How often do you blame yourself for making a mistake you believe you shouldn’t have made?

How often do you catch yourself saying or simply thinking some version of, “I was stupid…I should have known better…I can’t believe I let that happen to me!”?

If in reflection you realize that you do this often or at least more than you’d like to, I have some good news and some less than good but certainly not bad news.

The good news is that you are engaging with life and playing a bigger game. I know this because if you weren’t, you’d be safe, bored, and likely depressed. You wouldn’t be dealing with self doubt, rumination, and fear.  

I know many people who live squarely within their comfort zone. It’s a choice we are all allowed, and historically these people are not a psychographic drawn to coaching.

But if you’re reading this post, you’re likely part of the other group — you are deeply engaged with life and want to expand your ability to create, experience, and enjoy more of what our relatively few years on this earth can offer if we let it.

Here’s the not so great news.

Every experience has a fee attached to it, and you get what you pay for.

In the book “The Psychology of Money,” author Morgan Housel uses the following analogy to illuminate this point: I can pay $100 for a Disneyland ticket and enjoy what that unique experience offers, or pay $20 for a day at the local county fair. Both are fine choices, and paying the higher fee enables me to have a larger experience if that’s what I want.

Please note that a fee is not a guarantee. It can still rain in Disneyland.

Most of us have an intuitive sense, as well as life experience of this truth, but the misunderstanding takes place when we confuse the fee with a fine.

When things don’t go as we planned, expected, or desired, we assume we did something wrong and are now having to pay a fine.

Not true.

Here are a few examples of the ways we confuse the fee with a fine:

If you choose to be married, you’re going to have a lot of uncomfortable conversations, heartbreaks, and disappointments.

That’s the fee – not a fine.

If you’re going to play a bigger professional game, you’re going to live with self doubt and the imposter syndrome constantly.

That’s the fee – not a fine.

If you want to travel the world, you’ll often get lost, scared, and experience unexpected trouble.

That’s the fee – not a fine.

If you choose the freedom and autonomy that comes with singlehood, you’re sometimes going to feel lonely, left out, and sad.

That’s the fee – not a fine.

If you choose to play in the stock market, you’re going to deal with uncertainty, volatility, and risk most of the time.

That’s the fee – not a fine.

If you choose to have children, you will never sleep as peacefully as you did before you had them.

That’s the fee – not a fine – and also guaranteed!

If you choose to be a devoted athlete, you’ll be injured some (or more than some) of the time.

That’s the fee – not a fine.

If you choose to cultivate lots of social relationships and a robust social life, you will invite more drama into your world. More humans, more drama!

That’s the fee – not a fine.

If you are lucky to live past your 40’s, you’ll have wrinkles, saggy skin, and less hair.

That’s the fee – not a fine.

Where in your life are you carrying this misunderstanding and consequently making life more difficult and less joyful for yourself?

I want to know.

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