Profiled 10thousandgirls

Name: Ashley McSweyn
Attended: 26 March 2011

What I got out of the workshop:
I found out about the 10thousand girl campaign through my job in financial planning. I was offered the opportunity to be one of the finance experts for the Sydney workshop in March and I enthusiastically took it up. I spend every day planning other people’s lives but I had never taken the time to focus on myself and write out my own dreams, desires and direction. My life so far had fallen into place and thanks to the guidance of my dad I had a career I loved, great family and friends and I was happy. Sometimes you get caught up living day to day and you don’t sit back and realize what you have achieved and appreciate everything and everyone that makes your life so special. I really liked the gratitude exercise, when I got home I wrote down all the qualities I loved about my friends and family and I actually found the exercise quite emotional and uplifting.

I learnt that there are fabulous girls out there who share my interest in finance and want to create better lives for themselves and give back to the community. I also learnt that I need to be present in each moment and keep thinking about what I want in my life so that it gets attracted to me. I realized that my life is going by quicker than I thought so I need to start squeezing more into each day so I can do all the fun stuff that has been floating around in my head.

My short-term goals:
This year I wanted to save up for an investment property deposit but I had never written down a plan to achieve this goal. I thought my finances were in good shape and if I kept plodding along I would save my deposit…eventually. After re-evaluating my budget more closely I noticed some additional places I could save money which has allowed me to increase my savings ability.

It is amazing what pops up when you are focused on something. The reticular activating system (focusing your sub-conscious) is definitely a friend when you are trying to achieve your goals because things just appear that you have never noticed before.

I also really love traveling but I haven’t been on an overseas trip since 2009. After the workshop I started planning a trip to South American for next year. One of my bucket-list goals was to be bi-lingual so I thought this would be a really great opportunity to start learning Spanish. I choose Spanish because I admire their relaxed lifestyle and culture.

Girl Investment Group (GIG):
I am very grateful for my education so I wanted to give back a little and help others understand finance better so I started a GIG. We are called “The prospering pioneers – havin a crack” I really enjoy our meetings and I am looking forward to the next one on Monday. I recommend starting a GIG because it makes you accountable to others and helps you to remain focused on your goals. It is also really special to celebrate everyone’s achievements in the group and to hear about all the wonderful things they are doing with their lives.

Name: Rebecca Darman
Attended: Life Planning Workshop, Canberra 14 May 2011

I was an attendee at the 10thousandgirl workshop in Canberra last month and have been telling friends about it ever since. Before the workshop, I was doing pretty well for myself. I had completed my university studies and bought a house around 6 months ago with my partner. We worked really hard, and saved up for a couple of years before we found ‘the one.’ Purchasing a home was a goal that me and my partner shared, and we were so proud to have achieved it together. From that time, our sole focus went to paying off the mortgage. There was money coming in from our salaries, but lots going out to different areas, like bills, food, cars etc. We were in a good position, but had never written down a detailed budget. I was slightly uncomfortable about this, and felt we needed to keep track of our money flow, and needed more balance between our financial responsibilities while also having a decent portion allocated to enjoyment and hobbies.

I got more than I expected out of the 10thousandgirl workshop, and didn’t think I could learn so much about finances, goal setting and myself in one day and in such a fun friendly environment. I really enjoyed the financial aspects, they were practical and very applicable to my situation. Activities like drawing up a money flow diagram, and writing down a spending plan were really helpful, as was the Q & A session with the experts. In terms of goal setting, I was really inspired to dream big! Before the workshop, I had goals floating around in my head, but getting them down on paper and making an action plan, brought them closer to reality. Making a vision board was lots of fun and seeing it each day keeps me really motivated as well. One of my goals for the future is to live in Mexico and help those less fortunate. Giving something back to society would give me much fulfillment.

Since attending the workshop, my partner and I have had a few discussions about our individual goals and priorities. It’s a really interesting exercise, and something we hadn’t really done at length before. We’re both also working on our own bucket lists.

The 10thousandgirl workshop equipped me with some great skills and knowledge. I left feeling inspired and believing anything’s possible. There are no goals too extravagant or ridiculous. Grab life by the cajones!

Name: Lisa Qin
Attended: Life Planning Workshop, Geelong, 9 April 2011

My greatest achievements so far are…
Climbing to the summit of Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, one of the highest peaks in South East Asia, was a great personal achievement for me.  After going through one of the most difficult periods in my life where I finally left an abusive relationship and recovered from a health condition called hyperthyroidism, being able to climb this mountain with my best friend was a huge boost to my confidence.  
I’m also proud to have qualified as a solicitor, which took 7 years from when I first began law school.

What is your background?
I was born in China and grew up mostly in Australia with a few years in New Zealand.  As with a lot of people these days, I’ve also had a lot of different jobs which include being a bridal registry consultant, financial statement auditor, lawyer, and a high school teacher.

