What your flippant beliefs cost you

Ramit Sethi

Earlier this month, I asked a bunch of people on Twitter why they don’t automatically invest.

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No judgment. If you don’t automate your investments, that’s fine — but I want you to consider this:

What are your beliefs costing you?

For example, the people who don’t automatically invest often believe they have very good reasons:

  • “I like to have control”
  • “I don’t have a lot of money right now”
  • “I like to invest when the market is down”

Unfortunately, their beliefs will probably cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime. They think they’re doing the right thing, but they don’t know that if you miss the best 5 days of investing (over a 20-year period), your return would shrink from ~7% to ~5%.

That’s probably one of the costliest decisions they’ll ever make.

So, what are your beliefs costing you?

When I used to think I was just a “skinny Indian guy,” I believed that gym bros were dumb jocks who guzzled protein.

Screen Shot 2018 07 12 at 5.24.23 PM

That single belief cost me years of looking better, learning the technicalities of fitness & nutrition, and cost me in personal relationships, too.

Think about these common beliefs. What are the costs of believing these things?

  • “College is a waste of money”
  • “I’m an introvert so I can’t do that”
  • “I have a slow metabolism so I can’t get abs”

I’m curious to hear from you.

I want to hear about a belief you had — and what it cost you. Share your belief in the comments section below.

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  1. Charles

    I manually invest. At the beginning of the month (when I get paid) I look at my bank balance and my budget for the month and transfer the difference to my brokerage account. I don't think it's costing me much. I might miss a day or two if I procrastinate, but I'm only risking missing a couple days of return on that specific contribution, while the vast majority of what I contribute has either already been there, or isn't available to me yet. And I get the satisfaction of seeing what I'm spending vs. saving every month.

    • vIKI

      I believe that if you are passionate about what you do, and you produce a fine quality product, then you will succeed. I've put everything, and I mean everything into this business of mine and now I'm with inventory and no cash flow, not even enough to pay someone to sell. So right now, I don't know what to believe anymore. I'm trying, I'm praying, I'm persistent to the point of being annoying, I'm changing up my prices, working with customers one on one, but now I am convinced that I'm in the wrong place, despite a website that is awesome and a product that is gorgeous. LOST AND IN NEED OF YOUR HELP!

    • Rob

      So I prefer to automate. However the problem lies with irregular income. Automation on your own (not being an employee) often goes by dollar amount and not percentage. If i made very little money in a pay period I can’t set a certain dollar amount. The amount I set may not even cover the amount I make in certain pay periods.

    • Mike

      I'm sure it works now, I do a mix of automatic and manual investing. Best thing you can do is decide your minimum and set that to be automatic each month. Guarantee that life will eventually get in the way and you might forget to make a transfer.

  2. Jessica

    I used to have the belief that I couldn't present something until it was 100% ready. This actually ended up allowing me to always find a reason to procrastinate– I put off presenting my business ideas for YEARS waiting for my presentation to be 'ready'. I realized that done at 80% is better than in-the-works at 98% and I started pitching my ideas to investors. I missed out on so much because of this– quitting my job and starting my business sooner, years of profit and networking, possible investors who were now committed to other projects, etc.

  3. Nick

    I spent years saying I’d never get married. I got hitched 4 years ago and I am more at peace within myself than I ever have been. Getting married has benefited my health as I am now completely alcohol free for the first time since I was 18.

    • Jeffrey

      I was in the same boat!

      American culture has been pushing the idea of "Marriage is bad, career is good!" for a long time. It's not beneficial for our society imho, everyone waiting until they're old and tired and bitter from breakups looking for the 'perfect' partner. Splitting up used to be more difficult too, because trying to maintain a more stable family structure was valued. Not as much these days it seems.

      Getting married was a huge relief that I wasn't even aware of. Kids too, they're a lot of work but I wish we had started sooner. I'll be old when they finally move out, who wants old parents when you're 18??

      Hey congrats on being alcohol-free Nick, that's great.

  4. Rosanne G. Dunkelberger

    I believed the safe way to make your way in the working world was to find a "good" job and stick with it. For 11 years, I was in a position that was high profile and prestigious but thought the only way I could maintain both was to work in what became a miserable situation. I've been on my own for three years now, but I still haven't committed 100 percent to creating my own business and can't shake the feeling that my only path to success is working for someone else. I'm 61.

  5. Elizabeth

    I used to take a short-term view of working relationships. I didn't even do this consciously.

    For example, a short-term view would be: You are contacted by a recruiter from a great company about a job. You go through all the steps in the process, including the in-person interview stage, but don't get an offer. You don't bother to connect with that recruiter on LinkedIn or try to build a relationship of some kind with the people you meet. You just view the entire process as a transaction that didn't yield what you wanted: a job at that company at that time.

    A long-term view would focus on relationships. You'd connect with the people you met on LinkedIn; you'd re-apply for another job at the same company later if you saw a position you wanted. You'd remember that the people you met will quite possibly go work somewhere else in a couple years and could very well be looking for someone to fill a job at that company.

    I can't say exactly what this short-term view cost me because I can't know what would have happened had I acted differently. However, I am sure it has cost me at least a couple of great jobs that I'd at least have had a shot at had I been less of a dolt.

  6. Kelsey

    Oh the introvert thing. I'm an introvert. I told myself I couldn't approach people I didn't know." Or I could, but it was difficult for me and I didn't like it so that was a good enough reason not to.

    Partially responsible for being single for six years. Lots of dating and despair over it never seeming to work out. Lots of time spent doing new hobbies or group activities like I was supposed to but never having anything pan out as far as dating goes.

