I am a recovering workaholic and busy-ness addict, which in Silicon Valley valley is not only encouraged, but lauded. To actually slow down, relax and receive the world in all its wonder at this time of my life (recent retirement from a long successful career) has been challenging to say the least. The seduction of this “disease” is powerful. But I’m learning and enjoying the process along the way.
I came across this quote from Virginia Wolff which says it all….
“If people are highly successful in their professions, they lose their senses. Sight goes. They have no time to look at pictures. Hearing goes. They have no time to listen to music. Speech goes. They have no time for conversation. They lose their sense of proportion and the relation between one thing and another. Humanity goes.”
One of the reasons I joined Nancy in our Hourglass Workshops adventure several years ago is because I wanted to regain full use of my senses—all 5 of them (plus better use of my women’s intuition). I want to share such experiences with a community of like-minded women, as well as learn to more fully appreciate and attend to the world around me. More importantly, I wanted to regain my sense of proportion, a stronger connectedness with life, family and friends, and the bigger community around me. I’m doing all those things and savoring the process.This blog and our Hourglass events reflect part of this journey, and I’m very interested in the experiences of other women during such transition points and what they’ve discovered for a book I’m writing.
Back when I was growing up, this was known as the Valley of the Heart’s Delight and I’d like to know it again as that. There is no better time than right now, today, this Summer and this lifetime to turn up your tunes and dance, try a new recipe, smell a beautiful summer rose, and really listen to the voices of those you love.
Recently I voluntarily transitioned from a wonderful 30 year career to a “I don’t quite know what yet time” in my life. I am fortunate because I made this decision consciously in my time. It wasn’t thrust upon me, as is often the case in these precarious, changing times. However, it has landed me into what author/life coach Martha Beck calls “Square One—Death and Rebirth” (from her book, Finding Your North Star)
I thought I was prepared, given all the transition, career and midlife change books I’ve read in the past couple of years. Add in many in-depth conversations, several workshops, and other random sources of information, I thought I had it covered. Not quite! I had not anticipated the range of emotions I have felt. It’s quite the emotional cocktail–a shot of uncertainty, splash of eager anticipation, and a dash of fear. The good news–I honestly know these feelings are temporary and I’m already moving through this period. Here are three suggestions I have if you’re going through such a transition time.
- Simply be present in the day. This is the first time in years where I wake up to a full day with nothing planned. At first it was overwhelming. Now I actually am present with myself, tuned into what I’m feeling, and trying on ideas and what feels good to me. I also learned it’s OK if I really don’t want to do much or accomplish anything. I’m trying new recipes, lingering over my morning coffee, and aware of the summer light as it changes through the day.
- Be comfortable with not knowing. I’ve had to let go of my identity as a professional woman, consultant, speaker, and trainer. My role as a mother has shifted as my sons are grown with full lives of their own. I feel naked, yet wonderfully free to try on new roles or varied identities.
- Simple self care is essential. Get enough sleep–at least 7 hours a night. Prepare and eat good food. If you like, have a glass or two of wine. Breathe. Throughout the day, take several deep, slow breaths, being conscious of the flow. Move your body, preferably outside doing something you enjoy. I happen to enjoy running, walking, tennis and golf. Find something you enjoy and move!
Remember, this period doesn’t last forever. It’s a threshold from the old into a completely new place in your life. There’s magic in this time!
As a lifelong procrastinator, I finally have fully embraced the mantra “do it now!” I had a habit of putting things off until the last minute for many reasons. At no time is dealing with procrastination more relevant than in our “bonus years”. At this fabulous time in mid-life, I am so grateful for each morning, particularly when I reflect upon those for whom their life ended far too soon. So, putting off the important things in my life was a luxury I no longer could afford.
Here are my 3 challenging issues and keys to help you do what’s important now, with less procrastination.
Issue #1: I thought everything should be done perfectly or it just wasn’t good enough for others or myself, so I put things off and not get started on projects. I’d get so close to the deadline and find myself running out of time and say, “well, I just didn’t have enough time for it to be perfect.” It somehow justified I couldn’t possibly have done it perfectly.
Key #1: I realized “perfection” simply doesn’t exist….there will always be something better at some point in time, and someone else’s definition on what’s perfect. What might be a perfect meal or perfect experience is only so at that moment…it’s relative to timing and how I experience it.
Action: Now, I ask myself—Does this truly give me pleasure now or will it in the foreseeable future? Is this result fine for the situation, the amount of time and the amount of energy I am willing to invest? Is it really that important?
Issue #2: I thought I had all the time and energy in the world. Everything felt unlimited to me.
Key #2: I truly believe I do have “enough” time and “enough” energy to live a full, valuable life. However, it no longer feels unlimited today where there are more years lived than years ahead for me. (Ok, let’s not get into the philosophical or spiritual perspectives at this time—that’s another conversation entirely.) I have come to terms with the fact I have a finite amount of time left on this planet. I also know I have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else.
Action: Now, I am more aware of what I’m doing, who I’m spending time with, and how I feel throughout the day’s activities.
Issue #3: Scrambling and sliding into a deadline to finish something gave me an adrenaline high and I really believed I did my best work under pressure. (After all, I received many “A’s” on term papers, written during those infamous “all-nighters”! )
Key #3: I still love the feeling, but have found ways to experience “the highs of life” in other, healthier ways. I also know I do not do my best work under pressure—that was flawed, outdated and just bad logic!
