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Count Your Wins.

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

Life is hard.

I hate it when people say that to me.

It's so unbearably cliche and proverbial. And proverbs are the last refuge of the mentally destitute (The Painted Veil, pg 121).

It's also said during a time when I'm probably seeking comfort, and those three words are not comforting to me. The fact that life is hard does not take away from any current pain. I'll be in desperate search for a solution or a way forward, and when the only thing people say is that life is hard, it makes me wonder - should I even try if we are so doomed?

There's a concept in hospice/mental health called anticipatory grief. Basically, it means when someone is terminal, and their loved ones know it's coming, they start grieving before the death even occurs. I'm starting to believe that there is anticipatory stress in many areas of life, that many of us are plagued with an anxiety of the future that drains us before we truly go through something. Knowing that a relationship is ending or that a job change is coming is killing our joy and increasing dread.

So rebuttals of cliches aside, there are moments when this is absolutely true. Life is hard.

Case in point - I recently sat down to work on my long-term personal finances.

Help me, Baby Jesus. Baby Jesus is real good for tax stuff.

Did I do this with some Hard Sparkling Water by my side? Yes. Oh my sweet baby Jesus, yes.

But time to buck up.

I was really dumb financially when I was younger - like really, really dumb. I don't want to get into it, but I've course corrected. But I'm still paying for some mistakes. And sometimes, when you're paying for mistakes, you got to just face the music. Or in my case, face the numbers.

I've always been consumed with what I do wrong in life that I stopped for a moment while I was sorting through my spreadsheets to think of how far I've come.

I graduated grad school without debt because in talking to my family, I made a choice to really work towards that goal while living at home and paying tuition with a nonprofit salary.

That credit card I used all the time? I paid it off and cut it up.

That credit card from the store I love? The balance is about to be zero, too.

I still make money mistakes from time to time. But seeing how hard my life was when I was freely ignoring the consequences of my spending, I've managed some behavior changes.

These are wins for me. They're small, but they remind me that life can get better when I put forth some effort, had some patience, and a lot of faith. And most of all, when I recognize that I am the captain of my own ship. In this particular instance, I was in part what was causing my life to be so hard.

Life is hard, so don't forget to count your wins.

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