Imagine what things would change in your life if you could go back in time and have a conversation with your younger self? What would you both chat about? Family, friends, relationships, finances, health, dreams and goals?
Imagine having the ability to take advantage of every massive opportunity that came your way whilst also dodging some of the unnecessary hardships. Wouldn’t your life be monumentally better? Some might argue to the contrary that life is instead shaped by our mistakes rather than our successes. We would probably all admit that we wouldn’t be the people we are without the mistakes. Yet, we would also admit that we wish we could have at least avoided a few of them here and there.
As this website is devoted to helping people rocket ahead in their personal finance journey, I always like to give one or two constructive tips in each post that can be applied directly to your current financial situation. Rather than unproductively navel gazing, can we glean any life lessons from looking back to the past?
Looking back on our past gives us a profound insight into how we can create a brighter future for ourselves and our family. As we look back we can analyse the great opportunities that we pounced upon, as well as those that we missed. We can learn from those moments of fortune as we try to replicate more of those situations. We can also seek to avoid those misfortunate situations as we try to insulate ourselves from repeating those errors.
7 Examples of Looking Back to Look Forward
- Calculate how much you’ve paid off on your mortgage in the past five years. This paints a picture of where your money has been going. Could you manage to pay an extra $100 per week off the principal? What would your home loan look like in 10 years time from making this decision today?
- Comb through your wardrobe and look at the graveyard of ever changing fashion. Next time you’re out clothes shopping, maybe this memory might help you to gain some perspective when you see the latest clothing fad.
- Look at the cars you’ve owned over the past decade. How much would you estimate car expenditure has cost your family? Ever buy new? Could you drive a more modest vehicle and use the saved money to put towards income producing investments?
- Think of the missed investment opportunities. They’re the ‘If onlys’ you talk about with your mates. They’re the Apples, the Costcos, the Alibabas and the Facebook investments that you’ve missed out on. To learn from past events, keep an eye out for the future world-changing ideas that are right in front of you.
- Work out how much you have saved for your retirement. Consider salary sacrificing an additional $20 a week to change the living standard you will experience in the future. Don’t forget that compound interest is a powerful friend!
- Reminisce about the memorable take out/restaurant meals that you’ve had. What was it that made these experiences so great? Compare that to the weekly ‘eat outs’ that barely even induced a smile. Perhaps look towards reducing the amount of incidental eat outs and instead save them for special circumstances where you do something eat some unique and special with amazing people you care about.
- How much have you spent on electronic contraptions over the years? I’m talking televisions, CDs, DVDs, set top boxes, laptops, mobile phones, tablets etcetera. They all need continual upgrading. Could your life be as equally pleasant with the absence of one or two devices? What would this save you per year?
We each have (if we’re lucky), an average of 82 years on this earth nowadays. Time ticks by incredibly quickly and I’m beginning to understand this more the older I get. We all make mistakes, but they really are only mistakes if we choose not to learn from them. Have a think about where all your big wins might come from in the next 10 years and position yourself to take full advantage of them in the years ahead.
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