I was a “by the book” person for decades. I followed the rules. I figured out what teachers or professors were looking for and gave them exactly that. I did not think outside of the box. I applauded innovators and out-of-the-box thinking, but didn’t think I would ever be one.
Then I failed.
I made a bad real estate purchase. It felt like a colossal failure. I took it personally and went into a deep funk.
I hated feeling so low.
I decided I was going to figure it out. I knew there were innovators and out-of-the-box thinkers in the world who would figure it out and, even though I was not one of them, I was going to try to see this failure the way they would.
The first thing I did? I considered all of the people I had admired over the years. I thought about the problems they had solved and, after some consideration, realized that they did it by coming at the problem differently. So that’s what I did.
The problem with the purchase was that it was a fixer upper in need of structural repairs in addition to cosmetic. Plus …
- I bought it with a partner: I provided the finances and they were supposed to contribute the manpower to do the repairs
- The partner started renovations by starting demolition work but then did nothing
- We (my partner and I) became deadlocked and could not move forward
- We ended up trying to sell it at a loss (my loss really since I was paying the bills) instead of fixing it
- We had a conditional offer but because we could not agree we could not respond to the conditions on the offer and lost it
After we lost that offer the house sat on the market for another 7+ months with little to no activity. I was the one paying the ongoing costs of holding the property and it seemed like I would never be rid of it.
The only “by-the-book” options I could see were (1) deal with my partner either through court or otherwise to remove him from title; or (2) stop paying the bills on the property and let the bank take it.
The idea of foreclosure was difficult for me to consider but it seemed like the only “by-the-book” option that I had.
Then I started looking at the problem differently. I needed to look beyond the obvious solutions. After researching “out-there” uses for property I came up with a number of alternative and “out there” solutions. Ultimately I put together a plan to remediate the property to be as off-grid as possible and market it as a short term rental for conferences or retreats (it is a large house in a prime location). The off-grid aspect of it was completely outside my partner’s abilities so it took him out of the equation. Since he had no experience in the area he was willing to bring in professionals to do the work.
The process that I went through to get to this plan changed the situation from hopeless to exciting … but it also changed me. I started to see problems in my daily life differently which in turn created a new sense of optimism. This in turn changed how I viewed my work, my life and my purpose.
For instance, when a career opportunity presented itself last year I applied for it. In the interview I could give examples about how I had solved problems creatively. I was offered that job and I took it.
In this new job I am faced with problems and opportunities that the old me would not have been equipped to handle. This new career trajectory is a large departure from where I was headed and get scared or nervous about where I am headed. However, instead of finding ways out of the scary parts I find creative ways to face them. I find myself choosing to face it then seizing that scared and nervous energy that comes from it to propel me forward.