During a family movie night over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we watched a wonderfully charming movie, Christopher Robin. In the film, Christopher grows up, takes on the serious work of making a living, and in the process alienates his family and loses all sense of joy.
It’s only when he gets reacquainted with his honey-loving childhood friend, Winnie-the-Pooh, that he realizes how much he’s lost in becoming an adult. There are some lessons for all of us here, including an investment lesson.
"Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something."
This is an observation that Pooh makes several times, and it’s directly applicable to investors. After a long season of low stock market volatility, the recent sharp ups and downs may feel jarring. You may even feel like you should do something. But Pooh has it right. Especially when volatility — and emotions — are running high, it’s doing nothing that often leads to the very best kind of something.
"Your life is happening right now in front of you."
This one actually wasn’t from Pooh, but from Christopher Robin’s wife, Evelyn, as she and their daughter are about to leave for a weekend in the country. They were all supposed to go, but at the last minute Christopher’s boss required more work of him.
Christopher: "If I work really hard now, in the future our lives will be…"
Evelyn: "Impressive? Worse? We don’t care. We want you."
This one was especially convicting. Since we weren’t traveling over the four-day weekend, I saw it as an opportunity to knock out lots of items on my ever-present to-do list. After a productive but somewhat isolated day, I knew my priorities were misplaced. Fortunately, there was still another day off and I spent most of it with my family.
If you have some time off coming up, be proactive in thinking about how to best spend that time. In a survey I commissioned right after Christmas some years ago, I asked people about their holiday regrets. Among the most common answers, people wished they had spent more time with family and friends, spent more time reflecting on the spiritual significance of the holiday season, and given more money to charity.
"I know I don’t need one, but I’d like one very, very much, please."
This was Pooh expressing his desire for a simple red balloon. Are you more of a planner than spontaneous? Are you more practical than fanciful? There’s much to be said for practicality. However, this Christmas, think of something your spouse or your kids don’t need but really want, something you could give many very logical reasons for not buying. At the risk of giving horrible financial advice, go ahead and buy it.
Winnie-the-Pooh: "What should happen if you forget about me?"
Young Christopher Robin: "Silly old bear. I wouldn’t ever forget about you, Pooh, I promise. Not even when I’m a hundred."
It’s easy to forget— what matters most; that happy memories can be made by being a little impractical every now and then, a little spontaneous; and that each day is a gift.