The Gap or The Gain?
Let’s face it, we dropped the ball a few times in 2021. We had failures and missteps and things we wish we could go back and change. But we also had some big wins. We were honored to be asked to talk to two groups we are members of on goal setting which we were honored to do but we had to take stock and see if we were even qualified to speak on the topic. After all, we didn’t hit all of our goals for 2021.
Some of our foibles in 2021 both personally and professionally were that we searched for a septic tank that didn’t exist on a property we had under contract. Two septic guys couldn’t find this elusive septic; now we know why – the house was on city sewer. We bought properties in the wrong LLC structure which could disallow using stepped up basis for our kids to inherit them. We went on two dates for the entire year. We reached our cash flow goal and then refinanced several properties which reduced our cash flow below our goal. We spent a LOT on refinance fees and closing costs to do this. We paid a ton of money to interest on private loans. Santa Clause was exposed as a myth to our youngest child. Our personal home was threatened by a large brush fire. It was a year of a lot of money going out the door to build our business.
Looking Back with Gratitude
2021 was also our best year to date. Our house didn’t burn down, nor did any of our neighbors houses. Turns out there was no septic because the house had city sewer – bonus! Zero evictions or broken leases. The loss of Santa doesn’t seem to have shaken our youngest’s world too badly as she was on to the next subject pretty quickly (I think she was slightly relieved to know a stranger wasn’t actually coming into our house). We grew our unit count by 50%. We stripped some equity from properties to take advantage of the super low interest rates. We bought our largest building to date. We raised more private money than ever before and were able to give our investors a great return on their money. We travelled across the country with horses to Montana and visited Yellowstone (the National Park – not the ranch where a TV show takes place). We slept in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel (seriously, you can “camp” there – it’s like a bed a breakfast really – with dinner and breakfast just steps away through a gift shop that smells like my grandmother’s house). We bought our first condo. We worked very reasonable hours. We met someone who became a part of our team for filling vacancies and employed the principles of the book Who Not How. She is a rockstar. We invested in two passive deals with a good friend’s company – one strip center and one deal which is two hundred plus apartment units that we are a teeny tiny part of. We went to band competitions and the pig barn with our son and horse shows with our daughter. We reached financial independence. We started training for a half marathon – partly to work off too much Cracker Barrel.
I was finishing the book The Gap and The Gain by Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan around the time we were asked to present on our goal setting strategy and my mind went to all of the “failures” listed in the second paragraph of this post. My thoughts went to all of the things we missed the mark on which would be “Gap” thinking. I was in “The Gap” which is not the same one where you buy khakis. This is the Gap between where we are and an ideal we have in our minds. It’s all the space between what we imagine perfection to look like and where we are now. It’s the easiest place to be if we aren’t careful. The “Gain” takes a little more effort for most of us.
I had to shift to what the authors call “The Gain” which is when we measure backwards and see how far we’ve come. That’s when I recalled all of the things in the third paragraph which make me proud and excited and frankly made me want to high five myself. But that would be nerdy so I didn’t. When we are goal-oriented people, which most of us are, it is easy to always look forward and measure against an ideal. The ideal, the book argues, is not for attainment as much as it is for direction. We can always have an ideal to steer towards but it is as elusive as perfection is. Goals may be waypoints along our path to keep us heading towards the ideal. One analogy they made in the book was that the ideal is like the horizon – never reachable. Living in the Gain is where happiness can be found. Living in the Gap can be what keeps some of the highest achievers from attaining happiness and happiness, unlike ideals, is attainable.
This year, at the top of my dry erase board, I have a quote from the book “Are you in the Gap or the Gain”? This is a reminder I need multiple times a day. In the midst of the grind it can be an easy place to slip back into. But getting back to The Gain can pull us back up and remind us how far we have come. We should take a minute and look back on the last year, the last three years, the last ten years and see how far we have come in all areas of our life. Even with our kids we can have ideals and become frustrated when our they don’t reach them but a pause to think about how far they have come and how much they have grown can actually be overwhelmingly powerful as we acknowledge those things we’ve come to take for granted.
I recommend this book as a simple concept that I needed to hear. I listened to it on audiobook but generally prefer reading actual physical books and will likely be ordering a copy to revisit when my mind shifts back to The Gap. I don’t know who needed to hear this but I bet every one of us can find some Gains if we are willing to look for them and acknowledge them. Some will be hidden in challenges and failures that taught you something big. I advocate for continuing to set big goals and have fun achieving them but to always measure backwards to see how far you have come.
I hope this is helpful. I give this book two Big Thumbs up. We’ll speak on goal setting confidently now knowing we haven’t reached the unreachable ideal but we have moved the needle towards the goals we’ve set for our lives. The biggest achievement is the ability to be happy and acknowledge how far we’ve come….most of the time.
While setting and maintaining your big goals I encourage you, as always, to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!