What I Learned From The Biggest Mistakes Of My 20's
"Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others." --Otto von Bismarck
I don't know if you've ever heard the phrase "fail fast forward" but that's exactly what I did during my 20's. The first time I heard this phrase I had no idea what it meant. Fail fast forward? Does that mean make mistakes as quickly as possible? If so, what for? Why the hell would anyone want to intentionally fail as fast as they could? Failing sucks! Today, as I sit at the tail end of my 20's I can tell you with absolute confidence that the greatest gift my 20's left me was the opportunity to fail fast and move forward. The truth is, the faster you make mistakes the faster you are able to course correct. This is a huge benefit because wisdom that could have taken decades to acquire, can be acquired in years instead. To me, "fail fast foward" became a simple explanation to interpret the hardships of my 20's. Learning from my costly mistakes allowed me grow fast and thrive faster.
I want to take the opportunity to share these lessons with you so that you may benefit from a decade's worth of tough experiences. I experienced big failures but I also gained big lessons. I am not ashamed of all the mistakes I made because it brings me peace to know that you might benefit from all the lessons I learned.
So with that, I leave you this: A recap of my biggest failures in chronological order as well as the powerful lessons I learned from each one.
Age 20 (2009): When I was 20 years old I was still married to my first husband and I had a difficult time being honest with him about not wanting to be married. We married when I was 18 and by age 20 I knew I didn't want to be his wife anymore but I didn't have the courage to tell him.
Big Failure #1: I wasn't being honest with myself and speaking my truth.
Big Lesson learned: Always be honest and speak your truth. Speaking our truth is extremely difficult to do because we fear judgement and rejection from those we love and care about. No one likes feeling judged so its easier to keep our mouths shut and avoid speaking our mind in order to prevent running the risk of being rejected. However, this lie can only last so long. Eventually the lie will begin to rot and the stench will be unbearable. You will have to remove the lie by telling your truth and this can feel almost impossible. But trust me, it's not. Being honest with yourself and being honest with others is healing and necessary. The moment you make the decision to be honest, it liberates you from the chains of your lie and allows you to begin healing from the toxic nature of dishonesty.
Age 21 (2010): I finally mustered the courage to be 100% honest with myself and with my first husband and ask for what I wanted-- a divorce. My failure wasn't in my divorce (that was the right decision) rather my failure was in how I chose to handle my divorce. I was rude and disrespectful to my husband at the time and I became very apathetic and careless with my behavior.
Big Failure #2: I chose to release a harmful concoction of negative emotions and I directed them all at my ex: anger, resentment, apathy, carelessness, insensitivity, irresponsibility and selfishness.
Big Lesson Learned: Karma is real because energy is real. If you chose to release toxic emotions you will receive them back--and the toxicity levels you receieve will be stronger than the ones you emitted initially. Be extremely careful with the type of energy you choose to release. Never release toxic energy and deliberatly aim it at someone. The energy you release, whether it is positive or negative, WILL return to you ten fold.
Age 22 (2011): I had an unplanned pregnancy this year and my failures in 2011 were many. First, I refused to take 100% responsibility for my actions and I was blaming EVERYONE and EVERYTHING for my unplanned pregnancy. This made me a very miserable and depressed human being. Furthermore, because I was miserable and depressed, I refused to announce my pregnancy until I became visibly pregnant and could no longer hide my bump and this severely affected my ability to bond with my son. By choosing to "hide" my son and not take 100% responsibility for my actions, I was making myself absolutely miserable. I deeply regret all those months I denied my pregnancy because by choosing to deny my pregnancy I was sub-consciously denying my son's life and the pain from this mistake took years to heal. The last and perhaps most painful mistake I made this year was holding on to resentment and refusing let go of my pride. When I was about 2 months pregnant I got into a huge fight with my dad about my fast-approaching divorce. He wanted me to "get something" out of my ex and I did not. I wanted to finalize my divorce and move on with my life. I didn't want his car, I didn't want his stuff, I didn't want his home in Mexico I didn't want anything. All I wanted to do was to part ways amicably. The point is, my dad and I saw things differently and we had a big fight one day and I stormed out of his house crying and feeling very angry at him. That was the last time I ever saw my dad and I will forever regret that I didn't have the maturity or the humility to approach my dad and seek reconciliation with him. The next time I saw my father I was seven months pregnant and he was lying in a casket in a Los Angeles mortuary.
Big Failure #3: I chose my pride over forgiveness, fear over acceptance and blame over responsibility.
