It’s no secret that a big part of our financial success is based upon the decisions we make in life.
Just ask any person who has jeopardized their financial future by, say, starting a family before securing a good job.
Fortunately, most of us will be lucky enough to be afforded with at least one or two challenging opportunities — and hopefully, lots more — over our lifetimes that we’ll choose to either accept or decline.
As a recent assignment for his latest Two Guys and Your Money podcast, my friend Joe Saul-Sehy challenged me to pinpoint an opportunity that I was presented with sometime during my lifetime and the resulting impacts of my decision.
Looking back, I immediately focused on a challenging opportunity I was given just a few short years into my nascent engineering career.
My boss had asked me to essentially take a four-month assignment in a North Carolina town almost 2500 miles from home, and support a small team working on a project I knew virtually nothing about. Being young, single and unencumbered by any real responsibilities at the time, I decided to accept the assignment, even though I was deathly afraid of the uncertainty before me.
Reflecting back in time, my initial assessment of the major impact of that fateful decision was rather ordinary: Upon returning home, my employer gave me a nice promotion and more responsibility.
But then I thought a little more.
It turns out, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that decision to go to North Carolina had a bigger impact on my life than I ever realized. In fact, the opportunity my employer presented to me was not unlike the fork in a yellow wood described in Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. It was a fateful decision that ultimately impacted other choices I ended up making in the future. Let me explain:
If I wouldn’t have taken that special assignment, I wouldn’t have received my big promotion.
And without the big promotion, I would have never got the raise that allowed me to buy a little house in Southern California for a ridiculous price at the top of the market.
If I didn’t buy my little over-priced house in Southern California at the top of the market, I wouldn’t have been stuck with an upside mortgage for seven excruciatingly long years.
Of course, if I wasn’t upside down on my mortgage, I could have eventually moved to a much better home in a much nicer city — but then I never would have met the Honeybee.
If I wouldn’t have met the Honeybee, I probably never would have had kids. Eventually, we had two: Matthew and Nina.
Then again, if Matthew and Nina weren’t born, I wouldn’t have had an insatiable desire to earn a little side income to help pay for all the added current and future expenses that naturally come with kids.
That insatiable desire for side income led me to begin writing a personal finance book, but I never finished it. That’s okay, though, because if I hadn’t failed to write that book, I most likely wouldn’t have decided to start this personal finance blog, which has provided me with a very rewarding pastime.
Now, I don’t mean to imply that my decision to temporarily pack up and move to North Carolina was the lynchpin decision of my life. I realize that my life’s way points have been determined by countless other decisions I’ve made since grade school.
Still, I’d be lying if I told you I’m not curious as to where I’d be today if I had chosen some of the other roads not taken during my lifetime. I’m only human, after all.
Even so, I can honestly say I have no regrets.
Photo Credit: Connie