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'Tis The Season

Last Thursday, I tested positive: I now have a severe case of the Christmas spirit.  And while I’ve spent the last two months talking with clients about year-end tax planning, it was a breakfast last week that reminded me of the more important points of the holiday season.  

Granted, this year has proved to be a helluva sequel to 2020.  We began the year with spiking COVID-related hospitalizations, and we’ve been introduced to two major variants since.  We’re in this bizarre recovery that has seen big gains in many respects but continued challenges and risks along the way.  

Let me digress a bit here.  Typically, year-end tax is simply a check-in with clients and their CPAs to take stock on how the year has gone.  But with tax reform up in the air, these meetings have turned into full blown financial planning projects in many cases.  There are opportunities, as this article discusses, but they come with plenty of unknowns.

As a result, CPAs and advisors alike have been pedal-to-the-medal, working with clients, running tax scenarios, trying to avoid playing political forecaster. For many CPAs, December 31st can’t come soon enough.  

Then came that breakfast last week …

True story: years ago, a man and his mother were having breakfast.  Their server was finishing up an overnight shift at the greasy-spoon diner and brought them their bill: $16.00 … total.   “What’s a 20% tip going to do for this hard-working server?  Even 50% doesn’t equate to much.”  So, they paid their bill and left a larger tip … about $1,000 larger.  

And that’s how Shock & Claus began.  This year, the movement included over 190 participants, across 10 locations with “inspired” tips over nearly $20,000.  Simple but powerful.  Each participant simply shows up for breakfast with a crisp, clean $100 bill to add to the tip.  The unexpected tip of ~$2,000 for each server makes a powerful impact.  (Watch for yourself.)

And this is how I was able to “stop and shift.”  (Sound familiar, fellow XYPN members?)  I was able to stop the mindless grind of task after task and shift into a more deliberate place, focusing on what matters most.  Oh, there’s plenty of work that needs to get done, no doubt.  But how you attack that list is what’s important here.   Control it, or it will control you.

They say that life happens when you're busy making other plans.  If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life can throw you surprises at any time.  So, my two cents worth of free advice goes like this:

  • Be intentional with your time
  • Be mindful with your actions
  • Be meaningful with others

There are 18 days left in 2021.  As a New Year’s Eve baby, I love reflecting back and looking forward, resolving for how to be better next year.  I hope you have … wait, no … MAKE the time to do the same.