What have you done that others are in awe over?
A lot of people are in awe (or shock, rather) of my decision to become a teacher.  We are continually told to pursue our interests.  However, as we grow older there are also certain other expectations especially as a so-called high-achiever where there was a clear career path laid out for me: university, and a government or corporate job.  Because I “gave up” a job in a prestigious commercial law firm to work in a high school it is, I suppose, a big step outside the normal status quo of what most people expect.  
It wasn’t an easy decision to make and that’s probably where the “awe” factor lies: I went ahead and made the jump.  I spent a lot of time feeling uncertain about where I wanted to be because I didn’t know if I wanted to work as a lawyer for the rest of my life.  However, I’m certainly not the only one who has faced this career dilemma and I was inspired by other people and their decision to not be so constrained by their own and others’ expectations for themselves.

I feel very lucky to be now working as part of the new Teach for Australia program in the education sector which is what I am passionate about, despite the day-to-day craziness of working in a high school!

I joined 10thousandgirl because…
I think it is an amazing and inspiring program for young women all around the world.  10thousandgirl provides an opportunity for those of us who have put our finances on the backburner to become more financially literate and motivated.  I believe 10thousandgirl is a great impetus to be involved in something so critically important to our futures.

My personal goals for the next 12 months are…
to be a better teacher for my students and to become a more compassionate person.


My financial goals for the next 12 months are…

to take concrete steps in figuring out a good financial plan for my future.  Now that this is out in public, it’s a huge motivator to actually get started properly!

What do you want others to know – what is a tip or advice to give them.
A big catalyst for me in deciding to change careers came from reading a book by Po Bronson called “What should I do with my life”.  Despite the cheesy title, it’s a realistic and well-written book about what others have done to answer this question (it’s at times messy and complicated) and what we can learn from them.  
My advice is that if you’re in a similar situation and questioning what you’re doing, or just for a good read, to buy this book!  Here’s the link more information: http://www.pobronson.com/WSIDWML_Introduction.htm

Lissanthea Taylor is a girl in the midst of transformation. She is an active member of the Steering Committee and shares her background, her relationship with money and how she is consciously growing her life and the life of others.

Why not start at the beginning? As children we develop our world view and get a sense of where we belong in the world. I grew up in a family with no money- but we had time with our parents, endless love and lots of great experiences. However I was always aware of not having money like other kids- and I grew in to someone acutely aware of how not having money restricts choices; not having the cool clothes and lots of pocket money was part of it but somehow it imbedded in me a feeling of stress and anxiety about money. Something that as I grew up I set about changing- but it’s been quite a journey to get to this point.

I hope I can share some of the ever evolving and changing person that is me, and perhaps share something that sparks a light in you, for you to walk your path.

The 10thousandgirl project is something I am so passionate about – the vision that Zoe has been able to bring to stunning fruition, and the tireless brilliant work of Arienne in keeping the dream alive and always moving forward – is an absolute triumph. For me, the key principle is deciding on your purpose, and your life vision. Hence the life planning workshop is just a must-do for all young women, and if I can have a small part in this through the first GIG and the Steering Committee then I am proud. Deciding on your life vision and the lifestyle in which you can contribute the most to others and live that purpose each and every day with passion and zest – that’s why I do what I do!

Professionally I am a Physiotherapist- my daily work is treating patients with complex musculoskeletal conditions and working with a broad range of patient groups. I love what I do because I believe unerringly in human potential – and it’s this human potential that allows us to contribute to others. People in pain are very self-focussed – pain does that – my goal in what I do is to get people back to contributing outside of themselves, and achieving the goals that make their hearts sing- no matter what they might be.

Within my profession I am working towards being a trailblazer and creating a better profession for all that work within and with us – looking at different ways to use our skills and knowledge, getting our ideas in to various media and social media streams, focussing on education and preventative health – so that people can be healthier and happier, physiotherapists can work better, be more fulfilled and earn a better income and the general public can know just how great Physiotherapists really are!

The problem with a service profession is that it’s not easy to apply the wonderful wealth creation strategy of leverage. As we learnt in physics class, a big enough lever you can move any weight, and leverage with money involves getting paid multiple times for a single effort, in more places, with more people. Part of my trailblazing is finding ways to add leverage, add income streams and add value to what we already do. And I am feeling a little bit of a rockstar swagger starting to emerge, but also an acute need to share, to give back and to lift others up on this path- to mentor, coach and realise it’s more fun to do this with others.

You know, getting to where I am and the path I am walking hasn’t been easy – there has been a lot of internal resistance to me being able to stand up and shout “I am worth it!’. Resistance to putting my dreams on paper, planning how to make those dreams real, being brave enough to be great and not just good. All this stuff is normal – it’s the primitive lizard brain that we all have that does one really important job – it keeps us safe. It’s the comfort zone – the happy place where we feel secure – but sadly growth does not occur when we remain here. Rest for a bit, but keep testing it, jump outside it and get a bit scared – visit a financial planner, tell your significant others about your dreams, take the first steps. And then you’re away and momentum carries you on. Synchronicity carries you too – overcome the resistance, show up and do the work and the universe will support you. It’s not hippy stuff, just trust that one!

