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Set the stage for your ideal ‘new normal’

“How are you?”

 It used to be a rote question with an automatic answer. Before the days of COVID, there were two pat responses: “I’m busy” and “I’m great.”  During our pandemic sheltering, we’re no longer busy, nor are we great. And we have the time and capacity to ponder, “how am I… really?”  It makes me think of the musical from the late ‘70s, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!  The COVID pandemic made our world stop. At first, it was disorienting. Then, at least for some, the ‘new normal’ started to feel rather… nice (at least until the toilet paper ran out). Almost overnight, our world shifted from being a fast-moving hamster wheel into a much slower, quieter rhythm. Dinner parties were canceled. Restaurants were closed. Long-planned trips were postponed. While we were ‘staying home to save lives,’ we did everything in one place. Cooking. Eating. Working. Zooming, playing Words with Friends®, and ‘Netflixing.’ People around the world baked bread, discovered new hobbies, organized their finances, and completed long-neglected projects. It’s been a strange interlude and an unusual respite.

Last week, the cautious re-opening of America began. Today, restaurants and retailers are welcoming customers back through their doors (with social-distancing requirements, of course), and some workplaces are gradually asking employees to come back to the office. I was thrilled to go back to my salon yesterday. In some ways, I’m ready to transition back to ‘normal.’ But in others ways, I’m not so sure I want to go back. At least not in every way. The end of quarantine has me pondering what I really want my post-COVID ‘new normal’ to look like. What do I want to change? What no longer fits in my life-after-COVID?

Happily, a very useful template full of great questions fell right into my lap at just the right time. As I’ve mentioned, I’m participating in a coaching program for financial advisors called Limitless Advisor. While some of the ideas I get from the program are a bit old hat for advisors like me who have been in business for decades, others put a refreshing new spin on traditional ideas. One new tool that illustrates our firm’s theme of “redefining wealth” is the program’s chart to explore the “11 Dimensions of Wealth.” It’s a perfect instrument to support some of the deep thinking that can help make the transition into a post-COVID world meaningful—and to elevate conversations with my clients about how they want to live in their own ‘new normal.’  

The 11 Dimensions of Wealth

Wealth, of course, is about much more than money, and the “11 Dimensions of Wealth” does an excellent job of dissecting the three keys to true wealth—time, money, and relationships—into smaller chunks to make it easier to explore various aspects of our lives to identify what’s working, what isn’t, and how to create needed change. To get a quick taste of the process, take a look at the following chart and mark each section with an ‘S’ or a ‘U’ to indicate whether you are generally satisfied or unsatisfied with that area of your life:

 

It’s an interesting exercise, don’t you think? When I did it myself, I recognized two areas that I know I want to improve: my physical health (I’m working out at home and nothing is ‘broken,’ but I’m not feeling as energized and full of vitality as I’d like to be), and my environment (I like where I live, but I need more nature in my everyday life). I’m already thinking about adjustments I can make to improve both of these. 

When I showed Linda the “11 Dimensions”, she had a similar reaction. After taking early retirement last year, she hadn’t realized how much of a gap she was feeling intellectually. In her role as a high-level executive at a big-name tech firm, her brain was used to working non-stop, every day. In retirement, she could feel that something wasn’t quite right, but she couldn’t pinpoint what was missing. Quarantine exacerbated the feeling that something needed to change, but she still didn’t know exactly what. Our conversation helped her identify the problem and begin the search for a new way to give her brain a meaningful ‘workout’ more often.

When Bryan looked at the chart, he immediately drew a big circle around ’family.’ While working at home during quarantine, he discovered a much deeper connection with his two kids, a daughter in middle school and a son who will graduate from high school next year. “I hadn’t realized how much of their lives I was missing until we were all in lockdown together. I want to find a way to keep what we’ve found.”  

As we inch our way toward the end of the pandemic and our ‘new normal,’ now is the time to set the stage for what you want your life to look like post-COVID. What is working for you and what isn’t? What adjustments can you make—before the world starts spinning again—that would help you live a truly great post-COVID life? The answers are different for everyone, but with the help of the “11 Dimensions of Wealth”, I hope you can find yours. If you want a guide through the process, I am always here to help!