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Life Planning

A paradoxical year


Kim Potgieter

Kim Potgieter

October 6, 2020
I’ve always been pretty sure that the advice I give to my children and clients is well-considered, thoughtful and in their best interest. I don’t make decisions lightly. I apply all the tools I’ve learnt through the years to make sure that I don’t rush in without giving the particular situation careful thought.

But this year has almost been absurd in its irony. I embraced the opportunity when Josh, my middle child decided to study in Cape Town. “Being away from home will do him good,” I thought. And it should do. We should encourage our children to leave the safety of their homes to explore life and find their own feet. But at the first sign of trouble, when Corona19 hit our shores, I brought him back home. I wanted to protect him and keep him safe.

Gabi, my youngest, really missed her friends during lockdown. She’s just like me. We crave social interaction and togetherness. “Meet your friends online,” I suggested. But when things got tough, as online interactions have a habit of playing out in the absence of body language and reading social cues, I wanted to cancel the internet connection and ban her from social media.

Most clients and staff coped well with social isolation to start with, but the seclusion and disconnectedness from the daily face to face interaction can take its toll. We have found ourselves in a situation that is difficult to understand and filled with contradictions. Despite the valid reasoning for lockdown and self-isolation, the negative impact on the human psyche and general health has been hard. So, while the measures are implemented to keep us safe, it may also have contributed to poor emotional health.

I’ve heard so many people say that they cannot wait for things to go back to normal and return to the office. With offices reopening slowly, I have found that people are scared. They’re not ready to go back to the way things were. We’ve become accustomed to quarantine and this may have well become our new comfort zone. Yes, we have struggled with the insular existence and many people have needed counselling and psychological comfort to see them through. Yet the prospect of returning to work makes us feel afraid.

Our minds are wired for comfort. Not for fear, insecurity, and constant change.

The paradox of 2020 is compounded by financial apathy and overwhelming emotions. I have spoken to so many people this year who are extremely anxious and worried about money. But often, they are so overwhelmed by their financial situation that they do their best to ignore it. They minimise their problems and avoid talking or thinking about money rather than facing reality.

I have also spoken to many other people who have felt that money was in fact one of the areas that they could control. They have fixated on how much they spend and have been preoccupied with monitoring the performance of their investments.

Neither of these coping strategies will in fact serve you. A more helpful strategy would be to start managing your emotions around money. Do not let the overwhelming emotion of fear dominate your thoughts and influence your action – or inaction. What is important, is to have a Plan – a long-term, realistic and holistic Financial Plan designed to give you the most life for your money. It does not serve you to ignore money and bury your head in the sand, or, to live in fear of losing the money that you do have.

The most important thing you can do for yourself – and your family – this year, is to put money in its rightful place. Give it the attention and focus it needs, without letting your fear and panic taint a well-thought out Plan. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed leads to the wrong behaviour. Implement healthy money habits so that money can support and enhance your life.

Always remember, when it comes to your money, be inspired, be brave and be on purpose.


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