Written by PJ Wade
Recently, in two separate incidents, parked police cars were hit by passing cars. News of these coincidental accidents started me thinking about how often the very things we try to avoid, we don’t.
The two offending drivers hit parked police cars (with officers inside) because the drivers, to avoid attracting police attention, kept looking at the police car instead of the clear road ahead. Their fear and concern distracted them, so they struck the very thing they hoped to avoid. Our visual nature causes us to move in the direction we are looking.
These two drivers were found to be driving under the influence, so their decision making was compromised as was their aim. They drove straight into trouble instead of away from it. You may be savvy enough to stay away from drugs and alcohol while attempting to solve a problem, but stress, fear, and ignorance can undermine decision making just as effectively.
What are you hoping to avoid? Eviction, foreclosure, or income loss? Or, are you dodging a tough talk with your spouse, parent, lender, or employee because you are no longer financially able to meet the commitments you’ve made? Or, perhaps you want to go against multiple generations of your family because you don’t want to, or do want to, sell the vacation or family home, when they’d like to do the opposite.
To avoid a negative outcome, focus on where you want to end up, not on the potential disaster you see ahead. For instance, to successfully drive a car down a narrow alley without hitting a wall, you must first position your car in the alley so it can clear both walls. Then concentrate on looking ahead at where you want to end up. Occasionally, glancing at one side wall will ensure you stay on track. Continuously, looking back and forth between the two brick side walls and not directly ahead may cause you to hit the wall.
The problem can distract you from the solution.Instead of going over and over the problem in your mind and in conversation, concentrate on exploring solutions and you will be drawn toward a positive outcome —the direction you concentrate on.
If you cannot see a solution to your problem, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Seek out experienced professionals and learn about possible positive outcomes and how to achieve them. For instance, if yours is a mortgage or real estate problem, a real estate professional could be your starting point.
Real estate professionals cannot tell you what to do, but they may help you clarify the problem and can provide a range of solutions that falls within their expertise.
They will also know if another professional including a mortgage broker, real estate lawyer, mediator, estate advisor, or appraiser, would be better able to assist you. Real estate professionals will usually provide 3 or more ideal contacts, so that you can interview all to get different points of view and solutions; then choose the best match.
Don’t under value real estate professionals because they don’t charge to help you learn whether their services would resolve your problem or to suggest alternative starting points for you. Experienced professionals have spent their careers listening to buyers, sellers, and wanna-bees who have each felt their problem was unique and insoluble. Often the “unique” is far from that and “insoluble” has commonplace solutions.
When your solution includes sensitive conversations, don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding the right moment and the right approach to broach the subject. That procrastination may have gotten you in trouble in the first place. NOW is the right time.
Case Study: Solution for Distraction
John and Alice Lee (name changed) received a terrific wedding present from her parents: an irregular-shaped, 1.5-acre building lot adjacent to their rural property and those of Alice’s two older brothers. Nothing was said to the brothers, or by the brothers, about this gift. The ploy to keep Alice close to family worked and the Lees began planning to build their new house. Self-employed John was currently earning a 6-figure income online, so they planned to build the house fairly quickly and then start their family.
More than a year after the land gift, Alice’s brothers came to her asking for their share of the value of the land since “we’re a family and we always share.” This request was triggered in part by new listings across the street that put $400,000 price tags on 5 acre lots—an acreage that allows significant local building advantages. The brothers, prorating value from the listed lots, calculated that the 2/3 of the value owed to them amounted to $80,000.
John was ready to pay off the brothers to keep family harmony, but Alice had other concerns:
The land gift had come from her parents, so why weren’t her sibs dealing with the parents about the perceived injustice? Her parents had decided what to do with the land they owned, not her.
Her brothers both live in houses built with loans and other advances from the real-estate-based family business. Alice, who had not been following the business closely, even though she is a shareholder and chips in when needed, was not sure what the total financial benefit to the brothers had been while she was away at university. Instead of possibly receiving more from her parents than her brothers had, did the land gift balance what the brothers had already received, or was she lagging behind her brothers? Alice was concerned that not only she and her husband, but their unborn children were being short changed.
Alice, the youngest child and only girl, was used to giving into sib bullying, but she did not want this precedent to characterize her adult relationship with her family and the family business. In spite of this resolve, Alice felt out of her depth and guilty about upsetting the family.
The stage is set, as it is in too many similar cases, for stress, fear, and ignorance about real estate ownership, property value, and estate planning to potentially ruin a marriage, a family, and a family business—and the peace of mind of many individuals.
How do you think John and Alice should resolve this problem? Help us finish this story with your comment below or email your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “RT distraction solution.”