Could anything worsen the gloom of depressed portfolios and depleted revenues amid a world beset by random violence, terrorism, and war?
Well, it could be February.
Amid the darkness and chill of this wintry month, it’s easy to begin doubting yourself and your life choices. You might feel a little shrinkage in your self-esteem, or maybe your self-confidence has worn thin. Possibly you’re running a low-grade fever of self-reproach. In the bleakest of cases, self-doubt may extend to every aspect of your life.
If you’ve entered a blue period like this, consider the situations below for ideas to help brighten your outlook.
Since 9/11, the stresses of living in Washington, D.C., have been getting to me. Helping clients make money seems more and more trivial and meaningless. I can’t decide whether to sign up for the Peace Corps or cash in my portfolio and escape to a remote corner of the world. This may sound goofy, but I’m serious. What should I do? First, know that you are not alone in feeling rocked to your core. Since September 11, the threat of terrorist attacks, the sniper killings, and war tensions have combined to ratchet up the stress levels in D.C. (where I live, too) perhaps more than anywhere else in the U.S. This tension makes it difficult to connect with normally pleasurable parts of life that always seemed meaningful before.
On the positive side, your crisis of self-doubt offers a chance to take stock of your values and choices, and to set new directions. Just be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Important decisions should be based on a full, rational assessment of their effect on your life, not grounded in panic or despair.
So before deciding that your work is meaningless, slow down and reconnect with your own sources of healing and hope. Are you taking care of yourself emotionally and physically? Are there more proactive things you need to be doing, here and now, to make a difference in the world?
If you feel your personal life is in balance, take a look at your worklife. Do you need to be more involved with helping your clients live out their values and ideals? Do you find your colleagues and your work environment congenial and supportive? Finally, could you really live a more balanced life and do your work more rewardingly if you moved somewhere else?
Take time to reflect on these questions with as much patience as you can muster. If you still feel that only a radical lifestyle change will restore juice and meaning to your life, I wish you good luck.
One of the partners in my practice is driving me crazy. At a time when I’m losing sleep worrying about my clients’ portfolios, this colleague is so full of himself and his brilliant achievements that he’s almost unbearable. I know part of the problem is inside my head, but what can I do about it–and about him? Your colleague may well feel so insecure that he needs to puff himself up and put others down in order to assuage his sense of inadequacy. If so, I wouldn’t put too much faith in his claims of triumphing while all around him are in the throes of portfolio meltdown.
If you’re close to him, you could tell him how his bragging is making you feel. Just be sure your relationship is warm enough to handle this kind of vulnerability. Otherwise it might backfire, making him feel more superior and you feel worse.
A better bet may be to spend a little time reminding yourself of your own strengths. Start a daily journal in which you write down your successes, no matter how small they may seem at the time. For example, an entry might be: “Met with Mrs. S today and reviewed progress toward goals. She came in feeling awful, and left feeling calmer and much more positive.”
Also, try to stay out of your boastful partner’s orbit as much as possible. Make time to engage in favorite activities that lighten your spirit, and focus on working with colleagues who nurture your self-confidence.
If you cultivate the right climate around you, and remind yourself daily of your strengths (as well as things you’re grateful for), this annoying colleague’s boasts will lose their sting.
I always wanted to be a financial planner. But now, within a year of graduating from college, I’m beginning to doubt whether I can handle being responsible for people losing money and being forced to give up their dreams. Should I take my qualms seriously, or does everyone feel this way? I don’t know about “everyone,” but it’s certainly worthwhile talking to some people who are already in the field to see how they feel about client setbacks. In particular, you might interview planners who focus on helping clients live out their deeply felt personal values. This could help you reconnect with the qualities of the profession that originally appealed to you.