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Unsure About 2024?

Adopt Gratitude and Giving Amid Volatility, Uncertainty

Jane S. Howze, J.D.

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As 2023 comes to an end, I’m reflecting on our world both globally and personally. It has been an intense in-your-face year riddled with stories of violence and anger. Perhaps it is the 24-hour news cycle, but it is hard not to become discouraged at the seemingly unsolvable conflicts—the fierce fighting in Gaza, natural disasters and the battle for our country’s political soul.

And while the economy is not technically in a depression, there is a noticeable softness and loss of jobs in certain industry sectors. Business executives are concerned about climate change, balancing the certain push back for espousing political issues and values with their diverse employee population. Add the rise of Artificial Intelligence and its effect on the workplace, and these issues show no signs of abating.

Deloitte US CEO Jason Gizzadas recently spoke on the Fortune Magazine podcast saying the buzzwords of 2024 will be “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.”

How do we take the current environment and use it as a foundation or building block to a more satisfying and fulfilling professional and personal life?

-Take stock. Every year since I have been writing a New Year’s blog, I suggest executives look back at the year, their position, work and organization. What is working? What isn’t? Why? This advice has never been timelier. Given the current intensity of the world in which we live, if you are dissatisfied, there seems to be an amplification vibe. The world is calling on us to address what makes us unhappy. What once began as a whisper will become a shout if you don’t address it. It is critical in these uncertain times for us all to seek pockets of joy in our life personally and professionally.

-Be willing to pivot or even start anew. If you can’t improve your lot at your current organization, start exploring other options. Easy to say but hard to do. Even the simple act of visualizing what a next move would look like can be a start. When have you been the happiest in your career? Why? Was it the people? The company? The mandate? Seek to replicate that passion and fulfillment.

-And, if you can’t change positions or companies, make a new start or find a new pastime or project in some other part of your life. Find compartments of entertainment, relaxation, or challenge. Over this last year, some of our clients have embraced new pastimes of taking up golf, visiting presidential libraries, volunteering for political races, and following their son’s college baseball team. The possibilities are endless.

-Give. There is nothing more fulfilling than to give and it doesn’t necessarily have to be money. I’m not sure automatically giving a few dollars yearly to a church, not for profit or academic institution will bring you the pleasure of personally attaching yourself to a cause, individual or organization, but for me personally, my life improved immeasurably when I selected several animal rescues to support, introduce my friends to and generally champion.

Corridor Rescue, which I discovered nearly 15 years ago, rescues dogs left in an area of Houston known as a pet dumping ground. It has grown from a two-person organization to one of the most respected in the city. It makes me so happy to watch them flourish, knowing I and The Alexander Group have played a small part in growing their mission. Giving can take the form of mentoring a young person, volunteering as a marshal for the Houston marathon or leading a school project for your child. The more personal the giving and the cause, the greater the impact on your joy.

-Gratitude. No list of New Year’s resolutions would be complete without a reminder to seek out and search for reasons to be grateful. Sometimes it is hard as we, team members or loved ones, face daunting challenges. But there is always an opportunity to find quiet moments of gratitude. There is always something: a sunset, a friend, a shared laugh, a fabulous taco to enjoy. Collectively speaking for my team members, we are grateful for outstanding long-term clients, exciting and impactful work, and the opportunity to work together--many of us for decades.

We are also grateful to be celebrating our firm’s 40th anniversary on April 4, 2024, and are hoping many of you will join us. We are finalizing details, with more information to come, and in the meantime, raising a toast to 2024.

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