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?”