Some mistakes involve doing things we wish we had not done. It happens, but if it happens and happens and happens again, it is probably time to take a closer look at what’s going on. Consider the following whoops areas and see if you fit one:
- Heat of the moment – you know, at the concert – woo hoo! This is awesome – I’ll buy a shirt and a CD and one of those, and it’s a special night, how about another drink or dessert? If you are consistently caught up in the moment and Good Time Charlie has gotten away with your money again, you may want to make a plan ahead of time and take cash. When it’s gone, you are done.
- It was a bad day – hate your job, fight with your ex, kids are driving you crazy and rather than “Calgon, take me away,” it’s amazon.com or the mall that takes your money away. Your brain is looking for a little feel good buzz and new shoes are just the ticket… until the bill comes and then regret is your middle name. If you are an emotional spender, admitting it is the first step. See that pattern and realize that you are looking for a distraction and something to make you feel better. A new gadget is not the best answer. Perhaps address the issue – get out some good paper and pencil and write down your feelings. Address the angst by analyzing the problem and coming up with some solutions. Get outside and get some exercise. Exercise is a better feel good medicine than all the shoes in the world and if you walk in nature, you have the added benefit of the restorative power of trees, birds and the wide open sky.
- “If I only had ______, than _____” – oh, the lovely lies we tell ourselves! “If I only had a new laptop, then I could write that book.” “If I only had a bigger house, then I wouldn’t fight with my husband.” This is expensive if we go for it and a mirage if we don’t. This thinking is actually dis-empowering because we give the power to the shiny object rather than to our abilities to solve the problem. Reverse that thinking, “Even though I don’t have _______, how could I still _______?” This gets your creative juices going, takes back your power, and saves your wallet. No more regret when the laptop or the house was not the issue in the first place.
- Fall for the “sale” – whether it is a sales guy preying on your fear of missing out or the banner in the store window, a sale on something you don’t need, is not worth falling for. Think back to all the things that you “had to have.” How many of them really became treasured items? Probably not many. Here is a great place for procrastination – wait until tomorrow and see if you really have a burning desire. You probably won’t.
These are just a few of the situations that cause us regret over actions taken. As you read through them, it may hit the nail on the head or it may remind you of other patterns unique to you. Regardless, identify the pattern, understand the trigger, and make a plan to fight back next time. Keep a journal of those regrets if you don’t immediately identify your pattern. The key to solving the problem is to recognize it and then you can focus on taking steps to avoid it in the future. In the meantime, forgive yourself and harness the power of that regret to take a new action which leads away from the pattern of regret and into the pattern of control over your responses. You’ll feel a whole lot better saying goodbye to regret.
To your financial success!