Category Archives: FAMILY

No One Owes You A Living!

The world, including the US, does not owe you a living. Or as Dave Ramsey would say, “You Are NOT Entitled To Anything“. If you dream to make a widget and insist that everyone must support you in your dream and insure that you make a full time living making that widget, then i fear you may be sorely disappointed.  Especially, if your widget making imposes on others’ freedom and property rights.

There are very few, if any, financially successful people with no debt and have, or are building wealth, working only one job.  Often the most successful have at least 2 or 3 other gigs on the side going.  (Even Warren Buffet has several unrelated income streams going!)  When you are in your teens, twenties, and even into thirties, you have energy, vision,  and motivation that enable you to put in 10-16 hours a day, 6 days a week.  This allows you to save, build equity, and work towards your dream job if you aren’t already doing that.  When you are older and that energy level drops, hopefully those side gigs are the money invested which are then working for you rather than you working for it.

I recently wrote a blog which told of the near impossibility of a person to get into farming or ranching these days.  This is largely due to the out of balance cost of land vs its productive value.  However, it is not yet impossible to farm and build wealth – even without incurring massive debt!  It may take longer, however.  And, i know of absolutely no one – young or old, in the present or in the past- who can farm or ranch (or any other business for that matter) full time without some sort of side gig.  Read stories of old timers – they were blacksmiths, carpenters, mechanics, traders, transportation specialists, suppliers; any skill they could put to use for pay was engaged.  Wives farmed alongside their husbands, raised the children, and often had a couple side gigs as well.  (Yes, i know that many women are farmers and ranchers, i am one, but also raised my own children, managed the household, and help with the farm.)  It is the same today – if you want to farm (or start any business for that matter) you’d better put a sharp pencil to how you’ll put food on the table and a roof over your head.  Don’t incur debt and make sure you have some savings.  (a borrower is always slave to the lender).  Operational farm debt is as bad as school loans.  Debt for building  a depreciating asset may be the worst of all!  What if something happens to you?  make sure you have plenty of life insurance!  Liability, maintenance, disease, accident associated with buildings and machinery are expensive and ongoing.  Once debt is incurred for a single purpose gadget, you have to keep it going or you may default or leave your family with a ball and chain which seldom adds value (it may actually devalue) to your property. Better yet, don’t go into debt.

Keep your paying job and save your money before you buy a single acre or cow or gadget. Many ranchers today are leasing both land and cattle which can be a great way to get started with very little investment or risk.  Best book i’ve read on this is Greg Judy’s book, No Risk Ranching.  Maybe you won’t have the exact same opportunities that Greg has, but use your imagination – maybe you’ll have to move – as Allan Nation, founder and former editor of Stockman Grass Farmer, used to say, “Everyone has an unfair advantage.”  Figure out yours and put your best foot forward.

Many farmers today still abide by the ways of Earl Butz to ‘get big or get out’ and we now have such an abundance and overproduction of all products that prices continue to slide.  Yet, the mantra continues to be ‘produce more’  and use the economy of scale to maximise profits.  That may good to a point, but the cost to the environment has been substantial by farming ‘fence row to fence row’  and with government subsidies now firmly entrenched there is less risk of a ‘failed crop’ resulting in going broke regardless of debt load or lack of wise financial planning.

I’m not espousing a return to farmers falling out due to the vagaries of weather, political machinations, or burdensome regulations.  Without subsidies, food, fiber, energy prices could soar to the level of parity and the consumer would certainly cry ‘foul’.  But, we all must remember that the economic  rule of supply and demand may cause us to consider better management practices.

There is the concept of focusing on profit rather than production.  If it is possible to make more money producing 120 bushel corn to the acre rather than 200 bushels to the acre, would that be something to consider?  what is the cost to the land and quality of life to produce 200 and even 300 bushels to the acre?  Can i do a better job of regenerating and improving the soil i have to increase pounds, bushels per acre and lower cost as well?  There are a lot of opportunities and new/old practices to learn – the hard part is keeping it simple and CHANGE!  This is a head issue – don’t be a stiff necked people.

