Tonight I learned that my 51-year-old cousin has colon cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes. She’s got a husband, two older kids and six months of chemo–I hear–in front of her. My cousin and I aren’t close friends but we share the bond of family and I love her. I pray that she will beat this incredible challenge and thrive.
I learned about my cousin’s condition on a phone call tonight with my mother. It reminded me of how vulnerable we all are, going about our lives thinking that we are free from harm–that something bad will never happen to us. I’m guilty of this big time and I know that this thinking gets in the way of me getting totally serious about taking total control of my life.
The Days are Numbered Mindset
I think that the biggest gift that we can all give ourselves is the constant realization that our days are numbered. I’m embarrassed by the fact that I am a native Californian who has never been to Yosemite. I’ve wanted to learn Spanish but I haven’t lifted a finger. There are so many other things that I’ve said I wanted to do that I haven’t followed through on. As I now feel the clock ticking, I see that everyday decisions make a difference in the quality of our lives.
Learning about my cousin has given me the desire to want to see her life dreams carried out. At the same time it has inspired me to focus on my own. What are they? What are yours?
I have dropped a few pounds of body fat since I turned 50 three months ago. While being a bit leaner certainly makes me feel good, it’s the lesson behind the lost inches that means the most.
How I Lost the Weight
- I created a new habit. One evening my abs were feeling particularly flabby so I added some weights to my routine. I was actually more focused on how my body felt than how it looked, so as I discovered the weight work felt good, I moved the weights out of the closest and next to my desk where I began to use them daily. I wasn’t really aware of the physical effects the weights were having until I put on a new tank top on my birthday, about 3 weeks after I started my new routine. Realizing that I felt and looked stronger at 50 than the years leading up to it made me happy and inspired me to want to keep it up.
- I became more aware of the control I have over what I become. I started asking myself if I was hungry before popping food into my mouth or if I was still enjoying the food as I continued to eat. As I began to look at my eating as a direct cause and effect of my body weight, I lost a bit more fat.
It’s funny, but losing just these 8 or 10 pounds reminds me of what I learned after successfully losing 40 extra pounds at age 19. Having been an overweight kid my entire life and a failure at numerous diet attempts, I never thought I would be anything but overweight. There’s no doubt in my mind that my life would have been very different had I not made the commitment to change my eating habits.
It’s Not About the Weight
The lesson at 19—
Your history does not dictate what is possible for your future.
The lesson at 50–
The actions you take every day shape what you become.
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Yesterday I took my place alongside thousands of other spectators who had gathered to watch the Blue Angels roar through the picturesque San Francisco skyline. The jets flew across the bay, giving us a quick glimpse of their spectacular stunts before they were grounded due to fog conditions. Yet it wasn’t the aborted show that sent me away feeling disappointed; it was a conversation that took place in the crowd that I allowed to get me down.
Four and a half years ago I left a high-paying job because I had come to painfully recognize that I was only in it for the money. I’ve started a new business since then that has great potential, yet it is only now beginning to take off. My life lately has not exactly been a cakewalk financially as I continue to invest in my new venture.
What Does Money Mean?
I am not normally an envious person, so it took me some soul-searching to uncover why the couple behind me in yesterday’s crowd got to me when I heard them talking about the multiple homes they owned. I had let myself fall into the trap of valuing money as the gauge for success. As I listened to them discuss how they were currently looking at buying another home, I began to ask myself if I had been a fool to let go of my big paycheck, as if the amount of money you have is a determination of how wise you are.
True Success in Life
One question that always gets me back on track is asking myself what would make me feel good about my life when I reach its end. It is easy to forget that it is a series of little things that build a lifetime, not one accomplishment that defines us. My Blue Angels experience reminded me to honor how I want to be remembered, and to measure my success accordingly.
I celebrated my 50th birthday earlier this month. As I have been slowly reflecting on how this milestone has impacted me, one thing that has come up is that I want to approach the second half of my life a bit differently. You see, I pretty much let the energy of life pull me along for my first 50 years. I’m not complaining; it seems to have unfolded pretty darn well. But now I’m starting to realize that what I make of my life is totally up to me, and with the clock ticking a little more loudly now, I am feeling a lot more motivated to step in and take control.
