11 January, 2021

What Can You Control?


The weeks leading up to a presidential election can be nerve-wracking enough on their own. Add in the tumult from Covid-19, social justice movements, and recent market volatility, and it's no wonder that some of us are dealing with significant anxiety as we get closer and closer to punching our ballots.


So many of the problems we've faced in 2020 have felt bigger than we are. That's one reason we're all so energized to vote: even if the result of the election is beyond any one person's control, it will feel good to take action and have your voice heard.


But are you so wrapped up in big picture challenges that you're overlooking things in your life that you can control? Taking some purposeful steps in these three areas could remind you who's ultimately in charge of your family's Return on Life. 


1. Your mental health.


This is hardly the first time in our tumultuous history that Americans have been on edge about a presidential election. But until recently, most folks only dipped into the campaigns when the paper arrived in the morning and when TV news came on at night. Social media immerses us in politics 24/7, creating an echo chamber that magnifies our anxieties and bounces them back to us over and over again. Worse, that echo chamber might be sharing screen space with the apps we're using to stay connected to colleagues, family, and friends during the pandemic.


When you're not working or checking on grandma, set some daily screen time limits. Unplugging before bed can be especially beneficial if your brain is still revving from a full day of tweets and likes. Our electronic devices and apps are designed to attract our attention. When it's time to sleep, there's no better mute button than a good book and a warm cup of tea.


2. Your physical health.


The pandemic could create a new breed of couch potato: instead of binge-watching TV, we're in danger of putting in unnecessary overtime, all the time.


Working from home has disrupted many of the routines that kept us active even on days when we weren't heading to the gym. Simple things like moving around the office or walking down the street for a coffee break don't happen as much when you and your laptop are parked at the kitchen table all day. Instead, in between tasks, you might find yourself clicking open a new tab and getting sucked into the day’s political brouhaha.


The physical barriers between home and work are a little blurry right now but you have more control over your schedule. Break up a long day of Zoom calls with ten minutes of jumping jacks. When you hit inbox zero, take a long walk. And when it's time to clock out for the day, turn off your computer, get up from your makeshift desk, and get moving. Even if your gym is now in your living room, separating yourself from your WFH routine will help you get the most out of your new exercise routine.


3. Your financial health.


Folks who have never set a monthly budget are often surprised by what an empowering experience it can be. The most impactful adjustment you can make to your financial plan is to limit unnecessary spending and maximize saving while continuing to invest prudently, regardless of what’s happening in the markets or on the news.


Still, the investment piece of this picture can make folks anxious during moments of uncertainty, especially if retirement is nearing. That's one of the reasons that we like to revisit the Fiscalosophy exercise with our clients at least once per year. A financial plan is only as good as your confidence in it. Let's schedule an in-person meeting or video chat to discuss how comfortable you're feeling about your market exposure, savings goals, debt, and spending. We can work together to control these and other variables so that you’ll feel excited about your plan and your family’s future.