If you watch TV at all you have inevitably watched the commercial for Celebrex which is an arthritis drug. The commercial states that “a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest”.
This commercial is based on the first law of motion that Issac Newton published in 1687. Which states that an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless it is acted upon by an external force.
This week I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine about this very concept. Not Issac Newton, we aren’t that smart.
We were talking about running. I was explaining to him that as a runner, it is very easy for me to go out and fall into a pace that my body is very comfortable with. It could be an eight minute mile or a seven minute mile. It just depends on your conditioning. Whatever that pace is, it is easy to stay at it because your body can do it without efforting.
I am sure there are more scientific ways to explain it, but I am not scientific.
To increase your speed and accomplish running goals you have set for yourself, you must break the inertia, the temptation to stay at the comfortable pace.
It is hard to do, that inertia is so cozy, easy, and feels great that your mind wants to stay right there. You may call it your comfort zone. But as long as you do this you will never increase your speed or times towards any distance goals you might want to accomplish.
I was a runner for close to six years before I learned how to really train. For those first six years I definitely became a better runner, with better speeds and times, but it wasn’t until I started training my body to become very uncomfortable that I made significant gains. By gains, I mean faster miles, longer distances, and winning races I competed in.
In running that training starts with forcing yourself out of that comfort zone for small periods of time over and over and over, until it stops being that uncomfortable to you. As you continue to do this repeatedly you eventually become better conditioned and you start moving the needle towards whatever goals you might have.
At almost 42 years of age, I am probably twice as fast I was when I was 32. Its isn’t that that I am getting better with age. That theory doesn’t hold up in athletics and age. Instead it is I am a more educated and I am better at training.
If I would have known how to train at age 32, who knows what I could have accomplished as a runner.
Whether it is running, biking, writing, speaking, investing, you name it. For you to break any slump or cycle, you must break the inertia. You must apply force someway and somehow to move yourself out of the comfort zone.
I am a real estate investor. I have purchased many single family homes. When I first started doing it, I was always a little scared. I would just think things like this. “Is this a really good deal”, “Will I be able to fund a tenant”, “What if something goes wrong”, “What if someone destroys my property”. All of these question ran through my head.
Many years later, I never even think about those things. Purchasing single family homes is easy for me. I never over think it. However, it is too easy and too comfortable for me, that I can easily fall into the trap of continuing to only purchase single family homes.
For me to scale my real estate portfolio the way I want to, it is going to require me to buy bigger deals. Multi-Unit/apartment buildings is now the direction I want to go and I must go.
Many of the same concerns and questions I had early in my investing career are popping up in my head. “Will I be able to find tenants for all of the units”, “What if all of my tenants move out at the same time”, “What if all of my hvac systems go out”.
As these questions pop up in my head it is easy for me to want to stick with the single family homes that I am comfortable with. But I am pushing through because I know I must get to the next level and the only way to do this is to go in the new direction.
I share these stories with the intent to inspire you to force yourself out of the comfort zone you find yourself in. Inertia is a bitch. Without additional force and pressure from yourself or others you will never get out of the rut or zone you are in.
To your success and your future.
This week I was reminded of a simple rule, law, idea? I am not sure exactly what to call it.
For the sake of this writing we will call it a rule, because rules should be followed.
“If your problems aren’t growing it means you aren’t growing.”
Pretty simple rule. Keep in mind problems are not a negative thing. Problems are good. They help us grow and develop and they illustrate progress.
One of the best examples of this rule in action.
I can remember in my twenties having a car payment. I made good money and thought I had my ducks in a row. But it seemed like no matter what I would do, I always struggled to make my car payment. By struggle I mean, I would have to adjust different bills each month to make sure I had the money to make my car payment.
It is okay to be in this situation for a little while. But if this problems persists year after year, it means you aren’t growing. You are not progressing forward. You are not solving this problem.
Eventually I figured that piece of my life out and now I had a bigger bill and a bigger problem. I bought a house. Which means it was more money. And just like the car payment, the house payment became a similar situation.
Each month I would have to move around certain bills to make sure I had enough money to pay my house payment. After a few years of this I was able to get some money saved and create some slack for myself. In both situtations I solved my problems. I figured it out. That should be the goal. As you start to solve your problems you create even bigger and better probelms you will have to learn to solve.
