Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.
With so many challenges and changes facing the profession, it’s a stressful time to be a planner. Nine planners provide their top three tips for managing their health and wellbeing.
Question: With so many challenges and changes facing the profession, it’s a stressful time to be a planner. What are your top three tips for managing your own health and wellbeing?
Chris Giaouris CFP®
Partner and Principal Adviser, Chronos Private
Licensee: Fitzpatricks Private Wealth
It’s a stressful time for many Australians, not just advisers, as the speed of general day-to-day life continues to ramp up year-on-year. I find healthy habits are the best way to manage my own health and wellbeing, such as:
Make time for self-reflection: It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. Sometimes you might even feel guilty for wanting to find time to spend thinking about yourself, but for me, it’s critical. As an adviser, I am useless to my clients unless I’m in an emotionally and mentally good place.
Make time for exercise: Whilst not a ground-breaking suggestion, this is an extremely effective one nonetheless. The physical and mental benefits of regular exercise have been proven time and time again. For me, introducing a strict routine into my week has been a game changer.
Make time for the things you genuinely love: This could be people, activities, food, leisure or anything else that makes you happy. As an adviser, we can get bogged down in tasks which don’t add a lot of value to our clients and for me, this can be frustrating. If, upon self-reflection, you find you aren’t doing enough things you love (at work or at home), then this can wear you down quickly.
Without health, you cannot sustain relationships, build your business, or build your personal wealth. This is why our three core values as a company are – Health, Love and Wealth. To us as a business, it’s about living life in balance between these three areas.
For example, if you’re healthy and are overcompensating right now on the wealth of your business, then your home life or relationships may suffer. This in turn creates unhappiness and stress, which in turn reduces our health and therefore our productive capacity at work. My top three tips for managing health and wellbeing are:
Do high intensity and low intensity exercise. Too many people just have no balance when working out, so they destroy their bodies doing F45 training, six days a week. They neglect the benefits of yoga, pilates and pure cardio. Others just run the longest distance possible for ego gratification, as opposed to focusing on the outcome they want to achieve.
Spend time with your partner, friends and family. The amount of relationships that breakdown because of ‘time selfishness’ is huge. Spending quality time with your family and having shared purpose, removes stress.
Ensure your business is ahead of the curve. Ignore all the noise and distractions in the market, and just do what you need to do. Take action and stop getting caught up in all the political and compliance banter. Show great character and capability, and the results will come.
Be involved with your kids. Kids provide a great perspective on life. My wife and I are actively involved in the school community. This provides our kids with a positive perspective of volunteering and knowing their parents are interested in what they are doing. It’s great to have a distraction from everyday life and help out by donating your time.
Have an interest. For me, that’s golf. We have a golfing group of people in the financial community. We have a WhatsApp group that is used for the weekly banter around golf-related activities and then we have games that we meet up for. This is a way to keep connected that then leads to phone calls and ideas sharing. This is a great method of commutating with each other and an easy way to reach out when you need a hand with something.
Stay active. We like to stay active as a family. It may be walking on the weekends, soccer or tennis together. This is a great way to stay fit. I also enjoy my stand-up paddle board. It’s an ideal way to get away from the world for a little bit, while exercising. This is a great exercise for the whole body.
Make sure you have a good network around you. I am part of the Australian Advice Network, where all the directors are in regular communication and support each other. There are lots of changes and dealing with them as a group provides a greater outcome to all, as well as providing a support release. Change is constant and it will continue to be so. You need to find a way to deal with it and then it will not matter what the change is, as you will have a process to deal with it.
I always make sure that my diary includes time for some exercise or time out. Each weekend I head to the local pool, as well as try for one morning a week. It’s great to look after your physical health, which in turn impacts your mental health.
I also love reading and pick up a book every night before turning out the lights. Most often, it’s fiction, but now and then I’ll include a book on business or personal development. Mostly I read just to escape and turn my brain off from thinking about work and home life.
My daughter has recently bought me the entire Game of Thrones series to watch, so I’m working my way through that. I love a glass of wine too, but try not to drink as a rule through the week. I also enjoy entertaining, so having a few friends over on the weekend and getting a bit creative with cooking is also fun for me.
I’ve been down the path of being a workaholic and am not interested in going back down that rabbit hole. There’s so much more to life. I don’t want my early grave to read what a dedicated person I was to the job. I also invest a lot of time on my own education and enjoy attending overseas conferences, which allows me time to mingle with like-minded advisers and learn from others, whilst indulging in one of my passions – travel.
Maintaining balance is really important. I know there are many who are struggling with industry changes, but it’s important to remember that our self-worth should never be tied to our net worth. Life goes on and it’s important to look after our physical health and wellbeing.
