I expected it to fix me. It did not.
When we returned, friends and family asked, “Do you feel rested?” I saw the expectancy in their eyes, their hope I’d come back a new woman—or at least the “old Michele” they remembered.
I didn’t know how to answer without disappointing both of us.
“Rested? Not as much as I’d hoped.” I attempted to explain:
“I slept a lot while we were gone. Unplugged completely from phone and internet. I even read several books. But I feel like a $300 overdrawn checking account. You can deposit twenty-five bucks, which certainly helps move things the right direction. Still, you’re in the hole.”
I have a good life. Three adventure-loving boys, 15, 19, and 20. A hardworking, entrepreneurial husband and the thriving business he owns. Opportunities to speak and encourage men and women around the globe. A great team to collaborate with. A blog with a faithful and growing community. Coaching opportunities, writing projects and deadlines. Not to mention, a long list of projects I want to roll up my sleeves and dig into.
But last year three little people joined this already full life. For twelve months, we’ve continued life as usual, as much as possible, surrounded by unknowns. But here we are a year later, without any answers, still going full bore.
Most of the time, I can function at a high level, accomplish a massive list of to-do’s. This time, however, I spent more than I deposited, pushed myself too hard without any recovery time. The circumstances demanded it, to some extent. But the cost, steep. I want to sleep. And cry. A lot.
I’m being more frank than is comfortable because I know a few of you are overdrawn as well. I’ve read your emails, seen your bleary eyes over coffee. The private side of me wants to preserve my ego, wait for a few months when I’m rested and all this is wrapped up nicely.
But put-together people make overdrawn people feel like their failing. I don’t want you to feel like a failure; I want you to feel less alone. And have the courage for change.
My bankrupt status has become the necessary catalyst for change. If you’re overdrawn and want to climb out of your hole, this is me, hand extended, sharing what my stretched-thin, hyper-emotional, overdrawn self is doing right now to dig out of my own:
Brave an Honest Evaluation: For the past three weeks, I’ve been engaged in a gut-wrenching self-assessment. With a notebook, I listed my responsibilities and schedule. I looked at my expectations and motives, why I do what I do. I listed my true priorities, then measured how well I executed those priorities. I also listed my desires and dreams, what fills me up and I wish I could do more of.
Make Big Changes: A glance at my notebook, and it’s clear to see why I’m overdrawn. I’m trying to do it all. My output is greater than my input. Taking a trip or hiring a babysitter for a night isn’t going to reconcile my accounts. I need to overhaul my spending, say “no” to good things because I can’t afford the cost. I’m in the process of executing these changes. But, so you know, I’m heartbroken about this. Having to walk away from things I love is not easy.
Solicit Outside Help: One of my greatest revelations has been this: If I eliminated everything from my life except for my husband and six children, I still could end up overdrawn. I—we—need help. I don’t know what this looks like yet. I might need someone to clean my house or help with the kids from time to time, maybe hire a personal assistant or order pizza for dinner for a year. (Maybe not that last one). All I know is we can’t do these things alone. It’s up to me to ask.
Relinquish Control: This will be my biggest challenge. Now that I’ve made tough decisions and asked for help, I need to LET. GO. Isn’t this the rub for all of us? On some level, we know what we need to do. It’s the doing it that’s tough. Two friends offered this counsel (in separate conversations, no less):
“Do those things only YOU can do. Then let the rest go.”
Have you ever been overdrawn? Are you now? What are you doing to dig out?