Please don’t misunderstand me – you can’t get away without taking care of the basics and getting all your ducks in a row financially. Some of it is not sexy, some of it requires you to count and add up and sometimes come to the grim realisation that those dreams live outside your current means. But in that knowledge is power, and the choice to do things differently.

Some practical advice I’d share with you:
•    Know what your life costs so you can know where there is a little leeway for fun- have a spending plan incorporated in to your saving plans
•    Two concepts rule the world- leverage and compound interest. Learn them, study them and make them your friend
•    Know the true definition of an asset when considering where to put your money- an asset must generate money and grow in value
•    Organise your money so it doesn’t require willpower to fulfil – use direct debit systems
•    Educate yourself on the world of money. Just yesterday I had an in-depth conversation with a finance dude about trading options, derivatives and hedging. And I knew what he was talking about! This from a girl who used to think the business section of the paper was for lining the kitty litter tray.

Start with educating yourself- these are my top 3 books that have changed my life
1.    Rich Dad, Poor Dad- Robert Kiyosaki
2.    The Artist’s Way- Julia Cameron
3.    Linchpin- Seth Godin

This stuff is not for other people – this stuff is for you and your life. The life you live and the choices you’re able to make depend on your ability to be financially savvy. Take baby steps and get around those who are already walking the path – get involved with 10thousandgirl’s awesome programs.

We love hearing your comments so please feel free to share your thoughts in the box below. If you’d like to get in contact with Lissanthea, just shoot us an email at girl@10thousandgirl.com and we’ll pass it on to her.

Marie Delaitre, a member of the first GIG and steering committee, shares with us her journey through HR, London, fractured elbows and South America. She’s out and about making it right...

My story is about compound interest. A wonderful concept in financial terms, and a well kept secret in life terms. In this case, realising the compound benefit of investing in learning and in relationships.

I am a naturally curious and friendly person – so my “investing in life” strategies come pretty naturally to me, but it is only now, many years later that I am understanding the compound benefit of doing this continuously.

My first ‘self driven’ investment

At the start of my career in Human Resources, I was incredibly shy. I remember one day being in an employee meeting in a room full of people, and feeling so uncomfortable that I left quietly, in tears.

I never wanted to feel that way again, and set out to make a change. I signed up for an acting and singing class at a community college to increase my confidence. Travelling also helped. When I travelled, I met people who encouraged me. In Nepal, I met Ruth, a 60 year old who was in the process of fulfilling her life goal of seeing the sunrise over Everest. After knowing me for a week, and sharing stories as women do, she said to me in her delightful warm English accent “You know Marie, I don’t see you as shy at all, look at where you are, how you communicate with everyone we meet”. She was right, I was in Nepal, had befriended strangers and been invited into their home. Through a lot of my travels, I have had the opportunity to learn about myself, mostly through learning about other people. Everyone has a story.

I am not sure exactly at what point my fear left me, but I now love being in a room full of people.

Learning often involves great risk

Many years later, I went to work in London and after 3 years living and working there, I was acting as the Head of a Department for six months – I loved it. When they filled the role with someone else permanently, I went back to my old job and realised that I wasn’t learning and I wasn’t enjoying my work. I loved the people I worked with, and the company I worked for, but I decided to leave a stable job and ‘learn’ instead. This learning came in the form of a four month trip to South America on my own, on my way home to Australia. I wanted to learn Spanish, and also the leadership strength you get when you have to face obstacles on your own, make quick decisions and need to make & maintain relationships. Using my wits to ultimately travel to the end of the world (Ushuaia).

Some of my investments in learning were not intentional…

Starting in Ecuador, my plan was to learn Spanish for two weeks – and then do volunteer work for 4 weeks. About a week into my trip – I slipped on the floor at home, and fractured my elbow. My right arm, my writing arm, was in a cast for 6 weeks. I had to be extremely patient, and slow down. I couldn’t write, or put my own hair up and walking around new streets with one arm out of action left me feeling incredibly vulnerable. With new friends around, and a ‘I will keep going’ attitude, I continued to make the most of my trip – including then backpacking in Peru. The day before starting the Inca Trail, my cast finally came off. I learnt to be patient, resilient and also that enjoying myself is about my attitude. I now fondly remember going to an outdoor thermal bath in Peru, with my arm wrapped up in a bright green plastic bag, everyone else staring at me whilst a fellow traveller carried me across to a safe spot. I felt so helpless, but was able to laugh at the situation, and got to enjoy the thermal spa!

Learning about frugality the hard way

I returned to Australia during the worst possible time on the employment front. I was unemployed for about 6 months, and this is where I learnt to be frugal. A hard way to learn it, but an important one none the less.

I had to have an ‘I have enough stuff’ attitude, and not be tempted to buy new shiny things. During this time, I didn’t buy any new clothes or shoes. It was hard to watch other people acquiring new things, but very doable. I learnt to make nutritious meals, and found special deals for outings with friends. I always knew how much I had in my bank account and I made sure I caught the bus home, instead of a taxi… & I walked a lot!

