We will celebrate Thanksgiving in less than a week, on the 22nd of November (which is, incidentally, the earliest possible date we could celebrate Thanksgiving). You know how it goes when these early ones come around–we are all getting “snuck up on” and “caught off guard” by the suddenness of Thanksgiving. And this year, perhaps, in the midst of a vicious socio-political atmosphere, faced with dystopian landscapes of a burning California, dealing with our first dose of hard markets in years–maybe we find it difficult to engage the idea of thankfulness in any meaningful way.
Indeed, the front-page headlines of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal revealed little to be thankful for, seemingly. “GE Credit Slide Rattles Markets.” “Global Economic Slowdown Deepens.” “PG&E Stock Plummets On Fear of Fire Liability.” These headlines are great for selling news, but not so great for those of us living it!
At Beacon we have an important role to play in our clients’ lives, helping them steward their financial resources in ways that make their lives better now and in the future. Much of this work is technical and problem-solving in nature, work that requires us to understand numerous portions of tax code, the subtleties of Social Security, the ways assets and liabilities and cash flows all interact to form a “financial plan,” and a bunch of other nerdy stuff. It is good work! Important work. Work we’re proud of and do really well.
But this Thanksgiving–bad headlines and all–is a one-day reminder of a daily reality: in the end, an optimized financial life–one where every opportunity is seized just so and every threat avoided–that life will be of little value on its own. It’s only when financial decisions are made out of gratitude (a recognition of how fortunate we are and have been) and contentment (a rejection of the relentless pursuit of “more”) that those decisions have lasting significance. And let me tell you: some amazing, significant things do happen at the point where financial wisdom meets gratitude and contentment. Generosity springs forth, imaginations are kick-started, wealth stops collecting dust, toxic jobs are quit, and people spend more time together. They are freed up to rest in what truly matters.
As professionals, we show up every day to do the work, and most often that work is the technical work of personal finances. But sometimes the work is a gentle nudge like this one for you to set aside the finances for just a moment or two in order to regain a healthy perspective about your whole life through these practices of gratitude and contentment. When you do, you’ll find that when you pick the finances back up, you’ll do so with a great deal more clarity.
And that’s something we can all be thankful for.