Focus On Making The Dream Happen

The lush beauty of a midsummer day like today really underscores why my co-founder Chris Martenson and I started Peak Prosperity over a decade ago.

We want to help people live with abundance and be happy. That’s our simple goal.

To succeed, we first have to identify and wrestle with all of the challenges and constraints that stand in the way. An over-indebted economy, peak resources, declining net energy, manipulated markets, deficient leadership, accelerating inequality, decaying infrastructure – to name just a few.

Yes, it can all feel depressing, scary and overwhelming at times.

But sitting in the warm sun next to a fruit-laden apple tree (as I just did moments ago) and taking a moment to appreciate all that nature rewards you with in return for living in harmony with it – beauty, peace, healthy food, fulfilling work, a place to gather with those you love – helps ground us in what’s truly important.

And it reminds us that it’s much more useful to focus on the good we are creating in life, rather than get mired in the negativity we seek to escape. The former inspires us; the latter just saps our will.

As a case in point, after producing this week’s Market Update video (which includes an excellent guest appearance by Joe Saluzzi), I found myself angrily stewing on the abundant and criminally unfair practices the big Wall Street banks use to enjoy obscene profits at our expense. And how in any crisis they’re not only protected, but enriched.

It’s not like any of this was news to me. Or that I, personally, have any agency in changing the banking system.

But nonetheless, my brain rat-holed in anger at those bastard banks until I saw this tweet of Chris’:

Chris nailed it here. If we’re able to secure our own requirements for a happy life, then the rest of the thrash happening in the surrounding world really loses its control over us.

To his credit, Chris set himself the goal last year of finding a very specific type of property to convert into a sustainable, resilient farmstead. He closed on the property in December and has been regularly documenting here at his prodigious efforts so far in getting the property up and running. (he shares his latest insights here, for those interested)

And as someone who has known Chris closely for over a decade, he’s indeed much less emotionally impacted now by the latest boneheaded Fed policy or sanctioned theft perpetrated by TPTB.

He’s too busy living his intended life to care. There are cows to put to pasture, and garden rows to harvest.

What's Your Vision?

Chris' journey raises a great question: What's your vision?

Where do you want to be, ultimately? And what do you want to be doing when you get there?

Not having a vision but craving a better life is like jumping into a car without a map (or GPS) and randomly driving around, hoping you’ll end up someplace better than where you left. It’s not often a winning strategy.

Even having a defined vision isn’t very useful unless you’re laying out specific goals to bring it into reality, and pursuing them purposefully.

So, what’s your situation? Are you making good progress towards a well-defined objective?

If not, then that’s a clear sign that your process or your vision (or both!) isn’t satisfactorily fleshed out yet. And that’s where you should be placing your mental energies right now.

One Path To Success

If, like Chris, the life you want involves living in a different place than you do now, you need to make time your ally, not your enemy.

The same is true if you want to put your capital to work outside of the Wall Street casino.

In both cases, lots of homework is required to identify and fairly value your options, then acquire and manage what you decide to go with.

Those looking to move should first determine if relocation to a new county/state/country is the best fit for their needs. Helpful resources for folks making that decision are Joel Skousen’s book Strategic Relocation and our podcast on relocation with James Wesley Rawles.

Movers and investors alike will benefit from the hours of expert insights contained inside Peak Prosperity’s excellent educational video series in Real Estate Investing.

Whether you’re looking to find the best value on your next primary residence, or whether you’re interested in owning a tax-advantaged and inflation-adjusting income stream that you control (not the Wall Street sharks), you’ll need to:

  • understand how real estate as an asset class works and its overall economics
  • determine which type of property and what market you want to purchase in
  • get familiar with that niche and start tracking prices and listings to develop an eye for what constitutes good value
  • identify and recruit a good team of expert professionals to help you (e.g., realtor, mortgage lender, accountant, attorney, property manager, syndicator, etc)
  • line up your financing

Here's a quick taste of the kind of highly practical value the video series offers:

And that was only a 4-minute clip. The full series is 12 hours long. It's chock-full of additional essential guidance for success.

But all of the above takes time, measured in months (at a minimum) to do well. So get started now.

Fortune Favors The Prepared Mind

As we often emphasize: Your prospects tomorrow will be determined by the actions you take today.

Because of the widespread economic pain caused by the coronavirus, 4.2 million US households failed to pay their mortgages in June. A national downturn in housing prices seems a certainty at this point.

It behooves you to ask yourself how you want to be positioned should home prices indeed drop substantially over the next several years, especially if you are seeking to acquire your “forever” home the way Chris just did.

