They Can Never Take It Away

Today’s a quick tip to remind you that no one can ever take away your accomplishments. Once you’ve done something brilliant – whether in life or career, or even money – it’s yours. Forever.

  • That time you got promoted? You earned it.
  • That time you flew to Africa? Banked memories.
  • Those $10Gs of debt you just paid off? Party time!

Once you’ve accomplished something great, or even mediocre ;), it’s yours to keep – no matter what happens down the line. And this is important to keep in mind because we deal with a lot of $hit in our lives, and the days only seem to be going by faster and faster as we age!

8 years ago my friend Nate and I launched a project called Love Drop. We had no idea what we were doing, and every month we were afraid of failing our mission like clockwork. 12 months later we wrapped it up having helped 12 families across the country and raising almost $100,000 for them.

It was amazing. And no one can ever take it away from us no matter what stupid stuff we do in the future (and believe me – we do a lot! ;)). Even as it’s been shut down for 7 years now, it continues to pay dividends in both our professional and our personal lives and now it’s ours to keep forever even if we never do another project again.

I think about this a lot when it comes to our finances too. Every milestone we hit in our net worth, for example, is a check mark that becomes accomplished forever. Even if we lose it all and go bankrupt one day, those milestones will be etched in our own personal timelines as cold hard facts that no one can ever take away from us.

That’s powerful stuff. And you can find these achievements in all areas of your life:

  • The time(s) you got that job offer
  • That time you met your significant other
  • That time you paid off your first credit card!
  • That time you did something you were really scared of
  • That time you had all those beautiful babies
  • That time you started a company or side hustle
  • That time you budgeted AND had money left over!
  • That time you got away with something really naughty (you know who you are)
  • That time you graduated elementary, middle, high school, undergrad, graduate, super duper fancy pants grad-grad school
  • That time you listened to J$ and maxed out your retirement accounts :)
  • And that time you made your parents incredibly proud (and probably still do)

Do yourself a favor over the weekend and marinate on your own list of accomplishments. Write as many of them down as you can think of which will serve as indisputable facts in your own personal history books. Then keep them close by so they turn into physical triggers as the days pass.

These are all reminders of the amazing things you’ve achieved, and no matter what happens down the road they can never be taken away from you. Cherish them and keep adding to the list!

Happy Easter, everyone :) Life is good.

PS: This post was originally published in 2014, but had to revive it again as it’s helped me immensely over the years… My hope is that it does the same for you, too! Don’t forget everything you’ve done!

[Infinity love symbol by Nicolas Raymond]

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  1. Dee @ Color Me Frugal July 11, 2014 at 6:01 AM

    What a great positive message for a Friday! You’re right, we have all accomplished great things in life and I think too often it’s easy to forget to give ourselves the credit we deserve. At least I know I tend to have the problem if being too hard on myself. I think I will take your advice and marinate in this today.

  2. Kirsten @ Indebted July 11, 2014 at 6:16 AM

    I smiled the whole time I read this. Right now, things are stressful at work and at home, so it’s good to have a reminder that I really have done great stuff. Lots of it. I’ve had my babies. I’ve held my dream job. And no matter what – those things are still true.

  3. Amber July 11, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Positive stuff! My best accomplishments are that I learned to financially responsible. I stuck to a budget for a whole year (and still going). I didn’t spend one thin dime of my last TWO bonuses from work and banked them both. :) I have an emergency fund that I have never had my entire adult life up to this point. I put half of my pay increases into my 401(k) and roth 401(k) every year I get one. I got my bachelors and a masters degree when I come from a family that was/is so poor that we frequently had to go to food banks so we didn’t starve. And my best accomplishment ever is that my children will never know that feeling of desperation in their childhood. Ever. No one can take THAT away from me. :)

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:20 PM

      Hot damn, you are rockin’ it! Love to hear this – what a bunch of incredible accomplishments!

