How financial advisors can take charge of their job stressorsArticle added by Dr. Jack Singer on August 29, 2014
Dr. Jack Singer

Dr. Jack Singer

Dana Point, CA

Joined: September 30, 2010

Besides having to deal with the life stressors we all experience, such as marital/family challenges, the death of parents, chronic illnesses, and the like, advisors are faced with a multitude of potential stressors directly related to their profession.

Many advisors find themselves overwhelmed by these stressors. Whether it’s market fluctuations, hostile and impatient clients, a difficult and demanding office manager, competition, or balancing work and family needs, producers and advisors often tell me that they believe that the job controls their lives. As a result, they often feel helpless and hopeless with regard to their situation.

In my coaching practice with producers and advisors, I find that teaching them a simple way to categorize their job stressors can often help to actually take control and manage them much easier.

Categorizing job-related stressors

If you categorize stressors affecting your life according to four types — important/modifiable, important/non-modifiable, unimportant/modifiable and unimportant/non-modifiable — you can determine which stressors to work on and which to relatively ignore and let go of, because those stressors either cannot be modified by you or they are not important enough to concern you.

Another advisor success story

Todd had been working in the insurance profession for about a year. He made a mid-life career change and believed that providing high-quality insurance products to clients would be a wonderful career. He truly believed that he was positively affecting clients’ financial futures and security.

After his first year, Todd became overwhelmed by stress. Before giving up, he consulted with me. He and I broke down his stressors into the following four categories:

Todd’s important/modifiable stressors
  • pressure to build his book of business
  • difficult and abusive clients
  • a difficult and demanding office manager
  • balancing time demands with his family need
  • self-defeating thoughts about his future in the insurance industry
Todd’s important/non-modifiable stressors
  • the economic situation in the U.S.
  • his competition
  • unexpected family issues or illness, taking his time away from the job.
  • having client meetings in the evening and on weekends
Todd’s unimportant/modifiable stressors
  • errands to run on the way home from the office
  • volunteering to take on extra projects at the office
  • work he prefers to finish at the office before going home
Todd’s unimportant/non-modifiable stressors
  • bad weather during his commute to work
  • traffic conditions
  • comparing his book of business to a colleague’s
  • long lines
Once Todd actually looked at all of the stressors impacting him and categorized them according to these four types, they became much more manageable. First, he stopped worrying about stressors that were not modifiable or under his control. Obviously, if he had no control over them, why fret about them? Second, he pushed the unimportant stressors onto the back burner, because they did not play a major role in his daily life.

By focusing on what Todd perceived as his important and modifiable stressors and learning how to manage them, he felt empowered to actually take charge of those stressors, eliminating his “hopeless” and “helpless” feelings.

Your action plan:
  • get a piece of paper and draw two lines, dividing it into four equal-sized boxes
  • label the boxes with the four titles above
  • list all of the stressors that impact you regularly and place them in the appropriate box according to importance and controllability
  • focus on eliminating or managing the stressors that you consider to be important and controllable and put all the others on the back burner.
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