The compounding factor is that I still harvest this mentality now – I always look at spending smartly, and know that I have enough.

Investing aligned with my personal values

Whilst looking for work, I had an excess of ‘time’ – so I decided to invest it. I signed up to a 15 week nutrition course. Looking after my health is one of my values, but it often gets neglected – so this investment was crucial. Until I did the course, I didn’t realise how much I didn’t know about nutrition. It is information which now pays dividends over and over again, as I am now much better at looking after myself, and understanding how this affects my health. I have a healthy glow! I could have ‘waited until I found a job’ – but then I may not have had the time.

Over the years, I have invested my time in other things I enjoy – learning Spanish to open up my thoughts and just because I think it is a passionate culture, horse riding because I feel at peace when with horses, acting to open myself to different types of risks. I am always reading. I love learning and also love the different types of people I meet as a result.

Investing in Relationships

This leads to the other type of investment just happens throughout time, investing in relationships.

I have a friend who constantly says to me “I don’t like people” – it makes me laugh, because he is one of the most open hearted people I know. I, on the other hand, will readily admit that I love people. I love discovering their stories, sharing experiences, uncovering similarities, laughing together, seeing them succeed, sharing advice, being supportive.

A habit I have built up over the years is to let people know if I am thinking about them – or of a shared memory. I believe that that memory only exists because a relationship existed with another… and so they deserve to share in that recollection. I may send a short text, email or call. It also keeps me incredibly connected.

If I think of each connection as a coloured string between me and a person… and each effort to maintain the connection makes that string thicker. I know that over time, I will have a rich tapestry of thick, heart-warming connections which have been strengthened over time. This is a long term outcome of many small investments. The small investments matter.

Learning about finance and 10thousandgirl

I am currently investing my time in learning about finance. It is a daunting & fascinating journey – and I am encouraged to keep going through our GIG in 10thousandgirl. I am now going to seminars about the share market, sharing financial learnings with friends and reading finance magazines. When I first read about 10thousandgirl, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Their values were aligned with mine, which is why I enjoy being a part of the steering committee – this is something I believe in. I love that the program has a worldly approach – it not only helps girls here, but also overseas. I have encountered so many entrepreneurial, smart and hard-working women in developing countries – so being part of a ripple which encourages this is inspiring.

What’s ahead?

During 2011, I am working towards a few of my goals. I am currently learning Spanish in Buenos Aires for a total of 6 weeks. I am improving my swimming so that I can participate in an ocean swim one day.

When back in Australia, I will be looking for a fabulous new job! One of my dreams is to work in a profitable company where passion and energy are harnessed. Where employees love coming to work, because they are treated with respect and dignity – where collaboration leads to greater ideas and better products and services for consumers. I believe this flows back into making a company financially successful. In the long term I would love it to be my own company – but know I am not the best at working completely on my own, so if someone shares a similar vision, I would love to catch up for coffee… who knows where it could lead!

Finally…

A piece of advice someone once gave me when making decisions is “Don’t worry too much about whether your decision is right or wrong. Make it right!”. This is my motto. If you want to do something, just get on with it and make it right.

We love hearing your comments so please feel free to share your thoughts in the box below. If you’d like to get in contact with Marie, just shoot us an email at girl@10thousandgirl.com and we’ll pass it on to her.

Nataly Matthews has been a 10thousandgirl for a little while, before it was even known as 10thousandgirl! Here’s her story in her own words.

I knew that I could achieve great things. So why was I broke? I knew that I was outgoing, confident and intelligent but why did I feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere I used to dream about?

It turned out that a couple of years out of high school, my ability to dream dissipated. I no longer had a mentor. I was out in the big harsh world called ‘reality’. Suddenly it felt like it turned from teachers telling me that I could do anything in the world that I wanted, to colleagues telling me that the reality is just mundane work, day in, day out. That is reality.

Stuff that.

So I left my hometown Perth to really turn my life upside down. Hello Sydney. I landed a great job, made some friends, partied hard. It turned out it wasn’t sustainable. I now had an exciting life but savings were non-existent and I was feeling like I was partying my life away.

I started to worry about my future. Longer term. In 5, 10, 20 years time, what could I say that I had achieved?

About a year ago now a friend invited me to attend a case study workshop which was then called High Heels and a Wig. I didn’t really know what I was in for, but thought the workshop would be a fun day to meet new people and perhaps get a few tips on finance.

But it was much more than that.

I had not been involved with anything so inspiring before. Part of what made it so motivating was how inspired everyone in the room was, and how for the first time in a long time I could spill all my dreams, worries, and random thoughts that I could never talk about openly as there was no forum to do so. When I got home that night, I stuck my vision board up on my bedroom wall and believed that anything I wanted to do was possible. Feeling empowered, I attended a few property seminars (as buying a property had always been a dream but never had done anything about it) and made a purchase. I also then dared to dream that my dreams could become reality. One of them being to start my own business…

After a few months, 10thousandgirl launched its committee and this reignited my confidence that anything was possible, you just needed the right advice and motivation to do it. I have since bought various books and market research to look into launching an online selling business on ebay. I’m still a few weeks out from making this a reality but I’m so close! If I didn’t have the support of my 10thousandgirl network, I probably would still dreaming about it, but never actually act on it. It’s too easy not to. But what this group does it that it holds you accountable. It provides you with educational and emotional support that us girls thrive on!

