Not having your shit together is a normal part of life. Everybody goes through phases of feeling lost, confused, uncertain, hopeless or overwhelmed so if you're feeling like that, go easy on yourself. It's normal.
But "going easy on yourself" is about self-compassion not inaction. It takes effort to get your shit together and no-one is going to do it for you.
Deciding what you need to do is up to you too.
Everyone's shit-gathering story is different, as is evident from these 18 inspirational people.
It took me thirty years to even start.
I want to thank each and every person who contributed to this post, who took the time to open up and share their story.
I stopped being a victim and took responsibility for my life.
I stopped blaming others and began to look at what I could do to improve my circumstances.
Anger and resentment only ever got me to jails and institutions. I focused on my internal world instead of my external.
For years I thought that my life would get better if I had an apartment, money, girlfriend etc. It didn't. My circumstances got better when I focused on my mental health and addressing my addiction and behaviours. The things I always wanted but could never have came organically. The wife, the job, the house, the car, the bachelors, masters, PhD. All I had to do was do the next right thing.
When I come to a crossroads or dilemma, I just ask myself, what's the next right thing to do. Simple. Every task is broken into little goals. For college it was semesters and essays, get the best grade you can for this project and move on. For employment, it was, get some experience, volunteer, the money will follow, it did.
But at the heart of it is gratitude. Because I was and am very grateful to be relieved of my addiction and the trauma surrounding that lifestyle, everything after that is a bonus.
My recovery is first and most important, once I'm in a good place in my mind, then my external world falls into place without me having to put my will into it or trying to control everything.
I quit drinking and dedicated myself to music and to my wife. I shit you not.
It took me to reach my mid 30's before I got my sh*t together! I was in a job that I hated and in a relationship where neither of us were very happy - so I gave in my notice at work and to my ex in the same week. It took a bit of sorting out - but within a few months I had started my own business, Fuzion. For the first time ever I felt totally in control of where I was going, personally and professionally.
I also took responsibility for the sh*t. I remember about a year before I started my business, I mentioned that I would like to work for myself to my ex, who said "Deirdre you know it would fail" - or words to that effect - but instead of ignoring that negativity, and following my gut, I agreed with him and settled back into my job and my life. That was my bad.
I realised after "running away from home" that I had to take responsibility for my reaction to the negativity, but by taking responsibility it gave me power. No one stopped me from reaching my potential - I stopped myself by giving in to the negativity. It was easier.
My lesson to readers of this is that you need to surround yourself with positive influences - and anyone who is dumping their negativity on you, your thoughts, your ideas, your dreams - kick them to the kerb - and if you don't - well it's your bad. You can't change their attitude, but you can choose your own.
Shortly after starting the business I met my husband Greg, who gave up his fine pensionable job to come work with me within a year of us meeting. Last month we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the business. Fuzion is thriving, with great clients and suppliers - many of whom now are dear friends. We have a lovely team working with us - who have been amazing given the current challenges.
Of course there are lots of ups and downs, it's like a roller-coaster, but I have got the back up of Greg, our family and friends and my colleagues, who are positive influences and supports, they have my back and I have theirs.
And I still have absolutely no time for negative people - life is way too short.
After twenty years in a high-paying career I left it to start my own wellness practice. That’s the short story.
The longer story is I suffered from burnout, got divorced, moved across the country (and back again), changed my name, found a supportive relationship, dealt with a chronic illness, prioritized my self-care, learned how to create a new normal for myself and help others at the same time.
Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way (a few different times) that life’s a bitch so you better work on your options. I fell out of love with my career and came to the realization that I was working to build wealth for everyone but myself.
I reached my breaking point and realized I could either continue to keep making excuses and living in denial or take charge of my financial future.
Once I realized that I didn’t want to work forever, my wife and I sat down to to create a plan to eventually reach financial independence. We down-sized our home, got rid of vehicles, sold most of our stuff, and lived on significantly less then we previously were.
Our lower expenses now means we can live on less income and choose to do the work we find rewarding, while managing to save money and build a business.
Growing up working class in Dublin city was hard enough even before I fell and smashed my front teeth. One tooth went brown and the Dental Hospital at Trinity College used me as a case study.
For years, I was a bullied walking-science-experiment with no self esteem. I was also a victim of sexual abuse at eleven which I psychologically buried for a very long time.
