Financial planning and positive psychology combine to treat burnout
Studies show that about 76% of employees in the United States report having experienced burnout (Ju, 2021). This staggering number is a function of a multitude of causes, but I would say that a focus on money rather than well-being is a major contributor to burnout in our society on an institutional and personal level. Trying to convince institutions to move from money to wellness in a world of budgets and bottom lines is certainly a formidable task, but the personal level is another story.
The success of an old-fashioned financial plan is defined by helping the client raise as much money as possible. The higher the net worth, the more effective the plan. While amassing wealth is an important factor in a successful plan, should that really be the goal and definition of a winning plan? Money itself is nothing more than printed paper or a digital number on a computer. Too many people get emotionally busy looking for a number in their bank account and lose track of the true meaning of money… a medium of exchange. An exchange for vacations, college studies, helping others, hobbies, free time with loved ones… the list goes on. When money becomes the focus, the opening through which we see life closes and burnout sets in. This article is intended to disrupt your thinking about conventional financial planning while following the SOAP Note method that a physician would use to document a care plan for a patient.
Objective Exam: Financial Physics
It’s important to have a professional look under the hood to see what you currently have in place. Just as a doctor will do a physical exam to assess a patient’s current health, so it’s important to do the same for your finances. It’s essential to look at the cash reserves, debt and investing strategies, and insurance in place to make sure your basics are covered. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, so be sure to work with an advisor who has the right experience and training to help you identify red flags in your financial situation.
Subjective examination: It’s more than money.
Understanding where you feel financially, as well as understanding your history with money is essential. Some may come with a unique emotional baggage when it comes to money and so it is important to recognize this before making any plans. Never want to treat a symptom without understanding the disease.
Money is simply a medium of exchange, so you need to identify those things in life that you want money to support. Money itself is rarely the goal. I would say that people’s lives can be broken down into five distinct areas that contribute to their happiness and fulfillment in life. These are career, relationships, self-care, altruism and spirituality. When it comes to general well-being and contentment in life, all of these areas of your life need to evolve in harmony. Have you ever had a conflict with a relationship close to your own and then tried to compartmentalize it while you go to work? How about trying to go on vacation with your family while your email explodes with questions about a conflict at work? If you have experienced either or the other, you will quickly realize how these areas of life all really relate, no matter how good you are at compartmentalizing your life. Understanding what is important to you in each of these five areas of your life will help you as you develop your plans.
Assessment: Are you on track to achieve the right goals?
Now is the time to check your current financial path and identify if it fits with your short and long term life goals. Some may find that they were pursuing monetary goals that had no basis for creating more well-being in their life. We are taught to assume that more money equals more happiness, but this equation does not always work. Studies show that an individual’s salary of $ 75,000 / year satisfies emotional well-being. After this income point, there was little or no correlation between more money and more well-being (Kahneman et al 2010).
That said, before we can determine if we are on the right track, we need to establish our life goals that bring us more well-being and fulfillment. While it may seem like an easy task, you will find that “happiness” can be a rather ambiguous term and difficult to quantify outside of the obvious things that bring positive emotions into your life. Since we need specificity when it comes to making plans, we need to look to the latest factual research in the field of positive psychology to help us.
Martin Seligman, the father of the positive psychology movement, developed the PERMA model to help us understand what exactly “happiness” means and how to find that well-being in your life. Seligman’s model consists of Ppositive emotions, Ecommitment, Rrelationships, Mmeaning, and Aproduction (PERMA). Below, we’ll assess each of these areas and how we might think about incorporating them into your life plan.
Positive emotions: These are the things that elicit positive emotions and are most synonymous with happiness. It could include buying that new car, taking the trip, getting that prize.
Commitment: These are the activities for which you lose track of time. It’s the thing you do after a stressful day / week to “reset” yourself. It can be an exercise, a hobby, or even your job.
Relationships: These are the things you do to foster deeper relationships with your family, loved ones, and friends.
Sense: What things do you do that make you meaningful or serve others and / or a higher purpose? Some may find this in their work, mentoring, giving, volunteering for a charity, etc.
Achievement: These are things around which we set goals and take action to achieve them. Our society encourages and rewards achievement during the early stages of life with school, sport, etc. but many forget that it must be maintained to continue the feeling of well-being. It could be running that marathon, getting that promotion, or even hitting a new personal best in the gym.
Write down the things you are currently doing in each of these areas and how much time / money you spend on this activity. Research suggests that those who have a more even distribution across the five categories experience significantly more well-being in life and tend to thrive more than those who do not. Once you have established your baseline, write down what you would do to strengthen each of these areas of PERMA in your life if money weren’t an issue. Those are your real goals worth making a financial plan. (Kern et al., 2013)
Hire a professional to assess your financial trajectory towards these new goals while examining for yourself your current habits and non-monetary trajectories in different areas of your life. This will highlight any opportunities for improvement or course correction around which the plan should be built.
Plan: What is the Doc care plan?
The CFP Council defines five areas of financial planning: Investment, Retirement, Taxation, Insurance and Estate planning. Once you’ve discovered your new life goals, it’s time to work with a professional to help you determine if these five areas of your plan are being addressed and actively supporting your life goals.
When developing the plan, the focus should be on breaking it down into six month increments. This small-scale approach will allow both to implement a simple plan while incorporating opportunities for adjustments every six months. This “turn” approach allows for easier course corrections in the ever changing winds of life. Since everything cannot be done at once, an up-to-date professional will be able to help you prioritize items that require immediate implementation while defining tangible financial and behavioral strategies to support your wellness goals.
Some may find that they don’t have enough money to meet their goals, which leaves us with a few options:
Delay the goal
Spend less money
Earn more money
The first option is a realistic option as long as you are able to keep the five areas of your life in harmony as you search for a long term goal. Regarding the second option, you will be faced with a subjective assessment of value, namely: do you place more importance on a part of your current lifestyle than on your goal? If this is the option you choose, most will find that if you have developed a strong enough “why” it will be much less painful to reduce your spending. Also, never rule out the third option. Some people feel stuck with the income their work offers them but there are often other ways to monetize your skills that match your passions and therefore never rule out this option.
As President Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything. This planning process goes far beyond developing a financial plan to bring you to an end point. This holistic approach will allow you to experience your unique pattern of well-being in life, as opposed to a simple plan for more legal tender. By finding those things that bring eudaimonia and creating the steps to achieve them in your life, you can uproot an infinite flame and completely change the reason you wake up in the morning.
Michael Foley, CFP, CSLP, is a full financial advisor at North Star Resource Group. Complementary, non-binding advice on student loans is available for healthcare professionals in training. Contact Michael at [email protected] Where 480-993-9491.
NORTH STAR CONSULTANTS, INC. – INSURANCE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. CRI SECURITIES, LLC – SECURITIES AND INVESTMENTS. SECURIAN FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. – PRODUCTS AND VARIABLE TITLES. SECURITIES AND INVESTMENT ADVISORY SERVICES OFFERED THROUGH CRI SECURITIES, LLC AND SECURIAN FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. THE FINRA / SIPC MEMBERS. CRI SECURITIES, LLC IS AFFILIATED WITH SECURIAN FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. AND NORTH STAR RESOURCE GROUP. NORTH STAR CONSULTANTS, INC. DOES BUSINESS AS A NORTH STAR RESOURCE GROUP AND IS AN INDEPENDENT PROPERTY AND OPERATION. MICHAEL IS A REGISTERED REPRESENTATIVE AND INVESTMENT ADVISOR REPRESENTATIVE OF CRI SECURITIES, LLC AND SECURIAN FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. 3598869 / DOFU 5-2021