As I start the new year I look back and realize the fun guy that was inside of me must be on vacation somewhere. Maybe vacation is the wrong word to use because at least on a vacation you’re having fun, right? Actually I know exactly where I’m at and look forward to getting him out of the closet, dusting him off and starting to play with him again.
Genesis of the Now
It’s amazing to look back to 2009 and see how much had externally changed for me. Before that time I had great cash flow, was working hard and did not worry ever about how I was going to retire, pay next month’s house payment or buy a new $10,000 bike. The 2009 recession I call the Recession of Job. In a nine month period the base of income with which I built my false sense of security evaporated. I still have my net worth statement at the end of 2008 showing on paper I was worth almost $7 million. By the end of 2009 it was under $1 million and my income had decreased 70%. For the first time in thirty years of saving I was dipping into it to pay all my bills and I even was loaning my children money because they had lost their jobs and needed to feed their families and make their house payments. That scared the crud out of me.
This happened to so many other hard-working people too. I realized that all I had worked for from 1978 to 2008 was gone.
As I reflect back now I see how I got myself mentally off track. I see now how I created a false sense of financial security and depended on it for my happiness.
To be honest, I now realize losing almost all my worth was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
Starting over allowed me to really dig down and discover who I was as a person. I learned what I valued. I learned how important my family was to me. Perhaps the best thing I learned was humility.
It hurts like hell to get thrown off your high horse and land smack dab on your ass. I admit I played the blame game for about 6 months. I was mad at the politicians for screwing up the economy. I vacated the GOP and declared myself an Independent. I was going to show the dirty bastards who voted to spend money we didn’t have a thing or two. That anger blinded me. It scolded my well-being and I started to swear and use the F bomb every time I referred to someone in Washington.
Then something great happened.
I looked in the mirror and realized I had two choices. I could continue this pathetic display of pity or I could start dreaming again and get to work.
I choose the latter.
I started by repairing some important relationships in my life beginning with my family. It was when I finally began to seek humility that I realized how my earlier interactions with them had caused them a great deal of pain. How could I have been so blind for so many years that I chased a Trojan Horse; money? With humility and a lot of suffering I could now see how I had to change. I could now see what was important.
I had to start over from scratch to rebuild my financial future. But this time, with an open heart and clear mind, I found a better way. I found a way to really bless the lives of other people. I found joy in seeing others gain health and fitness and how they could now enjoy simple pleasures that perhaps you take for granted like playing with your grandchildren at the park, running or walking a 5K or going snow skiing for the first time in their lives. This was a better way for me to use my God-given gifts and I enjoy it much more than listening to people lament over their money as I used to.
It was such a blessing to me to have to start over.
I learned a great deal about empathy; the ability to understand what it was like to walk in their shoes. When you’re at the bottom there is only one way to go; up! That part is truly an awesome experience for me because every new small success was a new milestone in my life. What I learned has allowed me to reach and teach more people about how to progress forward than I could have ever helped someone before.
Finally and thankfully this year I’m going to start to do more fun things that I used to do when I had major cash flow but had to stop because every bit of the money I was earning went to the bare necessities. I’m going to play golf again. I’m going to take my boat out to the lake and fish and just explore. There are a few trips planned this year like attending the US Open with my oldest son in June on Father’s Day.
No more do I have a negative attitude about our government. I believe we have to choose courageous selfless people to represent us; to spend less and shrink the size of government. To restore the attitude of responsibility so our country can gain self-respect and self-reliance. I vow to support elected representatives who believe in individual freedoms and the principles outlined in the US Constitution.
I’m that fun guy again and I love the journey and all the wisdom that being at the bottom as taught me. Best part is I have restored my belief in me and my reliance on God for everything.