Updated: July 20, 2018
My life was a financial mess back in the early 2000’s.
Despite having a regular job and practically living as a freeloader in my parent’s house, I had no savings and worse, I was around P120,000 deep in credit card debts.
How I was able to get out of that rut, and finally became financially independent is a ten-year journey that I’ve told one story at a time here in my blog.
Today, I’m sharing with you nine valuable lessons I’ve learned from that depressing time in my life – when everything was a mess and I was almost ready to give up on my dreams.
9 Things To Tell Yourself If Your Life Is A Financial Mess
1. Nothing is permanent.
Floods subside, empires fall, night turns to day, wounds eventually heal. Businesses close, loved ones die, friendships end, debts eventually get paid. Nothing lasts forever – both the good things and the bad.
Let this fact remind you that when everything seems wrong in your life, it will eventually get better. And if things are doing great, then you should enjoy it because life is a cycle.
More importantly, remember that no matter where you are, whether you are at the peak or down in the valley, you should make each moment count.
2. Pain is a good thing.
Have you ever consciously put your finger in boiling water? I’m sure you haven’t because you know it will hurt. If you can’t feel pain, then you’ll have no way of telling until it’s too late that boiling water burns your skin.
Pain is a reminder that something’s wrong and you need to stop or change what you’re doing if you want it to go away – be it taking your finger out of the boiling water, or changing your financial habits because it hurts to see your parents get harassed by debt collection agents who are looking for you.
Don’t be defeated by pain. Draw strength from it and change.
3. Stop listening to negativity.
A psychiatrist friend told me that one advise she gives to patients suffering from depression is to stop watching and reading the news because it’s full of negativity. You may not be clinically depressed, but that advice holds true for anyone who is struggling.
Surround yourself with hopeful and positive people. And let their ray of sunshine fall upon you – no matter how cheesy, corny or tacky you think they are.
When everything’s a mess, don’t look for company in your misery. Instead, spend time with people who will inspire, cheer, and motivate you to move forward.
4. It’s better to do, than to worry and complain.
A friend holds one of the top positions in her company, a title she worked hard for many years. If you ask her how she did it, she’ll say, “I stopped worrying that I’m not good enough and stopped complaining about being overworked and underpaid. I simply worked and gave it my best.”
Those who worry and complain the most, are those who accomplish the least.
The only way to make sure that your worries don’t come true, and to change the things you’re complaining about, is to actually do something about it.
No amount of talk can replace a little bit of action.
5. Every little bit of action helps.
That one peso you saved today may not be much, but realize that you just become richer than you were yesterday. That logo you doodled on a tissue may look ugly, but doing that still takes you one step closer to starting your own business.
Baby steps – this is the secret to overcoming life’s greatest obstacles. Focused and mindful living, done one day at a time, is the key to success when odds are all stacked against you.
Remember that every little struggle you overcome, is always a step forward to your goals.
6. Life is unfair, tough, and uncertain.
In the news, a hardworking, single mother got severely injured in a bus accident. Meanwhile, somewhere in the country, a corrupt politician is enjoying the wealth he stole from taxpayer’s money.
Bad things happen to good people, the same way that good things happen to those who don’t deserve it.
Life is unfair. It is tough, and it is uncertain. And at some point, you just have to learn to let it go and simply focus on what you can do in your life – hoping that someday, the actions you take will tip the scales towards your advantage, and you’ll survive and grow without hurting anyone in the process.
7. Keep going, even if you can’t see what lies ahead.
I’ve studied engineering for five years in college, and knew the path that I must take to become successful. But I got distracted, veered away from that path and found myself on the cliff of entrepreneurship.
At that point, I had two choices: go back, retrace my steps and make up for lost time; or just keep going and take the leap even if I can’t see what’s waiting down below. I jumped and grew wings along the way. Something I wouldn’t have discovered had I not taken the risk.
When your life’s a mess, everything seems uncertain. You can stay where you are, and hope for the fog to clear before making a move. But you can also choose to go forward, and see what happens next.
Risks are part of life, and nobody has ever achieved great things by playing it safe.
8. Help will come if you seek it.
When you’re down and out, it’s easy to believe that you’re alone in your struggle. That no one will be able to understand and help you. This is untrue. There are and will always be help that’s available, and sometimes, all you need to do is ask.
I couldn’t have paid my credit card debts if I hadn’t opened up to my parents that I needed help. I wouldn’t have discovered freelancing if I hadn’t shared my cashflow problems with a friend. I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur if I didn’t ask in an online forum, many years ago, that I needed help in starting a business.
Help is available everywhere, sometimes in unexpected places.
9. Your battle scars will be your trophy.
A little over a decade ago, I got hurt and went down from the bad financial choices I’ve made. And although the wounds have since healed, scars do remain – lost trust, questions of what could have been, and painful memories that haunt me every now and then.
But over the years, I’ve learned to live with my scars and not allow them to take me hostage by living in fear and uncertainty that they could happen again. Instead, I use them to remind me that I’m a survivor and I will continue to be so.
That no matter what life throws my way, I can and will grow stronger and move forward. And someday, like today, I will proudly hold those battle scars like a trophy, as they are symbols of my strength and perseverance.