Rise From Rock Bottom

Why Every Struggle You Overcome Is A Gift

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

 
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My family’s fate weighed heavily on my shoulders. Everything I knew - my identity, my values, my ideals for the future - crashed down around me.

I was working three jobs and charging my credit cards just to keep food on the table for my daughter and I.

I wanted a way out, I wanted something - anything - to hold onto. I wanted to catch my breath because I was suffocating from the disaster that was my life.

Then, I got an acceptance letter to the Master's degree of my choice. 

But there was a big part of me that was afraid of my good fortune.

Now, I was in a position to study with some of the best and brightest professors in the country. The other students in my cohort had already done work with some amazing companies. Many of them were coming straight from college and were 5 years younger than me.

I couldn't escape the feeling that I wouldn't fit in.

I wouldn't be smart enough.

At my age (which I thought was soooo old) I should have a great career already, right?

And I had a few more struggles than the average college student.


I AM A PARENT

I had my daughter at 19. Here is what that means:

  • I don’t have many friends that are my age who have kids.

  • I’m usually the youngest parent in the room at school functions.

  • I often need help from family and friends

I grew up hearing that having a child when you are a teenager is a kiss of death. In my head, I was already a “statistic” and would very likely struggle to make something out of my life.

And I struggled without a doubt.

My daughter accompanied me through my early twenties and going forward. Together we went on a journey of self-discovery. From undergraduate school to graduate school and from unemployable babysitter to gainfully employed data analyst.

I DIDN’T HAVE A BACKGROUND IN MATH

When I entered my graduate program, I learned that the degree I was seeking had way more math than I was anticipating. The professors would zoom through advanced statistics concepts and excel formulas so fast it that made my head spin.

I was lost. And it was obvious.

So I started to make friends with fellow students who breezed through class.

I NEVER HAD A FANCY JOB

I met several students in grad school who were much younger than I was, and they would boast about working for Fortune 500 companies and their fancy job titles. I, on the other hand, was a babysitter, a waitress and a freelancer. #awkward

When people would ask me “what do you do?“ I would instantly shrink on the inside and immediately froze up while trying to squeak out a job title that didn’t make me sound like a #loser.

I went to grad school so paranoid that no employer would ever want me because my competition was so much smarter and so much more marketable than I was.

So….. I worked harder. I showed up early to career services and stayed late. I did extra mock interviews and got my presentation polished to perfection by working with several on-campus recruiters. I volunteered for consulting programs and I did additional research projects.

Related Content: How to Make sure Grad School is Worth your Time & Money

Looking back, I realize that everything I was able to accomplish was because of my weaknesses:

  1. As a young parent, my daughter helped keep me focused and grounded through school.

  2. Not understanding math (and being honest about it) helped me build connections with other people who had different strengths - and it helped me learn what my strengths were.

  3. The fact that I didn’t have a fancy job motivated me to work hard in grad school to ultimately land my dream job.

The things that I thought were my downfalls, were actually the things that lead me to success.

Every personal struggle that I had imagined would make me different in a negative way…..ended up doing the opposite.

My past made me a stronger advocate for myself, resilient in the face of tragedy, calm when everything came crashing down, and a very quick learner.

Without the struggles that I overcame, I would never have built the mental tools necessary to overcome extreme difficulty. I wouldn't be typing this from my desk at my dream company. I wouldn't have a message to share with the world. I wouldn’t have a road map to my personal success to inspire you. 

So, if you’re struggling today, or if you can remember a difficulty that you went through, take some time to appreciate that gift today.

Because the price that you paid to learn those lessons and build that resilience, will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

xoxo

Ready To Accomplish Your Greatest Goals?

  1. Start planning out your largest goals with the FREE Goal Planning Worksheet.

  2. Take a FREE personal development class on CreativeLive.

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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.


