list of things I want to tidy and sort around the house (I’ve let things slide due to stress), and I’ve resolved to have this blog back on track with the coming year.

Starting in January I will resume posting three days a week come hell or high water. I refuse to allow myself to slack but I do need to reduce my current workload for a bit as I mentally prepare for next year since I want to hit the ground running.

***

What goals have you set for the coming year? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Investments

Two Hours Closer to Freedom

Today was the day for my latest stock purchase. My transfers had arrived at my brokerage and I had a day off to savor the experience of growing a tiny bit closer to freedom. I targeted Blueknight Energy Partners (BKEP), a tiny company in the Energy Sector that I’d been eyeing for months. I’d researched them, noting several things I liked about the company as I waited for them to officially slice their dividend. I’ve learned my lesson about buying stock prior to a dividend cut so I held my hand and waited.

Sure enough, the stock price tanked when the cut was announced. I watched it, waiting for it to hit bottom so that I could calculate the new dividend yield based on the lower price. When I was satisfied with both the price and the yield I began purchasing shares in the company.

This month I managed to buy 54 more shares. At the new dividend rate I will receive 32 cents a share per year which works out to $17.28 in annual dividend income thanks to today’s purchase.

I’m over two hour’s wage closer to my goal.

In total I now own 138 shares of Blueknight. I’ve spent $388.04 on the investment, which includes my brokerage fees. This investment will provide $44.16 a year in dividends.

For the moment I’ve decided that I absolutely adore companies that decide to slash their dividends in order to pare down debt or to expand their businesses. Investors hate companies like this so they flee in droves, allowing cheapskates like myself to sweep in and purchase shares at bargain basement prices.

I have finally found my niche.

What risks are you taking in order to achieve your goals? Please share your stories in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Inspiration Investments

The Art of Staying Motivated

The other night I came home after an exhausting shift at work. I plopped down in front of my computer to check my emails before engaging in my nightly habit of reading a bit before I went to bed.

As I sat there I thought “what’s the point?” What was the point in reading more when I was so drained? It’s going to take years for me to achieve my goal, so what would be the harm in skipping a single night?

That’s when I realized I had a problem. I was losing my motivation.

It’s easy to lose motivation when all you can make are baby steps. When you have to wait days and weeks before you can take another step forward. But that is the reality of my life. I can’t afford to plunk down thousands of dollars and then wait to reap the profits. I have to invest in stages while working to increase my knowledge during my downtime. While I know that every few months I will receive a small payoff in dividends it is a cold hard fact that this project is going to take a while to really begin to pay off.

So how do I stay motivated? What can I do to encourage myself to move forward on the nights when I’m too tired to think, much less move?

With a heavy heart as I considered this I skipped my nightly reading and went to bed. I’d have to find a solution soon or risk giving up.

A few days later I walked to the store to purchase supplies. On a whim I headed to the school supplies section, thinking that a new pencil or ink pen would be a treat. I didn’t need one but sometimes it’s the little things that encourage us to continue moving forward. I found this:

Meet my new Goal Journal. I photographed it with the little piece of inspiration I carry with me daily, one of the silver rounds from my very first investment.

On the very first page I wrote down my goal. I wanted to see it every single time I opened the notebook.

Once that was completed I was stumped. Do I use the journal to chronicle all of my thoughts or to keep track of specifics? I decided to dedicate a single page each month to a cold, hard summary of my progress. I’ve decided to share it with you now.

I didn’t tell you at the time but I began this journey on my birthday earlier this year. I was hesitant to share because the idea sounded stupid even to me. Seriously, an old woman working part time for minimum wage who wants to enter the financial ring with the Big Dogs? The idea was laughable! Who the hell do I think I am, even considering this? Because of my inner demons I kept quiet until I became comfortable enough with the idea to have the courage to share.

The next month I decided to jump in with both feet. I scraped together every single penny I could spare from my book royalties and my income tax refund, took a deep breath, and kissed that money goodbye. I knew that I didn’t know much; I could very well lose it all, but I had to at least try, you know? Wishing wasn’t going to get me anywhere without definite action:

I managed to score free trading from my brokerage until August 8th. Sometimes it pays to ask plenty of questions. I took advantage of the blessing to make a few experimental trades so that I could figure out just how this stock market thing worked. I was completely clueless and I knew it. To my surprise I did pretty well. Not only did I manage to profit from my trades, I even received my very first round of dividends. I was chuffed!

