Finding the Wins amidst the Losses

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In the summer of 2006, at the absolute top of the housing market boom in the SE and literally weeks before one of the biggest housing crashes in history, I purchased my new lakefront house!   The housing market was booming and everyone was making money. Timing was perfect! I figured I’d get a great house, have fun using it and then make a bundle selling it whenever I wanted. Well, things didn’t quite work out the way I wanted. I, like so many, had no idea how wrong I was and how the looming risk was so imminent and so substantial.

As you would expect I grossly overpaid for the house and, today, I’m suffering the consequences as I try to sell it. Twelve-years later and the house is finally under contract to be sold for 30% less than I paid.  Didn’t our parents tell us that real estate is supposed to be a good investment and appreciate ~5% /year?   Well, I guess, like anything, there are good real estate opportunities and bad ones, and so many factors impact the transaction. What makes it worse is that the loss in value of the house is not the only loss. Think of the opportunity cost for the money that has been stuck in a depreciating asset for 12-years. I could invested the money elsewhere where it would have compounded interest for years. Well, enough about the loss.

Interestingly, my misfortune turns out to be a boon for the new buyer who is getting an amazing lake house for tens of thousands less than I paid. One man’s suffering is certainly another man’s fortune. I guess that creates balance in the universe. Furthermore, I’ve learned that I cannot expect to win every time. Other people have to win too!

As I reflect on the lake house transaction further and focus differently, I realize I had substantial intangible gains on the house.   My friends, family and I shared dozens of weekends relaxing, cooking, boating and chatting at the house. It was (and is) a special place that that created indelible memories.   And, if I had not bought the lake house, I would never have met my wife (longer story). Those are some big wins!

When I look back on my life 30-40 years from now, I trust that I will not regret my lake house purchase, despite it being a financial loss. I realize that winning and losing is totally relative. I am grateful for the opportunity to own a lake house and to have shared that with my friends and family. In the scheme of things, I now recognize this as more of a win and great learning experience. Don’t get me wrong… For now, I’m happy to rent a lake house from time to time when the urge arises (and won’t be buying a second home any time soon).

The Smarter Sooner takeaway: be sure to look closely at all of life’s events as there usually are wins (sometimes tucked away) that may just overshadow even the most prickly financial losses. Good luck!

 

 

Hyper Minds

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I never noticed how hyper my mind was until I tried to calm it down a bit. For the longest time, I tolerated my mind’s incessant chatter and activity, assuming it was completely normal. My mind swirled with literally constant activity, whether I was reviewing what just happened, trying to remember to-do lists or contemplating what was soon to happen. Even when there was no reason to be thinking and I thought I was relaxed, I found something to consume me mentally. Does this sound familiar? It only occurred to me recently that the mind, like any tool, should be able to rest. In other words, it does not have to ‘work’ all the time.   And, only when I actively calmed my mind (using some rudimentary meditation techniques), did I realize what a peaceful and energizing experience it was.Read More »

Quietly Inspire & Manage Expectations

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If you assume people are going to have the high standards that you might have, think again. You’ll likely be let down. But this should not stop you from keeping high standards and behaving like you should, regardless.

Unfortunately, more people than you might imagine have poor etiquette, lack proper social skills, manners and general discipline that parents would hope their children have.Read More »

Soft Landing at Home

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Do you look forward to going home? Does ‘home’ feel comfortable, warm and inviting? I’ve learned that the more that home feels like a ‘soft landing’, the better off you’ll be. Here’s why… No matter what happens during the day, no matter how challenging or difficult, how exhausting or biting, it will always be simply a matter of hours until you return to your soft landing. Knowing you have a soft landing waiting helps you get through almost anything that life throws your way!Read More »

One Nice Deed a Day

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What actually is a “Random Nice Deed”? Simply defined, it’s anything (big or small) that you do that makes somebody else smile and/or say thank you (and it’s even better when it’s unexpected).   Think of the last few days for a minute. During this period, do you recall either a time(s) when you went out of your way to do something nice for another and/or do you recall a time(s) when perhaps you could have done something nice? And, can you remember a time when somebody unexpectedly went out of his / her way for you? Whether or not you did ‘a random nice thing’ in the last few days or were a recipient of a nice deed, know that the impact is larger than you might expect. It’s one of those extremely simple things that has a disproportionately large impact because it takes so little effort to do it. Read on and I’ll explain why it’s Smarter Sooner to be conscious of this and do it as much as possible.

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A Simple Bottle of Wine

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When you’re invited to a party, dinner or similar, make it a rule to bring something. If you’re invited as a guest to somebody’s house, bring something. If you attend somebody’s birthday, bring something. Be gracious and go beyond the call of duty in these situations, even if you are not expected to bring anything. This applies even if you know the hosts of the event very well… (in that case, you really know what they need or like).  And, as often as possible, ask the host what you can bring or do to help prior to arriving. Asking this question alone suggests that you are appreciative of being invited and generally conscientious. Even if the thing you bring is very small, it will be well-appreciatedRead More »