The trip to the Canyon marked the end of my summer season. On the bus ride back to our car, my wife asked “what’s next?” I’ll share the answers to that question and add some ideas that might be helpful.
One of my challenges with parenthood is being haunted by the thought… “I’m going to be old by the time I escape this grind.” In my 20s, that thought (and a divorce) helped me jettison myself from desk work.
Our youngest isn’t going to graduate high school until 2032, so there’s some truth in these feelings. However:
(1) my age isn’t necessary a problem, or a barrier, for a life with meaning;
(2) I had similar thoughts ~20 years ago and things turned out fine; and
(3) fearis a distraction from doing what solves the problem.
Anyhow, I wanted to acknowledge those thoughts as I’m certain many of us feel similarly, at times.
The Mental Benefit of Getting Better At Something
One of my coaching mentors, John Hellemans, has a wonderful presentation about triathlon. One of his lessons is “try something new, each year.” He backs this advice with a series of slides showing all the whacky equipment he tried out over the years. He must get a kick out of novelty.
Coming out of COVID (it seems we’ve been leaving the pandemic for all of 2021!), I was gym-strong. As a result, I’ve been able to get back, rather quickly, to a level of indoor climbing I’d last achieved in 1996.
Gains & novelty are fun.
What will you try this winter?
My areas for improvement: metabolic fitness via endurance cycling, skills & novelty via indoor climbing, eccentric leg strength via dryland ski training and agility via downhill skiing.
Knowing What I Don’t Want
Do you know the conditions likely to to bring out your worst?
I sure do: tired, in traffic, the whole family in close proximity, after a day spent answering questions and listening to low-grade bickering between my kids.
Not going to spend time, and money, to put myself in that situation!
My personal planner, through to the end of March 2022, doesn’t have a single peak-period family drive (and the kids had to demonstrate a material improvement in behavior to get me to agree to fly with them).
The current situation tends to continue as long as we tolerate it.
Write out your “not to do” list.
The Value of Being Able to Change Course
The last year was another reminder how life surprises me.
In August 2020, our daughter started year round swim team. Team implies ~12 meets a year, 6 of those requiring travel. That’s a lot of time out of my “with my wife” allocation. It was a major adjustment for me, which we are still figuring out.
That wasn’t the surprising part, fatherhood can feel like a gradual drift down the priority list until the kids move out. Just the way it is, and why I make a priority of having fun with my wife.
I was surprised by the cost. Swimming is expensive for a “cheap” sport. Our cost is greatly increased by my desire for childcare => so I don’t lose my mind, being left home alone with the other kids.
Over the years we have considered properties in various vacation markets. I feel fortunate that I didn’t pull the trigger on anything. Because we didn’t lock ourselves into a secondary market, it was painless to cut the winter activity budget in half and cover the cost of swimming.
So no winter ski place rental, which eliminates Sunday drives home (in snow storms, tired, with all three kids).
Of Interest Here: I am being compensated by less of what I don’t like. Very tough to price the benefit of via negativa.
What would I pay to cut my worst days in half? No idea, but I do pause to notice the benefits of less.
The lesson isn’t my specific situation. The lesson is life changes every five years or so. Choices, and investments, that make sense today can be costly to unwind tomorrow => even when you get out at a profit.
We’ve owned a BoCo rental property since 2010 and I’m often tempted to swap it for a vacation place. By not buying in a secondary market:
I continued to hold a rental property in my home market.
I didn’t pay capital gains taxes.
The rental income more than covered my vacation rentals.
I benefited from 75% capital appreciation.
My net cost on the site is zero, a few years back I subdivided and sold part of the land.
In 2016, I didn’t know how I would be surprised, but I could see the ability to cover vacation expenses with rental income. Also, it was also easy to calculate the taxes and agents fees deferred by not selling => make the cost of change visible.
I have a persistent feeling that owning is better. In secondary markets, the facts tell me otherwise.
Looking forward to 2032, I know we will be empty nesters. What that means for our life is unknowable today.
Take Advantage of Childhood Opportunities
There is a limited window of time where my kids will think I am brilliant. I care about the value of my family’s human capital so I remember…
It is much easier to indoctrinate a child in “risk management by example” than to achieve anything by heckling a teen.
As a coach, my job was to teach my team what I would advise, without needing to say it.
Being the brand was excellent preparation for parenthood. Kids have a keen nose for inconsistency!