Money troubles are the leading cause of marital problems in South Africa. This is not new to us; we have all heard the statistics before.
But in my more than ten years of interviewing clients in Life Planning meetings, I have come to realise that couples don’t actually argue about the amount or lack of money they have. It is not the money they are fighting about. It is the power that goes with it.
Money and happiness
As I reflected on a recent Life Planning meeting with a married couple, I realised that there is much to learn about the role of money in relationships. And, that you are never too young, or too old to learn how your relationship with money can impact on your relationship with a loved one.
Just for fun, I decided to research the happiness factor of lottery winners, and visited the Ranker web-site, a digital media company in Los Angeles that holds one of the largest databases of opinion polls in the world. According to the Ranker opinion poll, 43% of people who win the lottery say the money has not improved their state of happiness in any way. At least 90% of lottery winners lose friends due to jealousy and resentment.
So yes, money certainly does not buy happiness, but how can we manage money in our relationships to ensure that it does not lead to a breakdown of our happiness?
The Call to be Courageous
Back to the Life Planning meeting with the married couple. This couple has been married for over 40 years, and for the first time in her life, the wife admitted that she has never been included in their financial planning process as a couple. She felt that she had no value to add, and had handed over the responsibility of their financial affairs to “others”. I am always surprised in client meetings how valuable it is to put courageous money conversations on the table. Sometimes I feel that clients are more at ease having these conversations with a Retiremeant™ Specialist present, as a mediator and safe-keeper of emotions.
This one meeting had such a profound impact on my day, and reminded me once again why we do what we do at Chartered. A marriage cannot be built on money, but as surely as it cannot buy happiness, it can so easily destroy a relationship. And it’s not the money that destroys the marriage. It’s the meaning we give to money, the emotions that come with money, the beliefs we have around money, and the expectations about money.
And so, with SA marriage week coming up from 1-7 September, maybe it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with ourselves and our partners about the role of money in our relationships. As the saying goes: You live and you learn – and luckily for us, we are never too old to learn.
Living a brave life is not easy. It is impossible to be perfect; life itself is not perfect. Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong has inspired me in so many ways to keep trying, to give ‘living” a chance, despite the inevitable challenges and setbacks that life brings.
My journey to rising strong has not been a once-off event – learning and growing is a process. Brené’s book is a very personal and practical guide to embracing fear and failure and living a more courageous life. It often gives me courage when I find myself at a crossroad.
Those curve-balls life sends us
If we truly want to live and embrace life in its entirety, we have to be prepared for the eventuality that everything does not always work out exactly as planned. Setbacks are inevitable, and at times, we all get stuck in a place of fear, self-doubt and regret. It may just seem easier to accept defeat and retreat into a space that feels safe and secure … but Brené’s message is one of hope, of perseverance and strength.
It is in the acceptance of our vulnerability that we recognise that we are not powerless. In the space of vulnerability, we have time to accept our setbacks, time to reflect on our experiences, embrace them and practise the art of gratitude for the opportunity to learn from them. This gives us the power to rise up with renewed hope and strength to rewrite our future.
This was so true for me when I entered the financial planning industry. I have always believed that you cannot separate people from money and that a financial plan should support a person’s unique and personal life plan. With this perspective, I brought a new conversation to the traditional financial planning industry which predominantly only focused on investment returns. I knew intuitively that conversations about the client, the life the client wants to live and what their relationship with money is, were equally important.
When swimming upstream, remember your purpose
Re-thinking and challenging the way that financial planning has been done for decades, brought its fair share of criticism. I was constantly questioned by planners in the industry who referred to life planning as the “softer” issues and felt that these did not belong in the world of finances and investment strategies. I had moments of self-doubt and uncertainty and had to remind myself every day to persevere, to stay true to my beliefs and to keep on swimming – even though I was swimming upstream!
What made my journey worth it, and motivated me to keep on following my purpose, were the clients. Every time I had a courageous conversation with a client and saw how they embraced the fact that money can indeed enable a life of meaning, I felt inspired. And watching how clients design their Retiremeant™ as a fulfilling and meaningful next chapter, encourages me to keep rising strong.