Struggling To Get Out Of Debt? Try Minimalism

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

 
 

I recently shared my super painful debt story on Chain of Wealth Podcast. This interview inspired me to create this series. Rise From Rock Bottom tells every story from my failure years - and how I overcame each one.


Growing up, my parents had a lot of stuff.

We had three cars, a Mercedes Benz and Cadillac Escalade. I distinctly remember having a TV in each room with a stack of DVDs as tall as my 4-foot 10-year-old body (and about four of me wide). My stepdad never left the house with out his signature chain and watch.

I just knew we were rich. How else could we afford all this stuff?

I always imagined my future would be the same: We'd have so many lavish things (the best TVs, movie collection, elaborate entertainment centers, etc.) that friends and family would always want to come to our house for social gatherings.

ALWAYS.

As an adult, I felt like I'd won at life when I got my first car: a new(ish) convertible mustang. She was my baby. Before the car note was paid off on her, I upgraded to a Mercedes Benz truck. I was 24 and drowning in debt, but in my head I was winning. 

I had a beautiful apartment in the best neighborhood (because my daughter just had to go to THE BEST schools). I "invested" in phones, cameras and computers.

I mean, I had to keep up with our way of life, right? 

Then, I found out about minimalism and I felt like a complete idiot. 

 

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism is the alignment of your spending with your values. This requires that you get crystal clear on what things you want in your life and consciously take things that do not align with your values out of your life.

You might think that minimalism means you can’t have nice things. In reality, you can have anything you want. The key to minimalism is only bringing things into your life that you have a strong feeling about.


Why Did I Start Minimizing My Life?

I didn’t intend to become a minimalist. In fact, I intended to do quite the opposite.

However, there came a moment, somewhere between the fancy car and the nice apartment that I realized I couldn’t afford my lifestyle. I was constantly working trying to keep up with all of the bills this life required.

I was becoming tired, depressed and slightly suicidal just thinking about how much I had to work just to pay bills.

I couldn’t afford anything outside of my bills. No self care. No family vacations. No pie.

That’s when I decided I needed to get rid of my bills. Getting rid of my bills meant I needed to get rid of my stuff.

I never wanted to get rid of my stuff.

I felt like I was losing. I was a failure because I couldn’t figure out how to afford the lifestyle that I wanted without selling my soul to work.

I minimized because I wanted my life back.


Let me break down what I saw before Minimalism (B.M.):

Fancy Car! = Travel in Style
Nice Apartment! = Best Education & Schools
Computers & iPads! = Best Gadgets & Tools

I was successful even though I had to work three jobs just to live paycheck to paycheck and barely afford all of my things.

I was successful because my daughter could attend a nice school. I could drive around in a nice car. I could look like a success to others.


Here's what that looked like after Minimalism (A.M.)

I decided I’d only keep things in my life that I absolutely needed to survive. I took a look at everything I had in terms of how much it was costing me every month.

At a deeper level, I started to ask how much I’d have to work to be able to afford each one.


Fancy Car

  • Monthly car payment: $650/month

  • Car insurance: $250/month

  • Weekly gas tank re-fill: $80 ($240/month)

  • Quarterly maintenance: $900 (This is variable, but $900 was like the standard at the benz store. For example, replacing the windshield wipers cost me $250. I'll estimate $300/month to make the math easy here.)

 

fancy Apartment

  • Rent: $1600/month

  • Utilities: $100/month

  • Internet: $70/month

 

Monthly Overhead

My monthly overhead is the minimum amount of money I would have to make before I broke even.

That means, if I want to save any money, I would have to make at least that much money - and then I'd need to make more to be able to save anything. 

Note: This does not include any credit card bills, groceries or any entertainment.

 

Overhead = Fancy Car Bills + Fancy Apartment Bills

($650+$250+$240+$300)+($1600+$100+$70)=$3,210

 


Minimalism and Debt

With this much overhead each month, I couldn't get out of debt, no matter how hard I worked! I kept thinking I needed to work more, work harder and increase my skills so I could make more money. 

