Every year, I’m blown away by how much Gen Y Planning has grown. But I’m even more impressed with how much our clients have grown. Our clients are getting raises and promotions, running businesses, buying houses, starting families, and celebrating milestones with us.
Achieving your goals feels great. (Congratulations on everything YOU achieved this year!) But sometimes we get so busy achieving that we forget what we’re doing it for.
Getting older means we’re facing new hardships too. Every year, I have clients and friends whose parents fall ill or who face illness themselves. Others have wanted to be parents for years and do everything you should do to prepare, then struggle to conceive when the time comes. Life can be really, really hard — and while financial planning can help us ride out those hard times, it’s no substitute for having people who we can call to talk us through the really hard days.
It’s our relationships with our families and friends that make all this work worthwhile. So, in 2020, I’m resolving to invest in the people I love first. The rest of my life will fall into place around those relationships.
We Don’t Know How Much Time We Have
I’m a financial planner, which means most of the advice I give is about planning for the future. And, of course, that’s important. Every crisis has a financial component, and having an emergency fund, insurance, estate plan, and retirement savings can limit the stress of dealing with the unexpected.
But life doesn’t always go according to plan. There will always be so much we can’t control.
Lots of millennials — a younger me included — feel like work needs to be our first priority. We have incredible visions for our careers. So much around us tells us that the more we hustle, the more we’ll achieve.
But most of the time, that isn’t true. We can work smarter instead of harder. Business owners can hire teams that help reduce our workloads. All of us know that our companies won’t collapse if we wait a day to respond to that email or postpone a phone call. But because we want to achieve so much, we sometimes prioritize work above everything else. Our families will still be there next weekend or next Christmas, right?
The truth, grim as it sounds, is that they may not. Work will always be there.
Making The Most Of The Holidays
The holidays are a perfect time to put your phone down and reinvest in your relationships — and yet lots of people say the holidays are their most stressful time of the year. So this Christmas, make the most of your time at home or at a new destination by seeking some calm.
The holiday gift-giving trap often feeds this stress, so try not to buy so many. Give the gift of your time instead.
For some of us, that means getting away. This December, I’m spending a few weeks in Mexico. My mom and I just spent a long weekend in Playa del Carmen and each brought a friend. This time together was so special. We walked on the beach, ate great seafood, and laughed with our friends.
My new boyfriend just flew down to meet me in Mexico and we’re exploring Maya ruins together and wrapping up work before relaxing on the island of Holbox for the week of Christmas. This looks very different than holidays in my past and I’m grateful for a low-key holiday season.
If your holiday schedule includes a lot of time navigating stressful family dynamics, look for peace and happiness within that group. Instead of getting into an argument with your uncle, reconnect with a cousin. If you’re navigating blended families, give yourself permission to cut out early and meet up with old friends who are also home for the holidays.
If you’re alone this holiday season — or even if you’re not! — do something nice for your neighbors. Bake cookies for everyone on your block or pick up a few volunteer shifts at your local food bank or homeless shelter. Donating money is a great way to support causes you believe in, but there’s nothing like giving your time. Seeing the work you support up close can radically alter your perspective.
Next Year, Resolve To Prioritize People
Families are complicated. So are friendships, for that matter. But whoever your people are, put them at the top of your priority list in 2020. It only takes a moment to call a friend who you haven’t spoken to in awhile or to tell your grandma “Merry Christmas!”
If you have a significant other or kids, maybe that means turning off your phone after a certain time every night. If you’re far from your immediate family, schedule trips, either to visit them or to meet up in a new place. (Fly your parents out to see you, if you can!) Carve out time each month to call an old friend. Go to the weddings and the first birthdays and the 80th birthdays too.
Most importantly, sketch out your personal and relationship goals before you sit down with your professional and financial goals. Your work and finances should support you as you pursue those deep, meaningful relationships. Or if you’re like me, send a text to a friend to make plans in January because if it’s on the calendar, then it will happen.
When we invest in the people we love, it comes back to us. Those people will be your biggest cheerleaders as your career evolves and your family changes. And you’ll get the joy of cheering them on too.