If you are feeling suicidal, please seek help immediately. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. Find a trusted friend or family member to stay with you while you are suicidal.
Depression knows no boundaries. Anyone at any age can experience debilitating depression. No one is exempt: male or female, young and old, every ethnic background, every religious belief and every level of the economic spectrum.
Depression is hard to treat since it comes in so many flavors. Some people experience mild or seasonal depression, sometimes known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Depression can be brutally severe or cycle between periods of hyperactive behavior followed by an equally severe depressive episode. To complicate matter more, manic-depressives can cycle fast or slow.
Medication doesn’t help everyone and for many only provides mild relief. Frequently external factors trigger an event. Overwhelming debt can bring the walls crashing in.
But external triggers are not necessary for those with a tendency for depression. Successful and wealthy people are not exempt from external triggers causing depression. Eliminating debt can go a long way for many people in regaining mental health. But not always.
The Dear Debt Mission
Melanie is an incredible young woman who writes the Dear Debt blog. What started as a public journey to break up with debt brought an unexpected consequence. People started reading her blog and contacting her with their stories of unmanageable debt. Melanie also noticed in her analytics program that many people finding her blog were suicidal due to their debt load.
It might be forgivable to bow our head in silence and move on feeling there is nothing we can do. Not Melanie. Every September, which is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Melanie has a Debt Drop program where she encourages bloggers to join her in creating a web of posts focusing on suicide awareness and prevention. A heavy dose of debt reduction is encouraged. I added to the list a few times myself. Here is another entry.
It is impossible to know how many lives have been saved due to Melanie’s efforts. Certainly the number of people helped is tremendous.
But that isn’t why I’m writing today. There is another group of people in desperate need of help I want to address.
Living the Dream or Living in a Dream
Before we continue I must make a confession. The author is a rapid cycler manic-depressive. The dark days of winter can cause SAD, but I also suffer awesome bouts of efficient hyper-activity followed by crushing depression. It can happen any time of the year.
When I was a boy I was diagnosed with the disease. Later doctors tried a cocktail of medications to tone down the highs and lows. Lithium did nothing. Prozac and similar drugs were ineffective. They even tried scary drugs that really messed with my head. Eventually the medications were ended and I attended therapy to understand my triggers and methods to control an episode.
Here is the funny thing. I never had an overwhelming debt burden in my life. I grew up poor on a farm in rural Wisconsin, but we always had food, family life was good and I never felt like we were poor until I got older and the outside world reminded me what I am.
Later I married the best woman on earth and she blessed our household with two incredible daughters. Home life has always been good for me. I got lucky. With a predisposition for mania followed by depression, I found a way to create a life that minimized triggers. Like I said, lucky.
Money Doesn’t Solve Every Problem
When people are deep in debt they think money will solve all their problems. It doesn’t! Money will solve some issues in your life. Money can reduce and eliminate debt obligations. This is a major stress reducer.
Lots of money also opens doors unavailable to the poor. Money makes it easier to retire young or choose the job of your choice since you have resources to weather the time between fulfilling jobs. Money means you don’t have to settle for any job offered just to put food on the table. If you enjoy traveling money certainly helps with that too.
Money can solve financial problems. It can’t fix a broken marriage or resolve a drug problem. Money can buy quality healthcare, but can’t cure every ailment. And money can’t stop the demons of depression from crushing you down.
Dealing with Depression
To someone deep in debt it may sound strange to hear someone is suicidal when they have a quality home life and financial wealth. But depression doesn’t work that way!
Mental illness carries a social stigma. It shouldn’t. Depression is not a sign of weakness. Depression is a disease and must be treated as any disease.
Left unchecked it can destroy things of value in your life. Medication is an option for some. I encourage you to have a serious talk with your doctor on your situation. If medication doesn’t work for you, as it doesn’t for the author, you need a different set of tools. I will share some that have worked for me.
I was hesitant writing this post. After nearly a decade of controling excessive bouts of depression (I am less successful controlling the manias) I am in the deepest episode in nearly a decade.
Age gave me experience in handling triggers. Small bouts of depression would set in, but it was manageable. I have ready mental tools to get me back into life and motivated again. Manias are the worst because they make you feel so good as you get stuff done. I even managed to reduce the downside after a mania. Encouraging a mild mania is a valuable tool for an accountant during tax season. It is also dangerous. But when tax season spills into the remainder of the year the energy needs to come from somewhere, or so goes the crazy thinking.
