Stepping stones to reach your goals

Stepping stones to reach your goals

The calendar turns over to a fresh, brand new year, full of promise, so how do we keep these promises we make to ourselves and get to the end of the year with our resolutions intact and goals realised?

We all start out with good intentions when we set our objectives for the year to come, but motivation notoriously wanes with time and has the potential to sabotage our chances of achieving our dreams.

While many studies reinforce the notion that willpower struggles after only one month, a study tracking respondents over the course of a full year suggested that at around the three month mark half of resolutions fall over, increasing to a failure rate of around 82% by years end.i

Monthly micro goals

One way to deal with our waning motivation, instead of setting one daunting goal to be achieved over the period of a whole year, is to come up with a series of monthly, smaller goals. That will give you 12 ‘mini goals’ which ideally need to be achievable on a daily basis. The theory is that if you follow the same pattern for around 30 days, you’ll be establishing this pattern as a habit that you are likely to continue into the future. Each successive month will see you build on that success.

Working towards an end goal

Part of the key to making this approach work, is to ensure that all your monthly micro goals are working towards an overarching end goal. Your micro goals need to follow a theme.

This is where you can come back to your New Year’s resolution and base your theme on what you want to achieve for the year. Say your theme for the year is around career aspirations – for example achieving that promotion. Your first month could simply be setting aside some time each day to network and meet people within the organisation – improving your interpersonal skills. The next month might be focused on exploring tools to improve your productivity…and so on as you work your way through each successive month.

If your priority is to work on your health and wellbeing, and end the year capable of running ten kilometres, it’s also important to set some micro goals that get you there. Again, you can start small - a way of working incrementally towards your goal might be to start by drinking more water, then a month dedicated to getting more incidental exercise in your day, then a month focused on improving your diet and losing a little weight, working slowly up to lacing up your boots, hitting the track and increasing your endurance.

Smaller goals add up with time

We are calling them micro goals for a reason, it’s important to not bite off more than you can chew. The key is how they add up. Viewed alone these smaller goals may not seem like a lot, but the shorter duration makes it a lot more likely you’ll stick at them, developing good habits that will hopefully accrue, rather than fade over time. The fact that you are in effect starting afresh every month also gives you a much better chance of success.

Add some support into your plan

Don’t be afraid to put in some processes to help you get there – it can be a good idea to use online apps to aid or track your progress. It can also help to dangle the carrot and build in some rewards for when you get to the end of each month successfully. Tell friends and family what you are working on and celebrate your successes with them.

By the end of the year, you can look back with satisfaction at each little milestone as a personal win and you’ll have stepped towards, and finally reached an overall goal that may have seemed intimidating unless broken down into manageable chunks.

So what are you waiting for? Get out that calendar and pencil in a goal a month to reach your dreams this year.

i http://www.richardwiseman.com/quirkology/new/USA/Experiment_resolution.shtml

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Cyber security - protecting yourself at home

Cyber security - protecting yourself at home

Greater flexibility in working arrangements has been a by-product of the pandemic, as working from home has become more widespread. In fact, The Families in Australia Survey: Towards COVID Normal reported in November 2020 that two thirds of Aussies were working from home.

While this flexibility has many benefits, it does also bring downsides, such as the increase in cyber security risks. With working from home to continue to be a reality for many, as workplaces move to more flexible working arrangements, here’s what we can do to stay safe.

Why cyber security is of greater risk at home

According to the ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report 2020-21, there was an increase in the average severity and impact of reported cyber security incidents, with nearly half categorised as substantial. And there were over 67,500 cybercrime reports, an increase of nearly 13% from the previous financial year.

Not only are cyber security attacks impactful to the individual, but they also take a toll on businesses. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) found that the total estimated cost of cyber security incidents to Australian businesses is $29 billion per year.i

With so many Australians working from home, it’s no coincidence that the rates of cyber security attacks are on the rise. When we work from home, we are no longer protected by a closed office network, so we are at greater risk of cyber security threats.

