Wealth and Work: Too far in to Get Out now?

Do you feel like you are Too Far In to get out now?

In the finance world their is a concept called “sunk cost bias,” which refers to the phenomenon where an individual or company has spent so much capital on an investment or product they cannot stop even when failure is the only outcome.

They have gotten too far in (spent too much) and cannot justify the wasted time and cost (investment) if they drop the product.  Here is a definition from businessdictionary.com:

Expenses paid for previously that are not affected by current or future decisions and costs that should be ignored when analyzing new investment activities.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/sunk-cost-bias.html

What does this have to do with our job/work/vocation/career?  More than you might think.

Expenses paid for previously that are not affected by current or future decisions

At any point in our career path, we can look back at the work we have done, the various jobs we may have had, the rewards, raises and promotions we hopefully earned along the way, and all the things we helped accomplish.

None of that can be altered by the decisions you make now or in the future.  It is what it is.  Your decision to stay in a dead end job because you only have 10 years left to full retirement doesn’t change what you accomplished in the past, it doesn’t affect the promotion you either got or didn’t get 4 years ago.

The only value of the past is the experience you can take away from it.   Some example questions to ask yourself might be:

  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What things did you do better than anyone else?
  • What things did you loathe doing?
  • What relationships were helpful to you in getting to where you are?
  • What skills did you acquire that you can bring to a different job or career?

Our possibilities now and in the future are endless.  We need to look forward and stop worrying so much about what we have done so far.

Cost that should be ignored when analyzing new investment activities

One of the biggest problems I had with leaving my previous career was getting over the idea that I had put too much time in to leave now – I would be giving up everything I had worked for so far.

Many colleagues stayed on in jobs they no longer enjoyed simply because they only had 5 or 10 years left to qualify for early retirement.

Then they would stay on 5 more years to max out their retirement benefit.   Sadly, a few timed their retirement perfectly to get the max benefit, only to pass away within a few years after retiring.

As stark as that sounds, this happened to more than one colleague I knew personally, and even more whom I knew professionally.  I took this lesson to heart when I made my decision to leave.

I could not justify staying in a career simply because I was only so many years away from one benchmark or another.  I left just three years shy of a full 20 years in, which would have significantly increased my retirement benefit.  But it wasn’t worth it.

I ignored the cost of 17 years in when I analyzed my options for a new career, a new vocation.

If you are facing a crossroad in your current career, analyze your new options, ignoring the cost or time in to date.  Set it aside and don’t allow it to skew your analysis for the future.

Moving on

Once we have done the clear analysis, and made a decision to move on or stay with a renewed sense of purpose, we can review our past efforts and glean out the experiences, skills, relationships, etc. that will serve us well going into the future.

These are not tasks we performed or even job titles we had.  This is an extraction of the valuable lessons, the interpersonal skills, and the expertise that we can continue to improve on and use to benefit our current and future endeavors.

Leave the titles and position descriptions behind and define your value in your own terms.

Working, Playing or Both

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.”

as attributed to James Michener

Wealth and Work: Are you Burned Out?

Wealth & Work - Are You Burned Out?

Are you Burned Out?

We all experience burnout at some point.  I left a 17 year career because I sensed it creeping up on me.

At the time I left I had well over 15 years left before I could qualify for early retirement and I knew I could not last that long just for the full retirement benefits.  So I left, and even though my income has been substantially less, I am less stressed, much happier in general, and able to actually encounter the world in a way I would not have been able to if I had stayed.

I am not recommending you all go out and quit your jobs by any means, but I do have some recommendations from what I observed in looking back at my career that might have helped me avoid the impending burnout:  take vacations, observe a Sabbath day, and delegate more (read: do less).


First things first, take a vacation!  Vacations (from the Latin vacare – “to be unoccupied”) are necessary to rejuvenate our mind, body and spirit.  We weren’t meant to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

And take an “unoccupied” vacation – don’t plan out an itinerary that rivals your pace at work!  Take a vacation where you unplug, spend time just reading, spend time outdoors just observing and soaking in the the fresh air and, hopefully, some natural sunlight.

