Robert Kiyosaki in his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, makes the point that houses aren’t really assets, they’re liabilities. Anyone whose mortgage has been caught in the current economic mess has first-hand experience of what he means. Anyone who owns property knows that just paying the mortgage isn’t nearly enough. There’s also the extensive cost of maintenance to be considered as well. Property depreciates, and that means that, without you doing anything at all, everything you own decays at a given rate. For buildings, the average rate of decay comes down to from new to worthless ruins in about thirty years. Although it may not be directly measurable, depreciation is a real, calculable cost of doing nothing. Think about it: for a nice $300,000 home ($150,000 home + $150,000 property), your cost of doing nothing comes down to as much as $5,000 a year!
Obviously, a house (or a car or a boat or any other big-ticket item) has a calculable monetary value. Now, how about those incalculable ‘assets’ that go to make up your life? There are a few universal and inviolable laws in this world, and one of them is the law of entropy: the tendency for all things to move toward maximum randomness (otherwise known as ‘decay’). It’s not really the chaos theory that we have to worry about (the theory that the behavior of large, complex systems [like the weather] is fundamentally unpredictable): that just tells us that we can’t tell when or where disaster may strike. It’s entropy that assures us that, without taking preventive action, disaster is inevitable. The true cost of doing nothing – whether the cost is calculable or not – is eventual disaster. Assuming that the midlife transition is upon you, what exactly does that mean?
It means, primarily, that allowing yourself to become comfortable with the status quo (or, even worse, striving to maintain the status quo) is a sure recipe for disaster in the three critical areas that matter to you the most: your career, your relationships, and your personal health and well-being. If you’re like most people, you’re extremely generous when it comes to your toys and your fun (your possessions and your recreational activities), but you’re proportionally cheap when it comes to taking care of yourself. Most of us don’t mind going into debt (bank loans and credit cards) to purchase something we want, but, when self-care is involved, everything seems too ‘expensive,’ whether it’s in time or money. For every time we’ve denied ourselves some luxury by telling ourselves, “I can’t afford that,” I’ll bet there are many more occasions when we’ve encountered something that could genuinely improve our quality of life, but we’ve passed it up because of the cost. Let’s look at some pertinent examples.
Here’s the most obvious (and the one that almost everyone readily admits): “I should take better care of myself.” Your health and well-being are dependent on three essential elements: nutrition, exercise, and rest (along with quality health care, when necessary). Is there anyone reading this to whom this is news??? It’s been well-proven that stress is a killer and that a combination of excellent nutrition, exercise and rest can go a long way toward reducing the ill effects that stress brings on. In the book, Change or Die, Alan Deutschman reveals the stark facts: 90% of all people who are told that they must change their behavior or die, sooner or later go back to their old habits. What excuses are you using to hasten your demise? Healthy food is too expensive? Doesn’t taste as good as all those round, fatty molecules? Takes too long to prepare? And why aren’t you exercising regularly (and how many unused health club memberships, exercise devices and weight loss supplements have you collected)? What happened to last night’s eight hours of sleep? What excuse did you use for cheating yourself of stress-reducing rest?
Now, about that person you’re married to (and to whom you professed your love). How’s your communication? How about the amount of quality time you’re spending together? When was the last time that you took time to work on your relationship? How much has each of you changed over the years? How much do you (personally) still need to change in order to keep your relationship not only strong but growing? When was the last time that the two of you took your issues to an impartial third party (or do you imagine that the two of you are somehow unique and don’t need outside help or advice)? You say that you don’t have issues?? Then things are worse than I had imagined! People change – particularly during midlife – and, if you’re not working at growing together, then you’re growing apart. ‘Disaster,’ in this case, comes in the guise of waking up one day and wondering, “Who is this person, and what did they do with my husband/wife? I want them back!” Have you read Dr. Jed Diamond’s book, The Irritable Male Syndrome, and, if not, why not?
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