Back in December I was playing one of my usual back-to-back games of hockey (I point this out to feel like less of a “money nerd” and more “jock-ish”… it’s not working too well).
Like every other game I fell (not so jock-ish).
After 30 years of playing the game I‘ve learned that we all fall once every game or so.
It’s nothing big. You get back up and keep playing.
That’s what happened. I fell. From what everyone tells me it looked bad.
How not to fall in hockey
I didn’t get my arms out and the full weight of the fall was cushioned by the side of my head. A helmet is of little help when you land on it with the full force of your body.
I was a little shaken up, but didn’t seem to be too bad in the moment. So I kept playing.
Because that’s what you do. You get up and you carry on. When I was repeatedly asked “you ok?,” I joked about it.
Honestly, I figured I was fine.
I realize now that I may have been shock. That night driving home, as the first snow was falling, I noticed my vision getting narrower. Not good.
*Fun fact, I was making tons of concussion jokes following the incident. In retrospect, I didn’t feel right, but I figured I could shake it off like I had with every other fall in my 30 plus years playing the sport I love.*
What would come following the fall, was a month that I didn’t plan for – things changed and many of the things I took for granted became a challenge.
The Aftermath of A Concussion
Over the next few weeks, I couldn’t look at any screen for more than 20 seconds at a time. My head would pound for hours and nothing would help make it feel better. I was always sleepy. Not tired, but my bruised brain needed to heal and I guess, it needed to rest too. Something I didn’t give my brain enough time to do. I thought I could just “power through.”
The small things became hard, I would lose my thoughts when talking with people for only 20 to 30 seconds.
It was frustrating and embarrassing.
6 Months Later I’m All Good
Thankfully, today I’m fine and fully recovered. If I spend too much time on a computer (more than 12 hours a day) I notice some effects (don’t we all), but now I also know how to control it. Even still, all of this made me realize how important it is to have your affairs in order. Especially your money.
Being “good with money” isn’t just about controlling your spending, or increasing your earnings, it’s also about how you handle your finances behind the scenes.
Lessons A Concussion Taught Me About Life And Money
Have a Plan in Place
If you know anything about me, I like to have some kind of plan in place and a goal. Something to set my sights on and points of measurement along the way. I’m extremely motivated by measurable goals.
Because of the fall, all of my goals in December were put on hold – my site redesign, the articles I wanted to write, friends I wanted to see, it all got delayed. I’m not sure who said it (that could be post-concussion or just forgetfulness) but the saying “having a plan is essential, following that plan is optional,” rings very true. You need to know where you are going, but staying on course 100% will never happen.
Which leads to…
Make Sure Your Plan is Adaptable
Life is going to throw some curves your way. Likely ones that you don’t even think or worry about now. For all the time I spent thinking about our fully paid mortgage plan, or our financial freedom, I spent no time ever thinking: “what if I get a concussion and can’t do anything.”
One line that keeps sticking in my head is from Bad Luhrmann’s song entitled Sunscreen:
Don’t worry about the future, or worry that know that worrying
Is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation
By chewing bubble gum
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things
That never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday
What can I say, it’s true! What you waste time worrying about rarely comes to pass. It’s the things that happen out of the blue, that you never expect. That’s the real thing to worry about. But, don’t spend your time worrying about the what ifs, instead make contingency plans.
Related Post: The Money System That Changed Our Lives
Remember When Life Throws You Curves, You’re Still in Control
Things are going to come up. Car repairs will happen right when you don’t want them to or worse, when you can’t afford them. (I find it’s often the week after you get a bonus or tax refund). Your barbecue will self destruct during your big party (this has actually happened twice to me). When these things happen, the key is to remember that when these curve balls come your way, you’re still the one in control.
The second you throw your hands up in the air and quit, that will be the moment you’ve lost.
It’s hard to remember that when these types of things are happening, but this too shall pass. These are the small things. Take a deep breath. Remember where you are and all that you have to be grateful for. Then take the necessary steps and action towards fixing the situation.
There were many days and nights when I couldn’t do anything. I took it as a forced vacation. Sometimes life will force what you need, even if it’s not what you really want.