For the next twenty years, I found myself desperately clambering to the ideas of what I believed other people had of me. This was interlaced with failures, womanising, suicidal periods, making a prick of myself, being the poster boy for imposter syndrome, and everything else you can fit into the country song that was my life.
My journey was more a tale of straws-that-broke-the-camel’s-back than it was meditative self discovery. To you, I would recommend the second option.
In my work, I often talk about the ‘self acceptance gap" the difference between how we see ourselves and how we think the rest of the world sees us. Even though I know this exists, it took a long time for me to find my own acceptance regardless of how anyone else treated me.
I hit a crossroads in 2017, at that stage I was shooting head-shots for model agencies, makeup academies and lots of other beauty industry folk. It was all so surface. One day there was an argument over money with a client. I was already a bag of stress and this tipped me over the edge.
Later that day, I was booked to give my first self-image talk to the staff of LinkedIn. Standing in front of that group, I suddenly knew it - this is where I need to be.
Within a week I had fired all of my clients that didn’t align with what I wanted to do. Every last one of them!
I went from working one hundred hours a week, not looking after myself and lost in a brain fog of people-pleasing to using my experience of self-image and photography skills to help people fight the same fight I fought for all those years.
And now here I am, to say stronger than ever is an understatement. Even the contagious negativity of 2020 didn’t get to me. My 2020 has been great because I haven't let it in. This year has shown me just how far I’ve come.
From the victim I was in paragraph one to sharing a stage with Deepak Chopra at The Mental Health & Wellbeing Summit it has been quite the trip. Maybe it’s a ‘growth mindset" or maybe it’s just a ‘fuck it, I don't care what they think mindset’.
I’m still on the journey, but I am happy to be on it now, bumpy and all as the road is at times.
I got my shit together by being honest with myself. There was often chaos in my life and I really wanted calm.
I slowly started to understand the part I played in the recurring cycles. I learned how to implement boundaries and to not feel guilty about them. That was a real challenge for me.
Growth can be hard, but it's also fascinating. I think understanding that a lot of our behaviour is learned unconsciously and we can consciously unlearn it, helped me be patient with myself along the way.
I'm still curious, still repeating mistakes but overall my life is calm and I love it like that!
I’ve had pivotal moments of getting my sh*t together over the years. My first big jump was in 2003 when I found out I was pregnant with my now 16-year-old daughter. Before her, I was lost in deep addiction and had very little connection to a deeper purpose.
When I found out I was going to be taking care of someone else, it propelled me into a new healthier way of living… FAST!!! It was a very quick 180 turn. Within a month, I felt like a different person who was moving in the right direction.
The last get my sh*t together moment was eight years ago when I left my previous career to follow my heart and start my own business. It started when I was driving to work in bumper to bumper traffic. I felt as though I was aging 10 years to the minute.
I knew what I was doing wasn’t in alignment with my soul’s purpose. I could feel there was more for me out in the world. Mind you, I had no idea what that was but I intuitively knew there was more. So I trusted and followed the intuitive nudges I was getting… and one by one they led me to everything I needed for my journey forward. The right mentors appeared… the right doors opened and the path kept illuminating.
I guess you can say in both situations it was something ‘bigger’ than me that was the North Star to move me forward. A bigger purpose helped light the road ahead. Mind you, my road to getting my sh*t together wasn’t always easy. There were still potholes to maneuver… construction to get around… and sometimes a complete detour was in order. But having a clear North Star path and trusting my inner guidance always kept me going… and still does!
My first reaction upon hearing this question was... "I've sooo not got my shit together!” Some people have their ducks in a row and I often feel my ducks are at a rave.
I'm a mom to four (not so little ones any more), teacher and part-time social media manager of my own page Daily Diva Diary.
There's a lot to juggle and a lot of balls in the air. What I've learnt over the years is how necessary it is to ask for help and how important it is to be real - no one is perfect, no one is indispensable and when you realise that it takes a lot of pressure off!
Believe when other people have faith in you and try to honour that faith. That was a lesson I learned from an older teacher in one of my first jobs in a North Cork school. He suggested I apply for a position of responsibility within the school that I had blithely assumed would go to someone more senior. I got the role and spent another very happy seven years there. He gave me a leg up when I hadn't realised I needed one.