Big Lesson #3: At the end of the day, the only person you are hurting when you choose to hold onto anger and resentment is yourself. Forgiveness is the quickest path to healing. Forgive quickly and you will heal quickly. Also, blaming solves absolutely nothing. Refusing to take 100% responsibility for your life means you are choosing to give up your power. If you chose to give up your power, you are willingly choosing to disempower yourself and empower those around you. This is not good because you allow other people to control your attitude, beliefs, emotions and behavior. The ONLY person who should EVER have control over you, is you. Finally, living in a state of fear is a horrible way to live. When you live in fear, you live in a contracted state where you are unable to give fully of yourself. You allow fear to control every aspect of your life and you become a prisoner to fear. This is no way to live. Accept your struggles and conquer them. Don't run in the face of fear. Stand your ground and refuse to let fear cuff your wrists and ankles. You are FREE. Don't let fear manipulate you into thinking that you're not.
Age 23 (2012): When I turned 23 it was my first official birthday as a mother. Liam was only 4 months old when I turned 23 and I was still in complete denial that I had a child. I was fighting my truth every single day and I felt extremely depressed. On the outside I probably "looked happy" because I was trying so hard to feel happy. I mean why wouldn't I be happy? I had a perfect, healthy baby, a supportive and loving husband and an incredible mother who took care of me and my baby whenever I needed help. So why was I so damn miserable? Shouldn't my perfect little baby make me happy? Shouldn't my amazing husband make me happy? Shouldn't my incredible mother make me happy? I didn't understand why the people in my life weren't making me happy! And the answer I discovered was simply this: because my happiness wasn't their responsibility to begin with!
Big Failure #4: I thought that my happiness was someone else's responsibility.
Big Lesson #4: It's easy to want to burden those you love with the task of "making you happy." This task is not only unfair, it's literally impossible. Happiness is not something you will ever be able to acquire from people and much less from material posessions. The people you love and the things you own have the capacity to make you feel good but they cannot make you happy. Your happiness is 100% your responsibility and no one else's. This lesson took me a very long time to learn because it wasn't easy for me to take full responsibility for my happiness. Finding your own true happiness takes a lot of work and maintaining your happiness takes even more work. But once you realize that no one can make you happy, you also realize that no one can take away your happiness! No matter how horrible someone treats you and no matter what terrible situation you might find yourself in, if you learn how to create and maintain happiness within yourself, no outside circumstance will ever be able to interfere with your inner joy.
Age 24 (2013): This year was my last year in college and I couldn't stop comparing myself to everyone around me. I was trying so hard to fit in with the college life while still trying to be a good mom to Liam and an attentive wife to Jeff but it was exhausting. I wanted so desperately to be a "normal" college student and it was making me insecure and unhappy. I looked at all the students around me and I envied their lack of responsibility. Almost everyone I knew didn't have a mortgage payment, a spouse or a child. All they had to worry about was studying for tests and figuring out what kind of Starbucks they wanted to orer that morning. They were young, wild and free and I so desperately wanted to be just like them.
Big Failure #5: I played the comparison game and it blinded me from taking notice of all the incredible blessings I had.
Big Lesson #5: Comparing your life to the lives of those around you prevents you from feeling grateful. The quickest path to happiness, is gratitude. Social media is notorious for producing feelings of jealousy, lack and desire and unfortunately most of us have developed the destructive habit of feeling jealous as we scroll through our feeds. Comparing your life to the lives of those around you robs you of your own joy and appreciation. Agree to start your day with gratitude and try to develop the habit of acknowledging 1 thing you are grateful for every time you feel jealousy or desire trying to creep into your life.
Age 25 (2014): Despite all of my prior shortcomings and failures, this year was by far my worst. I hit a new level of rock bottom and my depression had finally reached its peak. My mind, actions, words and thoughts were trapped in a negative loop I couldn't seem to escape. Right after graduating from college I applied for my dream job and didn't get hired so I settled for the first job I was offered and I was miserable. Four months after starting my new job I crashed my car and several weeks after that, I was left without a car, a job, self-esteem or hope. At the time Jeff and I had zero savings so we had no way of purchasing another vehicle. I became 100% dependent on others for transportation and I was slowly losing my mind. I am a very active person and I value my independence so being forced to depend on others for transportation was extremely difficult for me. For 6 months I didn't have a car, a job or a purpose. To say I was miserable is a deep understatement. Financially, Jeff and I were at our worst this year and we were fighting nearly every day because of it. I cried often, blamed everything, hated everyone, felt sorry for myself, slept all day and was a complete and utter miserable human being. But hitting this new level of rock bottom was a huge blessing because the only place left for me to go, was up. And that's exactly what I did. Slowly, so damn slowly I dragged myself up from the depths of the frigid hole I had dug for my myself. After several years of steadily climbing upwards I finally began to see some light and I chose to follow it. The lessons I learned from the struggles I had this year are too many to count, so I will share with you the best and most transformative life lesson that came out of 2014 and how it helped me become the woman I am today.
