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Author: Kim Potgieter

Don’t sweat the big goals!

Small Habits – Big Impact

I just crossed the finish line at my second Two Oceans Half Marathon! It may seem like a small victory, but it’s a big win for me and one that I celebrate proudly. Running a marathon was never really my main goal – but exercise and fitness have always been important to me. Don’t misunderstand me; when I first started running, it didn’t go exactly as planned. It’s tough getting up early mornings, and it’s much easier to hit the snooze button, especially on cold winter mornings or lazy weekends.

James Clear’s book Atomic Habits profoundly impacted my life, and his words deeply resonated with me:

“If you want to predict where you’ll end up in life, all you have to do is follow the curve of tiny gains or tiny losses and see how your daily choices will compound ten or twenty years down the line.”

So, I followed James Clear’s advice to cultivate smaller, achievable habits rather than pursuing big, audacious goals. Instead of setting out to run a marathon, I focused on tiny gains (consistent, small habits) and became a habitual runner. And the best part is that habits become part of your lifestyle over time.

I truly believe that the only way to look back at your life without regret is to align your time with what’s most important to you. So firstly, know where you want to go, and then make sure that your actions, decisions, and the time you spend on them allow you to achieve that goal.

Too often, we convince ourselves that big success requires big actions. But success is the product of small, repeated actions or habits – no matter what your dreams are, you can achieve them with the right habits. It’s the same principles I teach my midlife clients about investing: accumulating wealth is not a skill; it’s a habit. If you persevere, consistently save, and live below your means, you can cultivate the right habits to build wealth.

Reflect for a moment on the path of your life and where your daily actions are leading you. What you don’t want is to look back and wish you’d spent more time doing the things you love. When you decide what’s most important in your life, you can start making small daily changes to ensure you align your time without regrets. It’s the tiny steps you take that will eventually change everything!

Once I established a consistent routine around my health and fitness goals, it opened the door to stacking other important goals – like learning and travelling. I am busy planning to participate in the Berlin Marathon in September. It’s quite a stretch, seeing that I’ve only run 21km races so far (I really have to up my game to run this 42km marathon), but this isn’t just about the run. It’s about combining my broader intentions of travelling and learning with destination runs.

Let every tiny step be a celebration of moving closer to the life you envision.

The Freedom to Be … with permission, of course

Have you ever found yourself standing on the edge of a decision, just waiting for someone to say it’s ok before you take the plunge? To give you the approval for what you’d like to do? Or stop yourself from doing something because it feels unfamiliar? You’re not alone. It’s human nature. We all hold ourselves back sometimes.

But what if the only permission slip you truly need is from yourself? Why not write yourself a ‘permission slip’ and give yourself the freedom – and permission – to feel, behave, and live exactly as you want to? Within reason (and your spending plan), of course…

Brené Brown uses the term’ permission slips’ as a way to allow yourself to feel (or do something) that might be out of your comfort zone or that’s new to you. It’s similar to the ones we, as parents, received from school, allowing our children to go on school outings. Last week, I was immersed in the Learning to Love Midlife workshop presented by Chip Conley at the Elder Academy. I was completely taken aback when a ‘learning to surf’ activity was suggested! I’m 55 and have never surfed before! Why try now? My initial response was quickly followed by another voice: what if I hurt myself? And then, “What if I can’t do it – and embarrass myself?”

What I really needed to do was give myself permission not to think about everything that could possibly go wrong but rather to focus my energy on thinking how cool it would be to actually feel what it’s like to surf, to try something new, and to expand myself instead of limiting what could be possible.

So yes! I surfed! Loved it and even managed to stand on the board and ride a wave! Of course, I had an instructor who helped me each step of the way – and in all honesty, the wave was very small! But I surfed in Mexico; more than that, it’s given me the confidence to try new things.

Sometimes, we hold ourselves back, waiting for permission, or do things just to gain approval. Other times, we avoid doing them completely for fear of disappointing someone close to us. This behavioural pattern often plays out within our closest relationships. Asking for permission can also become a convenient excuse – “We would have loved to, but our children advised us against it.” Deep down, we’re actually just looking for a reason not to.

It seems that at Chartered, we’ve become quite the go-to when it comes to tricky financial requests from the family. Next time the question of lending money to your adult children comes up, have your answer ready: ‘Sorry, we’d love to help, but Kim and Jason looked at the numbers and advised us not to.’ And yes, when it’s time to treat yourself and go on that trip, count on us to cheer you on: “Of course, financially, you are absolutely able to take that trip!”

