When You Can’t Go Left Go Right

No this is not a political Left Vs. Right post. It’s about overcoming obstacles and setting yourself up for success.

Brick WallIn What Next A Proactive Approach to Success I write “When you cannot go right, go left. When you cannot go left, go right. When both left and right are not available, keep going straight. Whatever you do, keep going.”

There have been many times in my life when I’ve put this into practice. As I write this I can think of three examples that are just perfect for the concept of maintaining momentum in spite of obstacles. Each one is related to the other in that the decisions I made in one instance provided the option for other decsions.

A Big Life Change

Tired of my career in 2006, I began exploring the option of starting over in a field I not only enjoyed but was very good at, financial planning. Though I was a broadcasting major in college, I wanted to also major in economics but I simply wasn’t that ambitious at that time. In September of 2006 a much older and wiser me made the decision to pursue a change, spending a total of $7,000 over the next two years to study, take the CFP exam, and travel to two Financial Planning Association conferences. The first obstacle was starting a new career from scratch. I knew that this would be a big change so I dramatically altered my spending habits in order to save as much money as possible to make starting at the bottom less of a financial burden.

If there is anything I’m good it, it’s saving money, and I exceeded my goal, saving enough that even a 60-70% pay cut would not derail my lifestyle. One obstacle was overcome. When I began job hunting in my new career, I found nothing to fit the narrow, principled criteria I set for myself. Once I decided not to make the change the question of what to do with the money I’d saved came up. If I hadn’t planned well and saved for the possibility of a smaller income, I would not have had this next option. I decided to completely remodel and convert my three family rental property at the Jersey Shore to a two family home maintaining one rental unit.

A Personal Choice

Welcome to my second obstacle. My plans and the town’s zoning laws didn’t agree and with the prospect of spending thousands of dollars just to find out that I would be prohibited from making the alterations to the property, I dropped my plan. Another change of direction. The question of what to do with the money remained. That’s when a simple conversation with a friend in California led me to consider and then decide to buy a second rental property in California.

Becomes A Decision For The Future

The goals changed as I was able to navigate the barriers I encountered but my options expanded and that is the goal of any action, to increase your options for success. Like a game of chess you have to think several moves ahead and recognize how the actions of others will affect your path to victory. If you can do that while increasing your choices then you are on your way to success.


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