What stage of life are you in? I heard a great message at church this week related to stages of life and I couldn’t help but think about my early choices in life. How often do you find yourself dealing with current situations because of a choice you made in your past?
I frequently find myself stuck in current situations because of the decisions I made when I was younger. Think about it; the current career you have is because of a choice you made in the past. Just like your current financial situation is due to the decisions you made yesterday, or even 10 years ago.
Learning From The Past While Learning To Let Go
If you’re anything like me, you get stuck dwelling on certain mistakes or decisions.
How could I have been so dumb? I can’t believe I let that happen. Why do I always do that?
You may be fully aware that beating yourself up is not the most healthy solution but it can be difficult to overcome your own mind. Each past choice or decision, especially financial ones, are dripping with life lessons. Lessons we can either chose to build upon and improve or dwell on into infinity.
To improve your financial future, you need to get to a place where you are able to learn from your past and move forward without letting it negatively affect your future. Just because you may have been terrible with money in the past, it doesn’t mean you are doomed to repeat it.
Your past choices do not define you, and your identity does not need to be your past mistakes.
“Those Who Forget The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It?”
You may have heard this phrase coined by George Santayana. George was a Spanish philosopher who more specifically stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This quote certainly holds true but it is focused on learning from past mistakes and not repeating them over and over. Dwelling on your past is not what George had in mind.
How long are we going to regret past decisions? Those past memories and experiences can not be changed. We only have control of the present moment – which will influence our future. The effects of these poor choices continue to roll with us as we enter new stages of life – unless we consciously choose to rectify our past errors and stop making the same poor decisions.
In order to be healthier tomorrow, you must change what you do today. If you continue to live life the same way each day – you can not expect anything to change. This brings to mind another favorite quote of mine:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
If you are not happy with your weight or your money problems you must make a change – today. What would it feel like to be skinny again? What would it feel like to be debt-free again?
Do you even remember what it felt like?
How Can I Forget About The Past And Move Forward?
Sure I can sit here and write about how easy it is to move on from the past and mold your future – but that $100,000 student loan bill and the tens of thousands of credit card debt are still here, no matter how much you want to forget it.
If you’re ready to change your future, you need to make a conscious decision to change your identity.
“I’m bad with money,” means you are living in your past experiences and not ready to move on.
“I WAS bad with money,” means you’re ready to start a new chapter in your life and take control of your present moments and your future.
Follow These Three Steps To Let Things Go And Move On
The best way to change the future involves convincing ourselves that change is actually possible. Good intentions are great but if they are not backed up with confidence and drive, they will fall short.
1. Make The Decision To Let Your Past Go
There is so much I wish I could change about my past based on what I know now. I have caught myself saying, “If I knew in high school what I know now…” because hindsight is always 20/20. It’s because (normally) we become smarter over time. Looking back at the past hurts and I don’t really want to experience that emotional pain again.
It has taken a long time, but I have finally started to realize how powerful my mind is. When I make the decision to do something and I refuse to give up, I usually find a way to achieve my goal.
The key is refusing to give up. If you want to change your future, make the decision to let go of your negative past financial mistakes and refuse to give up until you reach your goal of getting out of debt and eliminating your money stress. Your mental health depends on it!
2. Refuse To Be A Victim
At times we get stuck in the rut of thinking we are a constant victim and everything that happens to us is out of our control. When this happens, we are pretty much throwing in the towel and are willing to live with whatever life throws at us.
That powerless feeling can keep us from actually doing something about our situation. We can’t wait for the world to change our lives or improve our situation. If we do, we will be waiting forever.
Instead of feeling hopelessly stuck, the best way to change our circumstances is to decide that change is possible and we will no longer be a victim of our circumstances. When it comes to money, you may be in a bad position because of things that were out of your control or created by someone else – but how you deal with it is your choice. Make the choice to be the one in charge from now on.
3. Forgive Yourself Once And For All
Oh – that word forgiveness. Do you struggle to forgive yourself for your past mistakes? You may move on from things, but do you truly “forgive?” I want to let you in on a little secret. We all screw up. I have done many dumb things over the years that only my wife and God know about – and they love me anyway.
Truth bomb: Your screwups are not unique.
I don’t care what you have done or how far in debt you are. Someone else has been where you are and climbed out. There is always a way out if you’re willing to do the work. If you’re ready to start living, instead of merely surviving, that change begins with you. Today is your day – don’t wait until tomorrow!
