Annie is right.  The sun will come out tomorrow.

Yet all too often, fear and pessimism paralyze us. We want to take a chance, make a change, do what we want, but we hold back.  What if it doesn’t work out?  What if I fail? What if ….

And time marches on, day by day.  Each day we spend not doing what we are called to is a lost day we can never recover.

How do we summon the courage to move ahead?

We remember Annie’s optimism, the sun will come out tomorrow.

Optimism is the key to unlocking your courage. Optimism helps us realize that the future may not turn out as we hope, but we can handle whatever adversity comes our way and be okay.

Optimism helps us realize that adversity is temporary, and today’s challenges often lead to tomorrow’s achievements.

Optimism helps us relax, unleashing our creativity and energizing us.

If you are feeling stuck, consider taking the chance and moving ahead.

And remember, the sun will come out tomorrow.

My wife and I just spent three weeks in a 500-square-foot apartment in Paris. I am grateful for our time together and the wonder we shared over one of the world’s most amazing cities.

At first, the apartment seemed quite small, maybe too small.  But then we visited one of my wife’s friend in Lyon who lives with her husband and two young children in a three bedroom, one bath,1300-square-foot apartment.

Magically, our 500-square-foot Paris apartment went from feeling cramped to feeling spacious.

Is the apartment small or spacious?  It depends on your perspective, just like our definition of rich or poor.

We feel poorer when we compare ourselves to our richest friends. We feel richer when we compare ourselves to friends who have less than we do.

Our natural inclination is to compare ourselves to those with more. We often feel like we are falling behind and we become fearful.  We may hoard our money, spend less, and give less.

But when we compare ourselves to those with less, we often feel more confident.  We feel empowered to use our money to enhance the quality of our lives and the lives of others as well.

You can help move yourself from fear to confidence. For the next week, challenge yourself to compare your wealth to the vast majority of humanity who have less, not the few who have more.  Does the simple act of shifting your perspective change how you feel or act?  Feel free to share your experience in the comments or email me directly.

Are you working in a job that is okay, nothing great, but it pays the bills?  Do you put in your time at work, so you can live your life on the weekends?  Are you settling because you figure the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know?

Are you aware you might be slowly killing yourself?

In his recent book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek cites several studies linking unhappy work environments to depression, anxiety, stress, heart disease, and early death rates.

Why do we stay at these unfulfilling jobs?

We often feel trapped.  We lament, I can’t quit.  I need the money.  Yet, if we examine our expenses carefully, there are often opportunities to save money.  If it gave us the opportunity to do what we love and live longer, might we be willing to eat out less often, buy fewer clothes, keep our cars longer, and even downsize our home?

Better still, we might not have to cut back.  When we use our network of relationships to explore new opportunities, we often find a job that is better suited to our talents and pays even more than our current gig.

We know this, yet we find it difficult to take that first step towards a more fulfilling job.  Why? We struggle because we are afraid of the unknown, of what might happen if we leave.

How do we move from fear to confidence?

First, we acknowledge that we never know what tomorrow will bring.  That “safe” job you don’t like could very well disappear tomorrow.

Second, we reflect on what has gotten us through prior difficult times.  Maybe it was our persistence, integrity, and determination, or the quality of our closest relationships, or our faith in God.  Maybe it was something else.  Whatever helped you before, perhaps you can call upon it again to help you pursue job opportunities you love.

When we focus on our ability to survive and even thrive in difficult times, we can start to move from fear to confidence and feel empowered to take that all important first step.

We live in a culture that all too often idolizes the hare.

Run as fast as you can.  Focus on winning.  Be competitive.  Work hard and play hard. Be decisive. Build a network of people who can help you win the game. Rest only when necessary.  Go, go, go ….

We grow tired, but we keep pushing ourselves to do more, ever more.

We can all learn from the tortoise.

Move steadily ahead.  Work hard, but not so hard it consumes your life.  Live in the moment.  Balance your time between doing and simply being.  Keep an open mind; judge slowly.

Enjoy the journey; it is all you really have.

Our culture pushes us to be the hare.

A great life values the qualities of the tortoise.

Are you the tortoise or the hare?

As Americans, we embrace the concept of the ownership society. We love to think that we own our homes, our cars, our investment accounts, and our retirement accounts.  The more we own, the more successful we feel.

The challenge is we don’t really own anything.  Ownership implies permanence, and nothing in life is permanent.

We are not owners; we are stewards.  We have control over our possessions for a brief period of time, and then we don’t.

When we see ourselves as stewards, our perspective changes.  We stop focusing on the accumulation of ever more stuff and money, and start focusing on how to use our wealth to create the life we desire.

As our focus shifts, we open ourselves to new possibilities.  Maybe we can finally take that long-delayed European vacation.  Maybe we can start our own business.  Maybe we can give more to help disabled veterans.

Most importantly, our time perspective shifts as we embrace stewardship.  As stewards, we understand that tomorrow is promised to nobody, and time, not money, is our most precious resource.

Living simply can free us from the bondage of the non-fulfilling career.  It frees us to choose a less financially rewarding, but more satisfying, more meaningful job.  It often give us the freedom to work less, earn less, and spend more time doing what we love with the people we love.

