Here is a quote from the Debtors Anonymous Ways and Means Newsletter from Quarter three, 2011, page 3:
How many people in your group are waiting for their Vision before they’re willing to not incur unsecured debt one day at a time? We’ve heard it before. A vision built on active debting is a hallucination. One great way to make a vision fall apart at the seams is to build it on debt. I’ve been there. All the pretty magazine pictures on a Vision board don’t mean much if the underlying foundation they’re built on is debt.
I can TOTALLY relate to this. In DA, I must live in reality, not fantasy. It was so true for me regarding the “businesses” at which I was throwing money with no return. I used the excuse that these were my visions to continue justifying spending that was needed for other parts of my life, and which, in large part, increased my pre-DA debt to $33,000 (before I came in the second time around, after getting completely out of debt in DA the first time around in 2000).
Appropriate Spending on a Business
Even once I got sober in DA H.O.W., it took quite a few PRGs for my team to convince me to shut down each one. But first, they had to show me how to separate out the “business” spending from personal and to make a clear boundary when I was “investing” money from personal into the “business.” Then, they had to help me with decision after decision, showing me clearly when spending would generate income vs. creating noise as it states in Tool #5 of Business Debtors Anonymous:
“5. We remain mindful that dollars spent should generate revenue, and compare prices before making purchases.”
I had a category with a very small amount of funds called Business investment. For instance, buying a cool plugin or software that would be fun to use is an example of money not well-spent when I had limited funds.
Getting Out of Delusion
The real turning point was when I got willing to see that what I called visions and businesses were just expensive hobbies that were draining my bank account and my energy. I recognized that they were also manifestations of ego gone awry and didn’t fill the spiritual hole inside. But still, it was incredibly painful to let go and took a year and a half in DA for me to get willing to do so.
Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with hobbies, even expensive hobbies … if you have the money to fund them and they give you joy. The key is a) to recognize first if you have a business or a hobby, and b) if a hobby, look at the reality of whether you can afford it and it gives you pleasure.
How can you determine if your business is just a hobby or pure ego? How do you determine if and when it’s time to shut it down? For me, it was seeing a clear pattern, year after year, of:
- Generating little to no income over the course of years.
- Continued “need” to invest money into the business with no return and, in some cases, no items for sale, just information freely offered.
- Draining of my time and energy.
- Hating what I was doing.
- Inability to focus on marketing or sales (the discovery that I am truly not an entrepreneur).
My visions revolved around:
1. Podcasting (being a radio talk show host) (2010)
2. Author and website for women’s health (2009 on)
3. Perimenopause website (2003 on)
4. Technical writing author and site (1999 on)
To keep these things going, I felt I had to pay for hosting, website development, domain names, shopping cart, software, printing, and more. And the energy expenditure was in editing audio, interviewing, marketing, social media, public speaking, and more. Just as important, in some cases the hobby had become unfulfilling, in others, my disability precluded my doing them. I couldn’t afford to maintain the websites, and I didn’t have the willingness or energy to grow or monetize them into businesses.
Identity Tied Up with Ego
All at once, in late 2011 (a year and a half after going on disability), I took the websites down, every one of them. I watched my dreams dissolve like a sand castle in the rain.
And guess what? Nothing happened. In fact, life got better. The pressure lifted. And I was free … free to develop new visions that lifted me up, instead of weighing me down.
Who would I be without my Internet presence? Seriously, I was panicked. But in the end, I was still just me. With far less ego attachment. It was the best thing I could have done.
What Replaces Worn Out Visions?
So what replaced that? New visions, like this blog. And my art. And my increasing desire to write a dystopian novel and learn to play the Kalimba.
The amazing thing is that now, I can have an online presence without spending a dime! This blog is free. It may not be gorgeous, but it is functional. And that is most important. I live on limited income and my vision no longer has to be in conflict with my spending plan.
My art is minimal in cost and I have a Discretionary category out of which I buy supplies. I am going to buy the instrument when I have the money to do so.
But most importantly, for today I am right-minded about my reasons for my visions. It’s no longer about being famous or rich. It’s about expressing my creativity in a way that empowers me and makes me feel good. It’s about service to others in offering what I have. The joy I sought, but never found, in seeking money and fame for creativity is abundant in the simple act of doing what I love.
Would I like to make money from my visions? Of course. But my visions are no longer dependent on that and it’s no longer the reason I choose to do the work. And ironically, I don’t think I could handle fame at all. So it’s really not an option to work toward that as a goal in my life.
I think that quote from the Ways and Means newsletter is the crux of healthy visions for me. I no longer live in delusion or illusion. And I am willing to accept that when a “vision” makes my life unmanageable, it’s time to let it go.