Dear 2023,

Ever heard of the gap and the gain?  It’s where you start at a point, and make progress.  Slowly yet surely, you plod ahead.  It doesn’t feel like you’ve gone far, it seems the horizon…the goal…is so far off in the distance.  That’s the gap.  But, when you glance back over your shoulder, you see how far you’ve come from your starting point.  And that’s the gain.  The trick is to deal with the tension of the gap…unmet goals, yet celebrate the gain…progress achieved.  So many gaps…yet, in hindsight, the gains nearly too numerous to count.  I’d like to take this letter to focus on three gains that make me grateful for what you brought me this past year.

First, from a personal gain point of view.  In 2023, my kids started their Senior, Sophomore, and Sixth grade years.  To say that time flies is an understatement.  I use that function on my iPhone that cycles through pictures that you’ve taken over the years.  Each time a memory pops up from a vacation in 2010, or a holiday in 2015, or a football game in 2017, I almost get teary eyed.  Each of my kids have grown up so quick.  I often wonder if I’m getting this Dad thing right.  Balancing a growing career, with a desire to be a growing leader, a good husband, a follower of Christ, and a healthy man in his mid-40s…there’s a lot going on.  I know, though, that the Dad thing is super important.  And 2023 gave me the opportunity to take the family on a trip out West to enjoy God’s creation and quantity time together.  I also tried to be intentional with one-on-one Dad dates with the kids so they felt important and could have focused time with me.  These are moments I’ll cherish forever, and as I look back on the gains I made as a father, I’m grateful for the time I was able to be intentional with each of my kids.

Next, from a professional gain point of view.  As you know, my long-time friend, co-founder, and business partner retired.  Twenty-one years of doing life and business together came to a final goodbye on August 1st.  Change and transitions are never fun, but the circle of life must go on.  Adam was ready to transition to something else.  I love him as a brother and respect his desire and his decision.  As a result, I took on a leadership role at the firm that had been occupied by him for those 21 years… the role of CEO.  He fearlessly led our organization through violent storms and to new heights.  Now, that pressure and opportunity rests squarely on my shoulders.  But it’s not without help.  The team at the firm remains, and is growing.  In fact, we hired our first Marketing Coordinator in December, the first time that role has been occupied by someone.  We’ve made so much gain this year, it leaves me breathless, invigorated, and excited for what’s next at Hixon Zuercher Capital Management.

Lastly, from a legacy gain point of view.  At the beginning on 2021, we launched Refocus Coaching to be the hands and feet of the book I wrote in memory of mom.  It’s one thing to share my learnings from her tragedy with those that chose to read it.  But books often end up back on a bookshelf, rarely to be though of again. So, our team crafted an actionable, content laden, accountability structured program to walk alongside retirees to ensure they transition to a balanced and purposeful life beyond their career.  Two years under our belts, throughout 2023, we hit our stride.  In March I gave a TEDx Talk and in June I was featured on a popular podcast where I was able to share my story, and the help we are providing.  The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  Financial advisors from across the country connected with me wanting to know how they, too, could help their clients continue a life of meaning and purpose in retirement.  We ignited a conversation in the financial industry about a non-financial topic.  And the fire is starting to burn bright.  Our Life Coach and I are being presented speaking opportunities across the country to share the story and encourage financial advisors to offer much needed advice on how to help their clients from a non-financial perspective.  Heading into 2024, we’re in the late stages of releasing an Academy that will teach advisors to do what we’re doing here in little old Findlay, Ohio.  Mom’s legacy is being honored.  As a nurse, she cared for others.  And through this Academy, she’ll be doing just that.  We’re making my learnings available to the masses and we’re honored to be on the front lines of igniting this much needed conversation across our industry.

So, 2023, I say thank you.  Thank you for the opportunity to make a difference in my family, my career, my clients, my community, and other financial advisors across the nation.  It’s been a good year.  Gaps?  You bet.  Gains?  Certainly.  But, I’m never one to stare too much over my shoulder.  I must now turn my head back around to peer ahead at what’s to come.  I see a brighter future.  I see a future that’s bigger than my past.  I see opportunity, hope, and excitement.  I see ways to grow, to get better, to bless others, to make memories, to be more intentional, to be more at peace.  2023 was full of things to try to pull me below the line, and, if I’m honest, I went there a few times throughout the year.  I’m grateful for those who rallied around me to pull me back above the line.  But in 2024?  May it never be!  I’m positioning myself well to stay above the line, and to treat each day as a blessing from above.

2023, I bid thee farewell!  Thanks for the memories!  Time to look towards the horizon.  Time to take inventory of what I’m taking with me, and what…and who…I’m leaving behind.  I don’t have time for the naysayers.  I don’t have time for the conspiracies.  I don’t have time for the news rhetoric.  I don’t have time for the negativity.  I’ve got too much to do.  Too much good to do.

Excitement awaits!  Grateful for the gains to be had in 2024!

The Best Is Ahead!

2023, you’ve been great to me.  Thanks for the memories!

Warm regards,