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Hard lessons and putting theory to the test

In recent months, my publishing company has slowed down.

I’ve always known this was coming. In fact, my revenue has been dropping over the past 5 years.

In reality, the company still makes plenty of money to pay our bills. But if the trend continues, I’m not sure I’ll be able to count on that in 3, 5, or 10 years. My last kid won’t be out of the house for 16 more years. I can’t retire quite yet.

So, naturally, I’ve decided to dive back into real estate sales. Not because we need the money now, but because I don’t want to wait until I get to that place. Real estate has always been my “backup career” in Tahoe.

Real estate is very hard work. I mean, hard. It is more mentally taxing than physically, but you are basically on call, and your days just get eaten up to the point where you are drained at the end of the day and don’t have anything left for other activities. Many articles I’ve read say real estate is in the top 10 most stressful jobs.

My publishing company was hard work, but much easier than real estate.

So, since I’m also running my publishing company, I now have a double workload.

Jumping back into real estate has caused me to reflect on a few things.

  1. When you have to work more to make more money, it is a very inefficient, unpleasant, non-linear benefit. You may make more money, but you also have less time to shop for deals, to clean your house, to communicate with your spouse about purchases. Pretty soon you are hiring house cleaners and paying for conveniences you never used to pay for because you are just too tired to do stuff yourself. So for every dollar you make, you really only get to keep say 80 cents of that dollar because 20 cents is going toward conveniences and inefficiency. Not to mention taxes.
  2. When you are working more and harder, you really start to see the value in MMM principles and a frugal lifestyle. You start to put a higher premium on freedom, and become more willing to do what it takes to get freedom.
  3. I’ve also started to become much more interested in my passive income portfolio. When you are working your ass off, it’s amazing how much passive income can help. For example, I’ve closed about 5 real estate deals so far this year. They have been pretty gruesome and tiring, and really drained a lot out of me this summer. Yet, amazingly, my passive income portfolio has managed to collect about 50% of the amount of real estate income I’ve taken in. MMM has said that it’s cool to watch your passive income portfolio make more money than you even could if you were working full time, hard. I’m not quite there yet, but still, my passive income does add up and it all comes in with no stress or fuss.

To sum it up, I’m getting a small taste of what most Americans feel like ALL the time. Busy, inefficient, frustrating life. The days just melding together, one day after another. Hoping that something will change, but not seeing any way out.

Of course, thankfully, I don’t have to live here forever. There are lots of escape routes we can take. We can start living off of passive income instead of reinvesting it. I can cut back in real estate and drop into a lower tax bracket. We could even do something extreme, sell our house, and move to a cheaper city.

You have escape routes too, and if you read MMM’s blog, you’ll see many average joes making incredible changes in their lives to get out of the squeeze.

It’s not all bad. Being back to work and busy has felt good in many ways, instead of languishing in boredom at home. My friend Clark always says that men will always wrestle with work. Poor men will wrestle with stress and money pressures. Rich men will wrestle with boredom, emptiness, and lack of purpose.

I think the goal should be as follows. I mean, we all wrestle with work, but I think the goal should be to have the space to wrestle with it and find the right balance, rather than have the wolves at the door and never get the chance to take a step back and really figure out what healthy work looks like.

For the time being, I’m in the lion’s den. I’m in the “typical American” boat. I don’t like this boat much at all. I hope to not stay here long. Maybe deals will slow down over the winter. Maybe I’ll do one of the other escape options mentioned above. The question is, when I’m in the lion’s den, will I have the guts, awareness, intentionality, and plan to escape? After all, strangely, escaping the lion’s den is actually HARDER than sitting around and getting eaten by lions. Getting eaten by the lions is the path of least resistance. Climbing out of the den requires ingenuity, a plan, an awareness, and a willingness to take the road less traveled.

I’m grateful for this time in the lion’s den. It gives me better insight into what most Americans are feeling, and it will allow me to put the MMM principles to the test in a real life scenario.

The jury is still out on how all this will end. I’ll keep you posted.

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