Life is often unpredictable and everyone has an occasional bad day. Bad days and negative emotional reactions happen to the best of us, from financial advisors to hedge fund traders. These unpredictable negative events and pervasive negative emotions that follow them, can make it easy to fall prey to negative thinking, and thus, can possibly impact both their mental and physical health. Mindfulness is specifically the self-awareness and self-management that arises from focused attention and awareness of how one feels, what one is thinking, and how one is behaving in the present. It allows an advisor to consider their thoughts and feelings without rushing to judgment or an impulsive action. This state of consciousness allows an advisor to marinate in the positive sensations and highs of the present moment without hyper focusing on the abundance of tasks and stressors that are often present as distractions in our daily lives. In many ways, the development of skills aimed at increasing mindfulness, can arm an advisor with a powerful tool that will insulate them during times of great uncertainty, during setbacks in performance, or can even serve as a great warm up before an important presentation to a prospect.
Self-awareness is fundamental to healthy functioning and represents an advisor’s ability to self-examine their thoughts and emotions. The ability to examine one’s awareness allows an individual to maintain emotional discipline in the face of a present adversity. A technique I use to improve self-awareness is, “bullish thinking,” which is the ability to perceive negative events in a reality based and positive light while disregarding one’s initial negative emotions and thoughts in order to create a positive outcome. Mastering self-awareness and bullish thinking allows individuals to live in the moment, achieve their optimal performance zone and improve their overall quality of life without allowing the negative thoughts to infiltrate their consciousness. It gives an advisor the perception that they have more control over seemingly uncontrollable negative events. It might seem simplistic, but for many self-critical, perfectionist individuals, being mindful is very tough to do. It is often much easier to give in to self-defeating, absolute thoughts that can be catastrophic and irrational in nature. When you notice that you’re experiencing that churning feeling in your stomach after you experience a setback, that’s the first sign of bearish thoughts entering your mind. Self-awareness and perception is crucial to the eradication of these thoughts and the development of mindfulness.
Self-management is an important skill for advisors to reach one’s goals and managing their time effectively. The ability to achieve mindfulness, through the regulation and focus on one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment, requires intensive self-management. An important aspect of self-management is realizing when you are being too self-critical. Instead of shrugging off and moving on from negative experiences, some advisors ponder these events for way too long. This brain freeze does not allow individuals to perform at their optimal level or accomplish their goals. Effective self-management erases that behavioral paralysis and allows an individual to regulate their thoughts and accomplish their tasks in a positive manner. Effective self-management relies on controlling impulses and erasing any negative judgments. It is important to continually reflect and be mindful of the present moment. By effectively self-monitoring your behavior and emotions, you’re able to present a consistent and confident exterior and company image, which reassures team members and clients and ultimately leads to improved mental and physical health.
Although we all have our occasional bad day and negative thoughts relating to negative events that are out of our control, we have the ability to transform those negative thoughts and emotions into positive ones with effective mindfulness. It is important to not only think about the negative days and feeling but make sure to enjoy and treasure the present moment too!