You Will Lose Hope, Call on a Friend
I almost didn’t put this in, but I feel it needs to be said. For the first two weeks, I told myself that the headaches would pass. Somewhere in the third week, when my ump-teenth headache hit, when Advil just didn’t work, I was done.
Not beat, and not quitting, but in that moment all the positive things I told myself (like: “it’s only temporary” and “It will get better”) stopped flowing and the frustration set in.
This will happen with your money too. When you are paying off your debt, or student loans, or working towards financial freedom, at some point that journey is going to feel never-ending.
Call on a friend to help you through. I had several who helped me. You are not an island, and you need the help of your friends.
Remind Yourself Why You Are Doing This
Whenever that sense of despair blocks the journey to your goal, remind yourself why you are doing this. I strongly recommend that you write out the reasons why you are doing what you do, a bit like a personal mission statement. For me it’s this:
“I get up in the morning to create and share solutions in order to help others create better futures with increasing freedom and fulfilment.”
That’s why I write, build businesses, help others with their problems. I read this often, because the guy who wrote that (pre-concussed me) knew what he was talking about.
People Don’t Know How to Talk About Things They Don’t Know About
Just like my lame concussion jokes after I fell, I had no clue how to talk with someone who had a concussion. When people heard, they treated me like I was an alien, and not that same old guy they’ve known forever. Though that could have been because of the drooling (kidding) or the lack of paying attention to my surroundings (sadly not kidding).
But here’s the money point, when someone you know is going through tough times with money, it’s hard to talk about it. Really what that person wants is to know it will be ok.
Bad Concussion Joke:
Friend, “Is there someplace you can go to meet with other concussed people who are going through this?
Me, “Yeah, we have a group, but nobody ever shows up, we all forget.”
Make Sure Somebody Else Knows the Plan
My wife and I split our duties, she handles things she’s great at, and I handle the things I don’t completely suck at. The problem is, as we found out, thanks to me becoming “Headwound Harry,” that when one of us is out of commission, the other should be able to pick up and carry on.
Having your money system in place is a great thing, but you also need to make sure the other person knows how it works. I haven’t been great on this. Presently I’m working on a way to make sure that if something unexpected happens, my family will be able to carry on.
Someone should be able to look at your system and know what to do.
Have Things Documented
Kind of like the last one, but having a secure document that tracks where your accounts are, who they are with, including passwords, is a good thing to have. If you are doing automatic transfers to other accounts, like I mention in our money system, make sure you have them all detailed so you know what is happening and when.
Set Up Your Automatic Bill Payments
Honestly, a week went by before I thought of the money stuff. Luckily nothing bad came from it, but it’s worth noting that having your bills paid automatically can really be a lifesaver in some situations.
Related Post: The Money System That Changed Our Lives
Don’t Leave Things Until Tomorrow
I’m an amateur in most things in life, but I put the “pro” in procrastination. There is always tomorrow to do the thing I don’t really want to do. Suddenly, I realized that tomorrow may not happen (not in a morbid sense, more of a “get hit on the head and wake up three days later, realizing I didn’t do those things I should have done” sense), but in a way that made me realize how important it is to have my affairs in order.
Don’t push back things that can get done today. Especially the important things, like telling people what they mean to you and being thankful for all the blessings you have in your life.
Tell the people who are important to you, how much they mean to you. You’d want to hear it if it’s the other way around.
Get Back Up
The most important thing I did, was getting back up. It took me 3 months to get back out there on the ice. Every slip reminded me that I could get hurt again. That’s life. We go out, we get hurt and then we get back up and keep trying.
You only fail when you quit.
The Secret To A Happy Life
I don’t know where else to put this, so I want to share it here – all of the things I’ve done in my life, everything I have achieved or haven’t achieved, has led me to here.
The secret to life is happiness. That means something different to everyone.
What I realized, is that the secret to my happiness is progress. Progress in life. That ability to rise to the occasion and do my best when the time calls. I’ve been terribly imperfect so far, but coming out of this experience I know that I’m my happiest when I am progressing towards my money goals.
Progress is the secret to my happiness.
Time to keep moving forward.
Related Post: Are You Living Your Story? or is it someone else’s
Thanks for sticking with me to the end on this one, if you have any life advice leave it below. I’m sure we could all benefit from hearing it.
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