Financial Literacy Month (1) What does forgiveness have to do with personal finance, you ask? I argue that it’s rather significant! When we live in a society where we’re inundated daily with subliminal messages that can trick us into believing that things are easy, and therefore should be done extremely well the first time, we can often find ourselves fall into the perfectionism trap. The way this trap works kind of reminds me of the process of falling into a well. Not that I’ve ever done that or plan to in the near future, but just roll with me for a second. At the bottom of that imaginary well is a never ending supply of ideas. Some good and some bad, but if you trick yourself into falling into this well, it can be quite the feat to get out. Let’s say you notice a problem with your cash flow but you’re not sure exactly how to fix it. So you go to your well of ideas and drop the bucket to see what you get. When you pull the bucket back up, and look inside you realize that you have only pulled up a partial idea. You don’t understand enough about personal finance yet to have formed a full idea but all you see is that you don’t have all the answers you want so you throw it back and fish for another. And it happens again, and again. Then at some point, you’re like “Fine! I’ll go down there myself and get the perfectly complete idea that I want!” And wouldn’t you know it, you’ve gotten yourself trapped in well, of ideas that is. Then you spend all this time looking for that perfect idea to get you started, then you never actually get started. Your original problem never gets solved. And by the time you finally climb your way out that well, your problem is still there but now you have a million and one imperfect ideas for how to start. So, you decide that if it can’t be perfectly, you won’t do it at all. Perfectionism wins again. Some time passes and you realize that your problem hasn’t gone away because you haven’t done anything to solve it yet for fear of failure because you started with a imperfect idea. But, what if you changed your perspective?

What if you took that imperfect idea and ran with it? What if you ran as fast as you could to learn as much as you could and forgave yourself for imperfections along the way?

I find myself stuck in that well often. I keep treading water in that dang well looking for the next perfect idea to make this blog better, or choose my next career move. But every now and then, I stop. I climb out of the darkness of that well and I can smell the fresh air again. Then I realize, I can’t make a perfect idea. Maybe others can, but I can’t. And that’s okay! I have to run with my imperfect ideas anyway. No room for doubting myself, or second guessing. I just need to figure out what works so I can keep it and figure out what doesn’t so I can let it go and try something new. This is so very important for being successful with your feeling good about your finances. I remember feeling so beat up and discouraged because it took my 6 months to make a budget that actually worked for me. I thought there was something wrong with me.

Why was this so difficult??! Everyone else seems to get it together so quickly, why not me?!

I spent so much time swan diving in that well of false perfectionism that I surely should have found a perfect idea by now. But now that I look back with this fresh perspective and forgiveness of myself for my struggles, I see that I couldn’t make a flawless budget yet. I had run into some very unexpected issues during my transition to “adulting” after I finished college. I had to find organizational systems that work for me in reality, not beating myself up because I can’t emulate the things I see people doing on youtube. I have to do me, that’s all I can ever do and be patient and forgiving of myself along the way. The journey to getting your finances in order, is not an easy one. It’s full of setbacks, mishaps, miscalculations, unfortunate events, and of course very successful wins. I encourage you to forgive yourself for your shortcomings and mistakes, so you if you do find yourself trapped in that evil well of false perfectionism. You can forgive yourself, pick up the pieces, and climb your way out so you can get back to what really matters. Living your life! What kinds of setbacks have you encountered during your personal financial journey? If you haven’t started yet, what do you think is holding you back? Comment or Tweet me, I’d love to know!