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Life Lessons from Scaling the Via Ferrata

September 11, 2023

Life brings surprises.
A few years ago, what I thought would be a laid-back experience in Telluride Colorado with my niece and nephew turned out to be something totally unexpected. An “easy” rock-climbing lesson was actually a hair-raising experience of scaling across 400-foot-high cliffs of the via ferrata. When I realized what we were about to encounter, my first thought was to run, run fast to safety! But since my niece and nephew seemed to be “all in,” I took a deep breath and decided to move forward through my fear.   

Many of us can relate to unexpected experiences like this, especially those spurred on by the economy, the political arena, and the markets as of late. With all the news barraging us 24/7 we often feel overwhelmed, and want to just shut down and go hide, and hide our money too! 

Focus on what you can control and keep your eye on your goal.
As I was scaling the cliffs, I focused on what I had control over, namely where I put my hands and my feet, taking deep breaths and focusing on what I could do.  If I looked down at how high I was and thought about all the what-ifs that could happen, one slip could have put me in a very precarious way, and I may not have made it across in one piece.

Put your attention on what you can control, namely your own financial decisions, how you react to changing situations, and what you are committed to.

Be in the moment.
Sometimes our stress can paralyze us, so how can we stay open for discovery and opportunities if we are so debilitated by our stress? First, don’t resist how you are feeling, i.e., why me, why now, this isn’t fair, etc., as resistance closes the window of opportunity. Allow yourself to feel this way, it’s ok, and remember “this too shall pass”. Ask yourself what you can learn from this, how can you seek something that will serve you at this time.

Practice being in the moment. Start simple, take a walk and pay attention to what are you smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing, and feeling. If you give your brain a rest from the stress, you’ll be amazed by the solutions that may come your way.

Things don’t always turn out.
When we set personal financial goals, many times we experience situations along the way that we did not expect such as a divorce, a death, or a loss of money where the end result becomes much different than what we expected. 

It’s great to have goals but not be tethered to them. Use them as a possible pathway, but stay open and accepting, and in a discovery mindset. This can open the window for other, more advantageous, opportunities to come your way. 

What your story is, is just a story, but there could be many different stories to tell.  You have the power to create a new future that empowers and inspires you.
The other day I heard a story of a very successful women who invested 1.5M at a young age of 39 and thought she would be set in the future, only to experience a great loss of her investment a few years later.  This experience is now ingrained in her perception of investing, and it has been very difficult for her to move forward and think about investing again.

We all have experiences in life that may affect our perceptions and behavior. But that’s ok if it serves you. Realize it is just a story and you can shift your perceptions and create a powerful new story, with a different future, without the past hindering you.

Treat yourself with care and celebrate the small accomplishments you make along the way.
Training your brain, just like working out to stay healthy and strong, is a daily exercise. First thing every morning you should think of three to four things for which you are grateful. This way you can train your brain to think positive versus waking up and listening to news and major disruptions happening around the world. It’s important to be educated, but be selective on how you receive communications. Consider turning off the news to spend more time in a grateful mindset thinking about what you can create for you and your family.

Even though it’s difficult, find time to celebrate yourself. Try daily, along with your three to four areas in which you are grateful, to think about 3 or 4 reasons why you appreciate who you are. Do this every day and be ready for all the good things that will come your way.