How do you build up from ground zero?

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Arbo
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Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:40 pm

How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Arbo »

What would you do when you have a bad resume, to get a job and try to make a good life? It's bad resume + low social network. Starting late also, crazy late(26)

I have a couple of positive leads, someone sent me a bike and I've registered for classes at a CC that I can get to(and received financial aid), but instead of curing my fears it just makes them seem as big. Gaming addiction + failed/delusional online business has just left me in a very bad spot, and since 2013, i really haven't known what to do because it seemed like there were so many obstacles

Now where I'm at, I'm making about $600 per month on mturk, which I can pretty much always do, but i have to pay $400 in rent now, and so literally it seems that as one thing turns up(figure out mturk/get a bike sent to me by an ERE member/get financial aid approved), another thing turns down -- IE I'm literally thinking now of how my Tuesday and Thursday is going to be taken up now, all day, as I have to wait down there, sit around for buses, make the very long trip home, et cetera. I was doing this because I thought it would make me more employable since now I feel very unemployable

Anyhow, guess to sum it up : How to start off when you're at such a bad spot? I don't feel like I'll ever catch up with even lower income people, let alone try to rebuild my social network(i lost most of them when I got very serious into church and some activities of that sort, then slowly lost the church crowd, now pretty friendless except a lot of online gamer friends)

Just got back from a 4 mile walk to try to sort this out and think about things. I have a really negative perspective since I feel like scum when walking along the side of the road and I'm just not that excited about this mturk since even after working a lot I will only have $200 to show for it at the end of the month

Oh well, I could keep rambling but that should do it for now

Jack Jones
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Jack Jones »

It sounds like you're going in the right direction. The way you do it is you keep on going. You'll make mistakes along the way, but as long as you realize it, and make corrections, you'll end up alright.

Keep moving on an upward trajectory. You should be able to feel when you're flatlining or heading downwards. Then, take action to right the ship!

Congrats on taking steps to change your life.

cmonkey
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by cmonkey »

One of the core tenants of ERE is to reduce waste. Since rent seems to be your biggest waste (expense) it would make sense to focus on that.

Since you don't have many friends (welcome to the club) putting an ad on craigslist looking for roommates or a place to stay with roommates would be my suggestion. Focus on your community college area? Typically there will be large areas of houses that are rented by students. Walk around and talk to some of the students to see if anyone needs a roommate. See how low you can get your rent by maximizing roommates.

At the same time it would be prudent to try to raise your income a bit. Working full time minimum wage you should be able to net over 1K/month. A second part time gig would supplement.

The most important thing is to never lose focus of where you want to be. Each day passing is one day closer to your goal.

cmonkey
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by cmonkey »

I realized my story might help as inspiration a little bit. I've never really talked about it on the forums, but this seems an appropriate place to share it. Just know its possible to bring your standard of living up and create a better life for yourself. You do have to work your butt off though!

I grew up in a poor family on an acreage in the middle of northern Iowa. I lived about 20 miles from my school and so never really had many friends. Our family was saddled with debt for my entire life and it ultimately cause my folks to get a divorce right after I moved away from home. To this day my brother has never risen above poverty, same for my mom. I don't really talk to them anymore, the cultural gap has widened way too much. They never supported me financially and my dad was the only one that even remotely supported me emotionally with going to college. We recently started talking again. I was completely alone for the first year (emotionally) until I met the DW. It was very difficult and it was really hard to get out of bed each day (physically more than emotionally) because I was usually up before the sun and came back at about 11PM (my work closed at 10PM and was 30 minutes away)

