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How I retook control of my life (pandemic edition)

Move beyond the standard pros and cons when making important decisions

Happy 1-1-1 Friday!

This week I’m thinking about the role our values and emotions play when making big decisions.

1 idea from me

I did it. I finally figured out how to see my out-of-state family during a pandemic AND keep everyone safe. I bought a campervan! OK, so this isn’t as wacky (or simple a decision) as it may sound...I’ve wanted one of these for over 20 years. Covid just moved the timeline up :)

It was a heck of a decision to make. These things are expensive! How would I finance it? Would I need to sell my house? Isn’t it ridiculous to make a large purchase with so much economic uncertainty? I’m still building my business, how will I work from the road? I should be contributing more to my retirement, blah blah blah…the fear of financial ruin was strong.

The swirl in my brain was making me anxious and depressed. I was tempted to do what I always do: make the financially responsible decision. I have a real scarcity mindset when it comes to money. I never want to live paycheck to paycheck again. Working hard, living below my means, and paying careful attention to my finances allowed me to leave my stable job and start my own business. Buying a campervan? Frivolous!

Not so fast...I recovered from burnout by getting clear on my core values and reprioritizing my time. One of my top 5 values is connection with family, yet I never used to have the time or energy to spend quality time with them on the phone or in person. So I restructured my life to prioritize spending time with the people I love. And spend time with them I did! And it was amazing.

Enter the pandemic. I haven’t seen my loved ones in over 6 months. It’s causing me serious distress and having a negative impact on my mental health. So when I stopped thinking only about money, and paid close attention to my need for love and connection, the answer became clear. I should buy a van now, because who knows how long this pandemic will last? I can travel and sleep in it...it’s a quarantine travel pod!

I still honored my need for financial stability by making a spreadsheet of all my expenses, meeting with my financial advisor, and finding a less expensive used, but well-maintained rig. The trade-off of having a bit less in my retirement account later for spending precious (and priceless) time with my family now became a no-brainer for me (emphasis on me… all decisions are deeply personal, and I’m not suggesting that you stop planning for the future!).

By paying close attention to my real need for connection with my family while balancing my need for financial security, I made a win-win decision that reduced my anxiety, gave me some control back in my life, and filled me with hope. And we certainly could all benefit from having more control and hope in our lives right now. 

                              Meet Libby, my pandemic escape pod!

I talk more about the need to tend to our emotions in order to make better decisions in this 6-minute video.

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1 quote

From film critic, historian, journalist, screenwriter, and author Roger Ebert:

"Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you." 

Source: Goodreads

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1 question to ponder suggestion to consider

When faced with a big decision, make your standard list of pros and cons. Then spend some time noticing your emotions and feelings about your options. What comes up? Fear? Sadness? A need for belonging or certainty? Don’t let unacknowledged emotions keep you from taking the right action. Unpacking the deeper stuff helps us make better and more sustainable decisions.

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See you next week! xo

Christine

PS: If you know someone who might benefit from this newsletter, please forward them this email and they can sign up here.

And you can follow my travel adventures with Libby by following us on Instagram at @christineoneill.co

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