Action: Now, I’ve learned that pre-planning, setting a reasonable schedule to get things done, and allow for time to review and revise along the way, I have saved money, have had better things show up, and had time to truly enjoy the process.
Simply start from right where you are! Something small, a baby step, move in the direction of your dreams….right now!
Several women I know are going through major changes in their lives. At midlife, this seems to be the norm for us, not the exception. Life as we knew it 10-15 years ago and the roles we had, have changed dramatically. Often change slowly transitions us to new awareness or situations. In the best cases, change is anticipated and appreciated. However, there are times when we must initiate a major change in our life which at the time is painful for ourselves and others, but we “know” its for the best. For example, a seriously declining relationship leads to a woman’s decision of separation or divorce. Or, we’ve lived in the same place for years and we need to move. Other times, we’re thrust into change. An example of such a catalytic change is when someone is given a totally unexpected health diagnosis. Either way, the direction of our life is forever changed.
There is much written about change by change experts which can be extremely helpful. I want to share a few insights you might find helpful while in the midst of the swirling energies of change.
1. Change is a predictable process. At first, you feel awful, terrified, sad and lost. These feelings seem to come in waves. This won’t last forever, but it’s important to have a few touchstones in your day and routine. Perhaps it is your morning coffee in your favorite cup, walking your dog, gardening, or a good supportive friend to chat with regularly.
2. You don’t need to know the end result, just know you will get through it. Greater clarity will come with more information and in time. And the right person or resources will seem to miraculously show up. They always do!
3. There’s work and effort and alot of trial and error, you won’t get it right all the time. But you’ll learn, make adjustments and move ahead. You have the strength and wisdom to get through it. If one person has done it, it’s certainly possible for you.
Look at the road you’ve travelled to get here today and the experiences you have survived. Appreciate what you’ve learned about yourself, life and your strengths. None of us got here untouched by life, yet all of us are still here.
Trust you have what it takes and the courage to get through it. You do have what it takes and you will get through this.
There has been research that shows that actually making resolutions is useful. That if you do you will be 10 times more likely to achieve your goal than if you had not made the resolution! This year I did not make any. Does that mean I don’t have plans or expect to achieve big things? Nope!!!! I expect great things. Let me explain.
There was a study done at Brigham Young University that compared what people said and what the expected outcome was. Here are the results…pretty interesting.
The people that made the statement “that’s a good idea”, had a 10% chance of making a change.
“I’ll do it” statements stood a 25% chance of success.
By stating “when” you will do it your chance of success goes up to 40%.
Set a DETAILED PLAN and success rate increases to 50%.
Those that committed to SOMEONE ELSE that they would do it, moved their odds up to 60%, and of those that set a specific time to SHARE THEIR PROGRESS with someone else, 95% were likely to reach their goals.
I did just that. I wrote out a SPECIFIC PLAN, I put a TIME FRAME on each item, I shared it with my Mastermind Group, and I will check in MONTHLY at our dinner to update what I have done, or not done. This is great for me because I have a group of trusted, respected people who offer encouragement and constructive advice when we get together every month.
Interestingly, there are only four of us in our group. We are all in very different businesses, with very different lives and a genuine affection for each other. I encourage anyone who wants to meet a goal to find a group of a few people you enjoy and respect to begin your own Mastermind group. Ours has been meeting every month for nearly five years, and we all make it a priority. We all have had our successes and our challenges and the support has helped each and every one of us when we needed it most. This is an example of what the strength of women working with women can achieve. Give it a try and let us know what happens.
This year, unlike in the past, I deliberately decided NOT to write out resolutions, set goals or intentions for the year. It just makes me feel bad in mid-January. So, I made it really simple this year. It’s actually a technique I learned from Mother Nature and years of gardening.
If you don’t want weeds, plant and take care of what you love and these plants will crowd out the weeds.
In life terms…for me, this means do more of what I love doing and it will crowd out what I don’t like. Simple, right? Easy, not always. A few simple steps to consider.
1. We need to really know what we love (that is, what brings us joy and energizes us). This includes people, activities, and our environment. (Not what we’re “supposed” to love or enjoy, but what truly energizes us and makes us “better” for the time and energy spent.)
2. Add them to our life and on your schedule. Make a commitment on your calendar. To say, we don’t have enough time makes no sense. To make something happen or get done in my life, I HAVE to put it on my calendar. Important things must be on your calendar, not just your to-do list. For some reason, it took me years to figure out things don’t leap from the to-do list to the calendar and seem never to get done.
3. Just do it. For example, I love to run, yes, simply run outside, listening to my music. But I don’t like getting started, that first mile is awful for me. So, I schedule my runs for the week, get dressed to run and I head out, listening to my ipod. I focus on what I love in that moment, my music. Soon, I’m past the first mile and truly loving the run. The other day, the weather was rainy, so I just put on my rain jacket and went for a run in the rain…..all good, even enjoyed that first mile because it was so different and invigorating!
One more example. I love the feeling and the look of a pedicure. In the past I didn’t do manicures because they don’t last (see above, I garden!). In my desire to do more of what I love, I decided to get my nails done with that new gel process (it doesn’t ruin the nail bed as with acrylics and it lasts). Now I have doubled my pleasure of lovely nails. I see my fingers all day, they make me smile. Also, that wonderful hour of feeling pampered is nice too.
Wishing you a year filled witn more of what you love and all that energizes and brings you joy!
Join Nancy and Cherryll as they talk about how “You are the most important person in your life.”