Now is a good time to review the tricks I’ve learned to deal with depression since I’m struggling right now:
- Triggers: Even if medication helps, controlling triggers is vital. Dark and short winter days can trigger depression in some people. It was an issue for me when I was younger, but it has been a non-event in later adulthood. Sunlight or sun lamps can help.
OTC medication or mild stimulants can trigger an event. For me large amounts of caffeine can trigger a mania. It’s easy when the workload increases to pound the coffee. You should constantly observe your response to foods, beverages, medications and recreational drugs (legal and illegal).
Stress is a huge trigger for many people. This is where a heavy debt burden comes in. But money isn’t the only stress. Other illness or the death of a friend or family member can do it. An unforeseen event can lift the stress level and start an uncontrollable spiral into depression.
- Communicate: I have a very close relationship with my wife, Mrs. Accountant. We talk all the time. We can feel each other’s moods. Mrs. Accountant frequently knows I’m headed for depression before I do. She can see the outward signs I’m not paying attention to.
A trusted friend, family member or counselor is a tremendous benefit. Let people around you know when you are going down. Make sure a plan is in place to protect you if you become suicidal. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of intelligence. You know the helplessness of depression. When the depression passes, only then do you realize what you would have thrown away if you ended your life. And the damage to your friends and family lasts decades and longer. Do the right thing. Have a support team in place.
- Train Yourself: Many people benefit from motivational tapes if they only have mild depression or borderline personality disorder. The upbeat message of optimism from speakers like Zig Ziglar have helped millions.
- Diet and Exercise: Finding the right diet and mix of aerobic and strength exercises has made an incredible difference in my life. It’s those times where running a business cuts into running in the park conflict when I eventually get into trouble. Then diet suffers and the sodas go down the throat during the day and Jack at night. It all ends badly. Discover what foods cause attacks. And consider a sensible exercise program developed with a professional (trainer, doctor, et cetera).
- Sleep: Lack of sleep is a serious stressor. Depressive episodes for me are usually preceded by a bout of sleeplessness. Lack of sleep even messes with people who don’t have depression. Get your sleep. It might be the most important thing you do all day. Cut the caffeine if it disturbs your slumber.
- Avoid alcohol: For some reason people with depression think alcohol will deaden the pain. It might a first, but alcohol doesn’t deaden the pain long and the risk of addiction is real. Alcohol is no solution for depression and is fraught with problems.
- Avoid important decisions while suffering a depressive event: Depression is a funny thing when it comes to decision making. I can prepare a mean tax return without issue while struggling with depression. The reason is the decisions are less about a choice and more about application of facts. The decisions best avoided while depressed include financial decisions.
Important financial decisions are best avoided while suffering deep depression. Your judgment is clouded when you are suffering. Cashing in a retirement account is a bad idea when you should be focusing on healing. Major expenditures are also to be avoided at these times. Now is not the time to shop, buy a new car, home, et cetera.
When depression strikes deep I start to eliminate things. I cut back on life demands. Depression causes me (most people) to withdraw. I try to cut back on projects or even eliminate them. I’m not saying this is a good thing because this in itself is a decision with consequences long after the depression ends. Unfortunately, you don’t always have a choice. Life doesn’t go on as usual when you suffer depression. Something has to give and certain activities need to be curtailed. Things you don’t want to cut back are your relationships and job. Your family and friends are your support group in your time of need. And you may need that job later when the fog lifts.
- Seek professional help: It isn’t easy to seek help for depression. When you are suffering the blinding tunnel vision of depression you don’t think anyone can help and don’t even know you need help many times. When not depressed you think you are okay now. You must break out of the trap and seek appropriate medical attention.
- Don’t be alone: Depression can do strange things to good people. If you are suicidal, call the number at the top of this post. Help is available. Whenever possible, have someone with you.
It’s not always possible to control triggers. A surprise stressor can come out of left field. Some people are lucky enough to grow out of some types of depression like SAD or borderline personality disorder. Regardless, the illness is always there. Like any serious disease, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Seek help. There are solutions.
