How Did I Get Here?

by Jackie Beck

Life is a series of small choices that, taken together, led to where you are today. So you may want to ask yourself…how did I get here?

Especially if you aren’t yet where you’d love to be financially, taking a step back to figure out what the heck happened is an excellent thing to do.

The right way to ask

The trick is to question yourself in a way that’s going to be productive.

You don’t want your “how did I get here” flashback to turn into a blame-fest where you berate yourself for all the stupid things you’ve done over the years. (And hey, we’ve all done them.) But you also don’t want to be too easy on yourself, living in the excuse-filled land of “well but…”.

Instead, think of this little trip back in time as an opportunity to ask what you could have done differently. (And what you’ll never do again.)

Different choices, different results

Let’s take the time I charged a car repair in my twenties as an example. (Who am I kidding, it wasn’t just “a” car repair, it was several…) That’s one of the things that caused me to be in debt.

And I don’t mean the car breaking down. I mean the decision to charge the car repair because I didn’t have the money to repair it.

What would have been some alternatives? I could have ridden the bus instead, and waited until I had the money. That would have been a different choice that would have given me different (and better!) results.

I know, some of you are out there thinking to yourself “but I don’t live in an area with public transportation.”

Ok, so what could you have done differently if you were in that situation?

You have a time machine

Remember, you have a time machine today. You can go back to the point in time before your car broke down. Could you, for example, have saved up a car repair fund ahead of time? I’m guessing yes. Be creative.

Use your time machine to figure out what you could have changed about the situation. And then change it from here on out. Put a good plan in place, based on preventing the financial mistakes you made in the past.

That way, 5 years from now, you won’t be looking back wondering how you got here. Instead, you’ll be somewhere awesome, and you’ll know exactly how you got there.

Posted in Emergency Funds | 8 comments.

8 Responses to How Did I Get Here?

  1. Walking that line between beating ourselves up about past mistakes and giving ourselves “well but…” excuses is tough. I go both ways sometimes. It’s nice to have a wife that brings up the other side, so in the end, I can see things both ways. And like you said, learn from it and move on.

  2. krantcents says:

    Everything I do is part of a bigger plan. It helps me achieve my goals. I believe in making small changes to achieve the desired results. I think it makes the changes last and easier to make into habits.

  3. You make a really great point. It’s not very productive to discourage yourself or excuse yourself. I’ve long blamed my problems on being indecisive about a career in college, resulting in extra years of school. I may not have the opportunity to avoid the same mistakes, but hopefully, I’ll be able to share the knowledge with my children.

    • Jackie says:

      There might be other things you could avoid being indecisive about though. (Although I’m not sure extra years of school is necessarily bad…)

  4. My time machine would take me back to before we bought this house. And I’d tell my then-self not to buy until we’d lived in the area longer! I’ve definitely learned from my mistakes and will be applying them to the next time we shop for a home.

  5. Pauline says:

    You can’t beat yourself up for things of the past, but you can accept that only you put yourself there and only you can dig yourself out. It may take time and not be easy but that is the only way out.