I worked convenience store work for a year after high school before deciding I had had enough and wanted something more for myself. I distinctly remember choosing between buying one of the new Pontiac GTOs that had just come out and going to college (made the right choice I think!!). So I enrolled in a few night classes (like you are doing) and then eventually enrolled full time with financial aid. I lived in Section 8 housing (something else you might look for) and paid something like 50 bucks a month in rent and at the same time worked near full time at the same gas station. I make probably 800-1000 bucks a month in income and never rang up any debt (I hated it and still do). My junior and senior year I also worked part time in the college's IT department and found a job that was in the same town as my college (as opposed to 10 miles away). I started biking to that job my senior year. I also had SNAP benefits for the entire time (because I lived off campus). By then I had the DW and her folks giving me a reason to get out of bed in the morning and everything got much easier. By the end of college, I had enough money saved up to pay off one of my loans the day I took the exit class that teaches you how to pay off student debt. A year later I had paid off another 15K loan after landing a good job (thankfully). The only reason I got that job was through good fortune and a lot of driving. It was in California (an internship) and the only reason I got it is that I jumped at the chance of it, despite never having traveled outside the midwest on my own before. So I drove to LA (through the mountains, yike!) and back again, thus landing a great job. It was only possible because I took some risks and had a little luck.

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Ego
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Ego »

A common mistake people make when solving problems is to add new "solutions" rather than to eliminate the most obvious cause.

Stop playing games. Literally. Find a better use of that time. Get away from screens for a while. It sounds like the solutions you need are not arriving via screens.

Venturing out into the real world to get a job might be a good thing and it might change your view on the hopelessness of your situation. Maybe you could apply your gaming prowess to the problem. Think of it like a quest where you try to put together the pieces necessary to game the system into providing you employment. If you came up against a barrier in a game you'd simply find away around it. Well, apply that tenacity to this problem and don't let the closed doors get you down.

Also know that you've got people rooting for you.
Last edited by Ego on Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dragline
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Dragline »

+1

OT -- what county in Iowa, cm? I grew up in Cedar Rapids (the "big city" by IA standards).

cmonkey
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by cmonkey »

Winnebago county, about 30 minutes north of Forest City. Largest city (10K + population) was Mason City and it was over an hour away. We were out in the boonies.

Now living in the quad cities, its sort of a culture shock from time to time. Its hard to handle all the traffic/people. Thus the bus coming in handy.

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jennypenny
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by jennypenny »

Follow the advice you've been given. Go to classes and get all you can out of school. Most have free or low-cost counseling for students--you might benefit from talking to someone.

Use the other five days a week wisely. Use that bike you received* to get a job, even if it's only 2-3 days a week. It's enough for now to pay your bills. Take more walks when you feel frustrated. If school and work don't provide enough social interaction, find another church if that helps. Focus on doing those things well to help you feel better about yourself.

You're not going to fix everything overnight, but you'll get there. And don't feel like you're starting out 'crazy late' at 26. You're probably at the younger end of people who discover this place and start to take hold of their lives.

*h/t to whoever took the time to do that for Arbo. This place is really special.

@cmonkey--Thanks for sharing.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I'm happy to hear you have a bike and are registered for classes! Nice job!

Don't feel bad about the online business not working out. Most businesses fail. Online is particularly tough because all of the examples you find when you read about online businesses are how someone easily put together a five figure a month website in just a few weekends of work. It's either a lie or publication bias (no one blogs about how they spent 40 hours last month writing articles and never got a single reader).

You seem to have a very negative outlook. I've been very negative at times too. When you are at school try to spend your time with people who are (realistically) positive and hard workers. Their positivity will encourage you to be positive and as an added bonus you will start to build your social network. If you can get some wins at school (pass the test, pass the class, etc.) you may feel better. Also consider seeing a counselor (the school probably has these) to see if you have depression or something else going on.

What are you studying at college? Could you get started in that career now (for example, if you're studying project management get a part time job working construction)? Once you graduate it will be easier to get a job with a degree plus experience in a field than with a degree and no experience.

How long until you are done with school with only two days of classes per week? I don't mean to put pressure on you but could you get done faster if you had a job that didn't require so much of your time? The sooner you can get the credentials and get working the better.

If you find yourself struggling in a class get help right away! It's easier to get out of the mud when you are ankle deep rather than eyeball deep. Local, specific help is better but I'm sure some of the smart people here would be willing to answer questions if needed.

vexed87
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by vexed87 »

As other's have said, well done on your progress to date.