And most of all, remember, you are not alone.
Wealth Building Resources
Personal Finance is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Finance is free?
Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.
PeerSteet is an alternative way to invest in the real estate market without the hassle of management. Investing in mortgages has never been easier. 7-12% historical APRs. Here is my review of PeerStreet.
QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. Quickbooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.
A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregations studies work and how to get one yourself.
Amazon good way to control costs and comparison shop. The cost of a product includes travel to the store. When you start a shopping trip to Amazon here it also supports this blog. Thank you.
The world is crazier than it is sane. People complain about having no money and then get rid of what they have as fast as possible. How many people can’t make it until the following week without money issues? A short week and most people are already down to fumes. Thank God, payday is Thursday so you can stop at the bar on the way home. Anything to relieve the stress of money.
Chaos is all around us. Concerns over an overheating stock market and economy are always present in the background. If it isn’t the economy being too good, it’s the bad economy. There is no just right.
Before anyone forgets, there’s plenty of chaos from politics. Talk about a distraction! Best if we all stand alert in case Rex Tillerson, the current Secretary of State, calls us for advice. One never knows.
Talking about politics, it’s hard to get any useful work done when a fat guy from the backwoods of Korea (not necessarily close to the backwoods of Wisconsin where your favorite accountant resides if anyone’s concerned) is waving missiles and nuclear weapons around.
It’s easy to get distracted with the chaos all around us. Traffic, work, a screaming client, the wife and kids all add to the endless disruption of our natural flow of productive activity.
Complaining doesn’t help; it only encourages complaint! There is good news, however. Great men and women throughout time have all had the uncanny ability to focus on the important while the world burned around them. If you don’t believe me, ask any mother with an infant.
An American Hero
President Herbert Hoover is an unlikely hero to most Americans. Most people consider him a failure because all they remember is the Great Depression starting about the same time as his presidency and he was unable to solve the issue. It’s the wrong impression. The Great Depression would have started when it did regardless who was President. If Hoover weren’t President, he would have been the guy called in to fix the problem.
I had the same distorted disillusion of Hoover most of my life. My interest in Hoover was more about the market collapse than about the man. Then a recent issue of The Economist recommended a book by Kenneth Whyte titled Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times. I love books and knew this one had the promise of heavy use for years so I bought it.
Over the years I built a spotty sketch of Hoover and his life. There were plenty of gaps and misconceptions. Whyte set me straight. So much so I have a planned post comparing Hoover to Trump since we sometimes hear the two Presidents have much in common. No they don’t! I think it’ll be an enlightening read once I get the words spanked onto the digital page.
Today we will focus, ahem, on one facet of Hoover’s personality: his ability to focus under extreme conditions.
My favorite story of Hoover and his can-do attitude started in England.
On June 28, 1913, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. It didn’t seem like a serious issue on the surface. Life went on as usual, but behind the scenes a diplomatic disaster was in the making. Then, a month later, the world exploded.
Americans were vacationing in Europe as usual on the eve of the Great War, as it was called until we decided to do it again even better twenty years later. It can be argued Europe was resting from November 12, 1918 until August 31, 1939; a sort of war halftime to regroup for the second half. (Yes, I know many consider WWII started when Japan made her move in China in 1931. We’ll stick to the European theatre for this installment.)
Hoover was in London with no warning of the impending armies gearing for war. When the fighting started a large number of Americans needed to be evacuated. A humanitarian disaster was certain if someone didn’t find a way to fix the problem.
Hoover never hesitated. He orchestrated the evacuation of Americans with unimaginable efficiency.
Once the continent was cleared of vacationing Americans, another even greater problem arose. Belgium was caught between the warring powers and the Belgium people were suffering. Food was scarce as the country was virtually quarantined.
People were dying! Civilians. Women and children. And neither side cared to help over concern it might bolster the opposing side.
Herbert Hoover never wavered. He worked relentlessly with the Germans, British and Americans to provide relief for Belgium.
Germany controlled Belgium. Germany requested the right to cross Belgium in her run for Paris at the start of the war and moved within days without waiting for an answer. Belgium was defenseless and at the mercy of the German military. The suffering in Belgium during the Great War was some of the greatest human suffering in history.
