Make SMART Goals, Practice Gratitude, and Adopt Betty White's Attitude


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January 2, 2022
LAST WEEK OF THE YEAR ENDS UP POSITIVE: Despite some wavering, stocks ended slightly higher for the last week in the year, a week that generally has significantly less trading volume. Much of the trading revolves around last-minute tax moves and year-end portfolio positioning by fund managers. The end of a strong year for the S&P 500 stood in stark contrast to domestic bonds which provided a small negative return. The Russell 2000, small U.S. company stocks, returned 13.69%, less than half the S&P 500. Foreign stocks (see below) were lower still. Emerging Markets were down over 5% for the year. It was a real mixed bag for a diversified portfolio, with large U.S. companies leading the way.
TRAVEL DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Travel has been one of the most challenged industries during these two years of COVID-related issues. As you can see in the chart, travel in the U.S. has bounced back to levels not that far off from 2019. We will see a holiday fall off due to flight cancellations caused by crews calling in sick with Omicron. The industry has been resilient even though flying is less pleasant these days.
HOTELS DOING WELL: Although not back to 2019 numbers, hotel occupancy for 2021 surpassed the median occupancy numbers for the last twenty years during the latter stages of this year. This bodes well for an industry that is still way below 2019 numbers for foreign travelers.
NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY USAGE WAY BELOW 2019: This graph shows how much New York City subway traffic has recovered (or not recovered). In Manhattan, for example, usage is at about 33% of 2019 levels.
RECORD YEAR IN MORTGAGE LENDING: Mortgage lenders issued $1.61 trillion in purchase loans in 2021. That is up from $1.48 trillion in 2020. It is also above the $1.51 trillion lent in 2005, the previous all time record. This reflects a very active market and the corresponding run-up in prices. In addition, many Americans got raises, received government money, and saved money while staying home during the pandemic shutdowns. All that extra money has to go somewhere. Refinances ended the year at $2.3 trillion, a bit lower than the $2.6 trillion of 2020.
CONTINUING TO WATCH THE DATA: U.S. deaths were down another 10% last week. Deaths have stayed in a tight range for about two months with Thanksgiving and Christmas reporting blips causing the only real bumps. Global deaths continue its continuous pattern of decrease since August. This week global deaths decreased by 12%. In South Africa, infections are coming down from the recent peak, and deaths, which have stayed in a low range, decreased a little last week. More and more information is coming out supporting the proposition that Omicron is less dangerous. The New York Times published an article citing some of the recent research indicating that Omicron affects the upper airways whereas earlier strains affected the lungs which can be much more dangerous. (Sources: AND )
HOSPITALIZATIONS AND GLOBAL INFECTIONS: The number of people in U.S. hospitals who are COVID positive has increased this week by 9.1%. Reported infections increased in the U.S. by 70%. Again, my anecdotal observations, and probably yours, support this. Many people I know have gotten it in the last month, and especially in the last couple of weeks (mostly, but not all, vaccinated and some boosted).
(Sources: and
MAKE 2022 A GREAT YEAR!: Resolutions and goal setting are all the rage this time of year. Here are some important factors that could help you accomplish more in 2022.

1. Values

A common reason why many New Year’s resolutions fail is that, as good as they may look, we don’t really feel strongly about them. You might be inspired by a trendy goal shared across social media and you don’t want to miss out. You may set an aspirational goal that’s well-intentioned but vague or unrealistic.

The more important a goal is to you, the more likely you are to achieve it. Rather than listing things you’d like to do or things you think would be good to do, start by listing your values. What are the things that are most important to you? What kinds of goals can you set that will help you live those values for the next twelve months?

For example, you may set a goal to learn Spanish? “Because it would be good for me” isn’t an answer that will inspire you to drill flashcards every day and find a good tutor. But if learning Spanish will help you make a career change that you value, or help you be a more effective tutor at the reading center where you volunteer, or allow you to speak with local people on your next missions trip, you’ll be more motivated to put in the work.

