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The Law of Inertia

Financial Planning

by Anthony J. Ogorek Ed.D., CFP™

We had a conversation with one of our clients last week. It centered on her job, and the fact that she had just been diagnosed with a progressive illness. Although she will be receiving a disability pension, and her job is admittedly adversely affecting her quality of life, she is reluctant to leave her position. She is stuck, and can’t seem to move on.

It is great to be dedicated to a job as well as coworkers and the end users of your products or services. We all praise dedication and loyalty. Depending on the circumstances, we can become confused when our sense of loyalty and dedication conflicts with our physical or mental well being. Financial advisors recognize this situation but do not have a name for it.  Believe it or not, the physicist Sir Isaac Newton did, and it was encapsulated in his “three laws of motion;” it is called The Law of Inertia. This law reads in part: “An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” In this case, the unbalanced force may be a personal  illness, burnout, a desire for change in your life, or the need to care for a loved one.

What further complicates matters is that our sense of self worth and our social life may be inextricably tied to our job. No wonder some people feel a reluctance to leave a position that clearly is no longer working for them. Is there any way to resolve this dilemma?

First, we would suggest that you determine what the financial impact of leaving your position may be. In many instances the financial component is not a deal breaker. Next, do a social inventory of your friends and relatives. If your work associations went away, would you be able to expand your other social interactions to fill the void? Finally, step back and view your job or profession as a significant piece of the arc of your life, rather than comprising the totality of the arc. When you do this, you may begin to feel empowered to begin moving in a direction that restores your health and well being.

Change can be difficult. So can knowing that you are in a job that no longer works for you. Reasserting control of your life may be easier than you think.


716.626.5000 | prosper@ogorek.com