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Aspects of travel, changing where you live, filling your days, doing routine volunteering, managing your money, etc.

The 180 Degree Rule

The 180 Degree Rule

One of the ways we can start modeling wisdom is to implement the “180 degree rule”: Go toward what you want to move away from. The benefits of that adjustment are profound. Both personally and for society.

photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

I got a nice reminder of this a few days ago. An online professional friend put out an all-points request for people who held conservative views. She decided she needed to broaden her thinking by conversing with people who didn’t think like her.

She was using the rule and was smart in admitting that it’s too easy to believe everyone thinks the way you do when all your friends do. That’s like thinking everyone drives a Subaru because all your friends do.

I decide where I stand on the political things one issue at a time (yes, a dyed-in-the-wool “Independent”). But I tend to lean conservative on fiscal stuff so I volunteered for her project. It turned out to be a very enjoyable conversation. Finding something we might disagree on became more and more the underlying joke as the 80-minute discussion progressed. Yes, we had differing opinions, but it was more a matter of degree, sequencing, or methods than of outright, irreconcilable differences. I was pleased I’d had the chance to learn that. Again.

Sometimes, the needed “one-eighty” has to do with an adventure. I didn’t particularly want to go on a very long cruise my then-husband suggested. I am oh so happy I did it anyway. Maybe you’re not a fan of Greek food. Go see if there’s something on the menu that you missed. The mousy little person in the corner at the HOA social? She might just turn out to be your new best friend.

This was pretty much what happened when I moved into a new neighborhood as a young mother. The other neighbors welcomed me, but they warned “Don’t be offended if your next-door neighbor doesn’t seem friendly. She just keeps to herself.” The “unfriendly” neighbor became best neighborhood friend. Over 40 years later, we still keep in touch. When we start laughing on the phone, it’s like we are still living next door to each other with young sons instead of 2000 miles apart with grandkids.

Don’t let fear keep you from doing “one eighties”. Fear is a spineless bully. Don’t let other people decide for you. They don’t know what you need or what you’re interested in. Sometimes staying away is a good idea–pit bulls and tsunamis come to mind. But it’s too easy to stay in your comfort zone just because it’s…well….comfortable.

That’s how we end up divided as a nation. That’s how we end up lonely as individuals. We don’t go see what’s really going on. We let what we want to believe get in the way of figuring out what’s real.

We can change that.

And we can lead the charge. We can set a good example for younger people by taking risks and reaching out. We can go toward what we normally would shy away from. We can build bridges and start bucket brigades. We can dance in the street with strangers. Life is too precious to view it from the couch with a triple lock on the door. Get out there.

Why “the News” Isn’t News Anymore

Why “the News” Isn’t News Anymore

Why has “the news” acquired a political flavor? When did describing what’s happening in the world become a war in and of itself? The problem has deep roots, and it’s likely they do not grow from competing ideologies. A big piece of the problem started from something that seems pretty plain vanilla and safe–the desire to sell stuff.

Remember when sports stadiums were named for the team? And when buses just looked like buses, not mobile billboards? There were ads on TV, but mostly before and after the show. Now the ads take more air time than the content. You only needed one hour, at most, to get the news and that quite likely included the farm report. “News” was curated locally and offered as a community service to those in that viewing area.

Now, “information” is global and available 24/7. There are a gazillion cable channels–all of which and more are available on your computer or phone as well as your TV. News is everywhere. And it is rarely happy news. It definitely isn’t balanced news. And often, it’s hard to tell the difference between a real thing and reflections.

From the beginning, television has been for profit. They provided programming that people liked and watched. That wasn’t to please their viewers. The way to media profits is ads. They wanted (and still want) to get more money for their ads by showing their advertisers that they had a lot of viewers. So this isn’t about us as viewers. It’s about keeping us looking at what they’re offering. We–as the TV audience–have been “eyeballs for hire” since the start.

When it was curated locally, TV stations gave the local viewing audience the information they needed. But when cable channels entered the picture, programming stopped being regional. News was recruited for the war for eyeballs, and each channel had to find a way to stand out.

There isn’t much room for that in factual reporting. So “the News” became part of the “entertainment” aspect of TV. Entertainment requires conflict. In a good story, something goes wrong and creates tension again and again. To approach the News this way, the sense of conflict is amped up. Recently, we’ve moved beyond even that to generating conflict by challenging the facts themselves–and proposing “alternate facts.”

