PROCRASTINATION: IS IT HAMPERING YOUR TRANSFORMATION?

Now and laterAll of us procrastinate sometimes….don’t we? I surely do. In fact I am in a pressure situation right now because of my procrastination. I have continually put off a task that includes a learning curve to be able to use a software program. There are always plenty of things to do that I can just DO, regardless of their priority. In this case, the task is related to a part time job I have; in other cases I delay doing things I know will help me transform my life in one way or another.

I have allowed myself to think of much procrastination as benign, and in fact it can be useful. By procrastinating on some things, it may turn out that they weren’t necessary or important in the first place. That can be true; it can be a passive way to prioritize.

Timothy Pychyl, who has done much research on the topic, points out that “all procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.” Procrastination is a very special type of postponement.

The dictionary definitions of procrastination do not reflect the more benign approach. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary calls it “To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.” Oxford English Dictionary defines procrastination as a postponement, “often with the sense of deferring though indecision, when early action would have been preferable,” or as “defer[ing] action, especially without good reason.”

This is causing me to look at how I think of my “delays” in doing things. I want to be more intention in sorting out things that are priority – important and important and urgent – from those that are not. That will allow the things I truly don’t need to do now, or perhaps ever, to be on a list but not nagging me as much. And those things I truly need to do sooner rather than later will be clear.
Of course that doesn’t mean that I will automatically stop procrastinating on those important tasks! So I found an article by Alexandra Sutcliffe that included these four suggestions for how to deal with procrastination:

  • “Write down you list of goals, breaking them into manageable chunks. Too big a goal and your eyes will gloss over it on the list, but broken into segments and you’ll feel more like tackling one at a time.
  • Set up a reward for later. Try disconnecting your laptop from the internet for a set period, after which you can relax and reconnect. This way you’re not denying yourself, you’re merely deferring the pleasure until you’ve got something done.
  • Attach one task to another, such as, a daily walk you enjoy, followed by the ten minutes of language study you keep putting off. Creating a routine will make any task feel more achievable.
  • If you constantly catch yourself admitting how you never get things done, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, use affirmations to spur yourself on. Remember, affirmations must always be positive, and in the present tense. Try, ‘I take charge and get things done. I seize the moment and take action’.”

Perhaps you will find these tips helpful, also. Here is the link to the entire article: Top Tips for Dealing With Procrastination

If you are interested in a good resource about this topic, I recommend
this concise book by Timothy A. Pychyl (quoted above):
Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change 

The Power of Our Questions

Power of Our QuestionsHave you ever (often?) realized that your fleeting thoughts and questions were all of the ‘What if this negative thing happened…’ variety? We can easily fall into that deep, dark hole. With negativity a far too steady diet in our lives, there can be days when it is hard to maintain a positive, hopeful approach to life.

If you are thinking of your future as the years pass by, it is easy to have negative images of aging dominate our thoughts, consciously and/or subconsciously. One of the most powerful things we can do as we anticipate and transform our years after 50 is adopt practices and habits that counteract those thoughts, images and mindset.

I have long been an advocate of one simple strategy: consciously switching our “what if downer” questions to “what if upper” questions. I first learned of this from Mendhi Audlin in her book, What If It All Goes Right and recommend it as a powerful tool to shift our mindset.

Louise Foerster, writer, reader, marketer, business story teller and new product imaginer, writes about the impact of what questions we ask ourselves as we face decisions, especially those involving significant risk. Rather than asking what is the worst that can happen – a common approach of coaches and friends – she advocates the opposite approach.

What is the best that could happen?
Now, that question gets my juices flowing. I can’t wait to imagine the best, the brightest, and the most wonderful and then ten billion times better beyond that. It is so flipping amazing that I can’t stop.

I inhabit the dream. I revel in bliss. I smile, recognizing that the best is so far beyond my small, safe imagining that I’ll have to wait until I get there to grab it tight and hug it as hard as I can. I imagine the view from the top of the mountain, endless majesty, beckoning me forward.
That is where I want to be.  What is the Best That Can Happen?

Yes! That is where I want to be also! As we anticipate, investigate and explore what it means to reinvent and transform our years after 50, this is a powerful approach. Every day we can ask, What is the best that could happen?