As we promise to give ourselves permission to try new experiences, it’s important to consider the impact on our financial planning. Sometimes, we all need objective advice, especially regarding our money and financial security. Your Planning Specialist knows exactly how your actions will impact your planning and will always be available to give you objective advice and guidance without compromising your financial wellness – ensuring that your money is aligned with your life.

Beyond the wrapping paper
The Present of Presence

Beyond the wrapping paper
The Present of Presence

It’s November, and the holiday season is just around the corner – another year gone by in the blink of an eye. It’s been a whirlwind year, and I am slightly apprehensive about the possibility of getting lost in the fluster of holiday shopping and the quest for the perfect gift. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love shopping and find no greater joy than spoiling my special people with beautifully wrapped presents. But what if the most precious gift we can offer can’t be wrapped? What if the true essence of giving lies in something far more valuable than a tangible gift – our presence.

We’ve had a wonderful year together as you joined me in embracing the present moment, stepping out of our comfort zones and going on many first-time, brand-new adventures! It’s been an absolute privilege sharing all my new experiences with you, and I loved hearing all your stories of new roads travelled, slow and easy excursions venturing into undiscovered places, moving to new homes, cities and provinces, and forgotten hopes and dreams turning into realities.

As we wrap up this year, I have one final challenge for you and myself: to prioritise ‘Presence over Presents.’

This year has taught me that the moments we share hold more value than the things we own and the dreams we accumulate. But creating these memories can be challenging as it calls for the most personal of gifts – our time. Something we often don’t always have enough of. And this is the hard part – and certainly one of my most significant challenges: giving my time and being fully present with the people I love while juggling a busy schedule.

So, let’s promise to try our best to give ourselves – and others – the gift of time and presence this holiday season. I am very excited about a two-week beach holiday with my family and friends, spending uninterrupted time with them and spoiling all my special people with delicious meals. This is my chance to make up for all the moments missed and create new memories.

Just in case you need more ideas: Why not invite your best friend for a delicious dinner instead of buying a gift? Spend the evening fully engaged, actively listening, and giving them your full attention. Or dedicate one device-free hour every evening for family time or self-reflection. Spend an afternoon helping at your favourite charity or schedule activities with your loved ones that you know they would love. If your granddaughter loves art, why not do pottery with her? Or arrange a movie and ice cream day with a grandson … build a bonfire and roast marshmallows. Write a heartfelt letter to someone you love or take a long walk with a family member.

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life rightfully says: “Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it… When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.”

Let’s embrace the true gift of connection, shared experiences and each other’s presence this festive season. Wishing you a wonderful holiday filled with joyous moments and the present of presence.

From rugby fields to empty nests

And the promise to tackle foreboding joy in the scrum of life

I have shared all my first-time, brand-new, and exciting experiences with you every month this year. This month, I am standing on the edge, waiting for a significant change in my life – becoming an empty nester for the first time. My daughter, Gabi, will embrace her next chapter of studying Civil Engineering at Stellenbosch University next year. While I have so many mixed emotions ranging from pride, love and anticipation – to fear, dread and anxiousness, I remind myself to stay focused on the present and enjoy the time we have now, rather than be overwhelmed by the worries of next year.

Have you ever spent so much time worrying about the what ifs that the beautiful, joyous moments of the present pass you by? Do you find yourself constantly worrying about things that haven’t happened yet?

I’m incredibly proud of Gabi’s achievements and her choice to pursue a career in engineering. I love every minute of my time with her. Still, I constantly guard myself not to be overly concerned about everything that could possibly go wrong or pre-empting the dread of an empty home and losing those daily moments with her.

In a wonderful social media post, Brent Lindeque (The Good Things Guy) reminded me of a term called anticipatory grief – when you worry or grieve about things that haven’t happened yet (like many South Africans did 70 minutes into the Springbok-England Rugby World Cup Semi-finals). At the very least, we were all panicking just a little bit! I am convinced that only the bravest of us resisted grieving ahead of schedule!

