What Do You Do When Your Life Looks Nothing Like You Planned?
28 Sep 2015
If you had told me in my 20’s or early 30’s that I would be single by the age of 40, I would have thought you were out of your mind.
From as early as I can remember, I was being groomed to become the wife of a successful professional or a man with a promising future. The idea was that this union would bring with it luxuries that, surely, a single woman could not get on her own: the house, the cars, the babies, and so forth.
However, what I realize now looking back is that no one thought to assume the alternative. What if I wasn’t married or worse yet, what if I was divorced and a single mom? What then?
I lived the dream until I realized it was a nightmare. I got pregnant in college. By God’s grace, my parents decided to take care of my daughter full-time in Tanzania in hopes that I would finish school and become something so that a man would find me “worth marrying.” I married the first man that treated me like gold, in spite of having a child, thinking there might never be another chance for me to find unconditional love like his.
Turns out we both shouldn’t have gotten married to each other because we barely knew each other (yes, we were in a whirlwind romance). I can confidently say that I gained a friend for life, but alas, not a life partner. Fast forward to the divorce and me packing all I had into my car and heading west to Chicago. It is here where I started my life all over again. I cannot thank God enough for the gift of a fresh start.
It’s never too late for a new beginning.
I have to admit it took a while for me in the beginning of my move to Chicago to accept being single again. I bought the lie, for many years, that life would begin when I got remarried. After all, I am so different and have grown so much since my days in Philadelphia where I had lived since high school. I had almost given up on creating a fulfilling life by myself because of all the societal pressures on being single.
I would think to my inner self, “What’s the point?” That is, until I got the phone call from my Mom telling me that my precious daughter was pregnant. As you can imagine, it felt like déja-vu. I had always asked God to protect my daughter and to keep her from any temptation. But as you know, we as humans have our own free will. Baby Kaleb was born and he completely rearranged my life, as I decided to have him and my daughter move to Chicago to live with me.
My beautiful grandson birthed a new “why?” for my life. As I reflected on the change that was about to happen, I began to really search myself. Asking those tough but necessary questions: Where do I see myself in five years? Or am I happy where I am? What legacy am I building? What will I pass down to Baby Kaleb when he arrives? It all came down to one thing: I was determined to pursue a future filled with abundance, joy, and purpose without apology.
Funny how life’s biggest game changers are sometimes exactly what we need. I encourage you to get happy when you face tough times because they ultimately bring out some amazing insight out of you, if you’ll let them.
This, very evident, wake up call took me from being almost broke and living a life of mediocrity to pursuing my destiny with all my heart. In under two years, I tripled my income and became passionate about living like no one else: Debt-free! I started out with coming to reality with where I was. The state of the union, if you will.
When I saw that I was not where I wanted to be, I asked myself what I was going to do to change it.
STEP ONE was about figuring out how to increase my income. I began networking and meeting with people over lunch asking about how they got where they got, as well as asking them about what they love about their careers. This exercise unleashed a series of events that ended up with me getting a job that paid me more than I had ever made.
STEP TWO was to begin a budget every month before the month began. When I did this the first time, all hell broke loose. I could not believe the money I was spending. This exercise alone helped me feel like I got a raise because I was able to immediately plug the holes where money was seeping out. I literally went from wondering where my money went to telling my money where to go.
This is a feeling that cannot be bought. Only hard work, discipline, and dedication to live a life of abundance will fuel your desire to budget. I use a free website (www.everydollar.com) by my favorite money guy, Dave Ramsey.
STEP THREE has been to save for a rainy day so that, while I get my debts paid off, I’m not panicking when an emergency comes up.
STEP FOUR is to pay my debts off, smallest to largest (regardless of interest rate) in a debt snowball. A debt snowball is all about taking the payment of the last paid off debt and applying it to the one next in line. For example: you just paid off visa which had a $25/month payment, that $25 now goes to the MasterCard which was $35/month, but now snowballs to $60/month. See how quickly it can begin an avalanche? That’s the gist of it. This process works but you have to be content with waiting for the victory!
The bottom line is, my life could not stop because the picture that was painted for me was different than my reality. I was “supposed” to be married with 2.5 kids, an amazing husband, in my perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood, with the most awesome friends in the world… But this was not my reality.
My reality is that I’m single and not currently dating, with a daughter and a grandson living under my roof.
My reality looks nothing like what my parents imagined for me, let alone myself. So, like me, I invite you to dare to be A-M-A-Z-I-N-G right where you are! Mr. Knight-In-Shining-Armor may not yet have appeared in your life, however, time is not stopping and neither should you.
This time that you have, use it! Use it get your financial house in order. Begin your budget. Write everything down so that you have a clear picture of your current state. Begin saving for your rainy day fund. Even if it’s just $10.00 per paycheck.
Use this time to get your health in check so you can enjoy your wealth that is soon to be yours as you become disciplined and exercise self-control with your money. Schedule time to walk or go to the gym or run. Don’t over-analyze this, just get out there and begin doing and taking actions towards your goal. Start with imagining your ideal weight. Start by imaging where you would be with no debt and increased income at your disposal.
Become the woman you were destined to be. Give yourself permission to be amazing. Avoid making excuses and especially avoid comparing to others. Self-sabotage will rear its ugly head, if you let it.
Be it from negative thoughts to doing opposite of what you know to be right to do, by compromising, by not showing up. I encourage you to push through and welcome awesomeness. Welcome the greater, stronger, more savvy you. She’s there! You just have to encourage her to come up by daring to step forward by faith and do the work required to become all that you can be.
God’s will for you is that you would prosper.
I dare you to walk into all that is in store for you with no apologies. No matter your past, no matter your present—it’s never too late to begin again! Why? Because, by God’s grace, you can! So why not you? What’s stopping you? I’m a single mom/grandmother embracing my life right where I am and I’m determined to be a outrageous giver, helping people around me and being absolutely amazing, while enjoying being debt-free because that is God’s will for me.
My challenge to you is to join me on this journey. If I can go from my entry level job, living a life of no purpose to now being at my dream job, building a legacy for my family tree, having my own place, and maintain peace and joy all the while, you can too.
Until next time, dare to become unstoppable. It is your destiny!
What are you going to do today to take your life to the next level?
Njeri Bishota is a successful single mom living in Chicago, IL with her daughter Mikhaila and grandson Kaleb. She was born in Tanzania from a Kenyan mother and Tanzanian father and moved to the United States when she was 12. Her passion is helping women—specifically single moms—get their financial house in order. She is a facilitator for the highly rated Financial Peace University founded by financial guru, Dave Ramsey. Njeri’s vision is to change the stigma associated with being a single mom by creating a revolution of financially savvy, outrageously generous, joyful, peaceful, and super ambitious dreamers, one woman at a time. She provides private consulting on how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth so you can live joyfully. (Photo by the author)