My bag of regret lately has been neglecting to workout. I have been so into my job—making sure I’m there early and staying late—that by the time I get home, I tell myself I’m too tired. I lie to myself and say I will get up extra early the next day and work out, and don’t. Then at work, where they have delicious treats in the break room throughout the day, I mindlessly munch on things I know I shouldn’t.
Four weeks later, I’m seven pounds heavier, I feel sluggish and I’m full of regret. I want to blame my poor workout habits and poor eating habits on my job. I mean, why do they stock the office with cookies, cake and cheese? But the truth is that in addition to that, I eat out every single day for lunch and I’ve even added a gourmet breakfast sandwich to my mornings. I’m totally out of control!
It’s not my job, it’s me. My choices.
We all have decisions to make daily—some big and some small. These decisions determine whether we will reach our goals or stay unfulfilled and unhappy. Mine, right now, is my weight. And I will get in under control. I have to. What choices are you confronting that you must conquer?
One of my co-workers is a brilliant and funny guy. He has a degree in accounting and this is his first job in the field. At 32, he feels as if he is playing catch up and has been working really hard to get his finances in order. He is reading a new book or article daily on some aspect of personal finance. He has opened a few foundational accounts like his Roth IRA and an online savings account.
He is determined to save and get ahead in life but he also has a wife and four children. When he first started at the job he talked boastfully about wanting to have seven children one day. He grew up in a big family and loved it.
It didn’t occur to him that this choice would stunt both him and his wife, and the family they hoped raise. They didn’t sit down and map out how much it would actually cost to feed, clothe and educate seven children! I’m sure they hadn’t done the calculations on raising the four they have. Few people do. You must count the costs of your choices.
We had this “I want seven kids” conversation a year ago. During that time, I dropped subtle and some not-so-subtle hints about how expensive children are. I would ask him about his financial goals and how he thought children would help or hinder him reaching them.
He hasn’t mentioned the seven kids goal in a while. He is now talking about buying his first home (after working for a year on improving his credit, he’s in the last stages of getting a mortgage). He has bought a couple of stocks and is looking to put this on automatic (we’ll discuss stock purchasing in a later piece). He is even working on building a solid financial plan for the four children he has.
He has never said it to me but I know he wishes that he made different choices in some areas. But what I admire most and want to commend him on, is despite his heavy financial obligations he has not allowed himself to be deterred. He has put small amounts of money on automatic for each of his accounts and continues to inch toward his goals.
We all make bad choices. We all have done things we wished we could take back or not done things we wish we had. But take stock of where you are right now. If there is some bad choice you can fix or undo, fix it. Otherwise, work where you are. This is a marathon, not sprint, and if you work from this point toward positive goals, little by little you will get there.
The worse thing we can do is wallow in our bad choices and compound our situations.
My co-worker could have said, “Forget it. I have four children, rent, car note, car insurance, cell phone and child care expenses. There is nothing left for me to save.”
But he didn’t. Instead he got educated, changed his perspective, and he got started making progress (however small) toward his new goals.
My goal is to stop eating at work. I’m bringing my own lunch (will also save my money) and I’m committed to working out at least three times a week.
What new choices are you going to make?