In a recent podcast I was listening to, Andy Stanley talked about making better decisions. He proposed one question that can be the “centerpiece to all of your decision making into the future.” And after the podcast, I not only agreed with him, but was compelled to share his message through the lens of personal finance.
The Most Important Question. Ever.
Andy Stanley said that if you look at all of your decision-making in the future through the lens of this one question, you will make better decisions and have fewer regrets. The question is:
“In light of my 1) past experience, 2) current circumstances, and 3) future hopes and dreams, what’s the WISE thing for me to do?”
Ask this question for every decision you make and you will change your financial future.
This question is better than what is right; what can you get by with; what is legal; what has worked in the past; what is everyone else doing. This question forces you to be honest with yourself, avoid loopholes, and make the best possible decision for you (not for anyone else).
If you had been asking and acting on this question up to this point, you would be in a better position financially. When you have regrets, you know how you got there. You never say “I have no idea how I got here!” You made a series of unwise decisions that got you to where you ended up. “Personal vision is often the catalyst for wise decisions.” This is why you need visions and goals so that you focus and prioritize your financial future — because it’s the wise thing to do.
A Breakdown of This Question
Let’s take a closer look at what this question really forces you to do.
- “In light of my past experiences, what is the wise thing to do?”
When you look at your past experience, you are looking at your past – not anyone else’s. Stanley says, “Your past is your past; it’s not my past. And my past is my past; it’s not your past. So what may be okay for you to do may not be okay for me to do because of my past experience.” Don’t take your cues from other people. Additionally, thinking that you can do what you did last time and get different results is a lie. You cannot manage outcomes. “This time it’s going to be different” is not being honest with yourself. You cannot make the same choices that you did in your past and get different results.
- “In light of my current circumstances, what is the wise thing to do?”
When you look at your current circumstances, what is the wisest choice for you? Even if it would be legal and there is nothing wrong with making a choice that you’re considering, ask yourself if it is truly the wise choice for you given your current circumstances. This is not about right or wrong; legal or illegal; or what everyone else is doing. It’s about you and your current circumstances. It’s about choosing the wise thing for you at this time. This requires brutal honesty with yourself.
- “In light of my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?”
Trading in your dream of financial freedom for a trip you want now is not only a mistake but a tragedy. Andy Stanley says “what a tragedy to trade in tomorrow for something today that I will not own tomorrow.” If you spend time with people who do not have future hopes and dreams; people who live for the now and only think about their next paycheck, you need to remember your vision and goals for your life. Don’t let your circle “rob your future” and lock in on now. Put your future hopes and dreams ahead of what you want now. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can manage the outcome. Make the tough choices now so you can be financially free in the future.
How This Helps You With Your Money
This question is so important when it comes to your finances. This question is exactly why what is good for one person isn’t good for another person. This question identifies why you are the only person who knows what’s best for you, and in turn, why you should be in the know about your finances. No one can know you better than you. No one will ever care more about your finances than you. No one knows what the wisest choice is for you better than you.
For me, it’s massive student loan debt. For me, it’s not having a credit card — ever. I know that in my past I have spent a lot on clothes and like to shop. I know that I shouldn’t go on the girls’ trip because my student loan debt is overwhelming. I know that my dream of becoming wealthy hinges on making wise financial choices now.
For you, it’s going to be different. You may pay off your credit card every month and have no interest in shopping. You may not have student loans. You may have a thing for eating out or decorating your home or cars. Only you know what your weakness is when it comes to money. So, only you can change your financial future.
This is why my blog is about intentional living and finance. First, you have to learn how to make better decisions and have a better, more supportive mindset. Second to that is applying it to finances. If you learn how to make the wisest choices for you, you can then make wise financial decisions for you.
So, I challenge you to ask yourself what the wise choice for you is given your past, present, and future for every financial decision you have to make (that’s what I’m doing).
You may have gone out to eat every week in the past with your coworkers, but now you realize that given your commitment to saving and getting out of debt, that choice is not the wisest choice. Could you still go out to lunch? Sure. But is it really a wise choice? No.
Force yourself to stand in your truth and be brutally honest with yourself. Think about what will set you up for financial success. Make the wise decisions now that will take you there in the future.
A Final Note!
If you do nothing else when it comes to your money, with every decision you make, ask yourself: what is the wise choice for me to make given my 1) past experience, 2) current circumstances, and 3) future hopes and dreams?