The Value in Intentionally Forgetting

by Kevin on October 12, 2013

We’re constantly being told to remember, remember, remember.

Tools have been developed to help us remember everything:

  • There’s Evernote to be your digital locker.
  • There’s Pocket to remember to read that interesting article you found.
  • There’s Wunderlist, the ultimate task list that works on any device.

I use all three of these tools and my brain still feels too full.

Yet when we transition to the world of sports many times you hear “forget the last play, move on” as the mantra. Don’t dwell on the mistake, it’s in the past. There will be time to download and review tape after the game, but for now we need to forget that bad play, regroup, and get ready to go back out on the field.

Would this mantra apply to personal finance as well?

Should We Forget Our Bad Money Plays?

If we’ve made financial mistakes in the past should we intentionally try to push them out of our mind?

Anyone who is like me would love to forget the times they’ve made money mistakes. I spend a lot of time thinking about the various money tasks I need to handle. Probably too much time if I am being honest with myself.

But when I slip up and make a mistake, no matter how minor, I admittedly spend too much time focusing on it. I beat myself up over it.

Does this help me get better? Sure, I’m guessing it does. But in the moment is it truly productive? Not so much. I’d be much better off to forget the “last play” and move on.

Focus on Moving Forward

Our focus should always be on moving forward toward the end goal. (This means we need to have an end goal to start, but that’s another topic for another day.)

By forgetting our last bad move we can clear our minds and move on to the next move or financial task. We can’t go back and change the mistake we made in the past so dwelling on it isn’t going to help. All dwelling does is keep you from focusing on the next task at hand.

This only works if you know what you should be doing. If you’re the financial quarterback and you don’t know what the game plan is for the week, then forgetting isn’t going to get you anywhere. You have to know what the right step to take is next before moving on.

Assuming you do know what’s next means you should move straight to it. Financial mistakes are painful, they hit us in the pocketbook and slow us down from reaching our next goal. It’s like throwing an interception during a football game. What was once a successful drive to score a touchdown has become a disaster.

But games aren’t lost on just one interception. Neither are your finances. Coaches don’t want their quarterbacks to be timid when they come back on the field after throwing an interception. You have to shake it off and execute on the next play.

Take your lumps, learn from them, but forget the mistake and continue marching toward the end zone.

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