Posts Tagged ‘failure’

Recovering From Financial Mistakes Like the Wealthy

Financial losses are hard to take. This is how the wealthy deal with financial hardships and mistakes.Regardless how experienced or educated you are you will still make financial mistakes, some of them humdingers. Personal finance blogs and media outlets frequently share basic financial mistakes to avoid: spend less than you earn, invest in index funds, avoid debt and so forth. All this is good advice, but it goes a lot deeper than this.

There are financial mistakes that involve much larger sums of money that can cause permanent damage to your financial situation. To top it off we are in a much different economic environment than ever before. 

Side hustles are more common than ever and no matter what kind of activity you consider a side hustle it is still a business. And business can inflict as much, and even more, pain than student loans, credit card debt or job loss. 

Today we will move beyond the basic advice and delve deep into the financial mistakes that are harder to plan for and hence avoid; the financial mistakes that can not only surprise, but destroy a fortune of any size. 

To help you understand the seriousness of these mistakes I will use examples from my past. The good news is I recovered from each disaster much wiser, using the new-found experience and knowledge to push profits to greater heights.

Some of the issues we will touch on are foreign ideas compared to the “spend less” advice. For example, you will see how over-confidence and arrogance caused me plenty of pain throughout my life. What seemed like a great idea was anything but, and I walked into it eyes wide open because of that pair of rose-colored glasses I like to keep handy.

Worse, I should know better. As a tax accountant with a history as a financial adviser, I should have know better. The things that got me were not alien concepts. And if they can get me they can get you no matter how smart you think you are.

My goal is to give you the tools to avoid these errors in thinking that virtually guarantee financial disaster. I will also share how I recovered from each event and grew from it. Hopefully you recognize the patterns of my errors in your behavior and make corrections before you suffer the same results.

 

Young and Dumb

In my younger days I made a lot of solid financial decisions. I also got lucky. 

I avoided the over spending and debt issues that plague so many and I never put any of my education, formal or informal, on the credit card. That means I was able to invest in mutual funds (I used actively managed funds back then) and individual stocks. 

Growing up in the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin had its advantages. I never made a lot of money, but had nowhere to spend it even if I did. I was on a sort or forced frugality diet so don’t think I was somehow smarter than you. I wasn’t! 

Those first years of adulthood were formative years. I grew up on a farm and knew of nothing else. Then the family farm went teats up (we were dairy farmers) just under six months after I graduated from high school. Now what was I going to do with my life?

Growing up rural and poor meant I dreamed of wealth. I wanted to be the richest man alive some day and go to the moon, too. To farm, of course. I was an even mixture of Elon Musk and Warren Buffett.

Things didn’t pan out as planned, but I did better than most, so no complaints. I was also on the cuff of my first of many significant financial mistakes.

The family farm was gone, but the dream lingered on. It must have been about 1984 when I decided I would move my investing horizons to something that could grow wealth faster than the red-hot stock market of the mid 1980s. 

I kept money in individual stocks and mutual funds, but I was ready to tackle commodities. Soybean futures to be exact. 

Well, I had a farming background! I knew (I thought I knew) more than those pinheads sitting in an office about farming and soybeans. So I started trading soybeans and (OMG!) soybean options. 

10 success lessons taught by the rich. Turn failure into success! Your response to failure determines your level of success. Recover from financial mistakes like the wealthy.As with most financial disasters, things started out promising. I had the golden touch and don’t think for a moment people weren’t noticing. 

I knew farming and I knew soybeans, though we never grew soybeans on our family farm. 

I turned a small investment of a few thousand dollars into nearly $40,000. And that is when this poor farm boy started to experience an inflated skull.

I had managed to accumulate other investments (mutual funds and stocks) of nearly $100,000. Not bad for a 20 year old that started out with maybe a thousand or so when he turned 18.

Now that I had another $40k to grace my net worth ledger I wanted to get serious about this soybeans thing. I sold only mutual funds at the time to fund my next big push. However, family noticed my talents, too, and dear old dad thought he would hitch a ride to the tune of $9,000.

