Have you ever noticed, that no matter how much (or how little) you plan things, there is always enough time, to just about get everything done?
The pace of life is so fast. There is little respite, you probably feel that you are just about hanging on there, and there is very little time to just ‘be’. Return from a holiday, and within no time you struggle to see the point of all the rushing before you go, and the immense game of catch up afterwards.
What is the impact of being busy on our health?
All of this frantic behaviour has a huge impact on health – both physical and mental, and whilst these impacts may not be apparent at first glance, over time, it will be evident for all to see. Just like weight gain or loss, day to day we do not notice, but catch up with someone you haven’t seen for a few months, and the impact is soon plain to see.
Six simple ways to help your mental health
- Make Your Bed – this aids mental health – as you start the day with a productive pattern of behaviour (and after all, its only plumping a couple of pillows and shaking a duvet)
- Revel In The Good Times– it’s easy to let them pass by as you sink into worry and made up outcomes of life. Take the time to enjoy the good times, and the things you have made up are not actually that huge in reality
- Say No Sometimes– Establishing your limits is essential, remaining in control of your time and life enables you to manage commitments, never forgetting that your own happiness and family life are probably the two greatest commitments of all
- Try Keeping A Diary– writing the positive things, to remind you how good life can be is a huge boost, as is the power of writing down the negative things – which allows them to be released, and actually, on reflection, when you read them back, are not so significant after all
- Make Lists In Threes– if you must keep a list, keep it manageable (I prefer to schedule everything to be done rather than having a list). 3 is manageable every day, not too daunting, and not too insignificant.
- Set A Sleep Schedule– Aiming for a structured sleep, with a good level (7-8 hrs) not only regulates the body, but also allows body and brain time to recover.
Six simple ways to gradually reduce your stress, so if you are a little reticent to stress management, you can make these changes safely, without feeling awkward about many other techniques which may just be a step too far.
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 :
- Perfectionism– when no matter what we do is good enough. The answer – to realise that we are all students in life.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Here is a free gift – 3 minutes of your time – We simply don’t know the answer to the question of ‘why people post sporting activity on Facebook’. So now you can stop reading and carry on with your day.
I suspect however, that you are interested, so do carry on.
How do you feel when you read posts on social media?
So, its first thing in the morning, and you read on Facebook that someone has just been out for a run. How do you feel? What do you think? What thoughts do you harbour towards them?
This parody may seem humorous, yet would it be an acceptable approach if someone morbidly overweight was trying to lose weight and stay on track by posting updates on FB? How about someone recovering from a physical or mental illness and posting updates to not only keep their social group involved, but also, to be accountable?
What’s it like trying to start? It’s no joke
At a funeral of a friend (aged 43) recently, someone came up to me who I hadn’t seen for about 10 years, and said ‘my wife showed me a post on Facebook years ago when you said you were going for a run – we thought it was a huge joke’. 6 years later, 6 inches less around the waistline and almost 50 pounds lighter, he could see that there was no joking – but rather a huge change, mocking had turned to admiration and praise for me.
What about these constant updates?
For me, from going from a sedentary couch potato, to someone who exercises at 4:30am is an ongoing journey, not a flick of a switch, no set goals or targets, just a sustained change of behaviour. Yes, I could have switched the Facebook and Twitter updates off, but we have a saying in Life Planning – ‘to be a life planner, you need to live your own life plan.’
Walk the walk and talk the talk
How hypocritical would I be if I was coaching and working with my clients to improve their health if I led an unhealthy lifestyle? How much credibility would I lose if, when working with people to create more time, space and help prioritise their days, my day was lazy, lethargic, and detrimental to progress?
If you saw a dentist with bad teeth, what would you think? It is the same in all walks of life. Doctors who smoke! – surely that is one of the biggest levels of hypocrisy there is!
We are not health freaks at Serenity, but we do all take care of ourselves (and support each other), with a firm view on moving forward in our own life-plans.
Is social media about bragging rights or looking for support?
