Being a single mother in 1968 was socially unacceptable. My children and I lived on the poverty line with barely enough money for food, until I discovered books that changed the way I thought, which in turn ultimately changed my life.
Inspired by the books that I read, I decided to start my own business, a typing service. I didn't have a typewriter but I had optimism and I told everyone I met that I was in business. Soon after I was asked to type a thesis so I borrowed money from a girlfriend, hired a typewriter, and worked from my kitchen table.
By 1980 my life was looking good, our financial situation was greatly improved, my children were thriving and I was happy. Then three weeks before Christmas my children and I attended a birthday party where my son Robbie, aged five, slipped out onto the balcony, climbed onto the ledge to fly his paper planes and toppled over; we were five stories high. He died before the ambulance arrived.
Losing a child is like losing your heart. At first you feel numb then, when the shock wears off the pain hits you with such intensity you don't feel you'll ever survive. You walk around feeling as if your heart's been smashed into a million pieces and wonder how you are still alive, able to function and manage your daily routine.
On the outside most people think you are okay and handling everything well, inside you feel as if you're falling apart. You don't think you'll ever be happy or experience joy again. If you choose to, you survive; it's a choice though. Over time the pain eases until one day it's gone but life is never the same.
I learnt from my son's death that I had choices and how I allowed this event to shape my life was up to me. I chose to grow through the experience. By this time I was in my thirties and I couldn't understand how far removed my life was from my original goal of a happy marriage and children. I decided that if I couldn't have the marriage and family that I wanted then I would concentrate on raising my daughter and on making money.
I returned to work in the investment industry and within two years was offered a position setting up and running a women's investment advisory service. I presented seminars, was regularly interviewed by the media and before long I was writing columns for major magazines and newspapers. This apparent success didn't just happen. I made it a reality by working hard, studying, meditating, saying affirmations and visualizing to help me achieve my goals.
It was during this time that I wrote my first book, Financially Free, it became an immediate best-seller. I was asked to speak at conferences in Australia and New Zealand. I had regular spots on TV and radio. I had all the success that I thought would make me happy and it meant nothing to me. I wasn't chasing my dream; I'd gone after the consolation prize. I had actively sought public recognition hoping that would fill the void within me; it didn't.
It became clear to me that I needed to change my life. I gave up my financial planning business and started a new business but it was a financial disaster from the beginning and I lost a lot of money trying to make it work.
The next few years passed in a haze of confusion. My intentions were good but there was still a lot I needed to learn about myself and about life. I went from being successful to being plagued with money worries, so much so that I ended up taking a part-time bookkeeping job because I needed the income. I went from being paid $150 an hour for a consultation (and thousands for a talk) to just $17 an hour; it was an incredible blow to my ego. While on the outside things appeared bleak, this time in my life motivated me to do the work that I do today.
Life often presents our greatest opportunities under the guise of problems and I was aware that I'd created my success before and I knew I could do it again. However, this time I decided I wanted a formula, a step-by-step process that I could use to create what I wanted, so that I wouldn't keep making the same mistakes. I knew that there were others just like me and if I could make it work for myself, then I could help others going through similar struggles. I had a purpose.
As I experimented with values I discovered that our values can be our life purpose, our identity and a compass for making the right choices. I decided to divide values into two categories, which I call being and having values.
Our being values are the character traits of the ideal person we would like to be, I chose to be kind, loving and wise and these values changed my life. It's hard to make a wrong choice when you stop and think about how a wise person would act. When we act on these values consistently we give to others through our daily actions.
Our having values are our emotional needs. These could be companionship, achievement, support, being valued or financial security. This is what we need to receive in order to be happy.
When we take full responsibility for fulfilling our own needs our life changes and often other people come along to support us. By being aware of both the need to give and receive we create balance and at the same time break the habit of reacting. The more we act on our values the more our perception of what we can be, do and have changes, and in turn other people's perception of us changes as well. And as a natural consequence any limiting beliefs that may previously have prevented us from achieving our dreams change as well.
Once I began living by my values, life began to flow and change for the better. I experienced synchronicity where the right people and the right opportunities seemed to appear out of the blue - the reality is that we attract them when we are congruent.
One day someone I didn't even know rang and asked me if I'd be interested in ghost writing a book for one of his clients, and believe me, the pay was a lot better than $17 an hour. I agreed and although this wasn't my ideal work, I enjoyed it.
Out of the blue my accountant recommended me to someone else who wanted a book written. I ghost wrote three books in all and adapted two of Suze Orman's books for the Australian market. This work wasn't another consolation prize, it was a stepping stone, a short-term solution that paid good money for a skill I'd developed. I knew without the worry of how to survive financially that I'd be able to focus on creating a business that I really loved. I was always very clear about this. I changed the way I thought, spoke and acted, I lived by my values and my circumstances changed.
During the first twelve months of working with my values based process I quadrupled my income. My life today is far removed from what I originally imagined, but I can say quite honestly that I love my life, I feel so blessed. You too can create a life that you love - when you use your values as the foundation for all of your choices.
Copyright © 2000 Anne Hartley
Hart Life Coaching is an Australian business owned by Anne Hartley.