Identify my struggles

Identify My Struggles

Yesterday I released a 5-Step Milestone Map to help you overcome your struggles and achieve your goals.

And, for the next 10 days, I’m going to share a personal story related to each step then focus on how you can use the Milestone Map to improve your life.

To get started, I’m going to share with you a story and identify my struggles in 2017, the reasons why it happened, and how it made me feel.

Tomorrow, I’ll tie this into the Milestone Map and how you can use it to help you overcome any struggles you may be experiencing.

2017: A Year in Poverty

If you aren’t familiar with my story, I left Canada in 2014 to cycle around the world. I started in Tokyo, Japan and stayed there for 2 years to teach English.

Teaching English was never my passion, it was an opportunity to make money while traveling abroad.

So, after successfully growing a small school of about 70 incredible students, I sold my business and moved to Taiwan.

When I lived in Taiwan, I asked myself: How can I survive in SE Asia without teaching English?

The answer the simple: Internet Marketing.

I rented a small apartment and dedicated each and every day learning the tricks of the trade. I found a few copywriting jobs. Learned how to host websites. I even developed some WordPress websites for clients who needed a place to sell their products or showcase their services.

During this time, I was living off my savings (which was about $7000 CAD) from my earnings as a private English teacher. And, I was only earning a few hundred dollars (often less) per month.

My financial struggles didn’t appear until I left Taiwan and traveled through the Philippines. I spent 3 months in this country. The first month I was volunteering in the mountains providing a unique English experience and promoting the important of reading books–I’ll tell you about this another time.

After my first month in the Philippines, I was down to only $500 CAD in my accounts. I used this money to move to Manilla and lived in an outskirt city called Valenzuala.

At this time, Duerte’s drug war was running wild in the world news and I was living in an area that was being “cleaned up”. It was rough. The community was poor. And, there were serious dangers I tried so hard to ignore.

As I lived in this environment, I found myself mentally depleted. I had no energy to hunt for clients and that $500 CAD slowly disapeeared during my 2 months of living there.

I used my last remaining money to renew my visa and was fortunate to have a few friends in the Philippines to bear my burden while I tried to find work. I slumped into a bit of a depression and, as you can guess, this did not help my situation.

My conditions were bleak and desperate. I could feel that the environment I was in was not stimulating me to grow and focus and function. So, I decided to leave.

However, I was completely out of money.

Overwhelmed By Shame

To “escape” the Philippines, I did something I never thought I would ever do.

After working 70+ hours in factories and part-time jobs in my summer months to get the money I needed for University, I never imagined I would reach out to my family for money.

Well, there I was, with nothing in my accounts and just a few pesos in my pocket, I contacted my mum to “bail me out.”

I was overwhelmed with shame and calculated the bare minimum I needed to square my debts in the Philippines, buy a flight to Indonesia, pay for a month’s rent, and, hopefully, afford enough food to sustain my body.

“Mum, can you send $500 CAD so I can buy a ticket to Indonesia? I’m waiting for some money to come in, it’s held up in escrow,” I lied. There was no money held up in escrow.

Mum, being mum, emotionally inclined to help her son (she didn’t fully know the situation I was in), wired the money.

When it arrived I paid $200 to square my debt with my friends in the Philippines. I paid $35 CAD for a ticket to Jakarta. I paid $45 CAD for an Indonesian VOA. I paid $15 CAD for a train ticket to Yogyakarta (+ $35 CAD to bring my bicycle). I paid $35 CAD for a month’s rent in Purworejo (a small, not-well-known city/village near Yogyakarta).

That left me with $115 CAD.

At the time, I didn’t know how long that money would last me. After I lived there for a couple weeks, I learned that people in this community were often paid $200 CAD per month as their salary.

I think I’ll be alright.

Suffering & Sick

Purworejo is a unique place and deserves a story of its own. What I will say now is that I became extremely ill for the first 2 weeks I lived there.

I was never diagnosed by a doctor, but I do believe I was bit by a mosquito and contracted Dengue fever. I remained bed ridden for a solid week and depended on the owners of my $35 CAD boarding room to keep me alive.

Every morning I would get a knock on the door. The wife of the owner said, “Makanan?” and make a gesture of food.

I nodded then she would disappear for a few minutes. When she returned, she brought a huge platter of rice, tempeh, fried catfish, vegetables, chicken, and a hot coffee.

On good days, I would go out to the coffee shop and try to find work.

On bad days, I would stay in bed all day and try to survive the day.

I remember a moment when I met a dear friend of mine, Tabah A., after he was recently married. I attended the wedding ceremony and he invited me out for dinner to finally meet his wife outside of traditional ceremony.

I met him at an outdoor stall that used mats on the sidewalk and served food in a banana leaf. He and his wife were waiting for me when I cycled up.

Our meal lasted an hour and I could barely keep myself composed. I was sweating and losing focus and slightly halucinating.

At the end of the meal, I stood up to pay the bill. It was 150 000 Rp. ($14 CAD) and I only had 600 000 Rp. ($56.32 CAD) remaining.

Tabah stood up. “Jef, don’t worry, this is my treat, you are my guest.”

We battled to pay for a few minutes. I mean, he was a newly wed, it was the least I could do.

If you ever meet Tabah, you’ll be a lucky person. His heart is pure and in that moment, he filled me with new hope.

After he paid, I was ready to jump on my bike and head make to the boarding house to sleep. However, before I left, Tabah grabbed my arm and said: “Jef, everything is going to be alright.”

Reasons Why & How It Made Me Feel

O.K., this story goes on and on. I’m currently writing about about this experience and will publish it by the end of this year. So, I thought I’d finish there and integrate this into the Milestone Map.

So, what was I struggling with? What were the reasons why? How did it make me feel?

Let’s break it down:

Having no moneyNot focused on my work. Living in conditions that didn’t promote my creativity/work ethic. Struggled with onboarding new clients.Depressed. Humiliated and ashamed (asked mum to for cash).
Dengue Fever (I think…)F*cking mosquitoes. Poor nutrition. Deteriorated immune system (due to stress).Low energy. Feverish. Weak.
Lack of directionNot having a plan. Not deciding my goal(s). Living in the moment instead of pursuing a life worth living.Depressed. Anxious. Confused. Frustrated.

Tomorrow I’ll explore this a little deeper and explain how you can use the Milestone Map to identify your struggles. If you haven’t grabbed a copy already, use the link below to access it.

Overcome Your Struggles & Achieve Your Goals:

Jef van de Graaf
Canadian Copywriter & World Traveler
Business | Travel Blog | Connect

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