At 29, Daphne hated her job, but she didn’t see any options. Her credit cards were maxed out and the cost of rent and living took every dime. After the cost of her health insurance, she was down to eating pasta and going to her parents for dinner.
She was angry, frustrated and saw nothing but misery on her horizon. She worked for an advertising company who kept dangling carrots of a bright future—while paying minimal compensation.
Daphne slid a piece of paper in our direction. “There’s my life, right there. I owe the credit card companies my lungs and after I pay the minimum, everything goes to survival. I even ask my parents to give me money for birthdays and use it to pay bills. It’s a good thing I get a pretty nice refund when I file my taxes.”
We asked: “How important is it for you to get past this misery?”
“Important? Important? I don’t sleep and I hate my life. I’d say it was pretty damned important!”
So we asked her—with a smile—when she first earned her own money.
As she thought back, her face softened. “I was 14, I babysat, was a mother’s helper and I also helped the neighbor next door, Mrs. H, move stuff around her house. It wasn’t heavy, but it was fun and she paid really well.” Daphne smiled.
“What did you do with the money you earned from your jobs?”
“Are you kidding? Well, at first, I spent it on clothes and stuff and hanging out with my friends. Then, I got tired of seeing all that money go nowhere. So I began to save it. And when I decided what I really wanted was a car, I saved every nickel. From 15 to 17, every penny went toward my car fund. I was on my happiness track—because I had a goal that mattered to me.”
“Did you get that car?”
“Sure did. It was fantastic. Of course, it was used and my parents did help, but I paid the bulk of it. It was super. White with tan inside and a killer music system.”
“So, let us get this straight, you were incredibly successful saving for what you wanted, and now, it seems there’s a problem. Help us understand.”
After a few minutes of quiet—we could see she was considering the whole discussion—she started. “I-I-I guess I forgot to have a goal. I guess I got so caught up in being independent and being all grown up, I forgot the things that made me really comfortable.”
Her eyes welled up a bit.
“I’m ready to start over. Where do I begin?”
“Well, let’s start with an idea of what your happiness track would look like now.”
Today at 35, Daphne is debt-free, has money in savings and is contributing to her retirement. She changed jobs, shifted her thinking and her habits and put herself on what she calls, her happiness track.
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