Big Failure #6: I completely under-estimated the power of my words and thoughts and I was careless and negative with my language.
Big Lesson #6: If you think your thoughts and your words don't have power, allow me to reveal the truth to you: THEY DO. Every thought yout think and every word you speak comes with energy attached to it. The more positive thoughts you choose to think, the more positive energy you begin to generate. The more negative thoughts you choose to think, the more negative energy you will create. Napoleon Hill author of the infamous book Think And Grow Rich (which you should read if you haven't already) said, "Thoughts are things, and powerful things at that." He said they were THINGS, as in something tangible. Even though you can't see your thoughts, they do emit a frequency and this is tested and proven by science. Hill understood the power of thought so he decided to begin his book by introducing the reader to his own power. Most of us aren't even aware that our thoughts hold an infinite amount of power so we allow our minds to become polluted with toxic thinking. By allowing our mind to become polluted we permit disempowering words to come out of our mouths and this is how toxic ideas are born and spread. In order to gain control of your thoughts, you must first understand the power that your thoughts posess. Once you are aware of your power and you accept it, you can begin to control it. Hill writes in his book, "Mind control is the result of self-discipline and habit. You either control your mind or it controls you. There is no halfway compromise. The most practical of all the methods for controlling the mind is the habit of keepting it busy with a definite purpose, backed by a definite plan...Without this control, success is not possible." The greatest lesson my 25th year left me was the realization that I was creating my own reality through the thoughts and words I was choosing to use. Once I truly understood the power of my thoughts and my words, I became hyper aware of my language and my thinking. Your mind is your most precious real estate. You need to protect it, care for it and make constant improvements to maintain its value. When we were born we were all given free will and the best way to take advantage of this gift, is by structuring our thoughts in a way which will help us create the life we dream of living.
Age 26 (2015): Because 2014 had been such a difficult year for me I was desperate to experience some pleasure and happiness in my life. 2015 was a year when I was hyper focused on myself and building out MY happiness, MY career, MY life, MY dreams, MY desires, MY interests and MY goals. I really wanted to visit Italy, so I went. I really wanted to learn how to start a business, so I paid for an expensive business course. But even after completing my business course and experiencing the beauty of Italy, I still felt empty inside. Why?
Big Failure #7: I chose to focus exclusively on myself believing that this would make me feel happy and fulfilled.
Big Lesson #7: We are not here to live exclusively for ourselves and our families. Our life's mission should always be to contribute and add value to as many people as we can. When we experience the joy of giving, we begin to truly feel the joy of living. In your 20's it is very difficult to think of someone other than yourself because it is such a self-centered decade and this selfishness is not only accepted within our culture, it's something that's encouraged. While I do agree it is important to spend some time discovering who you are and what you like, I don't believe it's necessary to get lost in the bottomless abyss of the ego in order to find your happiness. Having a hyper focus of the self only leads to depression, narcissim, apathy and discontent. True happiness lies in our ability to help other people by making a positive impact on their life in an area in which they are suffering. Living a life where you focus on fulfilling the needs of other people creates a ripple of contribution that inspires others to do the same. Einsten said, "The true measure of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and sense in which he has attained liberation from the self."
Having an identity and sense of self isn't "bad" per se, we just need to make sure it isn't the only measure with which we choose to structure our lives around.
Age 27 (2016): This year our committment to making a massive change in our lives was unshakeable. Jeff and I were determined to do whatever it took to get our family ahead and it completely impaired our sense of judgement. For Jeff's birthday I purchased 2 tickets for us to go to an event called The National Achiever's Congress. It was a motivational event with big names like Tony Robbins and Lisa Nichols. It was also an event where each speaker had the opportunity to give a big sales pitch for their business. One of these speakers was Dean Graziosi. His sales pitch included the promise of teaching ordinary people (like us) to become real estate investors and live large. This of course caught our attention and gave a young, struggling couple like us some hope that we might be able to create the life we had been dreaming of living. It didn't take much convincing for Jeff and I to invest in this program. We were all in and we were committed to doing whatever it took to get our family ahead. So we decided to pay for Dean Graziosi's $30,000 program.
With CREDIT CARDS.
