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?
Are Your Clients Failing to Plan for the Costs of Long-Term Care?
Written by: Matthew Paine
It’s been a tough few years in my family. My mother has been battling cancer for what feels like forever, and while she’s been managing her health with diet and exercise for some time, a few months ago everything changed. Her cancer had become aggressive, and chemo, which she had dreaded, was suddenly the only real option. My mother is in her late 70s, so the already brutal side effects of chemo resulted in a prolonged hospital stay that is currently at four weeks and counting. The good news is that she’s mentally strong, and she’s battling like a lion.
My dad is another story. Suffering from early-onset dementia, his ability to understand what’s happening and why my mother isn’t at home shifts from day to day. Because he’s unable to drive or care for himself (at least predictably), my siblings and I have been juggling taking care of him ourselves. It’s not an easy task, especially with jobs, children, and lives of our own to manage as well.
Like many families, none of us—my mother, my father, my siblings or myself—saw our current dilemma coming our way. Clearly we should have. My mother hasn’t been in top health for years. My dad’s condition is sure to get worse. And even if both of them were in perfect health, their age alone should have driven us to communicate better, earlier, and smarter. Despite being in the financial services industry myself, I haven’t been involved in my parents’ finances. I know they saved well for retirement, but I don’t know where they stand financially today. I don’t know what or how much insurance coverage they have. I have no idea how they plan to pay for their long-term care—or if there even is a plan.
The situation is forcing our family to get personal—and fast. Despite being careful about nearly every other aspect of our family’s financial lives, this one slipped through the cracks. We failed to plan.
Just like cancer and dementia, this failure to plan is an epidemic. And it’s only getting worse. To help your clients battle this epidemic, it’s vital that planning for long-term care become an intrinsic part of your retirement planning process. Here’s why:
Retirement planning alone isn’t sufficient.
We’ve all seen it. A client has a great retirement plan in place, and suddenly life throws an unexpected curveball. The later in life your clients get, the more likely that curveball will be the need for long-term care. According to the National Center on Caregiving, the number of people needing long-term care will hit a shocking 27 million by 2050. And according to the AARP, one in four people age 45 and over are not prepared financially if they suddenly required long-term care for an indefinite period of time. That statistic alone tells us that our efforts at planning are failing.
Long-term care costs are escalating rapidly.
According to a 2016 survey from Genworth Financial, a private nursing home room costs just over $92,000—about $7,698 a month—which is 19% more than it cost for the same care in 2011. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, lost income and benefits over a caregiver's lifetime is estimated to range from a total of $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women, or an average of $303,880—and less than 10% of that care is expected to be covered by private insurance.
Medicaid isn’t the answer.
Many people assume that public programs are the answer to long-term care, but in the case of Medicaid, a program designed to assist the poor, it is a last resort. First, while nearly everyone over age 65 has Medicare coverage, that program doesn’t cover long-term stays. That means that many people who need that coverage are forced to spend down their assets until they qualify for Medicaid. How poor must a patient be to receive benefits? In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits, a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in "countable" assets, and the patient’s spouse—called the "community spouse"—is limited to one half of the couple's joint assets up to $119,220 (in 2016) in "countable" assets. The result: even a couple who has spent a lifetime saving for a comfortable retirement can be forced to draw down nearly all of their assets before qualifying for Medicaid.
Once on Medicaid, long-term care patients lose the one thing many seniors care about most: choice. As a recipient of public assistance, patients rarely have a say in where they receive care. Whether that means being placed far from family, in a less-than-desirable facility, or even in a facility that lacks certain types of care (such as a dementia unit or other specialized care), the patient is at the whim of the state.
The good news is that even for those who feel there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, there are options that can help seniors who are struggling to pay for their post-retirement care to not only cover those rising expenses, but to do so in a way that gives them the freedom of choice. A Veteran myself, I know that VA Benefits are highly underutilized—including long-term care benefits. You can learn more about these benefits here. As well, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)’s July report Private Market Options for Financing Long-Term Care Services offers a variety of options for helping finance long-term care needs. Included in that list is the use of life insurance policies to help to fund long-term care expenses—an approach that is supported by GWG Life’s LifeCare Xchange Program.
In my own situation, I know there’s a high likelihood that my dad will eventually require skilled nursing care. I hope that as my siblings and I begin to dig into the details of my parents’ estate, we’ll find that they have indeed planned for long-term care. If that’s not the case, I’m comforted to know there are options available to help ensure Dad is not only in a facility that can meet his specialized needs, but that his new home is where our family chooses for him to be. Life may throw its curveballs, but at least Dad’s care will count as a home run.
Matthew Paine is Senior Vice President at GWG Holdings. Mr. Paine started his financial services career with AXA Advisors, developing marketing strategies for the North Central Region and building his personal practice. Since 2008, he has lead sales teams in raising capital in various assets classes ranging from the Life Insurance Secondary Market, Multi-Family Real Estate, Conservation Easements, and MBS Hedge Funds/Fund of Funds. Mr. Paine has a BA in Marketing/Management from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and holds FINRA Series 7, 24 and Series 63 licenses through Emerson Equity, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC.
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