Hope Is A Strategy

Hope is in short supply, and people are hurting. We’re battling a global pandemic, fires, floods, racial tension, economic uncertainty, a war, and political turmoil – dark days. It’s hard to imagine times getting better, but they will. Try to find the good among the bad. Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” Great advice. There’s always a silver lining, and it takes courage to rely on hope and faith, but they are essential ingredients if you want to succeed.

What is hope? Webster’s dictionary defines it as a desire with expectations of obtaining and expecting with confidence. Powerful words. In addition to confidence, it takes patience, humility, and wisdom to rely on hope because we can’t see it or touch it, but it’s there.

The investment community says hope is not a strategy, but I disagree. Financial planners and investment managers, including me, tell clients they must have a plan to achieve their goals. A financial plan is needed, but you also need hope, especially when the stock market crashes like last year. As Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” When your plan is not working and the days are dark, you need faith that things will eventually improve.

I rely on financial planning software, Excel spreadsheets, and my faithful HP12c calculator to help clients obtain their goals. I was full of hope and faith when I launched my firm seven years ago because it’s all I had. I was confident my business would flourish, so I didn’t worry about not having clients. I pursued each day with optimism. And, day by day, I built my business.

In helping others reach their financial goals, I must believe in the stock market’s long-term trend and our country’s economic resilience. I have centuries of data supporting my thesis when I talk to clients about their future, but the information is historical. It already happened, and how do I know it will continue? How do I know the stock market will be higher 100 years from now? I don’t, nor does anyone else. It’s a guessing game. However, based on history, I like my odds of success.

Illustration of lonely boy with bird wing shadow, surreal painting, concept art, conceptual idea of freedom hope and imagination

When times are tough, like now, it’s imperative to have faith in the future. I was talking to a client this week who is struggling. We talked through a few issues, and I suggested he focus on the good things in his life. It’s hard to be upbeat, but it’s necessary to keep moving forward.

Here are a few suggestions to help you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  • Serve others. Volunteer your time to help those in need. Serving people who can only repay you with a smile, hug, or handshake is time well spent.
  • Donate. Consider donating money to your local food bank or soup kitchen if you have financial assets. A Google search for non-profits in your neighborhood will produce several results. Pick one and send them a check.
  • Deliver. Do you know a neighbor who can use a helping hand? Cook them a meal. Mow their lawn. Wash their car. Buy them a cup of coffee. Listen to their story.
  • Sing. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when singing, especially with others. For the record, I have a horrible voice, and I can’t sing, but I do it anyway.
  • Mentor. Kids and young adults need mentors and tutors now more than ever. Do you have time to help someone with their studies or give them career advice?
  • Plant. Plant some trees, bushes, or flowers. Start a garden. Add some color to your backyard. Hang up a hummingbird feeder or install a birdbath.
  • Laugh. Watch a comedy or read comics. My family has a collection of Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson, and we flip through the pages occasionally to get a belly laugh.
  • Exercise. A walk or run can give you a quick reset. Play tennis or golf. Ride a bike. Go for a swim.
  • Watch. Wake up early to watch the sunrise. When I lived in Mission Beach (San Diego), hundreds of people would walk to the boardwalk to see the sunset. I’ve never been disappointed by the beauty of nature.
  • Adopt. A dog or cat can bring joy to your household. Visit your local humane society to adopt an animal. If you don’t want to care for a pet, watch some Youtube videos about animals – it will put a smile on your face.
  • Pray. Plug into the highest power source.  

As a nation, we have endured worse. It’s a difficult time for all, but it will pass. Focus on the things you can control, don’t worry about tomorrow, and keep the faith.

Gotta have hope!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

January 17, 2023

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.