Given we tend to be working alone at home, this also makes us more vulnerable to scams and phishing attempts. Click on a suspect email in the office, and it’s either caught before it gets to you or you can ask a co-worker if they have received the same. With fewer opportunities for water cooler chat, you are more likely to be out of the loop.

How to stay safe

There are various ways you can protect yourself from cyber-attacks, and you don’t need to be an IT whiz to do so.

Install antivirus and security software
Your first layer of protection should be the use of antivirus and security software, such as Norton or Bitdefender. If you already have this software installed, ensure that it is up to date.

Update software, including all security updates
You also want to stay up to date with your software, so don’t skip those security updates that appear on your computer and phone. You can turn on automatic updates, so you don’t have to worry about missing these.

Secure your home Wi-Fi
As well as having a secure password for your home Wi-Fi, you should also use a strong encryption protocol for your router (currently WPA2 is the most secure type of encryption) – you can check this through your device settings.

Review and update your passwords
If you have had the same password for years and don’t have variations for different purposes, it’s worth updating your passwords. It sounds obvious, but don’t choose a password that will be easy to guess, such as something relating to your street name or workplace.

Opt for multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security when it comes to accessing your devices, making them harder to hack into. An example of multi-factor authentication is the combined use of a secure password, an item such as a security key or token, and a validation such as a SMS or email.

Be aware of scams
Scamwatch.gov.au is regularly updated with the latest scams. Run by the ACCC, this website contains comprehensive and current information on scam attempts such as phishing and extortion. Share this info with family and friends so they also know what to be on the alert for.

Consult with your IT Department
If your workplace has an IT Department, contact them to ask for any additional tips on how you can stay secure working from home.

i https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/news/announcing-acsc-small-business-survey-report

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


How retirees can release equity on their homes to cash flow

How retirees can release equity on their homes to cash flow

Asset rich and income poor is the dilemma faced by many retirees. But there may be opportunities to boost your income in retirement by tapping into your biggest asset – your home.

With property prices booming, many retirees are finding that the home they have lived in for decades is worth a small fortune, but for various reasons they don’t wish to sell or downsize.

What many may not realise is that you can have your cake and eat it too. Or, in this case, convert part of the value of your home into an income stream while you remain living there.

The ability to borrow against the equity in your home without having to repay until you move out or sell comes in various guises, but the result is largely the same – an enhanced lifestyle in retirement. The extra income may allow you to enjoy some little luxuries, travel more, or pay for home improvements.

There are four key types of product on offer:

  • Reverse mortgage
  • Home reversion
  • Equity release agreement
  • The government’s Pension Loans Scheme (PLS).i

None of these strategies should be adopted without careful consideration as they may have an impact on your family, your beneficiaries and - with the exception of the PLS - your Age Pension if you receive one.

As a result, we recommend you speak to us first to discuss whether accessing some of your home equity would be appropriate for you.

This is how these products work:

1. Reverse mortgage

A reverse mortgage lets you borrow money against the value of your home and take it as an income stream, a line of credit, a lump sum or a combination.

The amount you borrow is often determined by age. At 60 you can generally borrow 15-20 per cent of the value of your home. This percentage increases by 1 per cent a year.ii

The interest accrues and is paid when you sell, either on entering an aged care facility or from your estate when you die. The interest rate is usually higher than the standard mortgage rate, but you don’t have to make repayments along the way. Since 2012, reverse mortgages must come with a negative equity guarantee. This ensures you can never end up owing more than your home is worth.

2. Home reversion

Here you sell a percentage of the future value of your property at a reduced rate. It is not a loan, so there is no interest payable. However, there are immediate costs such as a property valuation and an upfront fee. And there is also the cost of losing the full benefit of your home’s increase in value over time. The more your home’s value increases, the more the provider will receive.

