I have written about worrying before in this blog, but I find in my conversations with people that they spend a lot of time doing it. Not saying how we feel or what we may be thinking because it might hurt someone’s feelings. Not doing what needs to be done because we worry about how it may be taken. Worrying about what other people have, and trying to keep up with them. Worrying about what other people do with their money and their time.
Worry is a symptom of a greater problem, and for every person the disease may be different. The problem is that a lot of times we put ourselves in the very situations that we start to worry about. To a certain degree life is a constant comparison between us and our peers. When our friend gets a new car, we have a desire to have a new car. If our niece or nephew excels in something, we want to push our kids to excel in something too. When our kid gets into the advanced classes other people push their kids to get into the advanced classes. And when it comes to colleges, rivalries and allegiances are built there, and we start putting these expectations onto our kids.
I think everyone needs a good dose of humility. We can be happy with what we have, and try to plan for a better tomorrow. We don’t need to the newest or best thing, what ever that may be, a house, a car, or a fancy diploma. Because chasing those things will lead to worry about how your going to keep paying for them, when you lose your job, when the main income provider passes away, you get divorced, or any number of things that can happen to reduce or eliminate income. If you don’t want to worry about money, worry about getting out of debt before getting nice things. Learn the difference between want and need. Then only buy the nice things you want with the cash you have.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. As a father of three, I can tell you it is tempting to try to push your kids too far. When it came time for them to decide on their classes, they were all accepted into the advanced level classes. But I told them not to waste their time on advanced level classes that they had no interest in doing when grew up. So, they went into advanced level math and science, because they aren’t going to be English professors or historians. Not that it doesn’t look good on a college application, but advanced classes take up a lot of time. I would rather have A’s in all of the classes than teetering between a B and C, not to mention the needless stress of studying.
Plenty people brag to me about how their kids are in advanced classes, but also tell me how stressed out their kids are. If my kids don’t make to an IVY league school, I don’t care, because diplomas are about value, in my opinion, not status. If you spend $200,000 on degree, that lands you a job that didn’t require a degree, or maybe it did, but the most you will ever make is $80,000 a year, is it worth it? If someone has a degree from Harvard, does it matter if they are living under a bridge? While the someone else is making $150,000 after going to trade school for a couple of months and can weld. What has the most value, and who had to worry more? Was it worth it?
As a parent, I think more of our time is worrying about our kids, while trying to keep an illusion up. We don’t want to admit to our kids the mistakes we made, and acknowledge that they were mistakes. We just want to tell them not do stuff, because we know the result. Without telling them that we did it, they don’t think we understand. And if we don’t acknowledge we made a mistake in our youth, they see us as hypocrites. So many of us seem to forget that that is exactly the way we were as kids too. If you are worried about your kids, we have to break this cycle.
This is one of my longer posts, but if there is one thing I hope you can take a way it is this, change the things that you can, let go of the things that you can’t, and seek the wisdom do know the difference, but don’t worry about something when you have done everything you can.