Hi, Everyone. Welcome to the Wiser Financial Advisor with Josh Nelson, where we get real, we get honest, and we get clear about the financial world and your money.
This is Josh Nelson, Certified Financial Planner and founder and CEO of Keystone Financial Services. We love feedback and we’d love it if you would pass it on to me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org . Also please stay plugged in with us, get updates on episodes and help us promote the podcast. You can subscribe to us at Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast service.
Let the financial fun begin!
Today we are going to be talking about Thanksgiving. Before we get there, I just want to say a few words about my company, Keystone Financial Services. We are a wealth management firm. We are fiduciary and independent. What we do for people is look at their overall financial situation and help them get really clear on where they are today and figure out where they want to go in the future. Bottom line, it’s our job to figure out what needs to be done and to hold people to the standard that will allow them to arrive there in the future. We use comprehensive financial planning, which is the jargon in our industry for somebody who looks at the entire situation of a client’s financial life and what’s important to them. That way we can come up with a plan that has a high likelihood of working.
Now, this week is Thanksgiving and when the older kids were younger, at this time of year they would have a concert at school where they played this song called Gratitude Attitude. It was kind of a corny little song, but it was cute hearing the kids sing it as a group in their choir on stage. There would be opportunities in the song for kids to step forward and say what they were grateful for. As you can imagine among little kids, they would say things like, “I’m grateful for my mom,” or “I’m grateful for my dad.” “I’m grateful for my dog…” Things like that, and it was meaningful because you could tell they had thought about it, and it was a great reminder about what Thanksgiving is about.
The whole point of celebrating Thanksgiving is gratitude and being thankful, being grateful, taking a day out of the year to celebrate the blessings in our lives. And of course we have fun traditions we do as a family, and I’m sure you have similar things. First thing on Thanksgiving morning, we always get up and run the Turkey Trot, which is a 5K here in Loveland. There are lots of Turkey Trots around the country, but we do the one in Loveland. And being in Colorado, you can imagine that some of the Thanksgivings are a little bit chilly. Sometimes it’s icy or snowy, so it makes for some great memories because we can point back to the times we ran in five degree weather or something like that. It’s a fun annual tradition. We see people we know out there too, and so it’s just a great way to connect on Thanksgiving Day.
Then we go back home and turn on some music and start preparing Thanksgiving dinner. My job is to fry the turkey. I love fried turkey and so we fry ours. We have a big turkey fryer, and don’t worry, we don’t do it indoors or under a deck or something like that. We’re safe about it. We’ll also fry up some appetizers, throw the football around a little bit, and gather with friends and family. Later we have football on the TV, lots of games and eat way too much. It’s a great time to be able to connect with other people. Also, around Thanksgiving there are opportunities to give back. There are organizations we give to, and places to volunteer that serve meals and deliver meals to people who need help.
Coming up to Thanksgiving this year, I’ve thought about how in the world we live in, it could be easy to not have an attitude of gratitude. It would be all too easy to think that the world is a terrible place and things are never going to get better. Why would people think this? There was a study a number of years ago looking at the general news media from print to TV, Internet, everything. What they found was 17 negative news stories for every one positive news story.
That was a while ago, and I think it’s worse now. You’d probably agree that with all the 24-hour news out there running on social media and so forth—and now, it’s not even just humans posting that stuff, but artificial intelligence running a lot of it. A.I. knows we pay attention to negative news stories, so that’s what they put out there. Because of that, it would be easy to believe that there are far more bad things happening in the world than good.
Now, I don’t believe that. I do not believe there are that many more bad things happening than good things. I think we need to flip those numbers and recognize that what we’re paying attention to is what will end up being real in our lives. We need to be the gatekeepers of our own minds, as Jim Rohn used to say. It’s important to be the gatekeepers, because what we pay attention to is what we’re letting in, whether it be through print media or TV, Internet, social media, whatever it is. We know that whatever it is has been programmed to give us much more negative information than positive information, and by taking it in, that’s what we’re going to believe.
It seems like there’s a negative cloud hovering over everybody right now. Does it mean this season we’re in is just terrible? I think we’re in a period of massive change. The economy still is not above where it was when the pandemic hit. Also, we still aren’t completely back out of the recession that had hit before that. The economy has come back, but not to where we were before, so we are still in economic winter.