And if you own property, perhaps you might want to sell now. Or, if you plan to hold, at least mentally prepare yourself for the emotional stress should market values drop for a prolonged period of time.

If you have tenants, you may want to lock in longer leases to ensure you have the necessary income to ride out the down cycle. Or re-finance or re-capitalize as may make sense.

And if you’re interested in using a market correction as an opportunity to buy property at (potentially significantly) better valuations than today, then you should use the time now to become sufficiently educated and prepared.

For those interested, we have compiled and published our excellent 6-part educational video series How To Invest In Real Estate For Safety & Profit into a Vimeo playlist. It’s a hugely helpful resource.

Its first episode (2 hours long), can be watched here for free. If you find value in that, you can purchase the other episodes individually, or purchase the full bundle at a substantial discount.

But the key point is to get started. Your prospects tomorrow will be determined by your actions today. Fortune favors the prepared mind.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

One of the 25+ apple trees currently producing on the property:
apple tree

It is nice to hear about your frustration and anger. I can totally relate and have been there so many times. The gold and silver price suppression has made me frustrated for years at the greed of the bankers, the complicity of our government and the regulators and my helplessness to do anything. But in the end, it has just been great practice for me to let go and remember what really matters. Living each day to the fullest, being grateful for all the wonderful people and abundance in my life is what I need to keep my focus on. Each day, each year I am getting better at keeping what is most important right in front of me. I have enough of everything and am on the path you outline in your article. What else does a person really need?

Hi Adam, thank you for the interesting read. I am sitting on my new, re-buit deck and enjoying the sunset. The old deck was circa 40 years old and had deteriorated recently. So my vision this spring was to get it re-built. Now that’s done. I will have a huge almost 100’ Maple tree in the yard trimmed. That will come after a short trip to the lake. Stay well, keep building.

Chris and Adam,
Love these macro-focused posts.
However, I am a parent, and I need some help with the here and now. What are parents supposed to do with their kids in four weeks? My entire family has been locked down and taking precautions since early March. We’ve tried so hard to do our part to keep everyone healthy and do what we can to solve the collective problem.
The school today announced that students are returning in person five days a week. Kids are supposedly wearing masks all day, and any family traveling to a hotspot (whatever that means) has to quarantine for two weeks after that. You know what the vocal parents were upset about? They weren’t upset about having in-person classes while this thing spirals out of control; they were upset about having to freaking quarantine after traveling out of state.
I have no idea what to do in four weeks, but the decision is looming. Any help is appreciated.

Since Granny is not here anymore I will take her place. Are you serious? Yes we do have a lot to be thankful for. I have friends who are out of work and have been for 4 months. I have a friend who lost his restaurant. I have musician friends who have no place to play to make a living. The list is endless.
Yeah man wish I had million to buy a 180 acre farm complete with tractor , sawmill etc. But I don’t and Not many do. Those people I mentioned up above don’t have enough to buy an apple let alone apple trees.
I am far better off than most because I started preparing over 50 years ago but I am ever mindful of the real life suffering of people living day to day and not paycheck to paycheck anymore.
I am grateful for my life but this article just illuminates the gap between those with portfolios and those scraping by.
Thank you I think I will now go eat my cake.
This one’s for you Granny wherever you are.

Mohammed -
Not every post will resonate equally with every reader.
But the purpose of this post is not to say you need a property Chris’ size to find happiness in life.
Rather, it’s to encourage the reader to focus on what they can do vs curse what they can’t. To be grateful for the good they have and to visualize the positive change they want to see in their life and then create actionable goals and momentum towards making that vision reality.
That advice is just as relevant to those of few means as to those of many. Not sure why you feel the need to castigate such a universal message.
And, if the resources provided for home searchers/investors bother you – fine, just skip over those. As we always advise, take from our work what resonates for you and leave the rest. There’s no need to sling classist aspersions on those who may find those resources useful.

Over the last couple years I’ve found it helpful to read from my Daily Stoic book. Every morning a read a short passage from the book and it helps me focus on what is important. I used to focus and get frustrated with things outside of my control but at the end of the day I was worse off for it. We have limited time and energy on this earth, best to focus on the things we can control and actually influence. I’m enjoyed seeing the all the progress that Chris is making and especially because I’m on a similar path. It’s great to be informed of what is going on the world but worrying about does little for anyone. Thanks for the article. We’ve added some livestock to our property this year, two bee hives, so far they are doing well, it’s been a cool summer here in the Rocky Mountains of Southern BC but we are enjoying the lower fire risk and rain. Take care.

