Recently we’ve been helping people through some tough life situations and changes, both professionally and personally. What we’ve learned is that most of the time, we experience tough spots because of the consequences of our own decisions. And more importantly, we can improve the situation by simply making a different decision. In other words, we live our lives in a setup that we made many years ago by choices we made back then. Or perhaps no decision was made, but life just happened that way and we went along with it. This setup is so engrained that it’s hard to imagine living differently, even if the payoff is a life that is massively better.
Obviously, a lot of life events happen outside of our control, like a car crash with crippling injuries, old age or having a stroke. I’m not saying those events are caused by your own decisions. But the quality of life after that event definitely comes down to choices that we make.
So by being on the outside of these people’s lives looking in, we can see the overall picture and ask “Why did they set their lives up that way? Why are they shooting themselves in the foot and not realizing it? Why are they working so hard to keep that second home they no longer use? Why don’t they turn it into a vacation rental?” Or, “Why are they living in a house that’s too much upkeep for them? Why don’t they move into a small rental property and rent out their larger house and increase their income?” They don’t think of the options available to them because no one has pointed them out… they have a blind spot.
One of the benefits of helping over 500 families with their real estate is that we get to see a wide variety of lifestyles. We’ve seen the ultra-lavish where money is no object to nomadic full time RVers and everything in between. And this experience has taught us that there are always options, we just might not be aware that we have them.
Zig Ziglar used to open his seminars with a question for the audience, “Is there something you can do to make your life worse today?” And of course we could all think of things that would make life worse like snapping at your spouse, losing your money gambling, or speeding and getting a ticket. Then he would ask, “Is there something you could do to make your life better today?” Because if the first statement was true, then the opposite must also be true. And yet, it’s easier to answer the first question than the second. I can easily think of little things to make my life better like having an ice cream cone on the way home, but what about big choices I could make that would make a major difference in how I live my life today or down the road? When it comes to thinking about how my life could be massively better, I usually have a blind spot.
When someone interviews us for the job of selling their house, we always ask “Why are you thinking about moving?” and “Where are you thinking about moving to?” We get all kinds of answers, from being closer to the grandkids to leaving the country before the you-know-what hits the fan. And then we start brainstorming. Is there a better way to accomplish the objective? What if you did this? Have you considered doing that? And so on. We want to make sure that they have thought things through. And it’s also an exercise for ourselves, to “try on” different lifestyles and imagine ourselves doing what they are going to do.
We are always asking questions of others and we see the possibilities and wonder why they don’t take actions that would make their lives better. It’s because they have blind spots. And so we turned that around and asked ourselves, “Do we have blind spots too?” Of course if we did we wouldn’t be able to see them, which is why they’re called blind spots. Who could we ask if we have any blind spots? Who better than our own adult children? So we asked them, “Are there any things that you see we are doing to shoot ourselves in the foot? Do you ever talk about us and ask yourself, ‘Why the heck are they doing it that way?’ If you were us and had what we have, how would you be living differently?”
Well, the good news is that they didn’t see anything obvious, but that’s not the point. The point is first ask yourselves if you could be living a better life simply by changing some things around, and second, ask someone else. An outside third party could point out things that are not obvious to those caught up in the day to day business of managing life.
We are volunteering to be that third party for you or any of your friends or family. As always, there is never any cost or obligation. At this stage of our lives we just want to help. If there are some real estate changes that we can help with, that’s great, but if we can just make someone’s life easier then that is reward enough.