Today I was listening to the Dave Ramsey Show when a team member, Chris Brown, laid down this zinger:
Money that is obligated to the past cannot be used for opportunities in the future.
Debt is largely about paying the money that I have now for something I consumed in the past. It might have been a meal or a concert. Honestly, without looking at my statement, I can’t remember.
The problem is that this money is already tied up. It’s allocated. When opportunity comes knocking, you can’t use that money. You can’t give $20 to the homeless guy who clearly needs a new jacket. You can’t lavish your girlfriend with an amazing dinner at a gourmet restaurant (or Smorgasburg LA). You can’t book that last minute flight out to see a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
And that sucks.
But doesn’t this go beyond money? Aren’t there lots of things that trap us into the past and prevent us from moving forward into the future?
What about grudges?
When someone does something wrong against you, it’s only natural to be upset with them about it. But how often have we heard the story of someone who’s entire life is dictated by a singular desire for revenge, only to have the “villain” be completely unaware 1) that he/she had wronged the protagonist, or 2) not care. And yet the protagonist’s entire life has been consumed with exacting revenge, effectively sealing him or her in the past, and preventing him from moving forward (Do The Great Gatsby, The Count of Monte Cristo, or even Now You See Me ring a bell?).
So what can we do to stop living in the past and start being open to opportunities in the future?
Well, to circle back to the start of this post, get out of debt and stay out of debt. When you don’t have $200/month going out to pay for your car, or $600/month paying down your student loans from 10 years ago, that money is freed up for other things. Like giving. Or 626 Night Market.
But grudges are a little more difficult. In some ways, time heals all. But the more severe the wrong, the more difficult it is to just ignore the pain away.
Instead, you have to lean in and actively seek to forgive that person. That doesn’t mean you have to go back to being best buddies. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that you have to go seek them out and talk to them about it. But it does mean that you must decide in your heart that you will no longer hold this against that person.
I know that’s hard to do, but isn’t it worth it to free yourself to have a brighter future?