7 Ways to Slow Down and Go With the Flow
These past few months I haven't been writing as much as I used to. The honest truth is, I've been suffering from major writer's block! And I've decided not to force it.
Sometimes we all need just to let things "be" and take a break. I learned that lesson this past summer when I hit an internal wall with myself and realized I was suffering from major burnout. As a high achiever, and I know you can relate, sometimes we're so focused on our goals that we become like a machine. So focused on the output, on delivering, on getting it all done.
But we're not machines. And my wake-up call was when my body was screaming at me! My chronic back pain hit an all-time high. I was also super stressed and on edge. And it was a sign to look at my priorities and make some shifts.
So I did. And one of those shifts, which was tough for me to get used to, was just to be. To go with the flow.
If you know me personally, I rarely just go with the flow. I'm a planner, a doer, and busy-body. And I typically only reserve going with the flow for those times when it's expected, like on the occasional Saturday when I have no plans (a rarity!). Or when I'm at a beach in the Caribbean for a vacation with a pina colada in hand. But otherwise, there's not much going with the flow for me.
Until I made a decision to do that back in the summer, and accept that it would look and feel different and that I wasn't any less of myself for it.
So that's what I've been doing these past months. I've been going with the flow, a new flow, which includes more time focused on my health, and fewer demands on myself to "produce."
And the results have been solid. My back pain has dwindled significantly, my stress levels have lowered, and I feel more balanced.
Could you get some of this flow of just being into your life? If so, here are a few ways I was able to get to this place of more harmony inside and out:
1. Ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years?
If whatever you're stressing about that causing you to burn out or feel overwhelmed, try to stop and ask yourself if it's going to matter down the road. When I was pushing myself too much, I thought about what mattered down the road. Some of the things I was working on wouldn't make a huge impact for the long term, so I decided to step away.
2. Say "No" more often.
To feel more balanced, the truth is you need to say no to more things so you can say yes to the right things. For instance, I said no to working on more video content for my business. By doing this, I freed up time to spend my mornings at the gym versus in front of my computer.
3. Make self-care a priority.
I was so busy working on all my professional goals that I had very little time to focus on my health. So I decided to cut back on some career goals, so I could spend more time on taking care of me. This made such a huge impact, and now I'm in a great routine that feels really good.
4. Accept where you are in your path.
Part of the reason I was so burnout is that I was trying to do a million things at once to grow professionally. But it was too much. I realized I had unrealistic expectations. I realized that where I am right now in my life and career is awesome! I'm right where I need to be, and enjoying the journey versus rushing to get to a finish line (that I realize doesn't exist!).
5. Schedule "whatever" time.
Get your calendar out, and literally plan blocks of time, or even certain days, where you don't make any specific plans. For instance, I purposely don't make any plans or commit to anything at all a few days a month (for me, Saturdays or Sundays). That way, I can just flow with the day, which might be on couch all day enjoying rom coms or catching impromptu brunch with a friend. It's made such a difference to not have set plans all the time!
6. Switch up your routine.
Try doing something new with your various routines. Drive or walk a new route to work, read a different type of book, or try a new exercise class you've never done. By changing things up, it's like a zing of energy or breath of fresh air. For months I was reading really heady psychology books, as these types of books help me with my work. It started to get tiring. My fiance realized it too, and gave me a lighthearted memoir for the holidays. When I read it, I laughed, I cried, and it was the perfect way to enjoy reading in a new way and enjoy something not focused on work!
7. Have some fun already!
I've always been of the mindset to work first, play later. This way of being stems from many places, and for me, it has a lot to do with growing up in a difficult financial situation and thinking working and earning were the most important thing to do. The truth is, life is short, and work is indeed an important part of it. But so is living! Enjoying! And I realize I show up so much better for my work when I'm also having fun and enjoying my life outside of it.
What other ideas do you have to slow down, go with the flow more, or just be?
Retirement Planning Has Its Limits: How to Prepare
Retirement planning is one of the issues that commonly leads clients to consult financial advisers. One of its essential aspects is creating a plan to save and invest in order to provide a comfortable retirement income. Ideally, this starts many years ahead of retirement, even as early as your first paycheck.
As retirement comes closer, planning for it expands to take in a host of other considerations, such as deciding when to retire, where to live, and what kind of lifestyle you hope to have. When retirement becomes a reality, the focus shifts to carrying out the plan.
All of this planning is crucial. Yet, for both financial advisers and clients, it's good to keep in mind that planning has its limits. In the post-retirement years, it may be helpful to think in terms of preparing for old age rather than planning for it.
The older we get, the more important this distinction between planning and preparing becomes. Too many life-changing things can happen without regard to our best-laid plans. Often they occur unexpectedly, resulting in emergency situations where urgent decisions have to be made. A stroke or a fall, a diagnosis of terminal illness, a broken hip that leaves someone unable to go back to independent living—and suddenly, right now, the family needs to find an assisted living facility, arrange for live-in help, or sell a home.
What are some of the ways to prepare for these contingencies?
- Explore housing options well ahead of time. Find out what assisted living, home care, and nursing home services and facilities are available where you live and whether they have waiting lists. Have family conversations about possibilities like relocating or sharing households.
- Research the financial side of these options. Investigate the cost of hiring help at home, assisted living facilities, and nursing care centers. Find out what is and is not covered by Medicare and long-term care insurance. For example, people are sometimes surprised to learn that Medicare does not pay for nursing home care other than short-term medical stays.
- Designate someone to take over decision-making, and do the paperwork. Execute documents like a living will, medical power of attorney, and contingent power of attorney. Update them as necessary, and give copies to your doctors, your financial planner, and appropriate family members.
- Start relatively early to downsize. Well before you're ready to let go of possessions or move into smaller housing, start considering what to do with your "stuff." Focus on the decisions rather than the distribution. There's no need to get rid of possessions prematurely, but decide what you want to do with them—and put in writing. Do this while it's still your choice, rather than something your family members do while you're in the hospital or nursing home
- Do your best to practice flexibility and acceptance. No matter how strongly you want to live in your own home until the end of your life, for example, it may not be possible. The physical limitations of aging can limit our choices, and even the best options available may not be what we would like them to be. It is a profound gift to yourself and your family members to accept these realities with as much grace as you can muster.
Finally, please don't underestimate the importance of planning financially for retirement. Because the bottom line is that you can't plan for all the things that might happen as you age, but you can prepare to deal with them. One of the most useful tools to cope with those contingencies is having enough money.
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