During these unsettling times, it’s easy to get knocked “off-center.”

Last month, I asked you to reflect and take stock of your life.  This month, I want to help you get back in balance by looking at where you spend your time now and where you want to spend it in the future.

There are many life-balance wheels, such as the one above created by Brendan Baker of Australia.  Most include these components:

  • work (paid or volunteer)
  • family and relationships
  • leisure and physical activities
  • personal pursuits – creativity and education
  • spiritual pursuits
  • healthy habits – preparing healthy meals and keeping fit
  • physical environment and home maintenance
  • rest

Do you agree that it is important to have these elements in your life?

What would you add to the list or delete?

Look at the list above and check the areas of life that are most important to you.

  • Place a number from 1-10 next to each item to indicate how satisfied you are with that area of life (10=very satisfied, 1=dissatisfied).
  • How would you like to balance these areas?  How would you like to allocate your time?  Put a percentage next to each area.

You can regain some of the balance your life has lost.  Draw a circle and divide up the pie slices.  One slice for each activity in your life.  Slices for activities that take more time will be proportionally larger.  Sleep may take up a quarter of the pie.

Divide up the pie to show how your time is spent now.

Now draw a new circle with pie slices that reflect an ideal life balance.  What activities have you added to the pie?  What could you give up or reduce to attain this balance?

Sometimes it’s helpful to work with a coach on this activity and on the steps to take next. Let me know if I can be of assistance.

Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make a doozy, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.  Billie Jean King

Life has its ups and downs.  Keep on swinging.  Hank Aaron

The Old Ways Won’t Cut It

Friends, family and coaching clients tell me they will not be returning to business as usual when life becomes “more normal.”  I’m hearing that the virus has brought about a change in their values, and the old ways won’t cut it.

Take Stock

If you want to reinvent yourself and find out what’s next, start by looking at where you are today.  Allow yourself time to reflect on the following questions:

  • When do you feel most “at home”?  Most like yourself? Most alive?
  • Who are you with when you feel most like yourself? (Perhaps you are alone in nature.)
  • Where are you?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you no longer enjoy?
  • What do you want to learn?

What’s the Nagging Question?

When I was laid off from my corporate job, I thought about what I most wanted to learn and explore.  I wanted to spend time in my neglected garden, but I didn’t know how to proceed.  I took classes to become a Master Gardener.  I met 30 classmates, many of whom became good friends.  We are the same age and share similar passions.  Later, I began to remember the jazz music my father played when I was young.  Those memories helped open another world of music and dancing.

What’s Next?

In future blogs, we’ll create a vision for the future and explore ways to get there.

Which Ones? I need your help.

When it comes to social media, I’m a neophyte…and so are many of my friends.  I’ve put my toe in the water by building a website and writing a monthly blog. (The blog is two years old this month.) 

Yes, I do have three Facebook sites – one is personal and two are for my workshops.  I used Twitter until I was hacked and found myself with a million followers who didn’t speak English.  I haven’t tried Instagram or Pinterest yet.  Should I?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Which social media services do you use? 

A Favorable Website Connection

Thanks to my website, I’ve made an exciting connection with the County of Arlington, Virginia.  This county, which has four Park and Rec centers for people over 55, brings in a speaker annually for all members.  This year I’m honored to present the Reinvent Yourself after Fifty workshop to this audience.  I’ll be providing a workbook and follow-up materials in addition to giving a 3-hour interactive presentation. 

I Can Bring “Reinvent Yourself after Fifty” to You

I’m delighted to be returning to the D.C. area.  Travel is a passion of mine, and I’d love to visit you – wherever you are. Please let me know if you and your friends would like a presentation for your group. 

Connecting from Home

On the other hand, I’m also happy to present the program from inside my home….and in April I’ll do just that.  www.FairyGodBoss.com has invited me to speak on a live webinar on April 15 at 10 AM Pacific Time.  To register go to: https://fairygodboss.com/ (You will need to sign-up with Fairy God Boss to attend. It’s free.) Even though my primary audience is over 50, FairyGodBoss informed me that men and women of all ages are making career transitions and will benefit from learning how to reinvent themselves.

