Opinion: Taking stock of our lives


Stock prices go up and down based upon a panoply of factors, but a few variables are the most predictive. One, the company is earning more than others like it and there is a pipeline of opportunity that will keep the situation positive. Two, management accurately predicts how the enterprise will do quarter to quarter. When a business begins to underperform, these indicators will drive investor action. The first has a sluggish impact, often taking time for shareholders to recognize the market threat from new technologies or competition and sell off shares of companies experiencing a slow annual decline. But when the corporation misses quarterly earnings expectations, the market can respond harshly with swift authority. It seems that disappointment is more disturbing than the long, hard road to irrelevance.

We might find value in imagining the investments we make in our relationships through a similar lens. Take school reunions, for example. We’ve made the investment in these people. Maybe we’ve kept up and reaped something from the time spent concurrently. So, getting together seems unnecessary. Perhaps we’ve ignored them all since graduation. We’ve fully depreciated all that we once had there. Somewhere between too soon and too far, and there might be some value in reconnecting.

Depending on how we perceive our past and present, we might believe that our stock has gone up. Life, career, family, whatever the metric, has increased. Or it could be that we have begun that inevitable decline into old age and infirmity. At the launch of our productive lives, don’t we all have about the same origin point? What we do is much up to us and to circumstance. But as others see us, what do they observe? How did we hold up? Did our lives beat market expectations, or did we underdeliver on our potential?