Isn’t that an interesting old expression? Being “all washed up” dates from the 1920s, and comes from the action of washing up after a day’s work. Originally used to indicate you were finished with something, it later came to refer to business failure or anything that has become obsolete. (See Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson.)
When I hear someone say, “He’s all washed up,” the first thing that comes to mind is the wreckage washed up on the shore of some remote beach. Disaster struck, the ship broke up against the rocks of a restless sea, and nothing remains but broken masts, scraps of deck wood, and perhaps a partially scorched life preserver with the vessel’s name stenciled in.
Have you ever felt all washed up?
Do you feel that way today? If so, this one’s for you.
Perhaps you’re one of those who lost a job during the most recent recession and has had difficulty finding another. Perhaps you ran a once-successful business that fell on hard times.
The thought that you’re all washed up is only that: A thought. It’s a victim thought, too, the worst sort of thinking there is. When you think victim thoughts you pull your attention into a world of unreality that locks you into the worst possible state.
The state of inaction.
Let’s Play Worst Case
Here’s a worst-case scenario: Let’s say you’ve lost your job or business. In fact, you’ve been having sporadic success for several years. You’ve tried your hand at career or business changes and it’s come to this: You have no 401k. No retirement. Perhaps $300 in checking and a few hundred in savings. You haven’t paid your mortgage in four months and foreclosure is imminent. You’ve been making enough to eat and pay for the bare necessities, but that’s it.
What are you going to do now? Take any job you can? Sure, that’s a reasonable short-term solution. When the boat is taking on water you have to mend the holes first before you can even consider where you want to go. You could certainly pack up and move to a less expensive location, though you must be careful not to relocate to a location with no prospects.
But the big question is this: What actions are you going to take now such that you reverse your own personal recession, clean up the wreckage of the past, and build a life that’s not only worth living, but that has some real excitement and passion in it? That’s not just a big question.
It’s THE big question.
And the answer begins between your ears.
You Are More Resourceful Than You Know
Fact: You are infinitely resourceful. I know this. I have been down and out, have had those dark and ugly thought that come when all seems lost and you’re sitting on a doorstep somewhere with empty pockets, feeling for all the world like a lone tattered soul on a solitary flag pole.
But even in those bleak days, I know I could rise back up.
You can rise back up again, too, because you are more resourceful than you know. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve “lost” your house — you can get another. It doesn’t matter that you have no money — you can get more money. The truth is that if anyone around you now is getting the life they want, then so can you. You are not too stupid or washed up to make it happen, You can create the life you want. You can be above fear. You can enjoy the fruits of a successful job or business once again.
The first step is profound in its simplicity.
Know that you will be able to respond to whatever happens. Know that nothing is out to keep you from getting a break. Not the universe, not God, not other people, not the government, and not the economy. If anyone is getting what he wants from life, you can, too.
I repeat: If anyone is getting what he or she wants from life, you can too. Write that your personal wailing wall and turn it into a mantra. You are the owner of your mind. You therefore do not have to rent space out to any external circumstance, person, place, or thing. In fact, if you do offer that head space up for lease to anything out there, you are performing an act of treachery against yourself.
Faith is not an accident. Faith is the recognition that, no matter what stray thoughts or head weasels may say, you are enough. You can create a better life, and all you have to do is take control of your mindset.
Faith in your ability to respond appropriately is a practice. It’s also a recognition that the Universe wants you to be successful. Life wants more life. Look at the sidewalk. see the grass forcing itself through the cracks? See the bulge in the road where the insistent root of a mighty oak or pine has so worked its will that the pavement couldn’t hold it back.
That’s you, my friend. That. Is. You.
Decide What You Want Right Now
The key in this moment of realization is to decide what you want for your life right now.
When you have been washed up on shore your focus must be on the necessities: Food. Shelter. Clothing. Focus with laser-like intensity on stabilizing your situation.
Surely that’s self-evident. Yet thoughts of despair and of giving up can overwhelm you. I know that from personal experience. Do not be tempted by such thinking. Ask not, “How am I going to survive?” but instead, “How about if I try this, and this, and this?” until you find what works.
See the difference?
It means you take any job you can get. Move to that less expensive location. Disregard all thoughts about what others might think. This is no time to concern yourself with trivialities. Stabilization is your first priority.
But don’t give up on what you do best. Hold onto the work that excites you. Clean off the rust. Hone that special skill or talent until it cuts through every obstacle. Because you will next find the way to put that skill or talent to work for yourself again and with it create the life you truly desire.
In the meantime, do the work needed to reground yourself. Do not accept victimhood. Be faithful to yourself. Know that you are infinitely resourceful. Give more in service than you’re paid in cash. Be bigger than your position. Not bigger between your ears, mind you, but bigger in service. And live simply that you may see clearly the life you want to create.
Once Stable, What’s Next?
It will take 90 to 120 days to stabilize your life. Once stable, you can afford to look ahead into the next 120 days and think about where you want your life to be.
The progression might go like this: Reduce your lifestyle requirements to match your income. Then, once grounded, decide what you want to have and do and be over the coming 120 days. Mindfully calculate the income required to achieve your desires, then persistently work with the image of what you want clear in your mind. Act in the now and let your vision of the next 120 days be the fuel that drives the work.
That image, that “definite purpose,” will inform your actions so long as you work to give more than your present position can hold.
Once again: You are enough. You possess infinite resourcefulness. Practice faith in your resourcefulness today and know that, as you do so, you create the life you truly want.