The Benefits Of Work


“Why would I want to work?”

I had a man ask me this question yesterday. I couldn’t tell if he was be sarcastic, flippant or genuinely asking for a couple of seconds. However I tried, the usual visual cues weren’t there for me to pick up on. He didn’t have a wry smile, wasn’t folding his arms across his chest in defiance or really give anything away; so I took him as seriously asking and found out shortly I’d been right to do so.

After I gave him some of the many benefits and reasons people work, I started to think that there had to be others like him. So, this is for the ones who really don’t understand why people would choose to work. Please add your own reasons in the comments section.

  1. Purpose. Waking up in the morning feeling you’re contributing to something, or making the lives of others better in the work that you do gives one’s life meaning. Without purpose, a person can feel aimless, lost, lacking direction. Waking up and wondering what you’ll do with your day is nice occasionally, but as a fixed routine can lose its appeal quickly.
  2. Contribution. This can be a hard sell to someone who feels that the world owes them a living. Contributing your skills, experience, knowledge, wisdom, failures and successes with others actually gives back in many ways. If you don’t like the current way things are done in some area, get involved and work to change what you see could be better. Change from within and not from a distance is very effective.
  3. Learn. When you learn you grow, when you’re ripe you rot. Learning doesn’t just happen the first few days and weeks on a job. Some of the smartest people I know realize that learning happens every day in some way. Whether it’s in some small way or a huge change in how one does their work, learning never stops. When you’re not working, this can be impossible for some to grasp.
  4. Responsibility. Being responsible isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, this accountability can be extremely beneficial. A worker is but a part of a larger group of workers, and mutual responsibility means showing up on time with regularity and punctuality. It means being depended upon and counted on to add to an organization and in so doing lighten the load of others; bring your gifts to projects and make things better.
  5. Income. Not number one; but yes work provides income. Income alone isn’t what it’s about but rather, what income allows you to buy or invest in. Living where you choose, in accommodations that don’t just protect you from the elements but enhance your appreciation of the world around you. Money gives you the means to travel, eat better, visit those people and places that add to the richness of your life.
  6. Good mental health. Work is good for your brain; your mental stability; your intellect and what it wards off. Work and you stave off some anxiety and depression. You get more control of yourself and the world you experience. As you work, your brain cells get stimulated, you enrich your days and have things to talk about at day’s end that you’ve accomplished, struggled with, experienced and been a part of.
  7. Self-Confidence. Work and you’ll feel good about yourself. There’s that first pay cheque, the moments when the boss tells you you’re doing well, you complete something without having to be shown how, you create a product or give great service. “I can do this!” is a great feeling.
  8. Inclusion. You ward off isolation when you work because you’re part of a company, you work on a team, you interact better with those around you; feel like you’re a part of a group and yes, you are needed and appreciated. Whether a second family or not, your co-workers can become people you actually care about, and yes, they’ll care about you too.
  9. Self-control. When you work, you decide how much to spend and how much to save. You decide what to buy and what to save up for too. When someone far away is ill or you just want to see your family who live far away you have the means to get there. Save some each pay and you’ll have the money to get by if there’s a downturn in the economy, you get laid off, or you want to change jobs.
  10. Physical health. Work means physical exertion and movement. Not only is that good, but if you get ill, you’ll either have a health plan through an employer or have the money to invest privately in health care if you choose. Now you have the money to eat healthier foods, eat regularly and eat guilt-free.

There are many reasons to work and these 10 aren’t the entire list. Yes, there are people who don’t work and depend entirely on the generosity of others to live. They work in a very real sense too of course; some begging for handouts, others collecting beer cans and bottles to exchange. Some live on social assistance, dependent entirely on governments and taxpayers to decide their income. It is possible to go through one’s life and not ‘work’ in the traditional sense.

Work doesn’t mean you’re miserable for 7 or more hours a day. It is for many a rich, rewarding use of their time they appreciate.

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My Job Is A Privilige


I am an Employment Counsellor employed with a large municipal organization in the Greater Toronto area of Canada. While I provide help and support to people on people from all walks of life around the globe on my own time; through this employer all those I assist working with the Municipality are exclusively on social assistance.

Now I have to tell you that I consider myself to be an upbeat, positive individual and I do my very best to work with enthusiasm front and center at all times. Some of my personal friends and acquaintances wonder that the job must by its nature be depressing at times, constantly working with this population. I tell them they couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is a true privilege I find myself in to be in this position; to be looked to for support and guidance regarding looking for employment. However, what makes this particular job unique and what new employees soon learn upon taking the job, is that dealing with unemployment is only a fraction of what the work entails.