Unplug from your phone, your TV and the internet, at least for the majority of the time.

If you are married, with or without children, enjoy the time with your family and spouse, allow yourselves all the flexibility in the world for that time. Linger longer somewhere that is enjoyable and leave the next destination for another time.

Be present for your spouse and family – don’t spend your vacation worrying about work.  It will still be there when you get back.

Taste the food.  I’m serious.  When was the last time you can remember tasting your food?

Try something you have never tried before.

When you return from vacation and before the relaxed calm wears off, take a look at your schedule and set some clear work boundaries.  Block out times for future vacations, family outings, time to read, time to spend outdoors, and set a specific time to end your work day, every day.


The Sabbath in the Judeo-Christian tradition has long been made out to be a day of restrictions, but it was meant to be a day of rest each week – a gift to us – a day that we did not have to toil under the curse but could trust that God would provide.

In New England sports vernacular, you might consider the Sabbath day as a “reverse the curse” day.

A Sabbath day is essential whether you are religious or not.  It is also difficult for many of us to observe properly.  Relaxation is an elusive concept for me, but as I continue to get older, I recognize its importance for my health more and more.

Think of your Sabbath day as the day you get to enjoy the fruits of your labors, spend time with family and friends, and experience the wonders of nature.  It should be a day to recharge your emotional and spiritual batteries, and give your brain and body a rest.

Treat it like a weekly vacation – unplug, be present with those around you, take a break from technology, enjoy some nature or even yard work (yes work of this sort is fine, as long as it rejuvenates you)!

Delegate More

We can all find things to delegate.  These are things that other people can do as well or even better than we can, and distract us from doing the one or two things that only we can do.

This is a lesson I didn’t learn until after I exited my previous career.  I took on way too much and got stuck in the self destructive mode of continuing to do things myself because it was faster and easier than training someone else to do it.

The fallacy in this is that I was killing myself to get all these things done, while the things only I could do were not getting the full attention they deserved.  One of these things was developing and leading my team.  I didn’t know how to draw the line between being productive and helping others be productive.

The first thing to do is set limits on your work hours and prioritize your work schedule to get your work done in that time.  This might mean clarifying with your boss whether the project you are working on takes priority over some status meeting, especially if you arrange for someone to brief you on anything important to your project.

Then take a hard look at the tasks you are still trying to cram into your schedule and ask yourself two questions.  Can someone else do it?   Is this task taking up time that could be better spent on those things that only I can do?

If you answered yes to both questions it is time to delegate.

Wrapping Up


Taste your food.

Be present in the moment with the people in your life.

Do less.

Do nothing, on purpose, at least once a week.

…and just plain smile more.

Wealth and Work: In it for the Money?

Work and Wealth: In it for the Money?

Are you doing your job just for the money?

Our jobs can easily become a simple means to an end.  We work to get paid so we can pay for shelter, clothing, food, transportation and a bunch of other things we may or may not need.

The good news is we have the power and the capacity to change our attitude toward our work, without needing to change the work itself.  Of course if you have an opportunity to change jobs to better align your work with your calling, by all means seize it.  In reality, those opportunities rarely present themselves if we haven’t already adjusted our attitude in our current situation.

We have the power and the capacity to change our attitude toward our work.  [Tweet]

A Simple Attitude Adjustment Exercise

For starters, try beginning your work day writing down different ways you can best serve your customers, clients, colleagues, supervisors, and anyone else you might interact with that day.  If thoughts come up like, “I’m not getting paid enough to do that,” or “that isn’t part of my job,” write those thoughts down on a separate column or page.

Review your lists and ask yourself

  • Which person would I rather work with?
  • Which person is more likely to be given more responsibility?
  • Which person is more likely to be promoted?