3. Equity release scheme

This third option lets you sell a percentage of the value of your home in return for a lump sum or an income stream. You pay fees which are periodically deducted from the remaining equity in your home, so your share diminishes over time.ii

4. Pension Loans Scheme

The Federal Government’s loan scheme is offered through Services Australia and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

You can access a voluntary non-taxable fortnightly loan up to 150 per cent of the maximum Age Pension rate to bolster your retirement income with the loan secured against your home. You don’t need to be on the Age Pension to qualify but even if you are, this government loan does not impact your pension entitlements.iv

Your mortgage increases by the payment amount plus interest which currently stands at 4.5 per cent a year. As with the other schemes, you don’t need to repay the loan until you move out or sell. And if your circumstances change, you can adjust the loan accordingly such as pausing payments.

All four options are variations on a theme of providing a better lifestyle in retirement.

If you want to find out if any of these options might play a role in your retirement income strategy, don’t hesitate to call us to discuss.

Case study

Self-funded retirees Frank (75) and Mary (73) were struggling to maintain their lifestyle after no longer qualifying for the Age Pension. By borrowing $400 a fortnight against their $390,000 home from the government’s Pension Loans Scheme, they would still own 72 per cent of their property after 10 years and 41 per cent after 20 years. In the meantime, they can enjoy a few extra luxuries in life while remaining in their home. v

i https://moneysmart.gov.au/retirement-income/reverse-mortgage-and-home-equity-release

ii https://www.ratecity.com.au/home-loans/articles/maximum-amount-borrow-reverse-mortgage

iii https://moneysmart.gov.au/retirement-income/reverse-mortgage-and-home-equity-release

iv https://www.pensionboost.com.au/faqs

v https://www.pensionboost.com.au/pension-loan-scheme

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


How to develop resilience for hard times - financial, or otherwise

How to develop resilience for hard times - financial, or otherwise

Resilience is increasingly in the spotlight these days when it comes to desirable personal qualities. In many ways it trumps intelligence. People who have it are better at handling setbacks, navigating obstacles and weathering hard times - financial, emotional, or otherwise. The good news is that resilience is like a muscle. You can easily strengthen it through training. We take a closer look…

Resilience is not a quality we’re born with. It usually starts to develop early in childhood and with practice, can continue to develop as we get older.

Australia has encountered some catastrophic events in recent years – the ongoing drought, the country in and out of lockdowns (as a result of COVID-19), bushfires, followed by floods, and then the mouse plague – we’ve seen it all.

When situations like this occur, it brings so much uncertainty as we’re not sure what’s going to happen in the future, and this is where we can appreciate how strong and capable we are by being resilient.

What is resilience and why is it important?

Resilience, in a nutshell, is the ability to be able to cope with certain challenges, overcome obstacles and recover quickly when a stressful situation arises.

The reason being resilient is so important is because it allows you to look at each obstacle you are presented with, take a step back, process the situation, and gain some perspective. This enables you to recognise and understand that you are able to overcome certain situations and life will continue to go on when certain challenges are thrown your way – no matter how big or small.

Preparing yourself for these types of situations not only continues to build on and strengthen your resilience, but can also improve your overall health and wellbeing.

How can you strengthen your resilience muscle?

There will be times when life is running smoothly and then you’re thrown a massive curveball - this is where your resilience muscle will kick in.

How you view adversity and stress is critical, as this will have a major impact on how you react and cope with disruptions in life. It also sets the tone for how quickly you bounce back and recover from these situations.

Here are a few strategies that can help you strengthen your resilience:

  • Foster a positive mindset – negative thoughts can impact how you react to stressful situations
  • Exercise – daily exercise releases endorphins and increases serotonin which has a positive effect on your mood
  • Personal control – spend time focusing on what you can control and set goals
  • Talk to friends and family – sharing your problems can help ease the burden and they can always provide some advice that may help you
  • Keep a journal – writing down your feelings can be a good way to express yourself and de-stress if you don’t want to share your feelings with others
  • Learn from your mistakes – making mistakes is a part of everyday life and drawing on past mistakes can help you to reassess decisions you make in the future

Resilience in the truest sense

Whilst Australia has experienced some of the worst disasters with bushfires and floods in recent years, it's also brought out the best in most and shown that overall Australian’s are a resilient bunch.

