The Blatt Watch by Peter Blatt: How can I be relaxed and stressed at the same time?

From the desk of Peter Blatt, J.D., LL.M. 

A client of mine who is a CPA told me that he is about to go on a 4-day vacation. He is leaving in a few minutes and he feels both relaxed and stressed at the same time. He asked rhetorically, how I can feel two completely opposite things at the same time. Our conversation reminded me of when someone is about to retire.

The conversation often goes as follows:
“I am about to retire. I have worked over 30 years. I am excited about … just relaxing/ doing something different. I am also fearful of the future; all I know is how to work my job.”
Both a permanent change (retiring) and making a temporary change (going on vacation) can cause feelings of joy and trepidation. I relate this to cooking. Sometimes, I am making a slower cooking dish, say at a simmer. Suddenly, I have to sauté the meat or chicken on a high flame. If you observe me cooking, you would see my simmering in one pot and sautéing on a high flame on another. We often have many pots on the flame. Sometimes, we forget a pot and it boils over. This is equivalent to forgetting something important (for example forgetting to roll over old 401k plans to a  better invested IRAs) or not changing fast enough (staying with a broker for 20 years even if he Is not proactive or he is only good for aggressive/ risky investing). The best way I find to deal with conflicting emotions is to first recognize them. Once you understand the concerns, you should not act by yourself. Ask for help. Work with a professional who can guide you through the causes of the emotions and you will find that your pots no longer boil over.

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