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Voices

Quarantined and feeling groundless, I made some changes

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It wasn’t obvious at first how this global coronavirus pandemic was affecting me. But, after a while, I realized the abrupt change in life and routine had left me feeling groundless. That is, until I made a couple of shifts.

By the end of March, a couple of weeks after the quarantine began, I’d been sleeping less, exercising less, drinking more and paying more attention to news and social media. None of that helped the balance of my professional and family lives. One night, in the middle of dinner with my wife, Amanda, and our boys, Lucas, who is eight, and Daxton, who’s one and a half, I found myself checking the S&P 500 futures for the next day’s open. “Limit down!” I thought, seeing the price of futures contracts had fallen more than 5%. I was not present with those I cherish most. I have no doubt I am not alone here.

Scott Frank is the founder of Stone Steps Financial in Encinitas, California.

Realizing I needed to make a shift, I crafted a new routine to reinforce old habits that had fallen by the wayside and to add new ones.

Meditation
For a couple of weeks, I had allowed late night TV and social media to take away from my early mornings. Now, first thing in the morning when I wake up …. I breathe. I don’t check my phone. Instead I drink a glass of water and meditate for 15 to 30 minutes on a cushion in a quiet space in our living room, while everyone else is asleep. Meditation apps like Calm or Headspace sometimes help. Letting my feelings be and my thoughts go prepares me for my day and may do the same for you.

Exercise
Sadly I can't surf right now, with the beaches closed. But I can run, practice yoga, go on a bike ride with my son or simply walk for 30 minutes. I have more energy and focus if I move my body, so I am committed to doing so at least five days a week. It’s pretty easy as an advisor to give in to the temptation to sit all day, but regular movement resets my energy and sharpens my thinking.

Sleep

In the immediate aftermath of the quarantine, it was easy to overlook sleep. But I need seven and half to eight hours, or I feel worthless. I now turn in at 9:30 p.m., to read and wind down, so I can start the next day refreshed.

Mastermind meetings
The importance of my weekly mastermind meetings with four other fee-only RIAs has intensified recently. We’ve been meeting for more than five years and are a family. By connecting regularly through the quarantine, I know I’m not the only advisor carrying all this on my shoulders. There are at least four other planners doing the same thing. There have been times when we’ve missed a week or two, but now is not that time! We come together as advisers and don’t hold back. If I am having a rough day, they know it. If I am celebrating a win, they are there for that too. I am so grateful that I am not going through this alone. We are here to support one another and help each other take the next step.

I do these things so that I can be who I need to be for my family and my clients. They are helping me, what's helping you?

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