I am not here to give financial advice, but if you continue to struggle with the same things year after year after year it means you are not changing and you are not growing.
Another good example is in business.
If you are running a business and you are the only employee, you obviously have a lot on your plate and a lot of problems that you are managing all by yourself. As your solve those problems and your business grows, it only makes sense to hire an employee to help you.
With the addition of that one employee, you may have eliminated some of the problems you were having as a solo band, but with that new employee you will start to get new problems. For each employee you add new problems will arise, but the old problems will go away.
Many people who decide to have children do so because they want a family and that family will bring them happiness. But ask any parent how many more problems they had when they had their first child, then their second, third, and you get the point. These are welcomed problems though, because the happiness and joy outweighs the problems and challenges children bring.
A final example I have from my own life is this. Every since I was a little kid I have always wanted to own rental real estate.
When I bought my first piece of rental real estate it was a duplex. A very expensive one, which is another story for another day.
I didn’t realize how much money it was going to cost me for a down payment to purchase the place. And at the time, I had some money saved but not enough.
For me to purchase the duplex I ended up selling a gun that I owned to someone for like four-hundred dollars. Yes. Four-hundred dollars. At that time in my life four-hundred dollars was like four-thousand dollars.
I bought the duplex. A few years later I bought four more rental properties and I was able to pay cash for two of them and the other ones I easily had the down payments.
As I am typing this today, I am about to make the largest real estate purchase I have ever made.
There is a quote I like to use and have used many times in my life.
“There is no neutral in life, you are either going forward or going backwards.”
This week we elected a new president into office. Many people unfortunately think that what happens in Washington DC, no matter who is in charge, has a great impact on their life. This is without a shadow of a doubt, untrue.
The only person that can impact your life is you. You have to do the work. You have to make the sacrifices.
To your success and your future.
As of this writing I have written well over a thousand articles on a wide range of topics. A topic that I haven’t written about is real estate. And it is probably one of my favorite topics on the planet.
I bought my first rental property in 2006 at the age of 26. It was a duplex that I owned up until I moved to Florida in 2015.
My attraction to real estate started when I was young and it is something I have loved ever since.
As of this writing I own five single family residences. Four of the five are paid off. Two of the five are condos that I paid cash for when I bought them, so I never had mortgages on them.
Over the years I have listened to many so called experts. I say so called experts, because I am sure they are all successful in whatever they have done and accumulated. However, they all had different processes they used to get there.
Some of them used a lot of debt to have success, some used minimal debt, and some used no debt to accumulate the wealth and experiences they have in the area of real estate.
I have always been a fence rider on the topic of debt when it comes to real estate. I innately hate debt. When I became debt free other than the mortgages I had on rental properties and the house I lived in. I said I would never have debt again. And I haven’t.
The topic of debt in real estate is something I go back and forth on though. I am not sure I have a clear opinion one way or the other on it as of today. However, I did make a commitment to myself that I would pay off the other three houses that I did have mortgages on though.
This morning I looked in my journal to see when I made the goal to get the third rental property paid off. The first date I wrote in this journal is 10/19/2018. Today is 7/1/20. I assume it may have been in there before. However, lets just assume that was the first date I wrote that goal down.
On 1/31/2020 we paid off the third mortgage. Since then we have paid off a fourth and could pay off the fifth, but I am having that whole internal discussion on whether to pay it off or use the money we have saved to buy more. This is another topic for another day.
How did we pay off that third mortgage? What did we do?
- I wrote the goal down everyday: As I mentioned, I can look in my journal and tell you when I started writing that goal down. I wrote it down for close to two years almost everyday, until I accomplished the goal. This one thing is first for a reason. To achieve what it is you want to achieve you have to remind yourself daily that this is what you want to achieve.
- Everything extra went towards it. As I mentioned I struggle in the area of whether to have debt or leverage debt when it comes to real estate. There is one person who is clear on this topic though. That is Dave Ramsey. He is a firm believer in no debt on anything. He has a proven method for people to get out of debt and has helped millions of people do it. One of the things he talks about is the snowball effect.
The snowball effect is if you take a ball of snow and you roll it down ahill. As it makes it way down the hill it gets bigger and bigger as it accumulates more snow around it.
