At this time of year, we get to see a whole bunch of retrospectives of all the events that happened over the past 12 months. These reports are great filler pieces for news organisations at a time of year that is usually slow anyway, so they are the perfect fit.

Personally, I usually find these things pretty lame, and certainly not something to look forward to. The one exception would be “Top 10” highlight reels on sports channels, or maybe some bloopers.

But just because this season isn’t great for TV, doesn’t mean it isn’t a great time for some personal retrospection. (Yes, that IS a word, I just checked).

When I was younger, the Christmas season didn’t really do much for me, and I even went through a kind of “grinch” phase, during which I didn’t buy gifts for anybody. But alas, parenthood changed that.

When my kids were younger and still in the Santa phase, Christmas was lots of fun, and I can still picture the huge mess in our living room after the gifts were opened, since the gifts came not just from Mr. Claus, but from grandparents, aunts, and uncles too.

With teenagers now, (OK, strictly speaking one is still a 12 and a half-year-old) things have shifted once again. Now I enjoy looking back over the year and noting the progress they have made in so many areas of their lives.

The old saying “they grow up so fast” is so true, it’s almost scary. One year is a long time to you when you are a kid, but when you are pushing 50, it goes by in a flash. I still have trouble figuring out how so much can happen AND time can go by so fast. If so much is happening, shouldn’t it be taking longer?

Alright, maybe I am getting too existential here, but ‘tis the season, isn’t it? We look back on the year that just was and marvel at how things have changed, and you almost have to shake your head when you try to look ahead a year and think of where you will be next Christmas.

But as scary as it might be, I believe that everyone really should do it, even if it you only do it once a year. If you wanna do something even more fun, project out 5 years and look at how old everyone in your family will be at the end of 2018. Yikes!

If you work in a family business, it is even more important to undertake this kind of exercise, because there are so many moving parts to begin with, that when you throw in the time element, things can really start to get interesting.

If you don’t have an operating business but are lucky enough to be in the HNW (high net worth) category, look ahead and think about how you want things to go in your future, and what your kids’ roles will be as they age, and as YOU age.

This is the time of year that we usually see family members, some of whom we may not see as often as we would like to. It is a great time to work on improving communication with everyone, and even to talk about the future together.

How many of you are up to it? Good luck to those who do, I believe that you will be glad you did.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.