Category: Conversation Circle

What’s in Your Resilience Toolkit: Insights and Outcomes

Published in: Blog, Conversation Circle |

Last week, we opened our conversation circle by making one thing very clear:  women are good at resilience. We assemble our resilience toolkits and make sure our tools are sharpened in preparation for life’s tough times. We endure, persevere and support each other along the way. And we right ourselves, adapt, and find our way back to equilibrium. So, we thought a conversation circle would provide the perfect forum to explore the various aspects of resilience, to take a clear-eyed and compassionate look at our strengths and vulnerabilities, and to share our best strategies and tools. We were right – we had a lively, honest and energizing conversation!

For inspiration, we looked to Desiree Linden, this year’s female champion of the Boston Marathon. On a day that was cold, wet and windy, she persevered and gave us a master class in the meaning of resilience. When it comes to intense physical challenges like running a marathon, compared to men, women often do a better job pacing themselves, quickly adjust their behavior and expectations to accommodate changes in the course, and are more likely to offer and seek support with one another to reach the finish line. Which is exactly what Desiree did. We talked about utilizing these same strengths when handling emotional, financial and other obstacles.

To set the stage we started by unabashedly revealing our superpowers –  what a powerful group we were! Patience, curiosity, endurance, X-ray vision, intuition, optimism, synthesizing information, bringing out the potential in others, and being a connector were just a few of the superpowers we heard about.

We spent most of the evening with a fun “Wheel of Resilience” exercise that asked us to reflect on aspects of resilience, and how they shape our lives. We considered financial, emotional, spiritual, vocational, community and social, and physical aspects of resilience. We talked about the tools and strategies we use for each – and those we want to develop and hone – to foster resilience. What are the tools to sharpen during calmer times, to prepare for adversity? What are our “go to” tools when we’re in the middle of the fire? And finally, what strategies are most useful when the dust has settled, when we’ve righted ourselves and are learning to adapt to a new situation? In true circle spirit, we shared our best ideas and listened to struggles and fears. We summoned our courage and spoke about our truth.

Before too long, we all acknowledged how much we have in common. In spite of our diversity – in age, phase of life, geography, resource level, personal circumstances – there was so much we recognized, and honored, in each other.

  • We all yearn for community and true connection – but we define what that means in many different ways. For many of us, fostering deep relationships must be balanced with the time we need solo, to recharge and restore. For all of us, it was clear that nurturing connection is an essential tool for our resilience toolkits.
  • We observed that our willingness to acknowledge vulnerability in one area (for example, noting that we’re not as physically resilient as we’d like to be) creates an opportunity to sharpen our tools in that area (like hiring a personal trainer). This also has dovetail impact on other aspects of resilience and makes us stronger overall.
  • Many of us identified a desire to reclaim a state of grace. We loved the idea of measuring resilience by measuring how easily we can go back to grace after a challenging time.

As we came to a close, we shared our “go to” strategies for getting through a rough patch.  A sampling:

  • Break things down. Ask yourself: what is the next step?
  • Be willing to commit. Be all in. Walk through the fire.
  • Create a checklist, a “user’s manual” to rely on when action seems impossible.
  • Get out of the house!
  • Use your phone to set alerts and reminders to call friends on important days and/or to make plans.
  • If you’re feeling untethered, sit quietly. Feel the support of the chair below you. Now feel the support of the floor, now the building foundation and the granite below. Feel the earth below, always supporting you.
  • Find a subject matter “expert” to help you scale whatever learning curve you face and to serve as a sounding board. She could be a personal trainer, a financial advisor, a career coach, a therapist or a spiritual advisor.

It was a rich conversation and we came away with a host of new tools to try and a true sense of community. We learned so much from each other – again demonstrating the power of the circle to allow our inner wisdom to bubble up, all the more perfect to be shared.

If you’d like to save the date, our next conversation circle is scheduled for Thursday, October 4, 2018.  We look forward to seeing you there!

We close our circles with a poem, and this time we offered one from one of our favorite poets, Tara Mohr.


Reinvention

There is always the possibility
of reinvention

sometimes born of longing
sometimes offered faintly,
like birdsong in your ear

sometimes—
born of pain.

Life is long for a reason.
So that every chapter swells
with a new chapter of us,

so there is time to change
the meaning of your name
to everyone around you,
and especially
to you.

When the name that once meant
tired girl comes to mean
she who rose again,

–then
art begins.

