Preparing for the Downhill

Have you ever looked at a sales graph and noticed, relatively speaking, that progress is always uphill? I was pondering some housing chart and I wondered why good is always up. No doubt, higher ground has its advantages in battle, has the views, and mimics the whole heaven-earth-hell hierarchy. It might thus seem that up is where we want to be, unless of course Godzilla is on the loose – no sense making it convenient for him to grab us.

Still, as I sat there, it occurred to me that there is some wisdom in the uphill-downhill representation in graphs; that when we think about going one direction or the other in our finances and real estate, we also should think about the ramifications. If we are to move up the graph towards some better financial times, we should remember that it’s harder to walk uphill than down – or is it? If we are trudging up hill, it does take more effort, uses more muscle, and burns more calories. But we can prepare for these uphill movements by training, stockpiling energy, path-finding, and working on timing.

Downhill movement still uses muscles, but for most of us, it is more taxing on the joints; our structure if you will. If you have a bum knee, you might very well be able to climb without care, but a steep downhill stretch will quickly expose the problems. Then there is the control issue; very few of us have fallen too far uphill, but most have certainly been surprised at how far we tumbled on a downward slope. We can gobble glucosamine and keep a quantity of ibuprofen on hand, or begin training for what's next.

Back to the graph thing. Perhaps there is some wisdom there. Maybe it does take more effort to move up the graph, and there are payoffs beyond bigger numbers. Maybe the downhill is harder on the joints/structure and brings the mind around to the hierarchy model. Maybe they work well together in keeping us realistic in our ability, staying in shape, keeping our eyes on the path and making for interesting times.

With nearly nine straight years of economic expansion, we are getting pretty overdue for a correction (as "they" call it) and we will find out just how strong and well-structured we really are. Now is the time to get our house in order, whether speaking literally as a homeowner or figuratively as a Realtor. Seek wise counsel on preparing for change, protecting your house, and hopefully positioning yourself to be of greater value when change inevitably comes.

p.s. Since we are all in this together, we should probably work harder at helping each other too.

This blog is a recast of one I wrote for Utah CEO magazine in 2008, when things had already changed.