In a Rut?

    As a Life-Centered Financial Planner (yeah, that’s a thing), I’m always looking for ideas on how I can help people live a more purposeful, fulfilling life.  Reading an article this past week had me reflecting on some recent conversations I’ve been involved with, mainly: the feeling of being stuck in a rut.

    How does one get “unstuck”?

    Staying active and stimulated can be difficult for anyone but becomes more so for retirees. But during the pandemic, days, weeks, and months started blending together, creating endless doldrums that are still lingering for many people.

    As the world starts opening back up, start looking for ways to broaden your horizons again. Try one of these three ideas to break out of your rut and improve your Return on Life.

    1. Do something outside your comfort zone.  In our hyperconnected digital world, you don't have to leave your house to try something new. Group exercise, cooking classes, books, movies, music, social hours, and games are all just a tap or swipe away. It's never been easier, or more affordable, to try out potential new hobbies and see whether anything sticks.  For me, I received an acoustic guitar for Christmas.  I now have Sydney giving me lessons in our living room (no, I am not a good student!).  However, taking a few actual steps outside your major comfort zone -- your home -- could provide the extra push you need to start enjoying life again.  Start small.  Try that new restaurant a couple of towns over.  Switch up your exercise routine and try jogging in a park instead of through your neighborhood.  Or maybe swing by a farmer's market on Saturday instead of having all your produce delivered. 
    2. Change your daily habits to be more aligned with what you want to achieve. For many people, the winter blues feel bluer because they're lagging behind their New Year's resolutions.  According to Forbes, 80% of people abandon their resolutions in February.  A common reason for these failures is that, flush with optimism for the year ahead, people set goals that look good on paper (or social media) but don't really resonate personally. Reassessing your goals for the year and putting daily, actionable steps in place to work towards those goals could freshen up your routine and improve your chances of succeeding.  A great first step is to get as specific as possible about what you want to achieve and how you're going to achieve it.  For example, if you really want to get healthier, you need a better goal than "get healthier."  Put three trips to the gym every week on your calendar.  Set a weekly running goal.  Plan out meals for the week in advance so you cut back on fast food.  Or, for some tougher accountability, hire a personal trainer who will help you schedule your exercises and improve your diet.
    3. Schedule something you have been putting off, such as a trip or a visit with old friends.  Is there a pile of travel vouchers on your desk from all the family visits and vacations you had to cancel during the pandemic?  Or do you have a slight surplus of spending money after staying home for much of the last couple years? If you're able to travel safely now, then start making up for lost time.  You don't have to make grandiose plans to pull yourself out of your rut.  Getting a few dinner parties or your grandkids' soccer games on your calendar will give you something to look forward to, and a reason to get out of the house.  For our family, it meant a fast and furious trip to Washington, D.C., over Huron’s spring break, with stopovers at Heather’s sister’s house in Pennsylvania on the way there and my mom’s house near Youngstown on the way back. But if you have the time and resources to reschedule the dream vacation that lockdowns cancelled, what are you waiting for?  In talking about the topic of this letter, Heather just told me that our 20th Anniversary trip (that was supposed to be in September 2000) shouldn’t be put off until it becomes a 25th Anniversary trip.  I guess we all need reminders to try to seize life’s opportunities now, in whatever ways we can!

    Please remember that we are “here” and available for you as well.  If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email.  If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them. 

    As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy!