Do yourself a favor. Stop for a minute and ask yourself what you want your life to look like. Picture yourself in that moment when you have got it made. Where are you? What are you doing? Who do you share this moment with?
The future image you are seeing will be the results of things you do now. Your Decisions! No matter how big or small, decisions push the narrative that is your life, from your health, relationships, to your financial freedom. Questions steer your life away from regrets and towards happiness.
I read the book Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets – written by Andy Stanley, an Atlanta GA pastor. He listed key questions that we should ask ourselves when faced with important decisions. Filled with his own life experiences, research citations and Biblical stories, he ponders what it means to ask them in your own life. Below are some of those questions that we can use in our financial life.
1. Am I being honest with myself? Really?
From the time that I started my PT career, I stacked my life with appointments, purchases, and extra work that begs my attention. These all came from decisions that I made in the past. Past me thought saying yes to everything and buying a mountain of stuff needing another PRN work to fund them was a great idea.
If I had asked the question, “Am I being honest with myself? Really?” I would’ve avoided half of those problems. The verse, “The truth will set you free,” maybe mystical, but it has a point. The truth is I could had been contented with less stuff, so I could’ve worked a lot less.
Before swiping your card, signing that lease, or checking out your cart, stop and ask the question. Do I want to spend the X amount of dollars to get this? Really? Will “insert purchase here” add up value to my life? Really? Am I willing to work insane number of hours a week for this? Really?
Ask it out loud or in your head but be honest with yourself. You don’t even have to act on it, but you owe it to yourself to know.
2. What story do I want to tell?
Regrets are often told at the final moments of life surrounded by the loved ones. An already tragic moment burdened by things that could have been done, words that could have been said and decisions that could have been made. A picture of someone who didn’t live their life the way they want to. Decisions were made that resulted in a story that they couldn’t proudly tell.
It takes me back to one of the habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey. “Begin with the End in mind.” Reflecting on the life you want reinforces your values, the connections that support you and the things that gives you true happiness. A perspective that impacts decisions that you make now.
This is the reason it’s important to ask your “Why of FI.” Your financial independence story will motivate and guide you in every decision you make. Good or bad they will write the future that you are going to live and tell.
Ask yourself if you want stories of never missing a kid’s birthday party for a work? Are you okay with the narrative of debt and financial insecurity ruling your life? Are your words at retirement, “I should’ve worked less and lived more?”
Let the end goal be the motivation for every step you make now. Imagine a picture of the life you want to tell and start painting the strokes that will become your life’s masterpiece.
3. What is the wisest thing to do?
Although there is a saying that wisdom comes with age, acquiring knowledge from books and learning from the experiences of others could be of value in any field we wish to excel. Combining theoretical and practical knowledge can help us discover the wisest thing to do.
As money decision comes, you can ask, “What is the wisest thing to do with my tax refund?” If you don’t have an emergency or retirement fund, it might be wise to save for those. Getting into debt to buy a new car or house? Before you commit and sign, think “What is the wisest thing to do?” You may realize something that will save you money and years of regret.
Live with Intention
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Examine your life by asking these questions. Make sure you are part of writing your life story. Avoid an avalanche of regret by being honest with yourself. Seek wisdom and apply them in every decision. Life is made one mindful (or mindless) decision at a time. Get the answers, not to beat yourself up, but because you deserve to know.