Speaking of quality of life – how have you organised your dream?  does it enhance and edify others?  or detract from the lives of others?  is it sustainable?  is it regenerative?  can you keep doing this for the next 60 years?   If not, it’s not sustainable and you had better have a plan in place for the future, less strong, less energetic you.  Will your model rely on unpaid labor of yourself or your family?

Happy Planning

Proverbs 6:

1  My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor:  go, hasten,a and plead urgently with your neighbor.  Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,blike a bird from the hand of the fowler.   Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.   Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.  How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?   A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.   A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signalsc with his feet, points with his finger,  with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.  There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Reykjavik, Iceland!

After June’s 100th birthday party, we realized that ragweed allergies were just going to get worse (hot weather and lots of rain just kept the plant flowering and pollinating).  Monday afternoon, i booked flights for Dallas and me to leave Tuesday afternoon for Iceland.  We had actually wanted to visit Greenland, but it was too late in the season, snow and ice already moving in and tourist boats being pulled out of the water, so we spent 2 weeks in Iceland instead.

Iceland population:  339,661  Reykjavik population:  120,000 (200,000 in the Capital region) Iceland has a surface area of 39,770 square miles and it is the 108th largest in this respect. However, that harsh geographical landscape is one of the reasons why its population remains so low. Iceland has the lowest population density of all European countries at just 8 people per square mile.

We flew United Airlines, and as usual had stellar service.  They have implemented a new strategy wherein they can know if passengers are arriving late for a connection and hold the next flight if it is reasonable to do so.  We sat on the plane in Newark nearly an hour waiting for 15 passengers who would have missed the flight to Reykjavik since their flight was delayed by thunderstorms out of Houston.  So, while the record for on time departure may look wonky, the record for getting passengers where they need to be will soar!

The first week was spent entirely in the capital city, Reykjavik.  I was concerned that we’d be twiddling our thumbs for want of activities, but i was unduly so.  To our surprise, there are oodles of things to do and see at a leisurely rate – even without booking day tours (which are numerous!) outside the city.

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Next morning after arrival was a trip to the pharmacy for cold meds.  (our first ‘souvenirs’)  Armed with drugs, we were ready to hit the streets within a few hours.  Hooray!

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Lutheran mass services start at 10:30a on Sunday mornings and are in Icelandic.
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Organ in the Lutheran Cathedral, Hallgrimskirkja 
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Listening to the warm up for this evening’s season opener in the magnificent Harpa. https://en.sinfonia.is/concerts-tickets/ravel-and-sibelius
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Dallas in line for a world famous hotdog from street vendor downtown Reykjavik.
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Grocery stores, conveniently located around the city are the way to go to save considerable money on food.  Eating out is REALLY expensive.  This is a produce display at SUPER1, (Hallveigarstígur 1, 101 Reykjavík S. 419-7600) just 5 minute walk from our Centric Guesthouse.
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So, our grocery bill was a bit higher than necessary!  But gotta have my Mars bars when in European countries.  Why are they  not sold in the US?!
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The National Museum of Iceland
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Allow at least two hours to explore this treasure trove of Icelandic culture and history. Highly recommend.  National Museum of Iceland
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Went for a short walk to the National Museum (in the 47 F with random wind gusts and downpours) to discover it would close in only 1 1/2 hours so we’ll go in the morning. However, our return yielded a beautiful full double rainbow-too wide to fit in my camera. Arching over Reykjavik with ducks, geese, and swans splashing about on Tjörnin, the pond.  (What’s the national bird of Iceland?  why ‘crane’ of course!  HA< HA>HA)

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“Domkirkjan is Reykjavik’s Lutheran Cathedral, or the Reykjavik Dome and the bishop’s place in Iceland. It is located downtown in the capital right next to the Alþingi, house of parliament and together they form a unity of law and order in the country. The altarpiece and artwork inside the church are definitely worth the visit!”

We were walking around town and saw the announcement of a performance offered free of charge at this lovely cathedral.  Of course, we made special effort to attend.  Just lovely.

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Excellent meal at Icelandic Fish and Chips in the capital city.  This one attached to The Volcano House  museum about the island and its not-always-tame explosive geography.

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Random sculpture on streets of Reykjavik
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Iceland is an island of fire and ice.  Geothermal vents spew heat and steam all over.  Just gotta build the infrastructure to capture and transport it.