Well, if I hadn’t made every possible move to hex my parade I don’t know what else I could have done to accomplish it. 

And wouldn’t you know it. Now that I was all in I started to believe in my infallibility. I made a risky (all commodity trades are risky by nature unless you are hedging: buying and selling commodities as a producer or consumer of said commodities) all or none trade. If it worked there would have been a six figure gain. If it failed I would lose most of my account value.

At the time I didn’t realize how much I was putting on the line. I was too arrogant to see it. In three days it was over. Soybeans locked limit (the maximum move a commodity can move in one trading day) and it wasn’t going my way. 

I was actually lucky! When a commodity locks limit against you it is impossible to close your position. The losses can mount fast and the leverage is massive. 

Dad did not get much of his $9,000 back and most of my $40,000 was gone. I will never forget that feeling. It took a long time to recover emotionally. Good thing dad accepted what happened. He doesn’t talk about it all these years later.

 

Lesson 1: Commodities are not an investment!

I know this is a hard concept for people to understand, but commodities, along with land and other such so-called investments, are not real investments. 

Land is not an investment unless you intend to improve said land, creating value, the basis of investing. Gold, corn, pork bellies (bacon) and soybeans are NOT investments; they are speculative tools unless you are hedging your production or consumption of the underlying commodity. And if you are hedging it is a business tool to control costs; still not an investment.

Lesson 2: Don’t get cocky!

Just because you are on a roll doesn’t mean you are right. I thought I was so smart as every trade went my way. Then I lost all those gains and more in one stupid trade thinking I was smarter than everyone else. (Remember those office pinheads this farm boy was smarter than?)

Whether it be in business or any other endeavor in life, always know it might be luck working your way temporarily. Luck is a fickle creature and only a fool relies on such a fickle beast. Caution is warranted at all times when investing and in business.

Lesson 3: Don’t borrow to invest!

While I didn’t borrow from the bank, I did take money from dad (actually an equity investment) to increase the size of my trade. Both choices (bank loans or an equity investment from dad) are incredibly bad.

Lesson 4: You can’t consistently trade profitably!

I know, I know. Everyone thinks they can do it. We hear about money-center banks earning gazzions every quarter trading. Except they are hedging more than speculating. And when they decide to speculate we remember their name as Lehman Brothers: 158 years of conservative investments pissed away in a breath. 

Back when I was young I didn’t have the experience I have today. Now, after all these years as a tax accountant, I can show you an endless list of clients who have traded their way poor. I’m trying to recall even a single client who traded his way to a fortune and coming up blank. I do have several in mind who lost a life of work “playing the market”. 

Lesson 5: You don’t “play” the market!

Enough said.

Lessons Learned

The all or none mindset died for me that day. I never again bet the farm on a flyer. 

The loss also instilled in me a deep desire to research investments before investing or adding to an investment. I have made investing mistakes over the years, but nothing like that fateful day in 1984 when soybeans were going to send Hillbilly Accountant to the promised land. 

When it sounds too good to be true it probably is. I missed plenty of deals due to my caution. I also missed a fair number of blood-lettings, too.

Over-confidence, cockiness and arrogance are hard to avoid when enjoying a temporary visit from Midas. Controlling emotions are more important than almost any other factor when investing. People want to buy a “hot” market and get scared out of a bear market. Buying high and selling low has never been a good strategy. I have trained myself to react emotionally the opposite of normal human nature. When a great company is on sale I buy (after adequate research). I only sell if it makes sense in my personal situation. The “market” has nothing to do with my decision process.

 

Changing the World

Now I will share a business disaster from the archive. 

When it comes to business, including side gigs or side hustles, mistakes will happen and there is always a cost. A well thought out plan has half a chance of creating a profit. Then there are those times when we are introduced to humility.

Sometimes an opportunity that looks incredibly good fails miserably. Usually rose-colored glasses were involved.

You can reach your financial and retirement goals. See what this child does that virtually assures he will be a success in life.In this situation I was going to change the world and challenge the Big Guys.