An example of an educational tool that we were armed with was a weekly budget skeleton which we each filled out. Boy, was that an eye opener! It turned out that I couldn’t afford to eat out every night…Not that I ever planned it that way but looking back, that’s exactly what I did! It really helped me put my spending into check. So many hidden expenses.

What I love about this initiative is the tailoring to its target market. It’s perfect! We (young women) love to talk, discuss and offer advice to each other in a group environment that is in a fun, supportive setting. Every individual feels that they are also contributing towards a great cause as well which further inspires and empowers them. The ongoing support is also key as this sustains motivation and action.

I cannot speak highly enough of 10Thousandgirl as I believe it has guided my lifestyle and attitude towards a future of bright opportunities and accomplishments. Every girl deserves to join and succeed.

I have a million dreams…But one by one, they are becoming my reality. My life.

Nataly Matthews
10thousandgirl Committee Member

Several people suggested I write about my experiences of working towards what I wanted – both to share my story with others and to take the opportunity to reflect and actually appreciate what has brought me here.

So often, we are working towards things, whether they be personal projects or work goals, that when we achieve them, we might do a quick ‘yay’, and then continue with the next to-do. We regularly don’t put it in perspective and take the time to appreciate and recognise the time, effort and occasional sacrifices we made to get there.

I was having a bad day and my great friend Chloe sat me down and actually made me recognise what I had achieved. Her belief in me made me look at why she felt that way and why I didn’t. She told me about what I had said to her when I first met her (basically that I had left my marketing job, was currently working in admin, but what I really wanted to do was work with young women), and then what she had seen me do over the last two years and to see where I was now and what I was doing. They were linked and there was action I had taken to bring me here. Taking the time made me reconsider and appreciate my position and actually see what I had done and the positive consequences that had resulted. I had to congratulate myself. More on this later.

4 years ago, people probably looked at me as having a great life, with almost everything I could ask for, at least on the surface – a partner, a job, a car, friends, loving family, enough money to get by without too many worries. But something was seriously wrong…

I did well at school, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I thought that a business degree with a marketing major would be able to give me a bit of a balance between creativity and a guided direction. It was okay…I really did learn a lot that was practical for the real world. Marketing is really just creative logic. Though, in hindsight, I think I would have preferred interior design!

I worked pretty much full time at my mother’s business while studying full time as well. I went on to become the marketing manager at mum’s growing business when I graduated as it was the natural next step. Unfortunately, the pressure of being looked at as being there only because of nepotism, and not actually because I knew the product and the business inside out and had a degree, was there, though whether it was my own projections or people’s actual feelings I’m not sure (another hindsight insight was that I was really pretty good at it!).

I was living a life that people thought I should live – not in a bad way – but I had many opportunities that would come up, especially with work and they would say ‘wow, you are so lucky to be in that position, take it and do it, it’s so amazing’ and I’d plaster a smile on my face and go ‘yes, it is isn’t it, I should do it’ so I did. I guess I was just sitting back and letting things happens rather than being part of the design of my future and consciously seeing what I wanted and going for it.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that the strange feelings inside of me were warning signs that I wasn’t living authentically with who I was. I was living what other people thought was good for me.

The wake up call happened out of the blue, actually while I was on an amazing trip with my sister and Dad. I got hit with crippling anxiety.

To cut a very long story short (and I’m trying to work on brevity actually becoming a strong point) it lasted a really, really, really long time. It was not okay with me and I worked really hard to reinvent myself because I had to. I did a myriad of healings and therapies, I’m not really sure what worked, but I’ve realised that it has so much to do with the mind and what and how you think. I’m still on the journey out, but I’m 95% better than I was and I believe I’m almost there!

I decided to explore a lot about myself and really did a lot of self-analysis and excavation. I made a lot of changes during that time. My relationship with my partner came to an end, I moved homes, I took up journal writing, I started dating, I partied a lot, I blossomed socially and made some great new friends. I was going on new adventures as I was healing and looking for a new path.

During that time I realised what my main passion was and still is – working with young women just like me who are looking at improving their lives – inspired females, resourced women, girls who enjoy some of the nice things in life but also want to give back. I didn’t know how or what to do, but I knew I wanted to work in that direction.

I decided to leave the marketing role at Mum’s work and take on something that could give me more time to work out what I really wanted to do. Something that I consciously decided to do, rather than just fell into. So, I decided that I could probably go in to an administrative role where I could work 9-5 and not take home any responsibility. I temped for a little while and ended up being offered a Senior Administrative role in a university which I accepted. Little did they know this senior admin person had no idea how to fix a printer or use the laminator. I am proud to say I am now and expert in both. I received less income, but it was worth it because it gave me the opportunity to do so much more that was priceless – time to spend on myself.

