There is nothing like the start of my favorite time of year, the Holiday Season, to make me hungry! I love “The Eating Season”, from Thursday’s kickoff until the closing bell rings on New Year’s Day. We are certainly blessed to live in a country where we have such abundance and the freedom to celebrate life as we wish.
Recently, I received an email from Horsesmouth, a service aimed at financial service professionals, containing an article written by Nicole O. Coulter. While everyone has had a pretty dismal investment year and many are distracted by life’s daily chores, her article was about how to increase our gratitude for the bounty of our lives. Call me a helpless romantic but I believe that we can use this period in economic history to restore our values to their lead-role in creating a life that is true to our inner-self, as well as improving our choices. In the process, we will increase the financial success of all. Being positive is essential to our productivity, our growth as individuals, and it provides the social capital necessary to help groups bond as families, employees, and friends for the betterment of all. My take on her suggestions follows.
· Look for the good in each person or situation we encounter. We should keep our days from being negative and when life throws us lemons, we make lemonade to share with others. We can’t control the markets – stock or job – but we can control how we react. During times like these, being optimistic puts us light years ahead of those that react as if they are being threatened. Control what we can control. Stop trying to change what we cannot change. Learn to recognize the difference.
· Stop thinking of our occupation as a job. Begin to think of it as how we are spending our life in the service of others. What aspects of our life’s work bring us the most satisfaction? Focus on those aspects and share that happiness with others.
· Take a sincere interest in other people. Stop asking them, “How are you?” Start asking them, “You seem happy, what’s up?” or “What excitement do you have planned for this weekend?” If a friend, child, or associate asks you if you have a minute to talk, give them as much time as they need – and take time to listen!
· Stop rushing through life. Use part of each day to organize our selves. Daily, we need to exercise, nap, and meditate or pray. We have to make time to allow our thoughts to find the unique, positive features of the things and people in our lives. The gains in productivity will quickly outweigh the time we invest in our inner self.
· Imagine our ideal selves; reflect on what we’ve gained from our mentors, and work to instill similar reflections in those that look to us for guidance. Think back on our favorite childhood memories and consider how these pleasant memories repeatedly play themselves out in the choices we make on a day-to-day basis.
Well, my daughter is home from college (University of South Carolina), my eldest son is coming home this evening from graduate school (University of Michigan), and my youngest just walked in the house following wrestling practice. I’d rather spend time with them than write. She, however, just gave me an inspirational quote that was given to her by one of her roommates. It seems fitting.
Live your life so when you wake up in the morning the Devil says, “Damn it…she’s awake!”
May you awake each day motivated to create success, financial and otherwise, in the lives of all. While you’re at it, I hope you had a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
- Robert O. Weagley, Ph.D., CFP(r)
Chair, Personal Financial Planning
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211