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Tales of financial desperation… and why you should do what you love

When I set myself a challenge of finding out How to Retire in 12 Months, I took a tongue in cheek perspective on what was to be a serious challenge.

The challenge was to give myself more freedom from the constraints of working 6 days a week on my business. I wanted to use the majority of my time for travel, to do the things I am passionate about and make a difference in the world.

When I was young I had a goal of being a millionaire by the time I was 25. I failed.

I have had my fair share of successes and failures along the way but a few years ago I started to notice a pattern. If my goal is to start a business just to make money I often fail.

If I start a project or business for the love of it, to reach a personal goal,  or to help people, then I often succeed much higher than I aim for.

In these cases the opportunities for money just seem to show up without the same sort of grind. I haven’t achieved great wealth, but I seem to get everything I need to make things happen and live the life I want to live.

The hard times

There was a period a few years back where I had left my job, put all my money in my business and it all failed. I had a lot of debt, was lacking in confidence and often wondered what the hell I was doing, I was still working night and day on my projects, earning very little and the reality was, I started to get desperate.

When I had nothing but debts and bills my perspective on life narrowed. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel but it was so far away that I couldn’t see any detail. I am a pretty positive person but I was completely broke, struggled to cover debts and started to exist with a daily level of stress that was very unhealthy.

I was desperate.

I lived in state of panic and every decision about every cent became hugely important.

I would wake up in the middle of the night sweating.

My health was bad and I had chronic back pain.

Now, I am fortunate as I can look back on the periods when I have been desperate – as they are in the past. But some people live like this for years, some for their whole lives.

The problem is that desperation is not conducive to making good decisions, and your poor decisions usually send you further down to struggle town.

The good times

The good news is I am still here! Now, a few years later, I am in a completely different place, with an income, a great lifestyle and peace of mind.

I made it this far. Why? I think it is because even when things were really tough, I kept on working towards my goals. Even when it seemed to make no sense, I persisted in working towards the life I dreamed of having.  Over time things started to change and get better, and with less stress I started to make better decisions.

Eventually the hard work paid off, luck came my way and it all started to work.

Then there is this big shining possibility of great wealth and riches.

We are consumed with the race to get rich. Why?

So that we can buy more things, have more freedom and finally be happy.

My goal was financial but the actual prize was being able to do what I was passionate about every day. I get to do what I love. I get to make a difference in the world. I get to help other people do what they love for a living.

After a few months of travel my hunger for huge wealth has completely disappeared – if it happens, great! But I do not think about it.

I am interested in enough money for our simple lives travelling and meeting people. I am interested in enough money for babies so I can enjoy my time with them. I am very interested in learning about investments and property and “growing up” financially but the true goal is to continue to do what I love.

My goal is to continue to set myself challenges and learn and grow and help or inspire other people to do the same.

I know that if I continue to look after that, the money will continue to come.

Want more money mindset blogs?

5 reasons why you don’t have a million dollars in your account
Good life feature: from young mum to millionaire before age 30!
How to retire in style, when you can’t afford to retire

If you like it, please share it!

Speak your lovely mind!

  1. Great post and reminder to pursue our own passions and dreams. I am grateful everyday that I get to work on my blog, my new sense of purpose is satisfying on many levels. Thanks again for your inspiring blog, book and kickass course which helped launch my new life. Peace and love xx

  2. a wonderful gutsy impassioned post! well done and thanks for sharing life from your perspective and experience.

  3. Hi Serena,
    Congratulations for building the life you love!
    In addition to working hard I’ve just joined Denise Duffield-Thomas’ ‘Lucky B$*ches’ course focused on financial mindset. Can’t wait to see what happens.
    Caylie recently posted..Share Your Favourite Website Plugin – Blog LinkyMy Profile

  4. Great post Serena! We hear so often about doing what you love and the money will take care of itself – you are living proof and living your dream – good on you! I’m hoping 2013 paves the way for me to do the same :)
    Paula Johnson recently posted..Chinese New Year – Dragons and Snakes…My Profile

  5. Thanks for the inspiration Serena. You are doing what you love and making a difference ;)
    Andrea recently posted..Moving Forward Diary: Achieving Work FitnessMy Profile

  6. Thank you Serena. Timely post for me. some more encouragement to keep me going. You are everything you speak and stand for. Take care and keep doing what you are doing <3
    Maureen Unasa recently posted..Schooling the developing frontal lobeMy Profile

  7. Hi Serena,

    This was exactly what I needed to read right now.

    Thanks for being so inspirational, and generous.

  8. Well I’m doing what I love working on my photography and website. Haven’t made much income from selling my work at markets, but repeat after me “I’m having fun”
    Dean recently posted..Cat LoversMy Profile

  9. Thank you Serena, glad I found this page. It means a lot to me, being an owner of several sites and feeling much the way you described here. It really resonates.

    I feel almost at the cusp of that great and wonderful success, yet I have many things to learn from the likes of you : )

    Particularly, I see that many people who have successfully integrated that desire for a better way of earning money (just enough to live off, not millions) – particularly e-enterpreneurs, have placed themselves on their front pages. They are smiling, happy, optimistic: I think that’s part of why people choose to trust and come back to places like Retireyoung, among other sites – you know,, Leavingworkbehind, etc, etc.

    Just happy that I am also pursuing my own enterpreneurial dream, and not neglecting it. Yeah, although it is difficult when you are in difficult times, somehow, we make it through – someone takes care of us.

    For anyone else reading this comment:
    Trust that you’ll make it. Even if you’re desperate right now. Trust.



    • Hey Samm,

      I never related to the happy faces to success, but I am sure it helps!

      I think it is sad that we beat ourselves up when we compare ourselves to other peoples success. But you seldom see the struggle they have had to get there.

      I am sure people will look at our lifestyle now and think it is effortless – which of course it isn’t!

      But I am so glad I hung in there. This year I am learning about truly being in the moment – as I was always living for the future before. and there is really no satisfaction in that!

      Thanks for stopping by, and keep at it – it is all worth it in the end :)
      Serena Star Leonard recently posted..The Health Nuts Packing Guide for Central America, Mexico and CubaMy Profile

  10. Ben Peacock says:

    Great Post Serena,
    Very Inspiring
    Thank you and best of luck for the future

  11. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post. I’m in transition mode from one business to another. One that was about selling ‘stuff’ to one that’s about ‘sharing’ stuff. Trouble is, there’s very little cash flow and bills still need to be paid. So I can definitely empathise with the panic and desperation.

    It would be easy to throw it all in and go back to a ‘real’ job but it’s not just about the money, it’s about living the life I choose so… you’ve inspired me to hang in there, I believe in its value to others so I’ll keep working at it. Thanks!
    Diane Adam recently posted..30 Day Challenge – Try Something New for 30 DaysMy Profile

  12. Tks from Cartagena nice to come back 😎

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