I recommend Mendhi Audlin’s book, What If It All Goes Right?: Creating a New World of Peace, Prosperity & Possibility

Questions can be so powerful – for reflection, writing prompts, journaling, discussions with friends, etc. The Question Book: What Makes You Tick can be a great tool. 

Searching for Clues to Your 3rd Act

Interest in the worldIf you are thinking about what your 3rd Act might be and how you want to craft those years ahead, there are a variety of strategies to consider. One of them is looking back to identify those activities and efforts you loved, excelled at and were recognized for in earlier parts of your life. Part of the process will be simply nostalgic. But taking it to another level can provide clues to things you may want to explore for your future.

I discussed this idea this post, Recapture Dreams That Still Excite You.  Psychologist and freelance writer Holly Lawrence suggests a similar approach in this article:
For Boomers to Find Their Next Act, It’s Back to Childhood .

She shares her personal story of going back to childhood memorabilia to unearth achievements, passions and things to reflect upon and provides additional resource links. She suggests 3 steps to research your childhood keepsakes to help find your next act:

1. Study your main character: you, as a child. Conduct an objective character study. What is the main character’s demeanor? Hint: candid childhood photos reveal more about your personality than posed smiley photos. Do your notes or diaries describe your career dreams? What do your report cards show? What interests do you have in common with the character today? What did you abandon that you’d like to reclaim?

2. Consider repurposing your childhood dreams and passions…. So analyze the characteristics of your childhood dream profession. For example, firefighters rescue people in trouble and save and protect members of the community. You can repurpose your dream by volunteering at the local fire station, becoming a social worker with displaced families or taking a fire safety course and teaching students what you learned.

3. Revise your life narrative and adjust to fit your goals.

Enjoy the process of trying to get back into your experiences as a child and young person. You may find some great clues and possibilities for transforming your years after 50 into a joyful 3rd act.

To explore more of these possibilities, check out Too Young to be Old – Love, Learn, Word, and Play as You Age

The Space Between

the space betweenMany of us who are 50 or over are thinking a lot about what’s next? If you are 50 or 60 or 70, the questions and possible answers may be different, but they are all questions that lead to questions, that lead to more questions with no definitive answers. We can’t know all that will be facing us in the coming 10, 20, or 30 years, how the cultural and economic landscape will change, or how our family and friendship circles will change. This is not a unique situation for people in our age group, but we may experience it differently than younger generations do as we are transforming our lives after 50.

All of us ultimately, then, are confronted be the question of how do we live in between now and the unknown future? Karen Sands, gerofuturist, author of The Ageless Way and several other books, addresses this in “What’s Next? Midlife Questions We All Ask”:

We have to stay in the center of time and wait it out. … find a safe middle ground. A place within where time doesn’t exist, where it’s okay to not know . . . yet. That’s where real clarity is birthed….

But while I wait, my task is to keep striving for greater consciousness, stretching to unleash my greatness and to re-awaken the visionary within…. We must create our own eye in the storm of time, a place of inner calm, where we look objectively at the possibilities around us.

Waiting, striving, stretching, re-awakening…. great concepts, but we may not be sure quite how to do that! It begins with waiting. We have had periods of waiting throughout our lives – to become an adult, to find our life partner, to start a family – and on a daily basis. Waiting in line for things is a part of our lives. One of the pitfalls of all the waiting is that we can slide into inertia during these periods. Be alert for signs that this is happening to you, as I wrote in “The Cost of Inertia.”

Instead, we can accept and make the best of waiting periods. That space can be golden – a time to explore without pressure of immediate changes or decisions. One of the things we can do as we wait is stretch our minds and horizons by exploring how others have experienced and are transforming their years over 50. We can talk with people in our circles and read the increasing number of books and articles that are available. We can reflect through journaling, discovering through that process treasures within us to lead us forward. We can make the most of the space between.

I recommend these books written by Karen Sands as you wait:
 Visionaries Have Wrinkles
 The Ageless Way

Gratitude: Beyond Lists to In-The-Moment

gratitudeFar too often in our striving to improve, to stretch, to reinvent parts of our lives, we forget to be grateful for who we are and what surrounds us. In our focus on the future, we neglect the present.