Farmers in rural and remote areas across the country suffered greatly due to the drought, and like many businesses in the city during the COVID-19 outbreak, farmers and their families had to ‘pivot’ and look for other opportunities to earn money.

This is when the ‘Buy From The Bush' campaign was developed. It’s a great initiative where gifts, homewares, and arts and collectables amongst other things can be purchased online, which helps small businesses in rural areas that are struggling financially throughout this period.

Throughout this period, it showed us that in the face of adversity resilience is a vital skill for us all and having the support around you is key when faced with difficult challenges.

Focus on a positive mindset

Remember, having a positive mindset helps us achieve a better outlook on life, we smile more, we laugh more, and we try to resolve things more simply.

Two quotes come to mind when it comes to a positive outlook – you must keep in mind ‘there is always light at the end of the tunnel’ and ‘always look on the bright side of life’.

Most importantly, we must remind ourselves that challenging times won’t last forever.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Not feeling yourself? You could be languishing

Not feeling yourself? You could be languishing

Feeling a bit lacklustre as the days roll by? Hitting the snooze button more than usual? It’s a feeling that can be difficult to put your finger on, but it has a name, languishing.

Whether it’s feeling exhausted and unmotivated, or restless and eager to do more, we can be off kilter from time to time. It’s no surprise that many are feeling this way, as we continue to deal with ongoing uncertainty and snap lockdowns due to the pandemic. Knowing this is normal is important, particularly in the current circumstances, but we can also make changes to improve our overall wellbeing.

Flourishing vs languishing

Often, we think of good mental health as the absence of mental health issues, but as the diagram below shows, there is a spectrum between high mental health and low mental health.

While flourishing sits at the top, languishing is at the bottom.

Source: Dual continua model ( Keyes & Lopez , 2002)

You’re kicking goals at work, your relationships with family and friends are harmonious, you’re growing as a person – these are examples of flourishing. On the flipside, languishing can see you struggling to get out of bed in the morning, disengaged from your work, feeling negative about your relationships, or frustrated at not getting to where you want to be.

Called “the dominant emotion of 2021”, languishing has been described as if “you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.”i

Moving towards flourishing

The pandemic has reminded us of how little control we have over external circumstances. While lockdowns are likely to remain in our near future and the way we work and socialise are impacted as a result, there are ways we can improve our outlook.

Take time out

Working from home and remote schooling has become a reality for many of us, meaning we are busier than ever. Scheduling in some time-out is crucial to being able to switch off and feel more refreshed. Even if it’s just a day spent not checking your email and doing something restorative, you’re prioritising self-care.

Start small

When you’re languishing, it can be difficult to get motivated, it’s not likely to be the time you embark on a new fitness regime, study or career move. However, starting small can make changes in your life while building motivation for you to make further changes.

Whether it is going for a morning walk each day, reading a book the whole way through or getting to one of those tasks on your to-do list, you’re taking a step towards flourishing.

Cut out the noise

Back-to-back Zoom calls, the 24/7 news cycle, pings of social media, the distraction of everyone being at home together – no wonder it’s hard to focus.

Tap into your ‘zone’ or flow, by switching off from external noise where possible to concentrate on one task at a time. When you’re in the state of flow, time flies by as you’re engrossed in an activity that takes your full attention.

Reach out for help

It’s also worth acknowledging when you need a helping hand. It may be delegating at work so you’re not feeling overloaded or having someone to talk to if you’re struggling through the day.

Mental health issues are on the rise due to the pandemic and there is no shame in asking for help – more than ever, Australians are reaching out for mental health support in these turbulent times to help stay on track.ii

i https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html

ii https://www.lifeline.org.au/resources/news-and-media-releases/media-releases/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


15 minutes a day to achieve financial success through better habits

15 minutes a day to achieve financial success through better habits

If you're looking to grow your wealth and build financial security for your retirement, don't try to rely on willpower. Instead work on establishing better habits. In just 15 minutes a day, you can take the first steps towards greater wealth and improved living standards.

