Recently, I sat down with my family to watch the movie Field of Dreams.
We’ve started watching some classic movies as a family, as a way to introduce our kids to older films we’ve enjoyed. I’ve seen this movie multiple times, but I forgot how much I enjoyed watching this film.
Basic Plot of Field of Dreams
The basic premise of the film is the main character Ray starts to hear voices only he can hear on his farm. The famous whisper “If you build it, he will come.” is a famous line from this movie.
He is confused at who and what they are trying to say. But ultimately he is driven to risk his farm by building a large baseball field. Ghosts from the baseball team the Chicago White Sox end up showing up.
The story continues as Ray starts connecting the dots with other characters. The film ends with him meeting a young version of his father, and people driving to see a baseball game. Which appears will end up saving their farm.
Living with Regrets
There is a lot of nuggets of wisdom you can take from this movie.
But one thing that stood out to me was how Ray regretted his relationship with his father before he passed. He didn’t restore the relationship, and he regretted that distance.
You can feel the energy in the scene where Ray interacts with his “young” father in this clip:
He wanted to make things right and build that connection. It would have been easy for him to respond to these feelings by giving up. Why risk something that might not ever be restored?
As I reflect on my decisions and my adult life up to this point, I didn’t want to be miserable. But I didn’t know how to fix the situation and move on.
It wasn’t until I had enough and faced my internal demons that real change started to happen.
I find it fascinating and scary how I was able to justify my behavior. At least for me, I didn’t fully understand what was going on. I just knew I was miserable and struggling.
If we focus on all the things we did wrong, it can be easy to ignore what we can start doing to make things right. Our finances can get back on track. We can restore relationships. And we can begin pursuing what matters most to us.
But the change has to come within ourselves.
Cherishing What I’ve Learned
Looking at my bad financial choices, it was causing more than just money problems. Andrea and I were constantly arguing about money, and we were overly stressed.
This time was not only tough to work through, but it put a strain on our mental well-being.
Obviously, I don’t relish in the idea of all of the financial mistakes I’ve made. But I’ve been wondering if I needed to make these mistakes to get to where I am at right now.
Sure, if I didn’t make these mistakes, our financial picture would be much better at this stage in our lives. But would I know what I know now? Would our marriage be as healthy as it is now?
How would our lives look if we didn’t make any financial mistakes?
There isn’t any way to know for sure how things would be if the past were different. But my hunch is that even if I made better financial decisions, the core issues I am dealing with would manifest themselves in other ways.
Saying that I don’t regret my past is scary, given how much pain I’ve caused myself and my family. But I wouldn’t change the past if I could.
Because I needed to work through my mistakes and bad financial decisions to get to where I am at now, and this is much more valuable than our net worth.
Pain, suffering, and misery can make us stronger. But it all depends on how we look at it and if we are living life with our eyes open.
The only reason I don’t regret my past is that I’ve made it into my teacher. If I didn’t figure out what was going on, I’m convinced this debt cycle would have continued the rest of my life.
As I work through my journey, I’m hopeful that I can learn things without having to make stupid decisions. But sometimes this is necessary to drive home what we need to learn.
The Biggest Financial Mistake We Can Make
The biggest mistake I could make is not paying attention to what is going on around me.
Our choices either have consequences or rewards. And our behavior is done for a reason. Figuring out the “why” can help us figure out what is “really” going on.
By paying attention to the world around us, it also helps us in figuring out what matters the most. Not what advertisers or other people want us to believe. But the things we desire at our core.
And this can be tricky because maybe my behavior shows a deep desire to be accepted by others. This insight can then help me figure out why this is true, and whether or not I can be happy “feeling” accepted by others.
It’s almost as if the right questions can start to remove the fog around our lives. Our behavior starts to make more sense. The power of our daily choices becomes more apparent.
Ignoring Our Problems Doesn’t Solve Them
I noticed in my own life that the times where I found myself in these toxic perpetual cycles, I was ignoring the problems that were screaming at me to figure out.
It’s like the pain I was experiencing was trying to get my attention.
But these screams landed on deaf ears. For whatever reason, I decided the consequences of my choices were worth it.
Human behavior is complex. We have multiple layers of thoughts and feelings that come from where and how we were raised and based on our experiences.
It isn’t until we start tackling these problems that things can change. Otherwise, we can expect our future to be a repeat of our past.
It’s Never Too Late To Turn Things Around
It took courage and faith for Ray to do everything he did. He not only had to spend large amounts of money based on voices only he could hear, but he had to believe that risking his marriage and his finances were worth it.
I know this is a story based on fantasy, but I noticed several parallels to my own life.
Maybe I couldn’t break the financial death cycle because I didn’t think I had the courage to change things. Perhaps I was afraid I would fail.
But I think that is what courage is all about. Figuring out what the “right” thing to do is, and then pursuing that. Even if it means you might fail.
Even though I can’t change the past, the fruits of our labor are starting to show themselves. Each positive choice in regards to our finances and relationship is building on top of each other. Our hopes and dreams are beginning to materialize.
You Can Do This
I’ve written about my low self-esteem. I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome, and feelings that I’m not good enough.
Stop what you are doing. I want you to say something to yourself: I CAN DO THIS.
This simple statement, if you can say it and believe the words, can change your trajectory. Or help keep you on the right path.
If you are like me, maybe all you need to do is start believing that you can make changes. That you are stronger than you think you are. And the only thing stopping you is if you give up on yourself.
This article is starting to sound like a pep talk. But I think sometimes we let the negative voices we hear in our heads overtake our behavior and drive us to do things that do not reflect who we are. We are acting out of fear. And when we are full of fear, it can be hard to turn things around.
Take a moment and think about what you’ve accomplished up to this point.
Sure, you can probably quickly list all the things you messed up. But what are some things you’ve done well?
In my case, I pushed my career forward through the last 15-years. This is without a college degree or any formal training.
I’ve made a ton of financial mistakes as well. But I also learned a ton about myself and Andrea. I’m closer to Andrea and my kids more than ever, and we are growing our salon business.
You can acknowledge your mistakes without taking away from your accomplishments. Even if you find yourself in a horrible situation, I’m sure you can see some positive choices/experiences from where you are at in your life.
Your bad choices do not define you.
Chris is a financial blogger who loves to be transparent about money-related issues. He’s paid off massive amounts of credit card debt and is the blog author of Money Stir. His main focus on Money Stir is talking about how money relates to our relationships, personal development, and how to plan for the future we want. He’s been quoted on Market Watch, The Ladders, and other publications.