Apples in Sebastopol? Who woulda thunk? Please, tell me they’re Gravensteins! Mouth fully watering…Aloha, Steve.
Happy looking pups, as well!

I second that cowtown2011. For those not familiar with Stoicism, check out “A Guide to the Good Life” by William Irvine. Even those of us with modest means can both strive toward a vision and also appreciate what we have.

I like this post a lot, especially because there is a deeper layer.
One could indeed contrast the material situation depicted in it with ones own. Which could lead to mimetic wants. Lets call that the layer of “mimetic vision”, i.e., the a vision that is not ones own, it mimics the idea, vision and life of others. And indeed, as Mohammed indicated, comparison on this layer will only induce strong emotions like sadness and resentment because of the apparent unfairness.
Basically this boils down to the question why people suffer. All major religions have answers to this, and interestingly enough, all answers have a similar undertone, although, imo, the way some answers are formulated is somewhat childish, the way we explain things to childeren. Why me, not he? Why she, not me?
Could it just be that some (not all) of the hands we are dealt have a deeper purpose? Could it be that my life is not about me, but it has to experienced through me? Could it be that my life is part of a grander, inconceivable reality? For dwellers in the layer of “mimetic vision”, other, deeper, realities, or layers, are non-existent at best, and total rubbish at worst; this cannot be held against then. We all have been there; remember how we perceived the world as childeren? Are childeren therefor stupid? Or do they have to grow and gain experience to increase their awareness?
The deeper layer in this post is imo that it is a call to remember and realize our own vision, each and every one of us according to our talents and the hands that are dealt to us. We should use our “talents”!
One last, and for most a very strange remark. Why are we so afraid to suffer and loose? Die we will, but what will be the most comforting: the gold we amassed, or the love we got and gave, and the insights we won? We have been there before, thousands of lives; and still we are here…

… Adam!, Honestly, until now and I apologize in advance I have felt your focus on what is happening in the world and major problems like “POPULATION CONTROL” just takes away from what can realistically be done to make each individual happier and their lives more rewarding by simply changing their own circumstance. If you can build and plant to create the life you want by your own efforts then you win, every day you wake up will be yours to change for the positive and that is my focus. Done are the days I point fingers at the system, I cannot control what the Fed does but, I can take advantage of it when all my cash does is go up! That’s still a good thing, yes? I’m not greedy and even if I were I am working within the system before me. The Fed will NOT loss until the Fed loses. I believe we just need to worry only about ourselves.
Every day since I moved my family into the country and my first 6 acres I have been in control, thankfully too because I will always point the finger at myself first and ask: “what more can I do”. Over the last 35 years I have learned from farmers, I know many different food growing practices and have made my mistakes. Hopefully, those years to present has taught me just one thing: an ounce of prevention cures all my troubles".
I like this Adam, your thread today way more than your over reaching into problems you could never control or make change to so take that as you will. I chose to get my shit done, it pleases me, motivates me, I’m happiest and thankfully I have a partner, My Lady is right there with me singing in the fields as we couldn’t be happier. If the shit hits the fan then boy, are we ever prepared. That’s the goal. Let go of all the bullshit and turn in some BULL shit, watch your garden grow, the dogs play and roll around a bit with your special someone. That’s what life is, a celebration and if you look you have so much more than you could possibly want right in front of you.
Be good Adam, now just drop the mic and walk away Brother, I get this type of message, well done. Peace BOB
PS: I too miss Granny, I seen nothing wrong with her point of view, and we wasted an opportunity to allow Granny to be more, over time and to see that others think differently based on their experience. Chris was harsh on her, way to judgmental because she didn’t say the things Chris seems to need be said but that’s on Chris. Yes, she could make you roll your eyes at times, everyone has that ability. I am absolutely sure I don’t comport to everyone’s point of view but I could give a shit. Love BOB

