1. Such a great topic Penny. Where to start…life certainly has its way of throwing curve-balls at you.

    I had applied for and was accepted to a prestigious Army unit (quasi-special forces) and had the great position in the world as a platoon leader. It was the one thing that I had my focus on and it became my biggest career goal (at that point in time) to be apart of this unit. Once I got there though, bad things started to happen. Things that I absolutely could not control. Depression.

    It was the most difficult thing I had ever faced. It took all the strength I could muster to get out of bed, lace up my boots and work for my troops. After trying to hid it for months, my commander finally took notice and we spoke. Eventually I decided that I needed to leave the unit because I couldn’t effectively lead my soldiers. I don’t know what brought on that depression because I have never experienced it before that time or since. But I was heart broken. It was my dream to be a part of this organization and now I needed to voluntarily leave it…

    The rest of the story is positive though. I got the help I needed from a few doctors and some medication. Within a few months I was back to normal again and started making an impact in my new organization.

    The keys for me were setting aside any ego, being humble, and getting the help I needed. Also, fitness became increasingly more important. As difficult as it was, I forced myself out of bed with specific routines to get out on a run or go and lift. Eating right became another big and productive focus. Finally, beginning to make time for pondering, meditating, or mindfulness.

    Hope that helps, and I hope this doesn’t read as a sob story. A bit of a long comment, but it was certainly step back and a hardship that wasn’t easy for me but I came through it and feel like a better man because of it.

  2. This post definitely resonated with me as I recently switched jobs and have experienced temporary idle financial progress due to having to pay back tuition costs to my previous employer. But even though I didn't meet any of my Q2 Goals as far as savings goes, I know that my new opportunity offers so much growth and long-term success. It's exactly as you said "Progress doesn’t always seem like progress, and it certainly doesn’t seem like it’s always headed in a forward direction".

    • There are always plateaus, aren’t there? We so rarely talk about them, and I think that’s where people call it quits because we always expect to see things moving one direction or the other. That is fantastic that you are able to see the longview in this situation!

  3. Sherikr

    This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you! I’m struggling with returning to full time work after staying home to spend time with my family. The years out of the workforce are easily identifiable on my spreadsheets…picking up where I left off will be far from a straight line. I’m growing to accept that, even though it’s hard. Thanks for the reminder that it’s just the way life goes. 🙂

    • Can I just say how awesome you are, Sherikr? I am certain that this is a daunting task, and it speaks volumes that you are tackling it head on. I’m cheering you on!

  4. Penny,
    This was a great read. I feel like I’m in the dot collecting phase, hoping to be able to connect them soon. It’s an agitating feeling to not see beyond what’s immediately in front of me, but I’m trying to take knowledge and inspiration from the process and find joy in it whenever possible.

    • It’s hard to find the joy, isn’t it? I wrote this in the middle of frustration partly because I realize we (to generalize) very rarely reach out in the middle of a mess. It’s hard. At least for me, I’m so focused on staying afloat. It’s been really helpful to me to see in the comments that we are really all in this together.

  5. Yes! This is key… we aren’t all going to have the picture perfect upward jaunt towards our goals (does anyone ever have this?). When curveballs come our way, I struggle with and have to try really hard at finding perspective. I typically need to take a pause, get away from technology, and try to get into nature in some way (even if it is just rolling down a window while driving).

    • I agree with you on pausing technology and diving into nature. What I’m slowly starting to realize is your point about just rolling the window down! Nature doesn’t have to be a big Instagram adventure, does it? Just getting dirt under my nails in my garden ripping up weeds does so much for me!

  6. What a great post! It’s definitely important to look at life this way, and to take it easy on yourself if/when things aren’t going as well for you as they seem to be for the rest of the internet.

    I’m actually in the middle of my situation now–I’d just moved to my new apartment and thought I knew what my life would be like here, and then less than two weeks later I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It’s really thrown my life and finances, especially since at least for right now my HSA is probably pretty much all going to go to diabetes related things (the doctor’s appointments, dear lord, the doctor’s appointments…) which makes me uneasy since before this I was blessed with good enough health to where I really only needed to touch it for annual physicals, biannual dentist visits, anxiety meds, etc. (And since I was diagnosed a few weeks before my latest HSA installment, so I had to dig into my already hurting wallet [I’m living on my own for the first time, so I had to buy more than I expected for my apartment in terms of kitchen items, housekeeping supplies, etc] for some of the expenses.)

    TL:DR right now I’m focusing on just getting the diabetes under control, and then after that I’m going to have to sit down and reassess my finances… again…

    • Oh my goodness, you have a lot on your plate. I am sure it stings like whoa financially, but I am glad you are taking care of yourself!

      • I just keep reminding myself to take it a day at a time, and that it’ll all work itself out. I’m already doing a lot better now, and it’s only been a month.

  7. Exactly, the path to FI isn’t a straight time. Sometimes you may need to take detours or take early exits before you get on the path again.

    • Yes! And just because you’re “off track” doesn’t mean that you won’t get there. I am definitely meandering and taking wrong turns. But I’m trying to look around and enjoy where I’m at!

  8. You’re right, progress isn’t a straight line.

    Two years ago, I was given a program manager position. It was really my dream job, bringing opportunities to disconnecting youth. I was excited to actually be doing the prevention part of criminal justice.

    But, there was confusion on my role and the team I had at the time and I just didn’t gel. They had been independent for so long that bringing me in to manage it just didn’t work. They pretty much revolted and I took it personally. I willingly stepped down and hated myself for it for almost a year.

    But then, I grew in my new role so much, I got promoted the week after I took short-term disability for my gallbladder surgery. I was taken aback and my friends joked that only I could be promoted after being gone for a week. I had to laugh myself. It’s funny how things work out if they are meant to.

  9. Emilie

    I needed this post right now. For the 6 years since I’ve been in the workforce, I almost always had jobs that were very little fulfilment, with close to nothing to do all day. Except one job which I quit because of the scandalous low pay. I changed job last year, thinking that this was going to be exactly what I was looking for: good job, lots to learn, good mentors to learn from. But it was the contrary, nothing to do, no autonomy, no mentors, no learning.

    One year later, I cannot help but feel awful. After all, isn’t my fault that all the jobs I land are like this? I feel there is no hope for me and at 28 feel like my career is never going to get better.

    I console myself in the fact that this time, I’m being more vocal about this problem with my boss. And I am more willing to quit than in the past. I try to see the good relationships I created with my colleagues as a success in this truly boring job.

    In the hope that in a few years, I will see the progress I made and what this experience will have brought me.

    • I feel so much strength in what you just wrote, Emilie! It is so hard to see the bigger picture. I suppose because we really can’t until we’re able to step outside of what we’re living and look back. I hate that you feel stalled, but I’m excited that you are speaking up. That takes guts! It’s also the catalyst for change — whether that is your current work transforming into more of what you want and need or finding new work. Props to you for cultivating relationships with colleagues. When I was in the absolute abyss in my teaching career, they were the people who kept me from totally going under.

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