True Wealth: Judith McGee

What emotions are conjured up when you hear the word change? Does it trigger feelings of excitement, fear or stubborn resistance? As much as we might benefit from change, we all crave some form of stability in our lives — something we can hold onto in a world, which, at times, appears to be spinning out of control.

Even if you consider yourself a risk taker, at our core we’re all creatures of habit. Our brains seem to be hardwired to maintain the status quo, to expect certain things to remain the same. But they never do.

Whether we’re talking about climate, the economy, business, politics or your own personal life issues, change tends to create anxiety and even mistrust. Self-preservation invariably kicks in and the first thing we ask is, “What will this change mean to my life and my pocketbook?

Change is the nature of things.

It’s natural to wonder these things, because chances are that change could affect your pocketbook in one way or another. Since change is simply the nature of things, rather than fighting it, we need to be aware of the indicators so we can anticipate change, be better prepared, and adjust the ways in which we manage our lifestyle and our money.

For instance, if the stock market is showing signs of volatility, wouldn’t it be more prudent to keep more of our assets in cash rather than running the risk of having to sell in a down market?

Preparation is key.

Or consider the economic impact of the drought in California and eastern Oregon. Will it threaten agriculture? If we anticipate food prices going up, what can we do to prepare?  We could think about stocking up on dry staples like rice and beans, or getting our hands in the earth and planting a vegetable garden this spring.

Whatever the need, the very process of getting prepared gives us more confidence that we will achieve the best results. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

Acceptance is a strategy for coping with change.

Next time you anticipate a change coming, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Then run things through your mind in reverse and see what steps you could take for contingency planning.

We can’t change the weather or what others do, but if we assess the situation, identify the risks, accept that its coming and prepare for it, we can increase our chances of managing the outcome.

For instance, the government is being proactive about climate change. Corvallis, Oregon will be one of seven federal research centers, aka regional “Climate Hubs” being established to help farmers and foresters deal with climate change.  They will assess local climate risks, such as drought and wildfire, and develop plans for dealing with them, such as improved irrigation.

Anticipate, accept and embrace.

Forget about trying to change things over which you have no control. If we can’t change a situation or an outcome, our best option is to learn how to accept it and deal with it. As my friend Victoria Trabosh keeps reminding me, “This too will pass.” Everything looks different in time.

Life is full of surprises; death, loss, unexpected situations. The key to coping is to begin to anticipate the reality of change; it’s inevitable. Forewarned is forearmed.

No matter how we try to protect ourselves from it, change happens.

The most we can do is to be proactive, learn as much as we can so we can be as prepared as possible, and then take a deep breath and ... embrace it.

Judith A. McGee is the chairwoman and chief executive officer of McGee Wealth Management Inc., an independent registered investment advisor. She is a co-branch manager of, and offers securities through, Raymond James Financial Services Inc. (Member FINRA/SIPC) in Portland. Contact her at 503-597-2222 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Any opinions are those of Judith A. McGee and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation.

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