I met a woman
whose house burned down
and in the ashes
she found the blaze of her self.

Now it roars
still angry, sometimes uncontrolled,
always a blinding light.

If you see her on the street,
bow to her courage.
Stare back into her flickering animal eyes,
and know, she is fighting a fight.

 

Myth #4: Women Lack Confidence When it Comes to Money

Published in: Blog, Conversation Circle, Get Smart |

Over the last few years, much ink has been spilled over women and their lack of confidence. Female executives have written books with several chapters dedicated to the topic. In 2014, one of The Atlantic’s most popular cover stories popularized the term “the confidence gap” and examined the empirical research on the issue. Even beauty magazines now have subtitles like “Eight Qualities of Highly Confident Women” and “Your Guide to Killer Confidence,” framing confidence as a supposedly easy character trait to adopt while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store.

Despite being hackneyed, there is good reason for the discourse around this topic. An overwhelming amount of evidence has shown that the “confidence gap” has been a problem historically. In the world of finance, this concept has manifested itself by depicting women as timid, indecisive investors, insecure about their financial knowledge and decision making. But there are signs that the tides are changing – so much so, in fact, that we would argue that women lacking financial confidence is a myth.

One reason women are perceived as being unsure of themselves is that they often make decisions differently than men do. We live in a culture that applauds people who speak and act authoritatively, don’t hesitate or mince words, and make decisions quickly (for better or worse). While there are certainly women who embody these characteristics, there are many more who tend to think things through before they contribute to a conversation, or prefer to gather more information before making a decision. This can easily be misinterpreted as indecisiveness and insecurity when in fact, that woman is simply taking time to reach to a well-informed decision.

In fact, research has shown that when complex situations present themselves, women are more likely to evaluate the nuances in the details, while men tend to focus on fewer pieces of data.[1] As you can imagine, this often decreases the quality of the man’s decision making, and boosts the quality of the woman’s.

Making decisions about money is complex and nuanced, something women are good at. So where is the disconnect? Women simply want to know more before making an important financial decision. Merrill Lynch recently pointed out that even among men and women with similar levels of financial knowledge, women are more likely to say they don’t know enough.[2] Many of our clients have walked into our office believing they were not adept at handling their finances when, in actuality, they just needed to have their questions answered in a straightforward and transparent way.

The good news is that there are early indications that societal changes are improving women’s “confidence” around money, particularly in the younger generation, because they are gaining more access to information. Women age 25-34 are more likely than their elders to report they learned about finances from one or both parents (62%, compared to 45% of older women)[3], and over half (51%) say they are very confident in their investing skills. This is in stark contrast to their elders: only 36% of women age 35-49, 14% of women age 50-69, and 11% of women age 70-84 said the same.[4]

So, how can we ride this new wave of financial confidence?

In Our Experience:

  • Women discount their financial savviness without considering areas of their lives in which they are already smart about money – family budgeting, volunteer work that involves financial management, managing medical issues, advocating for family members and loved ones.
  • Women are adept at picking up financial concepts if they are explained without unnecessary jargon or obscure concepts.
  • If women are clear on their goals and values, making decisions can be simple and straightforward. Once our clients have defined what matters most, decisions fall into place more easily. Aligning our financial resources with our highest priorities and values can provide relief and a sense of certainty.

Our Advice to You:

  • Women generally prefer to learn in group settings which are much more supportive and collaborative. We learn from each other as we share our hard-won wisdom. Such a setting – whether the subject is personal finance or meditation – may be just the ticket.
  • We believe that self-reflection leads to self-knowledge – and is a natural precursor to building confidence. Spend some time, structured or otherwise, getting clear on what you care about most. If you’re feeling stuck, we can provide some helpful exercises.
  • When your questions are answered with spin, insist on clarity, transparency and an absence of condescension.
  • We regularly host conversation circlesfor women who are interested in straightforward and authentic discussions focusing on the non-numerical aspects of personal finance. We talk with one another about what matters, discover ways to apply our unique strengths to our finances, and share our stories, experiences, and collective wisdom about money. Everyone is welcome – let us know if you’d like to be included in our next circle!

Ready for a deeper dive? Give us a call if you have questions or would like to talk – we’re here to help.

What’s next?  Stay tuned for Myth #5:  Women are less interested in investing.

