Big Mistakes that Smart People Make

A few days ago, I learned that a well-respected attorney in my community had not paid his personal or corporate income taxes for eight years. What! Huh? But you know what, I don’t have to pick up a newspaper or review a case file to find out about dumb stuff that people do. I can look right in the mirror. I think about some of the mistakes I’ve made, and I ask myself, “What were you thinking?” “Were you thinking?”
We get busy. We think that we’ll work on our lives later. Pretty soon, we’ve developed a pattern of neglecting what’s important. We’re all guilty of doing things that could really harm us in the future.
Here are some big mistakes that smart people make.

1. Being irresponsible with money

Whether we make $10 an hour or $100 an hour, the Lord expects us to be wise with money. Being wise with money includes managing debt responsibly, saving money, and providing for those who depend on us. Being responsible with money looks different depending on where we are in life and what our responsibilities are. If you feel clueless about money, start by reading a magazine like Money. It offers simple advice that anyone can understand and follow. You can also go to your local library and ask for assistance finding a book about personal finance. Don’t be so intimidated by money that you refuse to deal with it.

2. Holding grudges

Being wronged is a part of living on this earth. Holding grudges and walking in unforgiveness is mentally taxing and can lead to physical ailments. Often people don’t deserve forgiveness, but that is not the issue. The Lord repeatedly commands us to forgive others so that we can receive His forgiveness. We don’t have to readmit the individual into our circle, but by forgiving the individual, we let go of the grudge and set ourselves free.

3. Neglecting your health
When we deprive ourselves of sleep, regular exercise and healthy food, we neglect the temple that the Lord has blessed us with. We get busy with work and other responsibilities and pretty soon we’re trying to manage on a few hours of sleep and caffeine. When we neglect our health, we’re putting our loved ones at risk. If we drive ourselves into the ground, our loved ones may have to manage without us or they may have to take care of us because we’ve made ourselves sick. When you’re mentally and physically healthy, you’re in a better position to be a blessing to your loved ones.

4. Refusing to adapt to change

The only thing that is certain in life is change. We have to be willing to consider and investigate new technology. Sometimes the learning curb is stiff, but there are often free technology classes at the library, and YouTube often has information that is easily absorbed.

5. Relying on your intelligence and failing to develop soft skills.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “emotional intelligence.” In a nutshell, it’s learning how to relate to people. We all need to learn how to read body language, how to adjust our tone of voice and how to empathize with people. For folks who are accustomed to being the smartest in the room, stepping back and considering feelings and personalities can be difficult, but it’s important. Only 7% of communication is words. The remainder of communication is body language and tone of voice. “Emotional intelligence” and “soft skills” are hot topics, so finding articles and books on the topic is easy.

As you make your daily decisions, consider the long term and short term consequences of your actions.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and how did you recover?


  1. Sunil Raheja on July 4, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Great wisdom Connie! One of my biggest mistakes in life has been taking people at face value and not doing the appropriate amount of due diligence beforehand. Its easy to be taken in by somebody’s apparent confidence and charisma without checking if they have the character or expertise they claim to have. They are painful lessons in human relationships and I have learnt to be more careful in assessing what people say.

  2. Doris Shaw on August 31, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Strange but we think a lot alike. Kudos for you for getting it out there as a reminder.

    • Connie Clay on September 4, 2017 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks, D.J. I try to save people from making the same mistakes I’ve made. Might as well learn a lesson the easy way.

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