I like to say that I do not live with regrets, but the reality of it all is that I would do some things differently. The following is a short list of decisions I made and what I would have done differently (I might explain why, but I might not). I think it is healthy to look back over choices you make so that you don’t make the same mistakes or decide the same way again. It is worth noting that I am content with my life. I love my wife and my children. We have all that we need plus a ton more. So in no way is this saying that I want a different life.
1. I would have gone to Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN. I chose to go to a local private university where I landed a nice scholarship, but the main reason was so that I could be close to my girlfriend at the time. I never should have done that. We broke up before the end of the first semester and I ended up losing my scholarship the second semester by .1 or .2 gpa points. Tusculum had a different semester layout at the time where they did one class at a time for four weeks or something like that. It is called a Block Schedule. That sounds absolutely amazing to me and apparently they still do it. I still might have ended up in the military but the location and the style of learning would have been worth doing.
2. I should have picked a career field in the Air Force that gave me a good paying skill for civilian life. As it stands I am currently using the skillset I gained while in, but it took seven years after getting out before I landed this job. If I had a skill immediately upon getting out then my wife and I would not have had the struggles that we have been through and moved as much as we have. Financially we would be far better off and moving closer to our lifetime financial and family goals (stability, in a house that we want to live in forever or close to and the community involvement that comes with that, etc…). I now have a career transition website predominately aimed at military members looking at getting out of the service, but it is available for anyone.
3. When we first left the military we sold our house before we had a plan on what to do with ourselves. We made a huge chunk of money off of it ($25K) and we spent it all through the years, most of it that summer on random trips. We never should have sold the house. We should have stayed there, had me get a job while going to college full-time, and made it work. The cold reality is that i should not have gotten out of the military at the time. I left for the wrong reasons and could have accomplished what I was aiming for academically while still in.
4. Out of the numerous jobs that I have had there are four that I should not have left: 2005 – left the military to go to school full-time thinking that I was going into the ministry full-time; 2008 – I left a job with the city of Lynchburg as an appraiser to work as an Academic Advisor for Liberty University in order to get my Masters degree paid for; 2008 – I left the Academic Advisor position to move my wife and I back closer to family in the MS, TN, KY area for the birth of our first child; 2011 – I left teaching high school business education to take a contract job with the military that I ended up not taking two days after my last day as a teacher. Had I stayed put in any of those places and continued with those careers then we would be a better position than we are in right now from a health insurance and financial savings standpoint. Again though, hindset is 20/20, and I am staying with my current employer as long as the contract continues. I have no other skills to fall back on at this point, so what choice do I have?
5. In 2012 we moved to New Mexico with my current company. This is a government contract where we provide training to the military. While I love the work and am paid well, we have been hit hard in the last 19 months financially and physically. The medical expenses have amounted to almost $8,000 between the birth of our third child, my wife’s back issues, and her recent surgery to remove a cyst in her neck. Couple that with vehicle troubles totaling over $5K in that time, the total cost of moving out here (some was paid for by my work, but it didn’t cover everything), and over spending on a vacation this summer that wasn’t planned and it is no wonder we are just now seeing light at the end of the tunnel for heading towards our financial goals. Had we stayed put we had just saved almost $10K on a $36K a year income with two children in a house that we owned (and we still own but are renting out at a high enough rate to cover our mortgage thankfully). I could have remained faithful where I was at and started planning for opening my own lawn and landscape business. But we thought we knew what we were doing. I don’t want to go back, but if I had it to do over again I do not know that i would have taken the offer. As it stands I am loving the job, the time with my family, and the potential that exists professionally and financially.
And the biggest thing I have learned is that money is not everything. While money does help relieve some stress, there is always a way to make ends meet. It may not be the best answer, but there is always some other choice that can be made to achieve whatever is needed.
I guarantee you that I will make decisions in the future that I will look back on and shake my head at. But I guess that is what makes life worth living. Choices. Decisions. And faith that no matter what I decide, God can redeem it for His good and glory.
- The good thing about Regret (embraceandrelease.wordpress.com)
- Top Five Regrets: How They Relate to Finances (lexingtonlaw.com)
- 8 Subconscious Mistakes Our Brains Make Every Day – And How To Avoid Them (tiltabilities.com)
- Disbeliever in regrets (colormyfreckles.wordpress.com)