Financial Planning

Overcoming Regret

For the last while, I have been writing about topics that are directly related to your financial plan, but I thought it would be good to switch it up this week and talk about something deeper that many people struggle with financially, regret.  

Whether it comes from over swiping a credit card, not investing early enough, cashing out a 401(k), or buying a house or a car we can’t afford, regret comes from decisions in our past that we feel define us in some way. The thing about regret is that it can affect us so deeply if we do not know how to move past it. 

When you start to feel regret, you can respond in one of two ways. The first option is to dwell on the regret, beat yourself up over it, talk down to yourself, tell yourself you’re stupid, that you can’t overcome this, etc., and to be honest, this is the path many choose and it is not helpful in any way. Negative self-talk is one of the most detrimental things we can do to ourselves and it’s a cycle I don’t want you to go down. It’s a habit that can translate to other parts of your life as well if you don’t get a hold of it. But, here’s some good news for you, there are very few financial mistakes that you can’t overcome. Most are simply small setbacks that with some course correction, can be overcome rather quickly. 

Instead of dwelling on the past and beating yourself up over something you can’t change, you could use your mistake as a lesson. You can learn from the ‘dumb thing’ you did, remember it, and choose to not make that same mistake in the future. There is no way for you to time travel back and change your decision so dwelling on the past is useless. Your best option as a millennial is to move on and learn from it. Your 20’s and 30’s are meant to be filled with mistakes, not perfection. This is the time in your life where you have the most freedom and the least amount of people to take care of. Understand you’re evolving and learning — making mistakes is all part of the process. Give yourself a break. 

I challenge you this week when you have some downtime to think about the mistakes you have made financially over the years. How did you handle each one? What could you have done differently? How can you avoid similar mistakes in the future? 

This simple exercise will help you be better prepared to handle big financial decisions in the future and avoid the mistakes you used to make.