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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mistakes Happen, Learn to Let Go

The most amazing thing happened to me last Sunday evening! In our parish, I am a member of the Ministry for Lectors and Commentators. For the three years that I have been serving in this ministry, I have never been a commentator until last Sunday. The first time I saw my name under that dreaded column, I felt my heart dropped.

There is a reason why I did not want to be a commentator. Being a lector, I just have to read either the First Reading and Psalm or the Second Reading and Prayers of the Faithful. More importantly, I just have to stand in front of the church assembly for those short moments when I read the Word of God. But being a commentator, not only do I need to stand in front for the duration of the mass celebration, but I also have to be on my toes for any unexpected things that may happen.

My Fear of Public Speaking

One of my fears is speaking in front of a crowd. Believe it or not, but I have only learned to raise my hands voluntarily inside a class when I was on my second year of college at my second school. Before, I couldn't care less if I gain a grade of zero on my recitation, I just wouldn't raise my hand. I dreaded recitations and reporting. My mind just goes blank during those times. (Now I understand that there is a reason for this, which is related to my introversion. More on this later on.)

Anyhow, I have learned to work with this fear of mine. The anxiety is still there, but I can now manage it. The one thing that I am most prone to do, however, is being a "defeated perfectionist" and until yesterday, I didn't really thought that I am on my way to healing from being one.

The Defeated Perfectionist in Me

Let me explain what a "defeated perfectionist" is. According to Dr. Leman, in his book When Your Best Isn't Good Enough: The Secret of Measuring Up, defeated perfectionists are those who:

- are never satisfied with mere excellence (they don't even know that they have already hit that mark),
- want everything to be perfect (and because nothing in this life can ever really be that perfect...), and
- can find flaws with just about everything they do (doesn't matter if it's negligible by others, something minor or major...a flaw is a flaw).

Moreover, defeated perfectionists have perfected the art of watching reruns of their past mistakes and failures. They are not only satisfied with just watching, they would also relive those moments and feel the disappointment and guilt, and play again and again all the other unmentionable words of doom they may think of about their being "not good enough" inside their head.

Yes, I do admit, I am one of those miserable fews...I can go on and on about what happened in the past that steered me to live that kind of life, but let's just skip that part (seriously, it doesn't matter now). What's important is that I just discovered that I am slowly healing from this hard-wired lifestyle.

Finding Grace in My Downfall

So getting back last Sunday, I have a lot of mistakes, although it has a lot more to do with the sound system...but still, i could have done something to remedy the situation.

(Have I mentioned that it doesn't matter for a defeated perfectionist on whose fault is which, whether they have some sort of power or control over the situation? Bottom line for them: something went wrong while they were there, so there must have been something they could have done. If none, then it must be because they just attract bad luck and Murphy's Law just love them so much!)

Halfway through the mass, I was really trying to keep it together even though all I want to do is hole myself up and just cry. I can already see the preview of my past mistakes at the back of my mind. I can already hear the beginnings of the historical account of my past failures playing in my head. By the grace of God, I've managed to held them in until the end of the mass. After the celebration, I just want to go home and finally allow myself to release the tightness in my chest. Lo and behold, the commentator for the following mass has not yet arrived. Being the good member that I was, I stayed for a while and prepared myself should I need to replace him.

But I guess, God took pity on me. I did not need to wait for long because one of the lectors who served with me agreed to be on stand-by instead. I was finally able to go home!

Immediately, I locked myself in my room, lied down, and just stared blankly in the ceiling. Just like that, the dam broke. I cried for a few minutes, uttering my apologies to God for being a distraction in the mass (for the low volume of my responses, for the mannerisms and tenseness I sure exuded throughout the mass, and for just not preparing myself enough). After crying my heart out for a few (short) minutes, I felt...nothing.

No further guilt, no further disappointments. I surprised myself that after that brief breakdown, I managed to be objective. I asked myself, "Okay, so you've made a mistake. Now what do we learn from this experience?"

It really shocked me to the core! Seriously! I used to dwell on a mistake for DAYS! I remembered waking up in the morning and the first thought in my head would be "you're such a screw up" plus a rerun of what went wrong, and at night I would sleep with these thoughts as well. But last Sunday, not only have I succeeded in quieting the inner critic in me, but I did not bring in my sleep thoughts of those mistakes as well. Really amazing!

When Lyf Throws U Lessons

At some point in our lives, we face our inner critics. Amongst all the voices we hear from others, this voice coming from within could be the worst and harshest of all. Why? Because it is what we BELIEVE in ourselves. It is how we see ourselves. It is how we talk to ourselves. And unlike other people, we cannot really run away from our inner selves. So what can we do to stop being miserable?


