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?
An Advisor's Guide to Helping Women Become Savvy Investors
Today, more women than ever are involved in managing their personal and household finances. In a recent study, nearly half of the women surveyed (44%) stated that they are solely responsible for their household financial decisions, compared to 35% of men1. But the study wasn’t all good news. While women may be taking the lead when it comes to their finances, they also reported that they are not confident in doing so. In fact, in every financial category included in the survey, men reported much greater confidence than women. Where was the biggest gap? You guessed it: investing.
For advisors, this presents a challenge and an opportunity. There is a 90% likelihood that a woman will be financially self-reliant at some point in her life due to divorce, becoming a widow, or choosing to marry later in life or not at all2. By taking steps to help your female clients become confident, savvy investors, you’ll not only be more effective at serving in the best interests of these women and their families, but you’ll also be able to build much stronger, more trusted relationships to help ensure each family’s assets remain in your care for decades to come.
Follow these five steps to help your female clients invest with greater confidence:
1. Urge every woman to put her financial needs first.
Women do have a weakness when it comes to planning for the future, but it has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge, skill, or smarts. Their primary weakness is a willingness to put others’ needs first. This is a huge mistake when it comes to planning for the future. Investing for retirement simply can’t wait until the kids are grown or aging parents no longer need care. In fact, based on average life expectancies, women should plan to accumulate enough funds to last at least 20 years after retirement. The following chart illustrates the power of compounding based on an 8% rate of return to help bring that point home:
This hypothetical example assumes an annual 8% rate of return and does not take into account income taxes or investment fees and expenses. This example is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any specific investment. An investor’s actual return is not likely to be consistent from year to year, and there is no guarantee that a specific rate of return will be achieved.
2. Educate women about the power of investing.
Security about any topic is rooted in confidence and knowledge. Educating your female clients about investment basics can help drive more confident decisions and more positive long-term outcomes. From the basics of compounding to the nuts and bolts of researching options and understanding the pros and cons of different asset classes, make it your job to help every client understand what she is buying—and why.
3. Dive into the details of asset allocation.
Asset allocation is by far the largest determinant of a portfolio’s success—even more important than the individual securities selected and timing of an investment. This is critical information for your client to understand as she pursues her financial goals.
4. Discuss how her investment strategy needs to evolve over time.
Part of every client’s financial education should be to understand how financial needs and goals change with each stage of life stage. Because a shorter investment time horizon creates greater vulnerability to market volatility, she needs to understand the impact of shifting a portion of her investment portfolio to more income-oriented investments as she moves closer to retirement. This Life Stages Guide can help you paint a clear picture of how allocation strategies need to evolve to fit her changing needs.
5. Be sure she’s covering all the financial bases.
Smart investing is vital, but missteps in other areas of financial planning can thwart even the best investment plan. Offer every client a basic planning checklist that includes these three important steps:
- Focus on the big picture. Organize your important financial papers and schedule an annual review of your investment strategy with your advisor. Regularly monitor your net worth—including your assets (all investments and savings) and liabilities (mortgage, credit cards, and other debts) to be sure you’re always moving toward your end goal of a secure retirement.
- Pay down any outstanding debt. Debt reduces your net worth, threatens your financial security today, and reduces your ability to invest for the future. Do whatever you can to minimize debt, and build an emergency fund to help pay for any unexpected expenses.
- Make estate planning a priority. Once a year, review your will and your beneficiary designations for every account to be sure they continue to reflect your wishes. If you have children under 18, work with your advisor or estate planner to establish a trust and select a trustee to ensure your assets are managed for the benefit of your children.
As a trusted advisor, make it your mission to provide your female clients with the education and guidance they need to become savvy investors and make the smart, educated financial decisions. By doing so, you can help every woman you work with not only enhance her financial security, but also gain the confidence to take greater control of every aspect of her financial life.
Click here to learn more about IndexIQ.
 Survey conducted by Regions Financial Corp. in partnership with Vanderbilt University, 2015.
 The Simple Dollar, “Guide to Financial Independence for Women,” 2014.
Disclosure: The information and opinions herein are for general information use only. The opinions reflect those of the writers but not necessarily those of New York Life Investment Management LLC (NYLIM). NYLIM does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness, nor does New York Life Investment Management LLC assume any liability for any loss that may result from the reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions. Such information and opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security or as personalized investment advice.
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