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Dallas always has a different perspective and interest, so enjoy his photos of Reykjavik.

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100 Years

On September 6, 2019, my husband’s Aunt June turned 100 years old.  She has outlived all her siblings now, yet she is not alone.  We live very close by, though she is in a nursing home, and we pick her up for church, then she comes to our house afterwards for lunch with Allen’s 93 year old dad and we have a great time visiting and catching up with the news events of the community and family.

She also has nieces and nephews who adore her and stay as active as they can from a long distance.  For her open house type birthday party we held for her, they came from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and far eastern Missouri.  Over 80 people came to visit and she was animated and the life of the party.  June thrives amongst people and activity and she was still talking about it when Allen arrived back to the nursing home with her about 10pm.  Not surprisingly, she was so exhausted, that the next morning, she couldn’t be roused for church.  What a wonderful and exciting day for her.

I decorated her home (where we held the party) with treasures she had from her past.  Daughter, Jessica, before she left for teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam helped me with the travel display (June and her late husband, Bill, escorted tour groups all over the world from the late 70s through to early 90s (he passed away in fall of 1991), then she continued until she was 85!) and also found this lovely quilt pictured below.  We were so excited!  So i figured a way to display it for the party.

The quilt, as the sign says, was completed in 1946 and given to her and Bill as a wedding gift.  It features all of the extension clubs in the county as of that time along with all the members’ signatures embroidered.  What a thoughtful and clever gift.  Only one person of those listed on the quilt is still alive – Martha Murrell – who now lives in the same nursing home as June and just across the hall from one another.

June Lamme has been so important in our lives and our children’s lives, we are thankful for the opportunity to support her now.

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Alaska, USA!

To begin our escape from annual ragweed allergies, Dallas and I headed to Alaska on 20 August 2019, the day after i mustered in my bulls and hauled them away from the cows.  All according to plan.  We got away just in time, however, this was a short trip because we needed to be back in time to celebrate Allen’s Aunt June’s 100th birthday party on the 7th of September.  Monday, we had appointments to adjust our backs, hips, heads, shoulders, ribs, etc and since allergies were extremely bad with no trend down, we came home from our afternoon appointments and i started booking Iceland.  We left for Iceland on the 10th.  Another blog entry for that later.

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We flew Alaska Airlines from Kansas City to Barrow (Utqiaġvik), Alaska.  It’s a long way from our house.  Since we attended a wedding near Hamilton the afternoon before, we took separate vehicles with Allen returning home whilst Dallas and I drove on to Kansas City.  We stayed at a hotel that allowed us to park there for the duration of our holiday.   After 15 hours of flights and connections from Kansas City to Barrow, Dallas stood beneath the iconic baleen whale rib bones on the beach of the Arctic Ocean in the most northern city of the United States.
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Arctic Ocean, Barrow, Alaska
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Bowhead Whale Skull – these buggers are huge and are still hunted in traditional wooden boats with harpoons during the spring by local  Iñupiat,

In an October 2016 referendum, city voters narrowly approved to change its name from Barrow to its traditional Iñupiaq name, Utqiaġvik. The governor had 45 days to rule on the name change and it was officially adopted on December 1, 2016.

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Yup, proof – we was there!
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Main airport terminal at Utqiaqvik (formerly known as Barrow), Alaska.  Name of the airport is the Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport.
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All the dumpsters were decorated as part of a town beautification project.
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This is the old Top of the World hotel which burnt August 31, 2013.  We stayed at the new one located on the north beach.  Highly recommend.

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Since there are no roads and rails from Barrow to Fairbanks, we flew, then hailed a cab for a trip to our hotel.  Our hotel did provide a free shuttle, but i had no phone service in Alaska!!  One of the spots that Chariton Valley Wireless doesn’t quite reach i guess.  The iconic Moose Antler Arch – Gateway to Fairbanks.  Antler Arch web cam
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The horizontal support is topped with a Teflon type product which allows the pipeline to slide back and forth as needed to accommodate the 39,000 earthquakes (about every 15 minutes) Alaska experiences each year.
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Sure you can rent a car out of Fairbanks and drive to Denali, but the train provides a different view and experience.  We chose the dome top full service guided car.  Well, we did have to pay for our meal.
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Beaver dam on the Horseshoe Lake Trail.  There are a multitude of easy and moderate trails in the park.