I came to coin the concept, Retiremeant™ and define it as having the freedom to achieve your yet unfulfilled dreams and goals, on your terms and in your own time. Despite the challenges along the way, I am truly grateful that in my small way, I have made an impact on people’s lives. I am constantly moved by the stories clients share in Life Planning meetings and have come to realise that our combined knowledge and experiences are powerful stories and lessons that need to be told. This inspired me to start writing a second book, with our relationship with money as its central theme. I am also busy writing a series of e-books, a compilation of stories and lessons that our clients share around unexpected life events in – the Retiremeant™ What If’s.
We find strength together
This newsletter contains snippets of client stories and learnings shared in their journeys to rising strong – more of those in my upcoming e-books! Kate Turkington recently visited us at a Chartered Wealth Solutions and gave an insightful talk on her life in Retiremeant™. For me personally, Kate is a role-model on living Retiremeant™ to the fullest and I hope that you find appreciation and inspiration in her story. If you do have any spare time this weekend, I recommend that you see “Finding your Feet” which is showing in cinemas now.
By sharing these stories, my wish is that you find comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Just maybe, one of these stories will touch you in some way, inspire you to live a brave life, through all your stumbles and falls, and give you the strength to rise bravely and strong.
We have a wonderful opportunity to teach our children responsible and healthy money lessons.
Imagine the possibilities for your children if they grow up with a healthy relationship with money – one where they don’t measure their self-worth by how much money they have … or don’t have. Over the years, many clients have expressed to me their various regrets and happiness around unhealthy and healthy money lessons they had learnt from their parents, and in turn, taught their children.
Some are proud of, and others regret the money messages shared.
As parents, it is our duty to teach our children right from wrong, but at the same time, be aware of not teaching them to be just like us. I am sure many parents have deliberated on messages and behaviours they would like to pass on to their children. And I guarantee you that no parent wants consciously to teach their children bad behaviour and unhealthy habits. or to pass on low self-esteem.
If you had to ask most parents what their number one wish for their children is, the answer will most probably be “happiness.” So how do we teach our children and perhaps grandchildren about money to inspire happy lives?
You can teach your children unintentionally or intentionally. Most communication to our children is probably unintentional. Children learn from what they hear, see and experience while growing up, and if your relationship with money is based on fear, loss and anxiety, then this is the message that you are unintentionally passing on. And in all probability, these were the messages passed on to you by your parents.
Would it surprise you to hear that recent research tells us that children’s money habits are formed by age seven? And that, as adults, we operate on a subconscious level 95% of the time? This means that our conscious mind is really only working 5% of the time while our subconscious mind runs the show most of the time!
Intentional teaching is sharing thoughtful money messages. We as parents can only teach thoughtful messages if we are aware of our own money story, understand our relationship with money and have the wisdom to change the behaviours that don’t serve us, and keep the ones that enable our lives in a positive way.
I recently participated in a Life Planning meeting with a father and son. The father reflected on the money messages he heard while growing up. His father taught him to work hard for his money, and with hard work, comes reward. You may consider this to be a positive money message, but reflect for a moment if the message would have been more powerful if it had been about “earning money by adding value”? This father, now 70 years old, is still working hard for his money. He fears that if he is not working hard, he is not adding value and therefore not deserving of earning.
The father unintentionally passed this same message on to his son. He also works incredibly hard but expresses the wish to be able work “cleverly,” so that he can shape a more balanced life for himself. Father and son wholeheartedly agreed that this is a cycle they would like to break. They don’t mind working hard, but recognise the need for balance: more time to laugh, relax and just living the life they were meant to live. I am sure that the constraining message will not be passed on to future generations in this family.