  4. Kipp July 11, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    Too often I move forward without looking back at what I have achieved. Maybe I should take the time a little more often and see just how much progress I am making. The day-to-day changes aren’t great, but over time, they accumulate.

  5. Jon @ Money Smart Guides July 11, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    Great tip. It’s easy to forget or overlook some of our accomplishments as we get busy and time goes on. It’s one of the reasons I like to keep a journal. I re-read the things I wrote while in college and they still make me laugh out loud.

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      Yet another reason to be a blogger too – can always go back anytime and read :) Although the difference being the WORLD can read it vs yourself, haha…

      You should publish some of your old notes on your site sometime – would be fun to see!

  6. jestjack July 11, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    Thank you for such a thoughtful piece….Sometimes it seems we all get a little too focused on the journey ahead and forget to turn around and take a look at how far we have come….Thanks again.

  7. Brian @ Debt Discipline July 11, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    Another great reminder J! We are all so busy and move so quickly on to the next task. It’s nice to slow down and remind yourself of the great things you have accomplished along the way. Good stuff!

  8. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction July 11, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    Thank you for the reminder, J! I am SOOO bad for forgetting this that sometimes I think my fiancé wants to shake me :) Especially if I say something along the lines of “ugh, I’m dumb” even if I’m joking. His response is always “you have a f*cking PhD… you aren’t dumb!”

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:23 PM

      You also have a smart Fiance ;)

  9. Anne July 11, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    Very inspirational! It’s so easy to get down on yourself about where you are and forget where you’ve been.

  10. Dave @ The New York Budget July 11, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    I have a pretty bad memory and that’s why I have started REALLY liking the app, Time Hop. Every day I get an update about what I was doing on that very day last year, 2 years ago, etc. It caps out at 5 or 6 years ago, I think and the 5-6 year events are few and far between.

    But every day, it gives me a chance to reflect on what I accomplished, what happened in my life, etc. And it gives me a chance to connect with friends – to email them and reminisce.

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:25 PM

      Now that is cool!! A friend was actually just telling me about a similar app that shows you an instagram photo from back in the day to get you to remember. But I like your app better :)

  11. Christa@objectwealth July 11, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Such a great article. We all need to remember our wins and not just focus on our failures.
    My biggest wins-
    1) becoming a pharmacist even though I had a baby as a teenager. She is what inspired me to push myself so hard.
    2) having my other 2 little munchkins
    3) when I got my first pharmacy job at a hospital that ended up being one of the best places to work that I can truly imagine. I tell myself every week how lucky I am to work at such a great place with such awesome people
    4) deciding to start my blog following my journey to financial independence
    5) not officially an accomplishment yet but in 2 weeks I will officially be credit card debt free. I haven’t been able to say that for about 11 years. Then I will have a couple more consumer debt and only 220k in student loan debt…fml

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:27 PM

      Woahh that is all such GREAT stuff though!! Good for you!!! I hope I’m around blogging still when you reach the $220k pay off too ;) I’ll re-post this article in your honor, haha…

  12. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life July 11, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    When I get down on myself I go ahead and think about things like this. I’m far more productive and effective as a person when I love and appreciate myself rather than poo poo-ing everything I do.

  13. Kristen July 11, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Thank you for this post. It really hit me hard. It might sound silly to some but our dog passed away three weeks ago and we’re still really struggling with it. We adopted him at about six months (after a life on the streets during which time he ended up with a BB embedded in his shoulder) and he was not even three and a half when he died. We were so proud of how he had blossomed in a loving home and that he turned into such a well-behaved, sweet, happy dog. My mom once commented that he was incredibly spoiled in every way except for those that would have made him into a jerk and that whether he knew it or not, that was spoiling him, too since it allowed him to do the things he liked (coming to work with me every day, going to coffee shops, attending parties and other people’s houses, etc.). It’s really awesome to have this reminder that we can continue to be proud of the life we provided for him–not just in the form of toys and treats–but also in finding the training methods that worked with his personality and providing him with the structure that was so important to him.

