Jeremy Strickler
jeremy@wwmgreenville.com 

Winter Reckoning

Greetings and Happy New Year everyone. 

 

Take a moment to acknowledge that we’ve been through a lot. Covid, cultural and political turmoil, a land war in Europe? Life happens fast, and a lot of what happens isn’t under our control.

 

That seems to have left people feeling anxious. Perhaps a little cold and lonely. A little snakebit.

 

Unfortunately these feelings can be a negative feedback loop that hurts our ability to strengthen good relationships and form new ones. It’s hard to get a date if you’re in the fetal position on the floor moaning about the illuminati and your indigestion. 

 

Do people still go on dates?

 

I learned awhile back that when people suffer, we can either assign blame, or we can try to solve problems.

 

But it’s very hard to do both at the same time. And that’s why—fundamentally– in order to progress, we have to lay aside blame and ask ourselves what we would like to do about our own situation. 

 

Forgive other people for their shortcomings. Forgive your family. Forgive the Republicans. Forgive the Democrats. Forgive the Christians. Forgive the Environmentalists.

 

Forgive yourself. Don’t carry that baggage into this year. 

 

If you don’t know how, start by wanting to.  You can’t make yourself forgive. You can allow it.

If you’re like me, you take responsibility for things, but that can lead you to internalize problems you didn’t create.

This is especially true around money, because money lends itself to harsh comparisons, just like physical beauty. It is one of the ways in which we superficially determine who has more or less value. And who gets better or worse treatment.

It’s always nearly naked 20 somethings jumping off glass bottom boats into the blue, blue Caribbean, swimming with colorful fishes, drinking premium tequila and thumping all night in a club full of bubbles. Bootsnpants n bootsnpants n bootsnpants. Oh my gaah I broke a nail last night and I can’t even. My botox professional got the left side of my duck lips too ducky! Adulting is haaaaeerrrd.

But if you got up in the dark at 6 am to go teach a room full of sneezing, coughing kids, maybe you have some hard feelings about that!

Fffffffffffffff you Instagram! You did not make me feel better.

I think this is especially an American problem, because there is a false premise that if you didn’t get rich in this country, you’re a failure.

I think most people have some shame or guilt around money. I should have done this, I should have done that, next time this happens, I’ll see it coming.

Let me tell you something. No, you won’t. But you can avoid making the same mistakes twice.

And let me tell you another thing. It’s not easy to get rich. It’s not easy to get comfortable and share it with your children and grandchildren.  Practically everyone I know who has some money went to school and spent a lifetime working hard to give that opportunity to their families. There is nothing superficial about the wealth we manage. Nothing. It cost people enormous effort and dedication to have it, and it took a long time to get.

However, we just lived through an era of extremely vapid and temporary wealth, where money was almost free to some people, and a few got extremely rich for delivering very little value to other people.

Money is supposed to be a store of value. And hypothetically, when the system works well, you wouldn’t get your hands on much money unless you’d done something useful to other people!

During periods of corruption and nonsense, it can appear that hard work is stupid. That it won’t get you where you’re going. That patience is for chumps.

But nothing could be further from the truth. All we had to do was to raise interest rates to start busting the fraudsters. All we had to do politically was to vote for people who (mostly) tell the truth rather than those who lie.

We had to get tired of feeling bloated and to want the diet we’re on.

This is a season where cream rises to the top. Where people who plan ahead get rewarded –in time.

So, you hunker down. You plough up the dirt on the nice days. You might plant some early crops. But it’s not harvest yet. Not even close.

Companies that operate efficiently will be rewarded. Money isn’t free anymore. The first people to recognize that have the advantage. We’re in a period of reckoning.

Do you know what the season is? It’s winter.

Spend money on what you care about. Don’t buy anything you don’t want or need.

Don’t throw out the leftovers. Make a soup.

If someone offers to cook you dinner, go.

If someone wants to have a coffee, go talk. Wear a scarf, but get out of your own head. You can’t solve any problems listening to that monkey brain.

Share a bottle of wine, don’t drink it all alone.

Talk to your friends! For an hour. Every day. At least. Seriously. You’re not that productive. You have time. And if you don’t have time for that, you’re telling yourself something is more important. And it isn’t.

If someone says: let’s go here. Go.

If someone wants to get your clothes off and get under the covers, maybe do that.

How much longer are you going to live? You don’t know. What’s your story going to be? Quit being such a chicken. You can’t turn down love. That’s stupid.

The task of the moment is to deepen relationships with the people we can count on. To forgive offenses. To acknowledge past mistakes and move on.  And to make one new friend.

Frankly, I think we’re doing a lot of things right.  It’s human nature to want to delay the reckoning. But I wouldn’t be afraid of it if you are the type of person who does your job. Who tells the truth. Who takes care of your family and your neighbors. You will be just fine.

Now is the time when values and rewards get re-aligned with what’s sustainable and true.

This is the season to strategize, build your posse and prepare for opportunities ahead.  The rewards come later. You can enjoy each season if you’re wholehearted, present, patient.

“A loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese, and thou.”

That’s everything.

Jeremy L. Strickler, CFP®

Portfolio Manager

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