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If you’re interested in participating in the Wins and Losses Series, please send me a note here (you don’t have to be a blogger to participate!)
This week we have: Matt from Spills Spot!
I love that Matt took the series prompts to heart with this one – he really dives into the lessons learned during these wins and losses and I’m stoked that he let us into these moments in his life. Some gems in this one! Take it away, Matt!
Hello MikedUp Blog readers!
My name is Matt from Spills Spot, a blog where I write about my personal finance journey with the goal of inspiring others to be more interested in personal finance and improve at managing their money. My wife and I paid off $55,000 of debt to reach debt freedom. It was a long journey, but being debt free and building wealth is an incredible feeling, a feeling I want to help other people achieve in their lives.
I feel blessed to be where I’m at in life, and strive to live my life focused on being grateful. While I’ve encountered some challenges and obstacles along the way, they pale in comparison to the difficulties that many other people face. I grew up in a safe, loving home in the Bay Area, CA. I have a tight-knit relationship with family and friends as a support system.
I love the concept of this interview series, as reflecting on both life’s good and bad events helps you prepare and improve in the future.
Win #1 – A Citywide Celebration
After graduating from college in 2013 with a degree in Sports Marketing, I decided to pursue my passion in sports. I got a part-time job with our local minor league baseball team, with the goal of turning it into a full-time position. Fast forward to my second season with the team (2014), where I was a Marketing and Promotions intern. I worked all 70 home games, usually from about 2pm-10:30pm. This included setting up, working throughout the games, and then cleaning up afterward. I also came into the office on non-game days, and balanced a second part-time job too!
These were busy times for me, with many long hours and few days off. However, all this hard work paid off and leads to my story about my first win.
During the 2014 season, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series!
After winning a championship, it is customary to hold a parade in the team’s home city. Since our minor-league team is within the Giants organization, we found out that our team would get to ride on a cable car in the championship parade!
This was the thrill of a lifetime for me. Not only was I going to get to attend the parade, I was getting to be a part of it. Giants baseball is one of my biggest passions in life, and this celebration was unlike any other. Millions of people, decked out in orange and black, overtook the city of San Francisco.
Cheers filled the air, and confetti filled the sky. At the beginning of the route, our cable car stopped working, so we ended up getting out and walking the parade route instead. Throwing out candy, slapping hi-fives, and capturing the memories on a Go-Pro. It was truly something I’ll never forget.
Key Takeaway: Control what you can control, set yourself up for success.
Now many parts of this story were out of my control. It was incredibly fortunate that the same season I was interning for the team was the year the Giants won the World Series. However, the takeaway I want to leave you with is how important it is to focus on what you can control and set yourself up for success.
I was in this position as the result of hard work, which is something I had control over.
Completing my education, applying for the job in 2013, working the 2013 season in a part-time role, and then becoming an intern in 2014. After becoming an intern, I continued to work hard and build relationships. When this opportunity came up, I was viewed as a valuable member of the team who deserved to be a part of the celebration.
This is a lesson I follow throughout my life. When circumstances are difficult, I focus what I have a direct role in and make peace with the areas outside of my control. I’ve positioned myself for success by increasing my marketable skills and building relationships.
Win #2 – Tropical New Experiences
My second win happened about a month earlier than the first win. At the end of September 2014, I married my wife and we went on our honeymoon to the Dominican Republic.
After months of planning the wedding, making decisions, packing up our stuff, getting moved into an apartment, and beginning to unpack, nothing sounded better than honeymooning to the beaches of the Caribbean.
There were many aspects that made this trip so special. It was our first long trip together, and it sparked in us a passion for exploring new places together. It also reaffirmed the importance of taking time to unwind and just spend time together. Sometimes life gets so crazy that we forget to take a step back and take in the moments.
Key Takeaway: Time with the people most important to you should always come first.
My key takeaway from this win is that the time you spend with family and friends is always time well spent. We need to remember to make this a priority in our lives, and not let other obligations squeeze out what’s most important. Another takeaway would be to pursue new experiences. Expand your horizons, travel to new places, try new foods, practice new hobbies. Through this, you learn more about yourself and grow closer to the people around you.
Loss #1 – At a Crossroads, Feeling Lost
After working for the minor-league baseball team for two seasons, it became clear that a full-time position wasn’t opening up. I loved what I did, but I also needed to progress in my career. Eventually, I came to a crossroads. I could be stubborn, continue working part-time for the team, making minimum wage, and hope that a full-time role eventually opened up. Or alternatively, I could pivot and find a marketing role in a different industry. This would let me build additional marketable skills to better prepare myself for a role in the sports industry down the road. The choice was clear. I took a bet on myself, left my part-time job, and began to pursue a full-time marketing role.
In total, I was unemployed for about 6 months. This was one of the most challenging times of my life – battling doubts with my self-esteem and watching my wife go off to work while I was still at home. At times I felt lost, which direction should I pursue? What niche of marketing do I fit into?
While this was a difficult time for me, I learned a lot about myself. I started blogging about sports, teaching myself various aspects of content creation and refining my writing ability. This blog helped pave the way to starting to write about money and pursue a Content Marketing role for my day job.
Key Takeaway: Adversity brings growth. Build up a cash cushion.
Looking back, being unemployed for 6 months doesn’t sound like the end of the world. While I was in the midst of it though, there was a lot of uncertainty, questions, and fear. This time in my life helped reiterate the lesson that we grow most during times of adversity. I now have a wider skill set and more confidence in my abilities after going through this period of growth.
It also was additional motivation for how important it is to get a handle on your finances, build up a cash emergency fund, and get our debt paid off as quickly as possible. Thinking back to the fear I felt during these 6 months was a catalyst to us paying off our $55,000 of debt at such a rapid pace. I wanted to remove that extra worry and stress from my life.
Loss #2 – Lessons from Young Love
I’m hesitant to include this one since it seems so small compared to the difficulties that others face in their lives. But for the sake of transparency, loss #2 would have to be the breakup I experienced with my first girlfriend. We met in high school and began dating during my senior year. Then I moved about 3 hours away to attend college. We made long distance work throughout the first semester, but early in the second semester, our relationship ended.
I took this hard. I had put my whole heart into the relationship, especially considering that it was my first one. You know what they say about young love. The breakup gave me doubts about myself. Where had I gone wrong? Why wasn’t I good enough?
I learned a lot about myself during this time, regained my confidence, and built strong friendships. Eventually, I was able to move on as a much stronger person. Looking back and reflecting with a clear mind, I’m able to see all the reasons why the relationship wasn’t the right one for me.
Key Takeaway: Everything happens for a reason. Doors close, new doors open.
I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. While at the time it felt devastating to have a relationship end, my life is so much better now having gone through that experience. It taught me how to be a better man, communication, and what to look for in my next relationship – which ended up being my now wife!
The craziest thing is that my wife went through a similar breakup and it became a common bond that we shared in getting to know each other. Life is funny in that way. When one door closes, another one opens. Rather than get discouraged, we need to focus on being the best we can be and continuing to grow as people. There have been many times in my life that what I thought I wanted, wouldn’t have been what was best. I’m thankful for these lessons that I’ve learned along the way, and will continue to carry them with me.
There were a ton of points that deserved highlighting above but the thing that stood out most to me was the fact that – while things don’t always workout how you plan they will in life… more often than not that’s a good thing. I agree that things happen for a reason and I love Matt’s attitude about dealing with life as it comes. Kudos!
What about you? We’ll be monitoring the comments section below and we’d love to hear what lessons jumped out to you from Matt’s experiences!
Thanks for reading!