Living simply is not easy.  We sometimes purchase things we don’t need because we are exhausted from working so hard, and it feels good to treat ourselves.  We can easily get caught in a downward spiral:  the more we spend, the more financial pressure we feel, the harder we work, the more exhausted we feel, and the more we spend….

Live simply.  There’s a lot of wisdom in doing that.

We can, however, live too simply. We can become so focused on building our net worth and saving for the future that we deny ourselves life-affirming experiences such as traveling to new destinations with our loved ones and creating lifelong memories.  We might deny ourselves the satisfaction of helping a friend in need because there is a chance, however slim, that we might need that money later.

The challenge is that when we miss out on these life-affirming experiences, we miss out on them forever. We can’t change our mind and go back in time. Often, the loss is permanent.

Live fully.

Are you overwhelmed with ambivalence about where stocks are headed next? To give some perspective, the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) said the average investor bullish sentiment has been below 39% (historical average) for 15 of last 17 weeks and the investor bearish sentiment is below 30.5% (its historical bearish average). Are you “thinking about the right action,” confused about what to do given the lack of direction?

What did you do last Thursday (7/31/14) when the market dipped 1.8%, wiping out in a single day all the 2014 gains for at least one major index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average?  Did you buy in at cheaper prices or did you sell thinking a correction is in the wings? Did you take any action?

At GV, we strive to take emotion out of the picture. We take immediate action only when and where needed. Yes, hypothetically speaking, we would have bought stocks had last Thursday’s sell-off breached our proprietary rebalancing bands. Market swings give our rebalancing processes an opportunity to sell what has appreciated and buy what has gone down.

Whether in bull or bear markets, reallocating assets from better-performing asset classes to worse-performing ones can feel counterintuitive to the retail investor. Develop a disciplined process to take action so that you are not caught watching from the sidelines as the markets provide opportunities. Because investing can at times be challenging and difficult to overcome emotionally, we believe an advisor can provide you the discipline to buy low and sell high, enabling you to meet your long-term goals with lower risk.

If you wish to understand more about the processes in place at GV Financial that are designed to take the stress out of the equation so you can invest with more confidence and take advantage of opportunities, join us for our next Lunch and Learn on August 19, 2014.  Click here to register.

I first ran across the phrase “Happiness takes work” in Dennis Prager’s 1998 book, Happiness is a Serious Problem, and knew I found a nugget of wisdom.

We all want to be happy.  Aristotle went so far as to say, ““Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

Yet, all too often we look for happiness in all the wrong places. We somehow believe that pursuing fame, wealth, and pleasure will lead to happiness.  As Albert Brooks points out in his recent New York Times op-ed, Love People, Not Pleasure, “We look for these things to fill an inner emptiness. They may bring a brief satisfaction, but it never lasts, and it is never enough. And so we crave more.”

Happiness is built on the foundation of a stable lifestyle, but in what Brooks might concur is part of “Mother Nature’s cruel hoax,” an increase in lifestyle beyond that modest level does not generate more happiness.  Happiness stems from the quality of our closest relationships, our ability to engage in activities that ignite our passions, and from capturing the ever-present opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others.

Pursuing the intrinsic goals that bring us happiness is difficult, especially in a culture that all too often mistakenly defines personal success – and happiness – in terms of wealth, fame, and pleasure.  Inside, we know wealth, fame, and pleasure are false idols, yet it is hard to swim against the cultural tide of insanity.

As Brooks notes, it takes “a great deal of reflection and spiritual hard work” to resist these cultural currents and to focus your attention on what will bring you meaning, satisfaction, and a deep feeling of joy.  It requires each of us to build into our lives regularly scheduled times to pause and reflect, and to remind ourselves of what really matters to us.

Happiness takes work.

My favorite part of staying in hotels is the daily maid service.  I love coming back to the room and having the bed made, the bathroom cleaned, and everything picked up.  I often quip to my wife Heidi that the magic fairies have come again.

The truth is the “magic fairies” are mostly women who have very physically demanding jobs for a modest hourly wage.  They work long hours, five or six days a week, and are often just happy to have the work.  It shows.  They often greet me in the hall with a smile on their face and good wishes for my day.

Recently, I decided to thank the housekeeper personally and to hand her a $20 tip.  The experience invigorated me.  Her initial reaction of shock quickly morphed into a big bright smile that was contagious.  I felt great for the rest of the day.  It was the best $20 I had spent in a long time.

When we stop and notice another person, and thank them for their efforts to make our lives a little easier, they feel great and so do we.  While it doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of money, it can bring a smile to their face, and ours.  And don’t we all want to smile a little bit more.

Generosity flows from confidence and leads to confidence.

We are generous when we are feeling confident about the future.  We give our time and money freely when we have the confidence we can overcome life’s future challenges.

When we are generous with our time and money, we also remind ourselves of our own good fortune, and of all the resources we have at our disposal as we face an uncertain future. When we see the world from a place of gratitude and abundance, we feel more confident.

Build your confidence; be generous.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 469 other followers