Also, the momentum of the snowball picks up as it makes it way down the hill. He uses this method when it comes to paying off debt. Which is to take all extra money and apply it to your smallest debt and pay it off first. He believes, and he is right, that the momentum that a person creates when they are able to pay off something quickly provides them the momentum they need to keep them going to pay off other debts.
I used this method for paying off this mortgage. I took all extra money we made and applied it to this mortgage. It allowed us to pay it off in seven years from the time we took the loan out.
- Stay committed no matter what: From the time I made this commitment until we accomplished it, a lot had changed. I started two different companies, we moved twice, and my income was wildly unpredictable. During these kind of times most people throw their goals out the door and say they will come back to them when things are more secure. I did not. I stayed committed. I kept committing to that goal everyday.
I am a novice when it comes to real estate investing However, it is something I am committed to and will continue to get better at. My hope is you find this information to be helpful in your journey.
To your success and your future.
One of my all time favorite books is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It is an all time classic and to this day. 80 + years later, it is still one of the top selling books every year.
The word “think” is subtly layered into the title because Rich is the obvious eye-catcher that makes you want to learn more. The author chose the word “think” for a reason. He makes the case in the book that you can’t grow, and you definitely can’t get rich, without learning how to think.
In today’s go go go society and emotionally driven society. Many people don’t invest the time to think before they respond, act, do, you name it. I did say “invest’ for a reason, because you are making an investment when you slow down, think, make a plan, and then take action.
Critical thinking is by far one of the most unused skillsets in today’s culture. The culture instead is constantly being told what to think, and then people decide whether they agree or disagree with whatever it is based on their biases. In most cases, depending on who said it is more important to them on whether they believe it or not. The test is who said it, not is it true or not.
There are many definitions of critical thinking. The one I like that I believe is one of the better and clear ones is this:
Disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence. Now I would add a few additional adjectives to the definition, such as without emotion, and evidence based means: objectively clear facts that are substantiated.
Unfortunately we now live in a society and culture that has very little to no ability to think clearly for themselves. They haven’t learned how to critically think. And I believe that these five reasons are driving the lack of critical thinking.
- Math: I don’t know if it is because many people learn to hate math at an early age. Is it because teachers are not very good at teaching it? Or is it just hard and most people never try hard enough to be good at it? I am not going to solve this problem today. However, if you are unwilling to look at the numbers, the evidence that supports something or doesn’t support something, then critical thinking is out the window.
- Emotions: We now live in a world that is driven by feelings. I am not sure when this started, but it is rampid and it is scary. I have talked about this many times. Any time we make very difficult decisions on emotions and not facts or reasoning, we typically are going to get ourselves in trouble. A simple example of this is when people buy cars that they can’t afford. Which is any car that you cant pay cash for, but I digress. They love the feeling that a new car provides to them and even if the math doesn’t make sense, they will try to rationalize a way to get the car becasue of how it makes them feel.
- Opinions: Whoever is the loudest usually gets the most attention. It has nothing to do with the credibility of the person. It really comes down to who has the largest platform and can reach the most people. The problem with opinions these days is too many times they are packaged as “real news”, when in reality they are not news based on facts or evidence. It is usually based on subjective views of a given situation.
- Media: I was listening to two very mainstream personalities over the weekend who both have very successful podcasts and very large audiences. They were both talking about the fact that even though most would call them both center-left from a political standpoint. That neither one of them can go on CNN or MSNBC, because they both had been on Fox News and most likely will disagree with the anchors they would speak with on CNN or MSNBC. I am sure people may say the same thing about other news stations as well. However, if you spend too much of your time watching one station only. You are only getting one side of a situation.
- Fear: We are living in a moment of time right now that when someone holds a different viewpoint on something that is against the masses, and expresses that viewpoint, they could lose their job, their career or any other personal interests. It’s the sad and harsh reality. When active debate can’t occur, then ideas don’t get enhanced. When there is fear of retribution to disagree, things don’t’ get better. To solve complex problems everyone needs to be in the discussion.
In most companies the problems that exist are very complex and the leaders within the organization don’t have all the answers. They need employees that have the ability to think critically and solve problems within the business.
Unfortunately, when we start school in kindergarten or first grade all the way through college in many cases. You learn the answers to the test, take the test, pass and move on to the next. If you don’t know the answers, you can pull them up on google and most likely find them in a matter of seconds.