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:29 PM

      Awwwww so sad and sweet at the same time! What a wonderful story and home indeed you gave him :) You all were blessed to have him in your lives!

  14. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel July 11, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    You’re a gentleman and a scholar. Thanks for sharing that today. I think I need to do this pronto.

  15. Daisy July 11, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    I love the message behind this, J. Money. Even when we are down on ourselves for not reaching a goal or blowing our budget (again), it’s good to remember our past accomplishments. They are pretty motivating!

  16. Karen July 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    That’s smart to acknowledge past accomplishments. We forget how far we’ve come. There was a quote on Pinterest that said, “Don’t let a bad day make you think you have a bad life.” You got my enthusiastic stamp of approval. : )

  17. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich July 11, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    Yay! I see I’m not the only one who loved the positive vibe of this post! It’s so much easier to lose sight of the stuff you nailed and just get bogged down in what you’ve failed at or with what you’ve still got to get done.

    I look at my savings and retirement accounts and just think of how far I’ve got to go, I usually write off the fact that I just paid of nearly $30,000 of debt in two and a half years. Maybe I should flip that equation around once in a while.

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:30 PM

      For real! $30k is no joke!!

  18. Syed July 11, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    Great reminders. It’s always important to look for ways we can improve ourselves, but it’s also important to look back and see how far we have come. You don’t really need much else for motivation.

  19. Samantha Imes July 11, 2014 at 1:39 PM


  20. Nicola July 11, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    What a lovely, positive post. It’s often hard to appreciate how far we’ve come where there’s still a long way to go, so thanks for the reminder!

  21. Laurie @wellkeptwallet July 11, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    J$, this is the most inspiring post I’ve read in a long, long time. I think it’s so easy for people to quickly forget their accomplishments, focusing instead on their failures and the goals they have yet to reach. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not just a girl in debt, I’ve done a lot of awesome things and reached a lot of other pinnacle goals already!!

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:31 PM

      Thank so much Laurie! Way to make my day!! :)

  22. J @ the expat investor July 11, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    Thanks for the great tip J. It serve as a positive reminder for me working oversea. It sucks over here, but taking this job has helped me accomplish many goals and am better financially than if I haven’t taken this job.

    1. J. Money July 11, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      And you get a helluva story out of it too! Bank it all away and then come home one day and retire way early :)

  23. Liz July 11, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    This post came at such a fitting time for me! I just got my first real actual money-in-the-bank-account bonus (eek!) and was able to put some extra $$$ towards my IRA… It was small, but it was still a step up the mountain to my goals, and it felt fantastic to me!

    1. J. Money July 12, 2014 at 8:45 AM

      Congrats! You need those small steps to get up to that mountain! :)

  24. Kate @ Money Propeller July 12, 2014 at 4:02 AM

    I love this one J! I’m totally happy that time that I proved something in myself that I can totally do it.

  25. Anthony Carter July 12, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    Great stuff, I have to focus on my accomplishments when I get down on myself because things are not happening fast enough. Just to name a few: I moved to Japan for six weeks while working a job that paid only $6 an hour. I was determined and focused and made it happen. I left there and moved to NYC with $300, no job, no apartment and a dream to make it as an artist. One tour, a few commercials, several theatre performances, a stint on a soap opera and two near misses (almost got cast on Law and Order Twice) and I can finally say : You done good kid. Tackling my finances is nothing. Bring it on Peaches !!!!!

    1. J. Money July 13, 2014 at 9:52 PM

      HAH! Rock on man! I literally moved to NYC with no apartment or real goal either once. You seem to have pulled it off much better than I ;)

  26. Even Steven July 13, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    I listened to a podcast you were in about awhile back and heard mention of lovedrop and few other projects you worked on, I was impressed, still am!

    Goals you have met and things you have accomplished, you’re right those can be your pillars.

