How to cope with dark days

Very few people sail easily through every day of life (despite the impression they may give).  What makes it even harder for seemingly robust people (and maybe you are one of these), is that the crash from performing for the audience (this could be workforce, employees, family or friends) to facing your woes seems far bigger and painful. Imagine having the best day ever, then the next morning you wake up and find that your world has collapsed. For some, this type of day comes along far more frequently that you might imagine.

I first met Dr James Rouse a couple of years ago (first watch this video).  I was told to make sure I got to the front of the auditorium and to be as close to him as possible. Hearing from other Serenity financial life planners, I was told of the profound effect which his energy, enthusiasm and vigour had on them.

Aside from being a great speaker, incredibly fit, and full of energy, Dr James is unbelievably generous with his time.  There is no ego attached, he goes about his day helping others, inspiring them, and encouraging enthusiasm. I had a great dialogue with him over the course of the conference, which meant so much to me, that a headline speaker would take the time to share his wisdom on a one to one basis.

In the video, James talks about dark days. This made me sit up suddenly, as he is probably the bounciest, happiest person I can imagine.  Of course, behind what we show the world, there are frequently very different feelings.  We have all heard of unhappy comedians for example.

Here are 4 particular attributes  which contribute to dark days, and how to reframe how you are feeling :

  1. Perfectionism– when no matter what we do is good enough.  The answer – to realise that we are all students in life.
  2. Not Enoughness– where we feel we should be better and we are winging it through life, waiting to be found out. James advocates focusing on just one thing, and doing that intentionally well.
  3. The Human Doing– we all live busy lives, balancing commitments, obligations and duties. We are all consumed by ‘doing’ that we forget about ‘being’. After all, we are Human Beings,  so take some time to just be.  Have some time for you.
  4. Sadness – which sometimes just hits us. We wake up feeling just sad, then wallow in that without any real reason, maybe even beating ourselves up about it. Trying to be compassionate and present with the self is a great way to be kind to that most important person – you!

I hope that you find Dr James as uplifting an inspiration as we do at Serenity.

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life

 

Are you a role model for your child – or trying to mould them ?

Is it good to shape a child on your own dreams?

It’s all too tempting to channel your children into a mini-me.  Yes they look up to their parents as super heroes who can do marvellous things, and there is a likelihood, that what ever example you set as a parent, they will follow.

How do your habits rub off onto your children?

If you munch on pizza and burgers in front of the TV each night, that precedent is set for eating unhealthily (both in manner and content).  If however you exercise, that too may rub off, and they will most likely follow our example to some degree, which in turn brings you great joy.  The obvious exception to this, is when you work for months to refine a yoga pose, and your 4 year old daughter walks straight in, does it, and goes on her way as if nothing ever happened (the experience of a face-planted crow!).

Is there a better way than forcing our children to follow

Rather than forcing our children to follow in our footsteps, making them have ballet lessons, toughening up the son with a good dose of winter rugby in the wind and hail and so on,  there are 4 clear stages in which we can help them build up ‘grit’ – a form of determination which will help them through life.

Four ways to help children through life

An Interest (and this needs to be encouraged rather than focusing on their weaknesses);

Deliberate and regular practise (to refine the skills);

A purpose (the long term reasoning about what it brings to others) and

Hope (that resilience that they will keep trying and moving forwards despite what comes their way).

You can read more in this article from Success magazine

Funnily enough, it is not just children who this applies to, it is us as well – especially when your 4 year old contortionist leaves the room with you in a twisted crumpled heap!

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life

 

5 Holes in your Bucket list? – Here’s why…

Do I need a bucket list?

There is far more to life than just having the traditional ‘bucket list’  – here is why…

Don’t just have a tick list of things to do 

Take running a marathon, once that is done, do you stop running?  Once you have had the holiday of a lifetime, do you stop holidaying, once you have built or developed the ideal house, do you become complacent about it?  If you were to become a senior manager of where you worked, would the name badge be your goal?  Look beyond the tangible things in life. 

There are always reasons why you want to do things

Take running a marathon again, is it bragging rights you are after and to get a medal?  To have a focus to keep you training to improve your overall fitness, or to push yourself to the max?  Similarly, with travel, is visiting places just an opportunity to say ‘cross that one off your list Margaret’ or are the deeper experiences, memories, understanding and experiences to have?  What would that ideal house give you, more than a big house to look at, but perhaps a haven a home, the space for your family to just be. Finally, achievement at work – is the name badge and title really all that matters, or is it that you inspire and lead continually, rather than just puff your chest out feeling important all of a sudden. Once you know the WHAT you want to do, ask yourself WHY you want to do it, and what if you didn’t do it.

The people in your life are also part of this 

Your plan, your goals, your vision.  That’s all great, focus is a wonderful thing, but not to the detriment of all of those around you. Training for a marathon requires a lot of compromise and balance with your family.  The ideal holiday, has to be agreeable with everyone else, and then the key is not to lose sight that it is also their trip and experience as well. Just because it was on your list, does not mean that your view on what should happen is the only one which counts. The house – it’s again key to allow everyone to enjoy it, to find their own spaces, enjoyment, way of living.  Overall it is a home, and one for people to feel safe and loved in, not just a pile of building materials.  Pursuit of a career without recognition of everyone else leads to huge unhappiness in many families.  Leaving home at 7am, returning at 6pm – really, what quality of life is that, and sometimes, it is easy to kid ourselves that we are doing it for everyone else.  If you died today, guess what, your boss would replace you tomorrow! Always remember who will be by your bedside when you die.