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Not just big ole mushrooms are grown in Alaska.  Despite the short growing season in days, the length of daylight each day compensates and record breaking produce is grown and exhibited at the state fairs.  The 2019 pumpkin weighed 2051 lbs!
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There’s the engine pulling our McKinley Explorer dome topped car – Alaska Train Denali to Anchorage
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Gray silt-filled glacial melt water just outside Anchorage.
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Not as much to do as i expected there would be in Anchorage, but a highlight is this well maintained Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.  We didn’t walk the whole thing (11 miles one way), but we enjoyed part of it.  There are no grocery stores in the touristy areas.  Historical and cultural museums are great as well as the city tour on the Anchorage Trolley.

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Grandpa Falconer

We all have people in our past who have helped us through the tough times and often we don’t recognise the impact they had until we are much older and those wiser ones are long past from our lives – perhaps even have died.  I didn’t know it at the time, but reflecting on the years i had with my grandpa – i realize now – he was my hero.

Sure, he wasn’t talkative or a hugger, but showed by example, a work ethic of getting up early (and making me get up early by pulling my toes to wake up), he would already have some chores done before i dragged my laziness out and ready to go do the chores that were away from the house.  The importance of finishing a job which included putting things away and cleaning up.  But, i LOVED going with him.  He’d let me drive the truck while he threw out small round bales to the cows to feed in the winter, taught me how to drive the old Farmall 460 and clip pastures with a 9 foot sickle bar mower AND how to change out a broken section.  And even when i drove (i think i was about 10) the pickup into a deep wash out along a ditch (he was on foot looking for a calf), he was more concerned whether or not i was hurt rather than upset about any damage to the pickup or that we had to walk a mile to get the aforesaid 460 to pull it out.   Additionally, he taught me how to ride and have a love for horses.  That was my passion for years.

Back from chores, every morning we stopped in at Tolly’s Garage on the western edge of Purdin, MO which had a population of 236 at the time – less now.  He would reach in for a Coca-Cola and I’d select my favorite – Chocolate Soldier.  Then i could just sit and act like i was one of the guys in the office area.  I was part of a small and important community even at age 8.

Today, my grandpa would have been 100, but he died August 9, 2008 and i continue to miss him though he corrected me a lot about how to raise cattle.  I’m still learning and still need correcting, but thankfully, i don’t make the mistakes he chided me about.

How many people get to farm or ranch the very land and legacy that his or her grandparent’s built?  Not many, but i do own and directly manage at least a portion of their legacy and i could not be more honored to carry on a tradition of land and livestock management.  I call this farm Tannachton Farm to reflect our Scottish roots and the commitment to regenerative and sustainable stewardship.

Heritage, Legacy, Tradition, Family  – cling to what is good

Cheers!

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Grandpa Virgil Lee Falconer with Stanley and Stephen
Grandpa with his two sons, Stanley (my dad) and Stephen.  circa 1943

Virgil Lee Falconer tractor grinder

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Me on Danny and Grandpa on Gypsy
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Grandpa with my three yayhoos, Jessica, Nathan, Dallas
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Grandpa always drove Chevrolet pickups, so do i!  Thanks to cousin, Heather for this great photo.

 

 

 

My New Daughter!

Mercy me!  What happened to June!!!  Busy month for us, but the biggest event by far was that our youngest son is now married to a wonderful farm girl from Iowa.  They are now settling into life together in a small place outside Des Moines.  It’s a bit of a drive to her work and he works at home remotely for the same outfit he worked for in Parkville, MO.  Although they’ve never lived together, they say that after only three weeks, it just feels normal.  Even the pastor who married them commented to me that they may be the most suited for one another couple he’s ever married.  They both love God and serve Him by teaching youngsters and reaching out to international students when they were each in their respective universities.  In fact, it was through their involvement in the non denominational on-campus Christian ministries that they met.  God is good all the time.

It’s a huge adjustment for me that my baby is married – that gives us moms a different position in their sons’ lives and it’s tough to accept, but it’s a good thing. Her parents and sisters and extended family are our family now and we could not be more blessed.

