I live about 30 miles north of where I work. The other day, I was on my way home from work and I noticed something interesting: I actually have to drive South about 1/4 mile before I can start heading North to my home. This made me think of some different decisions that we face. Sometimes, it is necessary to move backwards to go forwards. Here are 3 scenarios I thought of:
1. Buying a Home
While it may not be true for everyone, many people need to get a mortgage in order to get their home. In a way this can be seen as taking a giant step back in order to start making baby steps forward. Some might disagree on this as many consider a mortgage to be a “good debt,” but in terms of numbers, you’re taking on a negative number (debt) in order to start building a positive number (equity in a house).
2. Climbing the Corporate Ladder
Recently, I was speaking with a supervisor who lamented ever going into the management channels. He was surprised to see how comfortable and stagnant the management chain was. He had been in that position for 5 years now with no prospects of moving up or doing anything different. He considered taking a demotion just so he could start working his way up another area of the company.
This is definitely not uncommon in the corporate world. Often times, people will leave a company simply because the corporate ladder is too stagnant. This was a big problem for a while with the baby boomers because there were so many of them, and they stayed at their jobs for a really long time. It created a bottle neck in companies everywhere.
3. Paying Off Debt
A very common question that people run into is if they should invest or pay off debt. Of course, there are little instances where one should save instead of pay down debt, such as setting up an emergency cushion. Generally, people should pay off debt first. It doesn’t make sense to buy a 3% CD when you’ve got a 15% credit card balance.
In a way, you’re taking a step back by not investing, so you can take a step forward in the future. Once that debt is gone, you’ll be able to blow by where you would’ve been had you continued carrying that debt load. Sometimes it can be hard to put the money on debt because you don’t really get to see it grow, but it’s important to make the proper decision in this situation.
So there you have it, 3 different scenarios where you have to take a step back so that you can begin moving forward. It’s often a tough decision to make because it goes against our natural instincts. We always want to move forward, we don’t want to walk a path that we’ve already fully covered, but sometimes it is necessary.
What other scenarios have you run into, or you can think of where a person might need to take a step back so they can start moving forward again?