By Mohan Karulkar: dry_basement[1]When we bought our house, we knew our basement needed work. It was partially finished, and in desperate need of some updating. What we didn't know was that under all the old panelling and floor tiles, there were some serious water problems. Once they revealed themselves, we should have known we were in for more than we thought.

Unfortunately, we had blinders on. We had a dream basement planned out, with all the HGTV trimmings. This was "100" on our scale of basement awesomeness. We thought in terms of "100," and planned, budgeted, and dreamed accordingly.

What we should have realized is that the water problems brought the basement WAY lower on the "scale" than where we originally thought we were. When you have water every time it rains, a persistent musty smell, and mold growing behind 60 year old panelling, you're at like -57 on the scale. You have no business thinking about 100.

You need to get your basement back to zero.

And that's where we are now. We finally realized that dreaming about the perfect basement was pointless if we couldn't solve the structural and health issues first. So we shifted our focus on getting the basement back to zero. Fix the water problems, demolish the moldy and gross stuff, and replace the horrid wiring.

Heck, at this point, we may just LEAVE it at zero so the next guy can build his dream basement. And we're happy. We have a dry, functional, blank-slate basement that no longer stresses me out. On most days, anyway.

So here's the hook. WE are like basements. We all have a dream version of ourselves in our head. Dream job, dream salary, dream family, dream body. And sometimes we focus in so tightly on that dream version -- that "100" version -- that we fail to realize we're at -57 and need to worry about getting ourselves back to zero first. Some of us are hurt, confused, broken ... and we need to simply be healed before we can pursue bigger things. When we get stuck thinking of 100, we get paralyzed because it's so far away, and we can't even see the next step.

Before thinking of 100, get back to zero first.  Here are some things you need that will set you up for success:

  • the permission to recover: no more getting down on yourself because you aren't where you always hoped you'd be.
  • the time to recover: stop being in a rush to finish the journey.  You don't have to prove anything to anyone.
  • the resources to recover:  It's time to ditch the enabling boyfriend, the bridal magazine subscriptions, and the town that just won't let you forget.   It's time to find people who will support you (welcome to POTSC!), and sources for inspiration and instruction. Join a support group, a church, a bowling team, something.

Let today be the day you take your eyes off 100 and set your eyes on zero.  There's nothing quite like a blank slate, and who knows, maybe you'll change your mind about what 100 even looks like.  You'll never know till you're back at zero.