I am not really a cartoon guy but I do know the characters in Winnie the Pooh. Today I will focus on Eeyore and Tigger. Tigger seemed to go head first into any obstacle without a lot of thought or a care in the world. He was brimming with optimism and enthusiasm and saw a world full of opportunity. On the other hand, Eeyore was very negative, downcast and visualized obstacles whether they were there or not.
In the last six months, the call volume has gone through the roof from existing clients and new people having questions about estate planning with the new administration. The phone rings and this individual immediately comments, we need to review and “we need to plan for the worst.” The concern was not surprising, but something struck me about how things could shape up in the future.
My mind wandered to what all those “worst” things are. Is the worst thing an increase in income tax rates and capital gains rates? Is the worst thing a significant change in stepped-up basis laws? Is the worst thing reducing the estate tax limit to $5.8 million? Is the worst thing a plan that does not cash flow for your farming heir? What about the nursing home? That sounds terrible. What about kids that are fighting and behaving badly? What about a bad illness, like cancer? What if you ran out of money? What if the bank closed? What if the stock market went to zero? What if you don’t know where you are going when you die? What if there was another terrorist attack? What if a child predeceased you? What if you lost your spouse?
Wow, that’s a lot of bad things. Which is the worst of the worst? Which of those can you control and what is out of your control?
So, what struck me about the phone call? What struck me is “what will your attitude be as we move forward?” Will you retreat and hide? Will all of your thoughts become negative? It takes a lot of energy to be negative all the time. Will you move forward with optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement looking for all the opportunities that lie ahead of you?
Oh sure, we do all kinds of things to manage and plan so those worst-case scenarios are planned for, but we’re not just planning for them in a negative way. We’re planning for them in a positive way so the operation can “go and grow” in the future.
Around my family, I always say, “hammer down.” It’s my inner-Tom-Brady way of saying “let’s go.” Again, I get the concerns and I have them myself. Yes, some things are alarming but sometimes I catch myself being concerned about things that I can not control. Then I remind myself that there have always been problems in this world and there always will be, but as long as there’s opportunity, I want to focus on the opportunities.
So where are you at? Do you find yourself thinking negatively planning for the worst? Or do you find yourself wanting to address the concerns so that you can move forward? Speaking of that, many are assuming the laws are going to change and are doing things and buying products as if the laws have already changed! Beware — the vultures are circling everywhere looking for looking for easy prey.
Keeping look up and looking ahead. Maybe you don’t need to bounce around like Tigger but you should not be as downcast as Eeyore. I think it is a lot more fun and energizing to prudently plan for the best. Hammer down!
Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.