Top 10 self-care tips for contractors in a cost-of-living crisis
Interest rates rose in August 2023 for the 15th month in a row to 5.2%, the highest base rate since April 2008.
Granted, it’s not the opening line you’d perhaps expect from me, a life coach, but the rising cost of living is affecting all of our livelihoods, even the professional livelihoods of usually well-heeled contractors, writes Shwezin Win of Win at Life.
For contract professionals like readers of ContractorUK, the cost-of-living crisis is visibly putting stress and pressure onto already busy and pressurised lives.
Having coached a few clients who admit they’re feeling the additional strain as a direct result of our currently unforgiving economic climate, it’s time to share my top 10 self-care tips on how this stubborn, financially-challenging period can be approached.
1. Increase your communication
When you’re back is to the wall with financial pressures, it’s not a time to clam up and just hope they all evaporate. Talk to your loved ones and trusted listeners about where the pressure points are; why you have the most concern and how it makes you feel. As I’ve said previously, it’s much better out than in.
It’s at cash pressure-cooker times like this that families and relationships can break down if we’re not communicating our thoughts, feelings and actions -- and that even extends to sharing what our coping mechanisms are, so that they can be respected.
Don’t put your head in the sand, because when you’re taking on the strain, your mood and behaviour becomes short, and nobody around you understanding why can make a bad situation worse.
2. Jot it down
Write down all the money-centric areas that you’re worried about. Be honest, don’t try to dilute the issues.
Keeping them in your head and not articulating the issues will just magnify the problems as your thoughts make the situation more problematic, rather than focusing on possible solutions. And crossing things off your list -- even if it's on a tablet or Word document -- can also be enormously satisfying!
3. What one thing can you do to help yourself at this time?
Try asking yourself (and answering), ‘What’s in your control, financially?’ Start small.
Similarly, ask yourself, ‘What one thing could I do which would ease my financial concerns, or help me feel better on the financial front, which is within my reach or which I could look at doing now, or soon?’
As my clients regularly remind me when they look back at how they achieved resolution, it’s not always about focusing on the biggest issue, sometimes it’s about giving you some sense of control back into your life when you’re feeling things are out of control. And yes right now, definitely out of control are prices!
4. Know your ‘wants’ from your ‘needs’
Think about your day-to-day routine. Consider what’s “essential” versus “nice to have.” With that in mind, try to pinpoint what changes could you make that would make a small improvement to your financial position.
With your money, what helps you to ‘be better’? What do you need to keep yourself motivated, focused and capable of saving, budgeting or reining in your splurging?
Sometimes what you think you 'need' is actually just a 'want,' so consider your choices, be open about what helps you and go with your gut about what’s vital versus not vital.
5. Stop being hard on yourself -- there’s enough out there in the economy to do that!
Believe in yourself -- you can do this!
We all had to deal with lockdown, something so unprecedented, but you got through it. Although this high cost-of-living situation might seem different, you do have the strength to deal with it. Finding your strengths and turning on a positive mindset will give you a new lease of life in dealing with this primarily economic-led situation.
6. Don’t procrastinate
Ever go around in circles about what the possible options to help yourself, are? But then go around again, because with each action comes a downside?!
As annoying as that is, be reassured – you’re human! Many of us do it. Remember, pretty much everything has consequences and we can get wrapped up in the ‘what ifs’ from our options. Decide what is an acceptable implication to a decision and take the action.
7. Who else needs to be involved?
Contractors’ clients love a bit of outsourcing, and surely you too could do some offloading?!
Please do consider who else will be impacted by the actions and decisions that you take, such as your partner or family and get them involved.
Who else needs to be invited into this internal discussion you keep having in your head? Just as you would in a work or client context, bring in the key people when you’re sensing your ready to make a financial or money-related lifestyle decision.
Help them understand the situation; your options, the implications and manage expectations. Bring them along with you on your decision to swap Paris, France’s Four Seasons next month, for Falmouth’s cutest-looking BnB! Involving them holds more than just you accountable, with potential benefits for everyone. Being able to ride the ups and downs of life as a couple or family, and with their buy-in too, helps to strengthen and deepen relationships.
8. Don’t abdicate or duck, but do ‘due diligence’
When you’ve made a decision, even as a group, think about all the possible things that could get in the way of you -- individually -- really sticking to it.
Who or what could cause you to think twice about whether you’re going to keep to your word? Hold yourself accountable for the decision you’ve made, and consider the consequences, including for the group, if you go back on your word.
9. Celebrate the small wins
With how long this cost-of-living crisis has been at our front-doors (and the Institute of Government correctly observes it started back in late 2021), this evidently is a marathon, not a sprint!
This financially fraught situation will pass, but it will take time. So when you’ve made a choice, you’ve stuck to it and you start to see a small improvement, chalk that up as a ‘win.’
Don’t beat yourself up that it’s not the magic bullet solution to the whole problem. Not even the governor of the Bank of England has got that!
Take cost-of-living challenges one step at a time. Keep talking and be honest with what you’re going through. You won’t be alone, and celebrating small wins can help you to understand your thoughts .With every small victory, you’ll start to believe in your ability to get through these tough times. So don’t let progress go unacknowledged.
10. Reserve your own safe space
I’ve empowered many clients through these exorbitant and relentlessly pricey times, so if you would like some support, contact me for a confidential, safe space to explore your life challenges and I’d be happy to help.