I’m a repeat offender.
A two-time loser. Maybe three. Incorrigible. I wonder if there’s a registry somewhere I’ve need to be on.
It started about fifteen years ago. I decided I would switch things up in my exercise routine by taking up cycling. Unfortunately, the borrowed bicycle I was using wasn’t the right height for me (who knew bicycles came in sizes?). As a result, I aggravated my middle-aged back. It was my first foray into the world of back pain.
But it wouldn’t be my last.
Like any good ex-jock, I determined to push through the pain. That was a mistake.
I spent the next several months in a doomed loop of exercise, injury, lay off just long enough to feel better but not get better, rinse and repeat. If you’ve ever suffered from chronic back pain, you know there is no shortage of opinions as to how to effectively treat the issue. You’ve spent many sleepless nights reading up on this stuff, unable to rest due to your pain.
Like many back pain sufferers, I went to doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and all manner of back pain specialists. A few provided some measure of relief, but none could get me completely out of pain.
Until I met Rick. I was referred to Rick by a fellow back pain sufferer (we find each other). My friend sang his praises. His methods were unusual but didn’t sound wacky. So I gave it a try. Rick gave me a menu of gentle exercises designed to get my body back into proper alignment. If my body was in proper alignment, Rick explained, my pain should go away.
And it worked. It was slow, but the progress was real. And I felt better. My back stopped hurting.
So I quit. Against Rick’s advice.
“Now is not the time to stop your alignment exercises,” Rick explained. “You’re not really better yet. You feel better, but you haven’t completed the process of getting your body back to its ideal alignment.”
Sure, sure, I thought. Thanks for the help, Rick. See ya.
“Well, yes, as a matter of fact, you will see me,” Rick explained matter-of-factly. “Because you’ll be back. And you’ll be worse than you are now.”
By now, you can probably finish the story. I did indeed stop doing the alignment exercises he recommended. Not because they were hard, but because they took time and were rather boring.
The problem was they were very, very effective. And when I stopped doing them, I went backwards. My back pain returned.
I wish I could tell you this cycle only happened once. It didn’t. I’m the kind of guy that believes that if the School of Self-Inflicted Hard Knocks is beneficial, you should get a masters degree and PhD from it.
Rick and I are now on our third (or is it fourth) cycle of him putting me back together. And once again, I can say its working like a charm – a slow, boring, I-wish-I-didn’t-have-to-do-this charm. But it’s working. And I am so grateful.
Can you tell where all this is headed?
So much of what I see and deal with in my work as a financial planner are economic versions of Rick and me. Maybe that’s you.
You know what to do financially. Maybe you’ve even done it once or twice. For example, you’ve gotten out of debt (partially or completely). Or you’ve started to save and invest. And then you just stopped.
Who knows why you stopped. There may be a million reasons. But you did. You stopped.
And now the pain has returned. Or it just never went away.
I think you’ll discover what I did about my back – giving up is simply not an option. You can be mad at yourself. You can sulk. You can throw something. You can keep looking in the rear-view mirror with regret.
Or you can do like I did with my back and swallow your pride and start over.
It may not be the most fun thing you’ve ever done. But it beats the heck out of hurting.
I’ve got a checklist you can use to know where to start when you’re starting over. If you’d like a free copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for my Money Re-Start checklist.
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