If you’re trying to decrease your stress level as the RRSP deadline approaches, finding ways to worry less must be a part of that process.
You can think of stress as mercury in a thermometer, says Denise Marek, a worry management expert based in Ajax, Ont. and author of CALM: A Proven Four-Step Process Designed Specifically for Women Who Worry.
“The mercury goes up and down to [show] what the temperature is,” Marek says. “And worry is one of the sources of ‘heat’ that raises that temperature.”
Using her CALM method, Marek provides four steps to help financial advisors manage worry:
1. Challenge your assumptions
We often ask ourselves whether the potential scenario that worries us is possible, Marek says. That can lead to excessive worrying because anything is possible.
So, maybe you worry that it’s possible you will forget the speech you’re scheduled to give at your local chamber of commerce. While it is possible you will completely blank while on stage, tell yourself it is not likely because you’ve rehearsed it many times.
“Switch it up,” Marek says. “Ask yourself is [that situation] very likely.”
2. Act to control the controllable
You can spend your time worrying about something or you can try to improve the situation.
Brainstorm steps you can realistically take to manage a situation that has caused apprehension. Says Marek: “This helps you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat of your life again.”
For example, you worry a client’s portfolio will not produce significant growth because of her low risk tolerance. You cannot control your client’s appetite for riskier investments but you can educate her on the potential rewards of various investments. She will then be aware her cautiousness may result in fewer gains.
3. Let go of what you can’t control
It is easy to become consumed in your career and forget about the activities that bring you joy.
This is why you need to let go of the circumstances you cannot change and take care of yourself, says Marek.
Instead of worrying about an uncontrollable financial market, make time in your schedule to do something you enjoy, like exercising or attending concerts.
“The markets are still going to be there when you finish taking care of yourself,” says Marek. “But it’s okay because you’ll be stronger for whatever comes your way.”
4. Master your mind
Correct your negative self-talk when you find yourself getting anxious.
Accomplish this by asking yourself two questions:
> What is happening right now? Focus on the present moment and not what might go wrong in the future.
> Will it matter in one year? Sometimes, what worries us is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Then, be confident and tell yourself you can handle it.
“When you really start to believe in your ability to handle anything,” Marek says, “the worry just disappears.”
So, maybe you’re worrying about fitting in an increased number of client appointments during RRSP season. Just remind yourself that you’ve always been successful in seeing your clients in the past and you know you can handle it this year.