The Past Is Gone, But The Future Begins Today

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a great start.

A couple of days ago, oil was trading at -$37.63 per barrel. Read that again. Did you see the minus sign? That means below zero. If you were somehow able to get your arms around a barrel of oil at the right moment this past Monday, somebody would have paid you nearly $40 to take it. I’m not even sure how that works, but I’d like to give it a try.

In eighth-grade we were learning about the stock market. The teacher gave us all $50 to invest (fake money, naturally) so we could do a six-week test of our investment savvy. Most of the class invested in several different things – you know, in case one failed. And most of them lost. Apparently, an affinity for candy necklaces doesn’t always translate into stock gains.

But that was back in 1971 and Walt Disney World had just opened. At the time, their stock was just under $1 per share, so my buddy and I put our money together and bought 100 shares. By the end of the six weeks, the stock was up 40% and we won the challenge. And the teacher still hasn’t paid up.

Earlier this year, Disney stock was trading at a little over $140. So, an investment in 1971 would be worth at least 140 times its initial value today. In 1986, Microsoft stock was selling for just over 10 cents per share, and last year it topped out at $190. Imagine waking up today and finding 1000 shares of Microsoft under your pillow. Where’s that tooth fairy?

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. Had we known way back then what a $100 investment might been worth, I’m sure most of us would have taken the plunge. On the other hand, I’d have probably invested it all in 8-track players. That was a hot commodity back then. So were slide rules. You know, until Texas Instruments came along.

Right now, I’d bet a lot of us are wishing we’d made some different decisions a few years, or even a few months ago. Those decisions may have been health-related, financial, career-oriented, or even just how much time we spent with family. And like it or not, the piper always gets paid.

I don’t think any of us are naïve enough to believe life will somehow go back to the way it was. Those days are gone. All around us, the world is changing. Retail stores are no longer spending their money on cash registers. They’re spending it on robots. The drive-thru at our local pharmacy just put in a new carrier system that’s twice as fast as the old one. It’s about time.

Things we never thought we’d see have come to pass. I remember a time when people said, “If gas ever hits a dollar a gallon, I’ll walk!” Those same people said we’d never see personal computers in every home, nobody wants to carry around a phone all day, and we’ll never let somebody else pick out our meat and produce for us. Famous last words.

We like to think the secret to capitalizing on a trend is to get in on the action before everybody else does. I’d love to own a souvenir shop on the beach. But apparently a few other people had the same idea. You know, like eighty years ago. That’s not to say a new store couldn’t survive. We went to Gatlinburg a few years ago, and there’s a pancake house on every corner. Literally.

Which only means that what was a good idea 50 years ago may still be a good idea today. All too often, we look right past the obvious solutions because they’ve been around so long. Sooner or later, they’ll have to collapse. Right? Well, those pancake houses probably aren’t doing so well today. But home-based businesses are stronger than ever. We’re home anyway.

It’s easy to pass on opportunities that are outside the mainstream. It’s even easier when we know somebody who already tried and failed, or our neighbor’s cousin had a friend whose brother couldn’t make it work. Well, guess what? Businesses fail. It happens every day. And every day, new businesses in those same industries succeed.

So, here’s the real question. Are you where you want to be today? Can you survive another six months in your current situation? What if it happens again this winter? If the decisions you’ve made haven’t put you where you want to be, maybe it’s time for a change.

The opportunities are there. And right now, most of us have time to do something about it. I’d be happy to share some ideas if you’re up to it. There are dozens of things you could be doing. Some may work, and others may not. But just sitting there isn’t really an option. A year from now, you’ll be looking back on the decisions you made today. Make them count!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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