Make sure you follow through on at least one of the ideas for serving others during the day.

At the end of the day take 5 minutes to write down then names of those you served, and how you served them.  Reflect back on their responses.  How did it make you feel after serving someone well?  As you do this day after day you will find your passion for your work will slowly increase, and your concern about money decrease.

You may find that your change in attitude toward your work and your increased passion to serve others well will present new opportunities or promotions, and money will no longer be something you worry about.

Wealth and Work

Wealth and Work

Vocation: A Calling

Our work, our vocation (from the Latin vocare – “to call”), is meant to be a source of wealth for us.  While financial compensation is one way for our vocation to be a source of wealth, it is not the sole source, and our pursuit of financial gain over and above every other aspect of our work may make us rich, but seldom wealthy.

The pursuit of financial gain at the expense of one’s calling may make one rich, but never wealthy.  [Tweet]


Finding meaning in our work and ways to positively impact the lives of others through our work is the true measure of wealth in our work.

When we continue in a job we hate, regardless of the money it pays, there is little wealth in or produced by that job or ourselves. We go through the motions, miserable and creating misery in everyone around us. This is the opposite of wealth – it is poverty.

When we do not give our all to the work set before us we are stealing from those we are meant to be helping, and robbing ourselves of the wealth gained by a job well done.

There are several reasons why we might find ourselves in such a state of vocational poverty:

The good news is we can counteract each of these with discipline and some help from friends, counselors, or coaches.

We’ll examine each of these in greater detail in upcoming posts, exposing the poverty in each, and in doing so discover the way to wealth.






It can’t be done. But I dare you to try.

blog-image2016-01-07A good friend recently sent me an email with a heartfelt and complicated question about saving for retirement.  The concern was not primarily for themselves, but for the many of us that are simply starting too late or earn too little.

I proposed that everyone can save something; everyone has some area where they can cut back and choose to save, whether to pay off debt or save for retirement.  Their response was honest, but disheartening:  for some it cannot be done.

I want to tackle this belief in three parts, first to acknowledge that poverty exists, second to address one of the main obstacles to being able to save, and third to challenge you face the impossible head on and try.

Poverty exists.  It always has and always will.

For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. (Mark 14:7, Biblegateway.com)

Let’s face it.  Poverty exists.  Severe poverty exists.  Unfortunately there are those who through their own choices or by circumstances beyond their control are destitute, relying solely on government subsidies and the generosity of strangers to survive.  I concede that it is far less likely that those who are in this group will ever be concerned with saving for retirement, when mere survival is a daily struggle.  While I believe that there is hope for those in this situation, and know that some will overcome and someday thrive, I also recognize the plight they are in.

And that is all the more reason the rest of us need to get our act together, start handling our finances wisely, save to provide for our families so they aren’t a burden on the government or others, and give generously to lift up as many of the poor and destitute as we can.

Sometimes we fail to grasp that poverty is relative.  A millionaire is poor compared to a billionaire.  Someone with a hundred thousand is poor compared to a millionaire.  If you make $40,000 per year you are poor compared to someone making $100,000 per year.  Guess what?  If you make $40,000 per year, you are in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world.

Did you catch that?

Let’s flip it around.  If you make $40,000 or more per year, you are wealthy compared to 99% of the rest of the people on the planet.  Cut that in half and you are still in the top 11% of the wealthiest people in the world.

I really hope that disturbed you one way or the other.  Research it for yourselves.  But like it or not, if you live in the United States and make minimum wage, you are wealthy compared to the rest of the world.

You are rich.  But someone else is richer.  Poor you.  Guess what else?  If you cannot learn to be content with what you have today, you will NEVER be content with what you have EVER.  Someone will ALWAYS be richer than you.

Start where you are.  (Tweet this)

The Prison Wall that keeps us from the Land of Saving.

