It’s hard to believe but true: Most financial advisors have now passed the one-year anniversary of the abrupt shift to digital isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thankfully, we as a country are hopefully seeing the beginning of the end of COVID-19. But even so, the future is uncertain and after a year that’s felt like a combination of a sci-fi movie and Groundhog Day, It’s no wonder that many in our industry who have always operated in a high-touch, face-to-face environment are hitting a proverbial wall in terms of emotional well-being.
Running an efficient and productive practice remotely is difficult enough. When you add in the extra stress and anxiety brought on by a global pandemic, plus increased demand for digital interaction with clients, it’s enough to make even the most focused professional feel helpless.
As someone whose passion and career revolves around helping advisors and teams thrive and meet their full potential, I and my team have spent the past year thinking of ways to help advisors avoid these very real feelings of virtual burnout with tools, resources and encouragement to work through it together. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” If you’re feeling burnt out, you won’t be able to bring your best self to your clients and colleagues.
It starts with taking care of yourself.
I know, easier said than done. But perspective and attitude are powerful drivers of emotional state, as proven by scientific studies. Trying to make the best of the situation and not dwell too much on the things we can’t change can have a positive impact on your work and interactions with clients. Try sending a handwritten encouragement or thank you card to one client each week. This is mutually beneficial — by putting your gratitude into words, your mood improves, and you deepening the engagement with your client.
Working from home can blur the line between work time and personal time. But remember you are working from home, not living at work. Communicate with your clients and team to establish a healthy balance of office hours and time spent doing non-work activities.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
Author and lecturer Brené Brown said it best: “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences.” We’re all human, and this is a difficult and unprecedented time for all of us. The vulnerable nature of this COVID environment has enabled us to foster deeper, more personal connections with our teams and clients. A great way to practice this: When a colleague asks how you are, try not to dismiss the question by replying, “I’m fine.” Instead, share something that is going well, something you are excited about, or disclose that you’re dealing with something challenging.
Take a day off
Lately I’ve been asking advisors how long it’s been since they truly took a day off. I am shocked at how many say they haven’t taken a real day off since the start of the pandemic. Working too much will lead to feelings of burnout, so take a day off to do something that is not running errands or tackling your to-do list. Try to avoid your phone and email during this time, too.
The next time you hear someone say, “Sorry, I was on mute,” remember it won’t be like this forever — even though some days it might feel like it. At the moment, virtual reality is our reality, so take care of yourself and try to focus on the things you can control.