One of the things I truly love and have come to value highly are the back stories that each individual shares with me when I work alongside them. Now in some organizations the scheduling of appointments is so tight that all an Employment Counsellor can really do is focus on building a resume and any talk outside of past work histories is severely limited. Success is measured by how many people you saw in a day, a week and a month. It might look good on a stats sheet, but these are real people with fascinating backgrounds; backgrounds that are currently impacting on their ability to get and keep employment.

I am so grateful that I came to work in this capacity later rather than earlier in life. By the time I landed in my current role, I’d already worked in Retail, Recreation, Social Services and the Non-Profit sector. I’d been an Executive Director, on the front line and in positions of authority. I been promoted, let go, resigned and worked in both jobs and careers over my prior work history. All of these gave me the gifts of diverse perspective, empathy, understanding, appreciation and resiliency.

Where I am now is indeed a privilege and I’ve found a way to draw constantly on my own past experiences for the benefit of others who hope to move forward. Some people say you should never look back if you want to move forward, but I know that it’s only when you look back that you see others who could use the hand you extend as help moving forward too. Now I’ll never be financially rich in the role I’ve taken but I didn’t set out in life to accumulate the biggest bank account balance I could in the first place.  I am enriched on a regular basis and thankful to be where I am. With respect to finances though, I must say I’m not wanting.

It’s truly an honour and a rare privilege when other people come into your life and trust in you enough to open up and share some of themselves. I have found that the level to which they confide in me requires a corresponding amount of empathy, honest concern and interest in them; not as a client but as a person; a fellow human being. Often the stories I hear are dark, fraught with pain, abuse, loss, trust broken and betrayal. These are the real experiences of real people and therefore their realities however. Maybe these people have never had someone in a position of authority actually care to listen to them with only the best of intentions in mind; a person who isn’t out to take what they share and manipulate it for personal gain. Who knows?

I tell you this however; these are remarkable people who have resiliency of their own. As fragile as they might be in some respects, they are also people of incredible fortitude and determination in others. They are good and decent people deserving of chances; be they second, third or fourth ones. They are skilled, qualified and if given a chance to demonstrate their value with the right employer will prove themselves to be among an organizations finest.

And they’re up against it aren’t they? It’s not just a lack of employment they’re working to change. In addition to finding a job, they often have to overcome abusive, traumatic relationships with controlling partners and ex-partners. Their housing is often substandard, their reliance on food banks well documented, their abilities to live within the constraints of a fixed poverty income tried and tested. Along with all of this they must overcome a stigma of being a social assistance recipient.

Would you be surprised to hear that many are highly educated? You’d be surprised to learn a lot of things as am I. How I learn is really by putting myself in position to listen without judgement, exercise some patience and empathize; create the opportunity for them to take or pass up to share to the level of their individual comfort. This helps me often get to real barriers of course that I see in the way of moving forward with employment, but I feel it really helps them as a person first.

This may not be your dream job but I’m grateful it’s mine.

 

 

 

 

Poverty And Parenthood


Many of the people I assist looking for employment have children and of those who do, almost all tell me how much those children mean to them. Most of the time they say, “My kids are everything” or “My kids are number one.”

What’s at the heart of why they are telling me this when we are discussing employment has everything to do with their prioritizing skills. What they are inferring is that factors such as work location, hours, pay and benefits will often outweigh other factors like job satisfaction, chances for advancement, even what the job actually involves in some cases. They are also saying, “Just like you, I’ve got my priorities in the right order”, because make no mistake, it’s important for them to align themselves with those they respect and who they see as able to help them. They know we are different in so many ways, but here we can be equals.

They genuinely want their children to have a successful life; which really means a better life with better opportunities that they themselves have had in the past and continue to have moving forward. That’s a pretty understandable hope. Whether it’s getting out of poverty, then moving beyond the ranks of the working poor or having better quality personal relationships, they generally want their kids to be better off in life.

Now even if you’ve never been in poverty yourself, you can I trust empathize with the parent(s) who have very little if anything in the way of surplus income; especially for those in receipt of government social assistance. By the time a person covers their rent and buys food there isn’t much left over. So you might assume the obvious thing to do would be put your child in care and get a job so they have more money to improve their children’s lives. That as it turns out isn’t how they always see it. Your forgiven and perhaps guilty of looking at this from a middle class perspective and assuming because that would be your plan if you were in that situation that it’s therefore logical that it should be their plan too.