In my head, I was living a normal life. Everyone wants cars and their own space... why can't I seem to afford... the basics?

Once I started to minimize my life, I noticed that I no longer need as much money to survive.

I did a voluntary repossession on the car and no longer needed to pay a car note, car insurance or maintenance. I moved in with my mother and no longer needed to pay high rent every month.

Almost immediately, I stopped working three jobs and eventually got down to just one freelance client.

Because I didn’t need the money to cover my excessive overhead, I could pursue my master’s degree. I could focus on finding a job that fits my personality and values. I could spend my time networking and making the right connections to help me move forward.

Freeing myself of the things allowed me to reduce my monthly debts and gain the freedom to choose how I wanted to spend my time. (Because for the first time, I had free time!)

Minimalism gave me my first taste of freedom… and I was never going back.


How To Minimize Your Life


Define your values

The key to minimalism is defining what’s important to properly make decisions that align with what fills your soul and makes you happy.

In my life, I had to realize that my car and apartment weren’t making me happy. They were just taking up my time and energy.


Re-evaluate the things you already have in your life

Take a look at all of the things you currently have in your life and ask yourself whether each thing truly brings you joy or serves a practical purpose. If an item doesn’t do either of those things, then see if it’s possible to remove it from your life.

When I moved back in with my parents, I decided I’d only take things with me that aligned with my core identity. I got rid of a ton of things:

  • Arts and crafts materials that I hadn’t used in years

  • Books I never planned to read again (Ex. College Textbooks)

  • Wine glass sets I wouldn’t need at my parent’s house since I wouldn’t be entertaining there

  • Promotional items from a failed startup

  • Clothes in the back of my closet that I never wore

I started to equate getting rid of things with freedom. My things couldn’t weigh me down anymore.


Be Careful About What You Bring Into Your Life

Once you’ve purged all of the things you don’t want from your life, your next job is to ensure you don’t over-complicate your life going forward with things you don’t need.

One of my favorite sayings is “If it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a HELL NO.”

That means if you’re not super excited and enthusiastic about something, than feel confident in saying no to bringing it into your life. This is true for friends, associates, colleagues, opportunities and physical goods.

Only bring things into your life that align with your values and what you want out of your life.


Minimalism allows me to reduce the amount I was spending on things that I didn’t care about and to spend my money in the places that matter the most.


Ready To Rise From Rock Bottom?

  1. Listen to my full debt story on the podcast that inspired this series. 

  2. Take a FREE personal development class on CreativeLive

  3. For more fun stories and tips on how to improve your life, grab my book Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams. - Only $3.99 USD!


Copy of LitIGDC003-09853.jpg

About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.

What To Do When You Can't Hide Your Struggle Anymore

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

 
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 I recently shared my super painful debt story on Chain of Wealth Podcast. That interview inspired me to create this series. Rise From Rock Bottom tells every story from my failure years - and how I overcame them.

_____

At the age of 23, I had a Mercedes Benz truck. My primary source of income was my babysitting job. (I know, don't judge.

I had a boyfriend who insisted I trade in my convertible (that I loved) for this truck, which he’d “help out” with. (read: he’d pay the bill) I didn’t know how much that truck cost until we broke up and I received the first bill.

All in, the car cost me nearly a GRAND per month.

That’s without any maintenance factored in. I went to get new brakes once and it cost me $850. Replacing the windshield wipers cost me $125. #FacePalm

I struggled to keep making my car payments. I took on additional jobs as a freelancer at night and a waitress on the weekends.

My life turned into a never-ending hamster wheel of making money, paying off debt, using credit cards to feed myself, and then making more money to pay the credit cards off.… Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

It wasn’t long before I maxed out all three of my credit cards and had nothing left to hold me afloat.

So I did the unthinkable… 

I called up my car loan company and requested a voluntary repossession of my car. 