You might have noticed the 1040.com banners on this blog where you can prepare your own tax return. Well, back when that program was just beginning (it was in beta the first year offered to the public) I saw an opportunity to create a massive platform. 

My professional tax software provider created the 1040 environment. I wanted to capitalize on this as soon as possible as other clients of the software provider had the same chance I did. I had to move quick to lock up market share.

To do this I developed a large advertising campaign: television mostly. My ad schedule was aggressive, especially for such a test idea. But I wanted to get a jump on the competition.

Long story short, I spent $80,000 in advertising before I pulled the plug early in the tax season. The revenue: $3,000. 

Yes, I lost $77,000 is a few weeks. Thank God I didn’t get caught in the sunk-cost fallacy! It was also a good thing my tax practice was established. I still had a profitable year, just $77,000 smaller.

The story is short, but the lessons many. Since the program is still around and much improved (one of the best, if not the best, in my opinion) you might surmise there is a happy ending to the story. There is, kinda.

 

Lesson 6: Don’t trick yourself into rushing a project!

It is tempting to forgo proper testing before a full product launch. The 1040 project had plenty of potential, but the program was still in beta. There were issues that first year of operation. And I had no exclusive. Even a jump-start on the competition didn’t guarantee I’d keep the clients.

The competition never materialized. Yes, the Big Guys were there and still are. But the worry other accountants might want to capitalize on this, squeezing me out of the market, never happened. I rushed for no reason and dropped a cool 77 grand for nothing. Plus all the aggravation!

Lesson 7: Sunk cost!

Good fortune smiled on me. This project was new enough and the capital invested didn’t cause a sunk-cost mindset to manifest itself. If it had the damages would have been multiple times larger. 

Lesson 8: Arrogance again!

I was so cock-fire sure I was right on this I was willing to go all in with a pair of twos. Stupid!

Liking an idea is NOT good enough! I needed to do market research and test the product more fully before unleashing such a large investment. I put the cart before the horse and paid the price.

Never fall in love with an idea or project. it’s business and nothing more.

Lessons Learned

Some mistakes are merely a lesson. In this case I knew I had a good idea on my hands, I just executed wrong. As 1040 improved their product, clients from the first year came back (at least a few did). So I had a quasi annuity on my hands. In 3 or 4 thousand years I might break even.

I continued to love the DIY tax preparation idea. Every year since that fateful first year I continued to promote the program with free promotional ideas. I published articles mostly with links to the platform. Growth was slow, but noticeable.

Then I had this idea to hook up with a popular blogger and sought an audience with Mr. Money Mustache. MMM didn’t care to partner with me on the idea, but gave it a push, which helped tremendously. 

This blog has also provided steady pressure on the growth trend. To date I have recouped nearly $40,000 of the original $80,000. At current rates I will break even in about six years; if it continues to grow, a bit faster.

Lesson 9: Never give up!

If the business plan is solid never give up. But always evaluate before leaping! And always test before spending. There are plenty of free opportunities to share information on your product or service. If I hadn’t sunk $80,000 into this beast I would already be profitable!

Lesson 10: Think before leaping!

As I already said. But it was worth repeating since this is the cause of a great many errors.

 

Coda

Of course I made many, many more than these two financial mistakes in my life. Thankfully most were small and I was a fast learner (maybe that should be Lesson 11). 

The biggest mistake you can ever make is to get gun shy after a financial disaster. Once you are too afraid to take action you are in a death spiral. 

You will make mistakes! Lots of them. Show me someone who never made a mistake and I’ll show you someone who never tried. 

All is not lost if you learn from your mistakes. 

Sometimes you even try something knowing it is a mistake just to gain the knowledge and experience! Keep the investment small so the damage is light, but do try. It is the only way to learn.

 

This post is the result of a question on Facebook. In the Choose FI group the question was asked about what our biggest financial mistake was. I commented tongue-in-cheek that I would need a few million words and plenty of time to explain the errors of my ways. A reader of this blog commented to me this would be a good blog post idea. I agreed and here we are.

(Tax season is getting long and fatigue is setting in. I didn’t want to research another tax issue to publish while swamped with tax issues at the office.)

