I’m concerned that my last column (Following Up With a Second Act – Age Discrimination Work-arounds) may have left some readers drawing conclusions that I hadn’t meant for them to draw. So today I an even broader view, of overcoming life’s hurdles.
What I Didn’t Mean to Say in the Last Post
It was not necessarily my intent to cherry-pick a group of well-known individuals, highlight their accomplishments, and then proclaim: “See? These people did amazing things, and so can you!”
Granted, maybe there are some of you that WILL do amazing things in the future, but the fact remains: most of us will never achieve great wealth, or great fame, or great recognition, or become masters in our field, or whatever.
And you know what?
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that! In fact, wealth and fame can easily bring as many problems as benefits. As a society, however, we tend to become overly pre-occupied with what the “movers and shakers” around the world are doing, when it might be much more relevant for us to learn what the people “down on our level” – or even a notch or two below our level – are accomplishing.
So, on that note, I would like to turn our attention away from The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and focus more on The Lifestyles of People More Like Us and highlight what THEY have been doing over the years – and what we can learn from their stories.
Real Life Examples of People Successfully Overcoming Life’s Hurdles
Example #1 – One man I had known in lay ministry training had been sent to prison as a young man. He was a hardcore criminal. During his time of incarceration, he was visited by a woman who convinced him to give his life over to Jesus Christ.
He was able to get out of prison, married the woman who had converted him, had a family, and he and his wife spent many years doing ministry together. He struck me as one of the kindest, warm-hearted people I had ever met, in spite of his troubled past.
Example #2 – I recently read a story about a single mother who wound up homeless after losing her job, house, car, and kids, along with being diagnosed with depression and PTSD. She was able to turn her life around, get her kids back, and now has work as a public speaker, business consultant, editor, and entrepreneur. She credits her Christian faith as one of the big reasons that keeps her going, even though she is ready to admit that she continues to wrestle with her demons.
Example #3 – Another man, who I met online, is not someone I would describe as someone of religious faith at all. In fact, his own philosophy would be more akin to anarcho-primativism.
He found himself in his 20s with two college degrees, operating envelope-stuffing machinery and answering phones in a warehouse. He decided to live in an extremely frugal manner, eventually managing to get by on less than US $6,000 a year (I don’t think I could ever do that!).
Since then he has done work as a house-sitter, bought some land for rural homesteading, and has various side projects earning income, including as a writer for his own web site.
The lesson he learned? Creating a meaningful and productive life for oneself, free from the pressures and coercions of modern society, is less like walking through a magic doorway and more like growing a fruit tree, – as he puts it. Lots of things that are worth doing in life require time, patience, effort, and a willingness to accept repeated failure.
And More Real Life Examples of COUPLES Successfully Overcoming Life’s Hurdles
Example #4 – A married couple in their 60s, whom I read about years ago on a website that no longer exists – I think it was something like “DreamSmall.net” – discussed their story of how dealing with disabilities, struggling health issues, declining social networks, and being mostly housebound, finally prompted them to take action.
They downsized from their apartment, got rid of most of their possessions, and decided to purchase a 30+ year old travel trailer, renovate it, and take to the open road in pursuit of the “full-time RV lifestyle.” They described the culmination of their journey as one that led them to much increased happiness and contentment.
I suspect that the majority of people wouldn’t even attempt that kind of adventure, given their ages and limitations.
Example #5 – Another couple found themselves underwater on their mortgage after the housing crash of 2008. Leaving behind their savings in their home, they moved three times in one year, finally buying a much smaller house on a larger plot of land. They turned their extra outdoor space into a small farm with a large vegetable garden, compost pile, and a coop full of chickens.
“It is never too late to change yourself…it can all seem so impossible to tackle, because the changes feel too big and numerous and the world too foreign…Everyone requires help, and it’s always closer and more accessible than you feel it is. Especially when you start asking and offering without shame.” (This quote comes from a personal testimonial in Chris Martenson’s and Adam Taggart’s “Prosper!”, another book that probably should get a review here at OutOfYourRut.)
Anyone Can Achieve the “Impossible”
What other lessons can we take away from these people’s stories? If we’re feeling genuinely “stuck,” we might need to look for ways to broaden our horizons, and maybe do a little bit of experimenting in the process.
I know from personal experience that when we get depressed and discouraged, our view of the world can narrow dramatically, and thereby conclude that “we have no options.” But all of us, dear readers, you and me alike, need to remember that we have options. We always have options.
The options we have, in many cases, might not be perfect or ideal or easy, but they are there, if we are willing to seek them out. My hope is that all of us here at OutOfYourRut will continue to encourage you and continue to help you explore and discover what your options are, so that you can live better lives as well.