Many of the gratitude exercises and practices I have heard of and practiced are of the reflecting and listing type. For example, at the end of each day, write down 5 things for which you are grateful. In fact, I encourage such practices, as in this blog post: Gratitude as the Overriding Tone of Your Life. I recognize the value of them and also am glad to learn of another way of having a sense of gratitude infuse the day and form the foundation of all we do.

David Cain, in “Gratitude Comes From Noticing Your Life, Not From Thinking About It” provides inspiration for this practice.

Gratitude, when we do genuinely feel it, arises from experiences we are currently having, not from evaluating our lives in our heads. When you feel lonely, for example, simply remembering that you have friends is a dull, nominal comfort compared to how wonderful it feels when one of those friends calls you out of the blue. Reflecting on the good fortune of having a fixed address is nice, but stepping inside your front door after a cold and rainy walk home is sublime.

 

The experience, not the idea, is what matters. So if you want to feel grateful, forget the thinking exercises. Look for your good fortune not in some abstract assessment of your life situation, but in your experience right in this moment. What can you see, feel, hear, or sense, right here in the present, that’s helpful, pleasant, or beautiful?

Often our push toward change we are acting out of dissatisfaction, which can be a powerful motivator. If, however, we are at the same time acknowledging and feeling gratitude for things in our present moment, it is a much more powerful position from which to move forward. It also calms us and reduces the stress caused by dissatisfaction, thus freeing up energy for moving forward into our intended future. I am not quite ready to “forget the thinking exercises” as David suggests, but I will add this practice to my days and encourage you to try it too.

In addition to this simple and profound practice, I invite you to check out this extremely helpful book, Unlock Your Ideal Self, Transformation From Within by Dennis Becker. Gratitude is among the topics covered. This is indeed a handbook that you can refer to again and again.

The Power of Saying No

just say noI recently participated in a Vision Board Workshop in which the facilitator stressed the importance of choosing your life every day. We need to choose how we spend our time based on our priorities, not someone else’s priorities. That means saying “no” to things on which others ask us to spend our precious time so that we can indeed actualize those dreams and desires we have for our lives. There is power in saying no.

The day after the workshop, I found a helpful article written by Kevin Ashton – “The Most Successful Creative People Constantly Say ‘No’’. He noted that we are taught NOT to say no in many situations as we are growing up. We are taught to be cooperative and compliant. But we need a different perspective on our time and who controls it as we are transforming our lives after age 50. These words state it so clearly:

“Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. …

“Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. ‘No’ guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.” (The entire article can be found here: The Most Successful Creative People Constantly Say ‘No’)

As someone who is a helper and has a long history of doing what people ask and offering to do things even when they don’t, this is a big challenge for me. I am committed to seeing the future I have on my vision board actualized. It is a work of creation. And creation takes time and focus.

Is this a challenge for you as you transform your years after 50? I encourage you to examine your typical patterns and decide what you may have to work on, as I do. It may take some time to take these actions and feel good about them; I know it will be a process for me.

If you would like to learn from one of the masters, John Assaraf, here is a great resource on using vision boards as a tool to achieve your dreams:  The Complete Vision Board Kit: Using the Power of Intention and Visualization to Achieve Your Dreams 

 

Have You Chosen Your Word for the Year?

BreakthroughIf you haven’t chosen your word for the year yet, it is likely that you have heard people talking about doing it. You may have seen posts on social media of the words people have chosen and why.  Or it may be new to you, as it was to me until a month or so ago.  Oh, I may have heard of it in passing, but it is the first time I have learned about it and considered choosing and using a word for the year myself.

I was particularly inspired to use the one word for the year practice, and perhaps an additional few words, by my mentor, Connie Ragen Green, in her early January blog post on the topic, Connie Ragen Green: Theme 2018 . You will find more information there.

As I look at it, one of the great values of this practice is to assist in FOCUS. I don’t know about you, but I have disappointed myself over and over when I didn’t end the year having accomplished the things I said I would do.  At the beginning of multiple years, I have said to myself: THIS is the year when I really create a functioning, profitable online business.  And for the past two years, I have said: THIS is the year when I will make the move to California to be near my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren again. And I could go on….

