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RFG President, Shannon Spotswood | Finding Work Life Balance

by: Shannon Spotswood
published: May, 19th 2017

I used to think a lot about work life balance. As a mother of 3 children (one about to enter junior high and 2 in elementary school), wife, daughter and President of RFG, I am grateful to say that my plate is full.  After reading every book on work life balance and trying to crack the code on the mystery, I realized that this pursuit of balance was never going to happen.  I would enthusiastically second Jean Chatzky’s statement below that “balance thing is a crock.”  I laughed out loud at the simplicity of the word “crock.”  She’s right, the more I used to strive for balance the less balanced I felt.  I’ve learned after 12 years as a working mom, and 20+ years in the financial services industry, that instead of seeking balance I seek quality time.  Quality time sometimes is as short as a cup of coffee and a 5 minute conversation with my college roommate who lives 3,000 miles away or as long as hiking all day on the weekend with my family.  If we focus on gratitude instead of focusing on what we don’t have, what we aren’t doing it helps to take the edge off the elusive work life balance crock! 


Chatzky To Woman Advisors: Don't Stress Over Work-Life Balance

Professional women should stop trying to have it all, all the time, according to author and financial journalist Jean Chatzky. 

Addressing the Third Annual Invest In Women conference in Dallas on Wednesday, Chatzky said that women in the workforce should stop seeking the all-too-often sought “work-life balance.” 

“After 30 years in the workforce, I think the balance thing is a crock,” said Chatzky. 

"I’ve chosen to think of my work life like vegetables," she continued, arguing that it isn’t important to eat vegetables in every meal as long as they’re eaten in a sufficient amount every week. “Give yourselves a break. ... We tend to hold ourselves to standards that are too difficult to achieve. The only way things work is if we help each other.” 

Chatzky gave the advisors in her audience some tips to help manage their clients'—and their own—wealth and health as their lives become busier with career and personal concerns. 

For example, Chatzky urged the advisors present, mostly women, to look differently at stress management. 

“Human beings respond in one of two ways when approached with stress: fight or flight,” said Chatzky. 

“Recently, we’ve put a bigger emphasis on flight or escaping from stress,” she said, citing drinking tea, meditation and yoga as examples. “They aren’t bad—they temporarily make you feel better. But when it comes to wealth and health, flight won’t help. You have to fight back, and fighting back means that you have to come up with a plan for solving your problems.” 

Choosing to alleviate stress with “flight” strategies can lead clients and advisors to delay addressing their issues, and thus may aggravate or exacerbate their stress over the long term. 

Automation helps simplify and ease the management process, said Chatzky, pointing out that automated advice processes like robo-advisors and financial planning technology take a lot of the stress out of the job. 

“Automation works just as well for health,” said Chatzky. “Find one or two breakfasts, one or two lunches that you like to eat, and prepare them for every day of your week. Use calendar reminders to prompt workouts. These reminders work.” 

Automating clients’ financial processes can put their money out of mind, helping to keep them at ease, said Chatzky. 

She also recommended that advisors attempt to break bad habits with substitution. 

“Just breaking a bad habit doesn’t work,” she said. “It has to be replaced with a better one.” 

Substitution could be replacing poor spending choices with inexpensive or free activities, or replacing unhealthy meals or addictions with healthier choices. 

Most importantly, said Chatzky, dealing with stress-causing problems, be they financial or health, should be a team sport. Even if the problems are considered “private.” 

“Private doesn’t mean solo,” said Chatzky. “Advisors can act like accountability buddies. Women tend to understand this because women learn differently: They want a human touch. They are consensus builders. They take a holistic approach to planning and their peace of mind is key. They look at investments as a way to protect and support their families. The more you incorporate that, the better off you’ll be.” 

Chatzky reminded advisors not to neglect their clients’ health, or their own, noting that more than 80 percent of health-care spending goes to the treatment of chronic disease, and 75 percent of chronic disease is preventable. Thus physical health perhaps becomes the most important element to ensuring a successful financial future. 

Written by Christopher Robbins