Ingrid is a client who reflects on a very positive and empowering money story passed on to her by her father. Her father empowered his girls to be independent; he supported and sponsored their tertiary education at a time when most women were not encouraged to study. He instilled a belief in them that anything is possible. This belief Ingrid’s father had in her capability and ability to succeed served her well. Because of this, Ingrid has had the courage and determination to follow her true purpose in life – and make a success of it!
It astonishes me how powerful father and son relationships can be. In honour of Father’s Day this month, I would like to share one more father and son story that has inspired me as a mother of two boys. The son shared with me that his father always asked, “How much pocket money do you feel you deserve for the time it took to do your chores?” This money message has had a wonderful positive impact on the son’s life. Today, he sees earning money as an exchange for time. His most precious commodity in life is “time”. He will therefore always compare the value of his time versus the money that he is earning for his time. He is now planning to retire early from his formal career and re-invent his work so that he and his wife have more time to explore some of their unfulfilled dreams.
My parting thought on learning and teaching is a money message about saving and investing – the value of compound interest. This could be a fun activity to do with your grandchildren. My advice is not to just establish a savings or investment account for them, but rather to involve them in the process, engage with them on how it works – in this way you are helping them to take ownership from a young age.
Wishing you many happy – and intentional – courageous currency conversations in your family!
Wellness is not a point in time, but a continuous cycle. It is a continuum of cause and effect.
Stress, anxiety and trauma are the most common reasons why people are unwell today.
It’s not the actual trauma or stress that causes your un-wellness, but how you respond or react to these events, the emotions that flow from your experiences, that impact on your well-being.
These are the health lessons presented by Dr Riaz Motara at a recent Lifestyle event for our Retiremeant™ clients. To say I was inspired by Dr. Motara’s views on wellness is an understatement. I was so enthused that I immediately set up a follow-up appointment: I wanted to learn more!
Dr. Motara’s view on the correlation between health and our thoughts substantiates our Retire Successful philosophy that a healthy mind supports a healthy life. It’s about keeping your body fit, your mind challenged and your heart engaged.
Don’t discount the impact of your emotions
Dr Motara joins many other experts in the field of holistic health when he says that “fear” is the most significant emotion that underpins everything that happens to us as humans. It affects how we approach life, the decisions and choices we make, how we act or react – in fact, fear subconsciously steers almost everything we do.
The difficult part is that our emotions are not really a conscious choice to make. We feel, because we react to something in a certain way.
While fear is the core emotion, how we negatively react or feel, based on trauma, are derivatives of fear: hate, anger, disappointment, discontentment, abandonment, loss, insignificance – and the list goes on.
It all sounds so complex, doesn’t it? To explain, I shared with Dr. Motara that the therapist I was seeing after my third high-jacking told me that I brought all this onto myself. That made me angry! No – fuming! Then Dr. Motara explanation made sense: my negative emotions became my self-talk and all my efforts to heal after the trauma were based on overcoming my fear. I was so fixated with fear that I ended up attracting fear into my life. The stress and anxiety actually caused me to become unwell in body and mind.
It’s a matter of the heart
The same applies to your health. Being a cardiologist, Dr. Motara dedicates much thought and research to issues of the heart. He has actually found a strong correlation between depression and heart disease. He says that by treating patients holistically, and by delving into past experiences, he is able to determine when the heart disease started. For example, a client with heart disease also tested for low levels of serotonin. Motara discovered that the feeling of “un-wellness” and heart disease started hand-in hand, shortly after a traumatic life experience.
Motara believes that 50% of the cure of any illness is having insight into what caused it. Ask yourself:
- When did it start? When can I last remember feeling great?
- What did I get exposed to?
- Does this correlate with how I am feeling now?
The answers are inside of us. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to access traumatic memories, but if you delve deep enough, and try to make sense of your behavioural patterns, you could probably pinpoint your health to a specific cause and reaction.
The cornerstone of complete wellness remains a holistic approach. It is essential to consult a medical practitioner to treat your symptoms, but it is also important to work on managing your emotions and dealing with all the challenges that life holds, which most commonly includes stress and anxiety.
