Won’t the V Be Great?

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It’s quite evident what we are expected to believe these days.

Allow me to borrow some of my own words, written years ago, about what I call the I.F.D. Trap, because I think it’s terribly germane in our current environment.

Let’s face it, life isn’t easy, and a lot of people need something to look forward to in order to get through each day. I’ve heard it from friends all my life: about a forthcoming vacation, or a prospective promotion, or maybe a new car they’re expecting “I need something to look forward to.

The three letters of IFD stand for the following:

Idealize: This is the stage where you think to yourself, “Won’t it be great when ____________________ happens” The blank space could be just about anything as you age through life, such as “Christmas is finally here’ or “I start high school” or “I graduate this stupid high school and go to college” or “I get married” or “I have my first child” or “I get divorced from this miserable marriage” or “I get that big promotion” or “My company goes public.” You name it. There’s always some happy event in the future that, you believe, Will Make Things Better Than They Are Now. You anticipate it. You count the days. You can hardly wait until it’s here.

Frustration: The day arrives. Whatever it is you were anticipating is finally here, at long last. Perhaps there’s a sense of relief or exhilaration. You are, in fact, happy, just like you thought you would be. And then, sooner than you dared imagine, it starts to fade. The Christmas presents aren’t as fun as you hoped. Being in college and away from your parents isn’t all that great. Being married isn’t what you thought it would be. Having a child isn’t an endless chain of bliss. You’re upset. You’re let down. You’re disappointed.

Disillusionment: Which brings us to the third letter, D, for disillusionment. You can’t understand why This Great Thing you anticipated didn’t give your life unending bliss. This was supposed to change things. This was supposed to make everything better. And it didn’t. So what do you do to address your bad feelings? How do you cure your emotional ills? Simple! Please return to the top of this triad, and Idealize something else.

I think it’s instructive for us to reflect on IFD in our own lives and try to think differently. It took me thirteen years to build Prophet into something that someone wanted to buy. As we approached our buyout date (January 26, 2005), I was exultant. I was going to have more money than I had ever had in my life. And the day came, and I excitedly looked at my big bank balance, and I reveled in the phone calls that started coming in from bankers who wanted to manage my money.

But after a few days…………nothing. We all experience hedonistic adaptation, and whatever our “new normal” is, it loses its novelty. I’ve read about this from people who have had big paydays that completely dwarf my own.

I offer this simply to suggest you understand the syndrome. Stop thinking tomorrow is going to save you or change you. Let’s try our best to keep our eyes on where our feet are falling in front of us today.

As for the promised V-shaped recovery? I believe in it too. Indeed, I think we’ve already seen it transpire.

The bigger picture, however, is to stare into the abyss. My fundamental belief is that FACTS will overcome FANCY. Thousands of years of history are our ally, and a powerful ally it can be.

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