The new financial year offers an opportunity for taking an ‘out with the old, in the new’ approach, making a fresh start in relation to your financial affairs, it’s also a good opportunity to re-examine other aspects of your life.

This is a particularly good idea if the New Year’s resolutions you made in January have fallen by the wayside over the past few months. If that’s the case, you’re certainly not alone. In fact research by the Journal of Clinical Psychology reported that around 54% of people who resolved to change their ways, failed to make the transformation last beyond six months.i

Imagine if you could change your habits, so you did not have to rely on willpower alone ever again?

Willpower is not enough

We all tend to think that willpower is the key to achieving success, that sheer determination will get us to our goals. Certainly the will to succeed is a critical component, but research has shown us that people who score high on self-control are successful, not because of their superior willpower, but because they have better systems in place for forming new habits to meet their goals.ii

Start small

So how do you get started? Why not start with an incredibly small habit and build from there. Set your timer to 15 minutes and spend the time on a task you have been putting off. Why just 15 minutes? It’s too small a goal to fail at. It may take a few days to complete the task but you will get there eventually and have the satisfaction of ticking off that annoying task that’s been on your ‘do list’ for ages.

Do it... again and again and again

New habits take time to form. The most common timeframe is 21 days to make a new habit, and the key to forming a habit is repeating the action, over and over again until it becomes increasingly effortless. To that end, it’s important to allocate the necessary time to support your new habit.

Another good tip to help you commit to the new habit is to “anchor” the habit to your existing routine in some way. Make those sales calls, or do some other task that takes a bit of effort, straight after your morning coffee every day and you won’t be tempted to put it on the back burner.

Aim for incremental improvement

While it is certainly important to ‘dream big’, it is equally important to have a series of milestones in place when it comes to those lofty goals.

If you are aiming for a certain figure in terms of your businesses revenue, make sure to have some incremental steps in place in the form of monthly sales targets and a solid sales and marketing plan to help you get there.

Put some processes in place

It’s helpful to think about implementing processes to support the habits and behaviours you want to put into place. These processes can provide a solid foundation, enabling you to progress towards your end goal.

If you are wanting to change your saving and spending behaviour to work towards a longer term retirement savings goal, you may wish to consider setting up a salary sacrificing arrangement, in order to build your nest egg while you go about your day-to-day.

Breaking bad habits

It’s not just establishing good habits that you need to focus on, we often have a few bad habits preventing us from reaching our end goal. The key to breaking bad habits is replacing them with good ones.

If you are prone to procrastination and it’s interfering with your productivity, get into the habit of scheduling time for those things you tend to put off and setting alarms or prompts to give you that extra push you need to get you started.

Speaking of pushes, here is your prompt to have a think right now about what you need to put into place to foster good habits and set yourself up for success this financial year.

i https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11920693/

ii https://behavioralscientist.org/good-habits-bad-habits-a-conversation-with-wendy-wood/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Going for gold to achieve your goals

Going for gold to achieve your goals

The Olympic Games always provides a platform to marvel at what humans are capable of, as the athletes competing strive to be the fastest, the strongest or just the best, to win gold. While this year may be a little different, the Games still give us the opportunity to be inspired by the remarkable performances of the athletes as they compete.

The passion and discipline in perfecting their craft has propelled these athletes to elite level, so it’s not surprising that many have also found success outside the sporting arena by transferring this focus to new endeavours.

So how can we apply the same determination and focus to achieving success in our everyday lives?

Set clear, realistic goals

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals are commonly used by athletes to get closer to their medal dreams.i By following this structure, your goals will become clearer and will more likely lead you to where you want to go. No athlete has reached gold by loftily thinking they ‘might train today’! They have a well-planned schedule and overall plan to develop their skills and abilities to elite level. You can do so in other facets of your life as well through goal setting – and then following through.

