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Happy New Year 2019

(Good Riddance 2018)

By Jon Aldrich

New Year

Happy New Year 2019! Don’t let the door hit you in the behind 2018. Now I say that partially in jest, but also because 2018 seemed like a difficult year not only for me, but also for many of those that I know. I am also aware of many people for which 2018 was a great year. What makes a year good or bad can be interpreted in so many ways.

Of course, one of the things that affected a lot of people in 2018 was the extreme volatility and the poor performance of the markets throughout the year. 2018 was really a difficult year for investors, as there was really no place to hide, other than cash. When you see your December statements it will probably really hit home if it has not already. But let’s also look at this a different way, after 9 good years of bountiful markets we were way overdue for an off year. Markets do go in two directions, they always have, and they always will. Overall markets generally go up 3 out of every 4 years, but not always 9 out of 10.

Anyway, for most of us, we should try not to let the markets determine if it was a good year or not. There are so many other things in life that we should reflect on and let that decide if it was a good or bad year, or somewhere in between. Let’s dive in a little deeper:

What to be Thankful For – Even though we may not always realize it, we all probably have plenty to be thankful for in 2018. For myself, there are many things to consider, but first, I look at my family, my beautiful wife, Tammy who does yeoman’s work as a School Social worker and really does make a difference for the kids she works with. I am proud of both of my sons, Trent and Trey. Trent completed his first semester as a Freshman at the University of Alabama and obtained straight A’s and is also a member of the Army ROTC program. His younger brother, Trey, is a junior at Hononegah High School in Rockton and a proud member of the Robotics team, where he spends much of his time building and driving robots.

I also was able to complete the acquisition of Focus Financial Advisors in 2018 which had been a long- time goal of mine. Sure, it took longer than I had hoped, but persistence and perseverance paid off. So even though the gyrations of the markets can sure cause some stress, I can always look back on all the positive things that I am thankful for. I am sure everyone reading this also has plenty to be thankful for.

Who we have Lost – It is also a good time to look back on who we have lost that were close to us. I know some of us have lost spouses, parents and other loved ones during the year and that alone can make it a not-so-great year for us. I know we lost some clients during the year that we will dearly miss.  The loss of our wonderful dog, Oreo, made 2018 a tough year for our family. But we just need to look back and recall all the great times we had with them and the memories that cannot be taken from us.

New Friends and Acquaintances – Think of the new people that came into your life in 2018. The ones that you met through your job, a conference, on the golf course, on vacation, volunteering or that you met at a party or other occasion. I am talking about real, live people here, not the ones you may have met on social media. If you went back and made a list, you might be surprised at how many new human beings you met during the year. I imagine some of them left more of an impression than others, but it is interesting to look back and take an inventory.

New Experiences – Hopefully you had plenty of positive new experiences in 2018. Maybe you took a vacation somewhere you have been dreaming to go. Perhaps, you learned some new skills, bought a new car or tried new restaurants.  At a minimum you embarked on some new and exciting experiences in 2018. For me, I visited Punta Cana, hiked Camelback Mountain in Arizona, and played some beautiful (and very tough) golf courses. These were all great experiences. I have also been trying to gradually learn to speak Spanish with the help of an online app.

New Challenges – For some of us, 2018 brought new challenges. After many years of planning, we had several clients take on the new and exciting challenge of retirement. So far, the early results look very encouraging. Some dealt with challenges at their business or stress of their jobs.  For others, 2018 may have brought on new health or other emotional challenges. These challenges can be difficult to deal with for them and their families. 2019 will surely bring all us a whole new set of challenges to embrace or overcome.

Goals accomplished – Did you set some goals in 2018? Did you make progress or accomplish these goals? Have you established some meaningful goals for 2019? Setting goals can sure help in giving us direction and purpose, so try to set some goals for 2019.

Resolutions for the New Year –  I am not a big fan of New Year resolutions, but, rather, let’s call these ideas to consider for 2019 (or at least I am considering them for myself):

  • Read – Try to read at least 6 good books during the year. It’s amazing how a good book can really take you on a journey. It also gets you away from your phone, computer or TV for a while and that must be a good thing, right? Plus, there is so much to learn from reading.
  • Find Purpose – This could include helping others, volunteering, listening more or learning new skills.
  • Try not to let the things you cannot control, control you. For me, that could be the stock market behaving wildly, the dysfunction of our politicians or the Cubs playing badly. Only worry about the things you can control. However, this can be difficult to do.
  • Enjoy life and what you have.  You never know when you could lose something such as your health or a loved one.
  • Take time to smell the roses. Try to slow down and appreciate what is around you.

These are just a few of the things I am contemplating as we head into the new year. There are surely going to be plenty of ups and downs for us all in 2019 and our world has its share of problems, but there are also plenty of good things in all our lives. So, let’s embrace 2019, but also not forget that even though 2018 had its own set of challenges for all of us, many of you can probably look back on it and remember all the good things 2018 had to offer as well and maybe it wasn’t so bad a year after all.

Thanks for the memories 2018!

Welcome 2019!