Author of Practical steps to financial independence and personal finance coach

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Author of Practical steps to financial independence and personal finance coach, Mr. Usiere Uko, writes about learning lessons from past mistakes. 

George Benson sang the lines, ‘if I knew back then, what I know now‘ and ‘But hindsight is 20/20 vision‘ from the hit song 20/20. Learning through hindsight is an expensive way to learn. However, if you have already paid the school fees, why not learn the lessons once and for all rather than repeat the class and pay all over again. What would you do differently financially if you knew back then what you know now?

In a previous article, I wrote about a crisis being an excellent opportunity to learn lessons and make adjustments one could not make while the going was good. The pain arising from the crisis becomes the drive we need to effect lasting change.

A lot of people go about singing recession as if it has never happened before and will never go away. The world witnessed the worst recession since the great depression in 2007 and has since come out of it. My biggest fear is not that we will not come out of this recession. We surely will, and will face future ones if the situation becomes right for it. My biggest fear is that we may come out of it having learned nothing.

Many people are making adjustments in their finances driven by the desire to survive rather than the desire to build a solid financial foundation that will weather future financial storms. Many are patronising made in Nigeria products not out of patriotic zeal to make this nation self-sufficient and great, but because of challenges with accessing foreign exchange. This means if care is not taken, if oil production / prices rebound and the Central Bank is able to make foreign exchange available to whoever needs it, we may be right back to where we started in 2014. The crisis may have been wasted.

What lessons have we learned from this crisis?

What are we going to do differently going forward?

The culture of apportioning blames has made many lose sight of the fact that if they had their financial house in order, they would not have been so exposed to the financial winter brought about by the recession. Ants stock up food during summer so that they will have enough during winter when they cannot look for food as usual. That means when the economy is okay, they start preparing for recession. They understand times and seasons. Most humans believe the summer will never end. They maintain no reserves and pray against winter.

If this crisis does not force us to change, I wonder what would. There are some who would rather commit suicide than put on their thinking cap.

Learn or blame

Every situation we are faced with offers us two choices – learn or blame. Blame feels good. It takes away responsibility from you. There is nothing you could have done differently. You had no choice in the matter. There is nothing you can do to fix it. The other person has to fix it. All you can do is wait, hope and pray that the other person gets their act together and fixes it. You are doing just fine.

Learning is uncomfortable, tough, humbling and can be time consuming. It requires maturity to acknowledge that we created our circumstances. We voted for our current situation by failing to act. Learning forces you to look into the mirror, acknowledge your weaknesses and seek for a solution. It makes you take responsibility for fixing it and making sure that it does not happen again.

If your finances depend on the economy, you are financially handicapped. You need someone to push your financial wheelchair wherever they want it to go. You are not in control. You are at the mercy at whatever life or others throw at you. You negotiate from a position of weakness. If you depend on the sun to dry your products, then weather determines whether you can produce or not. You can always blame the weather for failing to deliver instead of looking at how to take control of the whole process.

Chances are, you are moving with people who think the same way you do hence you are not exposed to another point of view. You murmur and complain together, concluding that nothing will change until the economy improves.

A study showed that majority of past American Presidents lost their father at a relatively young age. It drew the conclusion that not having a father (adversity) spurred them to work harder, dream bigger and ultimately attain the office of the President of the United States. A similar study of Nigerian President’s and Heads of State will reveal the same trend. This trend is also noticeable in other field of human endeavour. The fatherless put in more effort since they do not have a father to pamper them and provide for their needs, so they struggled more as children and seem to achieve more than their peers born with a silver spoon. This gives credence to the saying; ‘greatness is in the struggle‘ and ‘adversity is God’s university’. If you want to graduate, common sense demands you stay in class and learn the lessons well so that you don’t have to repeat.

As this recession gradually winds down as it takes its place in the history books like others before it, what lessons have you learned from your past mistakes? Will you be ready when the next recession comes or will you have to repeat the class?

For questions, comments or enquiries you can contact him at [email protected], www.financialfreedominspiration.com. Follow me on twitter @usiere, BBM C002B2697

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