To a large extent the reason we’re out of the worst of the pandemic recession is because the government printed a lot of money. Maybe they should have done that, and maybe they shouldn’t have. We’ll see what happens over time and what materializes as the outcome, but there are some concerns, certainly, economically. And in a lot of ways, we still are in that place societally, going through massive change. So yes, there are a lot of negative things we could be paying attention to, so it isn’t that we want to gloss things over and pretend there’s nothing wrong happening in the world. It’s important to recognize some of the stuff so we can try to fix it.
However, a lot of the information we get fed on a regular basis is negative, and it’s more than we need to pay attention to. I believe that having awareness of the motivation behind any kind of media will help us to keep from getting too sucked in. The motivation of media is to get us to pay attention because they’re selling ads. To sell advertisements, they need our eyeballs on the screen or on the print. Negative news does sell ads, so it’s important to be the gatekeeper for our own minds and be careful about what we’re paying attention to. We need to offset all the negativity with plenty of positive stuff.
We can be cognizant about what we’re reading. For example, there are many great positive books. There are growth opportunities and things we can be doing to brighten our outlook such as hanging around people that are positive and good influences in life. I highly recommend watching The Social Dilemma, which is on Netflix and YouTube. Bottom line: we are being programmed and pre-framed to pay attention to things in certain ways. And we get hooked, especially by social media, right? I have tried to stay out of Facebook because I know about this stuff but over the years, sometimes I’ve found myself scrolling through Facebook and glued in. Then 20 minutes or 30 minutes later it’s like, “What the heck just happened? How did the time just fly?” It’s because it’s programmed! They’ve taken a look at our human nature and they’re trying to get us to pay attention to that stuff.
So, be careful about how you consume information, especially on social media. Be aware of what’s going on. Much of the information out there is presented in a slanted way that’s going to keep us hooked. So again, be the gatekeeper of your own mind and be careful about what you’re letting in. Knowing what’s going wrong is always available. But so is knowing what’s going right. To turn that around, it’s important that we go out and find the blessings—because nobody is going to do that for us. The news media definitely won’t do that for us, because that isn’t what sells. We need to be the ones who go out and find the blessings.
When you think about tough times like the COVID pandemic or people passing away or going through divorce; when you think about some of the really tough moments people have in their lives, there are still blessings to be found. Really, I think the recognition that life is happening for us, not to us will completely change how we look at the world.
One exercise I went through this last year was quite enlightening. It was to take something that by and large people look at as a negative thing. Take the COVID pandemic. I think most people would look at it and say it’s terrible, you know, a terrible moment in history that we’ve gone through and are still going through. What I did for this exercise was to brainstorm and write down the blessings that have come into my life because of COVID.
Here are some examples of what I jotted down.
I had way more time to spend with my family—my wife and kids. With the kids being at home for a while from school, we were able to connect and have lunch every day. It was cool to be able to see what they were doing with their classwork, what topics they were covering. We also had a baby in May of 2020. That was quite an experience at the beginning of the pandemic. There was a lot of uncertainty. People weren’t sure what was going on at that point. But we got to spend way more time at home than we would have otherwise.
Overall, there was a slower pace of life. I really appreciated that. I think a lot of us had better perspective. Maybe it was being faced with death. At the beginning we were worried about touching stuff, even packages, not knowing how contagious this thing was or how it was spreading or how deadly it was. For a lot of us, that really made us pause and think about what’s really important.
COVID destroyed one of my beliefs in a good way—the belief that everybody had to be in the office every day, and that we could not hire virtual employees. I’ve now hired four virtual employees that are awesome. They are strong team members we love working with. We’re blessed by them. And of course, for our onsite employees and staff, they have been blessed by having a better work/life balance as well.
We’ve all appreciated the change in pace and the different levels available to connect with our clients. We all got used to zoom calls, and many of our clients are still using zoom calls even though they might live just down the road, because it’s so convenient. They can sit there with their cup of coffee in the morning and just join the zoom meeting and it works great.
We’re back in the office now, and happy to speak with you in our office space but zoom provides another way to connect. We can now do meetings from anywhere. That’s a nice thing. Wherever we are, we can jump on a zoom call and connect with our clients as opposed to feeling like we need to have a formal sit-down meeting. Now that everybody has accepted the technology, it makes us more accessible.