Amidst the chaos Hoover went to work. He traveled to Berlin to seek aid from the German government to no avail. Great Britain didn’t trust the Germans and Hoover wasn’t even British!
Hoover built a relief effort rapidly, saving millions from starvation. The U.S. government reluctantly, at Hoover’s incessant prodding, provided limited funding and permission to organize the American farmers into producing the food necessary for the relief effort. President Wilson, along with the British, feared the relief effort would help the Germans by diverting food to the German troops.
Enemies allowed Hoover free rein to travel across borders without restriction. He was the only man alive allowed to do so by both sides. His constant drive built the Commission for Relief in Belgium that helped American farmers produce more, raise private and public funding to deliver the goods to Great Britain and get the food to the Belgium people in desperate need.
Hoover visited Belgium several times during the war to see firsthand the devastation and suffering. His mind was always going, working on solutions to the intractable problems of feeding the Belgium people during the war.
At its peak the Commission had an $11 million a month budget with 78% provided by government grants. Over 10 million people were fed daily at the height of the effort.
Only when the U.S. entered the war did Hoover’s relief effort end. Germany would not allow an American behind German lines after that point.
Blocking Out the Noise
Hoover’s ability to focus when distractions were everywhere is legendary. Most people have a hard time reading a book unless there is silence! Hoover could concentrate in any environment.
The ability to focus during chaos will determine a large part of your success. If minor distractions, such as the stock market, can derail your financial plans you are in big trouble.
Marriage, or any relationship for that matter, will have distractions. Successful marriages don’t require all parties involved to never notice other people they find attractive. There will be attractive people! There will be kind, caring, attractive people willing to weasel into your relationship when you are under duress. Especially when you are at your weakest! The marriages that survive a lifetime find focus on the commitment to the relationship. It’s a team sport even when the night is darkest.
Business is the same. Do you really think owning a business is all fun with loads of money pouring in? Heck no! There are good days and bad days. Then a recession comes along and tests your grit. Fewer businesses survive than marriages. In my years as an accountant serving business owners I can attest most issues business owners face involve the lack of focus. Business owners want to do everything until they wear out and fail. Everybody thinks they can be Elon Musk, running 78 ½ different Fortune 500 companies. You’re not Elon Musk! And for the record, the jury is still out on Elon. The boy is amazing, but he has a full plate with no guarantees.
Happiness at the Focal Point
You and I don’t have to be Herbert Hoover. We can have Hoover’s focusing talent by following one simple rule:
- Define your goal in its simplest form.
Hoover’s goal was simple: Feed the Belgium people.
My 30 year marriage is based on a similar simple rule: Remain faithful to Mrs. Accountant. All too often we try to focus and several things at once and fail. In my marriage I always focused on Mrs. Accountant. I would always try to take the path that would cause her the least anguish. Of course I failed at times! Focus isn’t about never failing. But my failures were relatively minor. I never cheated and never felt tempted. I know where I have it good because I focused there. Stupid mistakes happened, but faithful to my relationship with Mrs. Accountant I always was.
You need a focal point. I hear people with the financial goal of financial independence (FI) all the time. Well, what exactly is that? FI is a simple enough goal, but it’s not a defining goal!
A simple goal presented correctly will cover all the “how’s” later. FI is not clear so it misses the focal point. Define FI. Does this mean freedom to travel, retire to the country or run your own business? Focus when you set your most basic of goals.
A better simple goal: To attain a liquid net worth large enough to live off investment income without worry so I can pursue my dream of (travel/running my dream business/pursuing philosophical studies).
The how-to automatically fills in as you focus on the goal. The 4% Rule comes into play without mentioning it in your goal. Saving and investing are automatic in your financial goal.
Focus is a learned trait. Herbert Hoover was in London for business when the world called his name. No other man alive was in the right place at the right time to do what he did. Once tragedy arose there was no time to practice; you’d better be prepared for the unexpected.
You may never face the challenges of Hoover during the Great War. Then again, Hoover never realized his number was about to be called the day before hostilities broke out.
Your eyes must be trained to the focal point at all times.
You never know when they’ll call your name.
Over the years I have been accused of being a millionaire by clients. The quest was to discover how much wealth their accountant had. I was mum.
