I went to a great high school.
Actually, I think they may have drugged the drinking water at the place because everyone who went to Philip Pocock High School in Mississauga, Ontario thinks they went to the best high school ever.
The memories are still as vivid as ever...
Like the day someone stole a police officer's Ford Mustang and drove it through the cafeteria wall overnight for all of us to find in the morning.
Or the time a friend broke through the fence and drove his car onto the football field with a huge school flag sticking out of his sunroof during half time to show his support for the Pocock Pirates.
Or the afternoon Pete "The Greek" screamed, right in front of my Grade 10 English teacher... actually... I can't mention that one in good company. 🙂
Anyway, I'm sure I learned a thing or two there as well.
In Grade 9 and 10 I was on the stage in front of the whole school because I had achieved a 90%+ average on my classes.
I believe one year I was first or second in the whole school, can't recall which.
Funny how I can remember the stories but not my marks...
I do recall my marks falling down to 80% for my last couple of years. In Grade 11 I got my driver's license and my own car and all of sudden studying wasn't my top priority.
Boy, the adventures my friends and I had in that 1990 T-Bird.
There's another memory that stands out A LOT!
I recall in my final year of high school being summoned to the Guidance Councillor's office.
It was my time to get "guidance" from the football coach who held down a part time gig as a guidance councilor at the school. I think he did it just so he could qualify to be the football coach, which was his obvious passion.
And I know that because when it came time to give me "guidance" that would shape the next 5-10 years of my life it went like this...
"Well Tom, your aptitude tests are back and you're really good at math so you should probably go into Engineering. The deadline for University applications is next month."
Bam, that was it.
I think as a coach he must have been a tactics guy more than a strategy guy.
Now you have to understand that our parents weren't raised in this country. They had no idea how the post-secondary school system worked at all.
So they were just happy to see me go to University, especially my father who definitely wanted me to become a lawyer (sorry Dad!).
I filled out my University papers, checked off Engineering as my focus and sent them a away.
I got accepted to each University I applied for, enrolled at the University of Toronto and ended up with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a second major in Sociology.
Now, for my point in all this...
Looking back on my experience at high school, and I've mentioned this before somewhere, I realized something.
I didn't really care too much about my University or "after high school" decision making process, because I didn't understand the importance.
But if that guidance councilor said something like this...
"OK Tom, map out the life you want to live on this piece of paper. The house you want, the income you want, the family you want, the vacations you want, the savings you want, everything; do your best and map it out. After you're done we're going to take that life you've mapped out for yourself and I'm going to tell you, with the career path you've picked out for yourself, if it's at all possible."
Then, if they went on to show me that an Engineer in Canada on the high end earns $90,000 a year and the life I wanted cost $190,000 a year, I may have thought about things a little differently.
I *may* have mapped out a plan that had me becoming an Engineer as my FIRST STEP in my career and then understanding I would need to do something different with my experience to live the life I wanted.
Or that I would need to supplement my income somehow right from day one to achieve my ideal life.
Instead I approached finishing University as an "end-game".
That once I had my degree I had "made it".
I literally remember going to Harry Rosen and spending a lot of money on a trench coat and an umbrella (still have no idea why I thought those two items were so important to my success, it must have been a rainy year or something?)... so that I would be prepared for my first day at work at the Royal Bank of Canada's main IT Department on Front Street in Toronto.
Within 2 weeks I realized my pay would not only NOT support me shopping at Harry Rosen, but it also would barely be enough to pay for my GO Train pass.
I hadn't bothered to map out any sort of plan for my life at all.
I'm not blaming my guidance councilor, I'm sure he was doing the best he could in between watching Football tapes...
But it sure would have been nice to have a "life planning" session back then.
Boy, I could have used it.
Perhaps I wouldn't have listened to the advice back then, but at a minimum, I would have been exposed to the idea of mapping out your future.
One of the the reasons both Nick and myself love real estate so much is that it fits perfectly into our life plans.
Buy a property today, let the income pay off the debt and one day have a free and clear cash machine that spits out money month in and month out; helping me live the life I really want.
And trying to add more and more assets into our life that fit the same strategy has been a big focus for us.
In fact, each quarter we now sit down and map out our "business plan" which is in affect a big part of our "life plan".
Where do we want to be in 5 years?
What do we want to be doing?
Where are we right now?
What do we have to work on to get there?
It's taken my about 20 years after high school to realize the importance of this and to do it as a formal event every 3 months.
The results have been very satisfying.
I'm all for screwing around a little after school to "find yourself", but I really wish I started this whole planning thing a lot earlier.
The good news is it's never too late.
With the plans we're making today I feel really excited about the next 20 years.
If you haven't taken a day off of work, alone, without the family, to go off and map out your strategic plan we would highly recommend you do it.
One day, purely focused on you and your life, has amazing benefits.
Having your own plan keeps you focused, allows you to blast through obstacles and ignore distractions.
Achieving each little goal along the way is hugely satisfying and builds your confidence to dream bigger and move faster.
The momentum is energizing.
Just don't get all pumped up and drive your car across your old high school football field - don't want to see you being arrested by high school security or anything crazy like that! 😉
Until next time...
Your Life! Your Terms!