Welcome to the 2014 Annual “Forecast” edition of Views from the Crows Nest. One of the many challenges with publishing a document that is intended to cover a one year period is that so much can change in a year.
Another challenge is choosing a theme, especially now when my creative faculties are wide open to receiving wisdom from countless sources. It’s not always this easy, so I’m deeply grateful when I am blessed with an almost embarrassing abundance of ideas, opportunities and new connections.
The most obvious challenge, though, is getting the actual forecasts themselves accurate enough to actually be useful and helpful to readers. The reality is that high-quality forecasts and advice are only as useful as they are timely, so forecasts that are too broad can actually be counter-productive.
In last year’s Annual Forecast, I described a personal shift away from day to day market action, choosing instead to take a broader view of markets. This shift was a manifestation of a very conscious personal decision to let go of perfectionism as a means of achieving much more important big-picture goals.
This led to literally life-changing insights in the wake of an early-spring near-death and long-distance health crisis within our diverse blended family. Life has a way of bringing forward new obstacles even as we challenge our fears and self-limiting beliefs.
Even things like my personal pet-peeve of being on schedule have been challenged recently. I publicly stated that this newsletter would be published prior to welcoming 2014, but several unplanned and time-sensitive family priorities arose. Shift happens. While it’s more than a little annoying to be faced with one major challenge after another, each obstacle reveals new learning that far exceeds the challenge.
In the spirit noted immediately above, the events that delayed this publication also provided additional opportunities to shape the clay that has been dropped in my lap over the last few weeks. So from my deep personal frustration of being late, the great gift of heightened clarity has emerged, and the clutter has faded (thanks RW!). Life is wonderful and mysterious when we go with the flow, isn’t it?
So, as we all shift in response to life challenges, it seems utterly obvious that this missive’s theme must be about YOU THE READER who has invested the time to consume the buffet that I now spread before you…after a rambling appetizer, no less!
This edition is about YOU because you are the only one who can ever decide anything for yourself. You are the person who chooses to save or spend, to take a break or work harder, to engage meaningfully with your family or to hide in avoidance behaviours, to integrate the wisdom of others or refuse to change your opinions, to trust or remain in fear.
You are the person who creates exactly what you have and will experience in the past, present and future. If you are reading this, you’ve likely already accepted personal responsibility for your financial independence. Congratulations for getting this far!
You might also be looking for answers to the big investment questions about the future. While I have some very clear ideas on what I believe will happen over the next year in investment markets, that’s NOT where my strengths lie, so that’s not how I will best add value to your life…integration and application of universal wisdom is my core strength – it’s what brings me “flow.”
What matters most in investment management is the real-time decisions made by each person who carries the responsibility of managing money for anyone. So, the questions below are for every reader, whether they manage portfolios for clients or for themselves and their family only.
Buckle up for this exciting journey down the rabbit hole of embracing and leveraging your strengths…and facing, feeling and releasing your greatest fears. I promise that there are abundant rewards at the end of this journey, though the rewards may be different than you anticipate. The less you resist, the easier this will be, and the greater the learning. It has taken me a long time to learn the foregoing.
To ease the pain of self-exploration, I will use questions designed to pierce several layers and rapidly arrive at the problems to be solved. Some questions may not apply to you, but those which elicit the strongest reaction – especially denial of the question’s relevance to you – are likely the arrows that have hit closest to your own greatest fears.
If it hurts, it can and should be healed. I ask only those questions which I can help you answer; to do otherwise would be cruel. I’ve experienced or repeatedly witnessed the themes of every question, so I personally understand the suffering from memory, not theory.
There are no wrong answers, no passing or failing grade, no comparison with classmates, colleagues or family…this is about you, and especially what you do with the wisdom discovered within yourself.
Ready, set, grow!
1) What are you really great at? Make a list of 3-5 activities that you are exceptionally skilled at.
2) What do you love most to do? Make a list of 3-5 activities that are so enjoyable they can cause you to lose track of time, and do NOT cause fatigue.
3) What are the 3-5 activities that help you to build your wealth (in ALL its forms), to reduce your stress, to spark you to evolve personally and to improve your relationships with yourself and others?
4) What are the common themes among your answers to these first three questions?
5) What are the biggest frustrations, stresses and practical problems you experience on a recurring basis?
6) What are the biggest frustrations, stresses and practical problems that you cause for the most important people in your world? Yes, you need to ask them, and then listen without defending yourself, so they know you really want to know. They also need to be given time to think about their answers. Prepare to feel the joyful pain of being vulnerable…vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and self-actualization so dive head-long into this darkness!
7) Are you willing to make some changes in order to focus most of your time and energy on the answers to 4) above?
8) What are your personal obstacles to making these changes?
9) How often do you experience frustration by not feeling appreciated for the good things that you do for others?
10) What is stopping you from stepping forward and allowing others to see you confidently doing what you love, and loving what you do?
11) When you daydream, do your thoughts wander to what could go wrong, or to what could go well?
12) Do you dismiss the ideas of others if they contradict your own views or understanding of how things work?
13) How comfortable are you with uncertainty and mystery?
14) Are you willing to accept that the probability of reaching your financial (or other) goals is directly related to the depth of your belief in your ability to achieve them?
15) Are you willing to accept the “radical possibility” that the depth of your belief in your ability to achieve anything is directly related to your core beliefs around your worthiness to achieve your goals?
16) How open are you to sharing the abundance you have created?
17) How open are you to learning about new and different ways of sharing your abundance with others?
18) How open are you to the possibility that being different than the mainstream (disruptor, contrarian, etc) is actually helpful to society at large?
19) Are you willing to consider the possibility that the popular way of trying to solve a particular problem is not the most effective way of solving the problem…and in fact may help perpetuate the problem itself?
20) How open are you to allowing trustworthy people to help you solve the problems that are you blocking you from living into your fullest potential?
What you choose to do with these questions and the answers is up to you, just like everything else. Free will is sooooo awesome!
At the beginning of this exciting new year of change, I wish each of you the gifts of vulnerability, self understanding and mostly self acceptance. Happy 2014, everyone!
Patience, Discipline and Love help you manifest wealth, health and happiness, so focus on these.
Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM
President, Integrated Wealth Management, AND
Enthusiastic Professional Disruptor