Build a great team to support your efforts

While we are focused on the athlete, there is an entire team of people behind their success. Usually from a young age, their parents ferried them around, coaches imparted their wisdom and fellow athletes helped improve their skills through competition. Then there are the trainers, physios, dietitians and life coaches who make up a champion’s team.

While you may not need to assemble an entourage, building a strong network can support your endeavours, keep you accountable and provide ongoing motivation. Perhaps this is an advisor or mentor, a business coach, a career specialist, or perhaps even a savvy friend or family member. Get them on board by sharing your vision and outlining how they can help.

Play to your strengths

While there are some athletes who have won Olympic medals in different sports, the majority specialise in one area.ii By playing to your strengths, you can dedicate your time and energy to a set goal, honing your skills and building on an already strong foundation without overextending yourself.

A much-loved story in Olympic history that illustrates playing to strengths is that of Australian speed skater Steven Bradbury. Realising he was not the fastest skater in the group, Steven’s tactic was to stay back of the pack to avoid a collision, which had happened in an earlier race trial. His smarts (and good luck!) paid off when the faster skaters collided, leaving Steven to cross the finish line and win gold.iii

Project confidence

“I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was,” boxer Muhammad Ali famously stated. While we don’t all have Ali-levels of confidence, we can take a note from his book in projecting an air of confidence.

This may require a bit of a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ approach, but it won’t be long until this transforms into actual self-belief. Studies have found that adjustments we make to our bodies, such as standing up straight and smiling, can result in improved mood.iv

Embrace failure

No-one likes failing, especially those of us who are competitive. Yet athletes learn from failure, using it to improve and craft their skills, inching towards success.

Failure also builds resilience, by dusting yourself off and not giving up, you develop the tenacity to keep going when times are tough. Use failure as a learning experience that helps you grow, develop and take steps towards your ultimate goal.

As we watch the world’s best athletes perform in Tokyo, be inspired to dream big and set your own goals, making sure you then follow through to achieve your very own version of success.

i https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidcarlin/2020/01/10/why-olympic-athletes-are-smarter-than-you/?sh=77bd0d667384

ii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_athletes_with_Olympic_medals_in_different_sports

iii https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAADWfJO2qM

iv https://psychcentral.com/blog/fake-it-till-you-make-it-5-cheats-from-neuroscience#1

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


How to switch gear when you clock off

How to switch gear when you clock off

Many of us bring stress from work home – frustration at a projects not going to plan, difficult clients, mountainous workloads or clashes with co-workers. Here are a few strategies that will help you leave all that behind.

With greater workplace flexibility, a shift towards remote working arrangements and increasing expectations to always be ‘on’, the distinction between work and home has become increasingly blurred, allowing our workplace stresses to impact our home lives.

As common as this is, taking your workplace stress out on your family and friends has a detrimental effect on your relationships, which then impacts your health and wellbeing. Fortunately there are things you can do to keep work issues at work, rather than creeping ‘home’.

Transitioning from work to ‘home’

It can be challenging to go straight from a tense meeting or hectic workday to suddenly being at home where you’re expected to be present with other family members. This can be especially tricky if you have young children, who won’t understand that you are grumpy from work, rather than angry at them.

Have a ritual that will transition you from work to home mode. Perhaps this is riding your bike to and from work so you can decompress, or lining up an upbeat music playlist for your journey. Would a quick stop-off at the gym help you blow off steam, or if you have a dog, can you take them for a walk as soon as you finish up to get some fresh air? Even a change of clothes can help you switch gears.

You may need to explain this to those you live with, such as a partner or kids – they might not immediately understand that you need some time out in order to be more present, so be open with them about how it will help.

Compartmentalise your work

You may be expected to check your emails and be reachable at all hours of the day, but as much as possible, set boundaries with work. It’s hard to unwind when you’re always working, so develop healthy habits when it comes to checking your email and phone.