We learn far more from our failures than our successes. Success convinces us we are right, like my original soybean trades. Of course we sometimes discover we were not as right as we thought we were. 

Failure on the other hand leaves its mark. We remember pain a lot longer than the pleasure. 

You will make mistakes, lots of them. I’ll make many more as well as my tax practice evolves along with this blog and the courses I plan on publishing soon. If any of these things fail they will only cause minor pain. 

I learned my lessons.

 

 

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Easy is the Hardest Thing in the World if You Want to Be Rich

This moment was brought to you by hard times. Difficulties and challenges make you stronger. The only way to have an easy life is to embrace hard times. #easy #financialindependence #easystreet #success #motivationRichard Branson outlined in his autobiography, Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography, 75 times he had close calls in his life. Recently he published number 76 on his blog. It seems strange for such a successful man to have had so many close calls. Branson has several successful businesses and a life most can only dream of. He is living the dream.

From the outside it always seems easier. I hear the same thing from readers. “You make it sound so easy, Keith.” To which I respond, “Then you haven’t been reading close enough.” Life has been anything but easy for me. Most people have difficult lives. It is these difficulties that define us. We either rise to the occasion and grow or wither and die. One path leads to a sense of accomplishment, the other pain and loss.

The challenges are endless. To outline a few highlights of my life’s plights: heart disease and a heart operation at age 13, shot in a hunting accident at age 13 which led to the discovery of my heart disease, numerous attempts at business ideas that failed, two daughters with serious medical conditions. Need I remind of the attempt to destroy my business only a decade after its inception? The attempt almost succeeded. Now might be a good time to repeat the millions of words I wrote and published over the years before I attracted even a modest following. No, kind readers, it was never easy.

Beg for Hard Times

From an early age, telling me “No!” was nearly a virtual guarantee I’d check it out. Don’t climb that haymow. Don’t walk to the creek alone. Don’t play with the vase! {crash} “Sorry.” And then the tears.

I was blessed (or cursed if you see things that way) with an insatiable curiosity. The only way to grow, to succeed, is to do what nobody wants you to do. And that means plenty of painful moments.

My dad wanted me to work in the family business working in agriculture. Our family has a long history in agriculture. I wanted something different. When I announced my intentions of going full-time in taxes and accounting my dad told a neighbor, “You won’t believe what my idiot son is going to do.” I have a great relationship with my parents, but that one hurt. The neighbor he told ended up an employee for two decades. (Clients: Remember Bev? She still comes in every year.)

Even people you love and trust will sometimes cause pain and make it harder. They mean well, but they don’t understand. Readers around here have stories to tell about their family’s reaction when they pursued early retirement and world travel. It’s never easy.

Burn the Ships

In 1519, Captain Hernan Cortez arrived in the New World at Veracruz. The first thing he did was order his men to burn the ships. Cortez knew his men would always hold back when retreat was an option. With nowhere to retreat, Cortez and his men pushed forward. What other option was there?

Early adulthood had me wondering what I was going to do with my life. Fortune (and frugality) allowed me to build a nice nest egg. If I watched my spending close I probably could have checked out in my early to mid 20s. That wasn’t my intention or goal.

Working in the family business wasn’t for me. I grew up on the family farm and had no intention of working in agriculture the rest of my life. (Now I live on a farm and have raised many animals. How times do change.) The family farm ended in bankruptcy the year I graduated from high school so the family business in ag repair was my only option. (It was the Rust Belt in 1982. There were few options.) For anyone looking for the easy road; I wasn’t on it.

Then I met Mrs. Accountant. If anything went according to plan, my relationship with the awesome and adorable Mrs. A was it! It’s about the only thing that went off without a hiccup. (Actually, if you get us in the corner we could share some stories. It would be inappropriate to share publically on a blog.)

Marriage also had challenges. Easy wasn’t in the lexicon. We worked hard to build a solid relationship.

The marriage process threw a massive wrench into the works. I was slumming when I met Mrs. A: enjoying loads of good books and a few college courses to round out my days. A good husband, the minister who married us said, needs to provide for his family. So I was hired as the janitor for the church.

