It’s the ten-month anniversary of the day I was given my walking papers. In two months, I’ll celebrate my one-year anniversary by launching the Early Exit Academy for Young Escape Artists. Yikes! I’ve been burning the midnight oil creating content for courses. And I’ve also overhauled The Five Journeys website, which was sorely needed. Despite the long hours, I’ve stuck to my health goals – mostly. Unfortunately, I’ve also spent some time crying, as I had to say goodbye to my obnoxious orange kitty, Mr. Brett.
I’m not big into New Year’s resolutions, but January is a great time to renew long-abandoned health goals. I did a “dry January,” giving up all alcohol for the month. It wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated and I felt great. I realized that much of my drinking patterns were habitual. And now that it’s February, I’ve no interest in returning to my old ways. If I treat alcohol like potato chips – rare treats that seldom make it into my house – I’ll be fine.
I did not treat my body very kindly in 2018. I spent so many months worrying about money and trying to build a business. And in doing so, I abandoned health goals. My body showed it. Now I’m back to a weekly schedule of pilates, yoga, core workout, and walking. And as the weather warms up, I hope to add more walking and biking into my routine. Plus, I’ve been fasting, doing a combination of extended and intermittent fasting, and trying to stick to a low carb diet. I’ve dropped 14 pounds since the new year began. Yea me! Plenty more to go, but I’m feeling confident that I can return this body into a fit state.
My courses have five units and a bonus session. I set up a schedule to complete one unit every three weeks, and it’s been going well (thanks, Bullet Journal). It took forever to create Unit 1, but it now serves as a template for the other units, so the process is a lot speedier. And the really cool thing is that I was able to find a group of reviewers who have given me excellent feedback. Here’s a shout-out to the Mustachians in Practice FB group, who posted my request for reviewers. I had such a fantastic response that I had to close out my offer! Yea Mustachians! (What’s a Mustachian? A follower of Mr. Money Mustache.)
I love working on my course – I am a Super Geek! I’m geeking it out, big-time. I’m totally “into” the course creation process. Yep, I am weird. The Articulate software continues to WOW me and I’m building in a lot of interactivity. And I keep finding great new resources. For instance, I came across this video the other day that describes the SMARTER elements of goal-setting (that’s not a typo – SMARTER – the E is for Evaluate and the R is for Reward). So not only do I get to create every day, I get to learn! Yes, I am a true geek!
While I’m working on my course, I have a few other things in the hopper. My shiny new website is now functioning – mostly! And I’m working with a graphic designer and an illustrator to create the art for my ads and the swag I’ll award to Academy graduates – t-shirt, hat, passport holder. I so enjoy working with creative minds. If that weren’t enough, I’m writing my 30-Day Surprise Challenge. Whew! I feel like I’m working two full-time jobs, and I have no money to show for it – YET.
On Friday, I made the difficult decision to put down my obnoxious orange boy, Mr. Brett (named after Brett Favre, of course). His health had been deteriorating and he was ready to move on. I held him as he left this world and am still crying over him.
In late November, I had to put down my beloved Smoke. That tore me apart. I thought I would be okay with losing Mr. Brett. I remember when I selected him from the shelter in 2003. He was the most vocal cat in the cat room and I said to someone, “pity the poor person who takes him home.” Ha! It was ME! Mr. Brett (originally Bartholomeow) gave me a wrinkle-free face – his sandpaper tongue was the first thing I awoke to every morning. What will become of my “young” face now? And he’s the cause of the only time I had to call 911 as smoke curled out of my electrical outlet. Turns out, Mr. Brett had peed in the outlet!!! Ha, how could I miss such an obnoxious boy? Well, I do! In my mind, Mr. Brett and Smoke are hanging out on the sunny deck watching the birds and butterflies float through the gardens. Bye Brett.
The morning after putting Mr. Brett down, I joined the birders on a chilly morning as they searched for birds along the York River. I’m not into birding, but I enjoy the company and being outdoors. I had some good laughs and spent some time with a friend who keeps a “joy journal.” I love the concept – joy is such a powerful and expressive term. My friend got the idea from the Dalai Lama/Desmond Tutu co-authored book, The Book of Joy. Later as we walked along the beach, I reached down and picked up a beautiful smooth piece of sea glass. And I thought, “this is going into my joy journal.”
I felt overwhelmed last year as I began this new adventure. Now I’m on a countdown to finish the course, and yes, it’s stressful. But two things keep me going. First is this phrase: It’s all Figure-Out-Able. I have figured out so much already, and I’m sure I can figure out the remaining technical pieces. Second is the idea of a “soft opening.” I don’t have time to create content AND put out a full-scale marketing blitz. So I’ll treat my course as a new store that has a “soft opening.” There’s little to no advertising and the store uses the early customers to tweak the process. So EVERYTHING does’t have to be working at once. The marketing can come later.
I continue to dip into my savings to pay for my personal and business expenses. But I’m still buoyed by last month’s revelation that my net worth actually increased since the day I lost my job. And that’s with zero income and plenty of expenses. I still have a big cushion – enough to last for at least one more year. I’m confident that the Academy will be a success, but I know it won’t happen overnight. My “live below my means” lifestyle has saved my caboose! It’ all good.
Dr. Brenda is a sociologist, educator, blogger, motivator, and financial coach. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she writes 30-day challenges at BetterLifeChallenges.com. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom through coaching at DrBrendaMoneyCoach and online courses at EarlyExitAcademy.com.