Also, we’re able to do continuing education events and attend conferences via zoom. In the past, there were only so many of those that I could attend because I do have family. I’ve got five kids and a wife and a business, and so the number of times I could get away to attend an event for personal development or business development was pretty limited before. Most of those conferences went virtual for a while. I was able to participate in more things giving me the opportunity to grow and get better at my profession while still being there for my family. So I’m grateful for the ability to travel virtually.
So, things are not so bad. There’s a lot to be thankful for and have an attitude of gratitude about, even for a season that on the surface many would say was purely a terrible thing. Even in tragedy, there’s always something to be grateful for. Looking at what’s wrong out there is always available, but so is what’s right. We can turn things around and find the blessings ourselves, instead of expecting somebody else to feed that to us. It’s not going to happen unless we seek it out. If we rely on media, we’ll just find all the suffering that’s out there and think the world is a terrible place. As you have conversations with people, I think you’ll agree that there are a lot of different attitudes out there, negative and positive, and much of that comes from what we’re exposing ourselves to and what we’re focusing on.
We can also use opportunities to be a blessing ourselves. That’s actually part of my mission statement as a person. I’ve had that as my mission for several years now—that I Josh, see, hear, feel, and know the purpose of my life is to be a blessing; to enjoy the gifts I’ve been given and to love well. Being a blessing is a central part of who I am as a person and what I focus on all the time, not only in my family but also in my business and relationships with friends. Within the community, there are many opportunities to be a blessing. It’s a matter of stepping up and being available, being open to those possibilities for how we can be a blessing in other people’s lives.
I came up with a list of ways that I’ve been a blessing and want to be a blessing in this season. As I mentioned, I’ve been able to serve people through virtual financial education. We’ve been able to do many more events for clients, not only those who live here locally, but clients all over the country. It helped that we gained the ability for people to watch replays if they couldn’t physically stay at a hotel someplace where we were giving a presentation. They can watch it later on, and many people did so. That has led to being able to serve more people get into better financial health.
Also last year we focused on getting physically healthy, too. That was right in our faces with COVID—our very lives and personal health was being threatened, and so we used the opportunity to get more healthy, being careful about nutrition and also being physically active. We were able to work fewer hours while delivering just as much value by being smarter, leveraging team members, adding members to the Keystone team. My employees were also blessed with more flexibility to have their work/life balance and enjoy the same things I was enjoying in my own life.
Really, overall it came down to embracing the uncertainty, too. Sometimes it’s very freeing to just embrace the uncertainty of what’s going on and know that things are going to be OK in the end. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from John Lennon: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
I think the reality is that we’ve got a lot to be grateful for, even if there’s tough stuff happening. I know many people have lost people. They’ve lost grandparents. They’ve lost parents. These are the times of year that a lot of people connect as families, and so it can be pretty tough. I don’t want to gloss over the reality that there can be pain and suffering. But we don’t want to stay in that.
So again, there are three ways we get out of suffering—
Number one: Recognize that we need to be the gatekeepers of our own minds. Oftentimes our greatest critic, the strongest voice we’re listening to is our own, so it’s good to be careful about what we’re letting in or listening to and pay attention to what we need to let go of or just avoid.
Number two: Find blessings and use opportunities. Making a simple list is not complicated and directs the focus as we think about any situation as how to have an attitude of gratitude. There’s always something available that’s right even though there may be a lot wrong in the world.
Lastly, brainstorming ways we can be a blessing in other people’s lives.
So with that I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week.
If you like what you’re listening to here on the Wiser Financial Advisor, there are some opportunities that you can help us out with and make this better for you as well. One is by hitting subscribe on your favorite podcast service rate us as well. That helps get the word out there. We want these episodes to be opportunities for people to learn about financial health. That’s why we’re here really—to learn from each other and from people in the past, sometimes thousands of years ago. The Bible and other literature contains financial principles we’re able to tap into to make our lives better, to make our wealth accumulation and financial planning more effective.
Have a wonderful week and God bless.
This episode has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide and should not be relied upon for tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors. Investment advisory services offered through Keystone Financial Services, an SEC registered investment advisor.