There is a massive prison in the world, and in the United States particularly.  It is a debtor’s prison, bigger and more insidious than any every before constructed.  Yes, I know that physical debtor’s prisons don’t really exist in the U. S. today.  That’s what makes this prison I am speaking of so insidious.

The rich rules over the poor,
    and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7; biblegateway.com)

Debt is a prison.  It tells you how much to make, makes your job choices for you, keeps you locked down and prevents you from experiencing true freedom.

Debt as we know it today is a modern dilemma.  Yes, debt has been part of the human existence as long as poverty has, and likely will be with us as long as poverty exists.  But it has never engulfed society to the extent that it has today.

The biggest obstacle to saving is debt.

Debt is a result of wanting what those richer than us have, before we are rich enough to have it.  Debt is rooted in the deadly sins greed, envy and pride.

  • Greed – we are not satisfied with what we have, so we crave more
  • Envy – we are not happy with what we have, so we desire not only for what others have, we also desire to take it from them
  • Pride – we cannot bear the thought of other looking down at us in our poverty, so we create a facade of wealth by borrowing heavily

Saving and wealth building cannot occur while we are making payments for things we could not afford.

The good news is that there is a way out – stop borrowing, sell some things (you can get more later), cut your expenses down to the 4 walls (shelter, food, clothing, transportation), and increase income (work a second job; take as much overtime as allowed; ask for a raise), and pay off as much as you can using the Debt Snowball method.

This may deserve a blog post of its own to flesh out more on how to do this, but I believe that, while it may seem impossible, most households can find $50 a month or more to pay of debt or save.

You Can’t Win if You’ve Already Thrown in the Towel

Shortly after graduating from college, a friend gathered a group of us together for a bible study.  One of the topics centered around tithing (giving 10%) of our income to our church.  At the time I was not regularly attending a church, and certainly was not tithing.

I argued vehemently that it was IMPOSSIBLE to give 10% of my income and survive.  None of my friends could change my mind.

I wish I could say that on the way home a great blinding light appeared and a voice spoke saying, “David, David, why do you withhold from Me what is Mine?”  That didn’t happen.

What happened was much the opposite.  A quiet thought popped in the back of my mind, “How can you say it is impossible if you have never tried?”

A Challenge!

I set out to prove how impossible it would be, and, long story shortened, I eventually was able to tithe 10% of my income faithfully.  The process I went through of just trying to do it changed me, my outlook on finances and my faith in God.  I started spending less on myself, I cut costs, I worked harder and got raises, I started attending a church where I eventually became the Treasure of the Board and have since coordinated more than 10 Financial Peace University courses to help others gain back control over their finances.

Prayer and meditation are essential parts of this process.  Both practices help us to unload our burdens and distractions and focus on what we can do right now, today.

You know what else?  I paid off my debt, except for my mortgage, saved up about 6 months of expenses, and left my job of 17 years to pursue whatever God had for me next.  That was 4 years ago.  2012 was the last year my adjusted gross income was over $40,000.  I haven’t missed a mortgage payment, I’ve tithed consistently, and I’ve worked hard at several jobs while also being self employed, and I am more content now than I have been in my life.

I trust God to provide what I need, I recognize more and more the difference between a want and a need, and I keep moving forward and trying new things.  My desire to earn more money now is driven by what I will be able to give.  I already know what I need to live.  The rest is for the work of the Kingdom of God.

I am not suggesting that you need to follow exactly what I did.  My path is mine to travel.  Your path is ahead of you, if you are willing to take a step forward.

You don’t even have to do this.  You can stay where you are if you want.  I really is up to you, no one else.

Do me one favor though, don’t say it’s impossible if you’ve never really tried.




