A Transition Mindset
A Transition Mindset

A Transition Mindset



Nancy T. Bell
Nancy T. Bell

Wealth Advisor
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A Transition Mindset

What the reality of 2020 can teach us about planning for the future.

The Before

“Who would have thought we would be here?”

That question starts many conversations these days.

It is as if we have all crossed an invisible threshold that separates the before from the after.

The before? Grocery shopping was a simple routine of everyday life. Dining out was a welcome respite from our hectic lives, a way to unwind and connect socially. Traveling was an exciting adventure. Health came with its usual ups and downs, worrisome test results and care-giving necessities.

But the after?

Grocery shopping became something to fear and avoid at all costs. Dining out literally became dining outside. Traveling became something we told ourselves, “We will do it again … someday.” Feeling under the weather can conjure feelings of dread and despair.

Most of us can remember where we were when life changed in March of 2020; yet, most of us never imagined that “shelter in place,” “quarantining,” and “respirators” would become part of our daily vocabulary.

Most of us didn’t foresee months ahead filled with curbside pickups, stacks of Amazon boxes on the porch and garages used as a staging area for grocery bags. Most of us never imagined we would trade the comfort of our routines and the joy of our social gatherings for masks and social distancing in order to protect our personal safety and that of our loved ones.

Months have gone by, yet we find ourselves still grappling with the best way to live each day amid this great undoing of normalcy.

Whether we realize it or not, we live our entire lives in a snapshot of before and after, passing through one life-changing moment to the next: a family milestone, a health scare, or a loss of a loved one. Yet often we don’t recognize the transition until it is well underway and we look back at our lives before. As we make our way through this life transition, there are ways to make the passage easier.

Resilience and Reconciliation

As a financial planner, I am in the habit of, well, planning.

It should come as no surprise that losing money or running out of money are the two greatest fears facing most of us, regardless of the size of our portfolio. And this real or imagined state of our financial affairs directly impacts how well we manage the money we have, and how well we manage the worry of not having enough.

Each day I help my clients navigate uncertainty in the financial markets and changes in their spending needs, with a particular focus on mitigating the universal worry of running out of money before time runs out. My quest is to help clients manage their mindset throughout the course of their personal financial transitions.

More than ever we want certainty and control over our financial future, whether it is for the next month or the rest of our lives. And when we fail to recognize that we are continually moving from one transition to another, we will not have the right mindset to manage it successfully.

For instance, you wouldn’t wait to plan financially and emotionally for retirement at your retirement party. You recognize that a successful transition to retirement starts 5 to 10 years before the big day. When we can see the transition for what it is—an opportunity to take stock of our priorities and acknowledge what has changed—we will be able to make decisions with a greater sense of intention and control over what lies ahead.

How can you make these transitions easier?

Recognize your ability to be resilient.

Know that you have the capacity to recover from your difficulties, i.e., a missed job promotion, loss of income, a change in marital status. Even overcoming day-to-day challenges increases our ability to recover more quickly from the next one. Resilience gives us the courage to keep moving forward when standing still feels a whole lot safer.

Next, put your numbers down on paper. Do an honest evaluation of your spending requirements and financial resources. Update your financial plan.

Financial planning provides the guardrails needed to stave off emotional decision making. It is much easier to withstand the ups and downs of markets and to weather the fear of uncertainty when you have a plan for your handful of “what ifs.” While you can’t account for all the unknowns ahead, you can pull together your top five worries and put a plan in place to deal with them if they materialize.

Guard Your Mindset

We all feel off balance and out of sorts when we can’t see what comes next. Today is no exception.

This is exactly why we should develop the framework right now. Don’t wait until you are faced with another great uncertainty. In order to weather both the good times and crazy times with your balance sheet intact and your mind at ease, you must have a plan to guard your mindset.

This requires examining your concerns and writing down your needs and numbers. Review and evaluate them on a regular basis. Now more than ever, building your financial framework and keeping it current is your best defense against what scares you most about the future.

If you want the right mindset to make good financial decisions, build the financial framework. To restore the feeling of equilibrium and control, have a framework. If you don’t want to feel that gnawing dread for the after, having the right framework is the best way to manage your uncertainty.

And as you move through this process, you will build even greater resilience to manage whatever lies ahead—and as a result be better prepared for your life’s next transition.


Tags:  Financial Plan, Financial Planning, Financial Planning in Times of Uncertainty, Life Transitions, Money and COVID-19, Planning for the Future, Transitions, Volatility

Note:  The content of this article is for guidance and information purposes only and is not intended to be construed as advice. Information provided is not intended to provide investment, tax, or legal advice.