Milestone Birthdays

screen“I can scarcely wait till tomorrow when a new life begins for me as it does each day.” ~ Stanley Kunitz, 100 year old poet

I wish I could say with confidence that even at the half-century mark, I’d felt as thrilled as Stanley in reaching his impressive milestone. Then again, how should I have reacted? Reflective, curious, excited, or grabbing the phone for a referral to the most skilled plastic surgeon within my network? Is there ever a singularly proper way to celebrate significant birthdays?

What turned it around for me? Well, age 49 was safe. It produced a little flutter but I knew that I still had time, really. At forty-nine you are sitting at the edge of the swimming pool, dipping a toe in and checking it all out. Taking in the scenery and not stressed. From the corner of your eye, you may spy the diving board, but it is far off in the distance, removed from the present and not yet even in your neighborhood.

Now, 50 is different. At fifty your choice is to slip into the water without a splash or approach that diving board with mixed emotion; to plunge in or not even create a ripple. You place your hands on the ladder’s rungs as you climb higher but with less conviction. There are choices now that you have arrived. There are no guarantees, no safety net and the internal dialogue is oddly quiet. You may walk to the edge, curl your toes around the board, hold your breath, close your eyes and jump. Or, you can walk to the edge, open your eyes wide, spread your arms and leap into the uncertainty ahead full throttle, when low and behold you are flying!

Did attitude trump trepidation in making this decision? In my case it did and it was freeing beyond belief to choose to begin this fifth decade with gusto. Embracing the unknown most assuredly shifted the energy and thrust me forward far more decisively and on a broader path of learning and activity.

Having had the experience, I urge you to be BIG, take up SPACE, swing out, grab the bar and celebrate your milestones with a plan to add whatever you choose to your life blueprint and have fun in doing so.

©2015 Maureen Weisner

Career Change Tips

career-changeHow often have you contemplated doing something entirely different than what you are doing right now? Before quitting your job, look at the bigger picture and the implications of making a change or not doing so. Will you be proactive or just let things slide and continue? What’s really at stake? Let’s examine a more systematic approach to finding answers that work for you.

1. Look at the issues that make you crave change and outline your goals.
What are you satisfied with about your current situation? What are you dissatisfied with? Is it your boss or the culture of your organization? Or do you really want to change careers? Outline your goals- for example, more money, more time off or more flexibility. Write it all down.

2. Work to understand your inner critic.
Observe thoughts that trap you with fear and prevent you from achieving your objectives. Write these down on a piece of paper, then crumple it up and throw it away to symbolize your freedom from thoughts that interfere with your goals and dreams.

3. Recognize recurring patterns in your life.
What makes you happy? What are your recurring interests and social needs? What makes a work environment feel good or not so good to you? Write it down.

4. Network and investigate career interests that map to your goals and needs.
Once you’ve identified your patterns and desires, start thinking about careers that make sense for you. Give yourself one to three months to explore your curiosity by finding people who do these jobs and talking about the pros and cons of their work. Explore anything and everything until you’re satisfied — or until your time runs out.

5. Make a plan that takes your financial situation into account.
Change is never simple, but having a plan that outlines your steps and financial requirements makes it doable. Will your new career require additional education, a small business loan, time off from work or relocation? Make a plan with financial considerations and a realistic timeline that you can follow through on.

©MWeisner2015

Kickstart the New Year!

Screen-Shot-2012-12-27-at-8_18_14-PMI always look forward to the various approaches to the process of behavioral change that take center stage at the end of each calendar year. Approximately 45 percent of Americans make self-improvement goals in January, yet by February much of that enthusiasm has slowed to a mere trickle. And despite our best efforts, only some 8 percent of us end up achieving those goals. Of course there are many reasons and faulty explanations abound, yet we are in good company with respect to the challenges surrounding change. Read on for Andy Horner’s other approach to kicking off the New Year with a fast track approach.

Instead of a resolution, each year I commit to a New Year’s Kickstart!

Here’s the idea: You start your year off with a big success by completing a relatively quick turnaround project that you’ve been putting off. It could be a website, blog, newsletter, new mini-business, or a presentation or webinar you’ve been wanting to complete.

It’s Your Spark Plug: Whatever your project, your New Year’s Kickstart should be the spark that ignites your bigger picture strategy for the year.

Difficulty: Hard: For your project, it’s best to choose something that will push you. Get out of your comfort zone, but avoid a challenge that’s too grandiose. I don’t want your Kickstart to end in a New Year’s Frustration.

Done in 2 Weeks: It should be something you can knock out quickly. One of the reasons New Year’s Resolutions fail is that the commitment, like losing weight, takes too long to yield results. (If you haven’t noticed, we’re an instant-gratification world now.)

I like the 2 week mark. It’s enough time to get most projects finished. It’s short enough to maintain focus. And it means you begin your year with an achievement to fuel you.

• Write it down
• Color code 2-weeks in your Kickstart calendar
• Celebrate your success!

Take the Stairs to Achieve Success

stairway to successIs it willpower or discipline, and does it really matter? How decisive am I on a daily basis only to have to modify my plan before I even get started? According to Rory Vaden, author of Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success, choosing to take the escalator over a flight of stairs is a deeper indicator of how you operate overall and may be quite telling. When you select the easier shortcut of stepping on those moving stairs, is it really about getting to another floor more quickly or is it a statement about how you function in other parts of your life? He calls this the “escalator mentality” and it may be emblematic of avoiding the more challenging effort of full engagement in a given activity.

Sometimes shortcuts are smart and sensible, but they can also be deceptive. When we get in the habit of automatically looking for the quicker solution, we may also be setting ourselves up for traps. It is particularly tempting to seek the easy way out when it comes to making difficult changes like reaching a goal weight or reducing debt. But these shortcuts can also take a toll on self-discipline and don’t always take you where you want to go.

Evaluate your decisions– is this taking you where you want to go?
• Be flexible- find success in making small changes first; bigger ones later
• Manage your time – when is the best time to focus on this activity?
• Prioritize and Succeed!

Keep in mind that we are not all Luddites, attached to doing things the long, hard way and not make use of the technology that is readily available. It makes sense to view each situation independently, with a heightened awareness that the easy/faster way may not always be the best way. However, after an exhausting day, that escalator may also be just what the doctor ordered!

©2013 Maureen Weisner