When I was finally ready to change my life and address my student loan debt, I put away the magical thinking that kept me in denial for over a decade. I knew I had to stop thinking that one day the government would dissolve student loans, or that one day I’d qualify for debt forgiveness, or that one day I’d receive a windfall from an anonymous benefactor that would wipe out the debt. It took some time, but I faced the numbers and accepted the responsibility.
I took a long, hard look at my life and current resources, from which I’d formulate a plan of action.
In any reinvention plan, it’s important to know what you’re working with – and what you’re working from. I needed to face the reality of what I was working with the way I faced the total debt. I started slowly, thinking in terms of my job and the possessions I could sell to get a jumpstart. But, once I started thinking in terms of “what I have to work with,” I realized that I had far more than just my job and some old clutter on my side.
I realized I had many, many more tools at my disposal.
I took an inventory. I started with my possessions:
- A twelve-year-old Honda with less than 200,000 miles on it – and nothing owed.
- A bed, a desk, an office chair, a filing cabinet, etc.
- Books and three antique bookshelves.
- A television and Apple TV.
- A MacBook Pro.
- Three nice business-y outfits.
- A small emergency fund.
Then, I thought about my skills:
- Basic website and blog development and management.
- Etsy and Ebay store setup.
- Writing and editing.
- Administrative and marketing experience.
- Teaching experience, including curriculum development.
And, then…I started to go deeper. I thought about my relationships:
- My family (which includes my dogs.)
- My friends. (I got specific here and listed them out – along with their locations.)
- The former bosses who would give me recommendations.
- The colleagues I’ve kept in touch with over the years.
- The contact I have at a temporary agency who always places me when I call and say I hae anything from a week to two months free from my contract work.
I realized I had quite a few resources. I wasn’t working from scratch. I have an education and a inquisitive nature. I live in a thriving city, and in an inexpensive living situation. I was actually in a great place – one prime for changing my life. My reinvention didn’t have to be a complete new build. I just needed to remodel a few things.
And I needed to gut the debt. I needed to take it down to the studs, so to speak.
If you want to make a change, I suggest starting with an inventory of the tools at your disposal. List everything, including your hobbies and personal passions. (I even went so far as to list my debt – and its story – as a tool at my disposal.) You’ll see possibilities emerge. Your perspective will shift. And you’ll be grateful for what you have, which is always a good place to start any journey.