February 26, 2015

I started out this year with so much fervor for the year ahead. On January 1, I wrote out the three words I wanted to guide my year: bold, balance, and adventure.

I’ve seen firsthand how being bold and making bold moves can transform your life and career. In just a year’s time, I’ve been able to write for $25 a post and turn it into $250 for a post (not all clients, obviously).

The adventure part is also a big one. I’m planning to go to Las Vegas next month for 48 hours to hang out with Tonya at Budget and the Beach. Why? Because I can. She scored a free hotel, and the flight was a small portion of the reward points I had racked up. Then, a month after that, I’ll be in Spain and Portugal. I know, I hate me too.

But do you know what I’m absolutely fucking failing at? Balance. I’m doing pretty good with the other two, but balance just seems further and further away. I keep saying, “you need to make time for yourself!” and then when it comes down to it, I’m the last on my list. My business, blog, my boyfriend, my friends, the neighbor, the stranger at the coffee shop — all of them seemingly come before me and can take up my time and energy.

And I’m exhausted. Already. On one hand, I’m very excited that the BOLD part has resulted in some new, sweet gigs. On the other hand, I’m working harder than ever, because I’ve not made balance a priority. I’ve said yes to too many things and I think it’s time to make some hard cuts.

I’m scared of letting people down. I’m scared of pushing myself to a point where I cannot return. I know what I’m doing is not sustainable and the only way to fix it is by making changes. And that has to come from me. I can’t talk to my “boss” and tell them my problems. I need to sit down with myself and really focus on what I want, what I need, out of life and business.

Have you ever felt like you are just getting by? And I don’t mean financially. But you are scraping by, moment to moment, just hoping that nervous breakdown doesn’t pop up, or that some inconvenient event suddenly ruins your already-too-tight schedule.

I quit my job so I could have balance and I’ve worked so hard, yet I’ve found anything but. This is my dirty little secret. That I feel like a failure because I work so hard and feel like I have nothing to show for it. My relationship isn’t where I want it to be, my personal goals are out the window, and my debt repayment feels stalled.

I know it probably sounds like I’m just being a whiner and being too hard on myself. I probably am, but it’s something I’m working on. It’s hard not to invest your whole self into your business when you work for yourself. How can I not take everything personally? How can I not give 110% to everything, when this is my livelihood? When my name is on the line.

I don’t know where the balance is, but I know I need to find it. It’s so freaking hard for me, but I cannot put money first. Although the personal finance blogger in me says that is the right answer, the human in me is telling me to chill the eff out.

So, there. I’ve told you my big failure.

What are you failing at today? (I’m serious)


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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21 responses to “Can I Tell You a Secret?”

  1. “That I feel like a failure because I work so hard and feel like I have nothing to show for it” Well we’ve chatted via email about this but yes I know all too well what you are feeling. At some point, if you are giving up so much, you want to see some kind of return, right?! How are all of these other freelancers doing so well…what am I missing? May I recommend taking a full day off…just walking away from the computer? I know that’s scary but the world won’t stop and it sounds like you need just a day (or more) to regroup. I’m going to bust my ass until the trip and then I plan on trying to shut everything off for a week. I’m not even going to have someone keep my blog going that week. I think I need to see that the world won’t fall apart. But my biggest things now is I need to bring in income. I’m “just getting by” like you said.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Following My Passion for Storytelling!My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I plan on taking a full day off this Sunday and spend time with my boo. I CAN’T WAIT! I too need to realize the world won’t end not working all the time. I am now really inspired to take the whole 48 hours off when I come see you in LV 🙂 We’ll see.

  2. Chonce says:

    I know how you feel. Sometimes it’s extremely hard for me to make myself a priority and when I take on too much I often feel like I’m not progressing as much as I would be if I just focused in on a few major tasks. But you have vacations coming up and that’s exciting! Spain should be nice in the spring 🙂
    Chonce recently posted…What Do Your Friends Think of Your Frugal Ways?My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      So far, they will be a working vacation. But I’m thinking I should really try to take the working out of this and make that work. I don’t know how, but I really do need one….

  3. I wish I had some words of wisdom to share on how to achieve better balance, but to be honest with you I completely failed at that, too. It’s hard to put yourself first when you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, especially once you figure out the more you work the more money you can make 🙂 Or at least, that’s how it is for me! So I will offer to commiserate with you on that. What I’m failing at today is prioritizing education. I keep meaning to sit down and work through some courses but literally everything else gets my attention first and then I don’t have any time. I know I need to prioritize learning more and advancing my skills, but I am currently NOT succeeding at doing that!
    Kali @ XY Planning Network recently posted…Launching Your Own Financial Planning Firm: Aaron Hatch of Woven CapitalMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Totally! How can I turn down money when I’m in debt? But I can’t always say yes, I’m realizing. I am also not prioritizing education. I need to brush up on my Spanish before my trip. I can’t wait to practice. I hope you can find more balance too 🙂

  4. Today I am failing at balancing taking care of myself while sick, with meeting a writing deadline. Actually I’m mostly failing at the writing deadline — should have done some of this a month ago!