I planned to stay a year while I decided if I wanted to join an organisation or start my own business to do with working with young women. I did a lot of planning and dreaming, trialling and experimenting, reading and researching in my spare time. The job was a good gap filler and I created some amazing relationships, and learned both good and bad things about myself, but I also learned that my personality type took this role seriously and it wasn’t 9-5 for me. I was getting stressed about situations, working long hours and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Something had to change again.

In late 2009, I connected with Anneli Knight and then Zoe Lamont through a friend. I got an email and asked a small but significant (to me) question to Anneli and through a series of events, it led me here. If I didn’t have the guts to ask the question (it was basically if she was interested in working together on a business idea I had), what would have happened? Sometimes you just need to reach out. One of my favourite lines is from a Coldplay song – ‘if you never try, you’ll never know’.

What Zoe, Anneli and I were discussing was so aligned. They were just starting 10thousandgirl out of Zoe’s initial project High Heels and a WIG. We were trying to find a way I could become involved and I ended up volunteering to be their Steering Committee Chair.

I loved the girls I was coming in contact with. To be honest, it was hard pouring so much energy into it while working full time at the University (and starting a new relationship, having a social life, working on a few more personal goals and spending time on what I had finally learned the hard way was important – myself), but I knew 10thousandgirl, the people involved and the concept was really resonating in me so it was worth it.

10 months later, Zoe offered me a role at 10thousandgirl and I jumped at the chance. The chance to become involved in this amazing community of like minds. The chance to be involved in working with young women who wanted to learn more. The chance to help be part of a ripple effect and empower individuals and communities. The plan to stay one year at the university turned into 18 months, a little longer than I originally planned, but that was ultimately fine.

This is nowhere near the end of the journey, I still have dreams and aspirations that I am working on and figuring out. But with the discovery of a passion and from a vague idea of what I wanted to do, with some proactive actions and jumping on opportunities that presented themselves, I’m Manager Girl at the 10thousandgirl Campaign, working with inspired young women. This is a massive milestone in my journey.

The way I’ve done things is probably not the ideal way. But it’s the way I had to do it. We are all individuals with different contexts surrounding us. These are my lessons learned. If this gives you an idea of one person’s experience – good. If it inspires you – great. If it’s just a story of a girl – fine.  If it does nothing – no problem! These realisations probably aren’t the right ones for everyone – take what you want and leave the rest.

Lessons learned:

  • Do what you have to for yourself first. Live your own life. It doesn’t have to be selfish. After all you are the one that you answer to in those quiet moments. Make yourself happy with your decisions, that way you make the others around you happier in the long term.
  • Listen to the feelings you have. They are often signs that you are either on the right path or not.
  • Have at least an idea of the direction you wanted to go in. If you have a really clear outcome, write down all the details, you’ll probably get there quicker.
  • Ask the question. Send that email. Make that phone call. Even if it puts you out of your comfort zone. That action could lead you to a path that is so rewarding.
  • Take the time to appreciate what you have done to get you to where you are. Really reflect, give thanks and contemplate it so you can recognise and acknowledge that your actions brought you there. You weren’t just sitting back and waiting for things to happen like I was initially.
  • Have plans beyond the big ones in your short and medium term sights, because when you get there it will be amazing, but you still want to have a bigger purpose in life.
  • Listen to your friends. They often have better insights into our lives than we do.

Happy journeying!

Arienne


Melanie Lane is the winner of the ING Direct Competition. We managed to catch her on the phone for a few minutes to ask her some questions:

KEY INFO
Name: Melanie Lane
Age: 26
Location: Melbourne
Living arrangement: I moved back home a week before the Life Planning workshop so I could save everything I normally spent on rent
What she does: works as an internal audit consultant at PWC
#1 goal or lifelong dream: To own my own apartment with a balcony. I use to live in a place where the sun would come up on the balcony and we’d have breakfast outside. This initial start to the day was great.

MEL’S STORY
What made you decide to save? I initially started saving for the competition, but I’d ideally like to have a full house deposit amount and to start an investment portfolio.

What kept you on track? I’m really competitive, and as I started telling people about the workshop and what we went through and about the competition, they started checking in about it. Talking to others increased my savings as I became really aware of it.

What are you going to doing with it? I’m holding on to it at the minute, as I tend to be a rash person and I don’t want to spend it all. I’m thinking about $1,000 for play money and then to invest in maybe 3 different companies and diversify.

Tips for others? Write down what you spend, it sounds a little obsessive, but I found I spent $3 on a coffee here and $2.50 on a coke there and it adds up really quickly. You think you had a great day of not spending anything, but then realise all the little bits you paid for. After the workshop, I started talking to my family and friends about how they did it and found a way to do it that suited me. I started putting the things I regularly spent money on in a spreadsheet that I tied back to my budget. And I could see how I was going on a daily or weekly basis (Melanie has shared her Spreadsheet template here)

The key thing is to tie this activity down to your goals and I realised I can’t keep on spending $20 a day on nothing and going nowhere with it.