Explore: Discover what wellbeing and happiness really means to you. Do some research on strategies to improve your overall wellbeing. What works for you may not work for others.
Personally, I enrolled in a ‘Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing’ to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to increase individual, business and collective wellbeing. I now have practical tools to make a significant and positive difference in people’s lives, including my own. Where psychology has previously focused on what is wrong with people, this course provides a foundation to provide equal focus on what is right with people. The content includes nurturing strengths, promoting excellence, gratitude, emotional intelligence, achievement, relationships and meaning.
Connect: This can be as simple as talking to the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Quality relationships need investment, and building these connections can support and enrich you every day.
In communicating authentically with people, I have learned a great deal from others about strategies to improve wellbeing. Just as we advocate the benefits of quality financial advice, the same is true of health and wellbeing advice. Engaging a mentor or coach in this space to regularly communicate with has helped me reflect, plan and ultimately improve my overall wellbeing.
Move: Exercising makes you feel good. Discovering a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness, can have profound effects on your overall wellbeing.
Most of my day is desk bound, so I enjoy opportunities to get outdoors. It can provide the chance to get curious. To catch sight of the beautiful, to remark on the unusual and simply be aware of the world around you. Being mindful and reflecting on these experiences can help you appreciate what matters most.
For me, the last four years have included starting a business from nothing, consistently working 60 hours per week for three years, having our first child (second soon), living on one wage and a business partnership split. It’s been the most challenging period of my life and has challenged my wellbeing consistently.
I’ve always prioritised nutrition, have never been willing to trade on sleep, and for as long as I can remember, exercise has been part of my life. Even still, I’ve been run down, consistently ‘busy’, less present with others and as much as I don’t like to admit it, stressed at times.
In recent months, I have taken up transcendental meditation. My daily practice includes two 20-minute sessions to simply and effortlessly take the mind to a place of stillness.
The noticeably changes have included:
Significantly decreased the ‘noise’ inside my head;
Far more present with family, friends, clients and teammates;
Easily ‘switch off’ from work;
Less emotionally responsive to daily stressors;
Better relationships with loved ones;
Increased sense of clarity;
Consistent feeling of calmness;
Decreased phone use;
Not ‘running on adrenaline’; and
Improved quality of sleep (and needing less sleep).
If you’re a tram driver, global leader or financial planner trying to keep all the balls in the air, I can’t recommend establishing a daily meditation routine highly enough. When you do, everything else gets easier.
I’ve borrowed some components from a robust investment philosophy to create a framework to maintain my health and wellbeing during those busy periods.
Control what you can control: Just as we advise clients to maintain an appropriate mix of growth and defensive assets in their portfolio to endure market movement, we can aim to keep enough ‘defensive’ time in the diary to do those administrative procedures like file notes, advice reviews and implementation follow-up. Loading up your diary with too many ‘growth’ activities, like seeing clients and prospecting, can make it hard to deliver all the things discussed in meetings in a timely and efficient manner.
Diversification is essential: Split your time between all your activities, not just ‘work’ ones. Carve out space for physical and creative interests into your week. The change in perspective, environment and physical engagement in activities, will enhance the time you do spend on your workload.
Discipline is paramount: Just as we coach clients to be disciplined in their approach to investing, when you’re not really feeling like you can afford to spend time at the gym or yoga class, then make yourself stick to your plan. Don’t make excuses and get out and enjoy the change of pace.
Sometimes, the pendulum does swing and we spend more time on work than on other pursuits, but that’s nothing a quick rebalance of our priorities can’t fix.
There are different ways to explain the term ‘wellbeing’. What is commonly accepted, however, is that our wellbeing is influenced by all facets of our life. Knowing and understanding how content we are in each of these facets is integral to achieving ‘wellbeing’.
There is a well-known tool – The Wheel of Life. This is my pick to help bring clarity to our own wellbeing. This tool gives a bird’s-eye view of our life. It is a visual representation of all areas in our life at one time.
Each spoke in the Wheel of Life represents a facet of our life, e.g. fitness, finances, family, health, career. I regularly use the Wheel of Life for myself and it has become a common practice to offer my clients the opportunity to complete the tool, too.
I find clients who are stressed or lead very business lives, love the tool. It is not only simple, it is also effective in providing clarity as to what facets require attention for increasing their wellbeing.
My top three tips:
Google search for ‘Wheel of life’.
Complete the Wheel of Life activity.
Reflect on the shape of the wheel and see what areas you may like to focus on to bring balance and wellbeing to your life!