    You’ll get there — it’s tough when you’re starting to have success as a freelancer. You’re doing everything at once, saying yes to everything, and now you’re learning how much you can actually take on without being miserable. It’ll pass. Good luck!
    C@thesingledollar recently posted…Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 7: Ham-and-egg it (plus bread recipe)My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Oh no! I hope you feel better. I was sick a month ago and was useless. I am right at that moment of reaching my limit — I knew it would come eventually, but I think I hit it, lol.

  5. Michelle says:

    I would not consider this a failure. You have mentioned that this is something that you would like to change. If you ignored this THEN I would worry. I think the key is to create an action plan for the week and include time for yourself. I quit my job because of the stress, I AM a workaholic…but, I’m also in love with hiking, my family and friends, exercise, and MYSELF. Just schedule in your time so that you don’t get sucked into other projects. If you completely burn out you won’t be able to rock anything. Have fun in Vegas 🙂 Things will be fine.
    Michelle recently posted…Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups-Oh So DeliciousMy Profile

  6. Welcome to the club chickie! Balance is like unicorns, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, it’s a myth. I don’t think you can ever achieve balance in the truest sense of the word. The best you can do is give attention to the squeaky wheels of your life while they act up and hope the other wheels stay on the car. If you have a great partner and understand friends, family and kids then you will keep all wheels in tact. Right now your biz is the squeaky wheel. When you get the moment to come up for air, then you can handle the other areas.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Hard Work Sucks But Quitting Sucks HarderMy Profile

  7. Honestly, I think balance comes with time and down shifting. I totally felt like you did a few weeks ago, until I finally sat myself down (well, actually I came down with the flu, so it was forced), and I said ‘You can do this. You have it in you.’ I had to prioritize and say no to some things (and ask for an extension on others – and got it!), but I got it back on track. And I know you can too! I’m currently failing at some personal goals I have for myself, but I have to remember it’s a process 🙂
    Melissa @ Sunburnt Saver recently posted…Tax Mistakes I Made This YearMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      The thing is, I feel like all of this spun out of control after I got sick. I was sick a month ago and it has made me so behind. I usually get things done ahead of time and now I’m working on just making deadlines. New work has come my way, which is great, but I need to find that balance. I too have to remember it’s a process!

  8. From all the things you’ve said, you are definitely not a failure! It’s always hard to accept all the awesome things that you have done. I’m the same way! Hopefully you can find some sort of balance soon and can see with new eyes the true progress you have made.
    Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life recently posted…That Time I Got Tricked…My Profile

  9. You know I’ve been facing the same exact struggles, so I can relate 100%+ with what you wrote here. *hugs* I’m trying to make balance more of a priority in March, because after attempting to work and visit my family and friends back home (and kind of failing), I know changes are needed. This definitely isn’t sustainable.

    I do have to say, while we might feel like we’re failing horribly at putting ourselves first, that doesn’t mean, overall, that we’re failures. We both made huge changes when we left our full-time jobs, and that’s not something everyone can do. We have a lot to be proud of, and I know how awesome you are. Hopefully things will look different a few months down the road.
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted…Being Grateful: Fifty-Eighth EditionMy Profile

  10. What is balance anyway? I think that’s something we all struggle with as nearly all of us are trying to side hustle and work hard for our financial goals. I definitely struggle with the balance part of this too. I’ve been getting bolder though, thanks in part to your encouragement! 🙂
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…March 2015 Budget PlanMy Profile

  11. Kayla says:

    Sometimes chilling out is the golden ticket for your finances! It’s better to spend a some money every now on then for something genuinely rejuvenating then to only stress out so much you binge spend.

    Perfect balance is hard to come by; nobody has it down. Sometimes life may feel more balanced than other times, but ebbs and flows are natural.
    Kayla recently posted…5 Reasons Why I Stopped Freelancing This YearMy Profile

  12. Kara says:

    I know how you feel! You kill yourself to find and then do work and it’s exhausting. You scrimp and save to make a 2K payment on your 30K loans and it barely makes a dent. Everything seems to take 100% effort and give you 40% return. But I think you’re doing a great job and just by having this conversation are on a path to being more balanced!

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