Ego is right, kick the gaming habit. If there's one thing that will hold you back, it's an addiction, it doesn't have to be drugs, booze or gambling, a compulsion for hours of gaming to the detriment of all else is just as harmful. If it's really an addiction, there a few things you can do to help tackle this problem. From what you've said, it sounds like this is what has really been holding you back. People with gaming addictions tend to lose confidence in themselves, become withdrawn and shun social interaction in favour of gaming, it's a negative spiral. You're making some really positive changes but the gaming has to be tackled too. The fact that you took the time to write this post shows you know something is up, you wouldn't mention it if it wasn't a factor.

1. Spending time gaming will distract you from your education, you need to focus your mental energies on working/furthering yourself. If you need time to relax, find new ways of doing so which complement your goals. Can you honestly say that gaming hasn't eaten into your study time/sleep schedule?

2. Online gaming with "friends" doesn't count towards your needs for 1on1 socialisation, rather than spend time gaming are there any sports/hobby clubs you could join? Exercise is very important for your mental wellbeing, and the social aspect of sports can help improve your mood/drive, and as others have said, exposure to real world positive role models will help.

Counselling may help, but real change can only be affected by you and requires motivation, if you don't have the support network at home, this is where counselling will come in. Don't forget there a many effective ways of modifying behaviours, but desire to change must be strong and come from within.

Try and think about the triggers that will make you start gaming. Can you replace your habit (a propensity to start gaming which is a response to a trigger, perhaps boredom, frustration?) with a new more positive behaviour? I read somewhere that a new habit takes roughly 14 repetitions to establish itself.

For instance, I used to get hunger pains every time I got home from a long cycle, I would immediately reach for something snacky, say, chocolates, while not an addiction in the true sense, I started putting on weight. I realised that this was a bad habit when I was making the decision unconsciously. I would immediately regret my choice, but I repeated it every day for a few weeks. One day I made a decision I would finally change my habit. I threw out all the chocolates and swore never to repeat my ways, so there was no option to cheat. I got home after work the following day, sure enough hunger pains were kicking in (trigger). Without even realising itI started to raid the cabinet for snacks, only this time there was no easy food on hand. This made me recall the day previously I had vowed not to eat chocolate after getting in from work and opted for fruit instead. I stuck to this regime for a few weeks and now I don't even think about looking for chocolate, even when SO brings it home from work. Try and apply this to your own situation.

Try remove the temptation. Continuing to allow yourself to play these games is a waste of your time and achieves nothing. There are better habits and behaviours you can programme yourself with. Just realise, you are in control of your own behaviours and feelings and you don't need a counsellor to help you see this if the motivation is there.

This was a great read:
http://zenhabits.net/13-things-to-avoid ... ng-habits/

Good luck.

GandK
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by GandK »

jennypenny wrote:If school and work don't provide enough social interaction, find another church if that helps.
This, if you're still pursuing your faith. Not only are churches great places to make social connections, they're also great places to find work. Mid-sized churches, especially, where you've got a lot of members who may have or know of work, but it's still a small enough place that you could theoretically get to know everyone. If you change churches, start volunteering there, and then let your pastor(s) know you're looking for regular work. Most of them know who's hiring. And small business owners in the church are going to look there for workers. By hiring someone from church, a lot of people feel like they're filling a business need and performing a Christian act (helping someone) at the same time. You don't get the same warm fuzzies when you use a job recruiter. I've personally seen more job placement situations happen at church than all other places put together.

As far as your immediate cash flow situation goes: try selling plasma. That would get you a couple hundred bucks... enough cash to give you some breathing room for the month, and your resume doesn't come into plasma donation at all.

This thread reminds me of one of Zalo's threads: I #@#$%@! Hate Video Games!

thrifty++
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by thrifty++ »

Sounds like you are in a tough place at the moment. I have certainly spent some time in that place.

When I graduated university I had $60k of debt, no money and a part time job at a restaurant. Initially I was quite terrified. I was only one year younger than you. But then I realised that it provided many opportunities because the resource I had was TIME. I focussed on trying to get more shifts working in a restaurant and then when I couldn't get more shifts I focussed on doing other things I always had wanted to do. I joined toastmasters which is a non profit club which costed next to nothing and was great networking and fun. I also took up some team sports like touch rugby and volleyball. I started doing cheap and free yoga classes and free local oil painting classes. There was quite a lot of stuff I was doing and I was really enjoying myself and making connections. When a good graduate job came up I was actually uncertain as to whether I wanted it as I was loving my life so much.

