Seven months ago, I was fired from my high-flying career and set out on a mission to create and launch the Early Exit Academy. Recently I’ve had to take a long hard look in the mirror. And the woman staring back at me is stressed and worried. The irony is not lost on me. Here I am writing about freedom in my fifties and building financial independence to create a joyful life, and I’ve placed impossible demands upon myself. I’m not living the life I encourage others to live. And why not? If I’m honest with myself, I’ve created a new type of self-imposed bondage. Well, enough is enough!
I’ve been extremely open about my net worth. Most of my assets are in my retirement funds, but I still have a sizeable amount of money in taxable accounts. Enough to start my own business and cover my personal expenses for at least another year. Despite that cushion, I behave as if I will run out of money next week. Even after 20+ years, I’m still haunted by my years of poverty. I HATE withdrawing funds!
This money hangup is wrecking my life! I’m in the world of overwhelm, trying to juggle all the aspects of creating my business. I’m doing too much – writing/promoting The Five Journeys blog, pushing out 30-Day Challenge guides, and the biggie – creating the Early Exit Academy. And every time I turn around, I have to learn something new. Underneath it all is my dysfunctional money mindset – I’ll end up as a bag lady if I don’t start bringing in money soon. Good grief!
A friend recommended a book called Designing your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. I began reading it last week and then ordered the companion Workbook. The concept is exactly what I aim to teach in the Early Exit Academy – how to design and build your way to a new life, one that is productive, evolving, and filled with possibilities. And it focuses on reframing dysfunctional beliefs so that we can move forward, another common challenge.
The first assignment was to take current stock of my situation by filling out the Health/Work/Play/Love dashboard. It’s about as easy as it gets – treat each concept as a gauge and mark whether your tank is empty or full. Here’s my dashboard – it’s terrible! I feel like I’m trudging through a fierce Wisconsin blizzard in sandals!
I’ve recognized this pattern for awhile, even writing about the 4-burners theory. But somehow, graphing it onto the dashboard made it all that more obvious. I’ve put my heart and soul into becoming an entrepreneur, and combined with my own neuroticism about money, I’ve essentially imprisoned myself! I’m not living the dream…far from it.
Part of the battle of self-growth is to recognize the problem. Oh, I’ve won that battle…but now what? How do I move forward? I need a redesign of my life. Here’s my game plan:
Yesterday I went to my weekly entrepreneurs meeting and I shared my world of overwhelm. Just describing everything that I am working on put a knot in my stomach. Fortunately, one of my entrepreneur friends is building a career as a life coach. And we agreed to meet next week – I’m going to list out all the tasks required to get my courses finished and launched, and she’ll help me navigate and prioritize. This is going to beat talking to my cats…though they are good listeners.
My friend texted the other day with two of my favorite words: ROAD TRIP! Well, why on earth have I NOT been taking road trips? I have the flexibility, but I’ve confined myself to the house, feeling guilty if I leave work behind. Yet my productivity has deteriorated of late. Things are gonna change – I’m going to plan at least one road trip a month and be open to spontaneous adventures. So funsters, if you want to head out on a road trip with me, just holler. Tomorrow we’ll catch the last of the fall foliage in the Virginia mountains. Can’t wait!
I’ve been talking about returning to the gym for months. Yes, months! And have yet to step inside the facilities. I’ll make a return to the community recreation center and start out with my favorite class – Gail’s excellent pilates class. And true to my frugal nature, I’ve been eyeing that senior discount that starts at age 55 – which is just weeks away. I need to stop talking and start doing. And maybe I can recruit a workout buddy to keep me in line?
My entire career was built on deadlines. I never failed to submit a proposal by the deadline, dropping everything to accomplish that feat. Yes, deadlines are helpful for project management, but what happens when the deadlines are self-imposed and dictating every other aspect of one’s life? And the deadlines I set for myself are influenced more by my dysfunctional money mindset than the realities of the tasks ahead of me. I’ll meet with the coach to lay out the plans and together, we can set up a realistic path. I’m moving forward at a good pace – do I really need to move at rocket speed and burn everything in my path? It’s time for a jail break!
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.