Fourteen months later I quit to move full-time in my tax/accounting practice. I was young and foolish. Like Cortez, I burned the ships. I knew if I had an escape route I might take it. There could be no going back.

My client list was less than 50 when I started. Since I moved into town I left most of my regular clients behind. No problem, I thought. I know exactly how to get more clients. I quit my janitor job January 31, 1989. February 1st I was living the dream as a full-time business owner. I worked out of my home. What could be better?

Two and a half months later, on April 15th, I stared out my bay winder and thought, Oh, Sh{beep}! I didn’t exactly replace all the lost clients. To be exact, I had 48 clients and ~$3,000 in revenue. (I said revenue.)

Don’t tell me about easy. There was no easy in that moment. Looking back it seems foreordained. It was anything but! My nest egg was hit hard by startup expenses. The ships were burned. I HAD to move forward. My wife counted on me. To say I was nervous and worried would be an understatement.

Kick’em When they’re Up, Kick’em When They’re Down

You know how the story ends. I survived and even thrived. That’s why I’m here. That means my story is colored by survivor bias. The ones who didn’t make it aren’t talking to you on a blog about it.

Richard Branson had some really close calls in his life. I’m sure there are many more we don’t know of. Every business, every marriage, every relationship, every parent has stories to tell. After the fact it looks easy because all the while we are listening we know the endgame. In the warzone it was anything but clear how things would turn out.

There was no guarantee I would survive heart surgery in 1978. My cardiologist died of AIDS later. One nick of the glove and you’d be reading something else right now. I was a third of a millimeter away from a very short life.

Tempering make the iron stronger and more pliable. People, too. Difficulties and hard times give you the strength to grow. #success #motivation #life #lifelessons #personalfinance #freedom #growth #strengthThe hunting accident also put life in perspective. First, it saved my life by exposing my condition. Without that I would have died of a massive coronary sometime in my 20s, or at the latest, early 30s. It would’ve been just one of those things. Family would have spoken of the tragedy for years until I was all but forgotten. But I was shot. And if one of those pellets would have been a half inch deeper I would have died before anyone knew I had a medical problem. Luck does play a role.

Luck didn’t make me feel invincible; it made me feel vulnerable, like I was living on borrowed time. I tried everything. Burning the ships was a natural act. Prodding myself, forcing myself to move ahead was exactly the situation I set up.

Here is the secret: Every failure, every painful moment, drove my harder. My life appears easy because it has been so hard. I’ve been kicked and beaten unfairly and if you want a really painful story pull me to the side sometime when I’ve had a couple so my defenses are down. You’ll find out how easy it really was.

Zig Ziglar once said we should pray for hard times and difficulties. He understood. Ziglar went on to say hard times and difficulties make for an easy life and easy makes for a very, very hard life. The message was clear. Iron is brittle until you heat and hammer it. Fire and stress harden and strengthen the iron. With the right ingredients you get steel. But there is no chance for strong steel until you apply heat. It is the tempering which makes the metal strong.

And so it is with people. I know you have dreams. That is why you are here. Your goals of financial independence and/or early retirement need nurturing. Starting your dream business will not be easy. I can tell you what to do and it will not be enough. You will need to adjust, try different things, to succeed. Frugality is challenging. An awesome marriage is work. Some days it doesn’t work. Then you try something else and if that doesn’t work you try something else, and on and until you win.

In relationships it is easier. The endless effort is noticed by all parties involved. It makes a difference. My marriage isn’t great because I’m so good. No. My marriage to Mrs. A is awesome because I never stopped trying to make our marriage more alive. Mrs. A and I work daily on our relationship. Even when we don’t feel like it. (That happens, too, even in solid marriages.)

You will get kicked and hard. Thank God for that! If you never took a groin shot you would never grow. I know from experience I grew and learned the least when things were humming along. It was the challenges that strengthened me. All the idiots of the world who attempted to tear me down made me the success I am today. Don’t stop hating me now. I’ve got new heights to climb.

