Have You Heard of the “Art of Stillness”?
Let me explain.
I sat down several times over the past few days trying to pull together my thoughts for my next article/blog. My normal routine is to collect interesting tidbits through the week, perhaps tying them to a book or article I have read and come up with something hopefully interesting and at the very least useful in some way.
I’ll have to admit to having a bit of writers block and although I had a variety of topics to choose from, none really grabbed me. At the moment I was finally inspired, I was leafing through a book I read about a year ago called the “Art of Stillness” by Pico Iyer. Enjoyed would be too strong but I did appreciate the book, although I struggled at times with the concept being promoted.
Here is a short quote from it:
“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”
I’m sure you get the gist. In a sentence, slow down, unplug, take time to reflect, smell the roses and everything in your life will be better.
Sound advice for sure, but…
Downtime or Inaction?
My struggle came with the amount of down time, reflection time or just plain do nothing time. The author himself as a well as many of the subjects he introduces us to disappear often for weeks , months or longer seeking “quiet”. And as far as I can tell, “quiet” also equates to inaction!
Meditation in the morning, maybe the odd retreat for a few days I get, but frankly that is about all the “quiet” I can tolerate. I believe investors and entrepreneurs like you and I are people of action with a modicum of contemplation, not the other way around. It’s just our nature.
I’m sure by now you are thinking this preamble is nice, if a bit boring, but what the heck does it have to deal with real estate investing?
Here’s how…while I was sitting here contemplating the difficulties I was having writing this article, an email popped up from my accountant. It was one in a trail of many related emails he has been sending over the last few weeks and months. I have also been receiving similar notes from a significant number of small business and entrepreneurial type groups I follow.
The issues are the tax changes being considered by the liberal government, more specifically those associated with small businesses and corporations. The email content is generally commentary on the pros and cons (mostly cons) of the legislation and to exhort those followers into action, calling for various letters and petitions against those changes to be made to local politicians.
Ever since the 2017 federal budget in March, when the government announced that tax changes affecting private corporations would be coming, I’ve been feeling queasy. On the odd chance you haven’t heard or are unaware of the proposals here is a brief synopsis:
Proposed Corporate Tax Changes
Bill Morneau, the Finance Minister, announced in the budget back in March that the Liberals have not been pleased with some Canadians who are using corporations in their tax planning, and that changes would be made. The claim is that certain folks are using corporations to pay less than their fair share of taxes. While the proposed changes are meant to affect the wealthy, there will be no shortage of small-business owners, the backbone of the Canadian economy, who will be significantly worse off as a result.
There are three tax-planning tactics the government is looking to shut down:
- Income sprinkling
- Passive income
- Converting income to capital gains
Stillness or Action?
With this book in one hand and email figuratively in the other I couldn’t help but be struck by the dichotomy of the situation. On the one hand the suggested benefits of disappearing to regroup and recharge, while on the other hand, an action item that absolutely requires attention.
For me personally, I couldn’t help but think how foolish I would feel if I had gone away for some extended period for contemplation and while I was away something happened that would affect my life or business that I could have had an impact on.
My purpose here is not to explain the changes nor try to sway you to one side or to “my” side of the argument. My purpose here, and albeit my somewhat weak connection to a book on “quiet” is to suggest this is NO time for quiet. This is not the time to go on a retreat for weeks, this is not the time to go slow or sit still.
I don’t care which side you’re on; find out what’s happening, get moving, read and understand how it will affect you and your business.
If you like what you see then fine, you have made an educated choice. If you don’t like it then you need to exercise the rights this country provides you and let your representatives know how you feel.
Again, I’m not here to pitch my feelings on the changes but I can tell you with certainty if you are a real estate investor and more specifically if you are using corporations this will have a significant impact on you. Good or bad I will let you be the judge.
If you want to see a more detailed breakdown of the issue you can go to taxpayer.com and should you want to take action they have petitions and even pre-written letters that you can use to let your political representatives know what you think.
Believe me there may be an Art of Stillness but this is not the time to learn it! Act first then be still.