My credit would tank but I had to take the hit because the bills were tanking my life

Give your self permission to fall apart

I gave back my car and bought a very cheap 1993 hooptie with a trunk that didn’t close all the way. The lid, held down by a bungee cord, would wobble up and down as I drove. #definitelynotabenz

Each time I sat in the car, which smelled like rust and old age, I would start crying thinking to myself “I used to ride around in style. I used to love my beautiful car. And look at my life now.” 

I'm a freakin' loser. 

Before downgrading my car, I could easily lie to myself. I convinced myself I’d figure out my financial problems quickly and easily. I’m a smart girl, nothing would hold me back.

I finally faced my truth sitting in my hooptie: I was struggling. I was in pain. I was suffering - alone. That change is here and I can’t outrun it. I have to deal with it.

Yes, that was the first moment I fell apart. (And there were many more moments to follow.)

Don't try to hold everything in. Be honest with yourself - your life sucks. It's okay to let that pain out and cry if you need to.

Give your family a chance to support you

My friends and family knew I was struggling with big life changes and finding my way. But I’d put on my "I'm a big girl, I’ll figure this out" smile.

It was a very convincing facade.

On the inside I was panicking, wondering how I could’ve shoveled myself so deep in a hole, how I could be so stupid, how I could put myself in this position.

Pulling up in my busted up car was the first visible indication anyone had that my life wasn’t as peachy keen as I pretended. I couldn’t hide the fact that I was struggling anymore.

The beautiful gift in not being able to hide your pain is finally being able to talk about it.

Once you’re able to speak your truth, your friends and family have the opportunity to support you… and it may surprise you just how much love and support you receive during your darkest time.

Accept Your Life As It Is

After about a month of driving that car, I completely forgot that I once was a luxury car owner.

I started to own the fact that I was now the owner of this crappy car that took me from point A to point B. Over time, this became my new normal. 

Accept where your life is right now and that it was YOUR life decisions that got you here. This acceptance allows you to stop lamenting on the past, brings you into the present, and allows you to start preparing for your future.

 

Start To Laugh At Everything. 

There were several times where the cord that held my trunk closed would break and I’d have to pull over to re-tie it. The first time it snapped, I rested my forehead on the steering wheel and cried until I mustered up enough energy to get out of the car.

I thought to myself “look at me…this is what my life has come to.”

After a while, I’d built a unique skill for driving just slow enough over bumps and dips in the road so those rope-snapping moments became less frequent.

When the rope would break on occasion, I’d giggle to myself and say "Of course the rope broke in the middle of the highway... why wouldn't it?"

Laughing can make all of your hard moments… bearable.

 

Remember your story is not finished

When you hit a life rut, it can feel like there's no way you're going to get out of this.

When I was obviously on the boarder of breaking down and couldn't take my life any longer I had a friend who would tell me "If you're going through hell, just keep going." 

It wasn't very helpful for him to say that. I was hoping for something like "your brighter days are ahead" but there's really no way to tell when those brighter days will come.

Some days you just have to keep going.

As long as you don’t give up on yourself… as long as you’re still our here breathing… your story still has a chance at a happy ending.

 

Find The Tiniest Thing To Be Grateful For

Even though I was riding around in a hideous car that was forest green with a trunk that didn’t close, I no longer had to pay $1000 a month to maintain my car. I would never again have to worry about fixing breaks for $850 or windshield wipers for $125. 

Because I had reduced my spending by so much simply get getting rid of one large monthly expense, I was able to stop working as hard as I was.

Slowly, I started to regain my sanity, feel like myself and rebuild my life.

I was grateful for that opportunity… and my tribulation became my testimony.

xoxo

Are You Ready To Rise From Rock Bottom?

  1. Listen to my full debt story on the podcast that inspired the Rise From Rock Bottom series. 

  2. Build your skills and discover your passions with a FREE personal development class

  3. For more fun stories and tips on how to improve your life, grab my book Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams.


IMG_3906.JPG

About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.