There will be other people who will put us down and criticize our missteps. Leave the critiquing to them. I'm not saying that we should not reflect on how to change ourselves for the better, or just let our mistakes go without so much as a thought. We can look back and assimilate without the emotional harassment from ourselves. Just be objective. Look at what went wrong and learn from it.

Important note, we should allow ourselves to feel the pain of making mistakes or having failures. The Bible says that there is a time for everything, even in feeling down and low. God does not find fault in those feelings. But then, there is also a time for letting go and moving forward. There is no sense in holding onto that pain for so long. 

In Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success, John Maxwell stated the importance of using our failures as stepping stones for our success by learning from our our mistakes. So go ahead and don't be afraid of making mistakes. Just learn from them, let them go, and move forward! Easier said than done, but not impossible. Personally, I know I still have a long way to go to be fully free of the defeated perfectionist in me, but I am keeping the faith alive that one day soon, God will give me the grace to fully overcome this. And if you also have a defeated perfectionist within you just like me, then I am sharing my prayer with you as well. Cheers!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How I Became Financially Free: Introduction

"Lord, thank You for giving me the opportunity to achieve financial freedom. I am so looking forward to investing on my future. I can't believe it. My future...MY FUTURE! Before, I wouldn't even think nor dream of reaching my 20's, but now I am looking forward to reaching my 40's -- the time when I would become a millionaire and the time when I can finally fulfill my one unchanging dream: I can finally help others to receive the education they deserve by paying for their schooling! Not only that, but I can finally treat my parents and give back to them (in a way) what they have given me; something to show my gratitude and love for them. And most importantly, I can finally give myself what I truly deserve -- financial freedom!"

~excerpt, journal entry, 15 September 2010

Hi! My name is Joanne. I am 24 years old. March of this year, I received my Bachelor's Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Not many know this, but one of the biggest frustrations I have in life is my lack of goals and dreams. Yes, I have a general idea on what I want to achieve before I die: to fulfill my purpose in life. Problem lies with what exactly that purpose is. I guess before I continue, I could give you a short background about myself so you will know where I am coming from.

The Hate Within

For most of my life, I hated myself. My daily mantras were, (but not limited to): 
"Stupid" ! "Worthless" ! "I do not deserve to be happy" ! "Nothing I do is ever good enough"
"I just want to die" ! "Lord, please kill me now" ! "I will die before I reach 21"

It is only by the grace of God that I am still here in this world, living and battling with my inner demons. So you see, I never really thought much about where I want to be and what I want to be in the future. For me, I only see my imminent death. 

Starting Life All Over Again

Maybe that is why when I finally decided to "live my life" and start my life anew, I have been so obsessed with finding my purpose in life. I want to believe that I am not an accident, that God has been so patient with me because He has this specific mission for me. I want to know where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to do.This is why I have never thought twice in spending money on self-help and inspirational books. I have immersed myself to the stories and teachings of the likes of Bo Sanchez, John Maxwell, Joel Osteen, Rhonda Byrne, Oprah, Jack Canfield, and others.

You might think that this desire in me to become a better person is a great thing, but I tell you that it is not all good. I was doing something wrong somehow. Between my inner demon whispering my past failures and my inner seeker obsessing about my future, it is so easy for me to not be in the moment and embrace where I am now. For four years, I have been in the wildest ride of my life. I feel like I am a bipolar person. One day, I am at my happiest, then something happens and I am back to being depressed. It is a vicious cycle, one that I felt I would not get out of. There had been days when I told myself, "What's the point? I should have just killed myself back then."

But you know what? The greatest miracle happened just this year. Before I graduated from college, I have no clue whatsoever on where I will apply and on what kind of job I prefer. (Remember, I have no goals in life. I do not have a 5-year or10-year plan.) But I do know one thing, I want to have a job as soon as possible. No breaks for me. Why? Because I have already "wasted" my time before. (You have to forgive me though because the story on how I "wasted" time before is for another day.)

How God Prepared My Way

So, did I follow through with this plan of mine? A big NO! You see, I have this thing wherein I "think too much" and I "over-analyze situations" that most of the time, I get stuck while the opportunity goes away. I'm just not an innate doer. I'm a thinker, that's my nature.
So while my batchmates were busy sending their resumes and applying for jobs, I am at home reflecting on what I really want in life. But I thank God because despite my laziness to apply, He still gave me an opportunity to earn money while I am getting my life back on track. And He really knows how to bait me. 

