Brett S. Miller, CPA, CFP® | Partner | Wealth Advisor
The year 2020 was touted to be the year of “clarity”. Yet instead of a fun cliché, we have experienced the opposite. Covid-19 has altered our daily lives in unprecedented ways, testing the daily habits, routines, and rhythms that are often the greatest source of our happiness and success.
Like many, I greeted the challenge with an initial burst of energy. This was the time to step forward and lead my clients and team through a period of adversity while transitioning into a new virtual environment. The leverage created by the absence of my two-hour daily commute was going to provide an added resource of precious time, which I intended to use to connect better with my clients and team, read, exercise, and spend more time with my family. Or so I naïvely thought…
After a few weeks, some of the aspirational behaviors wore off. A friend and colleague described the transition of emotions as grieving the experiences of life that were missing while in quarantine. While I am thankful that I maintained my exercise routine and have not missed a family dinner due to traffic since early March, I am not sure I achieved the “boost” that this extra time was going to create. Instead, I found I slipped into a few bad habits…. I am working more statically without the normal movement of the office, my energy and focus take a real hit in back-to-back Zoom meetings (Zoom fatigue is real), I miss the connection aspect of my commute where I would unwind from the day and call my family and friends, and I am actually reading less as I have started to slack and hit the snooze button more often.
Is my experience unique? I would confidently answer no. The news headlines are consistent in reporting increasing levels of stress, unhappiness, and depression. Yet, is this experience a total negative, and thus we need to abandon our goals and aspirations for the year? Absolutely no! This experience has created some amazing positive habits and experiences that I will forever be grateful. I have spent quality time with my young family in new and exciting ways, I have connected with neighbors who now all take evening walks, I have shared my home and family over Zoom connecting with clients, and I love my peanut butter and jelly picnics with my kids. Sorry to my friends at work, but my kids are a much better lunch date…
As we cross the mid-way point for the year, I would like to issue a challenge to restore clarity in our daily actions for 2020. I fully realize that we cannot predict what will happen with Covid-19, social unrest, the upcoming election, etc. Yet, what prevents us from restoring clarity in the intentionality of our daily lives? A wise client once shared with me that “life is 10% what happens, 90% how we respond to it.” Are you intentional with your goals/actions/plans, or do you allow others to dictate those for you?
My challenge involves taking a step back to candidly assess the last six months with a renewed perspective. I would encourage you to schedule 30 minutes with nothing but a pen, piece of paper, and your thoughts.
Ask yourself the below questions:
What were my goals entering 2020?
- What goals remain relevant, and require recommitment?
- What goals need to be revised based on where the world is today?
- What goals need to be cancelled, to refocus on the new/relevant goals?
What are the behavior trends that you have identified during Covid-19?
- Which negative behaviors trends should you stop?
- Which positive behaviors trends should you continue?
- Which new behaviors should you start to optimize your life?
While the answers to these questions will be unique to you, I trust the exercise will help you to establish a renewed perspective on 2020. With this perspective comes intentionality and action, the outcome of which is happiness and success. Enjoy the journey and best to the back half of 2020!
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