But rugby aside, Brent makes a good point when he shares that South Africans may be in a constant state of anticipatory grief – waiting for the next corruption scandal, waiting to hear more bad news, waiting for load-shedding, more potholes, inflation, another war … Similarly, the concept foreboding joy, coined by Brené Brown, captures the internal conflict we feel when joy is immediately followed by worry and fear. We end up catastrophising, wasting our time worrying about things that haven’t happened, and in the process, we have no time or space left to embrace the joy and happiness of our present.

I’ve seen how the initial excitement of retirement can be replaced by fears and questions like “What will I do with my life?” or “Will my money last?” and “What if my health fails?” I have spoken to many people whose children are emigrating, and the fear and worry for their future start way before they leave the country. I’ve noticed how fear and worry can deter people from trying new things. It seems we are all constantly worrying, letting the impending fear of loss and change overshadow the potential joy of living in the present moment.

So, how do we move past this cycle of anticipatory grief? The answer, I believe, lies in being present. Embrace each moment fully and focus on gratitude, all the positive aspects of change, and the many new adventures that change will bring.

So, no anticipating grief this Saturday during the World Cup Rugby Final! No foreboding joy allowed! This is the 8th Rugby World Cup tournament that SA is playing; we’ve won the Cup three times and have never lost a final! There’s nothing to worry about.

Age ain’t nothing but a playlist track!

My first-time not-unusual Delilah-cious encounter with Tom Jones

Okay, my article heading may be a bit too much! But if you’ve seen Sir Tom Jones perform “It’s Not Unusual” and “Delilah” live on stage, you might also find yourself humming to “Green Green Grass of Home” while watching the Springboks play in the Rugby World Cup.

Every year, Jean and I plan an overseas trip together, and we always add something new – a fresh experience that we’ll both enjoy. Just as we’ve done in the past by adding a Rod Stewart and Billy Joel concert to our itinerary, this year we chose a show featuring none other than Tom Jones in Germany.

At 83, Tom Jones is still rocking on! Thinking back on my first-time experiences this year, this one really hit home. Age is just a number, right? Not that anyone’s counting, but here was Tom Jones, who began his career in the 1960s, still performing his classics to a crowd of over 10,000 people – all loving his music. 83 is a number that may make many want to slow down or take things easy. But not him. He’s still busting the age myth, one tune at a time! It made me question the constraints I sometimes impose on myself due to age. Do I use my age as an excuse not to do certain things?

My father was a huge fan of Tom Jones, which is how I was introduced to his songs. This experience has reminded me of a dream I once had: to run in the Comrades Marathon using my late dad’s double green number. In fact, 81-year-old Johannes Mosehla broke a 34-year-old record this year by becoming the oldest runner to complete the Comrades. Still, running the Comrades is not for everyone, and for now, I am very happy with my achievement of having completed my first 21km race.

One thing that I was certainly not too old – or too young – to try was beer! An unusual choice for me. Beer is certainly not my preferred drink, but whilst at a Beer Festival, I thought, “Why not?” and gave it a go. The result? An unforgettable memory – one I will cherish and laugh about for years to come.

The true magic of this trip was sharing it with Jean, a truly special friend. I’ve mentioned Robert Waldinger’s Harvard research before, which finds that the secret to a long and healthy life lies in connections and close relationships with significant people. This may just be what inspired Tom Jones and Dolly Parton to write “Islands in the Stream.” Without our special people, the ones we love and those who make our souls sing, we are simply islands adrift in the stream of life.

Let’s promise ourselves not to let age hold us back and to cherish our connections in the flowing river of life,

How things can change in the blink of an eye

Earlier this month, on a seemingly ordinary Saturday evening, on our way to meet our family for dinner, my husband Gys and I were involved in a car accident. Despite my car being written off and being very shaken, Gys and I escaped unscathed.

While the accident only took seconds, it felt like an eternity, and during those split seconds, I genuinely thought it might be the end for us. It was a terrifying wake-up call that reminded me how the course of our lives can be forever altered in a single second.

The following day, as I pondered the events, three crucial questions surfaced in my mind. Firstly, I asked myself, “Are my relationships in order? Have I expressed love and gratitude to those who mean the most to me?” And, in that moment of reflection, I found comfort in the fact that I had no unfinished business with those I hold dear. My children know how much I love them, and there’s no one important in my life who doesn’t know how I feel about them. It was a poignant reminder that, at the end of the day, it’s our relationships with others that enrich and adds meaning to our lives. We often neglect our relationships, putting off picking up the phone, spending time with family and friends, or telling people how we feel because we are busy. We assume we will have ample time, but this experience taught me that time is a gift we shouldn’t take for granted. We must take every opportunity to strengthen our bonds with family and friends, for we never know when those opportunities may be taken away from us.

