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Independence Day: A New Twist on an Old Original

July 04, 2021
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The July 4 weekend tends to be a time that I do a mid-year check-in on my life, especially if I find myself on a long walk on a beach or at the top of a mountain. This year it feels especially necessary to check in after what feels like a yearlong meditation on what I really want out of my life, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Now that the world economy is trying to right itself and so many of us are focused on re-establishing normal, it makes sense to figure out if your financial plan needs an update to support what you want out of your life. Are you on track to have the life you want? Whether the answer is yes or no, are you confident that your money decisions line up with what you want your life to look like?

I recently read No Rules Rules, the book written by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer. In it, they outline how they give feedback at Netflix: start, stop, continue. The idea is to give employee feedback through straightforward actionable communication, as opposed to an extensive employee review. The simplicity of the construct really struck me, and I have been thinking about how to use it in my own life:

Start: What do I want to embrace?

Stop: What do I want to let go of?

Continue: What do I love and want more of?

You might be wondering how all of this relates to Independence Day. During a recent trip to Philadelphia for a family wedding, my husband and I also visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, and even Elfreth’s Alley. As a native of Philadelphia, I toured these sites as a child and was fascinated to revisit each as an adult with a deeper appreciation for the history of our country.

Stories abound about people who came to America for a better life – both the names we all know, and also the artisans and tradespeople who devoted themselves to making this country successful. They built communities and houses of worship, created businesses, and supported and took care of each other. From the upholstery mastery of Betsy Ross and the entrepreneurs on Elfreth’s Alley to the immigrants that have populated this great country, American independence has inspired many over centuries to be a part of something bigger, where focused work and ingenuity led to a purposeful life.

I believe that it is a privilege to live in this country. Two of my grandparents were Irish immigrants that worked tirelessly but did not have an easy life. Due to their brave choice to come here, my dad and his sister both had the enormous opportunity to become American entrepreneurs. As my aunt and I sat together at the storybook family wedding, she said, “Can you believe all of this? We’re all here because my parents wanted a better life in America.”  With the Netflix book fresh on my mind, the trip to Philadelphia and family gathering got me to thinking:

Start: What do I want to embrace right now?

Traveling, especially on family adventures.

Stop: What do I want to let go of?

Thinking I can fit more things in a day than I can.

Continue: What do I love and want more of?

Finding time for my people: my family, my friends, and my colleagues in business and community-building that want to make our corner of the world a better place.

As we all celebrate Independence Day, built on hundreds of years and thousands of stories of bravery, you might ask yourself – is this the life I want? Do my choices about how I spend my time, my energy, and my money line up with who I want to be? And what do I need to start, stop, and continue to make sure that I am living the best version of my life in this incredible country?

All of us at BFS Advisory Group wish you and yours a very happy and safe July 4th.


Debra Brennan Tagg is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and the creator of the DBT360 Financial Plan, a proprietary program that helps her clients prioritize their goals, leverage their resources, and address their risks. She is the president of BFS Advisory Group and teaches the public and the financial services industry about the importance of values-based financial planning and investor education.