You Are the Only One Who Can Honor Your Life Choices
This afternoon my son had his Science Fair, and before school, I asked him how many parents were going to make it – it was scheduled for mid-day. He said less than half the kids reported that their parent would attend – they had to work.
We talked about the life I’ve created to be able to be at the fair. Saying YES with my eyes fully open and saying NO to things that take me off course. (With a fair share of yes and no in the wrong direction and later course correction.)
There was a time I traveled weekly, was taking calls and texting about work 24/7, and prioritized work over many other things a lot of the time. I had to do it. I had no choice. Or, then again, maybe I did have a choice but didn’t take responsibility for my life choices. Instead, I made up stories that defended and protected me from my constant go-go-go largely professional focus instead.
Are You Honoring Your Life Choices?
Four years ago, when we moved to Australia and moved to a small town in the Outback, life changed as did my business. Interestingly, my way of thinking about work vs. life did not make the leap with my body. I was still pushing for “success,” yet not really making choices that honored the life I said I wanted.
For the past few days, messages have been pouring in on LinkedIn congratulating me on my work anniversary; seven years of Break the Frame. What they can’t see in a status update is what’s going on behind the scenes or, more accurately, behind the screen.
One year ago, I had a medical diagnosis that forced me to make a decision about major, life changing surgery. It turned out that the decision became easier once it was a choice. I did more than make up my mind (made the decision)… The moment of choice I stepped into my power.
Still, it’s not easy.
It’s not easy to make life choices that you tell yourself other people would judge if they only knew about them. Choices that slowed down my success trajectory in exchange for simply living my life. For the first time in my adult life, I chose to work less, prioritized self-care and time with family outpaced my desire for a robust bank account and professional success… but I rarely talked about it publicly or wrote about it here. I was slowly but surely reframing my definition of success into one that consciously prioritized satisfaction.
Now, a year later, my brain is still catching up with my body, but things have changed.
- I chose to be at the Science Fair.
- For the past week, I chose to have live flowers in the house.
- For the past few months, I chose to up my commitment to the gym.
- For the past year, I chose not to travel for speaking, consulting or conferences.
- For the past four years, I chose to take my kids to school most mornings and pick them up in the afternoons.
Over the years I’ve worked with many clients who echoed words I have said far too often. They complained about their crappy projects or long hours and lamented that they had no choice. I’d ask,”Who’s forcing you? Who’s making your choice for you?” For the past year, I’ve been asking myself those same questions.
Choices, Ripples and Mindfulness
Some of the choices we make are small and others more significant. The things they share in common are ripples and mindfulness.
The ripples are the impact of our life choices that move beyond each one of us and mindfulness is taking responsibility for being present in your experience.
We need to be responsible not only for ourselves but our ripples. There is a movement that says we need to put ourselves first. However, you may wake up one morning only to discover that everyone else is gone. Mindfulness enables us to see our ripples and make choices that reflect beyond our bubble of one.
Mindfully choose happiness – it’s the ultimate success
Are You Choosing or Floating?
You and I, we can go through life like we’re on a raft on a roaring river being bounced about, holding on for dear life and moving forward (so it feels like progress) OR we can pick up the oars, get off the rapids and move with mindfulness, conscious choice, and whole-hearted intention.
Downshifting is a choice. Closing your business is a choice. Doing what you love is a choice. Being with people you love is a choice. Travel is a choice, and adventure is too. Creating a startup is a choice. Working late on a daily basis is a choice along with trillions of others.
Want to honor your life choices? Stop worrying so much about what others think.
One year after my first of several surgeries, the biggest and most important choice I’m making is to choose happiness. It’s time for my mind, body, and spirit to get into alignment. It’s time for a new chapter, and my son’s Science Fair is one of the pages I’m highlighting as I write my story.
I’ll be honest, what’s next is cloudy for me. I suppose that’s not something we’re supposed to admit or publish on a blog about personal leadership. However, I believe, it’s accepting those cloudy moments that creates the space for what’s next; resisting keeps us stuck.
Confusion precedes clarity. Keep exploring.
What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?
We’re in an era of extremes. It seems a day doesn’t go by without the word “historical” popping up in the financial news.
The equities market and consumer debt are at historical highs. Interest rates and high-yield credit spreads are at historical lows. We haven’t seen even a 5% pull-back in the market this year—for the first time since 1995—and the DJIA is exhibiting its narrowest trading range in history. These are indeed historical times. And whether this fact has you filled with extreme optimism or extreme pessimism, you have some important decisions to make going forward.
There are theories about how we landed in this particular era of extremes, and most are rooted in the significant changes that have impacted both how we live and how we invest. At the top of the list are globalization, automation, and the largest aging population in history (yet another “historical” to add to the list). It’s said that the most dangerous words in investing are, “it’s different this time,” yet one has to wonder if, in fact, it really is different this time. Not just because of the historical market highs. After all, there always has been and always will be a new market high waiting around the corner. What’s different today is the sheer number and confluence of these extreme highs and lows—and their duration. It’s a situation no investor has experienced before, which can make these waters feel pretty daunting. History repeats itself, and investment strategies are largely built on that conviction. But what do we do when it doesn’t? When history fails to repeat itself, how can investors plan for tomorrow with confidence that they are positioned to protect their assets and gain a reasonable level of yield?
The first step is to recognize that, at least in many ways, the investment landscape really is different this time around. All you have to do is look at the numbers to be sure of that fact. And the catalysts I mentioned before—globalization, automation, and the aging population—aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the impact of each will only grow as time moves on. What that means is that there’s no way to predict what’s coming next. The only thing we know for certain is that predictability is a thing of the past (if it ever really existed at all). The result: you need to approach your portfolio differently than you ever have before.
Your goal, of course, is to find return given a risk tolerance. Current yield is an important part of total return and getting it is an elusive proposition in today’s market. If, like many people, you’re less than confident that the four major sectors that currently drive the equities market—healthcare, discretionary, tech, and financial—are poised to continue to rise at even close to recent rates, it may be wise to seek out alternatives to help drive yield without adding more risk to the equation.
But if alternatives are the wise path forward, which alternatives are the best options?
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Business Development Companies (BDCs), and energy stocks, traditionally the favored “non-correlated alternatives,” defied expectations when the stock market crashed in 2008, inconveniently revealing high correlations just as the equities market began its freefall. Anyone who was invested in these alternatives at the time knows all too well the devastating impact “non-correlated investments” can have on a portfolio, especially when they fail to do their job when it matters most.
Luckily, there is one alternative that can be counted on to remain uncorrelated to the traditional financial markets and, ultimately, deliver that precious yield: life insurance-based investments. And because this asset is literally built on one of the irreversible catalysts of change, the aging Baby Boomer population, owning life insurance may in fact be the ideal alternative to help investors generate non-correlated returns, regardless of where the market turns next. Even better, these investments typically deliver those returns with very low volatility.
What makes life insurance different is that, unlike typical alternative vehicles, secondary life insurance returns aren’t based on the economy. Instead, they are inherently non-correlated because returns are based solely on the longevity of the individual insureds.
As much as we would all love for the bull market to continue on its merry way, one thing history does tell us even today is that a bear market will come. It’s only a matter of when. As you strive to hedge your portfolios and prepare for the inevitable, life insurance-based investments are one tool that can help you achieve the three things you need most: diversification, low volatility, and yield.
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