How Does Newton’s First Law of Motion Relate to Personal Finances?

blog-image-couch-potatoNewton’s First Law of Motion essentially says this:  An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion, unless some outside force is applied.  For example

  • If you don’t exercise, you won’t lose weight or gain muscle.
  • If you don’t ask someone out, you won’t go on a date
  • If you don’t talk with your spouse, you won’t have a relationship (whether or not you stay together)
  • If you don’t show up for work, you won’t get paid

Not all of these are perfect comparisons, but hopefully they illustrate the point.  If you want to save more money, get out of debt, build wealth and give more, you’ve got to get in motion.

Get intense.

Get angry.

Debt, laziness, and apathy are stealing your hard earned resources from you and your family. (Click to Tweet!)

“That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more…”  Popeye

This Will Take Olympic Style Intensity

Couch potatoes need not apply here.  We need an Olympic sized work ethic to make this work!  It takes:

  • intense focus
  • drive
  • clear objectives
  • a finite timeline
  • practice, practice, practice (or work, work, work)
  • time
  • someone to keep you fired up (a trainer or coach)

Don’t get me wrong, you need to have down time for rest and restoration, but you can forgo the week-long vacation in the Bahamas until after you have reached your goal.

Keep the Pace Steady and Your Eye on the Prize

In the well known fable of The Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise wins the race because he keeps moving steadily in the direction of the finish line. The hare loses because, even though faster than the tortoise, he decides to take a nap instead of continuing toward the finish line because he assumes the tortoise is too slow to ever win.

The couch potato loses the race. (Click to Tweet)

The Wise Words of King Solomon

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
    if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
you have been trapped by what you said,
    ensnared by the words of your mouth.
So do this, my son, to free yourself,
    since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go—to the point of exhaustion
    and give your neighbor no rest!
Allow no sleep to your eyes,
    no slumber to your eyelids.
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
    like a bird from the snare of the fowler.  Proverbs 6:1-5 (NIV, BibleGateway.com)


[Cue theme from the film Rocky….]

Save more money, stop spending so much, get rid of debt, and build wealth

So, how do I save more money, stop spending so much, get rid of debt, and build wealth?

First, you have to work.  Hard.

You can’t go anywhere if you’re not in motion in the first place.

Second, you’re going to need some help

  • If you’re married or otherwise in a committed relationship, make a plan with your spouse/significant other and work together to see your plan through.  Doing this the right way might even improve your overall relationship!
  • If you’re single like me, find someone who is willing to work with you and be honest with you.  This person is often called an accountability partner.

 Third, you need to have a plan (often called a budget).

Think of it as a fence with a gate – keeping your sheep from straying away, but allowing them to come and go as you allow them to.

 Fourth, you’ve got to rev up the intensity.

Rocky didn’t win because he sat around wishing himself into shape – he trained.  And he trained hard.  Get yourself a theme song if that helps 🙂

Fifth, allow some room in your plan to have some fun and blow off some steam.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  Allowing yourself a little fun will also remind you why you are doing this in the first place…so you can do more fun things later.

 Sixth, consider giving more as a goal to inspire you along the way.

Giving more can really change people’s lives in some really cool ways.  Guess what?  Giving more will definitely change your life in some really cool ways as well!

I’ll cover each of these in more detail in future posts, so stay tuned!

For more really great information right now on saving money, paying off debt, and building wealth check out Ramsey Solutions and if you are really serious, consider taking a Financial Peace University class near you.

Letting Go: Work and Parkinson’s Law

lettingGo_WORK Letting go of work?!  Where do I sign up?

Before you get too excited, I am not suggesting you give up working or that work is bad.

I am suggesting that we tend to let work take over our lives in unhealthy and unproductive ways.


Let me start with Parkinson’s Law (click here for a helpful article).

Parkinson’s Law – Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.


Did you catch that? It’s our fault that we work too much. We assign more time for tasks than is necessary to accomplish them, and often create more stress and worry by allowing ourselves more time to think about something we should have already been able to complete.

 Imagine you are at work, and the boss gives you an assignment Tuesday morning with a due date of Friday morning:

Your brain subconsciously does the math (T-W-T-F = 4 days), counting Friday as a whole day even though the assignment is due that morning, and you automatically assign the project a 4-day time value for completion.

