Today is my final contribution to Daily Reckoning Australia.
On 1 December 2023, retirement beckons.
Thoughts of ‘what would this final article be about’, have occupied my mind for the past week.
Markets? Economy? Cryptos?
There is plenty to discuss on all fronts.
Wall Street may have ‘rebounded’ overnight, but don’t be fooled.
This was a ‘dead cat’ bounce.
Global share markets are in for a torrid time ahead.
Bitcoin has rallied. Again, don’t be fooled.
In a fiat world, monetary metals (gold and silver) are the only true stores of wealth.
However, it was a chance meeting with an out-of-State friend that made me decide to finish where I started with Fat Tail Investment Research (formerly Port Phillip Publishing)…
The value of family
As often happens when there’s been a period of absence with friends, you ask ‘how’s such and such going?’
Some are well. Some not so well.
And, then there’s the unexpected.
Our friend volunteered information on a once glamorous ‘most likely to succeed’ girl we knew in our younger years.
‘She is very bitter with how her life has turned out. At age 61 she never thought she’d be in the position she finds herself in.’
Two failed marriages. Two estranged adult children. Living from week to week in rented accommodation. The recent photo indicated that time has not been kind to her.
Our friend continued, ‘Her and her first husband peaked in their Twenties. Both good looking. Both had the world at their feet. But they took it for granted and squandered it.’
My response was ‘No good blaming others. Her choices have led her to where she is today. Our lives are a sum total of the decisions we make.’
Our friend wholeheartedly agreed…‘she’s made a lot of bad choices.’
We make choices all the time…some carry more importance than others.
Cumulatively, they all add up to where we find ourselves today.
Who we associate with.
The advice we accept or reject.
How we spend our spare time…with family; at the golf course; down the pub.
What we eat and drink.
The amount of exercise we do.
Invest or not invest.
Save or spend.
On so many levels, we’re moving — consciously and unconsciously — towards certain outcomes…good and bad.
And, this is why it’s so important to have clearly defined goals and values.
You consciously move in the direction of the vision you have for yourself and your family.
Without the internal compass and a steady hand on the decision rudder, you get blown every which way by whatever puff of wind that comes along. This is what’s happened to the lady who now laments the direction her life has taken.
Establishing those goals and values on an individual and family level is not hard.
All it requires is the time and effort to search for the answers to this statement…
‘This is who we are, this is what we do and this is why we do it’
Who are you as an individual and as a family?
Honest? Trustworthy? Reliable? Inquisitive? Resolute? Determined? Personally responsible?
What do I and we stand for…our principles, values, morals, ethics?
What do I and we do and why do we do it?
What value do we add to ourselves, family members and the broader community?
Why is adding value important?
These are just some starting points.
When you do this exercise individually, with your spouse/partner and your family, it takes on its own life force.
Questions and answers beget more questions and answers.
Every family has a culture…good or bad
Knowing who you are, what you do and why you do it, provides great clarity to your life.
And, there’s tremendous power in that.
Armed with this knowledge, anytime you need to make a choice of consequence, you ask yourself ‘is this taking me to or from my vision?’
It’s such a simple, yet extremely powerful question to ask prior to deciding ‘yay’ or ‘nay’.
I’ve lost count of the number of times this simple evaluation tool has been instrumental in our lives. And, you can only ask yourself this question when you know where you’re headed.
Knowing what you stand for can assist in stopping you from falling for distractions, time wasters and exercises in futility that leave you — mentally, emotionally and/or financially — poorer.
Our choices are what creates the family culture…values are taught and caught.
Every family has a culture.
For some, it’s a culture of negativity, suspicion, abuse and playing the victim.
For others, it can be far more constructive and uplifting…love, respect, nurturing, personal endeavour.
James Forbes, founder of Forbes Legacy Advisors — a US firm that specialises in multi-generational wealth — firmly believes in the power of family culture (emphasis is mine)…
‘We strongly believe that the most important factor in maintaining multi-generational connections within your family is a focus on your family culture.’
Family culture, not money, is the most important factor in maintaining multi-generational connections.
Knowing that culture is such a crucial link in the Family Wealth chain, it’s incumbent upon all of us to do all we can to maintain its strength.
That requires a commitment by us to live lives consistent with our values and to maintain regular communication with family members to subtly (and sometimes, not-so-subtly) reinforce, guide, encourage and remind them to move in the direction of ‘who we are, what we do and why we do it.’
Family culture is not a ‘set and forget’ exercise.
Tick. Done. Filed away.
As James Forbes says…
‘Your family’s culture is a living, breathing entity. It’s made up of shared common values, spiritual beliefs, economic and social norms, affiliations, activities, geography, climate, landscape, and many other factors.
‘These common elements shared among family members creates a sense of belonging, loyalty and pride that builds resilience. Family folklore, traditions and activities socialise the youth and incorporate the adopted, the step-children and the in-laws.
‘Cultures are built, sustained and informed by each family member, your nuclear family, your extended family, the community where you live, and the broader society. And because aspects of your family’s culture will shift over time, it’s important to steward those shifts.’
When children are younger, it’s up to the parents to build and maintain the culture. As they grow older, it becomes a real team effort.
Their input should not only be encouraged, but welcomed.
When you’re living life on your terms and in accordance with your values, then you have…
And, as any parent knows, a genuinely happy family is…
True Family Wealth
By happiness, I don’t mean having a permanent smile and sunny disposition.
There are going to be tough times.
Challenges. Frustrations. Disappointments. Setbacks. Grief.
Empowering our family with the ability to know they have the confidence, strength, ability and support to cope with life’s adversities, provides a great deal of comfort.
And it’s this deep-seated sense of well-being — that no matter what comes my way I have the mechanism to make informed choices — which leads to an inner contentment…happiness.
Our erstwhile friend’s unhappiness is a result of her failing to live life on her terms.
Why did this happen?
Because she had no ‘terms’…she didn’t know what it was she truly wanted.
Allowing things to happen or avoiding saying anything to a husband with ‘his head in the clouds’ or opting to spend time on the social circuit instead of with your children…these are decisions that all have consequences.
Had she taken the time to identify…‘this is who we are, this is what we do and this is why we do it’…her life may well have turned out differently.
We’ll never know.
The choice between happiness or bitterness is one confronting all of us.
Choosing the former means making a conscious decision to find out who we are, what we do and why we do it.
The answers you ask of yourself are to be found internally, not externally…
‘People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind…So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.’
– Marcus Aurelius
Thank you for all your support and feedback over the past decade.
It has been very much appreciated.
Now it is time for me to retreat and spend time with my family.
Editor, The Daily Reckoning Australia