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?
Building a Better Index With Strategic Beta
Written by: Yazann Romahi, Chief Investment Officer of Quantitative Beta Strategies and Lead Portfolio Manager of JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF at J.P. Morgan Asset Management
With the global economy warming up, but political uncertainty remaining a constant, it’s more important than ever for investors to position their global portfolios to navigate long-term market volatility. That’s where the power of diversification comes in, says Yazann Romahi, Chief Investment Officer of Quantitative Beta Strategies at J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Lead Portfolio Manager of JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN).
Not all diversified portfolios are alike
In their search for diversification, many investors turn to passive index ETFs, which track a market cap-weighted index. But these funds aren’t always the most effective way to steer a steady course through volatile markets—and there are two key reasons why.
First, traditional market cap-weighted indices are actually less diversified than investors may think. For example, in the S&P 500, the top 10% of stocks account for half the volatility of the index. Within sectors, while you might assume that sector risk is distributed across the ten major sectors fairly evenly, it is a surprise to many that at any point in time, one sector can be as high as 50% of the risk.
Second, cap-weighted indices come with some inherent weaknesses, including exposure to unrewarded risk concentrations and overvalued securities. So, while these indices provide investors with exposure to the equity risk premium and long-term capital growth, as is the case with any other investment, investors can also experience painful downturns, which increase volatility and reduce long-term performance. For investors seeking equity exposure with broader diversification—and potentially lower volatility—strategic beta indices may be better positioned to deliver the goods.
How do we define strategic beta?
Strategic beta refers to a growing group of indices and the investment products that track them. Most of these indices ultimately aim to enhance returns or reduce risk relative to a traditional market cap-weighted benchmark.
Building on decades of proven research and insights, J.P. Morgan’s strategic beta ETFs track diversified factor indices designed to capture most of the market upside, while providing less volatility in down markets compared to a market cap-weighted index. Rather than constructing an index based on market capitalization—with the largest regions, sectors and companies representing the largest portion of the index—our strategic beta indices aim to allocate based on maximizing diversification along every dimension—sectors, regions and factors. The index therefore seeks to improve risk-adjusted returns by tackling the overexposure to risk concentrations and overvalued securities that come as part of the package with traditional passive index investing.
So, how do you build a better index?
As one of just a few ETF providers that combine alternatively-weighted and factor-oriented indices, our disciplined index methodology is designed to target better risk-adjusted returns through a two-step process.
First, we seek to maximize diversification across the risk dimension. This essentially means that we look to ensure risk is more evenly spread across regions and sectors, which balances the index’s inherent concentrations. As uncontrolled risk concentrations are unlikely to be rewarded over the longer term, we believe investors should strive for maximum diversification when constructing a core equity exposure.
Second, we seek to maximize diversification across the return dimension. Research shows that there are a number of sources of equity returns beyond growth itself. These include risk exposures such as value, size, momentum and quality (or low volatility). When creating a diversified factor index in partnership with FTSE Russell, we seek to build up the constituents with exposure to these factors. We therefore select securities through a bottom-up stock filter, scoring each company based on a combination of these return factors to determine whether it is included in the index. These factors provide access to a broader, more diversifying source of equity returns as they inherently deliver low correlation to one another, providing diversification in the return dimension.
So, whereas traditional passive indices allow market cap to dictate allocations, the diversified factor index seeks to ensure that we minimize concentration to any source of risk—whether it be region, sector or source of return.
How are you currently weighted versus the market cap-weighted index, and how have your under- and over-weights enhanced risk-return profiles?
Crucially, our weightings don’t reflect specific views on sectors or regions and are instead, by design, the point of maximal diversification. It is important to remember that market cap-weighted indices typically carry a lot of concentration risk—for example, at various points in time, a single sector can explain half the risk of the index when left unmanaged. At the moment, three sectors explain two-thirds of the risk of the FTSE Developed ex-NA Index—these being financials, consumer goods and industrials. In contrast, the FTSE Developed ex-NA Diversified Factor Index—or strategic beta index, which JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN) tracks—is explicitly designed to maintain balance and therefore these sector allocations range from 8% to 12%. In the short term, any concentrated portfolio can of course outperform a more diversified one, if the concentrated bet paid off.
Investing wholly in a single stock may outperform over short-term periods. At other times, it may significantly underperform an index. However, it is well understood that an investor is better off diversifying across lots of stocks for better risk-adjusted long-term gains. The same applies here. From a pure return perspective, if financials, for example, account for half of a cap-weighted index in terms of market cap and have a strong run over the short term, of course, this index would outperform over this period. Over the long run, however, it is fairly uncontroversial to suggest that the more broadly diversified index could achieve better risk-adjusted returns.
Seeking a smoother ride in international equity markets?
For investors targeting enhanced diversification through a core international equity portfolio, JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN) targets lower volatility by tracking an index that more evenly distributes risk, enabling them to get invested—and stay invested.
Learn more about JPIN and J.P. Morgan’s suite of strategic beta ETFs here.
Call 1-844-4JPM-ETF or visit www.jpmorganetfs.com to obtain a prospectus. Carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of the ETF before investing. The summary and full prospectuses contain this and other information about the ETF. Read them carefully before investing.
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