Five Things to Do Before December 31st
We're just a few short days away from 2017!!!
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for 2016 to wrap up and to BRING IT ON for 2017. My guess is you are ready to, too.
But before you countdown and clink glasses at 12:00am January 1, 2017 to celebrate the new year, here are five things to do before first. They won't take long, and they are simple ways to not only look back at this year but to get your head and your heart ready for the next.
1. Writing exercise: What did I learn?
When you think about 2016, what did you learn about yourself? Your career? Your habits? Your relationships? Your finances? Your health? Make a list of all the learnings you had. Let your mind go and just jot down anything that comes to mind. I bet it's more than you realize! Once you write it down, reflect back to what happened to lead to this learning. What got you to that point? What did you learn about yourself, where you are right now in life, that you didn't know before? It's important to pinpoint the specifics, because this awareness will help you on your journey forward.
2. Say thank you.
Think about this past year and everyone who helped you along the way, or just did something nice for you. Maybe you have a colleague who always treated you to coffee (like I had!) or perhaps a friend was there for you during a difficult time, and really listened. Whatever or whoever it was, think about how you can thank them. A simple handwritten note or card goes a long way, especially this day and age when everyone is glued to their phone! Whenever I receive a card or handwritten note, I am always so nicely surprised. Make a list of who needs to be thanked, buy some notecards, and get writing!
3. Say goodbye...
To things and people who don't make you happy or add to your life in some way - and vice-versa. If you can't say goodbye, think about creating a healthy distance from them. Life is too short to be in bad company, in a negative place, or with habits that only hurt you or others. Plus, the more these negative people, influences, or habits take up space in your life, the less space you have for the better, positive things and people that will bring your more joy and happiness. Our lives can only hold room for so much, so really consider what's being held in yours.
4. Get excited! And write it down!
The new year is around the corner. New opportunities. New goals. New adventures. Allow yourself to drift into a happy place thinking about all the awesomeness this new year may bring. Maybe it will bring a new relationship, a new direction in your career, or newfound courage to go after something you've been thinking about. Once you get excited, allow your mindset to shift into this positive place. Write down your "What I want in 2017" list and don't hold back. As you can see, I'm a firm believer in writing things down! Last year I wrote down that I wanted to become a Huffington Post writer, and just a few weeks into 2016 I did it!
5. Decide your priorities and goals for the new year.
So maybe you want to drop 10 lbs., go on three dates a week, and get promoted by March. It's great to have goals, but make sure they are realistic and won't drive you further from them before you get in the groove. The best way to achieve your goals is by taking small, measurable steps. Typically, when we try to do it all, or take too big of a step, we end up getting not very far. Decide what your top priorities are. Write them down, and then decide what action items you will take and when you will take them, to help you get there. Consider enlisting in support - like a friend, coworker, therapist or coach - depending on your specific goals. Remember that success is never really done on one’s own, and it is totally, 100% OK to ask for help!
Alright, now that you have those five quick tips - go for it!
When it Comes to Your Money, Does the Truth Hurt?
“We’ve been arguing about this for year, and here we are in our 50’s. It’s time to stop!” Laura said empathically.
Paul’s downcast eyes and silence spoke volumes.
Laura continued, “We’ve worked with several advisors who have tried to help us invest our money in a sensible way. Then whenever the market goes down, Paul calls the advisor and tells him to sell everything! In all these years, no matter how much we work to build our financial security, we’re always playing catchup.”
Her words hung like a rain cloud about to burst when Paul began to speak. “I know, I know. I just can’t help it. I get nervous that we’re going to lose all our money. When the market goes down, I scramble—in my thoughts and in my actions. The driving force behind it is: At least if it’s in cash, the balance won’t go down.”
This is the moment where I felt I could lend my advice. First, I needed to learn about this particular couple and their values. Then, I could begin helping them take control of their finances.
“Tell me Paul,” I said. “What did you learn about money growing up? What messages did you hear as a child about money? From your father? From your mother?”
Paul’s eyes moved up and to the left, indicating his mind was reaching for memory. “My parents never talked to us kids about money, really. The one thing that stands out is my grandfather talking about The Great Depression and how it was such a tragic time. My parents both worked, but they never made a lot of money. They fought about money sometimes.”
“Any other memories about money?”
“Actually, yes. I remember when my father took me to the bank to open up a passbook savings and how exciting it was. The bank manager typed the passbook on this old manual typewriter and gave it to me. He showed me how the interest on the account added to the amount I deposited. I felt very grown up that day! But I guess that was the sum total of money training from my parents.”
“Can you help me understand how you and Laura make financial decisions?”
The question couldn’t be more impactful if a boulder had landed on his head. While Laura looked at Paul with a mildly accusatory glare, Paul searched for something to say that would keep his well-conceived protective fortress from crumbling. I interjected to ease the tension. I could feel the guilt in the air.
“Let me frame that another way, Paul and Laura. We all do the best we can as we live our lives. Let’s face it, our lives are filled with responsibilities in our families and our jobs, not to mention outside interests, health, and friends. While financial issues are important, unless you either have the knowledge and experience—or the help, most people avoid getting too deep into the confusion of managing their finances by doing the very least they can. What we don’t know scares us. So we defer, delay, make rash decisions based on our lack of time, knowledge, desire. Add a dash of fear to that equation, and you have a formula for financial problems. I want you to know, you are not alone. It’s more common than you could even imagine. The question is, do we allow the truth in so that we can move forward?”
It’s important to admit the truth behind our actions in order to rectify past and future mistakes or regrets. Living in denial only perpetuates making decisions that could potentially lead to financial disaster.
“I hate to admit it,” Paul said. “I guess in my desire to protect Laura from stress, I’ve made decisions that have hurt us, and I’m sorry. Michael, you hit the nail on the head. You defer, avoid, and allow your emotions to take over. And as a result, bad stuff happens. I think I’m ready to ask for help.”
Laura’s expression softened, and said, half-kiddingly, “You think?”
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