By: Anna Santos

I used to feel self-deprived when I can’t buy things that I really like. Just because I was working too hard and enduring the below-zero-degree weather, I felt I should be entitled to have an indulgence every payday.

It was one snowy day in 2011, wintertime at its peak. Though, I believe, I was properly dressed for the extreme cold weather that day, I still had that frosty feeling inside my four-layered garments. As soon as I entered my workplace, I felt relieved by the room temperature, knowing that I would be weather-protected for eight hours or so that day. The clock ticked so fast.

While a bit excited to go home, I also felt troubled by the double digit wind chill outside (minus 30 degrees Celsius) waiting for me. By the door, I looked up and asked, “Oh God, when could I possibly get this over with?” As I lay down to sleep that evening, I had some thoughts – very deep thoughts. I felt I won’t be able to stand anymore this extreme cold weather condition. However, I knew that something good will come out of this, but I just didn’t know what, when, and how.

I was totally aware that I could not control winter but somehow I knew I could change my perspective. I believe that there is no such thing on earth as permanent and so my unfavorable circumstance should not last long either.

From that belief, I made a decision that something had to change – something I can control. And to support my WHY, I figured out WHAT my starting point was: our finances. I got up from my bed, grabbed a pen and paper, and listed down my numbers. I drew a line vertically to distinctively separate our household income from our expenses.

From my WHAT, I started to plan on my WHEN. With my husband’s help, we set our deadline that fired us up – a five-year financial plan. Our main goal was to improve our five years’ financial status, way better than the last five.

“Use your pain as the opportunity to discover the better you.”

Our HOW was the most challenging part. We strived to grow our income, both active and passive streams. We lowered our lifestyle and stopped our bad money habits. We gave our utmost attention to wealth accumulation by saving and investing. We used cash most of the time and credit cards only when needed.

And yes, five years had passed. As surely as the sun rose, winter came every year. However, because we had our plan and goals put in place, I felt hopeful during those five years while enduring the extreme cold temperature to and from work every day. Came 2016 and 90% of our financial targets had been accomplished, allowing me to quit my full-time job as a Medical Transcriptionist (MT) in one of the biggest hospitals in Downtown Toronto and subsequently bring my transcription expertise and skillset to the next level through entrepreneurship. I pursued my dream to own an online Medical Transcription Service operated from home. My small business now serves several huge companies in Ontario and other neighbouring provinces. While working outside the house becomes optional for me, the best part remains to be my quality time with my family. And here’s what I should not fail to mention: I do not have to deal with Mr. Winter every year.

My friends, you may also have been suffering from some form of pain. You probably think that you are forever stuck and that there’s no way out. But let me tell you this: of course there is a way out. Start with your WHY, which will lead you to your next steps, just like what I did.

You see, I was in some kind of pain that left me frustrated. However, that same frustration triggered me to level up. Had I waited for ideal conditions, I would still be in the same situation up to this point. It is true that pain can push human beings to change.

It was not an easy process or a quick-fix. I had to let go of a lot of things. While discouraged many times, sticking to the plan brought me to my desired result. My WHY, WHAT , WHEN, and HOW were my four valuable helpers. Let them help you, too.

Use your pain as the opportunity to discover the better you. Although growth may be painful, it would be more agonizing to stay stuck in a place you do not really belong.

Remember, without pain, how could you appreciate pleasure?

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