Professional, Self-Care

Turn the Worst Moments of Your Life into Your Motivation

Y’all, I’ve been having a major case of blogger’s block lately. And when I say “lately,” I mean a couple month’s worth.

I mean, it’s already February and I feel like I’ve COMPLETELY flaked for the past three months! Granted, there’s been a lot going on–in the world and at home (and let’s be honest, the holidays don’t help that whole productivity thing). Therefore, I’ve decided to get serious and make a concerted effort to write more. A LOT MORE.

But write about what? I was also feeling less than inspired. The ideas weren’t there and I felt like my creative juices had run dry. How can I even blog when I don’t have anything to blog about??

And THEN–Facebook got all up in my stuff, so-to-speak. I got on Facebook during lunch last Thursday to see this Facebook Memory from 2015:

Emily Fall Dead Dear

This conversation with my former roomie took place two years ago, arguably during the worst months of my professional life. I was on the brink of leaving my grad program and I was working as a field tech for the university, which means I worked outside.

In the mud and snow. Every day. No matter what. Sometimes even away from home for days at a time.

This particular day, I happened to be in a snow storm in Rowan County, Kentucky, where I tripped on barbed wire and almost fell onto a deer carcass.

And then it dawned on me…

This is my inspiration.

Working in hell, living in roach motels, and feeling as though my life was falling apart BECAME my motivation. I am inspired by that time in my life and the events that transpired to lead me to where I am today.

The days before and after the deer incident, both Stuart and I were working like hell 24/7. When we weren’t working, we were at home sending out resumes and applying for jobs anywhere from Lexington to Cleveland. We didn’t stop. And eventually, we started getting callbacks and interviews. I even scored a phone interview with a company in Colorado Springs! I ended up declining the interview because I decided that extended a little beyond our resources at the time, but how cool would that have been??

Turn the Worst Moments of Your Life into Your Motivation

Fast forward to February 2017.

Exactly two years later, I re-read that Facebook post sitting at my desk in my own office, working for the organization I specifically set out to work for, and drinking my La Croix while it was snowing outside.

My inspiration comes from remembering how hard we worked to get out of that life in 2015 and get to where we are now. We still have student loan debt, but in almost two years, we’ve been able to do so much more. We’ve created a financial plan, budgeted, and saved in order to pay off some debt, travel, and become homeowners.

It’s no secret that I love budgeting, I love saving, and I love lists. And let me tell you–there are plenty of things on our list to accomplish. It took calculated risk and some MAJOR planning to make the decision to find new careers, move, and start a life in a completely new place. But now that we’ve done it, we’ve been able to make NEW plans and make NEW goals for ourselves.

So what new goals do we have?


We have a (growing) list of places we want to go, both domestically and internationally. Our next trip this year is to Glacier National Park! Stuart has never been that far west and the only reason I have is because I’ve been to LA. Otherwise, I’ve only experienced those “fly over states” as just that. We’re planning on doing some major hiking, taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in the Lower 48, and doing it while travelling light in one carry-on each.

No, really, it’s a personal challenge and we have not failed yet. Even on a 7-night cruise. Stuart says no way. I say, “Challenge, accepted.”

Starting a family.

Talk about financial planning. Oh yeah, and even if you do have a plan, this is one of those things that biology may or may not comply with! But since we are serious planning people, there’s a room for Baby Nealis in our house. No worries.


I really didn’t know much about retirement until I moved to Columbus and got a job that actually offered a retirement account. Hell, I didn’t even know how people lived off their retirement savings. How do you know how much you’ll need? What if you run out of money before you die? This was a complete void in my financial knowledge.

I’m glad to say that I know MUCH more now and I am fascinated with the options that are out there, even just between mine and Stuart’s employers. What types of accounts are there? How much should we withhold from our paychecks? How should we invest it? SO MANY CHOICES! So many, in fact, that I’m definitely going to write more about this later. Which brings me to…


Everything I just mentioned relies on us being financially secure. That financial knowledge is POWER. And that power is FREEDOM. That’s the reason this blog has evolved into what it is. The more I learn about personal finance and professional development, the more I want to share with you! Blogging has given me the creative outlet I lacked when I was in grad school. I’ve always loved writing and blogging has become a major part of my life that I can’t imagine being without.

Sometimes I forget how much my life has changed over the past two years, which is crazy because it’s a complete night and day difference. But that’s the beauty of bad situations–even if you think you’re stuck and things won’t ever get better, it will change eventually. The only constant in life is change, and positive things can happen as long as you’re willing to put in the effort to change it.

What motivates you? What did your life look like one year ago and how have you changed since then?


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