5.07.2012

Learning From and Applying Principles of Past Mistakes

I talk a lot about motivation and pushing yourself, as well as what made me stronger. Today I want to talk about learning from mistakes.

When I was swimming in consumer debt, I thought I was happy. I thought that all of the material possessions that I kept on buying would make me content, but nope; every time I added something new to my pile of "stuff," I was already onto the next treasure of my hunt. In addition, I realized I had no motivation in many other areas of my life - no motivation to do quality work, to further my education, and to live a healthy life. I was just going through the motions each day, feeling numb to it all. It was an endless cycle and I am very lucky to have broken out of it.

Financial mistakes I used to make: 
  • Paying the minimum payment on my credit card each month.
  • Carrying a balance on my credit card and paying interest.
  • Purchasing items impulsively.
  • Wasting money on the gas and postage to return items I was iffy about in the first place.
  • I wasn't saving money.
  • I wasn't planning for the future.
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Learning From Mistakes

The first step in learning from mistakes is to acknowledge that a mistake was made. I knew that my current system was all wrong, and I wanted to get out of the financial mess I had put myself in.

Next, I had to pinpoint what the causes of the mistake were. I was in debt because I was a selfish bastard who was only thinking of what I wanted at that moment. My ignorance in managing money was showing and it was bringing me down. I had to get educated regarding my finances and quickly.

I read books, consulted other PF blogs, tracked my spending, said no to urges, went through shopping anxietymotivated myself, and enlisted the help of my BF. I felt like the puzzle was finally coming together. After that shake up (I like to call it my financial turning point), I wanted to apply this same model of hard work and success towards other parts of my life.

Fitness goals and education goals were added onto my long list of financial goals. I'm no longer overwhelmed by what needs to be done, but instead I have this "can do" attitude. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true.

What really stood out to me was that I was learning from and applying principles of past mistakes.

Applying Principles of Past Mistakes

Now that I will be going back to school, it's going to be another huge challenge. I want to take what I have done wrong when I was getting my undergrad, and apply it towards my second chance at doing well in school.

When I first started college, I was sheltered. I went to private school my entire life with the same group of kids for many, many years (K-12). I went to an all-girls high school and our graduating class was only about 100ish students. I was ready to party!

Now it's time to buckle up, and I'm going to give it my best shot by implementing the following:
  • Don't be lazy. I was extremely lazy during undergrad. I never wanted to do homework and I was a huge procrastinator.
  • Don't skip class. I can't believe that I used to skip my 7am and 8am classes all the time just because I couldn't get up in the morning.
  • Don't be afraid. I was afraid, afraid of being shot down by teachers and afraid of looking like the only person who was enjoying class.
  • Participate. No one liked the people who participated in class a lot. I'm going to be that person haha. Also I want to participate in more organizations and clubs. I wish I had done that more in college.
  • Look at the big picture. The whole point of being in school is to learn, get a job, and become successful. I don't think that I was in that state of mind when I was in college. I'm going to keep reminding myself of why I am in school and what I want out of it.
  • Aim higher. I remember a lot of people saying that you only needed a 2.0 to not fail out of school. What no one tells you is that you should try to do your very best and keep aiming for better grades, more knowledge, more experience. 
  • Prioritize. I won't have anything else to do at home but since a lot of my friends live there, I'll have to stay focused and prioritize school as #1.
  • Network. I wish I had done more of this while I was in college, since a lot of resources, professors, alumni, and classmates could have helped me in the future.
  • Surround myself with like-minded individuals. Lastly, I wish I had stayed around the people that were motivated and successful. Stay away from people who don't have goals or ambition, they'll just bring you down.
I'm hoping that writing it all down here will serve as a reminder and will help keep me accountable. I want to do the very best I can, because I know I didn't put in my full effort the first time around. I'm more mature now and I should be able to see what kind of academic potential I am capable of this time.

It doesn't mean that I won't make mistakes. I'm human and I will probably forget things. My goal is to focus on past mistakes that I have made in order to do it right the second time. I'm not saying that I shouldn't have made those mistakes in the first place, because after all, we learn from mistakes and we grow from them. They made us who we are today.

What past mistakes have you learned from? If you are given a second chance, what mistakes would you like to change and which ones would you do all over again?

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