Lately, I have been doing a lot of reflecting and learning. I have had my outlook on a few things change and have looked back on my past experiences and realized that I may not have made the best choices along the way. While I already knew this, and “hindsight is always 20/20,” a new light has been shone on it.
Cars have always been my passion. I got my first car when I was 15 and loved it. I spent some money I had made teaching martial arts on modifying it and making it better looking and faster. I continued this pattern for over a decade, except each car was faster and more expensive than the last.
Anyone who is familiar with cars understands that first of all, unless you buy a collector’s item or something rare, they are an item of debt – not an asset. You very rarely make your money back due to depreciation, and modifications only lower the value quicker because fewer people will want exactly what you have created. But, I didn’t care. I loved what I built and took pride in each car I have owned.
The problem, though, is that it was instant gratification. It was short-term happiness that, when it came time to get another car, would slap me in the face and remind me that I had just made a rather poor financial decision, regardless of how fun it may have been.
It may not be easy to draw a parallel between cars and relationships (aside from the fact that some guys treat their car like a girlfriend…) but I think we can do it if we try.
Over the past couple of months I have had my eyes opened to how this pattern spread further than just cars for me. I spent much of my early 20’s in nightclubs and enjoying making new friends and having great experiences – but I wasn’t building anything for the future. I wasn’t investing in anything that would last.
Of course, we all go through our less serious phases in life. I had no interest in getting into a relationship in my early 20’s, particularly during my “party phase.” Furthermore, I wouldn’t have even appreciated the type of woman who you marry or have a long term relationship with, because I just wasn’t ready for her.
But for people who are in relationships and are in a different place in their lives, I think this is an important question to ask yourself. We can’t put an age on it since we all want different things at different times in our lives, but it seems to me that many people in our generation are sort of just killing time. They are staying with men and women who they see no real future with just because they think it is better than being single.
They are staying in relationships that are lacking in trust, passion, love, and a real foundation. To draw another car analogy – staying in a relationship without these qualities is like staying in a car without any fuel. You can stay in it as long as you want, but it’s not going to go anywhere.
For me, at almost 30 years old, I am finally recognizing the value of investments. Both financial and personal. Both individual and intimate. The importance of assets rather than debt. Something that is going to gain value over time, not lose it.
Relationships are like investments in more ways than one. Like financial investments, if you want to get anything out of it, you have to put something into it. Not just once, but consistently over time. As you do this, it grows and becomes more valuable. It gives you returns with interest.
Except, the returns from investing in a relationship are much more valuable than the returns from investing in the stock market. Rather than dollars, you get hope for the future. You get excitement. You get a teammate in life. You get happiness, and you get love.
The next time you ask yourself whether or not you are in the right relationship, start thinking about it like an investment. Are you and your partner working towards something? Can you see yourself contributing to this fund over a long period of time? Or are you just driving around in a car that you’re going to sell as soon as you find a better one?
Wasting your time in bad relationships is worse than wasting your money on bad investments – money you can get back, but time you can’t.
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