Deflation: Finding Joy in an Uncertain World

I wish I could say that I’m feeling buoyant these last weeks of summer, but I’m simply… not. In truth, I’m feeling deflated. The Delta variant (which I should have seen coming, but I didn’t!) has thrown us back into a pandemic mindset—and, once again, it has thrown a wrench in my vacation plans. Like many people, I was thrilled to be living in a ‘post-pandemic’ world where I could travel again. Always the optimist, I confirmed reservations for my first-ever trip to Central Asia. Days later, I signed up for a unique advisor conference in faraway Kentucky. But, as we all know well by now, even the best-laid plans can go awry. Both trips were canceled this week. The disappointment feels heavy.

I know these are minor problems in the big picture, but I also know I’m not alone in feeling deflated these days. Just a few months ago, we were all basking in the joy of being able to safely see friends and family again. It felt like life-as-we-knew-it was coming back. Until it wasn’t. If you, too, are struggling to keep your chin up as you don your mask, cancel your plans, and reset your expectations, one suggestion is to take this trusted approach for finding joy: write down 7 things for which you are grateful—every day. Here is my list for today: 

I am grateful to be healthy. Yes, I need to move more (I really am going to get back to my daily walking routine!) and eat less (but who can resist a little comfort food during this mess?!), but I’m healthy enough to make those choices when the time is right. I don’t take that for granted.

I am grateful that I have a comfortable place to live. I took advantage of the extra time during the pandemic to make some much-needed upgrades to my home office and living space. Happily, staying home and working from home is as pleasant as can be.

I am grateful to have a grownup in the White House again. I no longer feel like I have to be hyper-vigilant about every piece of news coming out of Washington, and I no longer have to waste my energy trying to discern truth from fairytales. I love knowing that important decisions are now being made based on science and facts. I celebrate so many changes—that the US is once again a member of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the new infrastructure bill, and feeling confident in the government’s response to the pandemic.

I am grateful for my clients, who rely on me to give them a sense of where they’re going. It makes me happy to know they (you!) are comfortable with their finances, that they have a plan to reach their goals, and that, as a whole, they are feeling inflated about their financial futures. Most of my clients have been through enough market cycles to know that downturns will pass, and they recognize that market returns come in bunches to support their long-term goals.

I am grateful for the time to reflect on what I want and need—and that I have the freedom to change. Before the pandemic, I was on a fast-moving treadmill. I was working hard and playing hard, but it took a lockdown to make me realize that my busy schedule had become a chore. As the pandemic eased, I felt that urgent push to do more. Now, I am once again reflecting and rethinking.

I am grateful that I seized so many opportunities for travel before the forced stop. In the past few years, I ventured to England with my sister and Cost Rica with my grandson. I traveled to Greece and Italy on my own. I took an Alaskan cruise with my grandkids, and I ventured on a safari in Tanzania. Then there were the diving trips, including a few in the South Pacific. So many incredible adventures! I may be stuck at home for a bit longer than hoped, but I have many beautiful memories to fall back on until I can go forth and create new ones.

I am grateful that so many people in the world are (finally!) embracing financial planning and choosing to work with Certified Financial Planners™. I entered this profession at a time when I needed to create a more stable financial path for myself, and so I chose to learn everything I could to help women and their loved ones excel financially as well. What a joy to see my own small vision be part of a massive movement that is improving the lives of many.

Ah! You see? I can already feel that deflated feeling receding! And as I was writing, I found myself daydreaming about some less ambitious travel… maybe a little trip to Santa Fe. Will I have to cancel? Maybe. But I refuse to let the pandemic get the best of me. Part of my job is to be optimistic—to share my excitement about the power of saving, investing, and making wise money choices so you can live life to the fullest. If you’re struggling to find that optimism in your own life, regardless of the reason, start by writing down the 7 things you are grateful for today. If you’re still feeling deflated, let’s set up a time to start planning your own joyful future. I’m confident we can find the path together.

Related: Noise and What We Can Do About It