How to Deal With the Demon of Doubt

After a long night at work I returned home to discover a surprise in my inbox:

“Congratulations! We are excited to inform you that your application has been reviewed and you can start studying at UoPeople in the upcoming term!”

I sat and stared at that email for an hour. I was accepted? Just like that?

They’re joking, right?

I logged into the website. It was real. While they were still processing the paperwork I’d submitted to prove that I was fluent in the English language, I had been accepted to study at their University.

I thought I would be excited. I thought I would shout my happiness to the entire world.

But I wasn’t.

I was terrified.

What in the world do you think you’re doing? My demons raged. You just committed two to four years of your life to acquiring a stupid piece of paper! By the time you get done, you’ll be so old that no one will want to hire you in an office job so you’re just throwing your money away. Just think! That $2,000 could be invested and net you about $200 a year! And just where do you think you’re going to get the time to do this, missy? You’ve got your job, your writing business, your personal investment studies…there is NO WAY you can handle all of this! It’s not like you haven’t tried before. How many times have you failed college in the past when you were younger and had the energy to spare? You’re too tired, you’re too old, and you’re too broke to even think about doing something this stupid. Stop chasing the rainbows!

Doubt = Fear

Every single doubt that we have is simply fear coming to the surface. Every single doubt comes from the negative words people have said to us in the past.

“You’re great at starting stuff but you never follow through; if it wasn’t for me you’d starve.”

“It’s a shame that child was even born. With the parents she was stuck with she’ll never amount to anything.”

“You might have book sense but you don’t have a bit of common sense.”

“I don’t know why you even bother; it’s impossible to get rich so you might as well enjoy what you’ve got right now!”

“You need to stop working so hard and get a good man to take care of you.”

The words may be different but the damage is the same. You internalize those doubts and every time you discover an opportunity to better yourself they come back to haunt you. They force you to question yourself just long enough for the opportunity to pass and you end up wishing that you’d made the leap too late.

How to Conquer the Demon of Doubt

While you may not be able to silence the demons completely there is something you can do to minimize their trauma.

All you have to do is analyze their objections one by one.

Two thousand dollars may net me $200 a year in passive income but a degree can help me acquire a job that pays considerably more than I can earn right now. Jobs that require an Associate’s Degree start at around $24,000 a year in this area. That is 150% more than my current wage. If I invest most of that extra 150% I will more than compensate for the loss of passive income now.

Two thousand dollars would allow me to escape the drudgery of manual labor. Considering how badly my shoulder aches after a busy day scanning at the register, how my feet sometimes swell painfully after my shifts, and the varicose veins that are starting to form on one leg, my body needs that reprieve. It may even allow me to extend my working years even further. Many of my compatriots aren’t physically able to continue doing manual labor into their 70s. Considering how hard I’ve used my body, there is a good chance I won’t be able to either. Because of this, if I don’t spend $2,000 now, the odds are high that another injury will doom me to spending the rest of my life begging for Disability payments.

I have no desire to spend my sunset years in poverty.

I’ve become so adept at managing my time that I know I am capable of handling a single class. I may have less time to blog. I may have less time to work on my book. I may have less time to hang out with friends and chat but I am confident that I can carve out the time for a single class.

As for the reasons I failed in the past no longer apply. I no longer have to choose between my family and myself. I’ve enough income that I can afford to take a class or two a semester if I pare down my investments a bit. I’m even due for another review over the next month so my income may even go up a bit.

As for the length of time it would take to complete the degree program I have decided not to worry about that. Instead, I choose to focus on the step that’s right in front of me: a single class. I’ll worry about the next steps when I get there, content in the fact that eventually I will reach my objective.

What reasons do you use to knock the demon of doubt away in your life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Who Do I Think I Am, Wanting to Get Rich?

The past few days have been filled with tormenting thoughts. Just who in the hell do I think I am, trying to get rich? Even though my goal is simply to become financially secure, to have enough money to be safe in the event I ever have to stop working again, the thought torments me just the same.

Think about it: I’m an uneducated, dirt-poor single mother probably suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome as I listen to my daughter discuss her plans to marry and move away. I bring home about $600 a month in a minimum wage job. Last month I received a whopping $84 in book royalties yet here I am, studying my ass off as I work to come up with a plan to spin that paltry amount into enough money to provide a living wage to prepare for a point in the future where I wouldn’t have to work.

I mean, I’ve ran the numbers. It would take $500,000 at 1.5% interest (my current savings account rate) to generate $7,500 a year annual income. That amount would bring in less than $600 a month income after taxes ($625/month pre-tax). I can’t even¬†conceive of having $500,000 in the bank, much less how to build up that type of money. There is no way on earth I can just stick that $84 a month into a savings account and build it to that amount in my lifetime, much less in a shorter amount of time.

If I took part of that $500,000 and invested in a cheap home for me, that would eliminate my rent expense, however. When the kid moves out I will have to pay the whole amount of $250 a month for rent. Using that as a base number (since the kid leaving is inevitable), if I continued to pay $250 a month to myself after I had a house that was paid for, the gap between where I am and what I want to do gets a bit easier to manage. If I reserved $100 a month of that amount for property taxes, repairs, and maintenance, I would then have another $150 a month to invest.

That would allow me to save a total of $234 a month towards my goal of being financially secure when combined with my monthly royalty payments, provided they stay steady.

But there’s a big whopping problem with that scenario: I’d have to find the money to buy a house in the first place. I don’t have a large amount in savings aside from the $1,000 pillow I keep in my checking account for emergencies. That is not near enough for what I would need to start that plan.

So who the hell do I think I am, getting the high-falutin’ notion of becoming rich? The odds against me are so astronomical I cried myself to sleep last night just thinking about it. It’s no wonder so many people in my situation don’t even try.

Okay, I’ve had my rant. It’s time to suck it up and move on. I don’t have to worry about the end point right now; all I have to do is focus on the Baby Steps. I can do this.

I hope.