    Long story short, I started to make myself talk to new people and met my now husband within six months of that. Yeah, being introverted makes it harder. But it's not impossible!!

  7. Karen

    I like auto investing. It works well for me. As for another belief, I believed that doing photography professionally would mean selling out (and real artists don't make art that's defined by clients). Therefore I never pursued it and believe I missed out on what could have been a good career.

  8. Winnie

    For years, I repeatedly subscribed to the “I don’t have a creative bone in my body” belief. But my parents still have mountains of my childhood artwork, so I can’t figure out where that belief came from and how long I’ve had it. I finally convinced myself to give calligraphy a shot last year since I’ve always loved improving my handwriting. Turns out I’m hella creative. So much so that I’m turning calligraphy into a side hustle with the ultimate goal of making it my full-time business within the next two years. But I could have already reached those goals if I hadn’t spent more than a decade telling myself math and accounting was all I excelled in. As Drake said “Better late than never. But never late is better.”

  9. Bob

    My church taught me the value of trusting people. I had known my wife for four years before we married, we had two wonderful boys, and I trusted her and built a career in a prominent local business. Ten years into our marriage I found that my wife had been regularly screwing my boss. Heartbroken, I divorced my wife and quit my job. My young boys and I moved to another state where I started all over again from the bottom. I learned a hard lesson: don't trust anybody. When my church tells me that we are here to help others, I now ask, "What are the others here for?" My three rules: (1) Be kind. (2) Don't trust anybody. (3) Get the money. It works for me.

  10. Charles H Green

    I agree with you 90% – I lost a lot of money over the years thinking I could do better. I can't, and I'm a smart guy.
    I do, however, have two exceptions.
    First, I keep some small amount of money (5% of my total assets) in a brokerage account that I actively trade. It's like poker money, or maybe better lottery money. I have fun with it, and if I lose a little, I'm not upset. I do about OK overall.
    Second, a more serious exception. Financial planners and asset managers in every country automatically give extra-weight to their own nation's assets. Thus nearly all US managers will automatically put you in, say, 75% equities and 25% "foreign." In the UK, same results but of course different nationality.
    If you believe, as I do, that the long run prospects for Asian equities outweigh the US, then you are out of the mainstream. Very few advisors are set up to, much less really consider, weighting 70% foreign. But I believe that's the right bet, and so have put another small percent of my money in strictly ex-US stocks, so I'm more heavy weighted foreign than most US managers believe in. I think that's a valid exception to your rule. Maybe the only one

  11. Alixandrea Corvyn

    Ouch, this is a painful one. As a child I believed that I didn't need singing lessons because I could already sing. Still undoing the years of bad technique that one cost me (even though I actually teach singing now!) Also I found watching professional musicians on TV, reading about them and finding out about their lives and how they got to where they are now immensely painful because I was so seethingly jealous of them. So I missed out on a whole load of learning that could have catapulted my music career forward.

  12. Michael

    "Art school is too expensive."
    "I'm not talented enough or schooled enough to become an illustrator or comics writer fu time."
    "You'll never make any money as an <<insert favorite term here – Actor, Writer, Comic Book Artist, Artist, Illustrator, …."

    Most of my adult life, I've wrestled with these beliefs, wrestling with my internal compass which continuously steers me towards illustration and storytelling and the voices of those "practical" pieces of advice from my family. At 42, after being let go from a PR job I hated, I am finally teaching myself to draw (better), and committing myself to the mechanics of being a full-time freelancer, illustrator and comics creator.

    What's it cost me? YEARS of working at various jobs sort of near what I wanted to do in the hopes that I'd magically get my lucky break while hating my bosses, and hating myself. YEARS of waiting to make that break that would allow me to to what I wanted AND still make a living rather than making my own "luck". Years, nope, decades of allowing that internal self-talk seep into other areas of my life.

    I'm less than a year into this process, and it's true, I'm poor AF right now. I'm also happier than I have been in years, excited to go to "work" which happens to be my extra bedroom-come-studio and contains my dogs, and in less than a year am already making more than I was collecting while on unemployment and becoming much more proactive about my business and my financial life.

  13. Joseff Driver

    A few months ago I had just finally enrolled in school again and was determined to do well with it and do it fast. However shortly after, a job offer fell from the sky to be working in sales for a very handsome salary. The job is what I really needed to get going. But I held on to the belief that no matter what I was gonna finish what I started. I stayed and continued schooling instead of putting it off a little longer and making MUCH bigger strides with my career. I know that now and I'm still kicking myself in the pants about it. Largely becaus that job would have put me in touch with all the right people I need for my career path.

  14. Will

    That I don't have enough money to pursue something that I want. Not that I actually dont have enough, but that I think I dont.

    I've always wanted a lot (to write a book, run a successful business, travel a lot, help others), but cannot seem to nail even one thing down.

    My mentally is my weakness and I struggle to change this…

    what I have done is to start to be more regular with certain things;
    – gym once a week (took me 6 months to make this a habit, soon into twice a week)
    -working enough to save more (I'm a self employed tour guide, so winters suck) has stuck this year.

    But I really struggle with goal setting. I rebel against goals and feel as if they limit me…

    Dont know what else to really say and thanks again for your work Ramit!

  15. Anuj sharma

    I used to think same about working out with a trainer. Now I know, the benefits of trainer and working out in good gym with good atmosphere.

