Saturday, June 23, 2007

Not Getting Discouraged

Lately I've been somewhat discouraged. In short, I hurt my back while exercising so my exercise routine is down the drain and while I tried to 'work around' the problem, I'm convinced that I am making it worse, so I have decided to stop exercising until I feel better.

Yesterday, I was out for lunch with an old college classmate. It was a great time and we were able to catch up about friends and people we knew etc. But after a little bit of time, we talked about finances. During the lunch I discovered that despite how well I was doing with paying off my debt, I was apparently quite behind.

He did an amazing job of paying off his college loans right after college. I had mixed emotions at that point. I was happy for him, but irritated that I hadn't done the same thing. I guess this is why it ranks as one of the biggest financial mistakes I've made. It is also why I crusade against student loan debt and work very hard to talk to people I meet about their college debt situation.

If I can help anyone through the pain I've dealt with, I will. But after dealing with it, I realize that my situation is not bad since I have been aggressively paying off debt. Sure it wasn't a great situation, but the money wasn't wasted entirely since I own a condo.

The important thing to realize about your financial situation is this: there's always someone doing better and doing worse than you. Look to those doing better for inspiration, not a measuring stick. And look to those doing worse as someone who you can educate (if they want it) not scold or discipline.

Removing the self-judgment once the problem is identified and being worked on is key in order to progress financially and feel stronger emotionally going forward. But then again, sometimes I need to be reminded of old lessons.


GradGirl said...

Oh, such wise words! It is SO easy to compare, isn't it?

But you're right: there will always be someone better off.

Good thoughts.

Kevin said...

I like to run. I've been running for over 15 years now. When I run a race (which I haven't in a while), there are always people MUCH faster than I am. There are also people *running* at a speed I would consider a fast walk. If you compare yourself to the others out there you are going to either beat yourself up for being so slow or get a swelled head from being so fast -- you can do either just depending on whether you look at all the folks ahead of you or all those behind.

I've run U.S. Marines into the ground.

I've been passed by 12-year-old girls.

Comparisons are useless.

Personal finance is the same way. You run the race for YOU. You look at how you did yesterday, last week and last year. You measure against yourself because it doesn't matter where you stand compared to anyone else. Your accomplishment is based on how far you've come, not how well anyone else is doing.