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Resetting After a Long Break

This week, many of us have just returned to work, (and/) or returned our kids to school after a lengthy break. There are understandably mixed feelings about this break, and mine are no exception. I found myself yearning for more productivity during the last week of my kids’ winter break, and while I didn’t think Monday could come soon enough, I knew I would miss our cozy mornings, spontaneous outings, and weekend energy. I wanted to love every minute of that break. At the same time, I couldn’t shake the nagging of my house project list, which stares me down during every staycation, the guilt of not having opened my laptop for days on end, or the absolute insanity I approach every time my kids’ fighting reaches screaming volume. I hate to admit that by last Friday, my head was not in a good place. As I dove right back into the swing of things Monday morning, I felt the need to repent somewhat for not giving winter break my all.

I think this struggle has a striking parallel to that of a typical financial journey. Getting a grasp on our financial literacy has its ups and downs. Financial literacy is something we all should nurture and be present for, but it can be frustrating and overwhelming to do so. The majority of women in the US lack the confidence to make their own long-term financial decisions. They do not lack the capability. Resetting our financial literacy journey is a lot like resetting after a holiday break. To gain back our focus, and rebuild confidence, it’s helpful to practice these three exercises:

  1. Forgive yourself - show yourself some compassion and understanding when it comes to all the ways you have not achieved the financial literacy you may have hoped for. So many factors play into our financial journey and we should be careful to acknowledge each one while we examine our progress.

  2. Celebrate your wins - no matter how small they may seem, your wins are important to recognize and are already the building blocks to your success on this journey. So, well done!!

  3. Start with small goals and tasks to gain momentum - don’t try to tackle investing all of your family’s money next month if you don’t have any investing knowledge. Do take on small steps that you can achieve each week (“I’m going to set aside this much money for my new investment goal,” “I’m going to find the right investing account to open, based on my goals,” “I’m going to invest in funds that I select after a little bit of research.”)

I went through this exercise yesterday and I’m feeling a lot more confident not only about what I’d like to achieve this year, but also about how I’ll enjoy breaks in the future. I think I especially benefited from reflecting on some of my small wins, and I thought I’d leave them for you below. I hope they inspire you to reflect on your wins!

Small Wins Over A Looooong Winter Break

  • I made two(!) batches of Christmas cookies with my daughters.

  • I carried a little extra load while my husband recovers from his broken leg.

  • We explored outside. I did my first uphill ski race!

As you step into this new season, I hope you give yourself grace, make time to reflect, and savor the feeling of accomplishment as you set out in taking your first small steps to progress your financial literacy.

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