I make mistakes. A lot of them.
I spent too much money. I said something I shouldn’t have said. I wasted a bunch of time doing something foolish and unnecessary. I made a statement without properly knowing the facts behind it.
Each time I make a mistake, I’m left with two things.
I’m left with memories of having some fun in that moment or of the relationship I had before I stuck my foot in my mouth.
I’m also left with a fracture in my life. I don’t have the resources – time, money, relationships, etc. – to do the things I would like to be able to do.
It is extremely rare when the memories are worth the damage that I’ve done. It is extremely rare when I feel as though the choice I made to waste a bunch of time or money or to say something without thinking about it adds up to enough of a positive memory to overcome what I lost by doing it.
The reality is that most of the great memories I have don’t come from spending much money. When I think of the truly great moments I’ve had from the last year, they mostly involve time spent with Sarah or with my children or with my friends doing ordinary things.
I don’t hold shining memories in my mind of electronic devices or of the fifth beer I had in an evening.
Similarly, the great moments of my life don’t come from wasting time alone. Whenever I burn hours surfing the web or playing a computer game, I might be enjoying myself somewhat in the moment, but I don’t recall those moments later as great. When I think of the really great moments I spent alone, it’s usually during a moment of achieving something that lasts.
The Simple Dollar has always been about finding ways to use today to give yourself more choices for the rest of your life. However, simply having more choices doesn’t guarantee you a better life.
The thing I need to strive for is not just more choices, but better ones.
What can I do today that will still matter tomorrow – or, even better, will still matter in a month or a year?
Making financially smart choices is just one piece of the answer. It’s also vital to build good relationships and to make forward steps on big, challenging projects.
It is a lot harder to make a mistake when you quickly eliminate most of the options for bad choices. If you choose, right now, to make the choice that will leave you with something of value in the future, you’re going to usually make the right choice.
Choose to save a dollar instead of spending it on something you won’t remember in a day. Choose to be kind and build a relationship instead of being cruel and tearing someone apart. Choose to take a few steps forward on a personal change instead of saying it’s too hard and finding something purely fun to do.
Make those your choices and it becomes a lot harder to make a mistake.