Take some of their common realities into consideration. Not true for all of course, but there are some observable behaviours which can be explained completely by circumstances in which many find themselves. For starters, poverty is often generational. Those in receipt of social assistance may have been raised in families where poverty was the norm; their parents lacked financial literacy, discipline was harsh, parenting skills in short supply, education was undervalued and ambition was viewed as showing up your elders.

Now this isn’t the reality for everyone on social assistance but there are many who if reading this would say I was accurately describing their own histories. Now in the present day, this person who is a product of their upbringing lacks the benefits that come with good supportive parenting, encouragement in school. There’s no, “you can be anything you want to be” or, “follow your dreams” mantra giving them every hope of success in life.

So what happens? The reality for many is that despite their best intentions, those early years of growth and personal development have stunted their chances. Food might not have been the healthiest or available as often. There were limited opportunities to visit museums, art galleries, experience fine dining and theatrical productions. Socializing and vocabularies were limited and as a result they saw themselves as different. Some friends weren’t  allowed to visit where they lived, their clothes were hand-me-downs and never on the cusp of cool. In short, for reasons beyond their personal control, they were impoverished in ways that went far beyond money alone.

Okay so now as an adult, they have the best of intentions. Like you and I no matter where we are in life, they only know what they’ve experienced to date and hence despite their very best of intentions, may repeat many bad decisions; well, decisions you and I might look at objectively and consider bad decisions. No wonder than we might scoff and say, “Well if they’d only have some common sense” or “Well if they’d only do what I’d do”. But how can they make good decisions without the benefit of the tools and awareness that’s required to base those good decisions on?

So it comes as no surprise for example when they do find themselves with some additional funds that they quickly spend the money on their children seeking some measure of immediate gratification. Maybe it’s off to a fast-food restaurant which brings them and their children immediate if short-term happiness; a chance to do something beyond the norm and special.

You and I might have hoped they’d save that money and by clothes for job interviews, a bus pass to get around and job search, or maybe just save it for the child’s future education. That’s middle class thinking again.

Children are their number one priorities and their hearts are in the right place. Their intentions are understandable and should be applauded. What’s lacking for many is information, supportive learning, respectful role models, helping hands and non-judgemental interventions which meet them wherever they are in terms of their capacity to learn and their willingness to do so.

In many respects we are all not so different. Maybe something to think about today.

 

Think You Can’t Help The Poor? Yes You Can


Let’s face facts okay? Some of us are socially conscious and empathetic to the plight of those in need and others (I’m hoping a small percentage) wish the poor would just disappear completely from view.

One of the things I’ve come to understand and realize is that as we age, Life has a way of changing the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and we get multiple opportunities to change our outlook. Eventually, many people shift their opinions away from their previous held viewpoints, and adopt new ways of thinking; it’s called growing and maturing. Not everyone changes their attitude or outlook of course, but I can bet that most people as they grow, think differently on many subjects as they spend more time on the planet and interact with people on it.

So, the poor. Well, they’re not invisible; you can spot them on the streets in cities, you can see them at food banks, cooling centres on days when there are heat alerts. You can see them hanging around shelters, rooming houses, lining up for jobs outside temporary agencies, in discount stores, cheque-cashing outlets, and sometimes outside coffee shops. Look for the soup kitchens and you’ll find them there, the clothing giveaways and of course the social assistance buildings in communities all over. You might even note the odd person standing at a set of lights with a coffee cup in their hand asking for a handout of whatever you can afford.

Well like I said, some of us are socially conscious, or at least empathetic. One thing you can do that would be appreciated by many is to think about the clothes you own that you’re never going to get back into. Whether too big or too small, that clothing is only taking up space in your closet. I call these, ‘someday clothes’. Someday you might fit into them again so they hang around – literally and figuratively. Do yourself and the less fortunate a favour and bundle these up and donate them to a second-hand clothing store, a charitable organization or give them to the next organization who phones you at home and asks if you have clothing to donate – like the Diabetes Association. You’ll feel good and do good at the same time.

Another thing you can do that doesn’t involve making a donation of any kind is think about the words you use in general conversations about those marginalized folks living in poverty. Be mindful of putting them down, nodding your head when a buddy makes some wisecrack about the bum blocking the sidewalk or who says to someone panhandling, “Just get a job!” Maybe you can start a conversation just by saying in return, “Hey man give the guy a break. Not cool.” Sometimes just a short comment will be enough to get someone else thinking about their own words.

