“I don’t think I will ever take a flight without a mask on again,” my wife, Johanna, said to me a few weeks ago as we rounded the anniversary of the first lockdowns in the US. While I would obviously always seek to agree with my lovely wife, this happened to be an extremely rare case when I hoped (but didn’t think) that she was wrong.
A year plus into pandemic life, there are competing narratives about what happens next. We have the positive side of the story driven by increasing vaccination rates in the US, reopening of hotels, restaurants, and service businesses, and we have the dark side, COVID variants have emerged with higher transmissibility and/or younger victims along with new lockdowns overseas as Europe (and the U.S.) experience another surge.
While we will not know for some time if Johanna is right, the clear winner at this moment is uncertainty. The world has great uncertainty regarding when ‘normalcy' will return. Markets have uncertainty about interest rates, inflation, and valuation. People remain uncertain about what activities remain a risk, when they can receive a vaccine, go back to the office, and the list goes on. Life is always said to be uncertain, but these days feel more so.
Almost everyone reading this has themself experienced or has been close to someone who has experienced a significant loss in this past year. This has given me certainty about one thing, the fragility of life. With this ‘newfound’ fragility comes a greater need to focus on planning. Planning for the future, however uncertain, is not just about saving money to spend it later. It is about the ability to effectively martial your resources and utilize them for the betterment of that which you value most, be it in life or death. Planning is the antidote for uncertainty.
Certain aspects of planning - often estate planning - are overlooked or not completed because the plans are imperfect. Achieving perfection in this regard can be quite difficult, however, achieving something short of perfection remains laudable. No one likes to think about their own death, and many understandably avoid planning for it. However, doing nothing leaves it up to those left behind to navigate a labyrinthine set of laws that will deliver some result, but one that is much less perfect than your own design, however imperfect.
To be sure, planning is not just what will happen ‘when I die’ or ‘after I retire.’ It means thinking about happy, aspirational goals for life, like funding a child or grandchild’s education, starting a new business or taking more vacation time. Enhancing your life and creating financial certainty are gratifying for many.
The mere act of thinking about planning for uncertain times and life’s (un)certainties can often bring clarity to one’s own needs and desires for themselves and their loved ones. As always, we encourage you to plan fiercely! Please call us for any help in doing so and enjoy the springtime.
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