Depending on your work situation, try to establish what time you can be reached up until so that you can be present with your loved ones and enjoy your extracurricular activities.

Making time for leisure

Pursuing your hobbies and interests aren’t just important for your own mental and physical health; they can also have a ripple effect at reducing stress within your household, as you will be more relaxed and happier. Making time for your own enjoyment can fall to the end of your to-do list, so prioritise this time to take care of yourself.

That boxing or HIIT class can use up some of your adrenaline, or walking with a friend can give you the opportunity to socialise and exercise. Cooking, painting or DIY can provide a creative outlet that keeps your hands busy, while getting out into nature can help you decompress and put your worries into perspective.

Developing a support network

According to Safe Work Australia, 92% of serious work-related mental health condition claims were attributed to mental stress, with 21% due to work pressure.i

While we can’t eradicate stress entirely, we can improve how we respond to it. As well as developing your own healthy habits, it’s worth cultivating a support network. This may come in the form of selected friends and family you can openly talk to about work pressures, or a more formal arrangement with a mentor, life coach or counsellor.

Being able to express what you’re going through can help remove the weight of the situation from your shoulders. We all deal with work stress from time to time, but if you are feeling overwhelmed or finding it hard to balance your job with your home life, reach out to get a helping hand.

i https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/infographic-workplace-mental-health

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


5 Essential Activities For A Long and Happy Life

5 Essential Activities For A Long and Happy Life

Though many of us don’t want to reflect much on our mortality, we all want to live happier, healthier and longer lives. In fact, it’s a very human trait to be fascinated by the potential of extending our lifespans.  Chances are none of this is new to you, but it doesn't hurt to remind yourself from time to time.

Living long

Over the past 100 years, life expectancy in Australia has increased from around 50 years to well over 80 years, with a boy born today expected to live around 80.9 years and a girl 85.0 years.ii Most researchers looking at trends in mortality believe life expectancy will continue to increase in coming decades.

That’s not enough for a small cohort of people termed ‘Biohackers’ who ‘hack’ their bodies to make them function better and in many cases, live significantly longer.

One high profile biohacker, Dave Asprey, is vocal in his aim to reach the grand old age of 180. Dedicating millions of dollars to the cause, Dave gets regular stem cell injections, bathes in infrared light, uses a hyperbaric chamber and takes over 100 supplements a day.iii

How to live longer and better

We’re not all Silicone Valley millionaires, able to access expensive biohacking treatments, nor do we all want to. But there are some common-sense ways to not only live longer, but live better.

1: Eat well

While the ‘perfect’ diet is often contested, what the experts generally agree on is that we should incorporate plenty of plant foods, limit red meat, avoid processed foods and eat healthy fats and complex carbs.iv Often the Okinawa Diet is referenced when it comes to living longer, as the residents of this Japanese island can live to 100 – Okinawa has the most centenarians per 100,000 population. The Okinawans eat a lot of plant foods, with some seafood and meat.

2: Move it

Being physically active is also important. Again, this can look different for different people, but regular exercise has been proven to improve heart health, control blood sugar levels, maintain or provide weight loss, and also possibly decrease our risk of developing cancer.v

3: Stay sharp

Staying mentally active can also improve our lifespans. As we age, our mental abilities decline, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do about it. And it’s not all bad news either, in fact, an older brain can create new connections between neurones. As some neurones die, their roles are taken up by others to help you adapt.vi Prioritising your social life, being open to new experiences and taking up new hobbies will keep you mentally active, as will that puzzle book or game of Trivial Pursuits. And if you've ever regretted not learning a new language - it's never too late. In learning new languages, has been shown to be one of the best ways to maintain mental flexibility and a young, agile mind.

