The winds of change
The August winds have blown away the cobwebs and brought fresh hope and new beginnings. We always look forward to the warmth and joy that summer brings, but this year, with the change of season, the wind was taken out of my sails when Gys, my husband, was diagnosed with a dread disease. While we await results to start the treatment plan, nothing can really prepare you for the emotional strain you experience when someone you love is in pain.
So I did what I do best. I made a list of everything that I am grateful for in my life, here and now. I reflected on the many unexpected blessings in our home during the past six months of lockdown. We reconnected as a family, spent more time together, had many laughs, late-night talks and shared so much joy. Joy is a wonderful emotion. It’s that feeling in your soul that brings complete pleasure and happiness. I am grateful for the many wonderful friends and people in my life who ‘get’ me, support me and embrace my family. But most of all I am grateful that, as a family, we have planned for this eventuality; we have the financial means to see this through and a solid financial strategy for the future.
I have counselled so many clients to plan for the unexpected or the curve balls life throws at you. Life rarely follows a conventional script, and you cannot possibly anticipate and plan for all the What Ifs. But a solid Financial Plan and strategy puts you two steps ahead. Emotional preparedness is something else, and you have to dig deep to find the internal resilience to pull you through.
While I’ve had to adjust my sails to weather this very unexpected storm, I had a Plan – at least financially, and that’s one less thing to worry about. Gys and I have prepared for this, and I am grateful for our emergency fund, adequate medical cover and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that I will be able to support and care for my family. Having a Plan gives you comfort, it helps you cope, and it gives you one less worry.
Planning for the What Ifs does not mean dwelling on the many things that could happen, and getting so lost in the trauma of things you can’t control that you lose your joy for living. Brené Brown says if you cannot tolerate joy, you start dress rehearsing tragedy. It’s not about imagining that something terrible is going to happen. It really is just about planning. And good planning means planning for change. Having a Plan is enough. Draw it up, file it away and access it when you need to.
There are times that you have to make changes to your plan, especially so with unexpected curve balls. I recently met a client who has had to make changes to his Financial Plan to keep his business afloat as a result of Covid-19. We used some of his investments to carry the company and pay staff, and in this already difficult time, his adult daughter needed an unexpected intervention. Her drug addiction came to a head, and she was booked into a rehabilitation clinic. In addition, her hefty debt to drug lords needed to be settled. Sure, my client will have to make some lifestyle changes, but his money was well spent.
Another client lost six months of earnings this year. As a specialist, he was unable to work during the Covid19 lockdown. We took action. He used the lockdown period as a sabbatical, upskilled himself and downsized his practice. Although we’ve made some adjustments to the Financial Plan, the long-term plan is still in place.
What I have learnt from these experiences is that family and relationships are often the true foundation of our joy. They also confirmed the importance of planning. A Plan allows you to adjust your sails and your path with the resources you have. It gives you the time and space to feel your emotions, connect with your grief and be present with the ones you love.
Wishing you plain sailing through this year and the next!