July was the last full month that I qualified for free trading. I’m sure I drove the workers at my brokerage batty with all of my questions that month! I discovered the difference between exchanges, the fact that my brokerage will not allow anyone with a balance of less than $25,000 to trade on certain exchanges “to protect them,” and lodged a formal complaint about not being allowed to invest in the real “penny stocks” — those whose shares trade for literal pennies. A worker there actually called me to apologize personally for the limitation after that stunt and he helped me figure out exactly what I was allowed to invest in through the brokerage. I modified my search criteria appropriately, albeit grudgingly. As I explained, the five or ten bucks I’d planned to toss towards those particular purchases would not be near enough to budge the stock prices and I was well aware of the risk I was taking. By this point I was literally kissing my money goodbye as I transferred it to my brokerage account, and I STILL feel that my brokerage should eliminate that limitation.

When August is over I’ll add another page to my journal as I continue to chronicle my adventure. This will allow me to look back and see a visual reminder of just how far I’ve come. Due to the fact that I don’t require much to live on I’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit over these past few months. When you add the money I invested in early August I’ve managed to top $1,500 invested in the stock market–most of which came from my minimum-wage day job.

I’m not sure if I should be proud or terrified at the fact that I’ve hit it so hard. Fifteen hundred dollars isn’t exactly chump change for me. That’s three months’ worth of living expenses in my world. I guess time will tell as I continue this journey. In the meantime I have a physical reminder of my progress for those nights when I wonder why I’m even trying.

In addition to my goal notebook I carry that silver round in my pocket as I move through my day. Whenever things get tough at work I dig it out, turn it over in my hands, and repeat my goal:

I will do whatever it takes to invest $60,000 in the stock market.

I hope it’s enough.

What do you do to keep motivated about your goals? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Frugality

Panic Attack

Earlier this month after paying expenses I decided to get a jump on my new goal. Instead of absorbing my current round of royalties into my life I decided to transfer the amount into my brokerage account instead. While I had planned to start next month, I was anxious to begin. I sat down at the computer and logged into my accounts. After calculating exactly how much royalties I had received last month, I started setting up the transfer.

I suddenly couldn’t breathe. My heart beat a staccato in my chest and I started shaking. What the hell? I stood up on wobbly legs and staggered out to the front porch. I needed to breathe, I needed to stop trembling, I needed to think, dammit–what in the world was wrong with me?

It took several moments of deliberate breathing for my mind to function again. It dawned on me that I was having a panic attack at the thought of saving the source of money I had relied on for several years. The reaction made no logical sense; I’ve ran the numbers so I know for a fact that I can afford to live exclusively on the income that my public job provides, especially now that I’ve gotten the bulk of my house sorted for the long haul. To make things worse, I’ve spent the past couple of decades relying on every single penny I could manage to earn.

I closed my eyes and just breathed. I knew that the reaction was illogical. I wasn’t blowing the money; I was simply shifting it into another account. I would have it available to use should a need actually arise. In the meantime, that money would earn a bit more money for the future.

Bit by bit I regained control of my body until, still trembling, I went back in the house, sat down at my computer, and finalized the transaction. Wiping away the tears from my weakness I finished getting dressed and headed to work.

My boss was confused when she saw my upset and promptly gave me a hug. We talked for a moment about how the mind can play games with us before I clocked in to work. I forced my emotions aside and focused on my duties.

Guess what? I lived. I not only lived, I arranged for the transfer to be as automatic as I could make it in the future. While I’ll have to manually transfer the money some of my distributors pay (since they only pay by PayPal), the bulk of my royalties will be automatically deposited into my brokerage account each and every month. In the meantime I am growing accustomed to having a lower balance in my checking account.

Sometimes you have to face your fears head-on in order to grow.

What fears have you faced lately? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Success Writing

The Stupidity of Self Talk

The past few days I’ve had a sick kid at home. I’ve been chowing down on jalapeño peppers as I hacked my way through writing this novel in hopes of not catching what she has.

Brilliant woman that I am, I stayed up past five in the morning on Wednesday knowing that I had to get up at 8 to take her back to the doctor. I told myself “I’ll just take a nap once we get home and start work.”

Right. Cue Johnny Depp and the strangest dream ever to keep me from getting any sleep at all. The whole dream was nothing more than dear old gorgeous Johnny waking me up every single time I tried to visit La La Land.