People post their activity on Facebook etc. for reasons best known to them – the truth is, you really do not know why they do it (you may think you know, but actually, you don’t truly know all about their journey to this point in life). For some, it may be for irritation, bragging and boasting (which may originate from insecurity – so go easy on them), however, for many it is for reassurance, support, energy, the will to keep going, accountability. For others, it may be to offer a glimpse of inspiration to give others the belief that they too can make a huge change in their lives.
A runner never laughs at a fat or slow runner, you do not know how far they have come, or how far they have to go – but they are out there, working at it, one step at a time.
Don’t shift your own guilt by mocking others. The reality probably is, that you are simply angry and frustrated with yourself.
Is financial planning just about numbers?
Anyone who has ever come into contact with a Serenity financial life planner will be more than aware of our passion for not just financial planning, but financial life planning.
Why is Financial Life Planning important?
That small four letter word ‘life’ may not seem that significant but it epitomises the whole point of all of us being here. The whole purpose of being on the planet is about life, and without that key element, perhaps there is no point, no purpose, and no logic.
In this article in Forbes, George Kinder, the founding father of Financial Life Planning explains the huge difference between financial planning and financial life planning.
What is the difference between Financial Planning and Financial Life Planning?
In short, one deals with people’s money, the other focuses on their lives and happiness first, then sets to work around the money part. In a way, it is comparing living to living life.
Surely investments and pensions matter most?
To quote one of our very great friends Andy Hart of Maven Adviser, ‘no adviser ever got a letter from a pension policy asking for help’.
Surely Financial Planning is no place for emotions
Emotion drives decisions, and decisions drive life, this is when we finally figure out that people’s emotions drive everything. To understand emotions, and ultimately our clients’ drivers through their lives, we need to listen to them, not project our opinions on how clever we think we are.
How does a Financial Life Planning relationship look?
It’s all about having a deep and meaningful relationship with our clients through their lives, not a synthetic relationship with their money for as long as it lasts. Without that deep relationship, we are just continually guessing at what may be best for our clients, guesses which may have a long term detrimental effect on their happiness.
Do you spend your days in pursuit of one commodity , in the hope it will free up more of the other. Do you work to earn more money so you can have more time (some day)?
Is a phone worse for your health than a cigarette?
Back in the day (the 80s), if you came across a group of teenagers, the chances are that they were standing around, sharing their cigarettes, and engaging in some form of social interaction. It may not have been for everyone’s taste to walk through a tobacco smoke plume, but hey ho, those lads and girls were interacting – even it it was also causing early damage to their developing lungs. Continue reading “What’s more addictive – cigarettes or phones?”
How did your travel plans for this year work out?
Reflecting back on your recent travels, journeys and holidays, how was it for you? Was it the tranquil, pleasurable experience you had hoped for, or did you experience challenges along the way? Did you embrace the moment, or just endure aspects of it?
Were you a tourist or a traveller?
What’s the difference between a tourist and a traveller?
Travellers tend to enjoy everything, embrace the moment, experience, wonder, not over prepare or over complicate, and focus on enjoying the here and now.
Tourists however, tend to want to tick things off their lists, have to be over prepared, everything planned to perfection, collecting photos for Facebragging and deeply concerned with telling everyone else what a great time they are having – sometimes, to the detriment of their own real enjoyment.
Doing it on the cheap
Similarly, if you have planned a wonderful holiday, are you tempted to lose some of the joy by travelling there on the cheap – budget accommodation, the cheapest transit, overnight journeys or inconvenient flight times?
Why ruin the whole point of your journey or holiday by saving perhaps 5% on the whole experience?
Take a £3,000 holiday, yet you scrimp and save on getting there – maybe a slightly cheaper option to return home overnight when your travel plans suddenly change (would an over-night hotel stay left you feeling fully refreshed for your return). By saving perhaps under £100 (3% on the overall cost) you put yourself to hours of discomfort and lack a sleep – yet the point of the holiday was to relax, enjoy experiences and feel good about yourself. The whole point of the experience has been compromised.
Life is very similar to the tourist/traveller analogy.
Are you just wading through this life, collecting badges, medals, things, almost like living in Pokemon? Or, do you embrace what comes your way, taking in the moment to enjoy everything around you, feeling grounded, experiencing something different?