How do you take control of your life?
- Acknowledge that your life needs the same kind of planning that you give your weekends. We all have a lot more power to create awesome lives than we recognize. It starts with direction.
- Set aside time to focus on what you want to create with your life. Let dreams be born and believed in.
- Begin every day focused on your vision. Recognize that your attention fuels whatever you focus on.
- Uphold the vision throughout the day. Continue to visit your vision in your mind as your reality.
- Work on believing that your vision will manifest. Get in touch with whatever is holding you back from your vision and work on breaking through limiting thoughts.
As I reread my list here from the perspective of really wanting to make this happen for myself, I recognize that there is a discipline required. Just like the time I so easily invest each week in running or the gym, I need to spend similar time to building the life I want.
I’m not going to hide from it. I am turning 50 this year. A year and a half ago I attended my 30th high school reunion and reconnected with a number of people from my youth who are also turning 50 this year. Suddenly I’m noticing the statement, “50 is the new 30” being thrown around. Hmm, I ponder. Is it true, or are we just fooling ourselves?
I’ve always believed that age is very much a state of mind, yet decorum and a dose of reality do come into play. I have four beautiful mini skirts hanging in my closet that I can’t bear to part with, but I know will never again see the light (or dark) of day, at least on my body. I can’t leave the house now without a pair of glasses because I can’t read a menu, ingredients on a label, or anything I might have to sign my name to without help. And the gray hair that I have inherited has made me recognize that I can choose to replace it with any color that I want.
If these are the biggest grievances I have about turning 50 (and they are!), then I consider myself pretty darn blessed. Although I still fit into and wear clothes I had long before I was 30, I’ve come to the conclusion that, at least for me, I don’t feel 30. And that’s a good thing.
Why 50 is better than 30:
- I’ve come to value a nice man over a bad boy.
- It’s no longer all about me.
- I’ve come to prefer authenticity over sizzle.
- I’m way comfortable with myself.
- I cherish every moment with my parents.
- I’ve come to value meaning over money.
- I’m in touch with the fact that I’m not going to live forever.
- I no longer care about what people think.
- I think about how much I am blessed.
- I’ve experienced some painful, challenging times and have come out stronger.
- I’ve learned to trust myself.
- I’ve taken some big risks and survived.
- I’ve learned that being true to myself is more important than security.
Am I missing something in the “50 is the new 30” statement? If so, please enlighten me.
Like you, perhaps, I’ve been thinking about what I want to create in the New Year of 2009. When I focus my complete attention on creating my life, a few things come up that I know are vital to the process:
- A clear vision: Knowing specifically what you want to create enables you to play an active role in building it. Vague goals don’t give you anything solid to believe in, visualize or reach for.
- Give yourself permission to be prosperous. Financial success comes from thinking that prosperity is your natural right, just as much as breathing. Work on making this belief your habit if it isn’t already.
- Adjust your beliefs about your life with what you want your life to be. Become keenly aware of that little voice that is constantly telling you what it thinks is possible for you and make the commitment to override it with statements about what you want to be true for you.
- Understand the power of visualization and use it to create the reality you want. Think of yourself as a co-creator of your life and see visualization as your tool for molding your creation. Read more about visualization.
- Make a habit of consciously creating your life. Start each day focusing on your vision, be sure that your beliefs are aligned with your vision and follow through with a visualization that brings your vision to life.
How to Consciously Create Your Day – Part 2
How to Consciously Create Your Day
The Silicon Valley chapter of Experience Unlimited, ProMatch, a state sponsored career resource center, has swelled to maximum capacity while a list holds names of unemployed professionals waiting to get in. The volume is so strained that the maximum membership time has been reduced from 9 months to 6 months in an effort to support more people.
The New York Times this weekend reported similar crowd scenes, yet in a different type of venue. The article opened by describing an affluent Long Island town evangelical church so packed that an overflow room with closed-circuit TV with 100 folding chairs set up to accommodate the crowd. Similar stories were reported in Seattle, Brooklyn, and other cities throughout the country.
Bad times draw big crowds in church. It seems that fear returns us to that faith that there is something to believe in that will enable us to feel safe.
