As the end of the year approaches, we often find ourselves thinking about what we’ve accomplished in the preceding months, which tasks we feel are incomplete, and how we’ve learned a few more lessons the hard way. Things never seem to turn out the way we’ve expected, but life always keeps things interesting.
The Economic Backdrop
Once again, we find ourselves in a less-than-secure economy. Depending on which signs you watch, you will see more reasons for optimism or trepidation. The stock market gains throughout the year were greatly encouraging—so it was even more of a shame when those gains were wiped out in November. Unemployment remains low—but that’s not as much help when you’re in an industry dealing with a labor shortage. The data on housing starts has been good this year—but maintaining the growth may be difficult amid reports of declining builder confidence.
Some people may disagree, but it seems to me that we’re back in a situation best met with cautious optimism. We cannot take things for granted—but that’s generally true even when all signs are pointing in the right direction. And while no one has forgotten the crash, its growing distance in the rearview mirror has made it easier to move forward within the context of our “new normal.”
As always, we have a choice—we can focus on the positive or the negative. Importantly though, focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that we ignore the potential pitfalls or warning signs. It simply means that we don’t become consumed by them. On the contrary, if we remain cognizant of the trends that might take a downward turn, then we may be better prepared to “roll with the punches.”
Welcoming the New Year
The next New Year is always challenging. It’s full of unexpected twists and turns, and we can never really foresee how it will unfold. But it’s also full of possibilities. So as we head into December, we can focus on the joys that this holiday season brings. We can do our best to learn from what has transpired this year, both good and bad, as we begin drafting our resolutions for the coming year. And we continue preparing for another interesting year.
Best Wishes for a Wonderful Holiday Season!