So, this winter, while it’s cold and gloomy and early morning walks are not as appealing as in summer, why not spend some time exercising your mind towards wellness. I’ll join you in that!
Keep warm and well.
If you love what you do, it’s play, not work
Ever been so involved in a specific task or project that all else falls away? So immersed in what you are doing that nothing else seems to matter? And the best part – when you finally emerge from your complete absorption, you feel happy … even elated! And you can honestly say that this was the best day of your life. Now imagine feeling like this all the time – this is following your flow.
So, no, time does not pass faster because you are getting older; it flies swiftly when you are engaged with something that resonates with your true and deepest passion. Research by McKinsey spanning a decade shows that people ‘in flow’ are 500% more productive and learn between 200% and 500% faster.
I have spent much time reflecting on what brings meaning to my life. I have realised that it is the people in my life – my family, friends, colleagues and clients – that fill my life with purpose, learning and wisdom. The essence of who I am, what makes my life a meaningful adventure, rests in the sharing of what I have learned … and this is what my career has grown out of. This is what it means to work in the flow.
Flow flavours life with purpose
The benefits of working in our flow is both tangible and intangible. For me, a very important one is Gratitude. It’s that feeling of happiness that blossoms from appreciation. And the emotions of thankfulness just keep on flowing. I am especially grateful for being able to do the work that I love and for the wonderful clients that share in my journey.
A tangible benefit expresses itself in the writing of my second book – and, for good measure, a whole series of e-books about our relationship with money, all with the aim of enabling a successful Retiremeant™. This journey allows me to spend time interviewing clients in order to share their insights and wisdom on money stories and work re-invention. I am convinced that the success of my first book was partly because of the client stories. It is clear that people learn more from stories than theory. And stories are so powerful!
I am so grateful for the stories that our clients share. Not only do these stories inspire me in my work and in writing my book, but the stories also inspire others in their RetiremeantTM ;journeys – they are encouraging and support people on so many levels.
I recently interviewed our client, Lynda Smith, Founder of Refirement Network and 50-Plus Skills. You can read about her and her venture in this newsletter. With this business initiative, Lynda is certainly working in flow. “If you love the work you do, it’s not work, it’s play,” she says.
Lynda is a prime example of merging her Passion with her Purpose to earn a Play-cheque. But her journey did not just happen. It took nine long years of thinking, planning, dreaming, and visualising her flow to get to where she is today. During those years, Lynda continued working for a salary to pay off debt and to invest towards her retirement fund.
Finding your flow often means a parallel process: the work that you are doing at the moment to service your financial responsibilities and the work you plan to do – work that you are passionate about, work that inspires you.
What I know for sure is that investing time to think about your flow, and, secondly, working in flow, can be so rewarding that it is absolutely worth the extra input of time and energy to reinvent your work-self in Retiremeant™.
Imagine the possibility of waking up every day and doing the work that speaks to your purpose – your flow. What a glorious sunrise that would be!
Access the April issue of Inflight here
My 50th birthday certainly marked a milestone in my life! And yes, I am still celebrating and excited about the adventures that lie ahead in fulfilling my passions.
I don’t think it has anything to with aging, but I am constantly reminded these days that time indeed flies when you are having fun. Have you ever been so involved in a specific task or project that all else falls away? So immersed in what you are doing that nothing else seems to matter? And the best part – when you finally emerge from your complete absorption, you feel happy! Even elated! And you can honestly say that this was the best day of your life! Now imagine feeling like this all the time.
So no, time does not fly because you are getting older, time flies swiftly when you are active on something that resonates with your true and deepest passion. And the added bonus – a research project by McKinsey and Co. spanning over a period of 10 years has shown that people in flow are 500% more productive and learn between 200 and 500 percent faster.
So yes, although I experience time flying at an immense speed every day, I am thankfully not getting older any faster. I have spent many hours reflecting on what brings meaning to my life, and have realised that it is the people in my life, my family, friends, colleagues and clients, that fill my life with meaning, learning and wisdom. My true happiness, my flow, does not only rest in the learning, but in the sharing. The essence of who I am, what makes my life a meaningful adventure, are these two things: learning and sharing. This is what it means to work in flow.
