When you find yourself in a hole — stop digging

Act with fortitude and honour,” Alexander Hamilton wrote to a distraught friend in serious trouble of the man’s own making. “If you cannot reasonably hope for a favourable extrication, do not plunge deeper. Have the courage to make a full stop.” 

Over the years, I’ve realised that we tend to get desperate when we’re in trouble and do things that often aggravate the situation. This mindset of doing whatever it takes to alleviate the pain is what gets us in trouble in the first place.

For me, personal finance has been one of the areas I’ve always struggled with. Saving never came easy as it was exactly what my parents focused on at all times. They were extremely frugal, which served them well, but burned a different script in my mind. One that was far off from frugality. 

In the early 2010s, I became obsessed with building a side-hustle to create an additional income source. That led to the world of information marketing and online courses/products that promise the moon. I started buying tons of stuff, most of which I didn’t need, on credit, pay it off next month, rinse and repeat until I max out my cards. 

I would then struggle to pay off the balance for months. Request banks and even some of my best friends for loans to pay off my credit card balances while I continue with my spending spree. It was pathetic. I was miserable and needed help. 

Stoicism and countless coaching sessions helped me understand that I was making things worse for myself and that I don’t have to live by the script I created. I have the choice to change and alter it to my liking. 

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy, but as Robin Sharma says, “all change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and so gorgeous in the end.” It’s 2020, and it took me close to 7-8 years to get through the messy middle. I now see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it looks gorgeous, for real. 

But these years have taught me one powerful lesson: if you’re in trouble, stop. Don’t make it worse by digging another hole, instead, make a plan and stick with it till the end. And if you don’t stop digging, you will find yourself in a hole you can’t ever come out of; there’s so much more to life for. 

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