Creating our own individual normal is the key to staying sane, happy and healthy in our new environment – and that means choosing which old normal habits we should be bringing with us, and which to leave behind.

Personally, I am sick of hearing about the “new normal.” Let’s be honest, there is no “normal” right now. Each of us has to find a way to adjust to a disrupted work environment. Yes, we have to take care of our clients and staff. Yes, we have to think about compliance and cybersecurity while learning how to help clients navigate the Secure Act, Cares Act and the PPP. But if we aren’t healthy, how can we help our clients? 

Today’s post is all about taking care of and helping ourselves. Shannon Gallagher, our social media contributor, steps away from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to discuss “your normal” – that’s the normal that only you can define. Take a few minutes to read it and maybe even pass it on to your staff and clients. Creating our own individual normal will be key in the next few months for all of us. -- JDA

Some areas of the country are slowly stepping out from quarantine, while some are still fully under the stay-at-home order that has kept us away from our offices for what seems like an eternity. How long have we been reliving this Groundhog’s Day, working from home while trying to conduct business as usual? I know my mind hasn’t been loving the “new normal” that we are in. I’ve have had time to think about how I really, really don’t want to go back to the “old norm,” for many reasons.

I have created my own personal “new normal.” I now call it “my normal” and I will be implementing it immediately. How did I arrive at it? I did an exercise with myself, which I will share with you, in which I reviewed everything I loved and everything I didn’t love during quarantine.  

Before we start, I want to define the “current norm” (often referred to as the new normal), the “old norm,” and then “my normal” of which I speak about.

  1. The current norm – Started when the stay-at-home order began in mid-March, and lasted until yesterday
  2. The old norm  Any time before mid-March when we all worked in offices and met in person with anyone we wanted to
  3. My normal  Starts today

The Current Norm

Let’s start off by thinking about our current normalcy. When my area of the Philadelphia suburbs was first required to work from home, people seemed to be afraid that it wouldn’t work. There was so much chaos and so many unknowns for those who had to navigate the work-life balance while sitting at their kitchen table with a baby in their lap, trying to work as much as they were previously in the office. 

For the first two weeks, there seemed to be a lull in work while everyone took a pause before moving forward. It was great! After those first few weeks, though, things have seemed to change. For some, it is still a struggle to juggle work-life and family-life; however, for most, I would guess that we have gotten very comfortable in this work-from-home lifestyle. It’s almost a blessing to wake up and not have to drive into work, be able to walk over to your computer in your pajamas, and sip the coffee your significant other made you (because they love to make us coffee, right?). 

All of these are pros for me, but I have learned that I tend to have an issue logging off at the end of the day. I see myself working late hours much more frequently than I ever did when I was in the office. In fact, my plate of work has actually become larger than before. 

I feel that in going from in-person to online, business strategies and priorities changed so drastically that managers and employees might have forgotten to take time to reevaluate what truly matters as we move forward. Does anyone else feel this way? Are you having trouble creating that line between work and play now that they are in the same environment? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want “my norm” to feel this way. And before we figure out how we are going to move into the new norm state of mind, let’s look back at the “old norm” and highlight the things we don’t want bring along with us.

The Old Norm

Although I am enjoying being at home and having an excuse not to leave, I am noticing my habits, especially within my work are falling back to the “old norm.” These habits include feelings of being overwhelmed, focusing on too many priorities at once, and not being able to remain organized with so many new deadlines. Every day feels like it is getting away from me and I don’t have time to focus on making a solid difference in other peoples’ lives. I don’t think I am alone in these feelings and I want to take this time to remind everyone reading this that we do not need to go back to the “old norm” of stressful work environments and piling our plates too high.

As a financial advisor, you’re expected to wear many hats at all times, be a consultant for your clients while also trying to learn what exactly is going on with this uncertain market, not to mention prioritizing generating new leads for your company. It’s too much for one person. I do believe that this pandemic is teaching us lessons on how to slow our lives down and remind us that we don’t need to do everything to be great. Remember this when transitioning into your normal.

The New Norm or “Your Normal”

How do we avoid falling back into the old norm? Change our habits and make a list. In my normal, this is what I will strive to do, and I hope you do, too. I’m actually going to hang it up by my desk so I read it frequently. 

new norm

Starting today:

1. Place “no meeting” days on your calendar (and stick to it)

  • Give yourself that time to organize your week and your priorities
  • When I have too many emails to read or too many meetings to attend, I end up with no time to actually get my work done — causing unneeded stress. You absolutely need time to work on your business if you want to continue making it grow.

2. Schedule more frequent mental health days

  • We’ve talked about how you can organize your work week, but how do you give yourself free time outside of that? During uncertain times, days off can work wonders on your brain, providing it the relaxation it needs. Let your mind breathe!

3. Take one walk per day

  • The summer is coming, it’s getting warm outside. You have no excuse.
  • It can literally be walking around just one block at lunch time or it can be 10 miles after work if you’re into that sort of thing (I’m not. I will be doing a 20-minute walk, just in case you were wondering).
  • I put this here because of the immense benefits walking has for your brain and your body. It provides you time every single day to think things through and to listen to your own thoughts. You can also blow off steam and calm your emotions down when you get overly frustrated about a situation. If you’re taking a walk each day, I bet you will be able to sleep more soundly at night, as well.

I wrote an article a few weeks ago called Finding Your Zen, in which I provided 8 small tips to help you with your mental health during this time (and any time really). I suggest you go through them now and remind yourself how you can feel more relaxed and less chaotic within your business and also within your personal life.


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