Now of course you can make a donation – or donations. It needn’t be big to make a difference. In fact, you can start small. See someone on the sidewalk either sleeping or living rough? Walk up and put down a bottle of water or a piece of fruit. You don’t even have to stop and talk or say anything. Even if you don’t get a thanks, that gesture will be appreciated more than not. And if you’re an animal lover and the person has a dog with them, some dry dog food could be more appreciated by the person than food for themselves.

So all my columns and blogs focus on job searching, getting ahead and tips for getting and keeping work. Why a blog about the poor? Good question. Poor people are often people who have either been born into poverty and through no fault of their own didn’t benefit from good parenting, and weren’t supported in their schoolwork; their parents beliefs about education and what is important in life passed on through them as children. Poor people can also be those who have had circumstances in life happen to them which were beyond their control and they haven’t got the skills to overcome those barriers.

Either way you look at things, poor people are – well – people first and foremost; they just don’t have the financials resources to support themselves. Sure, I’d go so far as to say the decisions we make also impact our futures; and some people do make repeated questionable decisions and fail to learn from the consequences of those choices.

There are many however who just need a small break. Some kindness that comes unexpected can re-inspire a distrustful soul, or provide some measure of hope to a disgruntled job seeker. Pass on some clothing, makeup, the donation of your haircutting skills – even a smile instead of a scowl; it’s all in the little things we can do that can make a difference between giving up on looking for work or being encouraged enough to stick at it or start again.

A special word for employers too; think beyond your bottom line. No seriously. If you set out to use and abuse poor folks who don’t know their rights, you may get by paying minimum wage to people and regularly firing them just before the pass probation and starting all over again. Please remember you’re dealing with real people who often do their best just to learn simple routines having not had structure employers look for in their recent past.

Any kindness you can do makes us all better.

Respect And Applying For Welfare


If you’ve never had to apply for social assistance you probably can’t fully appreciate how demeaning it can be to many who have no other option.

In Ontario Canada, the first part of the process once you reach the decision to actually apply starts with a phone call. Now phone calls aren’t so bad for most people actually; you’re speaking with someone who can’t see you after all. During this call you give a lot of personal information over the phone and at its conclusion, you‘re given a date and time for the in-person interview.

The shame and embarrassment if it’s going to be felt at all, starts for many the moment they push open those doors and enter the reception area at a local Ontario Works office. Notice the name, “Ontario Works” is proactive and sounds more appealing than the word, “Welfare”. That’s not an accident, but despite the name, many recipients themselves refer to it by the term welfare. It is what it is by any other name I suppose.

When your time waiting is done and your name is called, you and the person conducting the interview move from reception area to interview room. I have to tell you that most Intake Verification workers are real pros; they understand what sitting there being asked normally intrusive questions is like, but ask they must. To every question asked, an answer has to be forthcoming, and while most questions are matter-of-fact, when you’re on the receiving end, many of these questions probe areas one normally doesn’t share – especially with someone they don’t know. There’s no passing on an answer, and if the answer you give is a poor one, you may be subsequently asked again for a clearer or deeper answer.

With questions probing into your financial commitments and debts, bank account numbers and balances, personal identification numbers, details on absent partners in the case of applying with children and all your assets, you can find you’re handing over more than just the facts and numbers. You may feel that with your birth certificate and health card, you’re also handing over your pride, self-esteem and self-worth. It’s not a dignified process; especially if the only personal information you’ve ever handed to anyone is your doctor or a credit card to a cashier.

One of the most difficult things you can hang on to at this point is your respect. Now my feelings are that if and when you get to the point you are applying for social assistance, you should do your best to view this process as a sign of wisdom. That may sound odd. My belief is that you have finally reached a point where accepting some financial support is smarter than not doing so and ending up homeless, in a shelter or on the streets. There you may out of necessity find yourself having to do things you’ve never contemplated just to survive – so let’s not go there.

You know, in addition to applying for and receiving money (which comes from the community tax base), one of the biggest benefits is the help that’s available to move forward with respect to training and skill development. In fact, those that are on Ontario Works for perhaps the first time often are amazed at the range of help that is available that they didn’t previously know about.

Where I work, there’s workshops on acquiring life skills (nutrition, setting goals, dealing with anger), computer basics, resume and interview preparation, how to deal with stress and frustration, building self-esteem and confidence, finding career direction, workplace health and safety training and more.

