This year began with most of us on our ordinary trajectory of events and operating schedules. Mid-February we began to hear rumblings of some sort of pandemic. At first, it seemed like something we’ve heard before, such as the bird flu. What it ended up being was much more significant. Coronavirus is what I refer to as an unknown unknown. An unknown unknown is something that comes out of left field and in many ways changes our lives forever. A pandemic, for the first time, is now part of our shared life experience. (Unless of course you are 102 or older and already experienced one!)

The turbulence of 2020 showed us what fear can trigger: like feeling hopeless, helpless, and doing things we may not usually do. Fear led a large portion of investing Americans to alter their long term financial plans (which our clients know is rarely a good idea).  We also had a known unknown enter the picture, in the form of a feudal election. Similarly, the known unknown of the election was accompanied by fear and uncertainty which felt like the Armageddon of the Pandemic itself. We also recall the racial and social unrest which certainly added to this volatile year.

When tragic events occur such as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing, terrorists hope to elicit fear in the hearts of their victims. The pandemic has elicited such fear as well. However, the stories that New Yorkers, Bostonians, and Americans in this pandemic can decide to tell are stories of hope, strength, courage, resolve, faith, unity and love. We have a choice in what story we choose to tell of 2020 … “It was the worst of times” or “It was the best of times”. This is important because the story you tell yourself and others of 2020 may directly affect the way you live your life. For example, do you choose to live in fear or hope?   We trust, because many of you have attended our True Wealth webinar series this Summer, that you were better prepared to respond in gratitude.

Some people will look at times like this as a hopeless end. I choose to look at these times with endless hope.  As my friend, teacher and mentor Nick Murray often states, “Optimism is the only realism”.  Looking back through history you will find that almost all facets of our lives are getting better.  The way I choose to see it, 2020 was an incredible year. It brought forth the characteristics of endurance, courage, selflessness, faith, unity, adaptability, care, and love, which we will carry with us always.

Sometimes decades go by and not much changes and then there are decades that have defining moments, and then ZOOM….change results!!!!! And I do literally mean Zoom, which in the context of 2020, emerged as a great new technology allowing us to connect in a “safe” way.  It seems like decades of advancement happened in months!  As you know, I appreciate technological advances for interaction, but I miss you and welcome the time we can hug, and sit face-to-face again.

Wishing you hope, light and optimism in the New Year.

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