For some people, the time has passed for setting a focus and doing the beginning of the year rituals and preparation.  But it is never too late to make a fresh start. Maybe you – as I have been – were involved in so many other things at the very end of last year and the first weeks of this year. We can just do those things now.  I have chosen my Word for the Year as BREAKTHROUGH.  It applies to several areas of my life and I look forward to seeing these breakthroughs become reality!

As you will see in the book, key to this being an effective strategy is keeping the word visible constantly.  Be creative in how you keep it in front of you – on your computer, on your phone, in your office, on a mirror, as the central word on a vision or dream board, etc. Each time I see “BREAKTHROUGH” if gives me a little jolt out of the auto pilot I may be falling into.  Simple and powerful!

I encourage you to check out a book that is the main source for this growing strategy for getting where you want to go.  Here is my affiliate link:   One Word That Will Change Your Life

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Never Too Late for a Fresh Start!

Fresh StartWe as humans need milestones to measure and regulate the flow of our lives. “New Year” is one of those milestones.  It is one of the ways we avoid the hamster-on-the-wheel feeling of one day, one week, one month, one year blending into the next with little changing. It is an opportunity to make fresh starts. But it isn’t too late!  We can make a fresh start any time.

An exciting and sometimes overwhelming aspect of the end of a year is the abundance of ideas, tools, and investment opportunities related to the “new start” of the calendar flipping over to a new year.  They begin in December, and it seems to me, are increasingly being promoted into the new year. This makes a lot of sense since many of us are consumed by holiday activities of many kinds during December.

Through the early months of the year, there continue to be offerings in my email box and on social media about making 2018 a stellar year.  At the time when, statistics indicate, many people who did their new year’s resolutions “on time” are letting those new aspirations and plans fade a bit or have given up on them, some of us are focusing on how 2018 can be better.

I admit, I am doing my real fresh start work now.  And it is okay.  You can do it too.  Even if you are reading this in March or June or September, you can make a fresh start NOW.

One of the downsides of the big annual “new year’s resolutions” push is that the timeline is “this year I will” – and so if we don’t do something right away, it is okay.  We still have 11 months, or 10 or 9 or….. more months to accomplish what we had set as our goal.  Believe me, I have done that repeatedly! It is amazing how those months fly past and before I know it, another year has passed.  Given that history of mine, I have been overjoyed to find a resource that I believe will make a huge difference in my ability to reach my goals and dreams.

This resource not only provides easy to follow strategies, it actually gives a whole new perspective on time and how to use it to get where you want to go.  The 12 Week Year – Get More Done In 12 Weeks Than Other Do In 12 Months is a process and framework that focuses us on 12 Week time periods. And of course 12 week time periods can start any time we choose.

I highly recommend you check out this book through my affiliate link and join me in doing our fresh start work now.  I would love to hear from you as you use this framework and process!  Here’s the link to learn more about it:   The 12 Week Year

 

 

Transforming Your Years After 50: The Cost of Inertia

Perhaps the idea of “transforming your years after 50” sounds like a lot of work. Perhaps it will cost money you are trying to conserve.  Perhaps you are thinking, I can look at this closely later; reading it is interesting but doing the exercises and thinking deeply about this can wait.

My advice, my plea, is that you reconsider those thoughts.  Beware of inertia setting in.  Be alert to the tendency to slip into and stay in comfort zones which easily become ruts. Balance your desires to relax and enjoy the extra time and space you have with your desire to make this stage of your life joyful and fulfilling in new ways. They are not incompatible impulses.

Mirriam Webster Dictionary defines inertia as:

+ lack of movement or activity especially when movement or activity is wanted or needed;

+ a feeling of not having the energy or desire that is needed to move, change, etc.

Yes, relax. Yes, enjoy. YES, look at what you really want for your 3rd act of life.  You can do it all.  Start a step at a time. Do the exercises in the previous blog posts under the “What You Bring With You to Retirement” and “10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Open Possibilities” categories.

You can also consider the “Unlocking Your Ideal Self” program. Learn more about it here:

Unlocking Your Ideal Self

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What’s the biggest expense we should expect with transforming your retirement?”