It’s been one year since the country shut down because of the pandemic.
Look back at the camera roll on your phone and find the last pictures you took before you went into lockdown. It’s wild to see yourself with friends and loved ones, out-and-about in the world, at businesses that may or may not exist today, maybe cautiously knowing or blissfully unknowing what was to come.
Optimistically, we may be rounding a corner in this country. I am grateful that some of the most important people in my life have been able get a vaccine. And yet, personally, I’m still feeling deflated. A “return to normal” just doesn’t feel possible yet.
My job as a financial planner is to help clients think about, plan for, and accomplish their goals. It’s a word I say a lot during the workday—honestly, I wish there was a tally for how many times I’ve said “goals” over the course of my career because I think I’m into the millions now.
But how do you look ahead when you don’t know when “normal” will return? Can we plan right now if all we see when we look out on the horizon is uncertainty? Is a goal worth having if you don’t know when you can accomplish it? What’s the point of having a goal at all?
Yes, that is pessimistic. And I’m fully aware the general premise of thinking about the future is a luxury to many right now.
But for those who have the luxury, I want to remind you that life is still going on even if it is more cooped up than usual. There is no “going back” to the way things were, but there is “going forward.”
So, let us go forward with purpose. In the absence of clarity on when we’ll be able to accomplish some of those goals we set before 2020, when life seemed so different than it does now, let us instead make it our goal to identify our purpose—whether it be new or old, big or small—and to use that as the proverbial North Star to guide us.
I urge you to think about this quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s book A Man Without a Country:
“But I had a good uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life-insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
Be grateful for the ones you love. Be mindful of the things that bring you joy even in these tough times. Your behavior determines your success. And at Monument, we believe that if you can keep looking not just up, but out at what’s ahead—instead of down (at your phone, at the market, etc.)—and trust the path you’re on, you will get where you need to go.
A good reminder even to myself to keep putting one foot in front of another and to do so with purpose. Better days are ahead.
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