The pulse of our lives slip through like water in streams,
And the pulse of our days slip through like water in streams.
–In Streams, Centaur*
Our lives are mostly the same day in and day out.
- Monday-Friday: Wake up, go to work, go to sleep.
- Weekend: Get caught up on stuff, have a little fun and drink a couple beers.
Sometimes we go on a vacation to break up the pattern. Once in a great while, something happens and our lives change course. I call them inflection points:
Inflection point: A time of significant change in a situation; a turning point.
An inflection point may be planned or unplanned. It may be good or bad. The main point is that it is a new direction. I’ve been thinking about some of mine recently.
Inflection Point #1 (unplanned): J.D. Roth** and MMM**
One of my significant inflection points happened when I had a bad day at work back in 2012. A desperate Google search led me to J.D. Roth and Mr. Money Mustache. Their wisdom convinced me to pursue financial independence full throttle. Part of that pursuit involved ditching our ridiculously sized home in favor of something much more modest.
We sold our big home for $400,000+ and moved into a little fixer upper that set us back $175,000:
Inflection Point #2 (unplanned): We’re Staying
The little ugly house we bought was never going to be our permanent home. We had planned to fix it up and rent it out. Then a funny thing happened; my wife and I discovered that we liked the neighborhood. Unlike our previous neighborhood, our neighbors weren’t jerks and the street was quiet.
Instead of minor fixes and renting, we decided to make the home our own. We added space on top and redid the rest. The rehab turned out to be way more work than what we had planned, but once started, there was no turning back.
I planned to do most of the work, but told myself that I’d hire out if it got to be too much. That was a bad assumption. The Colorado economy is healthy and I couldn’t find anyone to hire for much of anything. 95% of contractors wouldn’t even return a phone call. Besides the rough carpentry, roof and drywall, I did all of the work.
Inflection Point #3: We’re Done (time to get on with life)
As I type this, there is a crew outside my window replacing the dilapidated driveway. It was crumbling and needed to be replaced:
After the concrete guys are done, I’ll install a new garage door and then:
It feels strange typing that. We’ve been working on the rehab since June of 2013. Since then, there hasn’t been a weekend that I’ve been home that I haven’t worked on the house. It consumed our lives. Looking back now, I’m not sure how we managed.
My wife and I had rehabbed homes, but it was before children. The mistake we made was trying to do this one with children. Since I didn’t want my children to have Cats in the Cradle syndrome, we still made plenty of time for them. While no person of sane mind would say that was a bad decision, it turned a 6 month project into 40 months.
2016 was the worst year. I abandoned my P90x workouts (and all other forms of exercise) in the spring. Library books collected dust next to the bed (I returned some without even reading one word). There just was no time.
But now, it’s all about to change and I can feel the stress lifting already. Time is so precious and I’ll finally have more of it. I’ve already resumed my P(uke)90x routine. I cracked open Sapiens the other night which I’ve been dying to read for a long time. This weekend, I’ll attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver with friends.
So, one more time:
That is a good inflection point.
How about you? What inflection points caused a course correction?
*Anyone ever heard of Centaur or HUM (both led by Matt Talbott)? HUM is my favorite band and if the rumors are true, another album is coming. Happy happy, joy joy.
**This past summer at a meetup, I talked to both J.D. and MMM in person and simultaneously. That was strange and since I’m socially awkward, terrifying. Sorry guys if I didn’t make a lot of sense and talked really fast, but life doesn’t come full circle very often.
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