The experience is fluid 

It is great to have an idea, a vision of what it may be like, but remember, that is in your head – it is your reality, but not anyone else’s.  A sub 4 hour marathon may need to become a 5 hour one,  the holiday may be slightly, or even very different from what you had imagined, the house may not be a new one, but a renovations, a different location, anything could change – what if it is a red door instead of the blue one you had dreamed of?  It’s just the portal to your haven – not the end of the world! What if you don’t become a director or senior manager of where you used to work, but rather found something very different elsewhere?  Not the pin-striped suited meeting in a glass clad office, full of ego and materialism, but a real influencer, someone who made a difference – to others not just the owners bank balances? Go with the flow, like a river, the twists and turns often bring the most unexpected joy and happiness.

Ultimately, life, and your plan is an ongoing journey

Life is an ongoing development, change, adaption, and experience.  Yes, of course it ends one day, but life as it is, is ongoing journey, something constantly changing. Take the marathon, maybe it is a shift to a healthier lifestyle which is the key, yes, the desire of a medal or running for 5 hours is the catalyst, but it is the shift which is the deeper aim. The travel may be to enjoy experiences, to enhance our understanding of the world, to create memories and to have happy times.  Picking destinations is the catalyst.  The house may be to create a safe haven a family hub, a place where you can all be together, and the career may well be to make a difference to others, which once we understand is not necessarily done with name badges, starts to release that attachment and ego. Life is not a list of achievements, it is a sense of feelings, of messages.

Life  is who you are being along the way. So when you compile your bucket list, 101 places etc, start to look examine the reasons and feelings – that’s and is why working with a professional financial life planner is very different from just saying  ‘cross that off your list Margaret’.

 

How could redundancy affect your pension?

How could being made redundant affect my pension?

Just when you thought you had it all sorted, one of the few people to still be in a final salary pension scheme, a good salary, and making additional pension contributions, suddenly, it all goes wrong.

Redundancy sends you on a very different journey indeed.

However, being the diligent person, paying additional amounts into your pension, perhaps maximising your annual allowance of £40,000, the future looks ok, especially with the large redundancy lump sum you are going to be paid in the present tax year.

Then the tax regime comes tripping merrily in your direction : Continue reading “How could redundancy affect your pension?”

Is my ideal retirement possible?

Is there a chance my retirement may be different?

Many people find that their view and experience of their retirement may be very different from what they expect. Reality can be a pretty harsh awakener (especially if it’s your own retirement).

How do I get a picture of my income in retirement?

In the financial part of the equation, you can of course model, plan and adjust assumptions and figures as you head towards the big day and the rest of your life.  Of course it takes a high degree of  knowledge and skill to get the figures absolutely correct, and with the aid of technology, it is easier to get pretty close, even building in re-runs of the 2008 credit crunch (remember that?).

What if things don’t turn out like I thought?

Even if you have the financial plan in place, it may be that the other side of retirement – LIFE – can all of a sudden, not unfold quite as you had imagined.

What do I want from retirement?

Will your retirement be all holidays and lunches at garden centres? Will it be just looking forward to watching your favourite TV show with an eccles cake and a cup of tea at 3.30pm ?  Or, could it be full of purpose, full of fun, a brand new start?

What do I want to achieve when I finish work?

Frequently people who had such high expectations for their retirement, find that a year or two in, they have managed to find themselves in a rut of mundaneness (they may even be fulfilling their spouses retirement and not even thinking about their own). They may even look back and wish that they had stayed working and be paid to be bored, rather than sacrifice an income and lack little social interaction.

Should I start to plan my life and money?

People just like you are quickly realising that they need to plan their retirement just as they plan their future.  That planning is not just about scheduling in a month-long break to Malta each October, but figuring out how each day and week may look for you.  What will you do to happily fill the time, and regain your purpose and passions which may well have been put on hold for 50 years (whilst ‘grown up life’ for in the way).

Is there more to retirement than just money?

Finding your happy retirement is not just going to be attached to a number – a certain amount of income, especially if all those years lack fun, freedom and a real purpose. You will probably find that the things which bring you the most joy, may not even cost much at all, you just need to find them and not be trapped in a retirement bucket.

Together we can bring some Serenity to your life

 

How bad is commuting for your mental health?

Many of us acknowledge that the journey to work is a real drag, that arduous commute, changing from 1st gear to 2nd, or jammed into a stuffy bus or tube train.  That is no way to make you feel uplifted and positive about the day to come – far from it!

How has commuting changed?

According to research by the University of West of England (analysing 26,000 people over 5 years), not only has the commute time increased by 25%, but 1 in 7 spend more than 2 hours commuting every day – that is 10 hours a week!

What is the impact of commuting on your mental health

An increase in stress and worsening of mental health for workers (not to mention the impact that then has on their families).  There are of course only 24 hours in each day – so choosing how to spend them is a very important task indeed. Continue reading “How bad is commuting for your mental health?”