Help with Life Transitions at All Ages

I’m aware that most of the reinvention steps are applicable to many life transitions – changing careers, getting married, becoming a parent, reentering the workforce, divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of good health, retiring from a career etc.  We start by assessing our current situation, revisiting our values, getting clues to our passions by looking at people we admire, remembering the times we were happiest in each decade of our lives, learning how to get unstuck, creating a vision and plan for the future, adjusting our attitude, and living a healthy life.  Sounds simple, but there are layers and layers to sort through.  It’s well worth the effort since the result is a balanced and fulfilling future. And that’s what I wish for you.

Years ago, I wrote a book called, Road to Fulfillment, about men and women who made meaningful mid-life changes.  After the age of 50 they fulfilled their dreams. 

I was reminded of the book when I read a June 9, 2019 article in The Washington Post called, “Changing Channels: Millions of women wait years to fulfill their dreams – or to figure out what their dreams are.”

It’s Your Time

The article states that after 50, many women do what they once considered selfish – they achieve ambitions that make them feel productive and satisfied, professional milestones that are difficult to pursue while taking care of a family and paying their bills.  Please note that I believe many men feel the same about this time of life.  In fact, both men and women ask me to help them answer the questions: “What’s next?  What has meaning now?

Taking Stock

This makes sense.  After 50 we take stock of our lives and want to make the most of the remaining years.  After 50 we know our strengths and want to use them in a way that makes a significant difference.

In the article, Patricia Forehand, a retired educator turned comedian says, “After I retired, I took the teacher mask off and really cut loose…. I feel like I can be myself again.”

It Takes Time to become Good

The singer Bettye LaVette, hit it big after the age of 60.  She says, “It’s much better to find success later in life.  It takes a very long time to become good.  Iris Gomez, a lawyer turned novelist agrees.  “My work has gotten richer as I’ve matured.”  She adds, “People say you can have it all as a woman, just not at the same time.  There’s truth to that.”  Another woman, Suzanne Wilson, became a doctor 25 years after being accepted to medical school. And she believes that her experiences raising a family will make her a better doctor than she would have been earlier.

Life’s Travails Make Us Better

In my book, Road to Fulfillment, a male writer turned therapist, describes the pain and suffering he needed to endure in order to become the wise therapist he is today.   A realtor turned minister feels the same. 

Changing Values

Others in the book describe how their values changed over time.  I often hear people over 50 say that now that their children are grown, fulfillment comes from living simply and making social contributions through work with non-profits and volunteering.  Others said you shouldn’t wait until the time when you have enough money.  Start where you are today.  Begin to live your dream now.  Reading their stories in Road to Fulfillment will inspire you.

What’s next for you?

Be bold, if you're going to make an error, make it a doozy. Don't be afraid to hit the ball.
Billie Jean King.
Life had its ups and downs. Keep swinging.
Hank Aaron

Taking Risks

Did you see the Brené Brown #BrenéBrown “Call to Courage” video on Netflix?  It’s about vulnerability, courage, and risk taking.  When’s the last time you took a risk?  How did it turn out?

Failing Forward

I taught a workshop this week on learning from failure or failing forward.  We talked about difficult situations that had unexpected benefits.  I had plenty of examples.  I thought getting divorced would be catastrophic, but I’m so much happier now.  I’ve lost many jobs, but almost always landed in better ones.  I’ve led projects that failed, but I learned lessons about leadership and how my attitude impacted the outcomes.

Now that I’m older, I can see that some of “my mistakes” came from passive-aggressive behavior when I was unhappy with someone or the organization.  Too bad that I lacked the maturity to see what I was doing at the time.

Mistakes cause us to reflect.  They give us feedback about our lives.  We learn and grow…and become more mature.  I hate to think where I would be now if I hadn’t taken some risks and made lots of mistakes.

