I am hopeful that after this strange period of uncertainty with lots of unexpected change, we will see the world in a whole new light and build a new normal.
The “old” normal life seems like a distant memory and it’s often difficult to think back to times we were able to go out and do the things that we now realise we took for granted. Easter is a time where many of us enjoy spending time with friends and family, hoping for sunshine on the bank holiday weekend and perhaps having the first BBQ of the season. This year will be somewhat different. Personally, I will be spending it attending church from my sofa, as I have been the past few Sundays, and FaceTiming family.
This time has been a challenge for many and will continue to throw up new obstacles as time goes on. I hope my advice at least puts a smile on your face and helps, though I will add the caveat that there are no children in my home which I realise adds an entirely new test for many!
In these strange times, I think it has helped to try and stick to a routine, even if that does involve a small change. I am used to getting up at 5am to go to the gym and lift heavy things before work but now I am doing some resistance band training before work and going for a run in the evening.
I am trying not to work in my pyjamas, as I think I focus better in “proper clothes”. But don’t stress if you’re living in your comfies, as long as you remain productive and comfortable, dress how you like. Maybe put clothes on for video conferences though…
I work from a laptop in the office, so transporting my desk home wasn’t too logistically complicated (though carrying two large screens on the train did look a little strange). Rose and North have provided me with a new printer/scanner, and other office supplies including a share of the three kilos of Love Hearts we ordered for Valentine’s Day. I have daily calls with the office, so we keep in touch and focused on our clients.
I am fortunate to have a study, so I can separate home life and work life which has been essential for me. I am enjoying having my own little oasis at the top of the house, though it is a little too far from the kitchen for my liking. My fiancé drew the short straw and is working on the dining room table, though he is right next to the kitchen and the snacks; every cloud! We have also heeded advice on creating an imaginary colleague in the home, Cheryl, who has left mugs and plates all over the place. Nightmare.
Keeping busy is something I have always needed to do. I detest spending a day sat on the sofa watching TV, I much prefer to be out and about enjoying the outdoors, which is limited at the moment. However, I have now found myself spending evenings doing puzzles and reading, which is rather bizarre. There seems to be a new normal creeping in to my own life, without me even taking much notice of it.
It has been important for me to focus on the small joys and look for positivity in my day, whether that be the flowers on my desk or the aloe plant I’ve not yet managed to kill (a minor miracle in itself). I have been admiring the beauty and tranquillity of the outdoors when heading out for my daily run or walk. My 18-month-old nephew has been making me smile, although he spends much of our video calls shouting “GRANDAD” at me; clearly lockdown has not treated me well and I have aged somewhat.
I also feel a real sense of community where I live, from waving to fellow runners as we get out of each other’s way, to our local Facebook group publicising the “clap for our carers” on Thursdays. People are helping their neighbours by picking up groceries and medicine, or offering their time for a friendly chat.
One of the lovely things the current situation has taught me, is that I am surrounded by a community of so many wonderful friends and family. Many people will be struggling with their mental health right now and we must support each other. Check in with friends on a regular basis to see how they are doing and look out for those that may be struggling.
I have found social media to be a real mix, with several of my friends saying they have removed themselves from that world because they found it to be too negative and others saying they were finding it hard to watch others enjoying life and thriving when they themselves were struggling. Try and recognise what and who is having a positive and negative impact on your life in these times and switch off if you need to.
I find it challenging to see negativity spread within my own profession, with people criticising others saying that if they are struggling then they haven’t planned their business correctly. We should all be pulling together at a time like this, not climbing on others to get to the top. The recent “be kind” movement seems to have been forgotten by some. You never know what someone might be struggling with and we must remember that.
I’ve read conflicting stories of advisers keeping in touch with clients on a regular basis with plenty of content, and those who feel their clients understand the volatility of markets and trust them so don’t feel the need to be in constant contact. I think it is vital to do whatever you feel is best for your clients and your business, not to bash others for having a different point of view.
Take each day as it comes, don’t to beat yourself up if you’re not feeling great right now. Tomorrow is another day and a chance for a fresh start. Look after yourself, so that you can go on to help and support others. The old saying “you must put your own oxygen mask on before you help others” comes to mind.
Many plans have been thrown into the air, with no guarantee when things will return to “normal”. This can be unsettling and upsetting if you’ve spent your birthday, wedding day or anniversary indoors. I can be sure that whenever this is all over, there will be large celebrations happening everywhere to make up for it!
This time has reminded me that even though I can see many communities pulling together, there will always be people who want to exploit others and spread negativity. It is helpful to recognise this, to help those in need, but also to train your mind to shut out negativity.
I am looking forward to the future in a cautiously optimistic manner, though we will lose many, this will not last forever. I hope that in future we will see the world in a whole new light and there will be positive change to both our profession and our personal lives. Today, we are one day closer to this being over and having a fresh start.
Chloé Moran is a Chartered Financial Planner at Rose & North Financial Planning, London. These are her personal views.