Words to Live By

7/25/2022 - By Kristen J. Stogniew, Esq., CFE

This blog has been updated on 7/25/2022 from its original publishing on 2/13/2013.

When I was asked to repurpose a blog I wrote almost 10 years ago, at first, I thought it would be hypocritical of me. I had written four recommendations to help my business clients achieve peace and strength during a time of unprecedented change, and unfortunately, I had not been practicing my own recommended behaviors, despite being bombarded with changes! 

On introspection, the points still ring true and are exactly the reminder I need even years later, but I’ve given them an update.

Live in the Now: Besides prayer, I achieve peace that surpasses all understanding when I throw myself “all in” to a work or personal project.  When I flex my creative or mental muscle, I become absorbed in something so deeply that I can’t or don’t want to think about the past or future. I am totally focused on the “now”. Whether it is getting a report written, planting a garden, cleaning or redecorating the house, it is such a relief to totally focus the mind on a positive activity and to have something to show for it at the end of the day.  

My husband Matt is a person who naturally lives in the present and he wrote on our shower notepad “Do nothing for 15 seconds”.  At first, I thought it would be impossible, but I tried it and it worked! It’s easier and more impactful than you’d think. 

Accept and Surrender: These perfect words from a Jimmy Buffet song stick in my head:

I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
Floating down canal
It doesn't use numbers or moving hands
It always just says now
Now you may be thinking that I was had
But this watch is never wrong
And if I have trouble, the warranty said
Breathe in, breathe out, move on

Do you feel like you waste too much precious energy ruminating about what could or should have been? “If only” are worthless words. Whenever you catch yourself wishing things were different, think of Jimmy. Take a deep breath, refocus your thoughts on what is and resolve to move on.  

Find a Mentor or Friend Who Serves as One: My best friends, my husband being the best of them, are those who know and support me professionally and personally. Every one of them is or has something about them that I strive to be. Surrounding yourself with supportive people is ideal, but having even one person who you can trust, who will just listen and provide impartial advice from time to time, can help with stress immensely. 

Get Out: Sometimes you just need to get out of the house or office and spend time in nature.  Be safe and prepare for the environment. Hot and rainy Florida summers make outdoor activities a challenge for me, but during the first parts of the pandemic, I had “Walk and Talks” with my team. Any morning from 9-10 they could feel free to call me because they knew I’d be walking and happy to talk through anything with them. This de-stressed me even deeper than the walk alone, because I knew I was meeting their needs, too. I will start this again in the fall and, if you work from home, it might be something that could work for you too. 

I think it's safe to say there’s a lot going on for everyone, but hopefully, these four simple tools will help you manage these changes and challenges at least for a while. In any event, let’s regroup in another 10 years. 

About the Author | Kristen J. Stogniew

Kristen is a shareholder at Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund where she leads the firm's Financial Institution Consulting practice. She has more than 25 years of experience as a trusted advisor on legal, operational, and compliance concerns facing the financial services industry.

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