Big Changes

My girlfriend just called to tell me that she’s worried because her daughter is moving to Los Angeles on her own; she’s leaving the college town she’s lived in since college graduation.  L.A. is the perfect place for the young woman to pursue her career, but it also takes courage to leave friends and family behind.  Her family may feel she’s making a mistake, but this is how she’ll grow and mature.

Procrastination

My girlfriend’s boyfriend plans to remodel is bathroom, but he’s afraid he’ll use the wrong tiles or paint color so he’s procrastinating.  We all do this to some degree.  We wait and wait for inspiration or certainty.  I’m learning that if I make a mistake, I can usually fix it.  It might take time and money, but it’s better than taking no action.

Where have you been procrastinating?  Now is the time to move forward.  If you need support, let me know.

Take a chance.  I want to hear how it goes.

I am a believer in positive thinking.  I’m also a believer in being realistic.  What this means is that even if you have a clear goal, you still need to rationally assess your current situation and readiness to attain the goal.

In my coaching practice I talk to people in their 60’s and 70’s who want to return to full-time work in the profession they had in their 50’s.  Some of my clients are successful at “going back,” especially if they work in healthcare where seniors are often hired.  On the other hand, an honest discussion often reveals that a backup plan or a modified goal will lead to a better outcome.  Here’s what I mean:

Suppose David, who is 70, wants to return to full-time corporate training.   We will talk about David’s health and energy level, since the employer will look at this.  We will discuss David’s plan for staying up-to-date on corporate training needs and strategies.  For example, which online software programs is he skilled at using for developing training?  Does David need additional training to be competitive?  We need to consider David’s networking contact list.  What is David’s communication and marketing strategy?

I can help David prepare for the job search, but I need David to be clear and honest about his goal.  Is he truly healthy enough for full-time work?  Is he still mentally sharp?  Will his current skills allow him to “talk the talk” of younger and “up-to-date” colleagues?  How well does he work with younger people? Has David maintained his professional contacts, and, if not, how can he build new ones?

During an honest discussion, if David says that his health is not optimal, and his skill level is not where it was, then David and I can explore suitable goals.  For example, perhaps David can enhance his skills and then work part-time for established training companies that use hourly or daily contractors.  Depending on his interests, perhaps David can develop his own training programs and market them through social media.  David could reengage with professional and networking groups.

There are many possible goals and next steps.  The key is to be honest about the current situation.  Working with a coach can help you move from hopeful, positive thinking to realistic thinking that results in positive outcomes.

A year after the devastation of the Sonoma County, California fires, friends who have lost their homes and most of their material possessions spoke to me about gratitude – gratitude for the outpouring of gifts and support from both friends and strangers.

It doesn’t erase the pain of the loss, but one friend shared that small events will long be remembered, such as gong to community garage “sales” where you are told to take anything that fits or is useful…maybe a new pair of earrings or a sweater or even a bicycle – for free.

I recently spoke with a Sonoma artist at a local art festival.  He lost most of his paintings when his studio burned in the fire.  I looked at photos of his lost paintings and then felt exhilarated by his fresh, new paintings.  He has worked through the trauma and come out the other side with stunning, gorgeous images.

My friend Annie calls this “getting pruned.”  She says it’s like cutting back a rose bush and being rewarded with even more stunning rose blossoms.

This metaphor reminded me that in the 1980’s I lost my home in a mudslide in Sausalito, California.  I’m grateful I got out alive and was able to rescue some possessions.  I realize now that the loss and trauma was a turning point for me.  It forced me to re-evaluate my life and eventually led to a better romantic partnership, and work in coaching and training that was more aligned with my values.

In fact, one couple I know announced their engagement shortly after she lost her home in one of the fires.  Maybe they would have announced it at that time anyway, but experience tells me that after facing the possibility of losing your life, some decisions become very clear.

Another friend told me that when the fire destroyed her home, she decided to move closer to San Francisco where most of the family works.  The shorter commute has resulted in greater family togetherness, which she loves.

I certainly don’t want to minimize the pain and trauma of major loses; however, as we remember the fires, it’s good to recognize that sometimes life calls for us to reinvent ourselves…and that can be a good thing.