While deciding on what I want, I have followed Bo's guidelines that if I want to succeed, my business or work should be connected to my life purpose and core gifts. But since I cannot answer my life purpose yet, I decided to determine my core gifts. I acknowledged that one of my core gifts is writing. So when I saw this ad looking for freelance writers, I grabbed the opportunity (after much-needed consideration of course) and applied even though I have no background on writing content articles. Amazingly enough, this stint lead me to my job now. 

When I visited my friend who lives in Bataan, I met her friend who is also a freelance writer. We just met that one short time the day we were leaving for Manila. I was so surprised to receive an invitation from him that his friend is looking for writers who can work full time or part time writing product descriptions, articles, blogs, and others. I started out as a part time writer for them, and now I am working full time as a virtual assistant (I just gave myself that title because I am not writing for them anymore, rather I am involved in numerous projects doing all sorts of things). And this job, together with the people I work with, is truly a gift from God.

Receiving Miracles

Because of this job: 

1. I now earn my own money. It may not be as big as compared to what my friends are earning now on their jobs in the Hospitality and Tourism industry, but it helps me pay our electricity bill. More importantly, I am now able to set aside money for tithes and for my future. Following Bo's advice on how to divide income, as soon as I receive my monthly salary, I set aside 10% for my Forever Fund (tithes), 20% for my Future Fund (investments), 50% for my Fixed Fund (electricity, internet, grocery), 10% for my Freedom Fund (savings), 5% for my Fun Fund (rewards for myself), and 5% for my Frivolous Fund (incidental  or unplanned expenses). 
2. I am better than ever. In the past 6 months, I had gone into a long phase of depression that has started while I was still in college. Now, I am back on my tracks and I am starting my life all over again. There are still the varying degrees of highs and lows, but I am happy to note that I am experiencing great days longer and I am able to pull myself out of the pits faster than before. 

3. I am embracing the Now. Finally, I am able to leave my past behind and not worry too much on things that are yet to come. Of course there are still some days when I feel anxious, frustrated, doubtful, and dejected, but I am now able to feel those feelings while allowing God to work in me and believing that I will get over those feelings soon.

4. I am given an opportunity to gain financial freedom. The first paycheck I received, I immediately joined Bo Sanchez' TrulyRichClub. Because I have yet to discover what I really want to pursue in my career life, I thought that I could at least start learning on how to take charge of my financial life. I figured that if I invest on changing my wealth mentality, the physical manifestations of this wealth will follow. And amazingly enough, it does. With the amount I am earning for the past four months, I was still not able to save Php 5,000 to allow me to open an account in CitisecOnline (the top online broker in the country that offers  an opportunity to invest on the stock market even with little time, knowledge and capital through their COL-EIP program). But then, when I celebrated my birthday last September, my father sent me Php 5,000.00 for my birthday gift! Without a doubt in my mind, I used this money to apply at CitisecOnline, and now I am a proud part-owner of three companies! The excerpt at the start of this blog entry was actually written right after I lodged my application. 

5. I now have a mission. This thought just came to me this week. God is really such a great planner. There is a reason why I am so passionate about learning from the great people I have mentioned earlier, why there are no second-thoughts whenever I purchase their books (really, I hesitate in buying shoes that are over Php 500.00 but when I see a book I know will help me on my self-growth, even if it is Php 800.00, I will immediately buy it). There is a reason why I did not find joy in writing product descriptions and articles and blogs about lighting, christmas trees, and other stuff despite claiming that I have a gift for writing. There is a reason why I became familiar of Bo Sanchez because of Kerygma and why I have considered him as one of my mentors. And the reason, I believe, is because God wants me to share my stories and learnings in life through my writings.

When Lyf Throws U Lessons
This entry is just the introduction to my series, "How I Became Financially Free". No, I am not there yet. BUT, I am now on that journey. And I am declaring through this series, that I will achieve financial freedom in the near future. With this series, I want to share to you what I have learned from Bro. Bo through his TrulyRichClub, especially the benefits of investing (not merely saving) your money. I will share to you the steps I have taken, am taking, and will take as I continue this wonderful journey towards true financial freedom. 

I hope that you take this journey with me, together with the others who have discovered this powerful blessing from God. It is about time for you to take charge of your financial life because you deserve to be financially free!

If you are taking charge of your financial life now and you want to share your own stories and life lessons, I would love to hear and learn from you as well. Or if you also want to change your financial life,  I invite you to declare with me your own affirmations of being financially free. 

Praying for your happiness!

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