The Opportunity of a Lifetime
Note: this post appeared on my previous blog and was published 06.25.2018
This summer I've been fortunate to coach the All Star baseball team our son, Thomas, plays on. I've been coaching our kids' sports teams for nearly 10 years now, but this is my first time coaching a team where every kid is a good player. They are all good at catching, throwing and hitting. They're All Stars but they're not Major Leaguers (yet!). In fact, they're only 8 years old. A few are only 7.
And as 7 & 8 year olds are prone to do, they make mistakes like missing a ground ball or throwing the ball to the wrong base or any other number of mistakes we can make on the ballfield. So this summer we've created a catch phrase:
"It's okay to make mistakes."
Amazing what's happened to the boys, how much freer they play when they know it's okay to make a mistake. We talk a lot about that, that we're not perfect, even us coaches, and we all make mistakes.
The important part here is we have to learn from our mistakes. Otherwise we're dealing with Einstein's definition of insanity. And so we talk about the mistake and how we can learn and get better from it.
We also talk about making a mistake and then not making another mistake right behind it aka compounding mistakes. These lead to long innings when we're in the field, trust me! More on these later.
I'm a firm believer that learning from our mistakes is the Opportunity of a Lifetime. Because it takes a lifetime. Learning is how we get better, it's how we improve, it's how we achieve. Not only on the ballfield, or at work, or at home. But also in our financial lives.
I need more fingers and toes to count all the financial mistakes I've made. Like running up massive credit card debt when I got out of college. You might say I "Discover-ed" my early 20's! I also leased my first car out of college and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Ugh, that was a disaster. Thankfully, I've been able to learn from those and the rest of them.
And there are other opportunities for us to learn from our financial lives. Maybe 2008/2009 was a learning opportunity in what not to do with your investments, or how to behave around them. Maybe the recovery over the subsequent years was another learning opportunity. Maybe we missed a financial opportunity, or took a chance on a financial opportunity that didn't pan out. Maybe we didn't start saving as early as we could have. I could go on and on…you get the picture.
Hopefully we don't compound those mistakes, because the compounding mistake is a big no-no. We bailed on the market in 2009 because it was down 30-40% and we didn't want to lose any more money. Then we sat on the sidelines until 2012 or 2013 to get back in, because we just knew it was going to crash again. Now we're in a real pickle, because we sold at the low point, and missed all of the recovery and then some. Compounding mistake...double whammy!
So we take these mistakes and we learn from them. It's not about being right or wrong. Rather, how can we get better, how can our balance sheets, our retirement be better? What can we do in the future to keep from making the same mistakes?
I think it starts and ends with having a financial advisor. Someone who can help prevent you from making rash decisions, ill advised decisions, or just plain dumb decisions. Like racking up massive credit card debt. Someone who can hold you accountable to your financial decisions and your balance sheet. Someone who can help you do well and be well, financially.
It's the opportunity of a lifetime.