Do you feel like you have zoned out or are on autopilot at least until the pandemic is over, especially when it comes to your financial house? Perhaps you are starting to peak your head out and wanting to decide your next steps, but how do you do that?
Zoned Out or Stagnant?
Let’s first explore how this happened – feeling zoned out or stagnant. Recognizing how we got here might help us avoid this consequence in the future. Keep in mind I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, not a Behavioral Health Professional so this article is offered as a thought-provoking essay resulting with action items.
I think it is important first to realize that the zoned out feeling or feeling of stagnation probably started way before COVID-19. In fact, one variable could actually be that of a learned response or way of thinking. And it may have started as early as your childhood. A simple example is are you the person who sees it as “the glass is half full” or the person who sees it as “the glass is half empty”. What’s great about anything we learn, we can unlearn it or at least improve our awareness to our responses and take actions that will ensure a more productive effect.
But even if one variable is our own learned response to information, could it also be the result from institutional messaging? When I say ‘institutional messaging’ I mean messaging like commercials, news programs or professional social media posts. Another factor working against us is that the human brain has a negative bias which is actually our link to survival. But, because we are inundated with negative messaging, unless there is an immediate threat, we ignore it or feel helpless and become numb to it.
Consumers have been the target of a constant stream of negative and fear-based messaging as a result of increased competition. And this barrage of this type of information has turned off many consumers. More contemporary marketers believe positive marketing messages are the way forward. Today’s consumers are very clear about their values and the level of social/environmental awareness they want from the companies they invest in, whether that be by time, money or emotion.
The good news is you have control over your feelings and can take forward moving action to shake the zoned out feeling while strengthening your financial house. The following is a brief list of tasks to help you start this process – some easy and some more difficult.
- Review your financial goals/strategies and measure your progress
- Check your credit for any errors or possible fraud
- Ensure your emergency fund is properly funded
- Pay down your debt
- Create or review your estate planning documents – Trust, Will, Durable Financial Power of Attorney (POA), Medical POA, Living Will
- Create asset/debt lists – Real property, Personal property, Investments/Banks, Insurance
- Consolidate accounts – 401(k)s, IRAs, ROTHs
It may also be helpful to meet with your financial adviser as they can help with most of these tasks and provide you a quarterly/year-end financial plan review.