This post is a great reminder and positive encouragement.
The reason I finally joined Peak Prosperity after reading the free side for a couple years, and why I take the time to participate in the discussions, is because Adam and Chris have built a site designed to empower readers to engage in the whole virtuous cycle of provisioning and appropriating the goods of life. It is a learning curve, however, that cannot be mastered by reading or talking; it has to be embodied. And the stumbling blocks we each encounter as we act on our desires become opportunities to both learn more and to increase or correct our skills. I gain valuable perspective from this site and from many members of the tribe. I can also share from my lessons here; and sharing, I find, helps me cement for myself my dirty-hands discoveries.
I’m sure many contributors understand that when we’re out doing it there is no hiding whether or not we are hitting our goals. There is no place for pretend self-esteem, but there is abundant opportunity to develop real self-mastery by working through the hardship and knock-down reality that come with the journey of figuring out what works and what does not.
I think that’s what scares some people into inaction. My brother has become a professional seminar participant who takes online course after online course, all of which are marketed as opportunities to learn how to make a good living by building some kind of (usually online) business, but each time he has embarked on the act of making physical his newly acquired knowledge, he has hit some roadblock. Rather than take that as an opportunity to learn and grow, he retreats and takes up another program. “Well, that one wasn’t for me,” he says. Meanwhile, he feels frustrated by his failure to hit it big. Also meanwhile, he has developed an impressive set of diverse internet and website skills, which he has not monetized. But I periodically employ him to help me solve a website problem for one or another of the websites I operate so that I can continue to receive the small streams of income I get from them. He is my way through some roadblocks; but he is not his own roadblock destroyer.
Occasionally I see signs of someone or other who participates on this site the way my brother does on many sites. Each time, I have wished I could somehow encourage them to move from consumer to producer – from someone who is perpetually learning how to do it to someone who does it, however poorly at first.
The fact is that we all start where we are, with the resources we have on hand. Some of us here look at what we don’t have and conclude there is no hope, especially as the hour seems to be growing increasingly late and the costs are big. Others look at what resources we do have, strategize how to capitalize on them, and start taking steps toward manifesting the future we’d like to have. We know we might not get there before trouble comes, but we also believe that however far along the road we do get we’ll be better off than if we hadn’t started. And as Adam wrote in this post, “fortune favors the prepared mind.”
A few years ago I read about a guy stuck in an urban neighborhood house who dreamed of one day owning a farm. Chronically under-employed, he had no hope of buying a country place. But what he did do was start farming in his back yard. He converted it into good organic soil, and he sold his produce. Then he asked a neighbor if he could use her back yard, too, in exchange for some of the veggies grown there. She said yes. He kept asking around, many people said yes, and in a few short years he had a thriving organic vegetable business and was on the way to putting aside the money he needed to buy the farm land he wanted.
Roadblock? What roadblock? I’m confident someone living in an apartment with no attached land could find backyards and fields on which to pursue the same strategy. How much easier for someone living in the suburbs?
The only real poverty is poverty of imagination. It’s a real existential threat to many of us in the First World today because 150 years ago even the poorest among us knew how to grow food, or hunt and trap. Today, well over 80% of us don’t know how to eat if we can’t find and afford a grocery store. That’s one thing PP wants to change. It is: On this site is the knowledge. But as the old saying has it, you can’t make a horse drink, even if you put the water right under its nose. Until the horse is thirsty enough, it’ll just stand there and look at it.

Hi VTGothic! May I suggest Abeka homeschooling? My kid's father and i are divorced, although it was difficult 6 years ago we managed to file an agreed divorce with zero alimomy and zero child support established. Instead we agreed to pay all kid's expenses 50/50 and organize our shcedules for a real 50/50 shared custody. People so often forget that agreeing is way FAIRER than having a judge make the decision for you, which usually ends up being unfair to everyone. Anyway, with that out of the way we brainstormed how to get our preteen kids in a better school environment and how to pay for it. Church friends recommended Abeka 3 years ago and we loved their accredited yet Christian based online videos and books. The next part was how to pay the tuition and we found out that the annual child tax credit from the IRS is more than enough to pay for their school year with enough leftover for their clothes. Their dad takes them to church regularly for socialization with other kids and the local library used to have a homeschoolers social club. The social part can be challenging with coronaviris restrictions but my kids have been thriving and uderstand the limitations. They've adapted beautifully to homeschooling and weren't affected at all by the school lockdowns. I love the schedule flexibility since they can access their classes anywhere in their ipads (another perk of having a non contested divorce, instead of paying attorney fees we were able to buy the kids an ipad each). Their father and i get to pick the books they read for their reading reports which i love. Before coronavirus i would take my kids for trips out of state during low season (huge savings and no crowds) and have fun thanks to the convenience of online learning and sometimes they work hard to finish their assignments sooner to have more time for traveling when other kids would be chained by regular school. They don't miss all the bullying they experienced, long transportation times in school buses nor the useless common core. They are usually done with their daily classes by noon and sometimes they do the next day's worth of classes til around 5 if we have nothing else in the schedule. I am in charge of PE, so i can take them swimming to the YMCA, walking at grrenways and i grade their progress. Abeka has been a blessing to us before covid and now during this covid stuff. At first we were hessitant about homeschooling but we're SO GLAD we jumped into it. I remarried and became a stay at home mom. This loss of my income has had very little impact on my kid's school and i can see them more often. We don't have family relatives or close friends, yet working as a team for the children's sake and their best interest is paying off. I don't know how old your kids are but if you have family around to keep an eye on the kiddos and make sure they are focusing on their online classes and doing their assignments while you're at work would be great. Btw their website is Hope this info helps you!