4: Connection

Maintaining a healthy social life won’t just help your brain, research has also shown there are many physical benefits to staying connected. Lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system and possibly reduced inflammation can be the result of being happy around other people.vii

5: Find Purpose

It’s also important to be happy within yourself. Feeling fulfilled has been linked to longevity. A research scientist call Robert Butler found that those who could express their sense of purpose or life meaning lived about 8 years longer than those who were rudderless.viii

Ultimately, it’s not just the years in your life, but the life in your years that’s important. What’s the point of living to 100, or 180, if you don’t feel content and well? Living a full and satisfying life is the main goal we should strive for, and by taking care of ourselves, we hopefully will have years in our life and life in our years.

 

ii https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/life-expectancy-continues-increase-australia

iii https://www.menshealth.com.au/how-to-live-to-180-years-old-bulletproof-founder-dave-asprey

iv https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/what-science-says-about-best-way-eat-what-we-re-ncna1104911

v https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/5-ways-exercise-helps-men-live-longer-and-better

vi https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/healthy-ageing-stay-mentally-active

vii https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Strong-relationships-strong-health

viii https://www.bluezones.com/2019/05/news-huge-study-confirms-purpose-and-meaning-add-years-to-life/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Taking a break - good for you and the Australian economy

Taking a break - good for you and the Australian economy

2021 is shaping up to be a much more positive year than 2020 in so many ways. For people who put holiday plans on hold or those with itchy feet because they haven’t had much of a break for a while, this year is the year to get out and about.

While overseas jaunts are off the table for some time to come, Australia’s management of the pandemic means we are able to head off and explore the local sights, while helping local communities and industries hit hard by 2020.

Recently the Australian Government announced their latest stimulus package for these industries, with $1.2 billion allocated to help our domestic tourism and aviation sectors.i

From 1 April 2021, there will be 800,000 half-priced flights available to 13 key regions which includes the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Mackay region, the Sunshine Coast, Lasseter and Alice Springs, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, Broome, Avalon, Merimbula and Kangaroo Island.

It’s also worth keeping your eye out for state run initiatives in the form of travel voucher schemes. While the amounts offered and conditions vary from state to state, they generally enable you to wine, dine or stay the night in a location with part of your bill subsidised.

The importance of R&R

There’s nothing like a holiday to help us feel more relaxed and give us a break from our everyday lives, something we very much need after the year that was.

We know that having a break, whether it be from work or just our regular routines, tends to improve our wellbeing. It can offer a circuit breaker from some of your stressors, give you a new perspective as you take in new surroundings, lighten your mood as you do things you enjoy, give you a chance to spend some quality time with loved ones and simply recharge your batteries by sleeping in and taking it easy.

Supporting local

Perhaps you had to cancel that trip to Paris or have to let go the idea of relaxing on a beach in Bali. Fortunately, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to travelling in Australia, whether it’s a beach holiday you are after, a hike in the mountains, a trip to the snow, a tour of the outback or a foray into a rainforest. We are blessed with a myriad of natural wonders as well as vibrant cities with world class restaurants, attractions and nightlife. Not only will you have a wonderful time, you can also feel good about supporting businesses who need a hand getting back on their feet.

While it can seem like a distant memory due to the COVID-19 outbreak, 2020 was also a hard time for many Australians due to the bushfires that ravaged many parts of the country. As a result, the locations affected are needing to rebuild and welcome tourists back, so why not give them a visit.

Planning your trip

Whether you take advantage of the flight specials or instead travel by bus, train or car, seeing another part of the country will give you something to look forward to.

While we may have become nervous about forward planning due to the uncertainty of 2020, being organised will enable you to make the most of travel deals and plan your itinerary so you can fit in everything you want to do.

If you’re concerned about travelling at the present time, why not take the road less travelled and head to a private spot (perhaps an Airbnb rather than a busy hotel) in a destination that isn’t as well-known. By avoiding popular travel periods such as the school holidays, you will also avoid the crowds.

Wherever you travel in Australia, whether it’s to the other side of the country or just down the road, we hope you enjoy your well-deserved break and are able to recharge your batteries for what is shaping up to be an exciting year ahead.

i https://www.nestegg.com.au/invest-money/economy/government-launches-half-price-flights-to-kickstart-tourism

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.