Few of my local clients read this blog; only the few who do know the scope of my wealth and understanding of money. The inquisitors would have been excited to know the truth.
The allegation began the same every time. A discussion on money and wealth building led to the client asking, “You must be at least a millionaire?” I smiled and shrugged. Like my grandfather, I kept my mouth shut about what I had.
Before I reached the seven figure level I felt comfortable with people believing I had more than I did. For some reason people think you are smart if you have more than two nickels to rub together. Money does not make you smart! I could give plenty of examples, but I must protect the guilty.
It took me years to understand I was rich all along. When a client suggested I must be a millionaire it was because they wanted validation of my intelligence when it comes to money. But smart people are usually the worst with money. Think of doctors. Most doctors have a net worth far below what their income and time earning that income would suggest. Attorneys are almost as bad as doctors. Accountants and tax professionals as a group are terrible with money. Some do exceedingly well; most are flat broke.
The worst offenders of all are financial advisors. Those high-earning folks empowered to help us with our excess funds earn and spend as similar levels. I could tell stories, but client confidentiality forbids.
The best people with money are as dumb as a box of thumbtacks. Smart people always believe they can outsmart the market by either timing or investing in crazy alternative investments. Usually both.
Dumb people shouldn’t be confused with stupid people. Dumb people can be very intelligent, but rarely walk around bragging about it. Professionals have a status to keep so clients think they are successful! Doctors spend under pressure from peers. Attorneys have clients to impress; accountants have clients to impress. But the semi driver doesn’t have to impress anyone!
Some of the wealthiest people I know are in professions you would not connect with lots of money. Hate to break it to you, but the local junk yard dealer has more cash tucked away in the market than you. I know many truck drivers and mill workers with massive amounts of liquid investments. I know just as many broke attorneys.
The title of this post indicates you and I might be richer than we think. The title has done its job.
Before I crossed the seven figure barrier I was richer than I ever imagined. My net worth was measured in the hundreds of thousands, but the power of that money, and even much more modest sums, could be leveraged into a fortune.
Back then I could walk roads and hiking paths all over God’s Green Acre. Hiking, biking and driving was essentially free. I paid nothing to drive from my home to the library or my parent’s home. If I owned a car, a bike or a good pair of sneakers I was ready to go. Roads are free. A few toll roads are out there, but I can get anywhere I want on free roads.
The path between my home and library was worn deep. I love books! Call it a sickness. I’m big into mental masturbation. (I said that because I notice people quoting me lately and I wanted to provide something quotable in this post.) And the library is free. You can’t imagine all the great stuff to be had there outside of the normal books you would expect.
“Wait a minute!” I can hear you say. “The roads aren’t free. I pay TAXES!” Yes, you do my friend, but you don’t pay for the entire road, yet you use the whole darn thing. You pay taxes which include the roads and other infrastructure. People with high incomes pay more than their pro rata share of use while those earning less get a free ride until they are high earners.
As long as we are discussing it, let’s not forget that wonderful library. It costs pennies per person per year to fund your local library. For pocket change in taxes you have at least a million dollars worth of stuff you can borrow at any time without question even in a small community.
Even the poorest people in the community can use the library. My oldest daughter runs her tutoring business out of the library. I read voraciously for years every book from the library and still frequent the place more than all other establishments combined. Libraries are the best deal going and turn everyone into a rich person by default.
While we’re at it, your money goes a heck of a lot further than you think. How much does a cheap plane cost? A hundred grand? More? Well, for $500 (or free with credit card reward miles) you can fly anywhere in the country on a fancy jetliner, chauffeured by the finest trained pilots and served by cabin staff. Even First Class is a bargain when you think of it.
A small wad of small bills buys you more than a mega-million dollar plane with staff to take you where you want to go. Before the plane takes off you get to use the fine airport facilities and the runway to get the plane into the air.
One simple flight makes you sound mighty rich. For a $50 Uber ride you are driven to the airport in a $25,000 car on roads that would have cost you millions, tens of millions. Then you hop on an $85 million plane flown by trained pilots; no driving necessary on your part. Add the $50 Uber ride to the $500 airline ticket and you leveraged your way into using a couple hundred million dollars of infrastructure. As a percentage it is darn near free.