The second question I asked was, “Am I doing everything I want in life?” Life is fleeting, and we must grab the opportunities when they present themselves. I firmly believe in living life intentionally, saying yes to experiences that bring me joy and fulfilment. While there are things I still want to do, I have no regrets about the things I have done and the experiences I have had.

The final question that came to mind was, “Are my affairs in order?” I found solace in knowing that my will was up to date, ensuring my family’s security. It is so important not to procrastinate when it comes to getting our affairs in order. Taking the necessary steps to prepare for the future is a responsible and caring act toward our loved ones.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to cherish your relationships, expressing your love and gratitude openly. Embrace life’s adventures. Don’t live a life looking back thinking “if only”; say yes to the things you genuinely desire. And most importantly, take the necessary steps to put your affairs in order, providing peace of mind for yourself and your family.

Say yes to life! Live every minute … every second

This week I came across a beautiful inspirational story on Facebook about our very own Margaret Kearns, and to my surprise – Brent Lindeque (Good Things Guy.) Can you imagine inviting a complete stranger and famous influencer to your 70th birthday party? Someone who reaches over four million people every month on social media. Margaret’s daughters did! They knew how much their mom loved Brent and asked him as a surprise for her birthday. And best of all, Brent Lindeque said yes! He attended her 70th birthday party last year and celebrated her 71st birthday with her again this year!

This story made me realise how powerful the courage to ask is. If you don’t, ask, you’ll never know – right? And with that comes the courage to say YES to life … to live every minute and every second to your utmost. You never know where saying ‘yes’ will lead – you may make new friends, learn new lessons and perhaps experience more pockets of joy in every day.

I met Margaret quite a few years ago when she joined Chartered and immediately loved her optimistic outlook and attitude to life. She inspires wherever she goes; is one of the bravest women I know and a personal role model. Margaret took over running the finances when her husband passed away, enrolled and obtained her Degree in Anthropology and Sociology in her mid-60s, and still holds her family of three adult daughters together.

Inviting Brent Lindeque out of the blue to their mom’s 70th birthday is a testament to how Margaret’s courageous and adventurous spirit rubbed off on her children. Brent is the founder of Good Things Guy (launched in 2015) – a platform dedicated to telling good stories and sharing things that inspire. He shared a beautiful post on social media about his time spent with Margaret, her family and friends. “It was time spent perfectly,” he said. “I stepped out of my comfort zone and leaned in that day when I went to a birthday lunch with 29 random strangers. I spent the afternoon in the spectacular autumn sun, drinking champagne while listening to incredible women sharing stories of their time. It was beautiful. And a stark reminder that we only have so much time.” This year, Brent again shared the lesson he learnt from Margaret at her birthday party – to find a pocket of joy in every day.

I’ve reflected on all my first-time experiences this year to fulfil my goal of trying something new and different every month. Each encounter has brought a lesson – or shared one. This month I tried my awkward, non-artistic hand at ceramics with a friend and our daughters. We spent a wonderful day at the Prison Break Market Clay Café where I made a semi-decent piggy bank. Our housekeeper’s daughter, Abby, is turning one this year, and my goal is to start teaching her how to save – a lesson we taught our children from a young age.

If you feel motivated to say yes to life more often, to find more pockets of joy every day, or fill more time with fun and laughter, start by taking a small step out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to invite a famous influencer to your birthday or embark on the grandest of all adventures, just take a small step that sits comfortably with you. Try hopping on to Good Things Guy on Facebook for inspiration! Fun and laughter are contagious, and the more time we spend on good things, the more time we’ll invest in happiness and joy.

First time running the Two Oceans Marathon

Yes! You read that right! I just completed my first time ever 21km half-marathon. The Two Oceans is known as “the world’s most beautiful marathon,” and running against the backdrop of the breathtaking Cape Peninsula must be one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. And this is the new experience I’m sharing with you this month.

I have learnt that having a clear goal is essential to trying something new or doing something for the first time. Running a half-marathon has been on my vision board for a few years, and you may remember me sharing it with you – even in Covid times. Two words stand out for me in achieving this goal: persistence and consistency. Believe me, getting up every single morning to run, especially in winter, is not easy. And your aim does not have to be easy either. You may decide to take up art or learn a musical instrument. You may want to walk the Camino de Santiago – or the Cape Camino. But every journey begins with one single step. And the first step is setting your goal. In my experience, persistence and consistency get you where you want to go.