At The Humphreys Group, it’s no secret that we revere the many ways women today are breaking through gender stereotypes. Lately, we’ve been especially fascinated by stereotypes that permeate discussions about women and money. These phrases probably sound familiar: “Women aren’t interested in investing. They lack confidence about their financial decisions. When women do invest, they’re too risk averse.” By and large, these – as well as many other commonly accepted notions in finance – are all myths.

That’s why we’re writing this series of articles busting myths about women and money, and shining a light on the data that disproves them. We’re also sharing what we’ve learned from our work with clients, and offering some thoughts on what we can all do to re-direct the conversation from myth to truth.

 

[1] “Are Women Better Than Men at Multi-Tasking?,” BMC Psychology, October 2013

[2]“Women and Investing: A Behavioral Finance Perspective,” Michael Liersch, Fall 2015

[3] “Ameriprise Study Reveals More Women are Taking Command of Their Finances,” Ameriprise, June 2014

[4] “Assessing the Landscape, Female Investors and Financial Advisors,” State Street Global Advisors, 2015

What is Financial Life Planning?

Published in: Blog, Conversation Circle, Get Smart |

Most financial advisors will tell you that emotions and investing are two things best kept in isolation. Emotions cloud your judgment, they say. Emotions provoke irrational behavior and have no place among the pie charts and annualized returns on your financial plan. Best to compartmentalize your feelings and save them for your therapy appointments.  We believe that the idea you’re your emotions should remain separate from money and investing is a myth.

As advisors, we believe that expertise and empathy both have a role to play in money matters. Anyone who focuses on one at the expense of the other is presenting a false choice.  Further, we have seen that self-reflection leads to self-knowledge, which leads to self-confidence, which in turn leads to better decisions and timely implementation.  It’s not just about feeling good. That’s important, of course, and we want as much of that for ourselves and our clients as possible. But we’ve also seen that embracing our emotional sides and having those pivotal conversations leads to better financial outcomes.

Financial life planning is a holistic process that puts your interests first and focuses on increasing your sense of financial well-being and life satisfaction.  Initially, this process will help you clarify your values, priorities, circumstances and aspirations; and then guide you in defining and designing your unique version of the “rich life.”  Not only that, financial life planning will increase your understanding of the habits and attitudes that will facilitate your financial and life goals and support successful life transitions.

Because of the unpredictability of life and the complexity of financial markets, it is important to work with a financial advisor who will help you to achieve your financial and life goals.  And, it is essential to select an advisor who will take the time to truly get to know you and to understand your concerns and your dreams.

We encourage you to consider working with a financial advisor who shares this philosophy and who is willing to tackle these issues with you.  There are a range of “discovery” methods and tools that advisors use to frame the process and the discussion.  We are big fans of Money Quotient, a non-profit that offers financial advisors tools and training to help and inspire clients to look inward to maximize resources and live purposeful lives.  You can find such an advisor here – check it out!

www.moneyquotient.org/advisor-search/

 

What is a Conversation Circle, Anyway?

Published in: Blog, Conversation Circle |

In most aspects of our lives, when we need to make a decision we often turn to trusted friends and family. They listen as we sort through the details, they share their experiences and wisdom, and together we look for outcomes that are in alignment with our goals and values. Research indicates that women in particular rely on these conversations to build the knowledge and understanding they need to have make decisions confidently. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to have these important conversations about money and financial decisions with our usual confidants.
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Insights & Outcomes: Being Brave

Published in: Blog, Conversation Circle, Get Smart |

Being Brave: Navigating Money Talk With Loved Ones

Why did we title this conversation “Being Brave?” Financial services giant TIAA conducted a study in March 2017, to get parents’ and adult children’s thoughts on money conversations. Although 75-85% of both parents and children consider financial conversations to be very important, only 11% of parents and 37% of adult children say they’re likely to initiate a conversation about any financial topic. And what usually happens when families do talk about money? According to the study they are overly generalized and happen spontaneously, at the spur of the moment. This is where the bravery comes in. Tackling a money conversation with loved ones is uncommon and we usually don’t see it modelled in our culture.  But there is a reason to persist. When families do have financial conversations, the outcome is usually positive: about half of the parents who talked with their children frequently about their future financial plans felt proud about how those conversations went – as they should. These parents also reported feeling happy and uplifted.  It’s not easy, it’s not our cultural norm, and it takes courage.  But the benefit is that the bond between loved ones can be strengthened and the level of support among family members reinforced.
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