I have always been extremely rich, even before I had money. It can be argued my current net worth in direct proportion to the books I read from the library. Without those books I probably wouldn’t be here.
I was introduced to this philosophy by Tony Robbins in his first Personal Power tapes. I had my foster kids listen to Tony on a regular basis so I heard this stuff again and again. Some of it actually sunk in as noted by a foster child returning years later to thank me and by my business and family success.
Listening to this powerful message convinced me I was born the luckiest guy in the world. I was super rich before I earned my first dime.
I call it the Gratitude Attitude. There is no doubt my success in my marriage, business and raising my children is all related to my Gratitude Attitude.
None of this is new. Tony learned it somewhere and shared it with me. Now I am sharing it with you, paying it forward.
I make a point to realize how much I have with every step I take. Driving to the office is a multi-million dollar advantage. Books are free to borrow at the library or for twenty bucks you can own the thing. Of course the printing press, editors and distributors would have to charge me an arm and a leg if they only produced one copy just for me. Lucky for me I was born in a world of unbound riches.
How Rich Am I?
Only a cursory look tells anyone willing to notice I have always been rich. I was born into a rural farming family, but had untold riches around me from the moment I hit the table and my mother breathed a sigh of relief her labor was over.
I have health and freedom and a loving family. My childhood was filled with awe and wonder. Sure, other people had different riches, but I was rich as rich can be all the same.
Now, added to all the riches I was born into, I am blessed with financial wealth. After all these years I sit in awe and shock at my great fortune.
How rich am I? The richest man to ever live.
How Rich Are You?
As rich as I ever was.
Now pay it forward.
Every experience in your life until this moment was a dress rehearsal for now. Comfort is your worst enemy. Change is the only path to a brighter future. And fear and doubt follow in step.
Mediocrity is what we get when we say “life is good enough” when a new opportunity knocks. It happens in all areas of life: business, investing, job, family and relationships. A chance to improve is delayed or denied because we say, “I’m okay with where I am.”
The real truth is we are afraid; we have doubts. What if I marry this person and they stop loving me? If I leave an abusive relationship, where will I go? How can I possibly save more of my income? Index funds aren’t guaranteed and can lose money! What if I fail at this business or side gig?
When we get comfortable we begin to settle for what we have. That is why so many opt for early retirement when they have so much to share and such great skills at creating and building wealth. It’s much easier to travel, painful as traveling can be, than to expose yourself to failure before your peers. Anything, but that.
We must break through our doubts and fears to reach the next level of enlightenment. Every religion and philosophy teaches this on some level. That is what we will do today. We will break through the debilitating fears and doubts that suck the enjoyment and excitement out of life.
I knew this day was coming. I did my best to hide it from you, dear readers. The government has had it in for me for decades. They tolerated my antics as a small town accountant, but now, with a blog growing in popularity, their patience has reached an end.
In the past I was given subtle warnings. Yesterday, and now this morning, the warning were not so subtle. It really isn’t that bad. They offered me the job on a regular basis in the past. The rules are simple: no more blogging; no more tax office. You work for us now.
My heart is heavy. After serious consideration I am accepting their offer. The pay is a solid six figures and all I have to do is spread misinformation getting taxpayers to overpay their taxes, thereby giving the government more control and power. For decades I have been the solution, now I have joined the problem.
Don’t hate me! They are very persuasive. Very persuasive. They sent seven dudes, I mean really big guys, to help me in my decision. They took me into the back room at my office. Even Karen, my Puerto Rican office manager, couldn’t stop them! The government guys had rubber hoses. Well, actually, they had teat cups. I included a picture so you guys know what a teat cup is. Only a farm boy can understand how much a teat cup hurts when you get hit by one.
I was dancing on my tippy-toes and squealing like a girl getting asked to the prom. It was not pretty. That six figure paycheck with a full line of benefits started looking mighty tempting after three hours of teat cup treatment. All I had to do was throw you guys under the bus. Hell, after three hours I volunteered to drive the bus. A few solid contacts from a teat cup on the back of the leg and you would modify your thinking too.
So there you have it folks. I sold my practice for a reasonable price. (The seven government goons are standing over me with teat cups ready as I write.) I work for the other side now. Disregard all the stuff I told you about reducing your taxes. It was all a lie. A good, God-fearing American is always willing to pay extra taxes to protect the freedoms we hold so dear.
