Have you hit the big 6-0, or even 7-0? In case you’ve already passed a certain age and are thinking, “I have this big dream, but I’m too old,” take heart. Even if you’re in your thirties, forties, or fifties, mile-high goals may still be in store for you – even if you’re past 60, 70, or 80! Chances are good that you’re going to live longer than you think you will.
There’s no telling what you’re capable of two, three, or four decades hence. The legendary Grandma Moses became famous as a painter in her seventies and eighties and still was creating notable works of art past age one hundred.When Ronald Reagan was re-elected as US President in 1984 he was already 73-years-old, and he left office when he was 77. These days, of course, 73 is not even “old.” In Reagan’s career, he spent twenty-five years in the motion picture and entertainment business before entering politics.
Challengers frequently belabored his show biz background, yet because of his longevity, his political career was often longer and more distinguished that that of his challengers. He had simply lived more years, and hence, had done more things.
For My Second Career…
In Age Wave, Dr.Ken Dychtwald explains how it’s likely that you’ll have several careers within a lifetime, some totally unrelated to each other. After all, if you get out of college at age 22, you can work for 15 or 18 years in one industry, not even hit your forties, work 25 years in another industry, and even get your pension, and still work another 12 to 15 in another profession and only be in your 70’s!
As average life spans extend beyond eighty and ninety, and the health and well-being of the typical professional continues on at an advanced age, it’s not unrealistic to assume that you might achieve some spectacular goal in some arena of your life that is not even in consciousness for you at this moment.
The Seeds Have Been Planted
Many people believe that the seeds of what you might be doing twenty, thirty, and forty years from now are already in formation, if only at the cellular level! When I took the course Technologies for Creating, designed by Robert Fritz, author of The Path of Least Resistance, I encountered one of the most powerful affirmations of my life to this point. Imagine, Fritz encourages, that everything that you’ve ever done is preparation for what’s coming next…
All the successes, all the failures, all the things that went well, all the things that went up in flames, and all of your experiences and learning to be applied for the highest good for what is coming in your life.
With that perspective, you’ve incurred no down time. There have been no wasted jobs, wasted years, or wasted efforts. Your life has been a laboratory of sorts, helping you to prepare for some grand good the likes of which might still not be clear to you.
As the philosophers say, the pattern of the universe (or, more specifically for your purposes, the pattern of your life) is right there, visible in everything you do. You have only to recognize how to work with your strengths and limitations, aptitudes and blind spots so as to transcend yourself.
Rather than living life as if looking through a rear view mirror, you boldly go where you’ve never gone before, and set and reach goals that in an earlier time might have seemed beyond your essence, yet on some level, perhaps were within you all along.
Fear and Anxiety
The two behaviors most likely to inhibit your ability to take bold, decisive moves are fear and anxiety. In her essay, Fear and Anxiety, Dr. Karen Horney offered a simple distinction between fear and anxiety. If a mother comes into her child’s room, for example, and it appears that the child has stopped breathing, one could readily observe that a fearful response is warranted. Alternatively, if the mother were to break into a panic because the child has a small rash, the mother’s response could be said to be an anxious reaction.
Dr. Horney explained that fear is an appropriate response when there is a visible, tangible signal or other significant cause for alarm. In viewing a situation, if others can understand why one might be fearful, they are more inclined to say that the fear is justified.
Anxiety, observed Dr. Horney, is based on more subjective, personal criteria. An anxious response to stimuli might be the result of unconscious association with past events. Independent observers would likely have difficulty in understanding why a mother might respond with panic to her child’s rash.
Dr. Horney explained that to a person experiencing anxiety, the associated feeling of fear is just as real and present as to someone who, objectively, is confronted by a fearful situation. Thus, it is futile to attempt to “talk” someone out a strong anxiety. Reasoning means little. The anxious person might well realize that his/her anxious response is an overreaction.
When contemplating your potential for great achievement, it’s sobering to realize overreactions – anxieties – are more likely to hold you back, than tangible concerns – fears. This is so, because chances are you might not even be able to acknowledge that which you won’t attempt when anxiety is associated with an event.
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It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life
Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.
Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.
Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:
1) Self Management
Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.
2) Time Management
Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.
3) Stress Management
By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.
4) Change Management
In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.
5) Technology Management
Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.
6) Leisure Management
The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.
Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.
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Let us be free to like what we like and not have others be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits
I read a remarkable Letter to the Editor in a college newspaper, from a young black student. The point of his letter was so amazing and its insights so profound that it needs to be shared across the country for everyone, of all races.
This student wrote that, as a black male, it would inaccurate to make judgments about him without knowing him personally. He highlighted, for example, that while he likes some rap music, he much prefers traditional rock and roll, and even an occasional country song.
Is Your Bias Showing?
He wrote that if you think a black student should not like country music then your bias is showing. Why couldn’t a student, of any race or ethnicity, enjoy a particular type of music even if it’s not traditionally ascribed to his or her particular group? Who is in control here?
He likes historical novels, modern novels, biographies, and autobiographies. He was captivated by a biography about the Wright Brothers. He enjoys poetry and finds the poems from many writers to be relevant to him, from Maya Angelou to Carl Sandberg.
He suggests that there is a world of possibilities when it comes to entertainment, music, and literature. Why, he asks, must we be confined to the narrow band of choices that others, particularly within our own races and ethnicities, suggest that we adhere to? Who decides what is best for all members of a particular group? On what do they base their decisions?
Who determined that venturing outside of such restrictive limits is somehow being a traitor to one’s group? And what does it mean to even be a traitor when it comes to literature, history, music, and so on?
He pointed out in the most eloquent of terms that following the dictates of a small section of the populace and adhering to the stereotypes that prevail are extremely limiting to one’s personal freedom and an attack on one’s individuality and, potentially, creativity.
With so many experiences and possibilities that one can enjoy, he ponders, why limit yourself, especially at the age of 19, 20, or 21 to predefined, limiting confines?
No Free for All
I marveled at this young man’s wisdom which seems to transcend his years. I certainly was not as wise and perceptive myself at that age.
Over the next few days, I was eager to see if there would be any responses to his letter. Surely, he’s going to get some blowback. Someone of his own race will tell him that he needs to get “back in his lane.” Someone will tell him he’s “not acting black,” or not black enough. Somebody else will say that he’s been brainwashed, probably from an early age and he’s trying to capitulate to the predominant Caucasian culture. Someone might call him an “Uncle Tom.”
While I was monitoring the publication, actually nothing was said of his letter. I hoped maybe somebody else, or lots of somebody else’s, understood the man’s viewpoint. They could see the wisdom in his observations. I thought perhaps someone would comment in that direction, but that didn’t happen either.
Free to Choose
In the larger sense, it’s a shame that blacks and other minorities, as well as Caucasians, are supposed to act this way or that way. Hispanics are supposed to prefer this versus that. Asians are supposed to do this versus that. Why, exactly, do these illegitimate confines continue to rule the perceptions of vast numbers of our population?
Why can’t we be free to like what we like, to prefer what we prefer, and have others not be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits?
I have no knowledge of this young man and how he has fared in his studies and overall life. I surmise that whatever he’s doing, whether it’s continuing in his education, landing a job, entering the military, volunteering, traveling, or simply taking time off, he will continue to pursue his interests and remain unique.
Bound for Success
Hopefully, he’ll continue to sidestep unwarranted, prevailing norms that dictate what he can like, think, and be. May we all strive to have such personal freedom.
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