2020 reminded us how little control we have over the things that happen in life.
Last January my wife and I were getting packed to fly out to sunny California to visit our son to do some hiking and see the new house he shares with 3 of his friends.
Then I got a phone call. My 90-year-old mom had a seizure and had to be rushed to the hospital. After countless tests we learned she had a brain tumor and a very weak heart valve that if not replaced would end her life within 18 months.
Things weren’t looking good, so we cancelled the trip and had to scramble to find an assisted living facility to help her rehab for a few months. Once she was settled in, we scheduled tests to see if she would be a candidate for a heart valve replacement.
Then Covid hit, the stock market crashed, all elective surgeries were cancelled and then nursing homes went into lockdown. And 2020 was just getting warmed up.
That was a lot to process in a short period of time. How did I react? Not so great. I was making a lot of decisions on family matters while trying to help advise worried clients what they should do about their portfolios because of the market crash. I felt paralyzed and second guessed myself on everything. I know I wasn’t alone in how I felt.
As much as all of those events mattered, none of them were in my control. I knew I had to change my mindset. I took a hard look at the sketch that has been hanging in my office for 3 years and was reminded of why I hung it up in the first place and the actions I took to regain my footing.
It’s a good thing as more events that were out of my control were right around the corner with the summer riots and the election that became the most controversial in my lifetime.
The sketch above is one of my favorites from author/speaker and Certified Financial Planner, Carl Richards who wrote the bestselling book called Behavior Gap and is the creator of the Sketch guy column that appears weekly in the NYT.
The sketch reminds us that we need to limit our focus to the things that really matter AND that we have some control or influence over.
This past year has reminded us of who and what is really important in our lives. Our families, friends, our mental and physical health and making sure our financial houses are in order in the event of a serious illness, death or job loss.
If you would like to have a discussion to talk about the things that matter to you and the actions you can take to control or influence their outcome to fortify and improve your well-being - no matter what may be happening in the world - let us know.
By the way, my mom is back home and is doing ok. She has decided not to have the heart surgery so each day we have with her is a blessing. We are looking forward to celebrating her 92nd birthday on Valentine’s Day.