Is it too much to stop, embrace, reflect and make the most of what is happening around you, taking your time, adapting plans, and enjoying the moment?
Memories are made of new experiences, and being a traveller in life. It is only by exploring the why – why you want to go somewhere, that you then start to look for the real meanings and qualities of your journey, and that, is what Financial Life Planning is all about – finding the point and the purpose – not just being a tourist in life.
Life is far more than just attaining or doing – it’s about enjoying the whole experience along the way.
Why does my child want to play with the box and not the toy?
It seems, there is at least some logic as to why a 2 year old wants to play with the box a toy comes in more than the toy itself – exploration! Continue reading “Experiences or gifts – which is the most appreciated?”
How bad can the stress of money get?
Aside from low esteem, lack of self worth, depression, PTSD and suffering from workplace bullying, another key factor which led my friend Del to die by suicide in 2013 was the stress of the financial future. Worried that his illness could cost him his job, he could see no way forwards, no way to protect and provide for his family, and no outlook which seemed possible. Tragically, I only knew of this after he died.
Who is there to help?
Had Del sought professional financial help instead of suffering quietly, allowing the stories of worry to spin out of control, without doubt we could have found a way to change his perspective, and work together to build a way forward. Instead, he came up with his own financial plan, to protect his family’s financial future by choosing to die by suicide, relieving his own suffering and in his eyes, helping them.
Picking up the pieces, and working with Del’s wife Nel, we have been able to help, to give her purpose, and to bring a little sparkle back into her eyes at times, and that is the most worthwhile aspect of being a financial life planner.
Where-ever you are, here are 6 stressful money situations highlighted by Business Insider which may seem difficult to avoid, yet are never the end of the road – there is always a way forwards …
How to deal with a financial emergency
If you do not have capital saved, make sure you have an emergency credit card to fall back on. This is a temporary solution, but will give you enough time to seek proper advice, and make a plan to move forwards.
Worrying about buying a home
Here is a stress-pit of worry. How much should you borrow? Should you borrow as much as possible? Should you use all your savings? What protection should you have?
The questions are endless, yet can be answered if some proper planning and modelling is carried out.
How much should I save for retirement?
No two people are the same, there is no magic number which fits everyone.
Only when you know what you would value in retirement, can you start to figure out what you may need money-wise.
This is the importance of financial life planning – an approach which puts your life at the centre of the plan, not the monetary values. You may be surprised, the qualities in life which you want may not required huge sums of money at all.
When should I retire?
Just like above, no two people are the same.
If you have a range of plans and ideas which need you to be fit and healthy, maybe you need to retire sooner. If you love what you do, but can start to find a great balance between that and leisure, then there may be no reason to rush into it.
Either way, discussing a planning it is essential.
How much money should I give my children?
It’s hard to say no, and at the same time, many of us would rather see our children not have to struggle.
Making it too easy may not be a good thing, but saving it all up until you die – that too has it’s own perils.
Whatever you do, by adopting a balanced plan, and sensible approach, you could be able to help your children along, and at the same time, helping them value what they are given.
Above all, don’t deprive yourself of the fun you deserve later in life (but also, don’t aim to be the richest person in the cemetery).
How can I help my parents with their finances?
One of the trickiest conversations of all is talking about your parent’s money.
Naturally cagey, they may not want to volunteer the information (and is is hard to not look as if you are interested in an inheritance, particularly if they are unwell). Bring siblings into the conversation, and start the discussions well ahead of time to figure out what sources may be available for long term care funding, and of course, what wishes they have. In the same way that you want to enjoy your life, they should be focussing on their days being as comfortable as possible, not scrimping and saving and trying to get one over on the local authority by not paying for care (saving the fees, but ending up in a grotty care home).
What to do next?
By proper planning, and discussing these issues with a professional, there is a chance that many of the most stressful money situations can either be avoided, or at least eased.
Please, please do not let them spin out of control stories in your head. Ask for help, get a reality check, and let someone guide you onwards.
Find someone who speaks your language, who keeps things simple, and are focussed on you. Financial decisions are hard enough to make at the best of times, never mind when you have huge levels of stress and worry to cope with.