The Surroundup

Could things possibly be more uncertain?

  • by Gillian Stovel Rivers, MA, CFP®, CEA
  • January 21, 2021

Gillian Stovel Rivers, MA, CFP®, CEA

Could things possibly be more uncertain?

It’s impossible to know.

Let’s just agree that 2021 has started off the same way 2020 ended:  rife with uncertainty in pretty much any sphere you can think of.

Personal and political.  Economic and emotional.  Social and psychological.  Financial, familial and physical.

The news media and social media – abetted by our communication devices and internet connections – are all too easily capable of compounding our uncertainty into outright anxiety.

But: what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be this way?  That you can get off the hamster wheel that compels you to check your devices countless times day and night?  That you can free your mind from worrying, as the media wants you to do, about what’s happening around the world in the next minute, hour and day – as if you or I have any control over that whatsoever?

You don’t have to try controlling the impossible.  You can instead regain a feeling and reality of control and certainty by controlling just a single sheet of paper each week.

It’s a very special weekly organizer called the Surround Wealth One-Pager, and we’ve derived it from the Surround Manifesto with our clients and other like-minded people in mind.  It’s downloadable at the end of this blog post.  Each of its first five sections has an objective that allows you to clearly define a destiny for yourself.  The sixth and final section gives you space to reflect on what went best in your week, so you can try to recreate that greatness in the weeks to come.

The overarching theme is that money does not equal wealth.  Instead, true wealth is the set of things, important and unique to you, that, although often made possible by money, goes far beyond dollars and cents.

Hence the one-pager’s headline:  This is how I wealth.  We’re using “wealth” as a verb in this context.  By saying “This is how I wealth,” we are saying, “this is how I am going to invest my time in the next week, so I can be truly rich.  And a lot more certain, in control and relaxed than I would otherwise be.”

Have a look at the One-Pager while I give you some details on each section:

What I do = what I get.

Where I will invest myself this week

How do you choose to invest your time?  This is where life happens – so choose wisely.  You might want to choose 30 things, but that is too many.  You will not feel in control and uncertainty will reign.  So be intentional and choose a maximum of five things that you will focus on this week.  Things that illustrate what you care about and cover at least two areas of your life.

For example, you likely shouldn’t be focusing just on money.  What, then, about your mental or physical health?  Or, if you focus just on health, what about the friends or family members who depend on you?

If it helps, you can pick your maximum five things from under some or all of these headings:

  • Physical and/or mental health
  • Finances
  • Learning, personal interests and hobbies
  • Family and social life
  • Giving back

Note that emptying the dishwasher does not count as one of your five things.  It and other mundane to-dos are simply too micro-manage-y and will keep you focused too closely on the end of your nose.

Personally, I’d like to invest three hours this week into yoga, so I am going to write that down.  And I’d like to make sure that my boys and I have some fun doing crafts together.  I think two hours will likely be the right number for that.

That’s two things already. See how easy that was?  I’m going to follow through, and when I do, I know I’ll feel wealthier than I am now.

What you do really does equal what you get.  So invest in those five areas thoughtfully, and you will add value to your life – and to the lives of those you care about.  It is like having an energizing relationship with your day instead of an enervating one:  one that takes and does not give back.  One that drains you.

Being kind comes back to me.

People to connect with this week

People are a huge source of joy for us.  So be mindful about staying in touch with them – because the people you reach out to are the ones who are going to reach out to you in return.

Being kind comes back to us, in other words.  What we should be trying to do is build a web – a network – of people we can support and who will thus support us back.

And if we don’t spend some of our time each week nourishing that network, it won’t be there when we need it.  That is a terrible thought – and a situation we have in our power to avoid.

This week I’d like to have Zoom calls with two people I haven’t seen in a while, so I am going to list that here (and also book two hours for it in the first section, What I do = what I get).

Clarity gives me control.

Important stuff that comes up during the day

This section is here because of the time it takes to get back on track when we’ve been distracted from the big things we’ve decided to focus on in the first section.  Of course, we might not get back on track at all. And when we don’t, everybody loses.

We lose, because we will now be giving less to our intention than we intended.  Or we might not fulfill the intention at all.  And if there was anyone our intention was going to benefit, they’re going to lose too.  As is, quite possibly, the person behind the distraction, as our instinct is often to deliver a makeshift response to make the distraction disappear.  In other words, the distractor isn’t going to get our best either.

So this section is where we put the distractions that come up.  It’s where we can “park” them, to return to later (or perhaps never), and not get derailed from the big things we said at the start of the week were most important to us and our overall sense of wealth.

Money is not wealth.

What I am grateful for right now

If our sole focus is on how much money we have, and that tops our gratitude list each week, we are going to feel pretty empty.  This obviously does not diminish by a single scintilla our profound commitment to building your financial wealth and making you as financially wealthy as we possibly can.

But money, in and of itself, is not the endgame. Rather, it is what that money can do for us.  So in this section we record the things that we’re grateful for this week, over and above our financial net worth.  More and more research is proving that gratitude is one of the most powerful methods we have to make ourselves feel great.  To feel truly wealthy.

Be anything, but be the best.

People and projects I’m focused on this week

This, as they say, is where the rubber hits the road. We cannot be our best selves unless we use our time intentionally.  In using our time intentionally, we are creating certainty for ourselves (and for others we care about), which is profoundly calming to us (and to them).

Thus this section is about owning your own headspace instead of trying to be all things to all others.  It’s about not being a victim of your inbox.  It is about taking the stuff you inputted to the What I do = what I get, Being kind comes back to me and Clarity gives me control sections and planning it out – morning, afternoon and evening – right here.

Small details are a huge deal.

The best thing that happened this week.

When you look back at the past seven days, what is the best thing that happened?

It might have been a huge thing. But this section’s title hopefully prompts us to see that there is much joy to be found in the little things.  Pick one and revel in it.

Then ask yourself: what does this tell me?  How will it feed what I’ll do next week?

And then go do it.

Download the Surround Wealth One-Pager


Want to talk further about how the Surround Wealth One-Pager can add certainty, control – and greater wealth – to your life?  I am here.  I look forward to hearing from you.

P.S. Here are some of the sources that have informed my point of view on the above:

Martin Seligman

It is his work in the neuroscience of positivity and gratitude that got me going on the daily and sometimes crisis reset habit of audibly stating my gratitude.

Brendon Burchard

It is his High-Performance Planner that got me going on the weekly ritual of living intentionally.

Eric Barker

It is his wandering work in the neuroscience and practical makings of a truly happy life that give me context when the world gets a bit overwhelming.