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 celebrated my 55th birthday three months ago. I didn’t expect the number itself to have the impact that it has. I think this particular birthday so far has been the one that has had me soul searching like no other.
Turning 55 has been a wake-up call that reminds me that there is an end to my life. I can’t continue to neglect thinking about what I want from my life because I realize now that the days I have to achieve it are numbered.
At first I responded to this revelation of 55 from a perspective of defeat. But as I sought the advice of others whose success I respected, I realized that it is never too late to fight the clock to get what you want. Just like I was in and out of college a number of times before I finally decided on a major that I stuck to, maybe I’m just someone who needs time to figure it out.
As I’ve been trying to sort this all out, the one thing that stands out is that it’s not going to get sorted out without my attention and energy. Giving my life up to chance isn’t going to work as I set my intentions on creating a more meaningful life experience.
My response to the wake-up call has brought a key benefit —
It has made me look at what I want from my personal and business life in a new light. After evaluating what I don’t like about things now, I’ve been able to put a clear new focus on what I’d like to accomplish immediately.
I feel very excited. Try it for yourself.
I happened across a news piece online the other day that featured a man who was my boss some twenty years ago. Come to find out he had recently been appointed the CEO of a major LA media organization. I was very happy to learn how my former boss had risen to such heights in his career and reached out to him via LinkedIn to tell him so.
I know this man as being the salt of the earth. And there was something about the period of time that we worked together in a New Hampshire division of a worldwide publishing company that feels like there is a bond there. Most of us were in our early 30’s. We took our jobs seriously yet there was a lot of camaraderie and fun. My boss was beginning to make a name for himself as a magazine publisher and I was his second in command who ran the finances and operations.
I wasn’t surprised that within a few hours my former boss responded with a kind note. I was very happy to hear from him and the way he sought an update made an impact that has lasted.
“What’s your story?” he asked.
While collecting my thoughts to answer his question it struck me that my story is not simply what I am doing today. Rather it is an evolution best described by a few key highlights that has led me to where I am today. Sometimes those highlights have been highs and sometimes they’ve been lows. Being able to now see my story as a journey helps put things in perspective.
I may want to feel more successful in my business today yet I have to acknowledge where I’ve come from to appreciate how much I have accomplished. And if I am able to look at my life as a story I can imagine how I’d like the story to play out and make the appropriate choices. I feel more in control.
What’s your story and how might you like to change it?
I spent this past weekend celebrating my fiancé’s belated birthday in San Francisco. Living within 10 miles of the city it’s not unusual for us to spend a night in town. Yet what was lusciously different for us this time was that we chose a completely different neighborhood in which to hang out. This time we stayed in Japantown.
I’m a native San Franciscan and have lived a majority of my life in the Bay Area, yet I’m embarrassed to say that I have never stepped foot in Japantown until this weekend. It reminded me of how getting out of my ruts always leads me to look at life with a fresh pair of eyes.
This weekend I realized how important it is to focus on what I have been able to create in my life instead of where I am lagging behind in where I want to be. It’s so easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that my business isn’t doing this or that while totally losing sight of how blessed I am to have a business that enables me to spend every day working with my fiance and very best friend. My instincts tell me this will be far more important as I reflect back on my life at its end than my client list and annual revenues.
Thoughts Taking Form
Be careful what you ask for. I went to Maui for the first time in the summer of 2002 for a retreat with best-selling inspirational author Alan Cohen. One of the memorable exercises for me was describing to a partner what an ideal day would look like. I found myself sharing something that I’d never given deep thought to yet it felt right at the time. I shared that I’d love to have a business that my significant other was a part of. I was single at the time working in a corporate job and partnership had eluded me for several years. So this idea seemed like a pipe-dream that I never expected would come to fruition.
I met Dean five years later and when his business came to a fork I seized the opportunity to ask him to join me in mine.
This weekend I was reminded of how powerful it is to be aware of desires that you have that may not be a part of your daily consciousness. You have to be in touch with what you want before you can reach out to claim what you want when the opportunities present themselves.
