How Life-Changing Situations Can Effect Your Physcial and Emotional Health: Another Advisor Success Story

By Dr. Jack Singer

In their groundbreaking research conducted in the 1960’s, two U.S. Navy psychiatrists determined that specific events that take place in ones’ life (including events that take place on the job and elsewhere) all require adjusting to change and the more changes that are required in a 12 month period, the more the probability that the person will suffer from emotional and/or physical illness as a result. This research led to a list of events that can potentially take place in ones’ life and a number of points attached to each event, based on the difficulty of adjusting to the event (The Recent Life Changes Questionnaire).

As examples, the death of a spouse is the most points (119) and a major job change, such as moving offices, firms or even getting more responsibility on the job, is 51 points. The more points someone accumulates in 12 months, the more the probability that in the next 12 months he/she will suffer an emotional and/or physical illness, or even get into an accident while driving.

So, based on my work with advisors, let’s use an example of a fairly common series of life changes taking place in one year. If an advisor suffers decreased income as a consequence of dramatic market challenges or losing some valued clients (60 points), starts having insomnia (26 points), has in-law problems (38 points), has a significant increase in arguments with his/her spouse (50 points), ultimately separates from the spouse (76 points), and then plans for divorce (96 points), that advisor would accumulate a whopping 346 points in one year.

[Tweet “Did you know life-changing events could affect your #physical & #emotional #health like this?”]

Three hundred or more total points accumulated in a 12-month period is considered seriously elevated, and is associated with a high risk for an upcoming illness (emotional or physical) or accident, both of which would significantly add even more to the point total!  (For a complete list of life change events and their stress point values, contact me at: or call me at 1-800-497-9880).

A Financial Advisor Success Story

Carl had just completed college and joined a brokerage firm with the goal of eventually becoming a full-service financial advisor. Following a long illness, his father, with whom Carl had been very close, died. This death struck Carl particularly hard. Six months later, when he could not move on from his terrible grief, his long-time girlfriend could not deal with his depression and she broke up with him. Both of these events took place soon after he had begun an MBA program at a local college.

The event of his girlfriend leaving him, pushed Carl over the edge emotionally and into more depression and anxiety, which manifested in the following symptoms:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Feeling overwhelmed and helpless
  • Difficulty falling asleep and constantly waking up in the middle of the night
  • Chronic tardiness in getting to the office (on the West Coast), by the time the market opened
  • avoiding clients and prospecting
  • Contemplating quitting both his job and his evening educational course

Carl’s Positive Solution

Carl heard about my success coaching services for financial advisors and he contacted me, telling me he really wanted to leave his career. I informed him about the Recent Life Changes research and the authors’ very important admonitions against making additional changes (such as abandoning his career or his masters program), once significant points are accumulated within a year.

In other words, Carl was already suffering because of changes that he had little control over (his dad’s death and his girlfriend breaking up with him). Making additional changes now would worsen his symptoms.

With my guidance, he began to examine the negative thinking that he was engaged in, following the death of his father and the loss of his girlfriend. Thoughts such as, “I don’t know how I can manage without my dad and girlfriend in my life,” are stress-producing thoughts, guaranteed to increase his feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. I taught him how to change his thinking patterns, a skill which I will address in subsequent articles.

Carl reluctantly stayed on his job and continued his studies. After three months, he was feeling much better, and recognized that although life throws us many unexpected curveballs, one really has control over many changes, such as when to change jobs, when to get into a serious relationship, etc. Carl decided to “replace” the support of his dad and girlfriend with colleagues in his firm and friends outside the firm. His colleagues mentored him and helped him deal with the daily grind of the advising job. Soon he was able to concentrate on his clients, attract new ones and saw a nice bump in his book of business. After a year, he was thriving in both his job and in a new relationship and he was looking forward to completing his MBA.

Your Action Plan:

  • Take care of your emotional and physical health by taking care of changes that you can control;
  • Every six months look at the changes that have taken place in your life. If you believe your “stress points” are high, choose to delay making any further changes for at least six more months;
  • Believe in yourself and your expertise. Most events that take place in your life are temporary and do not signify failure;
  • Write down goals that are realistic, so you can feel in control of as much of your life as possible.

In my next article I shall explain a unique way to categorize the specific job-related challenges you face in your advising career. This will really help you to take control of these challenges, rather than have them control you!