Recently, I watched an inspiring BBC TV program about Nick and Lesley Vallance. Their story teaches much about how to achieve your goals and dreams even when your world is literally and metaphorically collapsing around you and you have a mountain of debt overshadowing your life.
Nick’s architectural business in Surrey had gone bust. Instead of going into their shell, the Vallance’s chose risk and adventure instead. They decided to move to Spain to convert a 400 year old Andalucian palace into a boutique hotel and family home even though they knew nothing about running a hotel and could only speak a few words of Spanish!
They also had no income after their business collapsed! However, Lesley commented that you only have one shot at life and need to embrace it. The Vallance’s had a budget of £250,000. With this money, they wanted to make a fresh start and face a new challenge in an attractive location.
Nick did have twenty years of experience as an architect which would help but the challenge was still a huge one and it would soon become even huger.
They bought the palace and then had to wait for four months for permission to start turning it into a hotel. Their debts mounted as they waited. Lesley commented that they should enjoy each day like the Spanish and not just fret about the delay.
Before the license came through, a huge part of the building collapsed removing six rooms from their hotel. This was probably thanks to demolition work being carried out by a neighbour!
The Vallance’s would have to redo all their paper work and re-apply for their license to adapt the palace. They would also have to spend even more money to strengthen the walls of the palace which had been shaken by the collapsed walls. At one point, they were paying their builders £40,000 a month. Their debt mountain was growing larger every day.
The neighbour refused to discuss compensation so they had to start yet another major task in their lives concerned with going to court for years and hopefully getting some money back at some point in the future. They realized that they could not allow this negative track in their lives to disturb the main track they were on – getting the hotel up and running.
They accepted the fact, in advance, that they might not get any money back. They also saw the silver lining in the fact that, if the hotel had been opened before the collapse, people could have been killed.
They had other problems too. Money was very tight especially after the huge setbacks they had suffered. The building bill had doubled to half a million pounds. They needed to borrow more money and would incur more debt.
They planned to open the hotel in June, so some income would start coming in to start paying off their debts. Nick said he could not afford to think negatively about what would happen if their project failed.
He had to believe that they would reach the June deadline although they had missed every previous deadline since they came to Spain. In the end, they missed this deadline too.
Nick clearly realized that he had taken a big gamble: “I have never been one to shirk a gamble.” He was also not one to ignore a problem. He did not bury his head in the sand but got busy. He did not even think about giving up.
Lesley also had the philosophy that every problem has a solution. The boys were not happy at a local Spanish school. The teacher was annoyed that they were not listening. “How can you listen if you don’t understand the language?” said one of the boys. After a year, the boys were moved to an international school where they were much happier
The Vallance family maintained their positive attitude and after eighteen months of hard slog, they felt they were nearer their dream. Lesley commented: “We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. My original dream of the hotel is there. We’ve done it.”
However, they would need 50% occupancy all year long just to break even. They would have to learn how to market the hotel successfully. They were excited when they received their first booking from their website. The booking fee of 90 euros was the first money they had made in two years!
After two long and exhausting years, they were proud and thrilled with their palace hotel. They actually enjoyed running the hotel even though they had never done this kind of work before. Sons, Harry and George, now seemed happy. They enjoyed their school and made friends. They talked less about England.
Lesley’s language skills had improved since the locals did not speak English and she was willing to have a go at speaking Spanish even when the native Spanish looked puzzled!
They still had large debts to pay off but their situation, thanks to their determination, hope and belief, had improved enormously. Lesley summed up her feelings: “I don’t feel so afraid of life.”
She realized that having her family about her was more important than anything else: “Nick and the boys being happy feels pretty good but I do miss Marks and Spencer and English sausages.”
An interviewer asked: “Have you achieved your dream?”
“Pretty close!” said Nick
Money worries and debt can cause inaction, depression and even suicide. Instead, Lesley and Nick ignored their money problems and embarked on a life of discovery and adventure. They had to go well outside their comfort zones and learn new language, business and marketing skills.
At times their world seemed to be collapsing about them but they just kept going until they reached solid ground. This took much longer than they expected but in the end their sheer courage, determination and persistence in the face of huge challenges helped them to achieve their dream.
Achieving your goals may take much longer and cost much more than you anticipated. You may also face large and unexpected problems. Things may seem much worse than when you started. You may well feel like giving up but, if you keep going and are prepared to learn new skills, your dreams can and do come true.
Hopefully, the adventure of the Vallance family in Spain will encourage you and me to achieve our own dreams. If your dream involves making money on the internet, you are unlikely to face the kind of debt that burdened the Vallances but, if you are in debt, their story proves that solutions can be found even when your debts are mind blowing.
A mountain of debt can be moved if you have the kind of mountain moving faith described in the Bible or the kind of positive attitude shown by the Vallance family. They did not allow their problems to paralyze them. They just kept working and applying their new skills until the mountain moved.
The Bible suggests that any one of us can, with just a little faith, move mountains and perform financial or other kinds of miracles.
If, like the Vallances, you find yourself facing mountainous debts remember that mountains can be moved and financial miracles can and do take place all over the world. In the meantime keep steadily working towards your goals.