  16. Trebecca

    I used to believe (and at weak moment, still do) that I wasn't smart enough to pass my Civil EIT (Engineering in Training) exam. I'm three years out of a Big Ten school, and every paycheck, it costs me roughly $1000+ post taxes. Every. Single. Paycheck.
    That money could have been used on college loan payments, saving for a house or shoot, traveling to Australia like I've always wanted. My perfectionism (be successful or don't try) has been paralyzing for years, but after college it's been wreaking havoc on my life.
    Last month I decided to get real about it and I purchased a live study course that will start next week. I found two accountability partners. I put the phrase "Failure IS an Acceptable Outcome of taking the First Step" on my whiteboard next to by desk. By Dec. 2018, I will either be an licensed EIT with a pay raise or studying for a retake in the next 365 days of 2019. But I WON'T be failing to try anymore.


      Good luck with the EIT. You can do it! Especially with the help of a study course! When I took it was open book. Knowing the equation sheet inside and out is key. It's your vocabulary. It's your fill in the blank cheat sheet. And if all else fails the answers are on the page.

  17. Sara

    My belief that has cost me the most is about health of all things. I've had autoimmune issues since 7 years old, doctor appointments that gave me a new prescriptons and tried to manage symptoms etc. But i never got well. I believed if there was an answer my doctor should be able to help me. Soo much money down the drain over the years, so much mental/emotional cost and who knows about what permanent damage has been done to my body (the only one i will ever have mind you) However I am learning more on my own and finding fantastic results for myself and my family. It is unbelievable… Now I look harder at what a "professional" (in any field) tells me, consider what I have to lose if they are wrong and do my best to do my own research and digging even if it takes a bit longer. Being informed and taking a more active role is so important. Just turned 30 and wish I had been more assertive sooner.

  18. Jo

    Thinking I wasn't capable of leading a Product Team, or becoming certified to be a Scrum Master or a Product Owner, all because I thought I didn't have the skill-set or intelligence to do so. This cost me probably $350,000 in salary over the past 10 years…

    The story to realizing my stupidity is truly maddening, but has a silver lining, because I am now on my path to doing what I really do love to do.

    During my on-boarding for a new job, one of my teachers assumed I already knew Scrum because, somehow, I'd already been following the basic formula, spreadsheets and all, just with different names. Even in my interview, the way I described my processes were nearly identical to Scrum, so everyone just assumed I knew the method. But, because I was leading a Client Success team, the trainer and team members I interviewed with assumed I just changed the terms because Scrum terms don't apply to a none Dev work. Finally, we got to the point were it came to fruition that I hadn’t worked with Scrum before. The team and my the teacher for my on-boarding thought I was joking, and I was in total disbelief that I could be that close to something I thought I was incapable of doing.

    I went home and it took maybe two websites worth of research on Scrum to realize that the method really is nearly identical to what I have been doing for years. I wanted to smash my face into a jelly donut… I felt so stupid.

    For the past 8 years, instead of just reading about Scrum, let alone getting Scrum Certified, I stayed in crap jobs doing things I didn’t really love to do because I was too scared to even look into becoming a Product Owner/Scrum Master.

    So, I sat down and blasted through the first Scrum course in a day and a half, then passed the online certification the day after. All I had to learn were the terms. The process itself already made complete sense to me because I had been living it for nearly 10 years. I’ll be taking the next two courses, which I’m sure I’ll do just fine in as well.

    Just think about that, nearly a *decade* of being too afraid to just take a course and test that would have given me 50k more in salary, with better titles, all because I thought I wasn't 'good enough'.

    If you really think it about it, I turned down $350,000 (at least) in earnings over the past 10 years because of years of unfounded fear and a lack of self-confidence.

    I'm just happy that I caught this in time to really make a difference in my life.

  19. Tom Wenneson

    I believed what people said vs. what they did for far too long. Character shines thru in behavior. If someone tells you that something is important to them, but consistently fail to follow thru in action or only when pressured, they dont want to do what it takes and are only telling you what they want you to hear (or what they want to believe about themselves).

    This has cost me greatly in personal relationships, but is applicable to all aspects of interacting: sales, self-improvement, fianance

    • Dan

      So true. Oh God.

  20. CJ

    I have a belief that I’m not deserving of a high salary. I was doing a brain trust challenge and it led to a salary that was 40% higher than what I had been earning before, to do less – and that was still lower than what I found out they were willing to pay. I didn’t negotiate at all.

    In my years of working I reckon that one belief has cost me close to $500,000 in earnings potential.

  21. David

    I had a belief (and it sometimes creeps into my current thoughts too) that I could not start working on a big project until I had "cleared the decks" of everything else (usually small things). This would (and sometimes still does) cause me to procrastinate, instead of making incremental progress.

  22. Jason

    I had a belief that jobs that paid mostly on commission were a scam and the business owner was out to screw the employee. It wasn't until over a decade later that I realized my parents gave me the wrong advice and I missed out on learning valuable sales skills in my teens and early twenties.

  23. Dan

    "Good things come to those that wait"

    I was in a long distance relationship. Many broken promises and over 7 years later, I finally realized she was never going to come, and would also never admit that she was never going to come.

  24. Gretchen

    A deeply ingrained belief of mine concerning money was so strange you won't even believe it. But I had good reasons for it.

    I grew up in a strictly disciplined very controlling household, where there was wealth and class privilege. When I finally went out on my own I experienced complete freedom to choose my own friends and manage my own time. No one was watching me or asking me questions about what I was doing and when I was doing it and with whom. And I had no money except for the very minimum basics.

    So guess where I went with my beliefs. That's right. Poverty equals freedom.

    It has taken me decades to even make this belief conscious, let alone to get rid of it. I don't know if I've even gotten rid of it yet 100%.