I don't think you need to go to church to meet people unless that is something you really want to do. It seems like it is not something which has worked out for you. There are so many other ways to engage with positive experiences and meet nice people. I don't think you will manage to improve your financial or health state by gaming, unless you are amazingly talented and lucky and get one of those game developer jobs (in which case go get it!)

Dragline
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Dragline »

vexed87 wrote:As other's have said, well done on your progress to date.

Ego is right, kick the gaming habit. If there's one thing that will hold you back, it's an addiction, it doesn't have to be drugs, booze or gambling, a compulsion for hours of gaming to the detriment of all else is just as harmful. If it's really an addiction, there a few things you can do to help tackle this problem. From what you've said, it sounds like this is what has really been holding you back. People with gaming addictions tend to lose confidence in themselves, become withdrawn and shun social interaction in favour of gaming, it's a negative spiral. You're making some really positive changes but the gaming has to be tackled too. The fact that you took the time to write this post shows you know something is up, you wouldn't mention it if it wasn't a factor
Great post. Habits and addictions are two sides of the same coin. People are only beginning to grapple with this as it pertains to online activities, whether it be gaming, porn or something else. In the end, there is "a compulsive activity" and either its negative or positive on your well-being and future. The internet is a magnifier of these issues.

Quadalupe
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Quadalupe »

Good of you to ask for help Arbo! There is already some sound advice posted. The following has worked for me in the past:

* Structure your life. Spend 10:00 - 16:00 with looking for jobs, studying, earning money on mTurk. From 16:00 - 22:00, you can exercise, take walks, read a little bit, meet other people etc. The structure gives you some purpose throughout the day, as well as a way to relax later without feeling guilty
* Try to get enough sleep. Everyone is different, but I go to sleep between 22:00 and 23:30. I try to not look at any screens (except for an ereader screen) up to an hour before I got to sleep.
* Exercise. You don't have to go into the hardcore insanity mode Jacob et al. pull off, starting slow is fine too. Even a very short exercise session can help you feel better and increase your physical and mental well being. A good (free) site for workout instructions where the instructors also do the exercise along with you is http://www.fitnessblender.com. It also has beginner exercises, so don't be afraid to try it out. :)
* Don't be too hard on yourself! You've already come a long way if you look at where you were a few months ago and where you are now. There is no silver bullet to fix everything at the same time. Creating a better life for yourself will take time and sometimes you will have bad days were you won't succeed at anything. That's okay. Acknowledge it and move on, failing is part of the process!

With respect to your gaming addiction: maybe you can try to change the locus of your attention? You can try to gamify your life, i.e. try to do X pushups, walk Y miles a day. Or you can enroll in things like coursera/treehouse, where you also get points for completing small parts of learning. This might help you 'get your fix' while you still do something useful. Also, communities on reddit like https://www.reddit.com/r/StopGaming and https://www.reddit.com/r/decidingtobebetter might help you and can support you.

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Sclass
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Sclass »

Thanks for sharing your story cmonkey.

7Wannabe5
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Some good advice offered above, but you might also want to read the thread SimpleLife started because status anxiety is status anxiety, no matter what rung you currently occupy. There is so much baggage you are obviously toting when you make a statement such as "I feel like scum when walking along the side of the road." You could as easily feel "free and unencumbered like a modern-day Huck Finn, whistling a merry Woody Guthrie tune, thumbing my nose at the old fat rich guy in the red sports car stuck in traffic,..." I have been just as broke-azz as you at various junctures in my life. Hyper-focusing on status or security will chop you off at the knees. Focus on what YOU want to do before you die, in the next 10 years, this year, this month, this week, today. Then other people and their behaviors will be just like the weather to you, and you won't sink your energies by imagining negative thoughts into their heads. I don't feel like scum when I am walking along the side of the road hauling a garden cart full of abandoned tires because I am thinking about the lovely display of daffodils I hope to create for the spring, and I am so cheerful I can even share a smile with the poor-old-fat-rich-guy in his sports car and maybe even give him some empathetic listening and a hug if he buys me some Thai food.

