Joy Kirsch, CFO of life changing events at Kirsch & Associates, was a keynote speaker at the Texas A&M Foundation's financial and estate planning seminar Women, Wealth and Wisdom, in May.
Her session, "Love, Money and Loss," focused on wealth management and transition planning for women dealing with a loss. It proved to be one of the most popular sessions of the entire event, so she agreed to share more of her insight with us about overcoming stress and thriving in the middle of life's road blocks.
My friend and CPA Carre has a sign on her door that reads: "Keep Calm and Carry On." It helps me put my tax bill into perspective (and also makes me chuckle). And it seems like an appropriate reminder for any woman who is in the midst of the grief and confusion created by a life transition.
How to Thrive While Life Happens
Maybe in the 21st century we need a new version of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" motto. Maybe instead we should "Keep Calm and Carry Very Little." It's evident that in the modern world, where we are exposed through numerous media outlets to the world's disasters, we need to develop a skill set that allows us to be resilient when experiencing all of life's tragedies, or even learn to thrive while life happens.
Learning to handle ourselves during personal and universal pivotal moments can set the stage for how the rest of our lives look. Life's tragedies require transitions where competent decision-making is more important than ever, yet less likely than ever. Without help, many women will emerge from the other side at a serious disadvantage rather than positioned to thrive. According to the National Center for Women and Retirement Research, nine out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives, and being prepared for this is vital to our emotional and financial well-being.
So, let's take a moment to deconstruct "Keep Calm and Carry Very Little."
When you are overwhelmed, your behavior changes. Your sleep patterns are off and your brain activity is disconnected throughout the day. You are detached from your competencies and sometimes even your values, but you might not even see it. Your brain and body aren't meant to be in a state of prolonged stress, and your goal is to lower your stress level. You need to find coping mechanisms that don't involve major decisions that might be regrettable. Structure your life to optimize quality sleep, healthy eating, meditation and journaling.
These are powerful tools to calm the mind and body, and everyone under stress will benefit by making it part of their daily routine.
Carry Very Little
Carrying very little involves designing a life that is as streamlined as possible. It also involves asking for help, even for tasks that you could easily handle before your transition event. It involves taking care of yourself and setting goals that are financially attainable and not emotionally or physically taxing.
One way to streamline may be to have someone help you set up your bills to be paid online. Another way could be to make a list of everything that needs to be done. Focus only on the most important and urgent tasks and leave the other decisions for later. Make sure to set up a system to manage and track the multiple projects that require your attention since your cognitive abilities could be stifled during stressful times.
"Keep Calm and Carry Very Little" is about avoiding making regrettable or unnecessary decisions so that you can move forward with confidence and a sense of purpose after a significant life change. Healing from grief and trauma takes time—maybe years. But it is possible to set up systems and seek guidance that allows you to feel a sense of hope and forward movement while the healing continues.
Traumatic life changes can lead to a new future of your choosing, and transitions done well can be transformations.
By Joy D. Kirsch, CFP
CFO of Life Changing Events
Kirsch & Associates
Texas A&M Foundation Office of Gift Planning
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