  25. Karyn

    Back when I was in college, I really wanted to study in France for a semester – but I believed it was too expensive. Because of that belief, I never even looked into the possibility. Fast forward to today, and my daughter has just returned from a semester abroad – in France, no less – not because I have more money than my parents did, but because she went to the Study Abroad office and the Financial Aid office, and she applied for all the grants and scholarships she could. She ended up getting the entire semester paid for, and I've learned a valuable lesson. Now, when I catch myself making assumptions, I go out and get actual information. Even if I still can't do the thing I wanted to, at least now I know what I need to do to get there.

  26. Lance

    Pessimism is realism. I'm still trying to shake it.

  27. Terrance

    I think that my tax rate will be much higher post retirement than currently so I don't put $ in my 401k. But If I'm wrong I've lost thousands on after tax income

    • Saloni Kadakia

      Then why not save in Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA it would be perfect for you in such scenario

  28. Brian

    I believed that going to college would automatically translate into a "good" job. So I went to a name brand private university (not that one—the other one, for nerds). I believed them when they told me it was okay to over-borrow to cover things like a new laptop or a new engine for my car (so I could get to work and school). I borrowed a relatively reasonable $42k.

    12 years after graduation into a recession, I've paid back nearly $50k. And the principal remaining is just under $80k.

    I've automated savings, bills, and investments, and have been shifting my beliefs on increasing my income. These are working.

    But if I'm honest, it's looking more and more like leaving the country might be a quicker path to prosperity. Then again, flippant beliefs…

  29. Theodora

    I always believed my parents couldn't survive without me and so I built my whole life around my family. I never really thought about relationships or anything that would take me away from home. Sadly, I just lost my dad under my watch but still can't figure out how to move on even though I don't think I will want to live that way anymore

  30. Abigail

    I invest both automatically and manually. I invest automatically in my 401(k) — it's deducted straight from my paycheck. My IRA is something that I *should* automate, but I don't — no good reason not to, I just don't.

    I invest manually in my personal brokerage account because I only invest my extra savings from each month (ex: if I spent less on groceries than I budgeted for, then the extra gets invested). I don't remember to actually transfer the money to my brokerage every month, but I transfer it at least every other month. It's also my "fun" investing account — instead of just going with Target Date funds and forgetting about it, like I do with my 401(k), I enjoy looking at all the options and picking for myself where I'm going to invest this month's extra, then comparing how all my choices are doing.

  31. Sarah S.

    My belief was “I’m too poor to save.” I’m from a big family without a ton of money, live in a high cost of living area, have lived on my own since the age of 17, have college debt, chose to be a not-highly-paid public school teacher. I went for years living pretty conservatively and not being able to save, but also not really tracking my money or making conscious decisions about it. I quit teaching to start my own business, and suddenly not having a steady paycheck was a kick in the butt to get serious about understanding where my money was disappearing to. That was about a year ago, and I stumbled across IWT and read and watched everything available. I created a spreadsheet that I update and check every day with my monthly and yearly financial obligations, and make sure my earnings are on track every month. I’m making a third of what I was as a teacher, and yet I have a month’s worth of income saved up, have almost $2000 in online savings accounts to pay for upcoming annual bills (that used to make me cry and totally derail me), and this morning I made my very first contribution to my IRA – $458.33, so that going forward, I’ll max out my yearly contribution. What did I miss out on? I don’t even want to think about it. I’m 36, and had I known all of this and been this organized at the age of 17…yikes. I would have made some very different choices. But starting last year is still better than never, and it feels SO good to finally be in control!

    • Aideen

      "I'm not a morning person" = translation I can never get up in the morning to work out.
      "I'm a light sleeper."..actually went to the doctor found up I was an insomniac and sought help and am sleeping better then I ever have and now have energy to wake up and work out in the morning. Cost me the last 5 years of my poor sleeping when I could have gone to doctor sooner.

      "I'm not good with details" means I reinforce this over and over again and its a self fulfilling prophecy.
      "I have student loan debt = I'm broke" I made an investment in my education and I'm steadily paying it off. The investment did lead to a significant salary increase so reframing it makes a big difference.

  32. Chris

    I used to believe that people wouldn't like me if I beat them at something. I realised this when I was go-karting with colleagues and found myself taking my foot off the gas rather than overtaking someone; I could literally hear the voice in my head saying "they won't like you if you beat them". I still work on this, but it was a massive realisation for me.

  33. Kevin

    I'm not sure if the belief is flippant or not, but I have this intense fear that if I put my kids in day care it will ruin them.

    The belief stems from the fact that I have 2 brothers and my older brother and I weren't in daycare (stay at home Mom) and my younger brother went to daycare and he is not as emotionally stable as my older brother and I are. He's also made a lot of bad decisions in his life.

    So feeding this belief, my wife has been home with our kids for the past 6 years and at times it has felt financially impossible to get ahead. But we get through it, and our kids are wonderful. When she does start working full time again, it will feel like a breath of fresh air.

  34. Charles

    I use to belive that if I ignored a problem or conflict it would go away.
    That has cost me 2 relationships, a lot of friends, proberly a lot of money in missed opportunities and a lot of time correcting bad habits. Mostly the last part.

  35. Heidi

    I used to believe that if I kept my head down and worked hard, people would automatically recognize how good I was and reward me accordingly. You can imagine what that got me: absolutely nothing. It was a life-changing "lightbulb moment" for me when I realized that the woman who was getting the job I wanted got it simply because she asked for it. It's so obvious, but for me, the classic "middle child," it was a revelation and a revolution.