This is not the real world. The real world requires a process of thinking about the problem. Putting some of the best ideas on the table and working through them to see which ones can be pursued with limited financial resources and human capital. This is the process and it must be followed. When it isn’t we will get what we have always gotten.
To your success and your future.
You are what you are until you decide to become different than you are. It is a hard thing to change but it can be done. It just requires you to make a commitment and then do the work necessary to change your circumstances and your life.
I was recently speaking with a friend of mine about the current pandemic that we find ourselves in. We were talking about how things were going with business, work, and life in general.
One of the things they said they were doing was watching a lot more television. They rattled off all of the shows they had watched. It was quite impressive.
I shared with them that I had been working out a lot more. Instead of working out 60-80 minutes a day, it was more like 90-120 minutes a day of focused workouts. In addition to more walks around the city where we live.
The conclusion that I have come to and you already know this as well. We default and become more of who we are even during times of uncertainty, success, failure, and life as a whole.
My mentor explained it to me this way. He said you have to decide if you are going to be a charitable person or not. He said the amount of money you have or don’t have doesn’t matter. You can be charitable when you are making fifty thousand dollars a year or a million dollars a year.
You are either charitable or not. If you don’t create the habits and mindset to be a charitable person now while the stakes are lower, you definitely won’t do it when the stakes are much higher.
Many people are setting around saying to themselves “When I _______.” Fill in the blank.
- make more money, I will invest more
- make more money I will give more
- have more time I will volunteer more
- am not raising kids I will go back to school
I am not sure where you are in journey but you have to decide now, the person you want to be and then do whatever it takes to start implementing the habits and decisions that will make you that person.
There is no “there” out there. You don’t magically arrive one day. Life is an evolution. You have to continue to evolve, but the first step to evolution is to decide who you want to be.
A good question to ask yourself is “How often should I get a check up on my health?”
At my age, health, and background, my doctor believes once a year is sufficient. As I age, it will become more frequent than that.
Someone very close to me goes to the doctor more often. It seems like at least once a month, if not more. They have several chronic illnesses and they have several medications that they are taking. Which requires more tests and check ins.
Repetition and frequency for them is more important because of their situation.
Success in your health, life, career, etc. all comes down to the repetition and frequency. And you have to do both of these to have any success in life. I believe the more you do them both the quicker and more success you will have in the thing you want success in.
Repetition is the act of doing something over and over again. The more we repeat something, the better we should get at it. I say should, because the level of complexity of the thing is also part of the equation.
If you take a job that now requires you to give more presentations than your previous position. When you first start that job and start giving presentations. You most likely won’t be very good at it. But over time you will become better at it, or at least you should become better at it.
This is where frequency comes in to play. The definition of frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event in some time period.
This is the game changer and why you need both repetition and frequency to have success.
What if you had a job where you delivered a presentation once a month. By the third month you would become better at it. However, if you had to get up every single day and do it, your number of occurrences would be 2900% more, than doing it once a month for three months. You would have 87 more occurrences. In each of the occurrences you would have refined your presentation and delivery and gotten better at it. Which in turn you would get better results from it.
Most people can do some level of repetition in their life. That is the easy part. But where they typically fail is in the frequency part. They allow too much time in between occurrences of the the activity they are repeating.
I like to use fitness as an example. If you are over weight and unfit and decide to change. You can’t say I will start working out once a week. Its not enough frequency (occurrences). You could repeat the exercises once a week for the next seven months and you would most likely not change much. Because of this you would end up quitting. Plus your body would not change much.
If you instead decide to workout every other day, your would dramatically increase your chances of having success. You would start to see results sooner, which would motivate you to keep going.
The more often you do something the more success you will get from the act or the results from that act.
If you want to have success in anything in life, I believe you have to increase the repetitions and the frequency. And yes you can accelerate your results depending on the frequency you do the repetitive act.
So the question becomes how quickly do you want to change something? How quickly do you want to change your financial situation? You have to either increase the frequency you are paying towards your debt. Or you have to increase your output (work) to be able to earn more to put towards your debt.
Take a look at any area in your life today where you are not getting the results you want. Now look at the frequency at which you do the activity that should deliver the results for you in that area. What if you increased the frequency? I guarantee if you do you will get better results.