So, how did I get my shit together? Through good and supportive people. It was actually my best friend who set up Daily Diva for me. I had four kids under five at the time and was feeling totally overwhelmed and truth be told a bit lonely. She encouraged me to explore the whole “social media thing” then enrolled me in a style course. Slowly but surely this platform has grown into something that maybe isn't perfect, but it gives me great satisfaction.
Therein lies the crux, I think, I'm content, I don't compare myself, I've my own niche, I grow it at a pace that suits me and my family and I travel a route that works for me. If I make a mistake, I try to address it, learn and take a lesson from it
I'll probably go to the grave not believing I've got my shit totally together but hey if my family are happy and I'm happy, I'll take it.
By being a part of the story rather than becoming THE story. There is a difference.
Most of us complicate our lives more than we need to. It’s almost like we believe the more complicated we make stuff, the more worthy we are of having the life we desire.
When you make yourself THE story, you’re always obsessed about your performance.
You’re obsessed about what you should or shouldn’t be feeling, what you should or shouldn’t be doing, what the past says about you, and how to predict the future....
That’s just too much noise. And this noise is what creates the shit show that goes on in your head.
When you let yourself just be a part of the story, you show up and respond to whatever shows up in the moment.
What happened in the past and all the other noise just doesn’t matter.
The more you get used to not making yourself THE story, the more it will seem like you have your shit together - until it becomes a reality.
No matter what goes on around you, you’ll feel more grounded because at any moment, you always have the ability to show up and respond without the noise. That is where our greatest strength lies - our ability to respond moment by moment.
The simple answer is that I found a way to solve the insecurity problem in my life.
Insecurity is a tricky subject to tackle head on. Most people are either insecure about being insecure, or unaware they are insecure. However, the fear of not being good enough is a universal fear shared by every human being.
Rather than simply masking, medicating or managing our fears, I’m absolutely convinced the insecurity problem can be fully solved. There are 7 essential practices for doing this work in your life so that you can be unhindered by all self-limiting beliefs and show up at your best where it matters most instead.
1. Step into the light
In the words of Yoda “Named must your fear be before banish it you can”. Practice 1 is to come out of hiding and name your deepest fear. It is to own that you are not actually afraid of failure or rejection, but the personal implications of these things.
The real fear is that if you were to fail or be rejected, you would be found out somehow lacking, inadequate or not enough. The key here is to see that the deepest fear is always your own opinion of yourself. That is exactly why this process is so exciting. Opinions can be changed. Especially when they’re your own.
2. 100% responsibility
Once you define the problem accurately as your own opinion of yourself, practice two is about owning your part in forming these opinions in the first place. We are sense making creatures who go into the world and tell stories about why things happen and what they mean about us.
It is these stories that form our opinions of ourselves. That means we created the insecurity problem and we are the only one who can fix it. We already are 100% responsible. We are not the actor in the story of our lives, we are the storyteller.
3. Stack the pain
Pain is designed to move us away from danger toward safety. It is an essential part of the motivation for all change work. Most suppress pain in their life because they don’t want to feel it, yet in doing so they miss a massive opportunity to access deep internal motivation for lasting improvement.
Stacking the pain involves running an accurate cost assessment of all the ways unresolved insecurity is ruining your life. This creates a threshold moment where the pain of change becomes less than the pain of staying the same.
4. Develop a compelling life vision
Pain avoidance is only half the required motivation to sustain lasting change.It is essential not just be moving away from something, but to also be certain about what you are moving towards instead.
The ultimate driver to sustaining deep personal development work in the face of challenge and difficulties is a clear picture of the dream you have for your life. The moment someone loses sight of this, overcoming insecurity becomes way too hard.
5. Get help from someone who doesn’t care about you
In the quest to solve your insecurity problem, really are the hero in the story. Yet in every hero’s journey there comes a point where the hero needs a guide. The key is to find one who is not going to get in the way.
If you seek help from someone who cares about you, they can’t help but try to fix you, or give you advice out of their desire to see you do well in life. However, this is a form of judgment and positions them as the hero of the story.
You need to find someone who has no vested interest or agenda other than to serve you to get more of what you want.
6. Be the hero
Because insecurity is a problem that exists within your own opinion of yourself, only you can solve this problem. Sooner or later you have to face the thing you fear most about yourself and discover if it is true.
