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Gratitude for What We Can Control

To say 2020 has been a record year of people saying “I can’t believe that just happened!” would be an understatement. I think we can all agree on that! But the feeling I get from conversations these days that there’s a lot of uncertainty out there. With my OCD personality, when things get uncertain, I tend to hunker down and focus on what I can control. 

As a team leader at Family Financial Partners, I don’t like to micromanage, but when someone drops the ball, I do start getting into all the details – as if I’m really helping – until it gets better. I say this to illustrate that I’m a fixer, and it’s hard to live in a world with so many unknowns. It’s tough to let it be instead of trying to control things. And, after two decades with some of my team members, I’ve learned that micromanaging under any circumstances doesn’t necessarily produce success. 

I’m sure a number of you are like me and understand this frustration. Others of you are probably looking at me and saying, “dude. chill.” I want you to know that I’m jealous of your ability to take things in stride. If you have a pill – figuratively, not literally – I would take it!

Many things out there today seem to intentionally stir us up and cause stress and worry. So today, I want to focus on some of the things in life we can control, so we can all try to be a little healthier mentally, emotionally and socially. 

First, I challenge you to think about your social media usage. I’m not necessarily talking about what you post, but how – and how often – you interact with your social accounts. I also challenge you to talk to your children and grandchildren about their social media usage. It might be healthy to review how they’re interacting online. 

I just finished Netflix – yes, all of it – and I was prompted to watch a new documentary called The Social Dilemma. I highly recommend taking the time to watch this show, and perhaps even watching it with your high school and college age kids. I had a meaningful conversation with my oldest son, Gates, about how social media is and is not affecting his day-to-day world. And if you do have these conversations with your kids, I’d love to hear about them. 

The lesson: There’s nothing better than positive interaction with your own family to make you feel like the world is spinning a little less.

Second, it’s the time of year when many employers are starting benefits season, which we spent some time discussing over the past weeks. Remember to let us know of any changes, or if you’d like us to look over your options with you for insurance coverage and 401(k)s. 

The lesson here is simply that making sure your own financial house is in order can make you less stressed and more compassionate to the world around you. 

Third, as we enter November and the final six weeks of the year – at Family Financial Partners we like to have everything wrapped up by the time the kids are home from school around December 15 (wait…maybe that’s not so important this year…). Seriously though, we do have about six weeks left to help you with any charitable giving you’d like to do this year. Even if it is electronic, moving money does take some time in today’s world, whether it’s going to your gifting fund, your church or your alma mater. So if you’re thinking about end-of-year donations, that starts Monday. 

The lesson here is that helping others and giving back is the best way to feel more gratitude and more at peace with yourself and the world. And, giving your planning team the heads up early is a sure-fire way to pave your path to heaven. I’m not saying you wouldn’t have gotten there anyway. But the road will be smoother! 

Finally, in a few weeks we’ll be sending out our annual Family Financial Partners Thanksgiving letter. This is a tradition we’ve been carrying on since our inception in 2005. While we’ve gone electronic for most things, we do still drop this letter in the old fashioned mail. So, after letting it sit for 48 hours to un-Covid, you can read all about what our staff members are thankful for in 2020. 

Yes, this year is different, but it also might just be the time to go back to those traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas cards many of us don’t write anymore. Reach out to your friends and family, build them up, share your challenges, and encourage them along their path. Lord knows we could all use a little joy and optimism as we head into the holiday season. 

The lesson here: Giving thanks only creates more gratitude. And we all need more of that. 

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