Don't Let Mistakes Set You Back
- 2011 28 Dec
I love to watch home remodeling television shows. They give me confidence that I really could remodel a kitchen, build a shed or even install new windows all by myself. Usually, the feeling passes quickly, but I find myself feeling comfortable around power tools and I do enjoy a good home improvement store.
Recently, the host of one of the more extreme house "rescue" shows said something so profound, I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget how he phrased it. There he was on the roof of a house, totally exacerbated by one problem after another created by previous homeowners or contractors, problems he would have to rectify before the job could move forward. None of these problems on its own was serious, but each piled one on top of the other. This job was in danger of going way over budget. He said, "Lots of minor things become major problems." I got to thinking how that simple truth applies to other areas of life, not just home remodels and repairs.
Take knitting. Being "off" by as little as 1/8th of an inch in the beginning can grow into a finished project that would fit King Kong once you repeat that minor mistake row after row after row.
Want to know what happens when a quilter repeats a slightly crooked seam or a slightly not-square corner piece? It's called a disaster, as master quilt maker Ami Simms can demonstrate. View, if you dare, "The Worst Quilt in the World Contest" at her website, AmiSimms.com. Just click on the trash can for a little visual entertainment. I'll admit it's not nice to laugh at others' mistakes, but in this case the contestants asked for it by entering their work in Ami's contest.
Then, there are personal finance problems. One shopping binge 18 years ago is not likely to have sent you down the path to financial devastation, nor will that horrible auto lease you jumped into before you were financially mature enough to know better. But if those two small mistakes were followed by routine overspending, adding to growing credit-card debt, multiple refinances of your home mortgage on top of more car leases, those minor problems grew into major problems.
The antidote is to correct the small mistakes as they occur. Sure, it's not the end of the world if you allow a small credit-card balance to roll from one month to the next. The amount of interest for that minor problem could be just a couple of bucks. If you pay the balance in full the following month, you are back to $0, and that minor problem will be history. Case closed.
If you correct your gauge on that sweater you're making before you take one more stitch, it's going to be beautiful. That quilt? Do yourself a favor. Take out that first row of crooked stitching. Fix the mistake before you go any farther, and you'll be winning real quilt contests before you know it!
Originally posted in January 2010. Copyright © 2009 Mary Hunt. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint required.
Check out Mary's recently released revised and expanded edition of The Financially Confident Woman (DPL Press, 2008).
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