Sometimes, trying out something new is a deeply personal journey you may want to go alone. But a lot of times, having special people join you – or support you – makes it so much easier – and enjoyable. I had many partners on my running journey, including my 22-year-old niece, Robyn. And thank goodness for Robyn! I was initially intent on running a 42km marathon, and Robyn convinced me to start slightly smaller – we agreed on the 21km instead. It turned out to be great advice! Running up and down the hills was much harder than I thought it’d be.

One of our Planning Specialists at Chartered, Craig Harrison, also ran with me. He could have finished the marathon in a much better time but opted to stay back and support me, for which I am so grateful. Although you’re the one doing the work, you end up not running alone. Running in the Two Oceans felt like being embraced in a wonderful community of people helping and supporting you to the end. And it was lovely to see my husband Gys, my son Josh and his partner Rachel waiting for me and welcoming me over the finish line.

Sometimes you may have to call in extra people to help you reach your goal. I have a great running trainer and teamed up with a functional trainer who helped me exercise the right muscles to get me over the steep hills.

It really does help to have a support system when trying new things. Whether planning a unique adventure, a fresh learning experience or a new venture, having people who believe in you and encourage you along the way can make all the difference. But more than that, trying new things often calls for stepping out of our comfort zones. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine and shy away from something new. But new experiences can lead to personal growth and a sense of accomplishment.

Remember, trying something new does not have to be a grand gesture but something small that pushes you out of your comfort zone. And the rewards are often worth it!

First time welcoming new members into our family

As first experiences go, becoming a mother-in-law and gaining a new daughter in the family – and of course, seeing the first of my children and my oldest son get married, is pretty epic. And this is my unique and new experience for March!

Adding a new experience to your month does not have to be something large, audacious or expensive. It could just be saying ‘yes’ to something you would not have considered doing before. What I’ve learnt from the three first-time experiences I have shared with you this year is that it always goes hand-in-hand with learning and something new to be grateful for.

Apart from having the best and most joyous time with family and friends at Ryan and Nix’s wedding at the beautiful Webersburg Wine Estate in the Cape, I feel incredibly blessed and privileged to see our family size increase with the very special and much-loved Nix. Still, becoming a mother-in-law for the first time can be daunting, and I’m sure Nix feels the same way about her becoming a wife and daughter-in-law. Getting married is a significant life-changing transition as you move into a new, unexplored and wonderful stage of life.

A few days before the wedding Nix and I chatted about our new future roles. We’ve all heard some horror mother-in-law stories – from criticism, stopping by unannounced to rearrange the furniture without being asked, and coercing the daughter-in-law to have children. Nix and I both felt that it would be helpful for us to set boundaries upfront so we don’t make assumptions about what we each value, trust and respect.

I realise that Nix and Ryan will live their new life together on their terms and in their own way – different from how we live our lives in our family. But I also know that we share common values which gives me a great sense of pride and joy.

Setting boundaries are not only important with in-laws; they are essential for creating trust and respect in any healthy relationship. And honouring the boundaries of others builds a strong connection where each one feels heard, seen and valued and where both your needs are met.

Boundary discussions are brave conversations to have. It’s talking about how you want to be treated and your expectations in the relationship. It also defines what’s acceptable and what is not. It’s brave because by setting boundaries, you value yourself, prioritise your needs and create space to thrive and grow. I love the fact that Nix and I understand each other’s boundaries. It makes me feel safe and secure knowing what she expects of me and what she values and appreciates. These discussions may seem hard at first, but it’s better than the resentment when boundaries are overstepped.

I found a helpful article on PositivePsychology.com written by Jo Nash, who obtained her PhD in Psychotherapy Studies and lectured in mental health at the University of Sheffield. She masterfully explains what boundaries are and how to set healthy ones. I love this explanation of the different boundaries involved in relationships.

READ: How to Set Healthy Boundaries & Build Positive Relationships

Do you have relationships in your life that may need redefined boundaries? Relationships change and evolve, and it may require an adjustment of boundaries. Remember, having boundaries are not selfish or self-centred. It really helps those you love with clear guidelines of how to treat and love you in a way you appreciate.