Step One: Inventory
Previously I talked about why I needed to do some soul searching and the commitment I knew it would entail. Going through major life changes and already being in a situation that was causing me stress and anxiety, I knew I had to figure out what should stay and what should go and what needed some serious work. Being someone who writes things down and then dwells on it for hours and hours every day, I started an inventory list.
The first inventory list consisted of what had been causing me stress and anxiety. What was draining me so much that I was having a hard time being present in life? I included specific situations, actions and people that caused me stress and I didn’t leave anything out. My mom was on this list, my husband’s job because he was never home, budgeting and finances, my social anxiety triggers, guilt that I harbored, unattained goals that haunted me, friendships I had lost and meant to reconnect with and the lack of caring for myself. It was a long and harsh list that I will never show a living soul.
For the second inventory list I called out all the things that mattered most to me. I insisted on putting myself first on that list and I highly recommend you do the same. With three children under the age of five whom I cherish deeply, it was not easy to put myself first. However, if I don’t take care of myself then I’m not doing a good job taking caring for others or setting a good example. So the list included myself FIRST, then followed a list of practical things like family, friends, finances (I hate feeling broke), health of the family, quality time with people I love. Then I got less practical and listed things I enjoy because FUN is something that matters to me. Adding to the list things I had not been able to do in a long time such as writing, reading, gardening, photography, yoga, hiking, canoe trips, camping, back packing, shopping, drinks out with friends, trying new recipes, flea markets, DIY and bettering our home, and yes even sex. After the second list I realized how much the first list overshadowed things that were important to me, especially things that I enjoyed doing.
For our third and final inventory list I did a brainstorm of how and where to find help. This list was harder to put together. I had to really breakdown the areas where I think I needed help and then pare them up with resolutions. So I matched some things up like so:
- Career change: career counselor, online college or enrichment classes, talk to people I know in who have made a career change and talk to people who are in the career that interests me
- Physical Health: YouTube and Pinterest for free work outs, research articles and blogs about healthy eating and wellbeing, find a friend to motivate me
- Finances: hire financial advisor, research ideas to cut spending and bills (find a credit card that gets cash back), create budgeting spreadsheet, track all finances with online app (we use Mint)
- Mental Health: find a counselor (this took me two tries to find someone I connected with, don’t feel guilty about moving on if it’s not the right fit. No one should shame you or make you fearful or add more self-doubt to your plate), continue acupuncture and research supplements (check out Mood Guard by Perque, one of my favorites I get off Amazon)
- Time for myself: shove aside the parent guilt, spouse guilt, cleaning the house guilt and to do list guilt. Push to do something from the fun list, fight for it! It’s not easy to make yourself a priority.
- Find likeminded people: online groups, Facebook, ask friends if they know any groups you might be interested in, go to events that interest me, create a group of your own
At this step this is just a list, consider adding things that you are too shy to do or too anxious or you don’t have enough money to do. Make the list well rounded and really brainstorm ways to get help and seek knowledge. You aren’t going to be forced to go through with all your ideas, so rest at ease.
The inventory process was a good step for me. By getting things down and in front of me I started to feel hopeful. A real picture was starting to emerge and it included more freedom and choices than I thought I had in a long time. Not always knowing where to find help I did a lot of Google searches and read some articles that pointed me in the right direction. Finding a professional that I trusted made a big impact. The next entry is all about getting help and small steps.