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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’d like to say it was like this:

 
Heck I would have settled for this:
But it was more like this:

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

This is great 12 lessons we should all learn about life and money. Including finding your own meaning of happinessOver 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

Read more: Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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.

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.”

Ba-dum-bump-ching!

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.

Which means…

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.

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 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.

11 Comments

  1. Physician on FIRE

    Glad to hear you’ve fully mended, buddy. We’re only starting to realize the full ramifications of concussions, both short-term and long-term.

    What you went through sounds awful for one little spill on the ice.

    Stay safe!
    -PoF

    Reply
    • Andrew

      Thanks buddy! It was really surprising. For all the hits and things I’ve endured on and off the ice, this was by no means a heavy fall. Goes to show you sometimes it’s just the way it goes.

      Reply
  2. Making Your Money Matter

    No great tips here, but thanks for sharing yours! I wish it didn’t take an occasionally reminder like this to make me think about my priorities and my contingency plan, but honestly it does.
    I completely agree that progress is what’s important!

    Reply
    • Andrew

      Thanks! It’s freeing when you realize what motivates and drives you forward. It’s liberating in a lot of ways.

      Reply
  3. Alexis Kienlen

    Andrew,

    Long time follower, first time commenter. This post brought tears to my eyes. On April 9, I hit my head on a palm tree on the Hop on Hop off bus in Cape Town, South Africa as we were going by. I then continued on with my day. South Africa is REALLY intense, so I didn’t think anything of the fact that I felt anxious, would forget details, and didn’t know what time it was. I was only there for 2.5 weeks, and then I flew back, 26 hours, through Trump’s America on an Air Emirates flight. Flying home was terrifying because of the way foreign travellers are treated in the US.

    I thought I was jetlagged and had reverse culture shock. Then I couldn’t pay attention to movies or sit still. I forgot how to use chopsticks, which I’ve used since I was three. I couldn’t distinguish sounds. I could pick out peoples’ accents.

    Things are slowly starting to make sense, and I can work again. I’m getting things in order and recovering.

    Let’s just say, I can relate to your post a little too much. I don’t think I missed any days, but there are conversations and movies I saw that I can’t remember.

    Reply
    • Andrew

      Hi Alexis, thanks for sharing this (and for commenting!). A concussion is not something you understand until you go through it. As time goes on things do get better but the first part is ROUGH! I remember on Christmas thinking I was all better then waking up Boxing day with the worst headache and ended up falling asleep at my relatives for most of the day. Luckily that was the last bad day. The important part is to remember that you are healing and you need to let it heal. That was a lot easier said than done but I’m glad I finally let my body do the healing it needed.

      Reply
  4. Susan

    Hi. Not really sure why or how I started following you but glad I did. I am a 70 yr old woman with a son who, though a doctor and a Col in the Army, really has a heart for money matters. Maybe you remind me of him. You have prompted me to say how thankful I am that you have recovered and how awesome that it brought life into perspective. God has ways like that. I now share your insights with my son so we all benefit. That’s progress:).

    Reply
    • Andrew

      Hi Susan! Thank you so much for your nice comments, thank you for sharing it with others I really appreciate it. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Debbie Gartner

    I can relate to this well. A few years ago, I fell down and broke my foot. that itself was less than fun, but it made it very difficult to do my job. I ran a flooring business where I went to people’s homes. Except now I couldn’t drive and could barely walk, so it was difficult. I had to limit appts for 6 weeks. I had to pay my asst to drive me and my mom drove me to some. I spent later parts of the day in bed and doing marketing and blogging. I had to adapt on many simple tasks and moved in w/ my parents for a few weeks.

    It ultimately made me stronger and smarter though, especially due to smarter eating habits.

    Reply
  6. Brad - MaximizeYourMoney.com

    Wow, thanks for sharing Andrew. I haven’t had to deal with concussion but anxiety runs in my family and these tips work well for that situation too – likely most uncontrollable situations.

    Reply
    • Andrew

      Thanks Brad!

      Reply

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12 Life lessons that I learned from a difficult time recovering from a concussion.