Understanding this idiom is worth more than either an ounce or pound of almost anything you can imagine if you are willing to put it into practice in your life and I want to help you understand it today! We live in a culture where prevention is largely ignored, which costs us all a crazy amount of money, but can include a high cost of relationships or time as well. Because of this you have been heavily influenced to seek out how to feel better now rather than take steps so that you will feel so much better tomorrow. Let me be more specific and offer an example.
What did you do the last time you had a headache? The answer to this question will show you how you have been influenced. If you take a pill it means you are most likely focused on a bandage approach to life. We live in a Tylenol culture; a culture where instead of exploring what is causing the headache (which takes time, energy, and possibly some money) most people take a pill which masks the pain, but doesn’t take care of the underlying problem. I have worked in the field of addictions where government money is poured into helping people who are struggling and often feel very broken. This money is almost entirely dedicated to helping those who are already hurting and addicted and experiencing broken relationships rather than helping families who are at a greater risk of addictive behavior understand how to help themselves before brokenness and struggle arrive.
I invest in real estate and have seen 3 basic types of investors. The first type of investor is one who takes care of as many potential problems as possible at the beginning of a purchase and fixes everything that needs fixing. This person then dedicates a set amount of money for maintenance of the property having professionals go to the house on a quarterly or annual basis to make sure everything is running smoothly. Now, this costs money in a very consistent way but it also saves a crazy amount of money in the long run because they practically NEVER have a problem that leads to a flood in their basement which leads to mould which leads to missed payments on the property because the expense is HUGE. This first investor also gets something fixed as soon as a tenant notices a small problem. This investor retains tenants for longer periods of time because there is a better working relationship and the tenants feel like their house is a home and that the owner is caring for them.
The second type of investor may or may not fix a lot of things up front. This person fixes major problems as they arise and for most of the time this works (at least for the first 5-10 years). Soon the property starts having more major problems that need fixing and the investor decides on whether or not to put money into the property. Usually this type of investor needs to ‘renovate’ the house every time a tenant leaves and tenants come and go. This investor complains when the rental market is a little more difficult because every once in a while the property sits empty for a month.
The third type of investor is what we call a ‘slumlord’. This person doesn’t maintain the property at all. They view the property as something that simply generates money and they suck the property dry of everything that has value. After a period of time these investors are only able to find people very desperate for a place to live and usually there is a handshake agreement that if the tenant fixes things themselves they will get some kind of deal on rent, but this is always slanted in the landlord’s favour. In strong rental markets there is sometimes no vacancy, but tenants only stick around for 6-12 months at a time and in a weak rental market the house sometimes sits empty for a few months until another needy family decides to move in.
Why the metaphor of investing? Because in a very similar way there are three types of people who take care of their: Body, relationships, work, etc. I know people who are healthy and wealthy well into their 80s and 90s. There are others who are starting to have a lot of physical and relationship problems but seem to be holding it together on some level to the outside world even if they are really frustrated with life (this is the majority of people I know). Lastly, I know people who are around 65 and their body is completely broken, they are depressed and angry with people around them and have left many broken relationships behind them, and they have very little hope for the future.
Here is a question followed by a challenge for you today. Which group to fall under? Are you spending time, energy, and money on taking care of yourself in every major life area in ways that will allow you to fully enjoy life for decades to come? Are you doing what most people are doing and getting results from your life that are similar to others and starting to get more and more frustrated as you age with how life is generally going even if it looks ok from the outside… In other words are you a little stuck? Lastly, are you a person who has a ton of regrets and has a background that nobody would wish on their enemies?
The challenge: Start looking at every major area of life and ask yourself what you can do, today, that can make a major difference by simply setting up a maintenance program. This may look like making a call to a family member or going on dates with your partner on a consistent basis and listening to her/him, it may be having dedicated time for your kids, or it could be starting a routine where you go for a walk every day and work your way up to a consistent workout, it could be setting apart a certain percentage of your income to invest for your retirement every time you receive a paycheck, it may even be setting aside time each day to unwind in a way that really does give you rest (hint: TV isn’t restful for your brain), etc.
I strongly encourage you to take the smaller maintenance steps needed to care for you and others around you instead of ignoring your needs and experiencing an explosion sooner or later that is far more consuming than the maintenance it will take now.
I wish you every success in life!