    Since then I've started speaking up, saying what I really mean and asking for things I want and need. It's served me well in promotions, projects, and pay raises. I don't always get what I want, but I've certainly achieved more than I would have otherwise.

  36. Kelly Morris

    That I'm too shy and socially awkward to pursue paid work that involves a lot of public speaking. This means I pass up applying to higher paying jobs and avoid lateral moves at work that would advance my career and increase my pay (there haven't been openings in my own department, but there have been openings in other departmens at work that would offer opportunities). I'm terrified that I will get the job and fail, even though I'm generally successful at the jobs I've worked all my life.

    I've poured myself into books and online resources to help me develop my skills and overcome my fears. So I guess I'm starting to push back. Still, I feel paralyzed when it comes to making big decisions.

    I'm also doing ZTL and I keep telling myself to start with an ebook instead of an online course. Again, it's because of my fear of putting myself out there in a big way. Even though you tell your students that a course or consulting is the way to go, not an ebook — if I really want to generate revenue. I keep making up excuses for why I should do the ebook.

    My job is very stressful, which is harming my health. That is helping to motivate me — obviously, I can do without those problems. Aside from that, I really just need to put my priorities in order and start going after them.

  37. Michael Bradbury

    Same here Heidi, I thought my results would speak for themselves until I found someone else got the credit for my hard work and I got fired. I have my own business now but I still struggle with, and tend to be dismissive of my own success (impostor syndrome maybe?)

  38. Liesl

    I used to believe that I was unathletic and lazy. I started to work out regularly and consistently 2 years ago and have now run 2 marathons, a half marathon and rock climb regularly. My beliefs really held me back from trying new sports and getting into activities that have now brought me meaning. I could have had so much more confidence and fun experiences.

    I also see this belief holding back my friends. My friend tells herself that she's lazy and exhausted every time she comes home from work, but she hates her job. It makes it a lot harder for her to apply for new jobs, even though it's exactly what she needs. A lot of these beliefs can be self-fulfilling prophecies that make life a lot harder than it needs to be.

  39. David Westerberg

    One idea I'm still fighting: I am not a high achiever. I have always been a little above average and not excellent at anything (that's what I believe anyway). It holds me back at work and life.

  40. Jonathan Lewis

    One belief I had for years was that marketing is mysterious, unpredictable, and random. I would read statements from marketers like, “I changed ONE WORD in my headline and increased my response 349%!” Stories like that (if they’re even true) just cemented my belief that marketing is mysterious and random. I think it was partially because of this belief that I never really studied marketing. And guess what? When I tried to market something, I got lousy results! (Which, unfortunately, only further reinforced my wrong beliefs.) Only recently have I really started to embrace the idea that marketing is a skill I can learn. I still have a long way to go, but at least I have the right mindset now. I wish I had started studying years ago so that by now I’d be a skilled marketer instead of just getting started. But better late than never right?

  41. Wow


  42. Tom

    Here's a few limiting beliefs that are pretty deeply ingrained

    1) It's not possible to produce income in a way that I enjoy
    2) The habit changes required to get into my ideal body shape are beyond my capabilities to make on my own
    3) I'm unsure of how to invest, so I will pick an aggressive growth target date fund from my 401k provider at work (even though there's no match, but it's automated)

  43. Laura

    I have two, one that most people probably fall for:

    "I need to know everything about business and have a lot of money to start a business"

    Cost me about 5 years of doing "research" in to owning a business rather than starting my side hustle, which ends up as tens of thousands of pounds of potential profit for that period 🙁

    The second one is:

    "I have two degrees in aerospace engineering, I need to go in to engineering or I'll have wasted my time/money"

    That cost an awful lot of pride, tears, breakdowns and culminated in a suicide attempt because I just hated my life. I'm now in a lot better place and I'm teaching secondary/high school physics, which definitely pays less than engineering, but I'm sooooo much happier!!

  44. Milos

    During my university studies, I used to compare myself with my peers. I wanted to become a software developer, but I felt like "geez, these guys are just too good and I can hardly be as good as they are in SW development". I was not self confident enough and I probably did not work hard enough, too. Now, 5-6 years later, I am a junior software developer. Basically, one day I realized that if I want to, I can. Unfortunately, it took me a lot of time to realize that. I could have become a junior SW developer 5 years ago and I could have already been at more senior level earning around 50k euros a year. Mathematics is easy – this year I make 20k. If I had a different mindset 5-6 years ago, I would not "lose" at least 30-50k during the timespan and longterm I lost even a lot more…

    There is no time to regret anything. Everything happens for a reason and I think it is okey to realize some things rather later than never.

  45. Aniket Basu

    The belief that once I had survived a suicide attempt, a near death accident and got through severe depression that I was something special. That I deserved success.

    But I was wrong, a lot of things can happen to you but if you don't learn from your mistakes, you will end up on the same road, again and again, till your life is past and you'll wonder, "how did everything go so wrong?".

    The human mind can learn everything, including succumbing to a deep sense of helplessness and resigning itself to its fate. Slowly, I have been unlearning that. Its a very slow, very gradual climb and on some days I don't even see the end point but I know the act of climbing itself is worthwhile.

  46. Irena

    My limiting belief was that roads were too dangerous.

    Uhhh… what? Roads are too dangerous? I mean, I am walking on them every day and shtick, but they are still dangerous?

    Yep. Of course they are, you can become a roadkill or human-shaped pancake if you aren't careful on them.. for example, when you are driving a bike.

    Nothing wrong with driving a bike, it's just…you know, danger is exponentially greater when you don't hear anything coming behind your back and your balance is lousy, too, so when there are Big Bad Trucks, it's Big Bad News.

