Lyndsay, our writer at Chartered, recently wrote a beautiful blog introducing me to a new concept called languishing. This term was first published in The New York Times to describe the collective state of being that many of us are experiencing right now. It’s a sense of sluggishness; it feels like stagnation, you’re just not functioning at optimal capacity. A languished life looks foggy, like a blurry windscreen or a photograph that’s not quite focussed.
I first put this word down to anguish or just the inability to experience life fully. But I quickly realised it’s not that at all. We aren’t experiencing life fully at the moment. Lockdown makes this impossible. Yes, we still find ourselves in a state of heightened anxiety, even fear in the face of the third Covid wave looming. But these are normal human emotions. For me, the real danger of languishing is when we do nothing; when we’re so used to the state of mental anguish or financial despair that we end up spiralling down an even darker hole. That’s when sluggishness and idleness become a debilitating normal.
I met up with clients the other day. This couple has been in a state of languishing for almost a year now. And that’s ok for a while. They have lost their income during the Covid lockdown, and have dipped into their savings and investments to see them through. But it can’t last forever. Things haven’t changed as quickly as we have hoped, and it’s time for these clients to find their flow again.
We can’t sit by idly and watch our money or our lives dwindle away. That’s giving power to circumstances and money instead of you taking the upper hand. In the case of my clients, it was time to take action. They can no longer afford to live in the hope that things will improve or go back to the way things were. Things may never be the same again. And the best way to take action is to face your situation head-on, step outside your comfort zone and do the inner work required to create change. We are all preparing for a new reality, and the longer we stay in the state of languishing, the harder it will be to dig our way out.
Lyndsay said it beautifully. “Do something slightly beyond your comfort zone. It needs to be challenging but not overwhelming.” We discussed alternative means of finding income and manageable steps to decrease spending. I often say that with challenges come opportunity. Perhaps there is a way to align your highest values with income? Maybe there’s a chance for you to find something more meaningful and inspiring to do for a salary? If you could use this time of idleness to visualise, plan and implement rather than to languish, it could just mean the difference between transitioning to living your best life rather than waiting for the right time to come.
I want to encourage you to do some reflection work. Although I have published a Change in Mindset Journal that accompanies my new book, Midlife Money Makeover, I have also uploaded the exercises contained in the book as a free download on my website.
If you don’t have time to do all the reflections, do at least one or two. Start with Midlife Reflection 28. This is a wonderful exercise where you get to plot your lifeline and mark all the most significant events that happened in your life. Good and bad. You will notice high points and low points in your lifeline, and I strongly suspect that yours will be similar to mine, where the low points are often followed by the highs.
This period of languishing or idleness will definitely feature as a slump on your timeline, but often our biggest learning come from the hardships, and from our challenges, come our growth.
Always remember, when it comes to your money, be inspired, be brave and be on purpose.