I still cry, but hey, that’s just the reality of it.  I’m happy for all of us, but the realisation that so much change is and has been and the years just simply flying by and getting old, and, and, and…..

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

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Photo by Sarah Wilson, sister of the bride.  Leaving the reception held at the Iowa Arboretum
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This is Nathan’s old car which his great Aunt June gave to him about 4 years ago – she could no longer drive.  It’s a 1998 Lincoln Town Car with a bit over 100,000 miles – i think he put most on during his time in college and courtship of his now bride.  Aunt June will be 100 in September and she was tickled to see her old car as such a fabulous getaway car.
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Mother of the groom (that’s me) and our daughter, who was a bridesmaid.
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Thank you, Courtney, at The Salon, Ames, IA for making me look my best for the big day.   She created this do from my long stringy hair at 11am and with some product, teasing, and 93 bobby pins later it was not only gorgeous, but lasted all day – actually until i took out the pins some 10 hours later. Amazing!

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When Assets Become Liabilities

When Assets Become Liabilities

by Dave Pratt

Look up the definition of asset in Webster and it’ll tell you an asset is “anything owned that has value.” But Webster has it wrong.  If I put a down payment on a ranch, financing the balance, the full value of the land shows up in the asset column of my balance sheet, but I don’t own the whole ranch. The bank probably owns more of it than I do. No, an asset isn’t necessarily something you own. An asset is something you have. Your net worth (Assets-Liabilities) is what you actually own.

Although your banker would disagree, there is a completely different way to define assets. In his best seller, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki defines assets as “things that put money in your pocket” and liabilities as “things that take money out of your pocket.” Between monthly principle payments, interest, insurance, maintenance and repairs, most of the things your banker calls assets are, according to Kiyosaki, really liabilities.

Ironically, the fancy cars and homes that we see as the trappings of wealth are actually huge constraints to generating wealth. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the finer things in life, but until we build a wealth generating machine as our foundation, buying “liabilities” will slow, and may block, our ability to create wealth.

There is an even bigger problem with assets.

In the final chapter of his wonderful book, Nourishment, Fred Provenza writes about taking a sabbatical to Australia with his family. To finance the trip he needed to sell their home in Utah. He explains that he didn’t build the house himself, but had done a lot of work on it and had “a lot of skin in the game.” Unfortunately, at the time of the sale the housing market was very depressed and, while they got their investment back, they didn’t get much more. Between the time of the sale and their trip to Australia, they rented a smaller house Fred called “the dump.” At first he was resentful of having to give up owning his “castle.” But after a couple of weeks in the dump he began to realize that he hadn’t owned the house he’d helped build. He explained,  “It owned me.” It owned him financially, requiring huge monthly payments. Even after the sale, it owned him emotionally.

Assets can clutter our space and minds, causing distractions and stress. They make it more difficult to clean and organize. They tie us down. The biggest constraint to moving for some of us is the burden of taking all of our stuff with us.

The things we own trap us. I recently had lunch with a couple who’d been ranching for about 10 years. They both worked off-farm to make ends meet. Over the last several years they’d bought a small place, secured several leases, and built up a herd of a couple hundred cows. But now, with a young family, significant debt and the off-farm jobs, they seemed stuck.

After subtracting the liabilities from their “assets” their net worth came to $1,300,000. On the back of a napkin I wrote them a “check” for $1.3 million and asked them, “If you had nothing but this check and the clothes on your back, and still wanted to achieve your dream, would you use this money to recreate the situation you are in? If not, how would you deploy this money to accelerate progress toward your dream?”

Their expression changed almost immediately. While they’d made progress over the last 10 years, the business they created was going to make it difficult if not impossible to achieve their dream.  Rather than a stepping stone, their operation had become an obstacle to further progress. They set out to use the wealth they’d created to change their course.

I went through the identical exercise with another couple whose net worth was closer to $3 million. When I asked if they would recreate the situation they were in, they immediately and in unison said, “No.” But, when I met with them again a year later, they hadn’t changed anything and resigned themselves to “staying the course.” Rather than using the assets they owned to create the lives they dreamed of, they were owned by their assets, which they used as an excuse to stay stuck. Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, described it perfectly when he wrote, “The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”