The benefits of working in flow just keeps adding up. I want to mention one more: Gratitude. That feeling of happiness that flows from appreciation. And the emotions of gratefulness just keep on flowing. I am grateful for being able to do the work that I love and for the wonderful clients that share in my journey.
I am busy writing my second book – and, for good measure, a whole series of e-books around our relationship with money matters to enable a successful Retiremeant™. This journey allows me to spend a lot of time interviewing clients so that I can share their insights and wisdom on money stories and work re-invention. I am convinced that the success of my first book was partly because of the client stories. People just seem to learn from stories, rather than theory. And stories are so powerful!
I am so grateful for the stories that our clients are sharing. Not only do these stories inspire me in my work and writing my book, but the stories inspire others in their Retiremeant™ journeys, it encourages and supports people on so many levels.
I recently interviewed a client, Lynda Smith, Founder of the Refirement Network and 50+ Skills. Lynda’s vision is to influence 10% retirees to work for 5 years longer by applying their passions and skills to make a difference. With this business venture, Lynda is certainly working in flow. “If you love the work you do, it is not work, it’s play”, says Lynda. Lynda is a prime example of merging her Passion with her Purpose to earn a Play-cheque. But Lynda’s journey did not just happen. It took nine long years of thinking, planning, dreaming and visualising her flow to get to where she is today. During those years, Lynda continued working for a salary to pay off debt and invest towards her retirement fund.
Finding your flow often means a parallel process with the work that you are doing at the moment to service your financial responsibilities, with the work that you plan to do – work that you are passionate about, work that inspires you.
What I can say for sure, is that investing time to think about your flow, and secondly, working in flow, can be so rewarding that it is absolutely worth the extra input of time and energy to re-invent your work-self in Retiremeant™.
Imagine the possibility of waking up every day and doing the work that speaks to your purpose – your flow. What a glorious sunrise that would be!
I recently met with a client who retires in 13 months’ time. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you’ll know I distinguish between the concepts of “retiring from” and “retiring to”. So, true to form, the discussion came up: “What is it that you are retiring to?” I asked.
My client is excited. He has an idea for a consulting business that will see him using what he’s learnt over the last 20 years, offering his skills and services to the private sector. It’s something inspiring for him to retire “to”. But it won’t be on a full-time basis – and it won’t give him the equivalent of his current income. This means that he’ll need to start drawing an income from his investments.
It’s about more than the money
This is the where the real acceptance needs to kick in. In my experience, there’s an emotional adjustment that has to be made. This sounds simple enough, right? Because we all know that the day finally does come. Isn’t that what we’ve been planning towards for the last 40 years?
Trust me when I say this: no matter how prepared you are, retirement still comes as a shock. Regardless of how much you save, you have to be up for the change. Or changes. There’s a mental adjustment: you’ve spent decades saving and now you need to start spending it.
Then there’s the emotional – and financial – reality around the probability of you never working again. And even if you do work, chances are you’ll earn far less in retirement than you did while formally employed.
Another emotional shift is our sense of worth and how we perceive the value we add to our families. If you’ve been the provider for many years, you might struggle with how you derive self-worth. If this is you, please be encouraged: you only have the money you have now because of your foresight and discipline. The value you add continues into the future because of this very fact.
But the money is important
Another financial shift you’ll need to make? Realising that there is no point in drawing from your investments – only to put savings aside from that. It’s financially unwise, so just draw down less to start with.
My client admitted that some of these challenges are going to be real for him. He reminded me of his first money memory. It was something his dad taught him – that a fool and his money are soon parted – and it weighed heavily on him. What if he acted foolishly? Could he wisely manage drawing down from his investments?
This is why having an actual RetiremeantTMplan – and not just a string of investments – is essential. You need to know that you have enough so that the fear of running out doesn’t stop you from living.