I had been thinking about re-launching—or more appropriately, resurrecting—my personal blog for weeks. I’d been on hiatus for four years while consumed with getting my marketing business sturdily off the ground all the while becoming increasingly aware that my life was out of balance. I knew that I needed to add a focus that feeds my soul and keeps me in touch with the experiences of life. I don’t want to end up feeling that my life has passed me by.
The sadness of last week’s tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman lingered with me for several days—far longer, frankly, than I would have expected for a man whose work I honored yet didn’t follow closely. The thought that has stayed with me is just how delicate the human experience is on so many levels. How easy it is for us to observe someone else’s life on the outside and think they have it made yet have no clue about how much they may be suffering on the inside.
As I tried to process my emotions in response to this event, I recognized that I wanted to learn more about what was touching me. Isn’t this really the experience of life—truly feeling what gets thrown at you day by day?
For decades I have heard my mother’s voice uttering, “Everything happens for a reason.” I do believe this is true. Yet how can it be true for just the big things? I believe that everything—big or small–that happens every day is an opportunity to be looked at to lead me or you to do something new or different.
So while I was in a state of wanting to explore my responses to life on a deeper level, I had a very mundane event occur that I looked at as guidance to return to my personal blog. Thank you, Sheila, from Dublin, Ireland for following my dormant blog the other day. You motivated me to get back out there. Hopefully my digging for meaning will make some kind of a contribution.
I didn’t expect the 4-mile hill run I took the other day to be anything more than a standard workout. But as I got about 10 minutes into the run and started to climb with the hilly grade, I receive another life lesson reminder. I became aware of how much my beliefs and habits play a role in what I am able to accomplish. As I tuned into what was going on in my mind, I was able to get beyond what I had let become obstacles and achieve a higher performance.
Here are the obstacles I got in touch with and lessons learned:
Obstacle: I realized that I had established certain points in this routine run where I told myself that the grade was too steep and I allowed my pace to transition from run to walk.
Lesson: I had come to let the points in the road dictate my pace without even considering what may be possible. Over the course of time, I had developed the habit to stop at certain points without pushing myself. I let myself believe it was too hard without even trying.
Obstacle: When I became aware of how I was holding myself back, I made an effort to get in tune with what thoughts were attached. I realized that I had a slight fear about driving my heart and breathing rate.
Lesson: I made the assumption that if I was huffing and puffing deeply at the lower part of the hill, that it would be too much for my lungs to handle as I made my way towards the top. It wasn’t until I pushed myself that I was able to discover that I could manage my breathing as I focused on it. The assumption that I had let hold me back had turned out to be totally false.
The fresh New Year is just around the corner. Maybe you, like me, are thinking about goals. As you take a look at what you’d like to create in your life, what obstacles might be holding you back? Might you discover like I did some thoughts that are pure false?
I got a Facebook message today from a woman who was a close friend in my early high school years. She asked about what I have been doing in the 30 plus years since we last communicated. Once I got beyond the challenge of summing up my life in one paragraph, my mind stayed focused on the question–What am I doing with my life?
When I turned 50 a few months ago, I told myself that I would be more proactive in creating the second half of my life. So far, I’ve not done a good job with that. While I am doing pretty well with carrying out some short term business goals, I continue to let some long-held dreams go by the wayside. Are you guilty of this, too?
Make Your Dream a Priority
A couple of decades ago I made fitness a priority and began to schedule my life with workouts in mind. When a potential commitment makes itself available, the first thing I think about is how I might need to schedule my workout around it. Sick, maybe, but at least it works in enabling me to maintain my fitness goals. Why has it not occurred to me to treat my dreams in the same way? I know the necessary steps I need to take; I just haven’t forced myself to do the work because I simply don’t make the time for it.
In the scheme of life, seeing my dreams become my reality is far more important than my mission to keep away a few unwanted pounds. What’s up with my priorities? Add this one to my list of “What was I thinking??”