Happy New Year, 2021 couldn’t seem to come fast enough for many.  The year 2020 was clearly “one of those years” — a year of challenge, opportunity, and resilience. Once again, the year proved that we don’t know what we don’t know. At the end of 2019, the focus was on the election, the trade war with China and concern about North Korea. Three months later, we were faced with a global pandemic, a national economic shutdown, riots and protests. While many small businesses suffered, others prospered in the new digital environment. I’ve talked to many that had their worst year financially and others literally their best year, depending on the industry.

We started out 2021 with political unrest, which isn’t anything new, but it felt different and heavier regardless of your political affiliation.  How people are reacting and speaking to each other on social media is a disgrace and we are all better than this. And the more people bury themselves in the media and news, the more angry they become, no matter what side you are on.  This is what concerns me the most- not what the stock market will do this year (yes this is important and we can and will discuss in our upcoming market update video, stay tuned!)-  what concerns me is where will we direct this anger tomorrow?  We can’t allow ourselves to become addicted to watching the news on TV and consume it daily, hourly, or for some, every waking minute.  I can admit I found myself here for a few weeks and now have taken a needed break, and found my peace in my morning quiet times, prayers, and connection with other like minded people.

I can say this with confidence- no friendship is worth being broken or ruined over differing views, life is too dang short.  I have learned to not get baited into senseless debate, but instead practice choosing love and respect.  My good friend Shawn said it best, let’s find ways to be a part of the solution as we work through this time in our country.  I would like to encourage all of my friends, clients, family to do the same.

On a very positive note, and perhaps most heartening, and most American, were the heroes and selflessness of those who put others’ needs before their own. Everyone from those working in stores to medical personnel in hospitals risked their own health to put others’ needs before their own.

Because of the political overtones and negative media, many missed the fact that we had the largest successful mobilization of the government since WWII, resulting in a fully developed and clinically tested vaccine in less than nine months.

Investors who had the courage to stick with their plans did well, as is generally the case with patience. Markets hit new highs, and employment numbers are recovering faster than almost any expert expected.  Maybe you are happy with the political outcomes, maybe you are fearful of the new administration- that’s ok, just recognize those feelings, take them in for a few moments, days- and then breathe.  We WILL move forward, and we will NOT let fear overshadow our 3 Bucket Approach and Retire While You Work™ philosophy that we so passionately believe in.

We have a long way to go, and we will face new and equally frightening challenges in 2021 and beyond. But still, we must keep our eyes on our long-term vision and not make knee-jerk reactions to what’s going on around us. As Sir John Templeton said, “Four of the most dangerous words in investing are ‘This time it’s different.’” And, Ive found this to be true in life.

Although 2020 was a bumpy ride, with COVID-19, social distancing, economic upheaval, social unrest and a contentious election, a much happier milestone was the 17th anniversary of when I founded our practice. My vision was to build a firm to make others’ lives better. The year 2020 marked the final phase of our building expansion, an upgraded website to provide more resources to our clients and a new platform for monitoring portfolios. As many businesses move away from personal interaction, we view this as the most important part of our partnership with clients.

As technology continues to evolve, I see many businesses and individuals substitute technology for personal contact and interaction. In our business, we view technology as a way to enhance our discussions, not replace them. In my opinion, the same can be said for our personal lives. We have amazing resources today, and things will continue to get better.

Often, when we put others first, we help ourselves the most. At the same time, we can’t help others if we need help ourselves. Take care of yourself. We should appreciate what we have while looking to continue to grow and improve. Be patient, and play the long game. Enjoy the journey — sometimes the worst things that happen make us stronger. At the very least, they make good stories later.

Thank you to all my friends and family for their love and support, to my work team for their dedication and tireless work, and to all those who serve others and make our lives safer and better.

Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2021. The best is yet to come!

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