You have an extra $200 each month!! With just $2, I can go to the library and acquire 10 wonderful books to read, then stop at the thrift store and buy myself a pretty new scarf and a jump rope, gather a bunch of wildflowers, a cabbage and a cookie! (But, I am only allowed to eat cookies if my waist-to-hip ratio is less than .75. You might make a similar rule for gaming.)

thrifty++
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by thrifty++ »

7Wannabe5 wrote:Some good advice offered above, but you might also want to read the thread SimpleLife started because status anxiety is status anxiety, no matter what rung you currently occupy. There is so much baggage you are obviously toting when you make a statement such as "I feel like scum when walking along the side of the road." You could as easily feel "free and unencumbered like a modern-day Huck Finn, whistling a merry Woody Guthrie tune, thumbing my nose at the old fat rich guy in the red sports car stuck in traffic,..." I have been just as broke-azz as you at various junctures in my life. Hyper-focusing on status or security will chop you off at the knees. Focus on what YOU want to do before you die, in the next 10 years, this year, this month, this week, today. Then other people and their behaviors will be just like the weather to you, and you won't sink your energies by imagining negative thoughts into their heads. I don't feel like scum when I am walking along the side of the road hauling a garden cart full of abandoned tires because I am thinking about the lovely display of daffodils I hope to create for the spring, and I am so cheerful I can even share a smile with the poor-old-fat-rich-guy in his sports car and maybe even give him some empathetic listening and a hug if he buys me some Thai food.

You have an extra $200 each month!! With just $2, I can go to the library and acquire 10 wonderful books to read, then stop at the thrift store and buy myself a pretty new scarf and a jump rope, gather a bunch of wildflowers, a cabbage and a cookie! (But, I am only allowed to eat cookies if my waist-to-hip ratio is less than .75. You might make a similar rule for gaming.)
lol. Love this! It really is liberating to dump status anxiety.

bottlerocks
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by bottlerocks »

You should also look into whether or not your community college has counseling/therapy services. My university enrollment entitled me to 10 visits to a therapist every single semester, it was very helpful to me during some high anxiety times.

Riggerjack
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by Riggerjack »

You have a bike, and classes that eat into typical work hours.
I'm thinking bicycle courier. It's usually a contract position, you choose your hours and amount of work, get paid by the piece.
Exercise and work and flexibility. It won't make you rich, it will make you buff, and you are the only limit. You only have to beat mturk rates to increase your income, and it looks better on a resume.

JamesR
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Re: How do you build up from ground zero?

Post by JamesR »

Honestly, I think it's super neat how "easy" it is to hit rock bottom and still climb your way out of it and end up with a much better life within a few years. (I've had to do that a couple times)

Don't lose hope at all. You're really not THAT old, you can still focus on the basics and build up from there, and develop momentum and "get back on track" (though getting back on the "original" track is unlikely and irrelevant - so don't waste time thinking about it).

You have some skills, some experiences, you can start off taking *any* job to just build some income, and then move into a job that uses your skills and experiences and interests. (In terms of *any* job, I'd just get something within a walk of your home - keep expenses down that way)

For example, once I was completely broke around the same age, I was probably $8k in debt or so, and I took on a dish washing job at a pub that was 5 mins walk from my place where i was paying $350/mo for rent. A couple months later, I applied to a job that was related to some of my web dev/computer experience, and managed to get it (pretty much entry level). A bit of time, luck, opportunity and I was pretty quickly into a solid job w/ a good future career path and paying off my debt quickly.

You did some online business thing, so you probably have some skills/experiences from that, and can leverage it into a job (as well as whatever other skills you have).

Take stock of what you have, and focus on developing skills that are in demand for the type of work you think you can get into from where you currently are. I highly recommend reading "So Good They Can't Ignore You" By Cal Newport as well.


BTW, how many hours of work does it take to get that $600 on mturk? Pretty nifty! I could support myself on that pretty easily in Chiang Mai, Thailand (where I am currently for a couple months) - or other places abroad.

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