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A Time For What Actually Matters

We have spent the past 12 month talking about many subjects. Money, behavior, history, etc. There was no lack of ammunition. A struggling stock and bond market, fears of a recession, political tug of war and a choppy economy just to name a few.

Just like every December in the past, we find ourselves in the holiday season. This season can mean different things to different people, but for many it represents a time of joy, time with family, time to relax and of course a time to break healthy habits at the hors d’oeuvres table. For others, it means good chatter over egg nog and an airing of grievances. Nothing says holiday togetherness like a good political argument.

With all of the stress-inducing topics that we could (and have) discussed over the year, I am looking forward to changing direction this year. It is too easy to fall into the negative trap when surrounded by friends and family who are generations older and younger than you, wondering how some are so cheerful and asking how others could be such grinches. As I have said before, you are what you experience. Consider the source.

The chart below, albeit simple, tells a story. From left to right we see the treasure of youth, then the grind of ‘adulting’, and then the so-called ’golden years.’

On the surface, most would agree that those years of life from 1-25 can be great. Carefree, low stress, new experiences and low responsibility. All building momentum as we head into the next 30 or so years of job responsibilities, stress, raising kids, worry about retirement and simply trying to keep it together. And for what? Just to (sarcasm warning) get into your golden years, get sore joints, spend down all of your savings, schedule doctor’s appointments, etc. If this is true how could folks in their older age become happier and why? Are middle aged folks missing something?

There is a lot to be learned from each end of this age spectrum. Naivety in your teen and young adult years can be a blessing. It allows us to dive in and learn the hard way which I personally stand by being the best way. The lesson learned sticks better.

At the opposite end of this spectrum, compounding knowledge teaches us to not sweat the small stuff that we sweat in our middle-age years. Anyone in that generation will agree that the big stuff quickly becomes small stuff and remind us ‘what is the rush?’ A close friend would say ‘yes, but I have less years to go than you!’ Sure, even more reason to care a bit less while stopping to smell the roses.

Us humans are weird. We seem to play this game (life) that eventually ends in a tie. We may score more points than our opponent, but nobody wins life. Maybe age helps us realize this and brings about enlightenment? I guess many of us will find out sooner or later.

On top of my holiday to-do list, other than naps in the sun, catching up on reading and doing some fishing – I plan to work on the below:

Gratitude: Our lives get busy, it’s okay. We all get distracted and in the midst of this distraction we forget the formula that got us to where we are. Maybe it was family, friends, colleagues, or maybe an unfortunate happening that moved our compass in a fortunate direction. Whatever it may be, reverse engineering the reasons we are fortunate helps us realize the beauty of the process. Giving thanks to the process and those involved is contagious. Be contagious this year.

Priorities: These change from the first day of life until the last. My priorities at 13 years of age involved what time my baseball game began and how to convince my parents into buying a new Nintendo gaming console for Christmas. Fast forward 30 years and my priorities are eating healthy food, working out, excelling in my career and yes, playing PS5 one night a week with my nephew. It keeps my mind young. I know these priorities will constantly change as I age. But, I try to never forget my #1 priority – smiling and making those around me smile as much as possible. This year, create smiles and laughter. The world needs it.

Appreciation: Take a pause, step out of your world and take a look what you have. My 95 Year old Grandfather has always repeated ‘if you think you have it bad, let’s go take a walk around the hospital’ and ‘on your worst day I guarantee someone else has it worse than you.’ Sage words from a life that has seen a lot.

Our aches and pains are different, our political views are different and if we were all the same life would be quite boring. But one thing that we can all appreciate is that the world we live in, even with the negatives, is the best it has ever been. We live in a world that those ‘happiest’ people in the above chart could only dream of. Over the holidays, I hope many of us take some time to appreciate what we do have. Our worst day is someone’s best day. Their best day is someone else’s dream.

Enjoy the holiday season. 2023 will bring challenges and hurdles to overcome. For many of us, 2023 will be a great year. For some it will be a tough year. I wish all of you the strength to dive in feet-first, don’t sweat the little stuff, and change what you can control. Waste no time on what you cannot. See you there.


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