Pray for the same. Pray for money problems so you can learn really money lessons; pray for marital problems so you can appreciate your significant other and build a more solid foundation; pray for a bad economy and job loss; pray for bad weather. Pray to whatever god you believe in and ask for hard times.

It’s the only way to have an easy life.

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital 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 Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, 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.

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 segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Amazon is a good way to control costs by comparison shopping. 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 very much!

 

Embrace Failure

Show me a successful person and I’ll show you someone with deep seated pain. Pain is a powerful motivator. Few can reach lofty heights and keep pushing without underlying pain driving them forward.

Steve Jobs said you have to be “. . . insane to do this. . . ” when he discussed why he worked so hard to achieve so much because “. . . it hurts so much.” He expanded the insanity to include all successful people. It doesn’t matter what it is you are the best in. Being the best and marching forward after attaining the top is an exercise in pain regardless the field.

Some are satisfied with “good enough”. They are the lucky ones. Normal people attain a certain level of success and sit back and enjoy it. You see these people everywhere. They are the upper middle class people lucky enough to have reached the level of “having it” or “made it” without the grinding pain from earlier in life driving them on.

Then there are the people we see in the news on a regular basis. These are the business leaders and entertainers who never are satisfied with their performance even when they have reached so high they have cut new ground. They climbed to the top of the mountain and started building the mountain higher. What drives these people? And are you one of them?

The Pain Train

You don’t choose where you are born or the family you are born into. Throughout life, things out of your control mold who you are. Some people cower and hide. Others leave the safety of the nest and go on a mission of discovery, driven by the pain, looking for the control they so desperately need to understand their own life.

One doesn’t need to look far to hear the pain these super-performers deal with daily. It is no surprise to learn the Loony Tunes artists who gave us the classic Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd cartoons frequently came from a painful past filled with abuse. Abusive fathers warped these young boys who later grew up and made us laugh so hard. They made us laugh, and laughed themselves, because the alternative was even worse. They worked hard and never stopped working once they had enough to step back. The pain cut too deep. They ran and kept running to keep the pain at bay.

Today we see the same thing with modern performers. The popular music group Imagine Dragons has numerous hits to their name and still they keep performing. Why? Maybe the words of their songs can give us a clue. Listen to the words of their hit: Shots:

Oh, I’m going to mess this up
Oh, this is just my luck
Over and over and over again

And later in the song:

I’m sorry for everything
Oh, everything I’ve done
From the second that I was born it seems I had a loaded gun
And then I shot, shot, shot a hole through everything I loved

Of course this could be a one-off song written in moment of depression. Perhaps we should listen to the words of their massive hit single: I Bet My Life:

Remember when I broke you down to tears
I know I took the path that you would never want for me
I gave you hell through all the years

The words drip with pain and anguish. We can even imagine what it is they are suffering from as they struggled to perfect their art and gain recognition for their work.

We could go on about entertainers who sing, act or write about the painful loss of a child or loved one. We could talk about the super successful business owner with millions to her name, fame and respect within her community, enjoying parties with the in-crowd, running from the demons that just will not die. Running from the memory of a drunken father hitting her again and again or raping her repeatedly. Running from a brutal date rape. Running from the betrayal of a friend that took advantage of her.

The key word is running.

Now we will hit closer to home. We will talk about me as an example. Don’t worry. We will talk about you and your pain next.

Can I Do Anything Right?

Recently I gave my first ever comedy skit. It went over well. People were practically on the floor (except for the sourpusses) laughing. They even chanted my name at the beginning. I’d say it was a rush, but it wasn’t. I kept thinking about what wasn’t working. It has been a week and I am still playing the scene over and over in my head working the entire skit for areas I could improve. Good is never good enough for me.

Of course that is a symptom. This pattern in me did not magically appear in the last week. I have a successful business and plenty to retire on, yet I never rest. As Jobs said, You have to be insane because it hurts so much. Am I insane? (Don’t answer that.)

The way I act today is a direct result of the events in earlier times of my life, most notably when I was most impressionable as a child. There are stories to tell, just not today. Some wounds never really heal and some stories need time to see the light of day and some have to wait.

