Each person in this world has at least one goal, or dream. Along with that dream, their own personalized road blocks keeping them chained to daily routines and the mundane.
My road blocks? Debt. I know what your thinking what millennial doesn't have it?! Well, I'm not talking about ‘normal’ debt (that keeps us from having a nice home, car, or credit score). Don’t get me wrong, like many others I owe quite a bit from various medical expenses and education loans. What I am talking about is a little more complicated- the time debt of being chronically ill.
The debt is essentially the compounded lost time that equates to hours, days, months, and years of life gone due to chronic illness. I’ll give you a quick example:
It took me OVER 6 years to graduate with a bachelors degree because of all the classes I had to drop and retake when I couldn’t get out of bed or when I had surgeries and procedures that knocked me down. Mind you, I was also working upwards of 2 jobs at a time (usually having to switch jobs frequently because I would go through periods of not being able to meet certain standards) while being a full time student. I also had to transfer colleges to be closer to home so my family could help take care of me when I got sick.
In your late teens and early 20s, people expect you to be somewhat unreliable and flaky. In a lot of ways I fit right into the “college kid” stereotype and I let people think that; it was easier. And sure, I was irresponsible at times as well; I’m no angel. But, I worked very hard and came up short a lot of the time.
I know many like me have similar stories. The rain checks of missed opportunities, events, and experiences continually pile up and it starts to hold you back. When you’re sick, it’s like you’re in a raft with no paddles; floating- attempting to stay safe for the time being, but without navigation and going nowhere.
So here I am, floating into my 30’s like... wait a minute. Where did all my time go?! There is so much I haven’t done, experienced, and/or achieved- and not for lack of trying. And, as we know, you can’t turn back the clock. So we do the only thing there is to do, work hard to try to catch up the best we can.
Time Debt can be hard for even friends and family to understand- but it is a real thing. Yet, there is hope; it can begin to be paid down, like any other debt. I utilize these 10 steps to try to close the gap on my lost time:
10.) Kick the Distractions: Identify your distractions and avoid them!
9.) Evaluate your wants vs. needs: What are the things that you have to do vs. the things that you want to do?
8.) Prioritize: Make a list and put your tasks in order (ranking what is the most important to you).
7.) Delegate: Don't be afraid to ask for help! Friends and Family will help you get things off your list- just ask.
6.) Get out of your head: Don't overthink it; this can make you feel overwhelmed or bogged down. Sometimes it's best to stay on the surface and not to get too deep.
5.) Think in future terms but operate in the present (plan 3 steps ahead): Staying organized like this will allow you to stay on track. Always look towards tomorrow.
4.) Consistent Baby Steps: No step is too small. Even if you don't make a huge leap, each little bit of progress will add up.
3.) Measure you against you: No one walks the same path. You should not judge yourself harshly based on other peoples successes/milestones.
2.) Be Flexible: Know that life doesn't go according to plan and it's okay; roll with the punches.
#1.) Take care of YOU first: Even if you have a million things you have to do, it won't matter if you fall ill. If you are having a 'bad' health day- take care of yourself and forego all else.
Being chronically ill we have the gift of being incredible fighters. The game of catch up isn’t easy, but if we want it bad enough there is no doubt success will follow. Just keep at it! <3
Photo by Elyse Steinbrecher Photography