Only, the assignment could probably be completed in the next hour before you go to lunch.

For the next 2 1/2 days you use this looming assignment deadline as an excuse to miss meetings, stay late at the office, and generally give the appearance of being exceedingly busy on a BIG assignment.

Truth is, Thursday 4pm rolls around and you haven’t even started the project yet, and now you reallize that you don’t have a fourth day to complete it, and you have to get it done tonight!

You panic a bit, go for a coffee, and proceed to make the assignment as big as you indicated to everyone all week long, staying until 9pm to get it done.

The fact that most of us work in an environment that expects us to show up by 9am for 8 or 9 hours, 5 or 6 days a week, leaves us with the unpleasant task of figuring out how to fill the time so that we appear to be busy.

For this reason I suggest that the proverbial 40-hour workweek (for many it is more like 50-60 or higher) is doing many of us, and our employers, a great disservice by wasting valuable time and resources. The following practices might increase overall productivity as well as improve work/life balance:


  • Challenge yourself with shorter deadlines for each new task
  • Reward yourself by using some of the time saved to work on some of your own initiatives (which could lead to promotion, etc.)
  • Set a goal to leave the office by __pm everyday, communicate this with your boss, then show them how much more productive you are


  • Establish clear rewards for completing assignments early, like leaving an hour early, or inclusion on a cool new project team
  • Give deadlines for assignments that clearly indicate the time it should take to complete
  • Help your employees by prioritizing assignments when multiple assignments overlap


Referenced Link:  How to use Parkinson’s Law to Your Advantage, www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/how-to-use-parkinsons-law-to-your-advantage.html

Letting Go: Plans

We all make plans for our lives.  God has a plan for all of us.  When our plans align with God’s awesome things happen.

Our Plans

We all make plans – some good and some not so good; some we keep and some we abandon; some which we are conscious of and some we are not.  King Solomon recognized that we make plans both with our hearts and with our minds:

The heart of man plans his way (Prov. 16:9)
Many are the plans in the mind of a man (Prov. 19:21)

However, those plans are not always righteous:

Whoever plans to do evil will be called a schemer. (Prov 24:8)

The prophet Isaiah put it this way:

As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil; he plans wicked schemes to ruin the poor with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is right.  But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. (Is. 32:7-8)

Think about the plans you have made or are in the process of making and identify the primary beneficiary.  Are any of your plans made for the benefit of others?  If not, what changes could you make to include the benefit of others?

God’s Plans

Solomon didn’t just recognize that we make plans with our hearts and minds, he also recognized that whatever plans we make, God’s purpose stands firm and He is there to guide our steps:

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps (Prov. 16:9)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Prov. 19:21)

We can make our plans, and even carry them out, but nothing we plan will alter God’s ultimate purpose.  In fact, God has incredible plans for us, for our ultimate good:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jer. 29:11)

Sometimes we might feel like God’s plan for us is completely off track.  Is it His plan or ours that is truly off track?

Have you ever contemplated what God’s plan for you might be?  Do you see God’s plan for you as something good or bad?  Why?

The Great Alignment

Okay, so I get that we have plans (for good or for evil) and God has plans (for good), but what does this have to do with Letting Go?

When we are willing to

  • seek out counsel,

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.  (Prov 15:22)

  • seek out what God has planned for us,

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  (Jer 29:12-13)

  • and commit our actions to God,

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Prov. 16:3)

then we are Letting Go of the plans that come from a selfish desire, and allowing God to establish our steps according to his good purpose, for the perfect satisfaction of our deepest desires.

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!  (Psalm 20:4)

A desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Prov. 13:12)

Author and preacher John Piper puts it beautifully this way:

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Are you satisfied with your plans, or are you willing to let go of your plans to seek satisfaction in God and experience the promised fulfillment of your heart’s desire?