August 1, 2023

At this point of the year, we are deep in to the heat of the summer, past the July 4th holiday, and already looking forward to Labor Day which is right around the corner.  If nothing else, these little mile markers remind us that we are half way through the year.  If you are one to reflect on seasons of life, this is also a good reminder that ‘halftime’ is a great time to reassess your progress and make any course corrections necessary.

Halftime for 2023

Did you make any new year’s resolutions?  Since many resolutions are broken by February of each year, I came across an idea from author and entrepreneur, Tim Ferris1, about approaching goal setting for a year a little differently by spending one’s energy on a ‘Past Year Review’ rather than a ‘New Years Resolution.’  Tim is an outside the box thinker, and I loved his suggestions on how to take a different angle on goal setting in the new year.It is a great way to refocus on a few things that really matter (relationships, self-care, etc) with encouragement to be brutal in figuring out what should go on your ‘Not To Do List’.  How great is that…a NOT To Do List!I suggest that you find his blog post and read more about how to prioritize what matters and cut everything else.
So why am I talking about New Years Resolutions or Past Year Reviews in July?  Because halftime is always a time to stop and see how your plans have played out in the first half of the game.  Many times, it is the corrections made at halftime that make or break the outcome.  Mike Tyson was famous for saying that everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the mouth (and if Mike Tyson punched me in the mouth, the only plan I would have is to run away as fast I my legs would allow!).  You have taken some punches in the first half of the year that have altered what you set out to do.  So if you find yourself stuck or further from your goal, start your Prior Year Review now, adjust the target and refocus, and get very clear about your Not To Do List for the rest of the year.
Halftime for Investments

The first half of the year with investments has seen what some call PUDS…pointless ups and downs.Many people track and trade on these PUDS which usually is not a fruitful strategy.  US stocks, and particularly tech focused companies, have looked pretty good despite the daily dose of fear we see in the news.  Companies outside of our borders have not done quite as well.  And as expected, bond values have recovered a bit as interest rates continue to ease off their highs from the end of last year.
A good halftime with your investments doesn’t mean that you should begin to shift your portfolio towards the winners as this recency bias will most likely crush you2.  You need to avoid this urge at all costs.  Focus on controlling what you can control…I promise that investment returns are never part of that answer.  Harvest any losses for tax savings, rebalance to keep your risk level on target, consider optimizing your plan with Roth conversions, and take advantage of unusually high cash interest rates are just a few things that are in your control.  It’s not rocket science, but someone needs to be looking for these opportunities.
Halftime for your life
I know it is quite a mental jump to go from talking about your investments to a deep analysis of your life but stay with me for a second.  Taking an intentional halftime for your life means taking the second half of life seriously.  It means that you are committed to not just getting through life, but that you want to know what it means to truly live.  That doesn’t happen by accident.  One of my To Do’s for this year was to get going on launching a podcast on Adventure that I have talked about for too long3.  It has been a blast to talk to so many great Everyday Explorers about how they are intentional about pursuing things in their life that mattered most.  Not with perfection, not necessarily to any external acclaim, but with a purpose that allowed them to be clear on their first principles, to be free to say YES, and to push to the boundaries of their limits only to find what they were really made of and made for.  For some, it is peace; for others, a purpose beyond themselves.  But all of them have been deliberate to take that first step into the abyss with faith.  Arthur Brooks’ recent book called From Strength to Strength is a wonderful exploration of how to use a good halftime to win the second half.  Brooks gives us a good reminder to end on when he states,
“Devote the back half of your life to serving others with your wisdom. Get old sharing the things you believe are most important. Excellence is always its own reward, and this is how you can be most excellent as you age.”4
Enjoy the rest of your summer,

Joshua E. Self, CLU, ChFC, CFP®
Managing Partner