The next time you see me at a conference, remember, I am a plant from the other side, there to gather information to get more money from you to the government. Never mind the steroid monster men holding teat cups by the doorway. They are there to help me do my job.
And the welts? Sure, teat cups leave serious welts, but they heal nicely. And while they are healing I have a nice reminder of the job I need to do now.
Before I leave, please check the date on this post. Have a pleasant April Fool’s Day. I knew you guys didn’t believe it once I said Karen couldn’t stop seven government goons. If that were to really happen, Karen would fuck those boys up good.
I’ve been putting off this post for a while. Now is as good a time as any to get it done.
Now that I got the obvious joke out of the way it is time we discuss a serious issue facing us all: procrastination. When we least need it, our desire to finish, or even start, a task is put off. There are a variety of reasons for procrastination. The job might be distasteful, it might be a large project, or you might not fully understand the task.
Fear keeps us from acting. We all have had experiences where we put something off and put it off and put it off, only later to find out, once we started, the project wasn’t that bad after all. Many times procrastination begins when we are mentally overwhelmed by the task. Either your to-do list is longer than Santa’s on Christmas Eve or you started a task and hit a road block. Once that dreaded file is put to the side it is in a kind of purgatory. Starting again is almost impossible.
There are various tricks I use to get massive amounts of work out the door. Rather than focus on different scenarios, I will hone in on issues surrounding my office work. We will deal with email, phone calls, social media, and tax returns. Think of my stack of tax returns as the pile of work in your office or the long to-do list at home.
When you read the Stoics and personal finance blogs in the vein I write you quickly learn the goal in life is happiness. Money, retirement, and financial independence are all cash words we use to make our case about happiness. Saving and investing a large portion of our income building a solid nest egg allows for less work and more happiness.
Then I wonder if there is more. I’m a happy guy no matter where I am. I am content with what I have; I have all I need or want. Happiness is a state of mind. Anyone can be happy any time they choose to do so. All you need to do is learn your happiness triggers and then trigger them.
But what about enjoyment? How do we trigger enjoyment? If happiness is something we choose to be, can we also choose to enjoy? These are interesting questions I want to explore.
Harvesting Good Feelings
When I am not working my business or writing this blog, I farm. Since I am already happy, farming does not create happiness or make me happier. Happiness is not a matter of degrees. Either you are happy or you are not. I enjoy farming. Working with the animals gives me pleasure.
Take a distasteful job on the farm: cleaning the chickens. Chickens make a mess and it stinks. Cleaning the chickens is a job I don’t volunteer for; I do it because it needs doing. Cleaning the chicken coop has no effect on my happiness; I am happy and will remain happy even while doing the distasteful job.
You can learn to enjoy something if you allow yourself the pleasure. (How do you like that play on words?) Hard work brings me pleasure because I know it is healthy for me. Cleaning the chicken area is actually something I enjoy once I get going. There is a satisfaction to seeing the area get cleaner with each push of the shovel.
Fear destroys dreams and happiness faster than any other thing can. Fear of failure prevents us from starting a business; fear of rejection causes us to pass on a dream date; and fear of the unknown forces us to keep working a job well beyond the point we could retire. This simple four-letter word pushes us back against the wall, draining all the vitality of life from us.
Fear paralyses. The opportunity to speak to a group is unrealized because our stomach turns and our heart stops due to fear, as if the audience will rush the stage and beat you. (Well, there was this one time I was speaking. . .) All the happiness you deserve in life is passed each time you allow fear to rule your decisions. There will be failures and rejections. Once you understand this is part of life you can focus on the important stuff and say “yes” to the opportunity for a date with the girl of your dreams or start that business.
Fear is nothing new. Mankind has felt the fight of flight response from the beginning of time. The ancient Stoics knew uncontrolled emotions destroy faster than anything known to man. And it is all self-inflicted!
FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.
It is all in your head. Failing at business is a possibility. When you see as many business owners over the years as I have you start to see a pattern. It becomes obvious who will fail. Most businesses fail because they neglect to take appropriate steps, which all lead back to some sort of fear. If we do that we could lose clients. If we invest in the company we might not earn the investment back. And, of course, once you allow fear to rule it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.