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Riding the storm

Have you ever been completely knocked off course by one of life’s storms? Do you ever wonder how you would cope if you were?

Last year, as I walked England’s 630-mile South West Coast Path, I was feeling good.

Although I had set off in September, the weather had been kind. I was walking well and feeling fit as I headed towards the tip of the English mainland.

That was when the wind started. Over a few days, it grew in intensity until it became Storm Alex, the first of the season. The day the storm hit, the narrow path wound around the cliffs. The rocky land rose immediately to my right and dropped equally as steeply down to the churning sea on my left. My rucksack was acting like a sail, amplifying the effect of the wind and making me stagger as I walked.

I reached a headland and was stopped dead in my tracks by the force of the wind. I couldn’t even inch forward on my feet; I was stuck. With the wind howling in my ears, I considered my options, sat down and shuffled around the promontory on my bottom.

A little later, I noticed that the beach below me was crowded with surfers. They had to battle hard to swim out beyond the breaking waves, but once there, they used the power of the storm for an exhilarating ride back into shore.

Even more impressive, though, were the kite-surfers. I was mesmerised as I watched them speeding backwards and forwards. They had found a way to channel the power of the storm to travel in whatever direction they chose.

Yasmina's storm

A few years ago, Keren’s friend Yasmina was knocked flat by a financial storm. She had worked hard to become a partner in a successful trading and shipping business. She had delayed starting a family, so although she was 50, her son had only recently started school. He was healthy and growing up to be a happy little boy. Yasmina was enjoying being a successful businesswoman and a mum.

‘I did not see the storm coming at all. I had a good, well-paid job and a flourishing family. I was enjoying life and confident about all aspects of my future.’

It was not just one storm, but two that struck Yasmina. Her partners decided to shut the business down, cutting off her source of income. At the same time, she was involved in a court battle that swept away all her savings.

‘I felt like I had been in a shipwreck, tossed, turned and completely battered by the storm. And like a sinking ship, I hit rock bottom.’

‘I could have wallowed in self-pity, and, to be fair, I did for a while. But I had a young son who needed a strong role model, someone to look after him.’

So, Yasmina upped her game. She invested in her self-development. She studied hard and pivoted her career from business into coaching and training.

‘The tools that I learnt are not always comfortable to use. They challenged me to change my habits, attitude and perspective. And now I use those same tools to help other women develop themselves as leaders.’

In other words, Yasmina used the power of the storm to rebuild her life. Once again, she is confident about her financial future as her coaching and corporate training business grows. She has shown her son how it is possible to get back up when you have been knocked down. And she has some brilliant tools to share with him as he grows up so that he, too, can have a thriving and happy life, whatever storms come his way.

If you would like some pointers about how to ride a storm, check out the relevant chapter of Live Your Bucket List. To learn more about Yasmina’s coaching business, click here. If you’re already in a financial storm and you need some help to navigate your way through, Keren may be able to help you.

This is one of a series of blogs about financial planning for women being written by myself, Julia Goodfellow-Smith and Keren-Jo Thomas. If you have enjoyed reading it, please share it with one of your friends or colleagues and subscribe to be sure that you won’t miss any future instalments.

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