Eventually the guide is no longer there, and the hero must go on alone. You either die or come out the other side reborn having dismantled the fear for good. That is when you are able to truly bring their gift to the world unhindered by doubt, fear and insecurity.
7. Rewrite the story
Finally, once the fear has been faced and old stories fully deconstructed, the slate is now clean for you to write a new script to live out of.
The temptation is always to rush to practice 7 and simply try to override the old opinions with positive affirmations, yet until the old stories have been dismantled all the way back to the start, the prevailing negative narratives will continue to take over the moment you get tired, stressed or anxious.
I didn't. I got rid of the shit out of my life altogether. Toxic friends, douche-lord boyfriends, dead-end jobs. Gone. The trick is not getting it together, but deleting it.
I spent a lot of time working A LOT of different jobs in my early to mid-20s. You name it, I probably did it: factory worker, grocery store cashier, English as a foreign language teacher, events coordinator, freelance writer, data entry, content director and chief marketing officer for an app development company.
I also traveled regularly and hardly stayed in one spot for more than a couple of years.
I got my sh*t together by experimenting, following my different interests, seeing how things felt, and not putting too much pressure on myself to be the cookie-cutter version of what a 20-something professional was "supposed" to be.
I spent a lot of time gathering information, figuring out what my passions were, discovering my talents, and *then* choosing a career path.
I completed a diploma course in Cornell in 2015 and this was a catalyst to making key life decisions.
I was given a Marie Kondo book as a gift and started to declutter my house over a 3 month period. It was actually probably the best thing I did as it gave me space to think and breath.
I spoke to my then CEO and asked if I would be considered for a senior role and what did I need to do to be considered. My husband and I went away for the weekend and made a plan for the next three years around child minding and other big family decisions.
All of this gave me the mental capacity to plan for taking on a new job as well as being the President of Cork Chamber. I still need to work on my own fitness and well-being and that’s for 2021!
Took 100% responsibility for my own happiness. Once that clicked, my life changed.
I figured out a meaningful purpose to devote my life to. For me, that purpose is to inspire people around the world to improve their lives and achieve their goals. That’s my WHY.
Everything I do gets funneled through my purpose. I set all my goals with this in mind. And I don’t take on anything that doesn’t align with my purpose. This keeps all my “shit” in order and it keeps me focused.
Aside from having a purpose, another big thing to keep in mind is to aim HIGH—set massive goals and take massive action to achieve them.
I also believe it’s important to check-in on myself physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually each day to make sure I’m not letting any of the major areas of my life fall behind.
My advice to you is to implement systems and habits to help you grow and make progress.
In November of 2017, almost a year after graduating college, I moved to Gainesville FL, which was my second move post graduation.
I was jobless and on the hunt. Mid-December, my now husband convinced me to pitch to my parents to create a position for me at their company, a small chain of restaurants here in Florida. I researched and made a business plan of sorts to convince them I was capable of being their social media manager. They hired me.
Come January and just a couple weeks in, I realized I wasn't entirely qualified. But it was the first time in my life I was truly determined to figure it out and do it scared anyway. I did a ton of praying and needed all the pep talks but I jumped in head first. I felt so much fear.
I was terrified of failure and even more so, of disappointing them.
Within a month or two, I picked up "Girl, Wash Your Face," the famous personal growth book by Rachel Hollis. This is when the switch really flipped for me. A little at a time, I became a dreamer. I started wondering what I was capable of.
I stayed consistent with health and fitness for the first time. My new job and weightlifting were the ultimate catalyst for growth in my life. I started listening to podcasts, reading more personal growth books, and pushing my limits.
The following March, I started my blog. A dream I never knew I had and something I never thought I'd be able to figure out. Rachel Hollis taught me to dream big and stop setting timelines on everything.
If the dream was put on your heart, it was put on your heart for a reason.
Now, my goal is to make a full time income from blogging and influencing. I have dreams of a top rated podcast and a life of impacting women by being real and giving advice that applies to normal people just trying to grow and be better.
If I could recommend advice to someone younger than me, I'd say start setting some goals. Start reading some personal growth books and surround yourself with people and information that encourages you to grow.
Check your circle. They should be cheering you on and not enabling your bad habits.
By habit building - slowly creating unshakable routines that see me through tough times and help me thrive in less tough times.