    So. I am deaf of hearing. My commute is bound to bus, 'cause I don't have car yet. Distance of 12,42 miles (20 km's) in one way. Bus ticket is also pricey AF, especially when I have to pay health insurance. And I go to work when it's rush hour, so to speak. It's not my freaking fault cars and everything on four wheels go to roads the exact time before late-late time. I have to regularly cut the work hours to get on the bus on time because guess what, bus lines are kind of mean in my country that way. Get on bus on time and get home, or miss it and you can bet you have a lo-ong walk to home, bucko. On top of it, my mum consistently said the roads are too dangerous for me because I am deaf of hearing and my balance is not up to the snuff. Add the fact we don't have any bike-dedicated roads and yeah, no.

    But last year, I was supremely unhappy camper when I watched my brother zip off to the work on his bike, while I had to trudge up and down on my feet and via bus. Envy Was Born.

    I didn't have 'real job', had to watch my money, and I was grumpy because as convenient bus was, it sucked one hell of a lot money from my funds. So, the grumpier I became, the more an idea germinated in my head. Why not buy a bike and go to a work too? (car was out of my reach because funds.)

    Yes, I knew the idea was crazy. I knew my balance was sh*tty as h*ll. I knew my mum would get an aneurysm if I even mentioned the idea about me having a bike and going to work with it. For the fuck's sake, I wasn't on a bike for.. what, ten, fifteen years? But the worse idea looked like, the more I was thinking about it.

    I did plethora of pro-and con- cards in order to convince myself this was a good (bad) idea. I was antsy. I was bitchy. My family looked at me weirdly and almost didn't dare to approach me, so deep was the snit I was in.

    Just for the kicks of it, I went to ask the local bike dealer about the cost of bike, and I outlined my specifications too – nothing too race-y, because balance on them is iffier than on a so-called granny bike, and overall, it just had to get me from point A to point B safely.

    I knew if I afforded a bike, there would go my salary of two months altogether, I wouldn't have anything to lean back on money-wise, so if I really bought the bike, I would be obligated to trundle to and from the work with it, be it rain or shine. Cue more pacing, nerves and cursing (Away from my family, of course. No need to look more insane than I already was.)

    So, went to the dealer again, just for the kicks of it (yes,again) when he called me he got a bike that would match me. And I saw it. Granny bike. Clunky as hell, heavy as hell. Not much in the gears. And gods, how would I ever drive home on that? This was more for traversing city not the hill-and roadside on my way home. But hell, if it wasn't a love at first sight.

    Next day, I purposefully waited so long the last bus home went off, took the money needed to buy it (along with helmet, safety first,), and went to realise the Crazy Adventure that was my first bike-drive home.

    Yes. I was crazy. Insane, even. My balance was not up to the snuff. I haven't been on the bike for ten years and counting,and instead of easing myself into everything. I got smack-dab into it. The drive back home was torturous. It was more of a Drive of Shame than Drive of Glory, so bad my condition was. I had to learn how to switch those fucking gears. (Different gear mechanism… oh, gods.) I was paranoid as fuck about the trucks and buses and cars passing me by. I prayed that I would get home in one piece and then prayed I wouldn't be lambasted by my mum for my foolish actions.

    Came home. My face was red as tomato, my heart was on the verge of leaping out of my chest, my breath was short, and my legs felt like jelly. I swore upside down and wayside left and right this was my dumbest idea to the date. And considering I intended to do the same trip next year, I legitimately counted myself insane. (Thankfully, mum was too taken aback at my stupidly insane idea to say anything about my decision of means of (future) transport.)

    Next day, when I woke up for job, all the bones, big and small gave a big NO to the repeat. Getting on the saddle was a torture in and of itself (Yes, the roads were THAT bad.) Still, the one thing that remained, was I when I drove down the hills I was smiling ear to ear, despite the agony in my legs and bottom. Wash, rinse and repeat.

    Fun fact: As I went to job ahead of my brother – he is a notorious till-last-second-sleeper, he didn't know for at least two weeks I was commuting with a bike to a job. Sure, he knew I had a bike, but he thought it was a fancy of mine, just because. But one morning, we met at intersection. Cue owlish blinks on the both sides – me, because I was surprised I met him, he, because he was shocked that this was me on the bike.

    When I came home, he asked me if I go with a bike to the job. I said yes. Then, he said I shouldn't have done this until I had at least some 500 kilometres (310,68) miles of practice on ordinary roads and I just stared. Hey whoa, buddy, back up a bit. Where the heck do you think I should train before I would be ready for the road if we go by your estimates, hey? When I pointed out that he had done the same shtick as me when he first bought his own bike… he said he trained on ordinary roads first. (For the record, I didn't believe him.)

    Conclusion: Was a happier camper for my experiment. I love my bike, my mum calmed down when she saw I came home safely on a consistent basis and my confidence in my abilities shot up. Not to mention I saved up some money that way, which helped when I was in-between the job transition sometime later. (And aww, my brother cared. He is just a fluffy bear that way.)

    Conclusion 2: Found out that bike shorts were a blessing from heaven when I found some. You think you wouldn't need those padded things, but turns out, if you do go on a long tours, they are your best and safest bet to be comfortable on your bike seat. (Worrying about thieves was another ballgame. I've had one bike stolen before, so it was a chore to overcome the paranoia that came with owning brand new bike. But I survived.)

