I’ve always been passionate about financial freedom, creating my own wealth and living debt free. Ever since I was a teenager, I had big dreams to buy my first house, (in cash) 2 years after finishing university, and pay off all my student loans within the first year of graduating. Life was going to be great! I was determined to become a surgeon, make good money but still make my own hours so that I could be home with my future family and children. Which reminds me, somewhere in along the way I would attend medical school, complete a residency of sorts, get married and have children, all while living debt free…
As you can imagine, that didn’t happen. My well thought out plans completely fell apart after my first year of university while I was struggling just to pass all my courses. Needless to say, I began to rethink the “becoming a surgeon” part of my plan, and since I was consistently paying rent late and borrowing money from family members to make ends meet, that “debt free” part wasn’t looking too hot either. School quickly became overwhelming, and as I transitioned from an A+ student to a “Thank God I passed that class” student.
I couldn’t tell if I was rethinking medical school because I truly didn’t want to do it anymore, or simply because I wasn’t doing well in school. The worst part about it was that for years I had proudly proclaimed my intentions and determination to become a surgeon to family and friends, to the point where everyone knew that I was a going be a doctor.
I may as well have already had the white coat. So now I’m finished first year, passed all my classes (Praise God) still rethinking medical school, decided to change my program to psychology of all things, and incurred the full wrath, I mean love, of family and friends. Utterly confused, they were asking why I changed my program, who is distracting me, why I’m not doing well, and on and on the questioning continued.
I didn’t have the answers. I didn’t know exactly where I was headed anymore, nor when I would arrive, nor how profitable my new career would be. Because let’s face it, when you study psychology, everyone’s question is “what are you going to do with that?”, and truth be told I had no idea.
To make matters worse, and I began to put on weight, and my energy began to deteriorate. I figured living on a student budget and exercising less plus the stress of school was the cause of the weight gain, I had no idea at the time that they were early signs of depression and anxiety. Fast forward a couple years, another program change, marriage, another program change, starting an online business, and about 5 major breakdowns later, I realized that what I was feeling was probably more than just the stress of school.
I kept waiting for the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion to lift. I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me to exercise, or cook, or even just meet up with friends. I kept thinking to myself “Ruth-Joy what’s wrong with you, just do the assignment, or just call her back or just do the laundry”. But I couldn’t. I was handing in assignments late or not at all, showing up to events late, avoiding people’s calls, and constantly eating fast food because I didn’t have the energy to cook.
I used to be the person who got things done. I’m all about the action, so if you had a plan or a goal or a dream, I was the go to person to help you get from an idea to reality, but not anymore. I could barely do the basics for myself, let alone help others. I eventually sought help and realized that my breakdowns were symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks and my exhaustion was a symptom of depression.
But I didn’t want to be someone who had depression, I didn’t even want to say it out loud. I figured, I’ll finish school, and the stress will go away and everything will go back to normal – I’ll go back to normal. But that didn’t happen. The semester ended and I still couldn’t shake the exhaustion. I didn’t want to accept that I was struggling with mental health because I felt like that’s how people would see me. It made me feel like I would never have the motivation to lose the weight, or successfully run my business, or even be able to cook for myself as often as I once did, and that felt like defeat to me.
I wasn’t ready to give in, but at the same time I needed to realize that I was struggling with something real and that in order not to be defeated by it, I needed to accept the reality of my current situation. I began to put some tactics into place that would help me accomplish a little every day. I gave myself permission to only exercise for 15 minute a day, and if I didn’t want to continue after that, it was okay. I told myself, I only needed to do one thing for my business a day, even if it was as small as a 5 minute task. I permitted myself to only schedule 1 hang-out with a friend a week, and limit the time if necessary. The point is, I slowed down… a lot, but I was determined not to stop.
I’ve had to redefine motivation and teach myself discipline. Motivation was only enough to get me started, but wouldn’t sustain me when I got to the point that I wanted to give up – that’s where discipline kicked in. For me discipline is doing what you should do even when you don’t want to, and I can tell you I often didn’t want to.
I put systems into place that made it easier for me to succeed, like wearing my exercise clothes all day if necessary, all so I could do 15 minutes of exercise. I learned to recognize and appreciate small victories like doing laundry, or cooking a meal, and I learned to be forgiving with myself. This whole experience has taught me how to keep moving forward, even when I feel like I have nothing to give, or when it looks like I’m not making any progress, or when the goal seems overwhelming.
I’ve learned and continue to learn how to break down tasks to be more manageable so that I can take a few steps forward every day, getting one step closer to my goals with each task.Everyone in life faces challenges.
Yours may not be depression or anxiety, it may be the loss of a loved one, it could be financial, you may feel crippled by the weight of your dreams or by the expectation of others or even yourself, but I am proof and hope that you can make it. I myself am still learning, and still taking small steps each day, but I’m moving forward and so can you! Life may slow you down – it may take you from sprinting, to jogging, to walking, and maybe even slow you to a crawl.
That’s okay, but never let it stop you. No matter how small that step is towards your goal, take it; keep moving forward no matter how slow. I’m 4 courses away from finishing my 2nd university degree, no easy journey as you can tell, but I’m still closer today than I was yesterday. I believe all things are possible, not all at once, but definitely with time. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to, so dream big, someone is counting on your struggle to inspire them. I hope this encourages you to take a step today.
Until next time, I’ve been Ruth-Joy Connell.
Salutations, Ruth-Joy Connell here and I am a problem solver. I love to create solutions to problems, and I’m passionate about helping people accomplish their dreams. I believe that anybody can live their dream life, and I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs set and reach their goals. I’m a university student completing my second degree in neuroscience and mental health. I’m married, I love to travel and I would not have made it to where I am today without Jesus. You can connect with me, via my website at www.thefreedon2choose.com and you can grab a free gift here Free Goals Guide!