Our President likes a fight. He likes to get other people fighting with each other. He’s an entertainer. He loves conflict. Others in the public view have jumped in to do the same. So there is plenty of conflict to be showcased. But is it what we need? Valid information that people can use to be informed is not part of this perview.

The media is drawn to these fights; they are “good entertainment” because of the conflict level. “News sources” replay inane, unfounded accusations again and again without any embarassment. As a nation, we are beleaguered day after day with people fighting–as “News.” Even though most of America is going about its business in peace and harmony, we are served up enough discord to believe that we are all at each other’s throats.

Add to that the “news personalities.” The pundits. The talk show hosts. Instead of just the actual conflicts that have occurred being shown a disproportionate amount of the time, the talking heads fan the flames, “interpret” so as to magnify them, and generally create an even higher sense of conflict.

It’s all about entertainment–and eyeballs. And that means it’s all about conflict. The entire world hasn’t broken out in a high school cafeteria brawl, but it seems like it. A significant source of our national stress is probably coming from all this fake fighting in the news.

A democracy encourages differences of opinion. But it also recognizes that the will of the people is in synthesizing them. No one wins if all we do is fight. Except in the eyeball war. Advertisers get to pitch their stuff. The media companies get to take the resulting revenue to the bank. We don’t even get paid to rent our eyeballs.

It’s time for a quiet rebellion on all this. We can take our eyeballs elsewhere. As consumers, we need to get wise to the distinction between entertainment and information and stop accepting the former as the latter. If you decide to watch “the news”, ask yourself “Do I need to know this?” with every article that’s dished up. With everything offered in a news feed, ask “Is this a fake fight? Who gains by frothing this up?”

When they are building angst, they don’t deserve our attention. Take your eyeballs and go home.

Modeling Wisdom

Modeling Wisdom

It’s time to step up. There are ways to improve the situation–ANY situation–instead of just enduring it when it’s become too ugly to endure. Those of us who have lived a significant number of years have been cowed into silence with the cultural assumption that we’re irrelevant. We seem to have accepted that we have no right to weigh on how our society presents itself to each other and the world. We need to ditch that rancid baloney and stand up. We were quite able to be civil in the past. We still know how and can lead the way–by offering ourselves as good examples of good people. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it “The years teach much which the days never knew.”

We’ve been places. We’ve done things. We’ve solved a lot of problems. We know a lot more than we realize. And what we know can make a big difference in how well things go in this world–your personal one, the one that revolves around family and friends, and the big one. It’s starts with the courage to project your wisdom. To be visible to the world in living with kindness, tolerance, and the emotional acuity to see that arm flapping is usually not about the important things.

You may be shaking your head and muttering “She’s not talking about me.” Don’t be so sure. Each of us can live our own lives well and be an example. Each of us can say “I’m not going to argue”–and mean it. Each of us can be kind regardless of what’s going on around us. Each of us can be a beacon for civility.

Modeling wisdom does not come from sentences that start with “When I was your age….” or “Back in the day….”. In fact, it doesn’t start with words at all most of the time. We need to use our wisdom. To put it on display in how we live our own lives. To showcase it in getting the things we are involved in accomplished. By being strong when giving up would be a lot easier. By being patient when things are going off the rails and you want to scream. By being tolerant of rough edges and underdeveloped thinking. By offering a hand in friendship when you aren’t sure you should.

When you do use words, it’s not about “I know better than you.” Sometimes it will be a story of how NOT to do something, based on your own mistake. Some of those words will be things you’re surprised to hear yourself say. Some of it you are just waiting for the chance to share. And waiting and waiting and waiting. That’s when showing is far more effective than telling. If even one younger person sees how to do something better because of how you behaved, you have given the world a gift.

You can watch every relevant TED talk and participate in online forums day and night, but watching something handled well right there in front of you is a whole different learning experience. It’s far more potent. We can be the opportunities younger people need to learn civility. To learn how to solve a problem well. To learn how to evaluate information We knew how to do this before; we can show others now.

This isn’t a matter of telling others how to do things. This is a matter of SHOWING others how to do things with grace and ease. We need to LIVE as wise ones. Pass it on.

Dead-end Friendships

Dead-end Friendships

As we get older, we get wiser–at least that’s the assumption. So it makes perfect sense that as we get older, we stop trying to keep friendships that don’t work all that well going. Sometimes it’s easy because you interests change, and you just don’t see each other. But sometimes, you have to step up and decide. When you know it’s not working for you anymore, you waste precious time and energy continuing with it. And even if the other person is benefitting, it’s not a friendship if you both aren’t working at being friends.

