Three Unexpected Self-Care Suggestions for the New Year

Frank Summers |

Happy New Year! We made it through 2021, and hope for a better 2022. With Omicron dominating the news, those old-year feelings of stress and strain carried over. It’s time for some self-care. 

What do you think of when I mention “self-care?” Some time with a book and a glass of wine? A long hike in a beautiful spot? A great meal? A luxurious bubble bath or spa day? While self-care is all of those things, there’s more. 

Self-care also means putting yourself first, or doing the things that will benefit you long-term. Some of those things are not the most fun to do. Starting an exercise routine or embarking on a career change are challenging. Others, such as saying “no” more often or putting a stop to trying to please everyone are uncomfortable. They are things that require effort, and we do them because we know the future rewards will outweigh that effort. Here are three such unexpected self-care tips for the new year:

Take control over who is providing services to you. Each person is different, and what’s important to you might be very different than for someone else. Your care and your future is too important to trust to someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, or who doesn’t have expertise in the particulars of your situation. For example, the needs of LGBTQ+ people and single people are very different than others. For many financial companies and in legal matters, the natural default is heterosexual couple with children and an extended family. That doesn’t really work for people who don’t have a close-knit and accepting extended family.

Recently, I attended a workshop on women’s views on financial issues. The top issue that women mentioned: straight women said that advisors would speak to her male partner or spouse, even if the advisor knew the woman made the majority of the financial decisions. Women also said that advisors were condescending or didn’t take the time to provide them with the information they needed. Why do advisors do that? I have no idea! It’s incredibly disrespectful and counterproductive, and it happens a lot. 

My recommendation: interview potential advisors or other professional service providers. Do they have expertise in the things that matter to you? Do they provide the time and information you need? Do you feel comfortable being open and candid about your situation with them? If you don’t, move on.

Put your money where your values are. What do you care about?  You may have heard of socially-responsible investing, or ESG. When it was termed, the intent was to include anything that doesn’t harm the environment, those who didn’t cause societal harm, and those that had strong governance over their corporate actions. Look at the offerings now. Most are focused only on environmental issues. Many people consider the social and governance aspects just as important, if not more so. How comfortable are you with a company that scored an "F" on the HRC Equality Index? Or one that doesn’t have many women or people of color in leadership positions? There are no right or wrong answers to those questions. It really depends on what’s important to you. When I work with clients, I ask what’s important to them, so their values are reflected in their investments. 

Make sure your decisions will be respected for your financial and medical care if you are unable to make them yourself. If these last two years have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Be sure your choices for medical and legal decisions are clear, so if you are incapable of communicating, you can be sure that they will be followed. If you were to pass away unexpectedly, would anyone struggle, emotionally or financially, because you’re not there? Would your shared dreams go unfulfilled? Your future is important, and taking steps to address life’s unexpected turns can solve a lot of future problems before they ever happen.

Taking control of your financial and legal decisions is so important. At the end of the financial planning process and going through the legal steps with an attorney, you should be able to say “I have a plan,” and “I know what will happen.” Does that sound like self-care? It is! Think about how you would feel if you knew for certain that your wishes would be followed, and those dreams you have of providing for your family or loved ones will be met.

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