Hey Adam. Pleased to read this post and find it is not just promoting a back-to-the-land romantic scenario. Many variations for securing your future. I’m happy for both you and Chris, being comfortable with your homesteads, but no one should kid themselves that land stewardship isn’t a massive amount of hard work. Personally, I spent years trying to decide between a rural and urban life. The last morning I was on the tractor mowing ahead of triple didget heat put an end to the quandary. I’m now in a place I can manage myself, or at least with minimal help. The weather is unlikely to kill me and one apple tree is enough.

25+ Apple Trees? Mr. Adam Taggart, those are some resilience goals!
Relocation isn’t happening at the moment for me, so I’m doing my best in my backyard here in San Mateo County, CA. One great thing about this climate is that, like Sonoma County, it’s year round gardening. At the moment, I have the following trees: olive, lemon, kumquat, loquat, plum, fig and peach. In raised beds, I grow potatoes, corn, zucchini, spinach, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, peppers… there’s always something fresh.

Definitely call your school administrative offices and request a virtual option. I would be shocked if they did not offer your something. I am a teacher and will have to report, but I will be keeping my kids at home. I plan to follow whatever district virtual option I receive for my children until things are safe again. If there is no virtual option there is a homeschool option through Pearson education and others. You can also look into a community school in your area. My sister in law is planning on staying home with her kids and homeschooling a few others in her neighborhood. Do not send your children if you do not think it is safe and please tell your district your opinions.

Hello Adam,
I really enjoyed your article and its emphasis on connecting with the natural environment and finding peace on joy in the midst of an increasingly crazy world.
I would like to offer one additional way to experience being connected, by helping others. The ministry I’m involved in as a Catholic deacon brings me into contact with a wide variety of people. From those experiencing the loss of a loved one to preparing a young couple for marriage. Through all the tears and smiles, I’m able to be of some assistance, and through the giving of my time, receive much more in return.
I also serve as president of a local food shelf’s board of directors (mainly because no one else wants to step up). Running meetings is not all that exciting, but working with our clients is. This past Thursday, I helped Second Harvest North Country Food Bank distribute boxes of food to our food shelf clients and whomever else showed up. The smiles and thank you’s from the people are priceless, and I left knowing I had helped to make a small difference in their life.
My encouragement to everyone is find an organization serving the poor that could use your help. Whether you end up working directly with the people, packing bags and boxes, or stocking shelves, you will know you’re helping someone in need.
The quote in the subject line is from the Prayer of St Francis

Try turning of your phone for a week. No news no media , nothing… In fact i wouldn’t watch news, politics, virus studies , vaccines etc… Media is the greatest pollutant when have in society and its productivity. In fact , I am spending a lot less time here, reading less. Though, I have pretty much limited it to my only source for virus info and updates etc.

Adam, everything you said to Mohammed is technically true, but you may have a blind spot in terms of the problems facing low income people. Let’s say for example, you’re bagging groceries at a natural food market in Berkeley, living in a shoebox in Oakland and also reading PP and wondering what do I do? The front page content on PP seems very much NOT for people like you. Self directed IRAs? Homesteads? Jesus Christ, I can barely make the rent. Why should I care about the Fed?
As someone who’s been in that lowest tax bracket at various times in my life, I would offer the following advice:

  • If you can, move to a lower cost metro. Research things like home prices, crime rate, proximity to farmland, walkability, etc. Pittsburgh, PA is an example of such a metro that has a good balance.
  • If you can't move far for whatever reason, move to a (relatively) safe, boring affordable "gray man" suburb, preferably one that has public transit links so that you have transport alternatives. In the East Bay, Concord would be my choice.
  • Store as much food and water as possible. Grow as much food as feasible on your balcony. Perhaps join the local community garden or sign up for a CSA, farmer's market volunteer, etc. Anything to give you an alternative to the normal supply chain.
  • As much as possible, shed your debt like it's a cancer. Look up Dave Ramsey, Get Rich Slowly, etc. Beware of omnipresent ads telling you need to have a new car/clothes/phone to be worthy . That's how you become a debt slave.
  • Consider learning a trade: electrician, plumber, etc. Blue Collar pride has been on life support but I see it coming back in a big way.
Those are just a few thoughts that you won't find above the fold on PP but that are very much in line with PP philosophy.