Victoria Kubiaki on Unsplash

So what are the clues that tell you when to say “Enough!” (or to just mutter it under your breath and stop trying)?

  1. How do you feel after you’ve spent time with this person? Are you energized? Or do you need a nap–or a hot fudge sundae–to overcome what you just went through?
  2. What did you talk about when you were together? Is that something you are interested in? Did you feel like an equal in the conversation?
  3. Was it “all about me” for the other person? Were you listening to his/her problems, conquests, projects, and/or glory for most of the time together? How much interest did he/she show in what was going on in your life when you tried to talk about it? (If you are choosing not to talk about yourself, that’s a different issue.)
  4. What are you getting out of being friends with this person? Does he/she provide something you need? Or are you just going along for the sake of avoiding conflict?

We need friends. But they have to be real to meet that need. Is that what you have going?

The reasons we make friends vary all over the map. And having friends does require tolerance and acceptance of the fact that we are all different. But different and balanced are two very different things. If you don’t feel good about having spent time with that person after you do, dig down to find out why. Is the friendship going both ways?

Is she/he helping you become a better person? Sometimes, the dis-ease you feel is because the person reminds you of what you want to be but aren’t working on. In that case, much as there’s a bad feeling after you part, there’s also an “I want to do better” echoing in your head.. That’s a true friend.

On the other hand, if you come home feeling invisible, it may be because the person you were with didn’t really put effort into seeing you. No one needs that. Spending time with that kind of person is a waste of timne. Don’t go there!

What’s in a good friendship?

  • People you enjoy being around. Life’s too short to hang around with Grumpy Gus, Negative Nellie, or All-About-Me Al.
  • No worries about “what people will think.” In the first place, nobody cares who you hang out with except you (unless you are 12–then your parents care and they are right to do that). Age, skin color, social background, etc. make no difference in whether you can be friends.
  • Diversity–but not as a way to be politically correct. A wide range of friends is part of living a big life. That casts a wider net for new experience and knowledge. Be friends with kids, with the very elderly, with CEO’s, with janitors. Be open to friendship whenever you meet someone new.
  • FUN! That’s the bottom line. If a person is fun to be with, he or she is good friend material. Authentic playmates aren’t always about fun. They are the ones who will be with you in thick and thin.

Dead-end friends are not fun. And they are not good for you. It’s okay to let them go (even if they insist you are a selfish, mean, intolerant person because you are no longer their captive audience and/or slave).

Testing Assumptions

Testing Assumptions

It’s way too easy to assume you know what’s going on. And then to take action based on that “knowledge.” Quite often, what we think to be true isn’t the case. Maybe it’s a small thing, like assuming your friend is coming for dinner when they don’t know anything about it. Sometimes it’s a big thing, like assuming someone else is picking up a major client (or grandma) at the airport. Or assuming that you can trust a financial advisor because they have a sophisticated online presence.

In the current political environment, this tactical shortcoming has reached fever pitch. But just pointing a finger at “those people” who are assuming something about you that isn’t true, doesn’t get you what you could have in working with this idea. It’s far more useful to look at how you’re doing it yourself. Then you can benefit from correcting it in everything you do, all day, every day.

“Testing assumptions” is not all that sophisticated. It is mostly a case of asking yourself “How do I know this is true?” whenever you’re using a piece of information to act/make a decision.

What is it that makes you think this is the right thing to do? Why is THAT true? What are the assumptions that provide the base for that underlying assumption? Why is THAT true?

Most likely, you assumed that I screwed up–that the above photo is upside down. The main element is a mountain shape. Mountain tops go UP.

It IS the shape of a mountain–Mount Rainier to be exact. If you’re assuming the photo was taken in Mount Rainier National Park, my favorite playground, you would be correct. But it’s actually the picture of a LAKE. Reflection Lake–with Mount Rainier reflected in it.

Once you look carefully at the photo, there are clues. The reeds don’t make sense as a photo of a mountain. The focus is weird. But you have to LOOK to notice these things. It’s just a fun exercise when you’re looking at this photo. How you make sure what you’re assuming is true as you live your life is far more important. And we want to believe that as we get older we get better at “knowing.” But that’s not always the case.

Don’t assume it’s true. No matter what “it” is. If it’s the basis of a decision check it out. How do you know it’s true?

