Mid-Life Crisis or Opportunity? It’s Your Choice!

midlifecrisis“Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of life it may occur.” ~ Muriel Spark

At a recent gathering, I asked someone for the time as it was too dark to see my watch clearly and I did not have my cell phone handy for a quick check. “No one wears watches anymore. That makes you sound so old,” she pronounced. While I suspect people in droves are not tossing out their designer timepieces or condemning them to a junk drawer, her snippy observation gave me pause to absorb her words. Manners aside, I really do not care how you access the information; in this case it was a simple request for the time. Use a sundial if it suits you better but it was my reaction to being thought of as OLD that was noteworthy. Could one simple comment begin a rapid spiral of negative thinking or was something else available to me if I could step back and notice its impact?

Mid-life and the process of aging can take many of us by surprise. In fact, it can feel like a much faster trip than we planned for and not the ticket we intended to purchase…yet. In our youth oriented environment, growing older is not as honored as it is in some cultures. It may be a time for feeling marginalized; like someone who should take up less space, leaving room for the next generation, those who are energized with fresh ideas to lead.

On the other hand, at a recent workshop I conducted, participants were asked to name four words that best described “aging”. The responses were fast and furious, underscoring the negatives they associated with the word. As these descriptors were recorded, I suggested we look beyond our initial reaction and consider the following choices like:
• Wisdom
• Character
• Strength
• Confidence

How did that feel? It was as if a light switch had been flipped on and from this newly positive perspective, we were able to collaboratively fill pages with many more words that were energizing and a reflection of the pronounced shift in thinking.
The words you choose are very important. They can empower you as much as they can weaken you. Words can be used to create clarity or confusion; crisis or opportunity; motivation or disinterest. They are powerful tools with which you can shape your life. As always, it is your choice.

• Select a word at the beginning of each day as a focus for the day
• Notice the language you use positively or negatively
• Become aware of your choices and how you can influence others by making conscious selections


Fighting Fires Without Burning Bridges

orangeIt’s always interesting to observe how we navigate through our lives when the waters are relatively calm and then when things are not ideal. Holidays and time spent with family and friends can sometimes showcase less than perfect people and relationships. How do you respond? Is finger pointing, pouting, arguing or avoidance the behavior of choice or default? How committed are you to your attitude and what will it take to shift your perspective to a place where interests vs. positions is the big picture approach.

The job search forces you to re-evaluate and modify behaviors that could sabotage your candidacy for an opening. Your ability to listen and advocate for yourself may mean the difference between a significant offer with benefits and a more lackluster proposal. When everyone is at the table with a clear intention to come to a satisfactory agreement, the outcome will likely serve those parties and listening is a key element.

I was recently reminded of the overused but simple to understand example of how we would be best served by listening and asking the relevant questions before we are embroiled in a tug-of-war battle. One updated version of the “orange story” is as follows:

“There was once only a single orange left in a kitchen and two prominent chefs were fighting over it. Time was running out and they both needed an orange to finish their particular recipes for the President’s dinner. They decided on a compromise by splitting the orange in half and retreating to their respective corners to complete the meal preparation. One chef squeezed his half into the special sauce he was making. It was not quite enough but it would have to do. The other grated the peel into the batter for his famous cake. It too was not quite enough but it would have to do.”

An improved solution may seem obvious to you now: both chefs would have been better off had they peeled the orange and taken the part they needed. Instead, each had focused on each other’s position (the what) and not on each other’s interest (the why).

What you focus on will affect the outcome of any negotiation. It is always good to ask yourself why you want what you want. This will help you get a better understanding of what your real goals are and could also open up better results for you.

We are always negotiating in the course of a day over issues and things both large and small.
• Step back and listen
• WHY do want what you want?
• WHAT does the other person want?
• How can you both be satisfied?
• Remember the orange!

©2013 Maureen Weisner, All Rights Reserved