Let it go – you’re screwups are no bigger than mine in the grand scheme of things. You deserve so much more – even if you don’t believe it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, do something different and make it a good day!
Understand That Debt Is Not Your Friend
That debt you carry with you today, those credit cards, that expensive truck payment, that cable bill that continues to go up, is going to stay with you for the rest of your life if you do not make a change. Your current lifestyle is not working and it is only going to get worse. If you are slowly chipping away at your debt but still spending more than you should, you will never save enough to retire.
Life may be tolerable now, but what about when you’re older and have less energy to deal with the stress? The stress is only going to increase in the future if you don’t deal with it today.
We all have made choices in our past that affect us to this day. Even if we don’t admit it, many of us are comfortable with the chaos. Those monthly payments we make have become comfortable and we have resigned to the fact that this is how life will always be. Stop lying to yourself! You don’t need cable TV if you have debt. You don’t need that motorcycle if you have debt. You don’t need to be in debt!
Does Everyone Make Big Mistakes?
Absolutely! I am a personal finance blogger who has made a TON of financial mistakes. Why then should you listen to me? Simply because I have made mistakes and have learned from them. What better way for you to avoid future problems than by learning from others’ mistakes?
I had a foreclosure years ago because I made a dumb financial decision and bought a condo with an interest-only loan. After the 5 year ARM ended, I could no longer afford my payments. I was such a dummy! However, as dumb as I was then, I learned from my stupid decisions and decided I would educate myself so I wouldn’t repeat my mistakes.
I don’t care what you did in the past – your future is in your hands.
Define A New “Normal”
The point is, whatever your normal is now – is comfortable. Stressful yes, but it is your norm and you are used to it. The idea of cutting back or making significant changes may sound scary. Let me remind you, you work hard and deserve to enjoy life to the fullest extent right?
The kids are only young once so that much needed Disney trip should go on the credit card right? I have 3 kids and I completely agree we should cherish every moment with them and create memories on a constant basis – they are only young once. I am also a huge Disney fan. If my wife would have let me, we would have been married in Cinderella’s Castle – but I digress. However, my kids will remember those days playing board games at home and Friday popcorn and movie night (DVD) just as much as that big expensive Disney trip – I promise.
Your kids need time with you, not expensive outings that put you further in debt.
If you can’t control your spending for yourself, do it for your kids. Your children will learn how to manage their future finances based on how you manage your money. If you are a train wreck and live in the moment, chances are some or all of your children may follow in your footsteps. It’s your job to get your finances in order – that is one of the necessary skills you should be teaching them as they grow older. Do as I say not as I do has never worked out well.
Wrapping It All Up And Letting It Go
As I continue on rambling, let me get back to the main reason I started with this article. We all go through different stages in our life. From elementary school to teenage years and high school, to college and careers, marriage, children, divorces, etc. Each stage has the ability to influence the future stage, for the better or worse.
In regards to finances, we can either continue on with our poor decisions that we will regret in the future, or we can change our lifestyle to set us up for success rather than failure.
Stop dwelling on the past and realize that it is not who you have to be in the future. You could look back in 5 years and remember this day as the day you changed your future. Each success story started with a radical change in direction. Get out of your comfort zone and make the choice to change your future, you deserve so much more than this!
If you need a place to get started, check out my article on budgets: How Do I Create A Monthly Budget?
If you have a budget in place and need help with your debt, check out: Simple Steps To Start Your Debt Free Life!
Forget The Past And Move On Secular Quotes (for extra motivation)
- Forget the past – the future will give you plenty to worry about. (George Allen, Sr.)
- If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go. (Steve Maraboli)
- In football, I have learned to forget the past, think about the present, and the future will come as it may – thinking about it would be a mistake. (Gerard Deulofeu)
- Renew, release, let go. Yesterday’s gone. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back. You can’t should’ve done something. You can only DO something. Renew yourself. Release that attachment. Today is a new day! (Steve Maraboli)
- You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk. (Louise Smith)
- Letting go and forgetting the past is easier said than done, but never use the past as an excuse to not care about your future. (Jayden Hayes)
Forget The Past And Move On Bible Quotes (for extra inspiration)
- Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. (1 Corinthians 9:24)
- Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
- “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.” (Isaiah 43:18)
- Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
- Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
This article originally appeared on Arrest Your Debt.