If we can feel safe in the most challenging of times, then isn’t the challenge worth where we’ve arrived?
I’ve been invited by Dress for Success San Francisco to give a presentation next week on managing stress. As I finished my initial preparation, it occurred to me that with all that is happening in our world these days, everyone could benefit from these 10 simple tips:
- Eliminate the idea of lack. Recognize that opportunities to create more abundance are all around you. It’s just a matter of focusing on them and following through.
- Look to see a benefit in the stress point – a silver lining or a valuable lesson learned. Choose to see tough economic times as opportunities to work hard and learn how to do what you do better to get and keep the job.
- Exercise your right to respond peacefully. A challenging situation does not require an emotionally charged response. Your choice to react peacefully does not mean that you agree with or support the stressor; rather it demonstrates your choice to minimize its negative impact.
- Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly, relax and surround yourself with the energy of peace.
- Learn to accept things you can’t change. Choose to believe that the universe knows more than you about what is best.
- Find an exercise you enjoy and do it regularly.
- Avoid negative people and environments as much as possible. Do whatever you can to surround yourself with peaceful influences.
- Learn to say no. Don’t promise too much. Give yourself enough time to get things done.
- Trust in the goodness of the universe. Expect that what you need will be provided.
- Join a support group or seek out professionals if you can’t cope on your own. Consider seeking help as a sign that you are smart enough to know it and strong enough to go for it.
In my career development business, Inner Architect, we train job seekers how to create proactive employment campaigns with a blog as a hub for delivering one’s value and expertise. I love to encourage participants that your blog is a vehicle to become what you want to be known for:
- In the process of researching, you step into your expertise.
- By publishing articles, you show up for who you want to become.
Whether you are already a blogger, or thinking about becoming one, consider what your blog can do for you:
- Provide you with the opportunity to grow into what you want to become. If you are just beginning to blog, you have a clean writing slate to work with. See this as an opportunity to build your expertise, and consequently, what you are known for, in the direction you want to go. Don’t feel limited to write articles about where you’ve been and what you now know. Give yourself the freedom to move in whatever direction you want by writing articles that showcase your knowledge or expertise in that subject. There is great wisdom behind the statement “fake it until you make it.”
- Give your writing voice credibility. Allow yourself to write with the same level of confidence and authority that you have demonstrated throughout your professional career. Focus on the value of your expertise and don’t worry about who might poke holes in what you have to say.
- Think of yourself as a problem solver. Offer solutions, how-to’s and tips for addressing a specific need, issue or problem.
Remember, we’ve all been given unique gifts, talents and skills. You serve yourself and those around you best when you share what is uniquely yours to give.
This past Friday a recently laid-off Silicon Valley engineer fatally shot three former co-workers, including the CEO. This brutal incident of workplace violence was just one that makes up 20% of all violent crimes as reported by the San Jose Mercury News.
What does this workplace violence statistic say?
Violence is a product of anger and fear. While the motive of this particular killer remains unknown, the story suggests a couple of theories:
- Anger over the job loss
- Fear of financial insecurity
- Anger or fear over loss of identity without a job
Our nation is now grappling with the toughest unemployment rate in 14 years. The U.S. Labor Department reported that 1.2 million people have lost their jobs this year. With October producing 240,000, the total number is likely to surpass 1.5 million by the end of the year.
How can we support the emotions of the unemployed? Having lost a paycheck myself, I empathize with the fears about money and carving out the next gig. Yet a job transition can be viewed as an invitation to revisit what really matters at the end of each of our lives:
How well did you use your talents and expertise and develop your inner potential?
Give yourself permission to trust in the good of the universe. Look at losing your job as a message that:
- Your talents and expertise are no longer needed at that company.
- You are being freed so that you can contribute to a company that needs you more.
As a nation we can look at the vast number of jobs being lost as a message that:
- We need to shift the focus of our work force to jobs that better contribute to what our country needs now.
Our new President is not responsible for initiating change. The unemployment situation demonstrates that change is happening now and we are all involved in the process. Unfortunately, change is often uncomfortable at first. Yet trust in the good of the universe and believe that you will arrive in a better place once you land.