Everything We Got

Opening Gate:  The new year is underway, and I think we should steal a page out of the Patriots playbook, and make this year great by giving “Everything We Got” to each day and each experience.
So this post is the first where I’ll try and interject a little personal reflection – and not have it so technically dominant – but rather, hopefully, a human experience. My goal is to put one of these out the 15th of each month. The intent is to hit areas that are interesting to me, and thereby, my clients, friends, and community by association.

Buoy 1:  Quote that pertains:  “Well begun is half done” – Aristotle may have said it first, but Mary Poppins really put it on the map. Get a good start and then you have momentum. For example, your “Monday Morning Meeting” – Set goals, explicitly state the purpose and desired outcomes – this will allow you stay on track. Have ground rules, structure and expectations as to how the meeting should unfold and how those involved should participate – don’t allow hijacking. And if you’re the leader, start strong! Be prepared and then sound and act like it. Remember, meetings are for decisions, not discussion.

Buoy 2:  Book I just read:  Willpower Doesn’t Work by Benjamin Hardy – definitely purchased this book based on the title as it peaked the curiosity. I’ve always felt like a had a little more in the tank, a little more  willpower to get the job done, could just work harder to solve the problem etc. – which when you say it out loud rather then just think it, you can hear the absurdity and recognize that is not a sustainable mantra – while it’s definitely valuable to be able to work hard, have grit and determination, there has to be a better approach.
The book discusses how vital your environment is and how you have the power to make subtle (or big) changes to your environment which will reap positive outcomes. The argument is that strategically outsourcing your desired behaviors to goal-enriching environments is a key to high-performance, creativity and productivity. If you set up the right environment, the correct systems and processes, you can prepare yourself for success – rather than white-knuckling it! While the idea that preparation and environment matters isn’t revolutionary, it is a quick read where one can definitely pull out some positive ideas to help themselves set up for success.

See how the premise of the book dovetails with the quote at buoy 1 – I did that on purpose.

Buoy 3:  A win for holiday shopping and materialism – NY Times reported that 2018 holiday sales increased 5.1% to more than $850 billion – with a “B” – the strongest growth in six years.
It will be interesting to see how much gets returned and exchanged!

Buoy 4:  A weakening IRS – last year (2017), the IRS had 9,510 auditors, a reduction of 33% from 2010, and about the same as in 1953 – when the economy was a seventh of its current size. From 2010 to 2017 the audit rate dropped by 42%.

Buoy 5:  Speaking of the IRS, have you heard about the one about the tax reform that starts with 2018 tax filings? Big changes for everybody:
1) Individuals – lowering of tax rates; “doubling” of the standard deduction; new cap on mortgage interest  as well as state and local taxes (SALT) as deduction; elimination of unreimbursed employee business expenses as deductions; elimination of personal exemptions;  expansion of child tax credit; significant changes to alternative minimum tax (AMT) calculations; to name a few.
2) Corporations – “reduction” in corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% (note that the first $50,000 of business income used to be taxed at 15%, so small business may see an increase); elimination of entertainment expenses as a tax deduction; changes to Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation rules and capital equipment and improvement expensing.
3) Flow Through Entities (S-Corps, Partnerships, Sole-Proprietors, most LLCs) – pretty much all of the above plus the much discussed Section 199A Qualified Business Income Deduction – you’ll have to understand “Specified Service or Trade Business” (SSTB) rules, as well as the various calculations for qualifying income and factors as well as phase-outs.
Should be a very interesting tax filing season – pay attention!

Buoy 6:  Self-Improvement – call it a New Year’s Resolution if you want… trying two things:
1) Intermittent Fasting (IF) – where I try to limit caloric consumption to no more than 10 hours per day (I don’t limit the calories, just the time of consumption) and then one day per week (normally Monday) restrict daily caloric intake to 500-600 calories. This is modified, and less stringent, from the promoted IF diets out there, but it is enough for me to get started with it – and the diet or lifestyle you can implement is better than the one you quit. IF has been shown to:  Improve mental clarity and concentration; contribute to weight and body fat loss; lower blood insulin and sugar levels; increases in energy; improved fat burning; increased growth hormone; and lowered blood cholesterol. Not a bad list. Google it.
2) Family gratitude practice – Gratitude is linked to just about everything positive in the world. I’ve been trying, by myself, to work this more into my lifestyle – with mixed results and lackluster consistency. To try to hold myself accountable, as well as set a positive example for the kids, and introduce the idea to them and help them realize just how fortunate we all are, I’m pulling them into the mix. Sunday morning, I’ll make (or buy) breakfast and we’ll use the opportunity over coffee and donuts (maybe) to discuss what we are grateful for. It’s been a bit uncomfortable to start but I’m hoping it sticks and will be something that we all look forward to and can grow from.

Closing Gate:  I would love any feedback you have to offer – good, bad or ugly – use the comments, the contact form or simply shoot me an email. Hope everyone has a great week, month and year!

Stephan
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