    Conclusion 3: My co-workers asked me without a fail whether I came to a job with the bike every day henceforth. They could hardly believe that I biked up and down Just Like That, considering they came to job with their cars. Ahh, the feeling of bad-assery is so addictive…

    Final conclusion: I am still alive, no roadkill and no human-shaped pancake, my balance is okay (much to my surprise) and learned sometimes you just gotta take a plunge to find out for yourself if you can do this or that. I could've done that way before (years ago), if I didn't let people convince me that roads were not for the people deaf of hearing.

    My next limiting belief is about driving a car. Yes, I have a license, but still a little bit nervy about driving and owning one. Still, got back into the seat, took some hours and I found out that I like driving a car. So my next step is finding one I would love to own and drive. (Yes, I am huffy about the costs and everything there, too.)

    Third project in the making is living on my own. This is my biggest limit to the date, because I don't know if I will be able to support all the costs by myself. There was a chance, and I balked at first a bit – living alone is a scary experience, not because you live alone, but bills and everything – but took a chance on that call for applications nonetheless. I don't know if this will pan out yet, but the first step had been made. As for the others… well, we'll see when the time comes.

  47. Nicole W.

    Until very recently, I believed I was too "different" to be likeable or accepted. I grew up "different" than those around me, I had different views about politics, raising children, conventional medicine, schooling, family relationships, managing money…i was too different to be appreciated or included. I wore that badge around keeping quiet and keeping to myself.

    It cost me friends, happiness, and a promotion, twice.

    I have not changed a thing about those things that make me "different", I've just learned to embrace those things- to love myself regardless of whether or not others do. I can share myself genuinely and without fear of rejection and without that burden of being different.

    It's easy to be happy now. Im gaining friends. I got the promotion (aka an $18,000 raise) and I didn't change a thing about myself. I just started accepting myself first.

  48. Chris

    I flippantly believed that going “hard” all the time was the way to work out and to play. Working out that way got me injuries. Lots of them, that I’m paying for in spades in my 50’s. My joints send random reminders to me everyday.

    The going hard in play was just a ton of drinking, “staying out” and very little sleep. Combine this with going hard on training and it was a nasty storm of wasted time, alienating friends and a long, hard correction to get life on track. I’m thankful daily for the mentors who, often thanklessly at the time, took the time with me. The lessons did not always take hold when they were given. But over the years they still serve me. It’s what encourages me when I take the time and invest in someone else.

  49. Madhavi Agarwal

    I am intelligent; so I cannot be beautiful. IF I am beautiful, then I must be dumb.
    And I was both; so I always pushed my beautiful self to the back; gaining enormous amounts of weight to hide it; so I could just be smart in an Indian society which valued smarts over beauty. Cost me the best 25 years of my life. I have finally learned to accept myself completely. And changing myself to a better body, better life and better outlook on life.

  50. Rahul Anand

    I was trying to build a passive income for years till I read this line from Ramit in one of the Earn1K emails:
    "You don't need passive income, you need an income first"

    This has stuck with me since then because it burst the bubble of passive income for me… And it cost me at least half a decade of fumbling around.. lesson learnt!!

    More importantly, it taught me to have big dreams but to be focused on hitting small goals. Now I apply it to tons of things…like weight loss… You don't need to have a six-pack, you need to start eating healthier first…

  51. J

    That I couldn't afford to go to therapy because [insert any number of things here] was more important, therapy cost too much, I don't have the time, and I can probably treat myself on my own anyway. It's cost me so much time not being my happiest, best self at minimum and who knows what else. You should always prioritize yourself, you have to live with you your whole life.

    • Josh

      Oh my gosh! This so much.

  52. Christopher Stepien

    I believed that I had to sit in the "darkness", in my depression, down in a hole of my own pity, in order to:

    1) heal other people
    2) remember what suffering feels like so I didn't go back there.

    My new belief is:

    While "hard" times may come and I may find myself down in the hole, I can simply, climb out of the hole, and keep on being, living, and doing. There's no force that keeps me down in the hole except the comfort of my own, youthful conditioning.

  53. Zak

    For me personally – my flippant belief was that I didn't need to learn accounting and could just outsource it all to a platform (not even an actual human accountant! Stupid!) might cost me $10,000 this year alone.

    Now I'm taking a course on accounting and federal taxation to get up to speed in the broad strokes, at least. This won't happen again.

  54. Jen

    I'll add to the introvert idea. I am a shy, introvert. I believe that I don't know how to talk to people and more importantly that people don't want to talk to me. You can imagine the countless lost opportunities and friendships. As an aspiring photographer, it has taken me years to get to where I am right now and it feels like it could take years (or never) to actual make a complete living off of photography. I'm sure that if I wasn't so afraid to put myself out there I'd be way further along!

  55. Josh

    My story is not just about money cost, but the about the potential cost of not allowing yourself to have what you need to succeed. I’m a full time musician and have been fortunate to make my living almost entirely through piano/keyboard performances the past few years. However, I’ve never owned my own acoustic piano, and I even allowed myself to live for years in spaces where I couldn’t even have my own electronic keyboard set up for daily practice and just relied on the classroom or studio instruments I just happened to work in, and this wasn’t consistent.
    My goal has always been to make my living creatively knowing that the piano would likely be at some center of it, but I’ve allowed myself to spend the last 15 years without an actual instrument that would allow me to practice and work creatively to my full potential. Yes, I have a very apt fully weighted electronic keyboard and I’m thankful to have finally found a space where I’ve made a creative and practice space for myself. But I’ve always felt there was a missing piece. I always told myself there wasn’t the room for one in my apartments, or always said when I have the right space (often with the person I was with at the time) I’ll have that piano I always desired. But I’ve quite literally lost years of quality practice and daily creative routine that likely could have resulted in a kind of success I am just now allowing myself to seek again these past few years.
    I can’t live with regret for the decisions I made. I am in the process of finally purchasing that studio grand I now realize has been a missing piece in my creative process. But it’s been a hard lesson to learn, and one I’m can’t help but notice all the potential missed opportunities just because I let things stand in the way of me having the very thing that always makes me feel like a stronger and more grounded musician and balanced individual.

