“Summertime – and the livin’ is easy,” or at least it should be. But in today’s digital world, it can be hard to take a real break and recharge.
Larry Rosen, a noted psychology professor, researcher, and author of the book iDisorder, warns in a recent Reuters article that if a financial advisor is constantly connected, it will eventually wear them down.
“Given the ‘epidemic proportions’ of our addiction to smart phones, learning how to sign out and turn off is becoming vital for our mental health and well-being,” said Reuters reporter Hilary Johnson in her piece, Advisers Should Recharge Selves, Not Phones, in Summer, before moving into real life stories and advice from financial advisors Gordon Bernhardt, founder of Bernhardt Wealth Management; Nancy Popovich, a managing director with The Wise Investor Group; Colleen Schon, a managing director at Anthem Advisors; and Joe Belfatto, a partner at wealth management firm Massey Quick. (This piece is well worth the read).
THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES
A recent infographic (below) from Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, provides a good visual of how to make the most of any downtime. She says weekends – especially Sunday nights – can become a springboard to a productive week.
In addition, here are some quick tips gleaned from years of reading and studying other successful business people. You might want to try some of them this summer:
ONE: CREATE WHITE SPACE
Speaker and book author Juliet Funt says that, if we are not careful, today’s always-on world will rob us of something she calls “white space.”
“White space is improvised or scheduled time and thought for which we have no predetermined agenda or plan. It is open, uncommitted time during which our thoughts can be fluid, flexible and free-form,” Funt says. “It is time during which strategic thinking occurs, creativity soars and focus returns.”
She encourages us to daydream and to notice when the world makes us wait – and to relish it because that is an opportunity to become more calm, confident, patient and present. One way of embracing Funt’s advice is to study other people in airports and hotel lobbies. Without being obvious about it, do a little “people watching” try to imagine what is going on in their lives and feel empathy or joy based on your perceptions of what might be going on with them. For instance, if someone seems stressed or absent minded, smile and nod in passing, or just beam a little loving kindness their way. They may not them feel better, but you sure will.
TWO: SPEND TIME ALONE
In an article penned for Inc.com, Margaret Hefferman, author of A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition, asks, “when did you last spend time alone?” She talks about the importance of solitude, saying things that should resonate with today’s busy financial advisors:
“As business leaders, we find ourselves besieged by peers, colleagues, employees, board members, assistants, family members. Nobody gets enough of our time – and that includes ourselves. Instead, life becomes an unending tennis match, in which we’re constantly responding to whatever comes over the net: successes, mistakes, challenges, doubts, and needs. The most essential quality of an entrepreneur isn’t boldness or creativity. It’s stamina.”
Amen to that! We need stamina and patience i to be resilient and effective in the midst of a tidal wave of activity. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right are important, too. And if your workout is solitary, without noise and digital stimulation (perhaps even outside in nature), then you accomplish two things at once: being alone in a way that keeps both mind and body in shape.
THREE: CULTIVATE A BEGINNER’S MIND
Beginner’s Mind, according to Wikipedia, is a concept in Zen Buddhism. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few,” says Shunryu Suzuki in his classic book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. “Zen is not some fancy, special art of living. Our teaching is just to live, always in reality, in its exact sense,” he continues. “So we should be concentrated with our full mind and body on what we do; and we should be faithful, subjectively and objectively, to ourselves, and especially to our feelings.”
“When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind,” Suzuki continues. “You should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself lf will be left in what you do.”
The concept of having a beginner’s mind should make total sense intuitively, even if you are not a Buddhist or everyday Zen person. Try being fully present when people are talking to you, to enjoy each bite of a crunchy apple as if it was the first you’d ever tasted, to delight in your team’s insights, and to let others be smarter than you because, after all, you are just a beginner – you don’t have to be the all wise and powerful Oz.
These are just a handful of things that you can do to recharge. We hope you found them useful and get to practice them or something else that helps you rebuild, if not this weekend, then at least this summer.