To your success and your future.
Success in life really comes down to these two words: Show up.
There is nothing magical or hard about it. When you show up good things will eventually happen.
When you show up you are keeping the commitment that you made to yourself. This one thing alone is just as important as the showing up part. Once you quit lying to yourself, you can take control over everything in your life.
Humans suck at commitments. We don’t like to make them to ourselves and we definitely don’t like to make them to there people and be held accountable to them. When we commit we are putting ourselves out there. We are taking the chance that we could fail. Humans don’t like failure and we will avoid it all cost. Because of this we don’t go “all in” on commitments.
Work is a commitment that you keep because there is an incentive tied to it. I am not talking about these commitments. These are the easy ones. I am talking about the commitments that you don’t have to make. And you definitely don’t have to keep them. These are the hard ones and these are the ones that will impact your life the most positively.
When people aren’t getting the results they want. When they are not accomplishing their goals.
It comes down to their lack of commitment to them. If you haven’t fully committed, you won’t show up.
Take inventory of your life today and ask yourself the simple question.
Are you showing up to the things you said were important to you? If the answer is no. Then I would challenge you to ask yourself how committed you really are to the thing.
My mentor said it best. “action follows commitment.” You won’t take action until you are committed.
To your success and your future.
One of my favorite topics to write and talk about is goals. Not because I consider myself to be an expert in setting and achieving them. It is quite frankly the exact opposite. I actually come up short on them more often than I would like to admit.
How I learned the value of never quitting but learning how to pivot as necessary.
When I was 33 years old. I became a student again. This was seven years after I completed my MBA. I consider all of my formal education, K-12, associates degree, bachelors degree, masters degree. That formal education something I just had to do. It was required. Not because it was forced on to me by my parents. I knew to compete in the world I had to be prepared with those credentials.
At 33 is when I started to take my personal education more serious and became a student once again. I became a strategic goal setter.
At 26, I was a landlord. I had purchased a duplex. I had always had a desire in the back of my mind that I wanted to own real estate one day that I would rent. I am not sure why this thought entered my mind. No one in my immediate family that I knew of had owned real estate. The only thing that I can remember as a young kid that would have prompted me to think this way, could have been a good friend of mines grandparents who I spent a decent amount of time around when I was younger.
My friend was a really good student. One of his motivations to be a good student was very simple. For every A he would get on his report card he would get $50 dollars from his grandparents. B’s were worth $25. I can remember him showing me the money after every report card. I was jealous. Keep in mind this started around middle school up until tenth or eleventh grade.
To me my friend was rich, because his grandparents were rich. I couldn’t imagine having that much money handed to me. Being around his grandparents I knew that they owned a lot of rental property. That was the extent of my knowledge. Outside of that I didn’t know exactly how much or how long, etc.
This is the only thing that I can thing of that would have planted the seed of me wanting to own real estate.
Fast forward back to age 33, I had owned the duplex for seven years. I had not purchased anymore property up until that point. At 33, after purchasing a goal setting seminar. I decided to set a goal of owning ten rental properties by age 40, and I wanted them all to be paid off by that time. I didn’t know how I was going to achieve this goal. But I said if I can buy one house every quarter. I could get there.
I set this goal and reminded myself of it daily. For the next three years. I purchased another five houses. Now at age 36, I had seven total tenants and 6 properties. Seven if you included my own personal home.
I was well on my way.
Like most of life though, things happened and things changed.
In 2015, I met my future wife. My dad died unexpectedly and about a year later in 2016, my wife and I decided to pack up and move to Florida. When deciding to move to Florida, we also decided to sell the duplex I had owned since I was 26. This is something I regret now, but at the time it made a lot of sense. I had also sold my personal residences a few years before. We now had just the five rental properties. Two of them I paid cash for and the other three had mortgages.
Once we made it to Florida. I took a position where I was 100% commission. Meaning if I don’t sell, I don’t make any money. For about the first year, my income was really unpredictable. I had good months and months were I didn’t make any money.
Now during this time, I continued to put all of my money that came from the rental properties back in to paying off the mortgages I had. Once I paid each mortgage, any remaining money I would put towards the principal of my lowest dollar amount mortgage. I knew if I could get one of them paid off quicker, it would make the next one even easier. Because I would have more money to put towards it.