But I promise you: this will not be enough to convince you – regardless of how disciplined about saving and investing you’ve been. You’ll still need to be open to change. But it takes time to accept a new reality, so be kind to yourself. It takes time to amend a mindset that has served you so well all these years. Remember, though, why you saved and invested in the first place – so that one day you could have the freedom to choose what you were going to do with your time, your money enabling that life. In the bigger scheme of life, your money is the “small change” that sets the tone for the big change – changes – you’ll need to embrace.
Change is hard. Not many people like change. But you are not alone as you face what’s ahead. If you don’t feel ready for the retirement road ahead, please book some time with me. Let’s talk small change – and big change – over a cappuccino.
This month we focus on relationships. It’s February, after all – the month of romance, of connecting and of celebrating the people special to us.
Each week – each day, really – the world presents new research, a new angle or scientific finding that slightly shifts the way we see the world around us. And last year was no different.
New research has shown that older people who participate regularly in some kind of physical exercise can undo aspects of the mental signs of ageing – both physical and mental.
But did you know that dancing has the most powerful effect of all of them?
Dance as if no-one is watching
I have never been a great dancer myself. I have tried ballroom dancing but my tendency to aim for only perfection made it a job rather than a joy.
Then, recently, I signed up with a wonderful friend of 10 years who runs a Nia dancing class – I love it! It is free dancing, so no right or wrong moves, and I have found it so much fun … but it is also good for my health, according to researchers.
A recent study assigned older volunteers – on average, aged 68 – to an 18-month weekly course of learning either dance routines or endurance and flexibility training. The findings show that both groups exhibited an increase in one area of their brains – the hippocampus. This part of the brain is easily prone to age-related decline and therefore affected by the various types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The hippocampus helps with memory, leaning and balance.
That physical exercise helps to slow down age-related decline is no surprise. As Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study and an expert based at the German centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Germany, explains: “Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity.”
But that dancing was the more effective of the two is what piqued my interest. The non-dancing group did normal exercises, exercises that were repetitive – as most exercise is (too much so, if you ask me!). The dancers, however, were presented with a new challenge each week.
Dr. Rehfeld adds that in comparison, it was only dancing that led to noticeable behavioural changes in terms of improved balance. This was because the dancing group was given changing dance routines with different rhythms and steps. That’s the creativity of dance for you. In her view, “Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this, counteracting several risk factors and slowing down age-related decline. I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”
So, we have it from the experts then: dancing can improve overall health, brain speed and memory. Moving and learning from something as lovely as dance? What a graceful way to age. Or, as the case may be, not age. 😉
A challenge for you in 2018
For me it is going to be a personally powerful year. It’s the year I turn 50. Fifty is such a turning-point, a significant stepping stone that speaks to a life lived – and a life still to live.
Being the personality I am, I plan to celebrate in as big a way as possible. And what better way than to celebrate each and every decade – literally. Yes, I’ve come up with one “thing” for each of my five decades. I’m calling them my “five fabulous things”.
Here they are:
- going on a cooking course in Greece with four of my school girlfriends (of forty years!);
- listening to Andrea Bocelli on his farm in Tuscany;
- working towards my dream of meeting Brené Brown (author of Daring Greatly, my favourite book of all time) come true;
- throwing a dinner party in my home to honour some of the special people in my life, and
- continuing to spread the message of the importance of exploring our relationships with money through the work and writing that I do.
The point of sharing these details with you is that what is encompassed in my dreams for 2018 are three of the things I’m most passionate about: travelling, cooking and learning. These three things represent me at my most inspired. Because finding your flow is about what makes you feel alive. I love how Ariel Gore, author of Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, puts it: “In a typical day that teeters between anxiety and boredom, flow experiences are those flashes of intense living – bright against the dull. These optimal experiences can happen when we’re engaged in work paid and unpaid, in sports, in music, in art.”
