Before I started my blog and my debt repayment journey, I was lazy - and I made every excuse in the book to stay that way. I maxed myself out financially, because I told myself I would pay it off one day. I drove 90 seconds to the grocery store, because the bags I was going to fill would be too heavy to carry half a mile home. I didn't workout, because I was too busy. I didn't care about how much weight I had gained, because drinking excessive amounts of wine and eating too many slices of garlic cheese pizza were two of my favourite pastimes. And if I didn't get to spend my spare time doing things I enjoyed, I wouldn't have been happy.
But I wasn't happy. I drank too much, ate too much, spent too much, and didn't care what anyone thought about any of it. It doesn't take a genius to see how unhealthy that is. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the day I realized I was maxed out that I decided I had to get my shhh together.
In June 2011, I decided to start my debt repayment journey. To jumpstart it, I moved into my parents' basement for six months. In that time, I paid off more than $10,000 of debt. After that, there was no stopping me. In 2012, I paid off more than $11,000 of debt, and in 2013 I wiped out what was left of it. I can't pinpoint the exact moment I realized that I had full control of my life and my future, but something about my debt repayment journey sparked me to make a number of other changes in my life.
In February 2012, I decided I wanted to get fit and lose weight. I started by getting up at 5:30 a.m. 4-5 days per week and squeezing in a workout before starting the rest of my day. I counted my calorie intake for a while, which also helped, but forcing myself to get moving was the most important decision I could have made. Not only was I losing inches fast, I was happier in general. (Hello, endorphins!) Since then, I have lost 30 lbs. and have learned that even the worst days can seem a little bit better after a good workout.
In October 2012, I decided I wanted to quit drinking. While that decision didn't stick at first, it's one I am most proud of today. What 27-year-old wants to admit they soothe the annoyances of bad days by getting blackout drunk? Who wants to admit they can't handle only having 1-2 drinks; that 2 turns into 12, and 12 turns into more bad decisions. Does anyone like thinking they might be an alcoholic? No. It's been difficult attaching that word to my behaviour, but it is what it is. And I'm better without booze.
Based on this pattern, I think it's time to make another life-altering change soon. Last year, I'd planned to train for and run in my first half marathon, but a car accident one month before put an end to that. This year, I want to do something big. Maybe I'll start a side business. Or write a book. Who knows. But the point of this post is simple: over the last few years, I have changed my life. There's nothing inspirational about it. There's no magic formula or quick fix. I just opened my eyes, saw things I didn't like and decided to make changes.
Making the decision to change something about your life or lifestyle isn't easy. First, you have to admit that you need to do it; that usually involves admitting to yourself that you've been doing something wrong. After that, you need to put your thoughts into action; with that comes good days and bad days. Heck, I've had a lot of bad days! But each of the changes I have made are ones that will help me live a longer, much happier life, so I know the hard work and bad days will be worth it.
Before I wrap up this post, there are a few other lessons I'd like to share with you. And not to put a damper on the sales targets for self-help books this week, but if you're thinking of picking one up soon, the answers you're looking for are probably along the lines of this:
- If you wish there were more hours in a day, wake up earlier.
- If you keep avoiding the same task, it's not a priority.
- If you hate that your clothes are getting tight, pay attention to what you're eating.
- If you don't feel sexy when you're naked, workout more.
- If you don't know how to start, walk more. Walk everywhere. Just get outside.
- If you're sick of being hungover, stop drinking so much.
- If you're stressed out, reevaluate your priorities and do more of what makes you happy.
- If you still haven't found Mr./Mrs. Right, put yourself out there.
- If you are dating, be thoughtful and don't play games. The end.
- If you want to save more money, you either have to make more money or spend less.
- If you hate being in debt, stop spending recklessly.
Life is what you make of it. You are in control of everything you do. Don't make excuses or blame other people for things that you have the ability to change.
Oh, and please, please, please. Don't create a vision board. Create an action plan.
I'll leave it at that and share one of my favourite quotes:
"If you don't like where you are, change it. You're not a tree."
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