Of course there are essentially two kinds of people on assistance; those that want to take advantage of the free supports and those who don’t. Whether it’s the chip some carry on their shoulder or the belief they don’t need the help, many don’t take advantage of the help to regain their financial independence. Those that do have the attitude that while unemployed, why not take advantage of all the support they can get – especially as it’s free – in order to compete successfully and get an edge over other job seekers.

Lest you think everyone should be forced to participate in such workshops, I can tell you by experience that forcing someone with a negative attitude to take a course or workshop with the threat of suspending their benefits only makes it harder on the Facilitator of those workshops and the participants who really do want to be there. Those with the poor attitudes could potentially drive off those who could benefit the most from retraining and learning, so that’s not an answer.

Respect is the one thing you can hang onto when you’re on assistance. Respect for the help offered to you, respect for those who have to resort to social assistance that you may have in the past thought were lazy or gouging the system, and of course, try your best not to lose respect for yourself.

It is in trying situations that some people become bitter, resentful and give in to being what they most fear. Others in the same situation choose to respect their decision to get help, to work hard to regain their financial independence and appreciate those who give the help they do.

Self-respect; hang on to it no matter what your circumstances, and ease up on judging those in great need.

Thank You My Peers; This One’s For You


I want to pass on my sincere thank you to you, my colleagues who work on a daily basis advocating for those who are on social assistance. This article is specifically directed to you; as it’s all about you and the great work you do. If you like what you read, share it –not necessarily on the net; maybe with your co-workers who might miss it otherwise. Share it with your family if they wonder what it is you really do all day; your kids if you suspect they don’t have a clue about the impact you have and the tremendously important work you do.

What this isn’t is a self-serving post slapping us on the back broadcasting, “How great we are!” for anybody to hear. You know as well as I do however in the value of receiving encouragement and acknowledgement.  We dole that out all day long! So allow me to extend my 900 words of thanks and for a few moments this day, allow yourself to just read and be acknowledged.

Don’t you love those ‘light bulb’ scenarios where you see that exact moment on the face of someone you are working with who suddenly grasps what it is you’re sharing? Of course you do! It is precisely because of your intervention that they suddenly ‘get it’; ‘it’ being something that helps them move forward. Because of you, they not only know something intellectually, they understand it and own it when that moment happens; learning just transferred from you to them. Well done!

These are pretty great people we work with and for aren’t they? They have the survival skills to get by on what amounts to less than minimum wage in many jurisdictions. While many people in the general population wouldn’t remotely consider working for less than half the minimum wage; you and I know that the people we serve have no choice but to accept less than half those wages. Not only do some in society begrudge them this meagre amount to live on, those same people expect social assistance recipients to smile, be in good health, get around and look for work, get an education – but not if they can get off assistance without it of course – and keep themselves dressed and groomed smartly. Best they are thankful and don’t have a poor attitude or show discouragement either.

We however are the sensitive ones; the compassionate ones. We aren’t just bleeding hearts. We are wise enough to know holding other people in judgement for how they live their lives and the choices they make is wrong. We’ve come to understand that these social assistance recipients are… well… people. We know how intrinsically essential we become in their lives because they tell us don’t they? Not all of them of course, but many do express their gratitude and thanks. They know we are in positions of power and can help move them forward or make things more difficult. The best of us, – you of course – take that responsibility on each day with each person you interact with and sometimes we do it so naturally we think it’s no big thing. It’s huge!

We are their role models; we may be the sole person in their lives who treats them with respect and dignity. We may be the lone person who actually sees something of value in them and most importantly believes in them. I don’t exaggerate. We know how fragile some of these people are, growing up in broken homes and enduring abusive relationships. We have to walk that fine line between caring enough to be helpful and not over-caring to the point where we suffer compassion fatigue and burn out.

How many decisions do you make in a day? Now how many of those decisions impact directly on someone whose situation is so fragile that holding their assistance or releasing it means the difference between being housed or on the street? We know only a fraction of how stressful it must surely be to constantly live fraught with the worry of whether or not the cheque will arrive in time to pay the rent.

You do tremendously important work and are in a noble profession. You are simultaneously a source of finance, a figure of authority, role model, teacher, mentor, advisor, guide and helper. And sometimes – in the moments when you’ve got a pile of work on your desk and numerous phone calls to return, there you are just listening on your end of the phone to someone who just needs your ear. Frustrating at times? Absolutely when there’s so much to do and a computer system that demands your attention. But you do it nonetheless.

