Getting Back On Track After You’ve Been Derailed

Posted on December 1, 2008. Filed under: Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , |

Here’s an article that I wrote for work – particularly for a MoneyMinding affiliate and supporter, Julie Taylor of Rebuilding You.  As a registered clinical counsellor, she helps people put their lives back together after trauma – particularly physical injury. 


Here’s the article!


Train wrecks.  Derailments.  From where I write this in British Columbia, occasionally our newscasts feature images of a chain of heavy train cars lying on their sides, spilling their contents into a river canyon or a ditch, looking both ungainly and fragile as their small wheels spin helplessly in the air.  It’s never pretty, and clean-up is often difficult.  Is it any wonder that when crises happen in our life, we sometimes talk about being “derailed”?


For long periods of time we chug along the track that’s been set out before us, delivering our goods, sheltering our passengers.  Then, WHAM!  A rockslide on the track, or a cow, or even the “wrong kind of snow” causes us to lose our grip, or get jerked off the rails.  Whether your metaphorical derailment is a physical injury, a relationship breakup, a sudden financial loss, loss of a job, or death of a family member… these are the circumstances that life throws at us, and putting ourselves back on track often takes time and a series of small steps.


Ironically, often the “life crises” are compounded by money crises.  When you can’t work because you are sick or injured, or you are caring for someone else, that can hit you right in the wallet.  So what are the steps you need to take get moving forward again?


The first step, and it’s not an easy one when you are knocked over, is to be grateful for where you are.  Unlike trains, you are a human being, capable of love, appreciation and gratitude even in the most unlikely circumstances.  It might just be “Thank heaven I’m not dead!”  or “I’m so glad I have family members who love me,” or “Well, I’m grateful that this lousy thing is done.  Let’s see what I have left to work with.”  When you know what you are grateful for, take the time to record your thanks – in a notebook, on index cards, or on sticky notes by your bedroom mirror.  Don’t let those items of gratitude slip out of your life.  Recreate your moment of thanks daily.


This is the perfect time to reflect, reassess, and to make new goals that take into account the life event that you have just been through.  When you have your goals, write them down and carry them with you. 

Obviously, these first two steps are much broader in scope than you will find in most financial repair “how-tos”.  But the truth is, financial health is built on a foundation of overall well-being. When you have these first two priorities in place, then you can ask yourself, “What is the next baby step I can take to reach my goal?”  That next step may be to record your daily expenses, so you know where your money is going as well as where it is coming from.  It may be to start putting aside your change, so you can use it later for “guilt-free” purchases.  Do that one next step consistently for 30 days, so it becomes a part of who you are.  If you try to change too much at once, especially when you are already dealing with the larger change of your “derailment”, your new habit may not stick. 


Expect success, at least in this one manageable area of your life.  Taking charge of your money does not have to be a struggle, provided you approach it in a step-by-step fashion.  You may even find it to be one area of calm and control in an otherwise turbulent situation.

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