Maria Newton is a high-powered woman in corporate America who first came to First Steps To Success back in 2008. Maria, what was your life like before First Steps To Success?
I was working and working in my career, like 70-80 hours a week. I stayed late, I took work home with me and even when I wasn’t working it was in my head. I never turned it off. I would hit lows and highs because I was taught that you had to work hard and do your very best. So I was working and working but I wasn’t hitting my goals and felt like I was hitting a wall.
Why did you work that much?
To get ahead. So I could get those things that I dreamed of that I thought were important. Things like being successful and being looked at as being successful.
You worked a lot of hours in corporate America, making plenty of money, so how did you end up in debt?
Debt? It was ridiculous. Part of that, obviously I didn’t know it then but I know now, I was spending to make myself feel better. But I was over $200K in debt with student loans, credit cards and just spending.
So what were the credit cards for?
Clothes, entertainment, travel.
When did you realize it was a problem?
I knew because with the credit card it was like ok, “You don’t have as much money as you think you do!” And I just looked at the bill one day and was like this is crazy! I can’t even do the things that were important to me down the road that I wanted to do because of this debt. It was overwhelming.
What was important to you down the road?
I always loved traveling and I still do. But I wanted to not only go on a trip for myself but I wanted to go with other people, for other people. So the travel isn’t just about me.
What changed after your first First Steps To Success?
The very first thing that I remember that caught me was to prosper where I was planted. Because we can always find something wrong with someone else. So I took that internally and said I need to do what I need to do and not worry about anyone else.
You were working 80 hours a week! It sounds like you already were working diligently, so how did this apply to you?
I wanted to be in that position in that corner office. And so I was like instead of focusing on that job I actually focused on my current job.
So since you started focusing on your current job instead of coveting another job, what has happened?
I’ve grown my influence, and yes I have gotten promoted but the thing that blows me away and I was just thinking about this the other day, I literally have gotten 3 positions with no face-to-face interviews. Based on my influence of people just saying, “you need to hire this woman.”
So what has changed in your career and finances since 2008?
My career and income has steadily increased. I have to say this because it is totally crazy but I had a period of time where I was working and the economy wasn’t affecting me even though a lot of other people were getting hit hard. And then all the sudden I hit that period where I didn’t have any work coming in, and the only thing that sustained me was that I had been putting money in savings since 2008, paying down my debt and stopped spending like a crazy nut. I wouldn’t have made it through that bad time if I hadn’t been preparing for years and changed my spending habits.
Now that you have been able to focus on your dream to travel, what is one place that really stands out to you?
I would have to say either Belize or Brazil.
Belize, why Belize?
Belize is beautiful and the people are so beautiful and amazing. They will steal your heart.