A while back, my husband, Larry and I inherited a working cattle ranch with a two-story historic home that had been in his family since 1885. In recent times, both the home and the 200 plus acres of wheat and native grass pastures had been reduced to less than its former proud state. This was simply a result of the former family member’s inability to keep it in good repair due to their age and health.

Larry had known for some time prior to the inheritance that this property would someday be his. He had talked on many occasions about things he would like to be able to do if the property did become his. True to his nature, Larry drew out a master plan of projects he desired to accomplish including cleaning up the land, refencing the pastures and exterior property lines, rebuilding the rundown corral and shed and ultimately remodeling the ranch house.

One of the first things he did was to tear down an old chain-link fence and replaced it with a pipe fence that would keep the cattle from entering the yard around the house. Then he had the “dump” removed. This was an area, close to the house, which had been the place where “everything that no longer had a use” was piled for the past 100 years.

He also made some minor repairs to the house for safety and security reasons. I mention these things because while I was helping him in these tasks, I am one of those kinds of people that really needs to know and understand what the ultimate objective will be for these efforts. When I would ask him, the answer was usually because this task is a security priority because we did not actually live on the property or that the project is necessary for the business of the ranch to continue. He never hesitated and was always confident in his answers and his methods. I love that about him.

But one day, it occurred to me I didn’t really understand his ultimate purpose for all these activities. We had never settled on a decision that would put us living on the property for the rest of our lives and still I was certain he had no plans to ever sell the property. The land was leased for cattle production and hunting revenue and almost all the furniture in the home had been disbursed to family members. So why make all these improvements?

He had mentioned turning the house into a lodge and allowing extended family access periodically throughout the years. That must be his purpose, but I had to know if I had figured it out. I asked him point blank and his response, again with no hesitation, surprised me and at the same time did not. He said his purpose was to leave the property in a better condition than he received it. That response brought such a smile to my heart.

For that project you are working on right now…what is the purpose? Do you have to think about it or do you know, without a shadow of a doubt, why you are doing it?