  56. Mary Stewart

    I believed that I needed to get started in a good career right out of college. Save my money THEN pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. I don't know why because I also knew I could not get ahead financially if I spent long hours making a known salary. At any rate as I'm now focusing on entrepreneurship I sometimes feel like I'm behind with online marketing. Well actually I am. I'm just learning. My thoughts tell me I can do it so my actions will line up. I REALLY wish my thoughts would have driven me to starting my own biz right out of college. But I also believe nothing happens by chance. So there Beliefs, Beliefs, Beliefs. The best thing is I'm believing in myself to become an entrepreneur AND working on it. Go me.

  57. Theresa

    When i was a child, people alwats praised me for being pretty and a "good girl". I hated the awkward feeling of being praised for how i looked and behaving like a proper human being.
    I grew up with this idea that if I showed people how pretty I was, I'd attract assholes and terrible people who only wanted to be around me for superficial reasons. It is true but i discovered that as an adult, i can decide who is and isnt going to be in my life.
    This belief cost me years of downplaying myself physically and emotionally. I never allowed myself to stand out, even by being successful at anything. I dumbed myself down so i wouldnt bring attention to myself. I robbed myself of the joys of self-care, expression through clothes, and lovely shoes simply because I didn't know how to reject someone's approach.
    I never downplay my looks or intelligence anymore. I am successful in my career and relationships because I can be whoever I want to be and I decide who is worth keeping around even if I get approached by weirdos and assholes.

  58. Edward Tay

    I automate it. Too much willpower to do it manually.

  59. Ellie

    I believed that money would come and go and I should just chill out about it – a belief passed down from my parents. I now know this is exactly why my money comes and goes as it likes (feast or famine) and am trying to change that belief as well as the actions that deride from it so I can have more financial stability and less intermittent panic!

  60. JR

    My flippant belief used to be that I am so smart that I never have to try at anything.

    My god, what a waste of time that belief has been! Most profound example of what is cost is probably failing three years of engineering in a row. At the time I justified it like: "oh well, just a few thousand in fees. Don't even care".

    No, Dumbass! More like three years taken off from the tail end of my career when my earning potential will be maxed. It's probably $500k I'm losing on that alone. An expensive lesson for sure.

  61. Natalie

    I started my photography business at 22, and because I "loved what I did" I didn't think I could or should charge very much for it. I felt lucky to be "building my portfolio" and doing what I loved. The american notion of a starving artist has a twisted romantic notion about it. It wasn't until about 3 years into my business that I was working 90+ hours, and likely making less than minimum wage that I realized that my life was un-sustainable, and I needed to start treating my business as an actual business (like…. the kind that makes money). I found a phenomenal business coach at a national conference I attended shortly after, and he opened his presentation with the following statement… "there is nothing glamorous about being a starving artist. All these clients you are doing "favors" for by giving them a discount are not going to let you live in their basement when you can't afford your rent. If you do above average work, you deserve to earn and above average living". WOW. Wakeup call. I invested my last $1000 into his coaching products, and I made it back just 2 weeks after implementing his advice. Fast forward to my 11th year in business – I have 5 women working for me, a beautiful studio in the nicest part of my city, at the top of my market. If I had started sooner I would have saved myself tens of thousands of dollars, and several health issues – but I am constantly thankful for the ideological shift my coach was able to provide me with when I was ready to learn it 🙂

  62. Tim

    I believe I can't find another way to make a living – I'm 54 years old – been in the consulting engineering / solid waste business all of my adult life – I'm tired of it – burned out – tired of the same people – I'm not learning anything new – I've become lazy / angry / it is my fault – no one else.
    I'm looking for something else to do – a way out – I need to work for the next few years and then beyond into retirement that generates an income – something I will actually enjoy doing. help!

  63. Celina

    The belief that has cost me the most is the ingrained belief that I will never amount to anything because I didn't go to college. The second most ingrained belief is the belief that if I don't show immediate aptitude for something, its just not within my capability. The third most costly belief is the belief that I have to have everything perfectly planned or else everything will fall to ruin.
    Despite these beliefs I have managed to do some things right. I don't have any debt. I have something in my savings. I have my own transportation which I own fully. I have an ok job with a 401k that my employer will match. The toughest part is waking up every day with a lack of vision. Feeling like I am surviving but not thriving. I don't know what to reach for because I have so much difficulty getting clear on where my strengths are and how to line them up with my interests to create something meaningful. I am considering investing into an online degree because Ive decided forward motion is better than analysis paralysis and even if it doesnt lead to something I'm passionate about, having more open doors to explore will increase the odds of me gaining that much needed clarity or negotiating higher pay.

  64. Doctor K

    Costliest mistake I've made was due to the bad advice/belief that "you should buy a house" instead of rent. I was in DC for 3 years for residency and was told that I "shouldn't throw my money away renting" and instead should buy. If I factor in the opportunity cost (the money I would have made if I kept the money in the market instead of using it for the down payment), I lost multiple six figures on this mistake.

  65. Eli

    I'm trans/queer, therefore I can never be successful because people like me can't be successful. I'm unlearning that and have a lot more opportunities these days, but haven't yet let go of that invisible script.