There’s a simplistic purity or magic when it comes to getting second chances – depending on how you choose to use it of course.
Simplistic in the sense that you can just apply lessons from past experiences and improve.
Purity in the sense that a second chance is basically a new page, or fresh canvas, in which you can map out a new path as your trod through your personal journey.
And magic in the sense that if the right choices are made/taken, second chances can lead to the creation of a totally new you. Arguably a better version of yourself.
Now, if you read my previous article on things I wish I knew in my 20s, this is me giving you a little continuation of the fly-on-the-wall view of my thoughts moving forward as I trudge through what I hope will be the glorious 30s.
A kind of how the mistakes 'of a younger man', as I like to describe them, helped me activate a change of strategy in order to achieve my personal goals.
Could this new found drive have been done earlier? Yes. But, therein lies the beauty of optimising second chances. Sometimes you just have to battle through the storm to really appreciate the sunny days.
Writing Things Down Actually Works
It may sound cliché but there indeed is some science to the ‘magic’ of writing things down. After learning a few nuggets about journaling from my all-too-disciplined partner, I would say I am turning out to be quite good at this.
I started out with the gratitude journal - which I confess was probably my way of killing off the guilt of squandering both cash and opportunities in my earlier years. If you are not familiar with the gratitude journal, it simply means a journal dedicated to things you are thankful for - making entries every day from something as simple as a warm cup of coffee in the morning, a small compliment from a colleague and so on.
I found it to be very therapeutic and since I fill it every morning, I now always get a big burst of energy as I head out to work.
This helped me transition to writing down my daily goals and monthly budget complete with a shopping list as well as to-do lists for work.
Writing it down on paper has a sort of ‘haunting’ effect. If you carry that notebook with you always, from my experience, you will dramatically increase your chances of completing tasks you've set out to do as well as obeying your expenditure boundaries.
Neuropsychologists have identified the ‘generation effect’ which theorises that individuals demonstrate better memory for material they’ve created themselves than for material they’ve merely read.
Studies have also shown that we remember things better when we write them down ourselves. And even better, when it's on paper as compared to other digital mediums.
Vividly describing your goals and elaborating your financial plans down on paper can be strongly associated with goal success.
You can bet my thirties will be characterised by better planning, reflection and hopefully this financial discipline I think I am developing will persist, and I can potentially gloat about the dividends soon.
Starting Over is Independent of Time
It’s never too late to start over, nor does delayed success mean failure.
You just wake up one day and realize that you are in your mid 30s, with zero ideas of where exactly you’re going. I am beginning to get comfortable with the fact that I can hit the ‘reset’ button and re-strategise.
The key thing is to avoid the temptation of lingering in the past. As you already know, I did not make the best of choices in my 20s, but who did? Well, of course there are outliers who really made the best of their 20s, but I have chosen to plough through this decade of my life with the tenacity of a rally driver (yeah, I know.)
Don't get me wrong, I am still figuring it out - whether I need to start living lean, sharpen my networking skills, pitch for international publications, build a monetisation strategy for my blog or finally experiment with that antique business my best friend has been nudging me to, I will - but the overall goal is to make get the best worth for my time.
Celebrated actor Samuel L Jackson didn’t get his big break until 1991 when he appeared in Jungle Fever (aged 43). The takeaway here is that success doesn’t come when we want it to - it is a function of hard work, strategy and some element of luck.
Do you agree with this? Read more here>>>Is the key to financial success hard work, risk or luck?
Saving Actually Saves
This a no-brainer at the moment, but it wasn’t so clear during my larger-than-life days. I won't lie, I kinda still miss the bliss, carefree life of a 20-year-old. So few responsibilities, so much free time! Or so I thought.
More often than not, the hardest thing when it comes to savings is getting started. However, with some self-discipline and a laid out routine, you can make it easier for yourself.
While I did save a part of my salary in my 20s, I made one crucial mistake. I didn't really have a definite goal I was saving towards - I think it just felt like the right thing to do.
You know what else felt right to do? Yes, withdrawing that entire amount for some unplanned purchase or impromptu holiday and beating myself up later. If were to chart out the balance of my then savings account against time, I bet a nice zigzag line would be traced for deposits and withdrawals.
30-year-old me, however, is unlikely to encounter these challenges, having identified the right savings account for me that limits my withdrawals and actually gives me interest, and with a couple of goals I am saving towards, I honestly feel like I have got this. Plus, I think this is the decade I will become a daddy. Drumroll, please!
Savings can literally be the difference between life and death, as emergencies are unexpected.
Don’t Forget to Live, Balance is Key
This has to be the most important lesson I’ve picked up over the years. We are so often caught up in the pursuit of financial success that we end up losing sight of the little things that matter.
As a rule, when you make some money make sure to pay yourself first.
This could be by taking a loved one on a date, taking a trip to replenish your energy or even visiting with family.
Time is fleeting and with the current pandemic, it becomes even more clearer how important it is to make some time for the things that really matter to you.
You could start by writing it down as part of your periodical routine or plan. Writing things down, as I said, works.