From an early age I was driven. My family joked about all the crazy business ideas I had growing up. I was an entrepreneur before I knew the word existed. I still need to look up how to spell entrepreneur.

Self deprecation is a powerful speaking device to gain acceptance. Rarely do I make someone else the butt of my jokes. I expose my failures frequently as a learning tool for me, but also as a learning tool for you. Success is a poor teacher. Showing someone else’s failures never has the punch of exposing your own. It also allows people a peek inside my life to see it isn’t all glory as it sometimes appears to people who don’t know me well.

Frequently I refer to my writing as “hack”. I guess it is a matter of opinion. This blog has received accolades for the writing and editors and agents have requested to the point of demanding I turn over a recently written work for consideration for publication. Rare is the instance when I do. Publishing here is easier because I don’t have much time to think about what I wrote before hitting the “Publish” button. I love writing fiction, but what if my fiction sold well? I’d have to keep writing more! I have it in me; the stories that is, but the time necessary to do it right is another story. (Doing it “right” by my definition.)

So I run like all those before me. It is a natural response. A human response. To run from pain. To run from the devils haunting my mind.

And Now We Talk about You

I see you cowering in the corner, kind reader. Yes, I know what you are going through. I have felt your pain, your anguish. I see the worn soles of your shoes, worn from all the running. I see you struggle and fight for acceptance. I see you struggle and fight to achieve your goals.

How many goals did you already conquer? What did you do once the goal was achieved? Made another goal! Financial independence is NOT enough. I get it. FI is so easy in our modern world it is almost a laughable joke. Ten to fifteen years is all it takes if you are serious. The newsfeeds are riddled with people retiring by age 30 or soon thereafter. It’s almost like you failed if you haven’t broken seven figures in your index fund by 35.  What have you been doing with your life?

FI is not a goal! It’s a situation. Your savings rate drives your FI date. Period. FI is not something you do; it’s something you want; it’s something that is. No more. People say they are FI like it is a person. It isn’t anymore than poor is a person. It is a state of being.

You see, Steve Jobs, the guys at Imagine Dragons and your favorite accountant are not unique. We have pain just as you do. That thing you did as a child that ended up with someone hurt still haunts you. Nobody probably even remembers it anymore other than you.

Too many children are abused. Why does one child crumble under the weight of abuse and another climbs the highest mountain and keeps climbing to the sun? The answer is here (pointing to my temple).

Every faux pas is not a disaster. Your brain sometimes interprets it that way. Something you did 30 years ago still haunts and drives you. The driving part is okay if it isn’t excessive and harming your health. The haunting needs to go, however.

How you deal with your pain determines how healthy and well-adjusted you are. You made a mistake. So what! I have news for you. You will make more! Many more! I know it is cruel to say it, but it is true. You will, with the best of intentions, fail. The alternative is to crawl under a rock and wait for the Grim Reaper. Not much of a choice.

An Inside Look

This post started as a very, very dark listing, indeed. I started writing notes a few days ago and the notes extended longer than the actual post would be. And it was dark. It was so depressing I started walking to the barn with a rope it was so bad. It was the wrong message I wanted to send.

Many times I know where I want a post to end. In this case my dark post had a happy ending, but it was too short on happiness and hope compared to 1,500 words of dire. Even the ending dripped with pain.

After thinking about it for a few days I found a way to convey the message in the manner I wanted. I hope you agree it was worth the extra effort. The ending I have in my notes is too important to leave on the cutting floor. Here are the final words I had originally planned without edit. I hope they move you as they did me:

Your pain and failures will make you better if you allow them. But they must not consume you. At some point you must let go of the pain. It is okay to relax. The monster will take a break when you stop. When you are ready to run some more, the monsters will renew its pursuit.

I am so tired. So are you. It is time to stop running. To rest. You have already made it. There is nothing left to prove. And after your nap, when your energy is renewed you can RUUUUUN!!!

Here is to all the losers of the world. No matter how high we fly we will never reach the sun.  So we fly harder and harder until death gives us the peace we always dreamed of.