How did you find 10thousandgirl? Through The Age in Melbourne

Why did you come along to the workshop? I needed a bit of a grounding in finances. I thought the day would be a bit more instructional, but I found the goal setting a lot more useful than I thought it would be. My Dad always encourages awareness and I wanted to create more awareness for myself, but with so much info out there I didn’t know where to start.

Since the workshop, my friends and I have started finance nights which normally comes with cupcakes! For example, at tax time we sat down and did it together. One friend is looking at starting a business and we looked at her budget and realised she needed to bring costs down to increase her profits.  Another friend is quite knowledgeable about the share market. We share and learn from each other. Sharing it with people makes it a bit more real and a bit more accountable. Being able to hear a bit more about what people think about a topic and it leverages peoples’ skill sets.

What you learned? Bringing the goals down to an achievable level. Getting specific about my apartment with a balcony and knowing that I want it by this time.

How would you encourage others? Even if it’s a little change it’s moving in the right direction. Sometimes we get caught up in the big things that seem really hard to begin with – small changes do add up.

Final words? Make it fun. Whatever you do. Because if you don’t enjoy doing it you won’t do what it takes to get there.  I have catch ups with my friends and I talk to them about what I’m working towards and I know what I want to get out of it. If it’s a hard slog, then maybe adjust it a little bit because then you’ll enjoy spending time doing it.

Want to start your own finance night? Our Personal Finance Program is a bookclub like event to go through with your friends and increase your financial knowhow.

Name: Victoria Craw
Attended: Life Planning Workshop, Sydney, 29 May 2010

My greatest achievements so far are… moving places on my own, carving out a little career and maintaining great relationships.

I joined 10thousandgirl because… I had recently moved to Sydney and was stuck in a bit of a rut financially. I wanted to meet some positive, inspiring women, do some more writing and get my financial life back on trac

My personal goals for the next 12 months are… to develop my own blog and website, do a LOT of freelance writing, see more of Australia, spend lots of time with my fantastic friends and stay fit and healthy!

My financial goals for the next 12 months are… to pay off my student loan and save $10,000 for a deposit on a hous

In 3-5 years I’ll be… working as a journalist, writer and blogger, have a graduate diploma in journalism, still be with my gorgeous boyfriend and maybe on the verge of embarking on my next adventure overseas.

And financially, in 3-5 years I’ll be… the owner of an investment property, have paid off my student loan and be generating some freelance incom

It’s my birthday in the year 2020 and I… am turning 36. I’ll be at a big barbeque party with my friends and family in my own house somewhere on the coast of New Zealand. There will hopefully be little ones and definitely animals. I will have done lots of travel, be an established writer, with a sound financial situatio

The very first steps I’m going to take right now are… to pay off my student loan, win the $10,000 from ING DIRECT and save for a deposit on a house!

This is where you can find more about me: Come and visit my personal blog http://www.victoriacraw.blogspot.com/

Name: Holly Baker
Attended: Life Planning Workshop, Sydney, 29 May 2010

I joined 10thousandgirl because… I was feeling a bit discouraged and didn’t feel like I was making much progress toward my goals (and the financial amounts attached.) My circle of friends don’t talk about finance issues much, and so I joined 10thousandgirl to hear from like-minded people who are on the same path as me. I also wanted to jump-start my motivation again.

My personal goals for the next 12 months are… to be healthier and fitter by the start of Spring; to be debt free and enjoy the feeling; to identify a career I want to pursue (one that I enjoy); to constantly improve my knowledge and skills.

My financial goals for the next 12 months are… to pay down my debt, finish any contracts (i.e., gym, internet/phone) and save at least $5000 (but aiming for more!) towards a year of study in Lanzhou, China with my boyfriend.

In 3-5 years I’ll be… finished my year studying (and travelling) overseas, and be working in the industry I’ve researched and settled on. I’ll be supportive of my Navy boyfriend, and working towards a deposit on a house. Perhaps I’ll be thinking of having a family.

And financially, in 3-5 years I’ll be… well and truly done with credit cards and silly contracts. Instead I will have saved up at least a 20% deposit with my boyfriend for a house. I will have that emergency fund saved. I will be investing in my future via super and shares. And we will have some extra money each week for things like dining out, or being a bit extravagant from time to time!

It’s my birthday in the year 2020 and I… am 34. The kids have gone to bed but some of our family and friends have stayed on past the dinner party and we are chatting about the past and the future. Hubby has the job he’s been after in the Navy and is spending less time away from home, and my own business / practice is going well, and has allowed me to fit work around school and holidays perfectly. We’ve made a solid dent in our mortgage and have been able to set up the home the way we want, after all the renting.

The very first steps I’m going to take right now are… to restart extra contributions on my super and consider a higher risk option; to join a gym or take up a sport; work out a repayment plan for any debt / contract repayments; to make appointments with people in the industries I’m interested in so that I can decide if the career is for me. (Would love to chat to anyone in Interior Design or Financial Planning areas!)

