It’s been almost two years since the Financial Crisis began here in America. I’ve been thinking about how this massive shift in our economy and job market has impacted my life. It’s not something you’re aware of at the time, but the Financial Crisis made an impact on my life in many different ways.
The most obvious is that I chose to enroll in graduate school to earn my MBA. I know it’s cliché, but when the economy takes a plunge, people go back to school because there is not much room for growth in the job market. Or because it’s not clear whether or not their company will be strong enough to endure the recession. Although both of these fears rattled around in my head, the primary reason I went back to school was because I wanted to get a graduate degree before my family got any larger. I had flirted with the idea two years prior, but it was more important to focus on wedding, a new marriage, a baby…
The Crisis had impact other parts of my life as well. The story isn’t over yet, but one could guess that it’s been difficult for me and everyone else was invested in land, houses, or buildings. I don’t have enough time or humility to write any more about it, but I will say that I had to redirect my creativity and passion for building into new things.
I focused intensely on building Life Teen into a better organization through innovative websites that served as tools for our staff. Plus I tried to improve my level of professionalism, time management, and to improve the projects where I collaborated with other teams. Of course, these were not new priorities to me, but how I did it changed—I invested all of my creativity and passion because it had nowhere else to go.
Finally, I focused more on my relationships, particularly with Candyce and Norah. I know this should be an obvious choice for a husband and father, but it’s easy to be distracted by the “projects of life” and miss those golden moments with my family. A product of this refocusing on the family was Candyce and I starting a small ministry for newlywed couples. We figured that we weren’t the only couple to struggle in our first year of marriage, so we decided to do what we could to help younger couples through the challenges of early marriage. So far we’ve worked with four couples and it’s been terrific. Again, this is a different type of building and investing for me.
In the end, I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned from the Financial Crisis is that success is not the guaranteed outcome of hardworking people. Plus once you have success, it’s not permanent. I guess the good news is that the inverse is also not guaranteed: that hardworking people can achieve success, and that depression is not permanent. Regardless of how you look at it, I’m not going to reduce life to a series of investments. Life is too good to be wasted obsessing over money.