2. Relationships

As valuable as self-improvement is, goals that strengthen the most important relationships in our lives also tend to stick. If you want to eat better in 2022, your daily bowl of salad in the office cafeteria might start to feel lonely. But if you and your spouse commit to cooking healthy dinners together three nights every week, you’ll be sharing a goal and some valuable time together.

Anchoring your goals in relationships can also create accountability that will help you get over the hump on those days when you’re just not feeling it. You won’t sleep through a tennis lesson if you know your best friend is waiting for you on the court.

3. A SMART plan

Once you’ve settled on an important goal, ask yourself, “Is this goal SMART enough? You’re far more likely to hit a target if it is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. “I want to be healthier” is not a SMART goal, even if improving your health is one of your top values. It’s too vague, and it doesn’t include any metrics you can use to track your progress or hold yourself accountable.

Last year I set a goal to “run in and complete the Ravenna, Italy marathon in November.” That put my healthy value in action while passing the SMART test:

  • Running a marathon is more Specific than “getting healthier.”
  • I could Measure my progress by setting and tracking daily and weekly running targets.
  • Finishing a long run after months of training is certainly Achievable but …
  • Was it Realistic? I had not run one in eight years, but I had done it before. If that had not been the case, pulling it back to a half marathon or a 10k might have been a better goal.
  • This goal is Timely because I knew when the marathon was set to be run and what I had to do every day, week, and month to cross the finish line.

4. A strong financial foundation

On the financial front, I encourage you to ask yourself at the start of this new year, “What is my money for?” In part, your money should help you achieve goals that are going to improve your Return on Life. We love being a part of helping our clients do just that.

MY DOCTOR SAYS…: My family doctor sent this note to all her patients. I can’t really improve on the sentiment, so I’ll just quote it:

“CDC quarantine and isolation policies are changing and everywhere you turn, another friend or family member is sick or positive. Staffing shortages abound and most every industry is running rough right now. The task of avoiding this round of COVID seems Sisyphean and impossible and those of us that haven’t had COVID feel on borrowed time. Many people I know are on pins and needles right now waiting to see if they become positive after inadvertently being around someone who had COVID over the Christmas holiday. And boy is this getting old! It is clear that COVID is going to be with us for the long term and any hopes that we had in the very beginning of eradicating it have long since been dashed. It will eventually go the way of the flu, being seasonal and part of our medical landscape (and not threatening to shut down schools or the economy, etc) but for now it is very much still in the foreground and affecting all our daily lives. I wish I was the bearer of happier news and I pray that 2022 is happier and healthier than this year. Our spirit is still of resilience and perseverance and I see hope with every new day that I get to wake up on this side of the grass. I practice daily gratitude and prayer and I know that we will get through this phase as well.”

“GOOD QUESTION LYDIA, BUT NO”: We renewed our family tradition of going to a Christmas Eve church service. We were blessed to be joined by our entire family. While we were seated, waiting for the service to begin, another family walked in. This family included a newborn baby, about two months old. My 3-year-old granddaughter Lydia excitedly blurted out, “Is that the baby Jesus!?” to the delight of all who heard it.
Have a great week!
Our mission is to help you see the objective, find the path, and navigate past the obstacles to a more prosperous future.
Douglas R. MacGray, J.D., C.F.P. ®
Stonecrop Wealth Advisors, LLC
225 Wilmington-West Chester Pike; Suite 200
Chadds Ford, PA 19317
Direct | Cell | Fax
(610) 628 4545
“It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.” Betty White

“Retirement is not in my vocabulary. The aren’t going to get rid of me that way.” Betty White

“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18 (NIV)

(c) 2022 Douglas R. MacGray, All Rights Reserved
*S&P 500: This is a measure of the performance of the 500 largest companies in the United States, and it a common index to track the performance of U.S. equity markets, especially the large cap markets.
*MSCI All Country World Index X US: This is a broad measure of the performance of worldwide equity markets excluding the United States.
*Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate: This is a measure of the U.S. bond markets.
Investment advisory services offered through Stonecrop Wealth Advisors, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Doug MacGray

  • DATE

    January 2, 2022


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