    1. J. Money July 13, 2014 at 9:54 PM

      How neat! I love doing podcasts – they’re so much fun :) Thanks for the kind words, my man.

  27. debt debs July 13, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Your Love Drop venture was so awesome. Kudos to you guys… I mean, really…. and thanks for the awesome message. We are our own worst critics so it’s time to remind ourselves of this sometimes. Most days lately I go from being humbled to feeling guilty. I forgive myself and then I unforgive myself. I need to quit that and I will… when I think I’ve earned it.

    1. J. Money July 15, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      It’s definitely easier to say than do, but with practice eventually forms habit! :)

  28. Tonya@Budget and the Beach July 13, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    Great message. I think sometimes we focus on the million things we didn’t do so well or failed at, and don’t even acknowledge all the good things we do. This can lead to low self esteem and self confidence. I’m learning ukulele right now. I have to remember to be patient…VERY patient with myself and that it takes time to learn a musical instrument. So now I try to recognize each tiny (and they are tiny!) accomplishment I make with learning. Yesterday I switched chords without looking. Last week I couldn’t do that. :)

    1. J. Money July 15, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      you’re more of a rockstar than I am :)

  29. Mr Ikonz @ Project Ikonz July 13, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    I love the one “the time you maxed out your retirement accounts”! If only I had have started doing that 10 years ago!!

    A PF accomplishment that no one can ever take away was the day I decided to take control, set a financial goal ($10m in assets) and start tracking my process towards my goal.

    I have a baby arriving in a few months time, I’m sure everything will pale in comparison to that “accomplishment”.

  30. Done by Forty July 14, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    That’s a rad perspective, J Money. Usually when I think of the past, it’s about some sort of regret that I can’t get back or fix (like, I can’t go back to my teenage years and eat more McDLTs). But, hey, the good stuff is similarly there and can’t be taken away. Way to spin it to a positive.

  31. Guerric @ BoostCompanies July 14, 2014 at 3:20 AM

    That’s true. It’s powerful stuff to think in that way. You can realize that even the small things you do are quite big accomplishments.

    Yet, it can have a negative effect we should be aware of. Thinking about accomplishments can lead to rest on one’s laurels. E.g. Someone earnt a lot of money by selling my tech company. He or she wrote a book about how to become rich and spent his or her entire life speaking about the past.

    They can never take it away. But you should do everything you can to keep going. ;)

    1. J. Money July 15, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      True true, good point. And it’s hard to “top yourself” too with certain accomplishments, thus making you feel crappier even though you’re doing something a million others can’t :)

      Great comment.

  32. Ryan @ Impersonal Finance July 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Right on man. We all do some stupid Sh*t in our lives, but damned if we don’t do some kick-ass stuff too!

  33. Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans July 14, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    This is a wonderful reminder. Naturally, I focus on all the bad things that are happening, or the struggles I’m currently going through (#negativenancy), but remembering all these small and big accomplishments really makes a big difference in the way I see the world. I’ve got to reflect on this stuff more often!

  34. Free To Pursue July 17, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    All I could think as I read this post is YES!!!

    Sticking your neck out and trying stuff is what life’s all about. It makes it exciting, fulfilling and, well, just plain fun. Isn’t that the whole point?

    1. J. Money July 18, 2014 at 6:21 AM

      I’d like to think so :)

  35. George April 20, 2019 at 11:21 AM

    Started reading your blog two years ago and made the decision to focus on getting my student debt paid off. Paid it off last week after two years of focused effort. Suddenly feel like I am working for myself instead of my creditors. Thanks.

    1. J. Money April 22, 2019 at 6:50 AM

      Well done, sir!! That is huge – congratulations!! :)

  36. Sarala Sarah April 21, 2019 at 11:57 AM

    I’m glad you reposted this piece, it’s easy to get lose in the noise of everything you haven’t done yet and forget to smell the roses.

    1. J. Money April 22, 2019 at 6:51 AM