So I gave up trying to sleep and made a cup of coffee. I NEEDED to work on my book despite the fact that I felt like crap. I felt so bad that I was ready to just call it a loss for the night and accept a big ugly goose egg on my word count log.

But what did I do? I fired up my ancient writing rig and started talking to myself.

“Okay, Annie, here’s the deal,” I told myself. “You wanna get this book written, right?”

“Right.” (Yup, I even answered myself.)

“Well, you ain’t gonna get it done if you don’t start writing, so sit your happy butt down and knock out a single word.”

So I did.

“Now write another one, you idiot.”

Word by word I ordered myself to write. When one sentence was done I would bully myself until I managed another. By the time I finished I had 1,200 words written for the day.

I met my daily goal and then some.

The thing about having a goal is that you won’t ever achieve it if you don’t do the work; some days you won’t feel like even bothering, just like I didn’t today. When those days come you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to force yourself to get busy. It won’t be fun, but by the time you are finished you will be that much closer to wherever you want to be.

What can you do today?

Categories
Success

The Secret to Accomplishing Goals

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and he told me that he’s always wanted to write a novel.

“I’ve got lots of ideas,” he said, “I just don’t have XX and YY and ZZ.”

I must confess that I went on a bit of a rant. I’ve started out and over more times than I can count so excuses tend to rub me the wrong way.

You want to start a business but don’t have the equipment? Look around your house to see what you do have and start from there.

For instance, let’s say you want to start a handyman business but all you have are some cleaning supplies. Offer to start cleaning houses, then use the money you make to start buying your equipment. As you get the equipment, start doing handyman work using the tools that you have, then add more tools and supplies until you get things set up the way that you like.

You want to write a book but all you have is a phone? Download a free text editor and start tapping that sucker out in plain text if you have to. Visit a friend and use their computer to format it and submit it to distributors. When you get enough money from sales, invest in a computer or whatever you feel will help you get the job done easier.

When I started working on computers all I really knew how to do was to speed them up and clean them out. I started doing that for friends to make extra cash. I took that money and invested it into education and tools, gradually expanding my business to cover doing other computer-related repairs.

When I got two registered cocker spaniels, I didn’t know a darn thing about breeding dogs. I just knew that I needed to make some money to escape an impossible situation. If I had told myself “I would love to be able to breed animals but I don’t know how,” I wouldn’t have even gotten the dogs in the first place.

But what did I do? I took them home, went to the library, and read up on the subject. I made a lot of mistakes but by the end of it I made enough to achieve my goals.

I wanted to write books my whole life. I tried and I failed for years. Eventually I came into contact with someone who was writing articles online and I started there. In time I came into contact with others and learned how to write and publish books.

If I had told myself “articles are nice but I want to write books,” I would have passed up on a valuable stepping stone that lead me to where I am today.

Since my head injury I’ve been unable to work a public job. I’ve been told that time and again from family, friends, and medical professionals. BUT, thanks to a friend, I was able to get to the point where I could start writing again, so what did I do?

I started writing.

Yes, I made mistakes. Yes, I had a horrible time trying to get my book formatted. I was using software that I wasn’t extremely familiar with in the days before I got hurt so I kept slamming my head against a wall but you know what? I kept trying. I fiddled and I tinkered until I got a free trial of an ancient copy of Microsoft Word going so that I could get the book published.

What do you think would have happened if I had not kept trying? That book would have never gotten written, much less published. Some days I couldn’t work at all due to my current limitations. On those days I did what I could, and you know what? I’ve got a new book published as the result of my efforts.

You don’t need to have all of the tools when you begin something. You don’t need to have all of the answers to every single problem that comes up. You just need to get started and make yourself do the work.

Every single day, do something towards your goal. If it’s writing, make yourself sit down for ten minutes and knock out a sentence or two. If its computer repair, spend your down time reading and fixing the computers of family and friends. Take dead computers and piece them together to make a good one, then sell that to buy whatever tools or educational manuals you need.

You won’t ever manage to accomplish a single thing if you never get started. You won’t achieve anything if you don’t make the time to do the work. If you are waiting for the perfect time or that windfall in order to do whatever it is you want to do, well, I hate to tell you this Sunshine, but the perfect time or circumstances are never gonna come. You have to start where you are.

What do you want to achieve? What steps a can you take every single day to achieve your goal? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Books Writing

It is Finished

I finally finished the first draft of the new Shoestring Girl book. It weighed in at 135,097 words. Whew!

Let the editing process begin!