What does life look like when you’ve hit rock bottom? What does life look like when you’ve hit rock bottom over and over? Where do you find hope? What steps do you take to dig yourself out? These are questions that I had to face! These are questions that I had to answer! Let me share with you something that happened a long, long time ago.
Monday morning, the alarm clock is shouting obnoxious things at me and I’m looking at it trying to figure out what day it is. My work start time is glaring at me, daring me to call in sick. It’s just another typical Monday morning after I’ve made it through a nasty divorce and managed to keep the amount of my bills lower than my income by working 2 full time jobs and taking care of three children. I wish that I could tell you that things were fine, but I can’t. I’m about to receive another blow!
I take a mental snapshot at what’s on my list. Get the kids to daycare at 5:30am, be at work at 6, work till 5pm, pick up the kids, make dinner, evening activities and bedtime for the kids, then I get some work done for my woodworking business. If I’m having a bad day and getting really depressed, that’s when my friends help me. My friends are absolute life savers!
With 4 cups of coffee behind me, I’m sitting in my boss’s office for an unscheduled meeting. I finish reading the piece of paper that he has given me. I turn my gaze to look out of the windows and onto the green lush landscape that I love. I won’t get many more opportunities to look out of these windows. I’ve been laid off. I have about a month to figure out how to support three little kids by myself.
Two weeks have passed. I should be sad and depressed and shaking with worry, but I’m not. When God closes a door, look for a window. My friends have been telling me that I shouldn’t be an engineer, I should be a teacher. When I got laid off, it opened up the opportunity for me to be retrained. I received the opportunity to get certified as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. With that certification, I could run my own technical trainer business.
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s a tremendously hard path. To receive that certification, I would have to go through weeks and weeks of training and pass six separate two-hour certification tests. After that, I would have to find clients who would be willing to pay me to teach them the concepts that I learned in that training. That is one HUGE goal. It’s also step 4, set a goal for growth.
Having a goal that big can be daunting. It’s made worse when I am a single father supporting three little kids. I know many people who would never have attempted it, but I have a secret. I did something that not only helped me to obtain that goal, but it allowed me to see God working in the process. Here’s the secret.
Break a big goal into one week chunks. For example, if I have forty chapters to read and understand in four weeks, how many chapters do I need to read each week? Should I set a goal to read 10 chapters a week for four weeks? NO! I have to read those forty chapters in THREE weeks and spend the last week reviewing the material. By the end of the four weeks, I should have read AND understood that material. I learned the hard way to ALWAYS build review time into my goals.
Do what you need to do and stop fighting it. I talked about this in Feel Sorry for Yourself or Do Something About It.
I didn’t stop there. I kept a journal where I recorded the goals that I had set for myself. I also recorded the progress that I was making towards those goals. This was step 6, make meaning measurements. I found this step to be invaluable!
I needed to keep track my progress and measure how well I was achieving the goals that I had set for myself. That allowed me to adjust the goals as needed. Not only that, but I clearly saw opportunity after opportunity being placed before me. For example, almost immediately after getting certified, I had clients already lined up for my training business. It became very clear that God was blessing me. I saw the value in what I was doing and I saw God working. That helped my self-confidence to grow.
Those are the six steps that I followed to get myself out of the deep hole that I was in:
- I made a decision to improve.
- I identified an item to work on.
- I found an expert that I admired who had knowledge in that area.
- I set goals for growth.
- I went out there and did it.
- I made meaningful measurements.
Where was God in this situation? Where were the miracles? Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said “We have forgotten God, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
God was in the love of my friends and the tremendous hope that they offered me every day. God was in the opportunities that came across my path. But, most of all, God taught me how to have peace, which is an amazing gift during tough times.
What does life look like when you’ve hit rock bottom? What does life look like when you’ve hit rock bottom over and over? Where do you find hope? What steps do you take to dig yourself out?
Now you know what I did. How would YOU answer these questions?