Once I started making some more predictable income with my new position in Florida, it was around the year and a half mark. Also, at this time. My wife and I decided that we were going to pack up and move again. We didn’t love Florida, and we were now moving to Dallas.
During this time in Florida, I continued to look at real estate every single day. My income wasn’t predictable enough at the time where we felt comfortable enough to buy anything. But I continued to look and knew if I could find something I would figure out a way to buy it.
Now that we are in Dallas, I once again found myself with zero income. This time, I was going to go out on my own. I had been freelancing for years. I knew where some opportunities existed and where I could make a difference and build a business. So I poured all of my resources in to doing that.
Keep in mind I still had that goal of 10 rental homes by 40 and all of them paid off.
At this time I am now 38/39. I am putting a lot of money into my business. Pretty much most of everything I would make would go right back in the business. I did this for about a year or so. It was hard. Really hard. And it wasn’t bringing me any joy.
Once again, I pivot and take a position with a great company last fall. By this time I am now 40. I was excited to take this new position because once again, it was 100% commission, but the product was a great and it had great market presence. I knew I could crush it.
This past February I turned 41. I didn’t make the goal of ten houses by age 40 and all of them paid off.
I was only able to get four of the five paid off. Yep. I am sitting here today, and my goal wasn’t accomplished and if you gave it a measurement. I guess you could say it took me a year longer, and I only accomplished 40% of what I wanted to accomplish. This is true, if you look at it this way.
However you want to look at it. Here is what I know.
Life is really hard. Things change. People change. Our priorities and our goals change. The world around us changes. I know that with out the constant reminder to myself of what my goal was, I wouldn’t have even accomplished the 40%. It may have been zero.
One of my favorite shows of all time is Boardwalk Empire on HBO. if you haven’t watched it. You should. The main character says something that has stuck with me ever since. He said “You always need to have something planned, because you need something to look forward to.”
I believe goals are a lot like this. You need to have them set because they give you something to look forward to, but even more importantly they give you a direction and more importantly motivation to do what it takes so you can achieve them.
I have spent the last 73 days (based on my calculations) tracking the lockdown, quarantine, shelter in place, or whatever you want to call it.
By tracking, I mean I have written a few notes down in my journal. Nothing too elaborate. But just some general notes to remind me of the sentiment of what I was feeling and what was going on in the climate and culture as a whole.
Overall I believe this situation was a totally oversold and overhyped by the media, who are dealers in “fear” and basically created the situation and the politics were forced to follow suit. But I digress, this is not the point of my writings today.
This past Saturday May, 23, the gym I attend opened for the first time in the last 73 plus days. As I walked in, I was more than enthusiastic. I was so glad to be back in there and was grateful for the opportunity. Before the lockdown, I never resented the gym, but I don’t think I always appreciated it the way I should have.
This morning the gym at our high rise building opened for the first time in 73 plus days. It was so great to walk in there, even with a lot of restrictions, and have the opportunity to get a workout in and use the equipment.
Over the last few weeks, we have now been able to actually go back into restaurants for the first time. If I am honest, I kind of liked the fact that during the lockdown we saved ourselves a lot of money by only being able to do takeout. Mainly the savings being not spending money on alcohol while dining in.
However, being back around people, the energy in the restaurants, and supporting people to have jobs that can contribute to the economy as a whole is even better.
On Monday, my wife and I randomly went to the mall. Walking around the mall again, which is not something we did very often pre-shutdown, it was still nice to have the opportunity to do it again.
As I am sitting here typing this post, I am in my favorite coffee shop drinking my mocha. This is something I have done for years. I usually spend the first hour of the day in here. During the lockdown, I was unable to sit in the coffee shop, but was thankful that they were open and I was able to get it to go.
I say all of these things really as a reminder to myself that some of the small things we take for granted can easily be taken from us. For the most part we never think about it when we have them.
Brooks and Dunn one of the great country ban duos of all time, have a song titled “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.” The song was a great hit for a a lot of reasons, but one of them being that it is so true. We typically don’t miss something until it is gone. Which is why we must appreciate it when we have it.
I am not perfect by any stretch and I am sure I will forget at times. However, I am going to do what I can to remind myself to appreciate the little things I mentioned here, but more importantly, the bigger things in life as well.