This is where you can find more about me: http://au.linkedin.com/in/hollyelizabethbaker

Name: Erin Young
Attended: Life Planning Workshop, Melbourne, 22 February 2010

My greatest achievements so far is… having an idea and acting on it. In 2007 I published the first of four issues of REAL, a magazine written by young women from across the globe. REAL was designed to share the experiences, inspirations and ideas of girls everywhere, whilst promoting self respect of the body and mind. I am very proud of what we have achieved with REAL so far and excited about all the future opportunities that lay ahead for its development and growth.

I joined 10thousandgirl because… my financial situation was in disarray and the timing was perfect! I attended the workshop at a time when I needed guidance and support in setting life and financial goals.

My personal goals for the next 12 months are…

  • To be fit and healthy – to run four half marathons, take care of myself, eat wholesome food and take holidays when I need them.
  • To learn and work with a number of organisations and individuals to learn, gain experience working with young people, managing projects, designing programs and facilitating events, conferences, workshops and programs.
  • To have $15,000 in my ING DIRECT Savers account at 31st December.
  • To develop REAL Girl Productions, publish a special edition issue of REAL in December 2010 and facilitate several mini-projects working with girls across Victoria.

My financial goal for the next 12 months is… to have saved $20,000. Since attending the workshop I have been putting $420 a fortnight into an ING Savers Maximiser Account (and any spare cash I have left over at the end of the week).

In 3-5 years I’ll be…

  • Fit and healthy having snorkelled the Indonesian reefs, climbed the Mt. Everest base camp and trekked through Bolivia and other parts of South America.
  • I will be the Director of REAL Girl Productions; a sustainable organisation working towards empowering young women across the globe. REAL will create and facilitate innovative and creative mediums that inspire girls to achieve their potential.
  • I will have built successful networks with individuals and organisations across the world, that work and care about youth. I will have worked and gained valuable experience working on various projects and programs.
  • I will be inspired to continue learning and exploring.

And financially, in 3-5 years I’ll have… saved enough money to place a deposit on an apartment ($50,000). I’ll also be living comfortably and not have to worry about money.

It’s my birthday in the year 2020 and I will…

  • be fit and healthy.
  • be Director of a global organisation, REAL, that works with young women in English-speaking countries across the globe, empowering, inspiring and providing girls with the skills to achieve their potential.
  • own two properties. One near my working location and one near an isolated and beautiful beach.
  • be inspired, continuing learning, grateful and appreciate the simple things.

The very first steps I’m going to take right now are…

  • Each day I remind myself of ten things that I am grateful for
  • I have started a ING DIRECT Savings Maximiser Account  which I deposit into each fortnight
  • I take time for myself to rest, re-energise and be inspired
  • I have a vision board in my room, that I am constantly adapting and adding too
  • I revisit my goals often and every three months, reassess and change/add if needed
  • I try to be positive, open, vibrant, appreciative and surround myself with love

This is where you can find more about me: www.realmagazine.net.au and erin@realmagazine.net.au

Name: Carmen McIntosh
Attended: Life Planning Workshop, Canberra 27 March 2010

My greatest achievements so far are… graduating university, travelling around America by myself, owning my own home, and establishing the basis for a successful career.

I joined 10thousandgirl because… I found that I was writing a lot of lists about my goals, but I was not actually achieving any of them. I have also never saved a cent in my life and am in a lot of debt. I hoped that the workshop would inspire me to take action and be the kick up the butt I needed.

My personal goals for the next 12 months are… to lose weight (15 kilos would be nice!), to have worked / volunteered overseas, and to have made a solid contribution to others’ lives.

My financial goals for the next 12 months are… to be in a position to use rental income to pay off my mortgage (instead of getting into even more debt), to have established some sort of investment portfolio (I would have to save first!) and to achieve a higher grade in my career (meaning higher pay).

In 3-5 years I’ll… have worked overseas in aid, because I see it as a great way of contributing to the world while also contributing to my own life lessons. I will be living in a town I love, because I really need to settle down and prepare for the future rather than moving every year. I will also have met Mr Right – because I would welcome love into my life – and I also need him so I can have kids.

And financially, in 3-5 years I’ll be… financially stable and in a position to raise a child, have well-established savings, and be on the way to paying off my gigantic debt.

It’s my birthday in the year 2020 and I… own a small farm, because I want to settle in rural community – I love the people, the open space, and the lifestyle it entails. I will have a family – even if it has meant adoption or by other means. I also would have made a difference, whether to my community or someone else’s, or to just one person’s life. I believe my life will be worthless and wasted if I don’t utilise my opportunities to help others.

The very first steps I’m going to take right now are… well, last week I gave notice at my job and paid for a big trip overseas. I am travelling to Mae Sot in Thailand to volunteer at a school for Burmese refugees and have not set myself a time limit – if my finances are sustainable then who knows – I could move there forever!

This is where you can find more about me: You can find me on Facebook

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