Big Failure #8: We spent money we didn't have and we did NOT take a calculated risk.
Big Lesson #8: Don't spend money you don't have and if you are going to take a big risk, make sure it is a CALCULATED one. Whenever you take big risks in life, you have to be willing to assume the cost of having shit hit the fan, maybe even destroy the fan and leave a hole in your ceiling. We learned that getting into debt was not a smart way to get ahead and this was a very painful lesson to learn. BUT. There is a big "but" here. Had we chosen NOT to take that massive risk back then, we wouldn't be where we are today. Jeff and I are both building our real estate careers and Jeff has already made around $15,000 from the information he learned.
So really there are two big lessons to learned here.
1.) Definitely take risks in life, especially if they are taken with the intention of improving your life but
2.) Make sure they are calculated risks meaning, you've taken the time to analyze the pros and the cons and you've already accepted and planned for the worst possible outcome. Take the risk if you must, but always ask yourself "What is the cost of this risk and am I willing to assume it completely?" If you're not willing to assume the cost of your worst possible outcome, then don't take the risk. But also keep in mind that life isn't mean to be lived on the bleachers. Earl Nighingale said, "Most people tiptoe their way through life, hoping they make it safely to death." So make a decision. Sit on the bleachers and watch the game from a safe distance, while you sip on your soda and eat your popcorn, or go into the field and risk getting hurt, losing, and getting mocked by the crowd. But if you win, you will have the opportunity to experience a euphoria like no other and you'll soak in the glory of success and a cheering crowd.
Age 28 (2017): What I am about to share with you very, very few people know. In fact, most of our family members and friends don't know what I'm about to share. I'm choosing to let our dirty laundry out to air because I am not ashamed of my mistakes (anymore) and I am not ashamed of my past. It's made me the person I am today and I am grateful for all the growth I've experienced. I am choosing to share this extremley personal story with you so that you may learn from our mistakes and hopefully never repeat them and also because I am someone who values transparency and honesty. So with that being said, this is our truth: Last year, Jeff and I almost lost our home because we couldn't afford to make our mortgage payments anymore. After paying for Jeff's real estate course in 2016 and paying for my business course in 2015, we were about $40,000 in the hole. We had to borrow money from our parents just to make ends meet and for a while and we were paying for some living expenses with credit cards. For months Jeff's phone would ring at least 10X a day with creditors asking where their money was. Our stress levels were at an all time high and our dignity and morale was at an all time low. We finally got to the point where we couldn't make our mortgage payments any more and our home went into pre-forclosure. We were only 1 month away from officially foreclosing on our home when I finally said ENOUGH. I Googled debt management companies in our area and I found a really good one in Denver. After several meetings and many phone calls, we enrolled in their debt management program and I am very happy to report that since enrolling 6 months ago, the calls have stopped, we kept our home, and we've already paid off $6,150 of our total debt. We still have a long way to go but nothing can stop the momentum we've already created. We know our journey is 1,000 miles long, but we're thankful we've taken the first step.
Big Failure #9: We chose to ignore a financial problem for so long, we almost lost everything we worked so hard to build.
Big Lesson #9: Ignoring your problems doesn't make them go away. What you resist, persists so stop resisting what is. Take responsibility for your problems and don't run away from them. Face your problems with dignity and pride and create the solutions that need to be created.
Age 29 (2018): So all of those failures and lessons brought me to this: the last year of my 20's. The days leading up to my 29th birthday I was flooded with inevitable feelings of self-reflection and understading. I wanted so badly to understand why my 20's had been so hard for me. Why didn't I have the fun and care free experience most of my 20-something peers had enjoyed? Why had my experience been so difficult and painful? What was the meaning of it all and what purpose did it serve? Through meditation and isolation during the days leading up to my 29th birthday I got the answers I was looking for. Life NEEDED me to evolve as quickly as possible so that I could help others to do the same. That's it. That was the reason my 20's had been so difficult and challenging. It took nearly 9 years of daily heart aches and head aches for me to learn the greatest lesson of all:
I learned that the entire purpose of our existence is to become the person we were always meant to become with the sole purpose of empowering others to do the same.
I truly hope this story and my transparency has helped you in whatever way you might need to be helped, but more than this, I hope my story inspires you to tell your own. I know you have one and I want you to know that you can change lives just by sharing it.
It is my committment to continue sharing my stories for as long as I live. All of my ups and downs, my successes and failures, my truths and fears and my hopes and dreams. I want to share it all with you because we are on this journey of LIFE together and I am willing to share my journey if that means it might make yours a little easier.