You and I, we’re pretty fortunate to be in such a position. Were it you and I on the other side of the table needing help and being ignorant of all the help available, we’d be so grateful to have an empathetic and caring person to help us.

A humble and sincere thank you wherever you work on this globe of ours when you toil on behalf of those who often don’t have a voice of their own; or rather their voices speak but are not heard. You are doing great work and the impact you’re having is cumulative; you may not see the progress at first, but its building. Think of how many lives you make better every day!

Want To Help Others? Help Yourself


One of the best qualities that many of those who have little possess is their willingness to give away the little they have to others who have less than themselves. I am truly surprised again and again when I see this phenomenon.

What I am not surprised with at all in working with those who are largely underemployed or unemployed and on social assistance, is that when asked about their career aspirations, they overwhelmingly talk about wanting to help others. So just to be clear, these are unemployed people with minimum wage part-time jobs or no jobs whatsoever, who are in receipt of financial assistance in order to eat and pay rent, and instead of having their hand out for more, are looking to help others. They may have hit on one of the very best attributes a person can have in doing so.

And here I am looking as objectively as I can at this person, living in poverty, living on a daily basis with the uncertainty that dependency on others requires, and thinking to myself, “You do realize you’re someone who needs help. Get yourself together first.”

Of course this inner voice that is compelling these same individuals to want to help others, resonates with them because they have been on the receiving end, and they know first-hand what it feels like to have someone reach out and offer them a hand. I think it fair to say that the people with employment that they interact with on social assistance are largely in the helping professions themselves, so the role models they see and aspire to are what they know.

In other words, if they have dealt with Social Workers, Caseworkers, Employment, Addiction and Mental Health Counsellors, Legal Aid Workers and Advocacy Workers, it is highly probable that at least one of these people at some point has had an impact on them for good; enough perhaps to make them want to do something similar.

In the middle class, we might growing up be exposed more to University Professors, business leaders, the financial sector etc., and so we might find someone in one of these professions and think to ourselves, “I’d like a job just like so-and-so. I could see myself doing that.”

Often the problem for people in poverty however is that they only see the side of the job where the person in the helping profession is meeting with them one-on-one. They don’t see the paperwork, the computer software data inputting, the theories that need mastering, the meetings, the statistic gathering, the proposal writing, the accountability. We in the professions know the schooling it took us to obtain our degrees, diplomas and Masters. Unfortunately, if we are objectively honest, we may find ourselves skeptical at best and downright unbelieving at worst, that a client in poverty battling mental health and addiction issues has what it will require to succeed in formal higher education.

Is that fair? Are we setting limits on people that we should really be encouraging? Or are we in danger of encouraging someone to strive for a job they say they want who will ultimately end up being in debt from University fees and drop out when they are overwhelmed because they lack the proper discipline and intellect to pass course exams?

There’s a danger here as we might be painting everyone in poverty and on assistance as destined for low-paying, working poor employment; and that’s just wrong. There are many in poverty who have intelligence, some with university degrees and even the odd Doctor here and there which might surprise you. It’s a testament to our ignorance; yours AND mine if we collectively think only people with low-education make up those in poverty.

One true way to help others of course does in fact remain to help yourself first. Help others down the road in other words when you’ve lifted yourself out of poverty and are self-sufficient. Get your education, get a decent paying job, or get your attitude adjusted from negative to positive. Put yourself in a place where you can rely on yourself financially, then you’ll find yourself in a position to not only help others with money if that’s your wish, but you can help them by being a living example.

It’s not enough in other words for an addict in recovery to see themselves as wanting to help others break free. Sure the intent is good, and no one knows more about what it feels like to be an addict than a recovered addict. However, to be highly effective, you’re going to need the education to go with your role as a past-user to be in a position to help others best when they are ready for your help.

Getting yourself together means setting some meaningful short and long-term goals. It means making some different and better decisions. It might mean a return to school to finish a diploma, gaining some self-respect and confidence. It might also mean putting your personal needs first and foremost at this point of your life and learning to both like and help yourself as a primary activity.

Whether it’s shaving an unruly beard, taming the wild hair, updating your wardrobe, saying, “yes” instead of “maybe someday”, you can make decisions to improve your personal life now.

It’s true; if you want to help others, help yourself first. That’s not selfish; it’s wisdom.