When I was a young man, I had a poor relationship with money. The “money blueprint” I had inherited from my parents didn’t give me the skills I needed to build wealth. The only positive financial role-models in my life were Phillip Drummond and Ricky Stratton. It’s not a good sign when a boy is taking money lessons from sitcoms.

And so I made mistakes. I accumulated credit card debt. I didn’t save for retirement. I bought crap I did not need. I did not look to the future.

At twenty, it’s hard to know what we will be at thirty. Or forty. Or fifty. We have plans, and we have dreams, but life takes us directions we cannot imagine. The Positivity Blog recently posted a commencement speech that Steve Jobs delivered at Stanford University in 2005. His remarks illustrate this principle in action: small, seemingly unimportant events mark the dots that connect the lines which represent our lives.

It’s never too late to change direction, to start making smart choices. If you’re 40 and don’t have retirement savings, start as soon as possible. If you’re 30 and staggering under the weight of credit card debt, cut up your cards and make a commitment to change direction. The wonder of the future is that it can be built upon the ashes of the past.

At 38, I can look at who I am and can connect the dots back through my life. Though I regret not saving for retirement, though I regret accumulating massive credit card debt, though I regret living a consumeristic lifestyle, I see now that these experiences made me the man I am today. Without them, I wouldn’t be motivated to help others make smart money decisions. (And let’s be clear: I am not advocating that others repeat the mistakes I have made.)

Draw upon your experience. If you’ve made some poor choices, don’t let them get you down. Don’t continue to repeat them. Use them to launch yourself toward a new way of life.

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