Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Year-End Inventory

In just a few days, it’ll be New Year's Day. And then we get back to our normal lives.

I’m a trained Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and one of the things I did early in my career, was inventory observations on December 31st. “Inventory observations? What’s that?“  you may ask. Well, companies issue their financial statements typically within 90 days of the end of the year. When you look at a balance sheet, it shows “As of December 31, 20xx”. Likewise, an income statement would show, “For the Year Ended December 31, 20xx”.

As a CPA, I worked with one of the 4 largest accounting firms in the world so I’d travel to distant locations on December 30th or 31st to independently observe the companies count their inventory. That way, when our company audited the financial statements, we would have reasonable assurance that the figure shown as inventory would be reliable, based on the count that we observed them make.
I have done some very interesting observations including: Blockbuster videos; precious jewels in a jewelry store; sugar in a 50 ton container in Montana; and oil in a 30 ton container in the freezing rain in Alabama. All quite interesting engagements.

Now here we are – another year older and going into a new year. Periodically, it’s good to pause and take personal inventory. Not about the stuff we accumulate – those things can be here today and gone tomorrow. I’m talking about our households. What’s the state of our households? What’s our relationship like with our spouses? And what about our children?
Each year, beginning on January 1, millions of people all over the world make a commitment that we call “New Year’s Resolutions.” We resolve to do some things differently – make changes in our lives so that we can get out of life what we truly want. Quite often those resolutions are broken within the first week or so of the new year. When it comes to our families, I hope that we not only make resolutions but that we take them seriously.
Perhaps you’re a divorced father who’s lost your connection with your kids because of a lack of effort. Perhaps you’re married but things have so deteriorated that the relationship that once stood firmly on a solid rock is now on sinking sand and headed to an inevitable divorce. Or you could be a mom who knows that you’ve kept your kids away from their father because of a personal issue with him. And you’re starting to see signs that the kids really do need their dad in their lives.

There is just so much that goes into building the lives that we desire. And part of the process is taking inventory. The interesting thing when I did inventory observations is that the client performed the inventory count but our company had to independently observe and give an assessment based on our observations. So the question for you is, “If someone were to independently observe your family relationships, would they come to the same conclusion as you?” Makes you think, doesn’t it?
I just know that when I look in my life, I try to be a loving husband and father. But if I’m honest with myself, I know that I fall short of the mark of perfection. No one is perfect after all, but I know that there is more I can do. And if we were all 100% honest with ourselves, we would see areas in which we can improve.
Life was never meant to be easy. We live and we grow wiser through our experiences. You see, it’s the challenges that life puts in our way that make us stronger. Just like with a weight lifter – he or she doesn’t build muscles by lifting weights that are easy; but rather it’s the heavy weights that give enough resistance to build the muscles that they seek to build.
In order to have the perfect family relationships that we seek, taking inventory will help us to identify the “muscles” that need to be strengthened. And when we focus on building these muscles, we benefit. Furthermore, our spouses and other significant others and our kids benefit greatly. Just some food for thought!
As you think of your year-end inventory, begin to think of what you’ll do starting January 1 to build the “muscles” that need to be strengthened. Remember, December 31st is coming so you need an honest assessment of your inventory.  You and your family will be the better for it.

Have an excellent and productive day.
The Upbeat Dad

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