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Only bad things happen quickly,…Virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time: learning new things, changing old behaviors, building satisfying relationships, raising children. This is why patience and determination are among life’s primary virtues.

-Gordon Livingston

Your Highway

There’s a saying in sports that goes like, “the team that makes the least amount of mistakes, wins the game.”

Simple yet likely accurate forecast theory.

If your quarterback throws five interceptions, odds are you will lose the game. If you fumble the ball four times, odds are you will lose the game.

You get the idea.

Many other factors will influence the outcome of the contest but, the number of mistakes made is extremely insightful into predicting a winner.

Same goes for life.

In a scene from the show, Yellowstone, one of the characters explains life to a young man who has found himself in trouble. He explains that a young persons’ life is like a vast, multi-lane highway with unlimited exits. Your possible routes and destinations are almost unlimited. However, as you go further along in life and make poor decisions, those exits begin to disappear and the amount of lanes available to use your blinker and change become limited.

If you view life like I do, a game, making good, solid decisions are a good way to win. Now, this view could be challenged in that if you are always making good decisions, are you really trying hard enough to push the boundaries of what is safe and conservative?

Yes. Therefore, you need to have a balance of risk.

Risk greatly increases the odds of bad decisions occurring. But, without risk, you likely never reach your true potential.

Life is a constant balance, a yin and a yang, push versus pull.

A savings account is a great way to safely maintain your money. Investing in the market is a great way to grow your money but, it will be exposed to risk. The potential to lose it all is on the table, so is the opportunity for it to double every seven years.

As you walk along on your journey, avoiding bad decisions is critical to success, however you define it. Make decisions that lead to better opportunities. Maintain a healthy balance of risk.

May your highway of life be full of options.

Run Your Life Like A Business

Successful businesses are predicated on the breakdown of tasks to separate departments that focus on one goal. For example, Human Resources’ goal is to source outstanding talent to ensure great people with strong skills are assigned to roles in which they will provide the organization with a great return on investment. Meanwhile, the Finance department reviews budgets, creates forecasts and ensures the business is profitable. Each division of the business needs to focus on it’s assigned task while keeping the values and vision of the greater picture in mind. If that is how a company becomes and stays successful, why can’t you adopt a similar outline for your own life? Below, I will outline the similarities to running a business and running a happy life.

Mission Statement

Every great company has one. This is the ‘why’. If you don’t have a mission statement, how do you know what to aim for? What keeps you grounded when times are good and what keeps you pushing ahead when times are bad? Having a Mission Statement is critical to success. As people join your team (or enter your life), how will you judge whether they are helping you achieve your mission or taking away from it? How will you stay the course when all roads seem to lead to a dead end? A mission statement will keep you accountable and focused on the tasks at hand.

Finance

Each year, the Finance department of a company is responsible for releasing proposed budgets for the entire company to adhere to for the following year. These budgets are created after much analysis of the previous year compared to others, and benchmarked against forecasts. These are detailed down to the last cent to ensure financial accountability. To do the same in your own life would require a monthly budget. Each month will present new challenges. As such, each month needs to have it’s own unique budget. For instance, we all know Christmas and the holiday season is in December. This usually means you will be buying presents for family and friends. If you do not treat December differently than February (31 days in December versus 28 days in February), it could result in a negative balance. If you had budgeted out the projected expense ahead of time, you could have given yourself a cushion and a plan to keep yourself within your proposed budget. When you don’t have a budget for each month you are leaving things to chance, in business this is unacceptable.

In addition, within the Finance department there will be a team responsible for investing funds for future expenses such as an office upgrade or the acquisition of a new company. In your life, this may be saving money for a new dining room set or a sizable down payment on the purchase of a new property. Companies are always thinking ahead to tomorrow, next month, next year, next decades- you need to be thinking ahead too.

Human Resources

Human Resources has recruiters to source top talent for the organization. Your friends and the people you decide to spend time with are the talent you surround yourself with. With this in mind, you really need to make a judgement call on who is helping you get where you want to be and who is not. A friend should be positive, supportive, accountable, motivating and a great listener- all qualities you would look for in hiring a new team member. If they are negative and adverse to change, why are you allowing them to stay in your world? Companies are large organizations made up of individuals that influence the current state and future trajectory of the whole. Your circle of friends will also influence your future plans, therefore have high standards of who you welcome aboard.

Executive Team

In your life, you are the executive team. The purpose of the executive team is to solve top organization level problems with the Mission Statement at the forefront. If you are facing a big-life decision, you need to weigh all options. Write down the positives and negatives of the decision, along with the best case and worst case scenario. This is how an executive team makes important decisions- they lay out all outcomes, good and bad, and review the entire situation and the impacts such a decision would have on the future of the organization. If you don’t trust yourself to weigh all options, perhaps bring in a trusted friend to aid in your analysis. No executive makes a blind decision with ‘hope’ as a part of the equation.

In the world of business many organizations start, have short lived success and fizzle out. It could be a combination of errors that lead to their demise but, I’m willing to bet they didn’t follow the points I outlined above. The ones that last generations follow these guidelines and are always willing to adapt to their environments. You too are building multiple generations worth of life so be sure to have a mission statement that leads you, have high standards for the people you allow into your world and you are the Chief Executive Officer of your life so act like it.

January Books

Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss

Normally I would encourage you to check books you’re interested in out at the library but this one is an exception. You are going to want to bookmark pages, circle paragraphs, and make notes in the borders. Not to mention, it’s over six hundred pages long and you’ll find yourself flipping through it’s pages asking yourself, “What did Jocko Wilink say about mental toughness?” or, “What was Charles Poliquin’s supplement recommendation?” Tim is insightful, thoughtful, and asks the best minds in health, fitness, and finance for their advice. Even if you already listen to Tim’s widely popular podcast, you need to get a copy of this book. What’s your spirit animal?

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, Gordon Livingston, M.D.

“I frequently ask people who are risk-averse, “What is the biggest chance you have ever taken?” People begin to realize what “safe” lives they have chosen to lead.” Want to get a real perspective on life? This book had me laughing, pausing for reflection, and emotionally moved. Gordon Livingston holds nothing back in this one. It is a collection of wisdom-filled chapters that you need to read.

December Books

Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women, & Money, Kevin O’Leary

Like being told what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear? This one’s probably not for you. If you want the truth on life’s milestones, pick up a copy of this one. Kevin O’Leary, as seen on ABC’s Shark Tank, shoots you straight on all topics. Think it’s a bad idea to discuss views on money, in-laws, and how you’ll raise your children on the first date? Kevin strongly encourages it. Or do you really need to spend five figures to have a memorable wedding day (Spoiler: nope) How about getting all the latest infant care products to raise a happy, healthy baby? (Spoiler: all your child needs is your love and attention, and maybe a safe place to sleep)

The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino

Who doesn’t love Chip and Jo? Want to know how they started Magnolia, closed it and then reopened it? It’s all in here. Being a fan of the show, it was a treat to read The Magnolia Story. With their strong faith being a guiding light, find out how Chip and Joanna met, started out as a young couple, grew their family, and built an empire in Waco, Texas. It’s demo day!