Sometimes you have to have dessert

Posted: Nov 21, 2006 12:01 AM

If life is a restaurant menu, then dessert is as much a part of life as broccoli. When I was young, dessert was everything – the culmination of life's banquet. When I was in college, dessert was the only thing, as life was a happening and it was happening now (What was the future, anyway?). When I matured and was considered an adult, dessert was what one had at birthdays and all the holidays. Now dessert comes, and as good as it looks, it doesn't fit the diet. That is, if I wish to continue to fit in my pants.

Two nights ago I had dessert, not a piece of the dessert, not a dessert that my wife and I shared, but an entire dessert of my own. The next day nothing seemed right, or really went right. I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't believe I had dessert when my wife spoke this gem of advice: "Sometimes you need to have the fruit tart". I might as well confess to all of it while I am baring my soul... I also played golf that morning as the guest of a fellow mortgage banker and didn't get to work until noon. That's it; it is all out in the open.

Mr. Rigorous Schedule had sliced and diced it twice in one day.

That is not me, or the way I live. I work at least six days a week, to some extent, and really watch what I eat. I have found over the last five years that I don't even have to eat something that tastes good and is bad for me to add a pound or two. I can just look at it and the damage is done. It has to do with my metabolism and it is called life (As soon as I finish writing this piece, I am taking my dog and going for a 3 mile run).

I bring up this little bit of trivia to show you that everyone, without exception, deviates from the path they wish to follow all through their life. A pilot friend told me that a plane is off course about 99% of the flight and is constantly being adjusted back on course until it arrives at its destination. Every business plan is constantly reviewed and adjusted to keep the goals in site and journey successful. That doesn't mean that the daily operation is always smooth and that the goals are reached without any problems. It means that for every step backwards, an effort is made to go several steps forward.

My wife and I began a journey on the road to financial freedom over a decade ago that included the buying and rehabbing of homes. I had rehabbed commercial buildings for a decade until the Savings and Loans went under (in the middle to late 80's) and almost took me with them. It had been more than a vocation, as it always fascinated me to take something old and make it new, and the thought of doing it with houses was exciting. So we began.

Everything did not turn out great and there were horror stories all along the way. Some we can even laugh at now. For the most part it has worked out very well and we are still at it.

We just completed a project and it came in over budget, which my CPA wife informed me could cause us to make some cuts in our current plans. The good news was the value had also gone over budget, coming in considerably higher than we expected. My solution is to take out some of the profit we will make on this project now and balance the budget.

We will confer and reach a compromise, most likely doing a little of both.

My emails tell me that most people have the same problems as my wife and I. The difference is their inability to release themselves from their conscious or unconscious goals (have some dessert) or their continuance down the wrong path (have nothing but dessert). This is one of the biggest problems that I see on a daily basis. Its roots generally come from one thing: lack of a good plan. (See my column August 5th "The Plan"). If you don't know where you are going, you are going to end up where you are heading.

The problems with not having a plan are many, but ultimately the real downfall is not knowing the feeling of success. You can't possibly know when you succeed if you can't measure it against something. If you don't keep score, you will never know who wins. If you don't have a plan and you hit an unexpected soft spot, you won't know how or what to adjust to get through the problem, mainly because you won't know you are having a problem. Last but certainly not least, without a plan, you can't deviate (have a fruit tart) and then get back to accomplishing what you hoped to accomplish: getting on the road to financial freedom.

Life is a journey that allows us to go wherever we wish if we put out the effort.

Some seem to have an easier trip than others, but don't bet on it. My mother-in-law would often say "You can't judge another person’s life until you walk a mile in their shoes". If you put out the effort, you have a good chance of getting the reward. Your journey on the road to financial freedom, which to me describes your life's trip from an economic point of view, should be an exciting, sometimes difficult, but always eventful, adventure. The secret is that the road never ends, but the journey should get better and better.

Enjoy your trip, have some dessert now and then. Adjust your headings when necessary, but keep going forward. You will have an eternity to rest. Prove to yourself that despite all the setbacks you have had to endure, you are as good as anyone, and better than most. Whether you travel by motorcycle or tour bus, your map will take you as far as you wish to go. Drop me a line and let me know how it is going. Tally ho!