Thankfully we had broken for lunch before this exercise, because all I could think of was Taco Bell’s Seven Layer Burrito. This was after the pre-lunch session on “sandwich leases” and “wrap mortgages.” The seminar took place at a hotel steps from Scranton’s famous Chick’s Diner, which was a good thing!
This exercise is used by a lot of motivational programs. It is intended to find your core values. Your “why” – being a real estate entrepreneur isn’t easy, after all, or everyone would be doing it and would be successful at it. You are going to need that “why” to keep you going through the rough stuff. The exercise recommends you ask yourself why seven times.
Why do you want to be a real estate entrepreneur? Because I want to make a lot of money.
Why do you want to make a lot of money? Because I want to be financially independent and not have to work for someone else and be at their whim.
Why do you want to be financially independent? So I can have the freedom to choose what to do with my time.
And why do you want to have the freedom to choose what to do with your time? Because there is so much more to life than just working all the time to make ends meet. I want to be present for my daughter growing up. I want to make amazing memories for her. And I want our family’s ends to meet!
And why do you want to be present for your daughter growing up, to make amazing memories for her while still meeting your family’s financial obligations? Because I want her to have a happy childhood, free from want and worry. And at the same time I want to teach her about money, and the value of entrepreneurship.
And why do you want your daughter to have a happy, worry-free childhood while learning about money and the value of entrepreneurship? Because I wish my childhood had been like that. It wasn’t. In my childhood home money was a source of worry and insecurity – if there wasn’t enough, bad things happened. Dad got angry. Mom got upset. I felt unsafe. I grew up thinking money was the enemy – a necessary evil for survival. It has taken me most of my adult life to come to terms with money and put it in its proper place. I’m still working on my relationship with money. I like to think we’re at least friends now.
And finally, the Seventh Layer:
Why did you wish your childhood had included healthy attitudes about money and work, and why do you want that for your daughter? Because if I had grown up that way, I feel like I would have had a 40 year head start. I spent four decades wrestling with my ingrained attitudes about money – my “poverty mindset” inherited from my parents. It’s not their fault – it’s how they were raised. It’s how they saw the world, and the world fulfilled the prophecy for them. I’m 46 years old and I still haven’t mastered money, but I’ve definitely improved my mindset and I feel I’m well on my way. It’s my duty as a mother to impart to Savannah everything I have learned up to this point. She will start her life 40 years ahead of where I started mine. And she will learn more as I do. Where would I be in life now if I had started from there?
So this is Christmas, and what have you done?
The lyric in the John Lennon song they play on the radio every year at Christmastime used to sound like an accusation. What have I done? Another year over, a new one just begun. But that was when I wasn’t satisfied with my life’s path.
Now I hear that lyric, and I realize I have done quite a bit. On January 10th, it will be one year since I’ve had any kind of “real” job. I’m not rich. Not even close. But I’m not living in a van down by the river, either. It’s working. As long as Steve and I consistently work on building our business we will make it. And I’ve had a realization: I’m living the dream right now!
It’s Christmas Day as I write this blog in my brother’s living room in West Danville, Vermont. Savannah is playing with her cousins, having the time of her life. They had a good haul of Christmas presents – nothing extravagant at all, but enough toys, clothes, movies and crafts to make them all happy. My sister and her husband are here, too. There is good food and good wine. The Prius made the nearly eight hour trip without incident. We were here most of Christmas Eve and will be here all day today. Tomorrow, we’ll head down Interstate 93 to Steve’s side of the family in Massachusetts for Christmas, Part Deux. My boss was nice enough to give me all the time I needed to pull Christmas together and prepare for this arduous journey. I go back to work Wednesday, on a modified schedule. In January she’ll let me make up all the time I lost in December. I like my new boss, she really looks out for me!
And look what Santa brought Savannah for Christmas:
New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday. A clean, white January slate. An unmarked calendar. Another chance to really get it right this time. We plan on spending New Year’s Eve as a family, snow tubing at Big Boulder ski resort and watching the torch light procession and fireworks.
I feel like 2016 was the pre-game. 2017 will be my first full year as a real estate entrepreneur. Sure, I still have the “B” job part-time, but the confusion is gone. I feel like I spent most of 2016 on the fence about whether I was really going to leave that world behind. I had two very close chances to jump back into that world of working in radio full-time. But it wouldn’t have paid enough. And I always would have wondered what would have happened if I had just taken the leap into entrepreneurship and gone for the dream.
In 2017, I will find out.