The Road Not Taken
And that has made all the difference.
A More Personal Note
It is not my intention for this blog to be a personal diary. It is not meant to be a place for me to rant and rave. And it is not meant to be a record of my daily events.
However, it is supposed to be personal. I do want it to come from a personal perspective. I know that you, yes you, sitting on the other side of this screen are also a person. So I want to write as if we were sitting across the table from each other.
But I want it to be purposeful as well. Not just chit-chat but meaningful and helpful.
My last post was a very practical article without much heart and soul. This post is quite the opposite. And I feel that I must apologize in advance if it is not what you were looking for. But I am choosing to write it because it is reality and if my desire is to teach and advise, I need to show both sides of the coin. Both the good and the bad. The beautiful and the ugly.
This Path that I have Chosen isn’t Always so Easy
The last few days have been a struggle. Taking Robert Frost’s analogy of the path I would say that the path I have chosen has led me to a few switchbacks. It is not even something specific that I can put my finger on. I’ve just found myself questioning the choices that I have made and the path that I have set my family on.
Sometimes I feel like this as I am walking along the path that I have chosen
Sometimes I just look at my life and I am pleased. I look at where we live; I look at my happy daughter; I enjoy a walk with my wife in the middle of the afternoon. I see the freedom and flexibility that we have that a typical job doesn’t allow for. I see the future looking bright as I realize that eventually all our rental properties will be paid for.
The path, though small and narrow, is well defined and I can look way ahead and see that I won’t get lost.
But sometimes I feel like this
I feel as if maybe I have lost the path and when I look to find it, all I see is this
People Just Don’t Want To Look Ahead
Whenever a decision needs to be made, I always ask one question. I ask this question to myself. I ask it to my wife. I ask it to whomever I am talking to. The question goes something like this, “What do you want your life to look like in ____ years?”
My default response is to look ahead to help determine what decision should be made today. But most people don’t think that way.
It is not like this is a new revelation to me but I guess I just felt it more personally this last week. People do not think big picture. They don’t think long-term. They don’t want to think about retirement or about getting old or about dying.
Why This Upsets Me
I have known for a long time that the choices that I am making, particularly in regards to investing and finances, are not the choices that most people make. And that is usually fine with me.
This week the discouragement has hit me from a couple directions. One is that I want the people that I know and love to join me on this journey. I believe the path will lead to great things and I want them to experience it too.
So I am sad when they chose to ignore what I believe is the better option.
But maybe more than that, it makes me question my own choices. It makes me wonder if the choices that I have made are really that smart.
Being Real is More Difficult than being an “Expert”
I have also found that people’s opinions online are much more piercing when I chose a real life example. One article, in particular, has garnered more than 90,000 views on Quora. I gave a real life example of my first rental property and some of the ups and downs that have come along with it. The majority of people who chose to leave a comment say something along the lines of “you just got lucky,” “you bought at the perfect time,” “nice story but it’s not realistic”.
I don’t believe that these comments are meant to be malicious. But I think they are particularly painful because that is part of the story of my life and I feel that the comments are aimed directly at me and are discrediting my choices.
They make me question myself. Maybe I did just get lucky. Maybe I am just a hack. Maybe I am fooling myself that I have anything worth sharing.
There is a Silver Lining
However, there are some things that have encouraged me as well the last few days. I have received a couple encouraging comments on my blog from readers telling me thank you and that they enjoy reading what I have to say.
I have also seen that some people have clicked on the links to some of the books I have recommended. I don’t really care if you buy them or check them out at the library. What encourages me is that just by reading these books or going through these courses, some individuals are gaining a new appreciation for finances and how it works in their personal lives.
When I get Discouraged
There are a few things I do that usually help me get out of the slump.
Although I’ll admit that it’s often not the first thing I do, I tell God my grievances. This week I felt that he asked me the question “Caleb, are you doing the best that you can do?”
Me: “Yes, I am doing my best.”
God: “That is all that I ask. Well done. Keep it up.”
Even now, as I write this, my eyes are watering and I feel humbled that I am so loved.
I think of verses that I have read.
These verses show that it is wise to plan ahead. There are rewards for faithfulness and perseverance.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” – Luke 14.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” – Matthew 25
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” – Proverbs 16
I look to the future
Oftentimes when I wake up early in the morning and can’t fall back asleep I’ll come downstairs and think. When I can’t fall back asleep it is usually because I am worried or stressed out about money.
I usually end up taking out a pad of paper and a pen. I write down the addresses of the properties we own, the rent/expenses of each one, and the property value.
The numbers help me to remind myself that though the current journey may feel a little dim, I am leading my family to a better future.
I guess this is my way of “counting the cost”. Because so much of what I do is for the future, I can tend to get bogged down feeling that I am not accomplishing anything right now. Looking forward to what is to come and looking back to see where I’ve come from is very encouraging. (Although I suspect that this exercise would NOT be encouraging to most people.)
I’ll end with this. If you want to change your life, if you want to make decisions that make sense for the future, if you want to choose the path less traveled…expect resistance. It isn’t always a bed of roses. In fact, it may look worse before it looks better. Expect people to not understand.
But also take heart. This world operates on the laws of planting and harvesting. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. Sow good things, you will reap good things. Sow bad things, eventually you will reap bad things. Sow nothing and you will reap nothing.