Be fearless to follow your flow
I was having dinner with some special clients recently. Five years ago we had had a meeting that changed their lives. They had come to see us because their life was at a crossroads – a difficult one. My client, a busy businessman (unhappy in the field he was in), was struggling with cancer. In our meeting, we were running scenarios of what working one more year would look like for him, the implications of restructuring his business – and of then downsizing it. At some point, I put this to him: “So, are you telling me that you’re going to carry on doing more of what you don’t like for longer?”
Hearing it like that changed the course of his life. It was his “aha” moment: right there, he and his wife started envisioning the life they actually wanted. They started to feel the flow into what saw him leave his job, move with his wife to a more peaceful place, change their lifestyle to a healthier one and be more in touch with themselves spiritually. Today, they are happy and healthy. And they’re grateful for all they have.
That is being in the flow.
If you are looking for your flow, have a look at my five ways to find your flow tips in the January issue of the Inflight newsletter … and let me know how it goes.
There is no doubt that this is a time of year for family and friends. If you haven’t read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, please do. Because reading a book all about loving the people in your life will honestly add to the joys of your season – as well as to theirs.
If you’ve read it, you’ll know that people generally have a preferred way of receiving love. Some people like gifts – something special that reminds them of you. A couple of my closest girlfriends would much rather meet for lunch and a laugh than do too much gift-swopping. Another of my girlfriends loves getting hand-written cards – something filled with words that make her feel special.
We’re all wired to connect differently, which is why Chapman writes about what he calls “five love languages”. They are:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
His view is that feeling connected is about giving and getting in a way that resonates. Your grandson might love hugs, and your granddaughter might prefer shopping with you. Think of the people in your life right now. Which category might you slot them into? What are your love languages?
(Click here for the online test.)
I read a recent article with practical ideas on “speaking” these languages. Here are my own suggestions to spark some creativity – and fun – for the festive season ahead.
Words: Give a loved one a jar filled with a month’s worth of pieces of paper, each with a written word or phrase with what you appreciate about them. This will appeal to both gift- and word-lovers. I went to a coffee shop recently that served milkshakes on pages of old books. While I’m not suggesting we destroy books, there was something special about a dining experience served – literally – on beautiful words. Use old magazines as gift wrap for a wordy person you know: they’ll love the thought. Or start a new tradition: at your next family birthday, go around the table and have each person say something special about the birthday boy or girl. Working words into your connecting can be a beautiful way of bringing people together.
Acts: If you have someone in your life who values what you do for them above what you say to them, then the challenge is on to work out what will be best. What about popping in with a homemade cake? Or having pizza delivered to their home? Keep an ear open for what needs “doing” in their lives. Anything from making a cup of tea to helping with a DIY chore to feeding a friend’s pets while they’re away shows love.
Gifts: If someone you love likes gifts, then make mental notes (or written ones on your smart phone) of the things they love. Your gifts don’t have to be expensive: sometimes a care pack with their favourite kind of tea and biscuits will feel like the most extravagant gift in the world. They also don’t need to be big. They can even be the opposite of big, in fact: a gift-lover loves opening gifts – that’s half the fun – so what about a box in which you have more smaller gifts beautifully wrapped, letting the special person in your life savour the gift-opening. Gifts are often about feeling known rather than feeling spoilt, so look out for ideas to help you literally share the love.
Time: You’ll spot the quality-timers: they linger at parties, happy to chat all night. The thing to do with your time when it comes to a loved one who loves quality time – is give it to them! Factor in face-to-face time with these people in your life. If your time is limited, why not tie in an activity you both love? Some kind of exercise or craft is a great idea. One or two meaningful engagements let special people know that they are loved.
Physical touch: Not everyone wants to be hugged tightly but for loved ones who respond to touch, something as simple as a pat on a shoulder or handshake can mean the world; a hug might light up someone’s day. Ever thought of giving a foot massage “voucher” to a loved one as a gift? Or painting someone’s nails? Don’t underestimate how transforming touch can be.
So, no pressure to celebrate the season for giving – a little differently, this time. And, if you do try to “speak” a new language this holiday, let me know how it goes.
Lots of love – all five kinds – to you then, over the holidays.