“Well aged” or “old”?

“Well aged” or “old”?

photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

We live in a culture that lionizes youth. The logic of that is simply not there. What does “looking young” have to do with anything important?

A big reason for our continued obsession with this silliness has nothing to do with beautiful people. It’s easier to sell to young people–for whom fitting in is highly valued. Getting what everyone else is getting, wearing what everyone else is wearing is important.

It is a whole lot easier to sell stuff if everyone wants the same thing. So we have an entire advertising industry and the retailers it serves furthering this perception that “Looking young is essential.”

But looking young is nothing. It doesn’t get you a good job–because you don’t have experience. It doesn’t find you the perfect mate–because you don’t yet understand what you really need. It doesn’t even guarantee you freedom from bad hair days.

As we age, we become more unique. This is not a bad thing. But it’s inconvenient for commerce. Instead of convincing the masses they all want that one special thing you are selling, a seller has to figure out what each person wants and offer that. It’s a lot easier to accomodate individual differences with online retailing. So no surprise that as a culture, we’ve been moving in that direction. But the big emphasis on youth remains the driver in advertising and fashion articles.

Which brings us back to “aging well” versus “getting old.” The value of a life increases as it proceeds. You know more. You have more experience with how to handle problems. You’ve been through tough times that make you more resilient. At least if you are aging well. If you are just trudging along, resigned to the idea of getting old and not putting effort into becoming ever more of yourself, none of that may be true.

This is a choice. We all make it, either intentionally or by default. It’s the height of folly to think we can be something other than human–that we can remain young by buying the right creams, getting the right procedures done, taking the right supplements, and wearing the right clothes. No one is going to stay young! (This in itself should be a strong argument for not relegating “older adults” to some unacceptable, invisible trash pile. We are all going there–if we are lucky enough to live that long.)

How you age is your call. Are you going to make yourself a masterpiece with what you learn and the refinements you make to who you are? Or are you going to go into the dumpster of “old” with both arms full of potions and lotions, receipts for spa treatments and youth hormones falling from your pockets, and a crotchety curse on your lips?

Becoming well aged is just that–becoming. That means you are still growing. And that is how to stay young.

Getting into Volunteering

Getting into Volunteering

A lot of us enter retirement with a strong desire to give back.  A lot fewer of us have already established how we are going to do that.  The difference in what happens with those two different starting points can be dramatic.  Why?  Because finding a way to “give back” when you are approaching existing organizations who don’t know you is every bit as daunting as finding a new job.

You have to prove yourself.  That comes over time.

That means you will have to make peace with the reality that those who were there before you will have more say in how and what gets done–even if you are an expert with 35 years experience in what the group is trying to accomplish.

You will have to accept that politics can exist and be every bit as lethal in the volunteer setting as in business, academia, education, or whatever arena you just stepped out of.  

And you have to accept that you are a beginner in everyone else’s eyes because they don’t know you (yet). If you’re already smarting from losing the sense of competence the job gave you, that can be a more brutal beating than you’re ready for.

Do it anyway. 

But be ready to be “the new kid” in terms of what you get to do and how you are perceived.  (And be ready to do your happy dance if being seen as “the rookie” when you aren’t turns out not to be the case.)

Find a volunteer gig that relates to something you’re deeply interested in rather than just jumping into what a friend is already doing.  With paid work, you show up anyway if what you’re doing isn’t that interesting.  With volunteering, “ya gotta wanna” to keep at it long enough to achieve the momentum of enjoying being part of the group.  If you quit a lot of things right after you start because they aren’t interesting, you lose interest in volunteering altogether–an unfortunate overreaction.

Pay attention to the tone of the organization.  Do they appreciate volunteer help?  Are they upbeat with their mission?  Do they treat both those being helped and those doing the helping with respect?  Are they well organized?  Are they using resources wisely?

When you volunteer, you really do get paid–but in emotional benefits.  Being part of a group effort for the greater good can foster a sense of belonging, create the opportunity for new friendships, and make you remember how lucky you are yourself.  But you need to choose the organization wisely to get those things.  “Whatever comes along” might leave you way short of that.

Or, as a good friend used to say “I’ll work for nothing but not any less.”

Ahem…about Your “Stuff”…

Ahem…about Your “Stuff”…

It’s time to admit something important. At some point, someone is going to have to deal with your “stuff”. We don’t seem to be aware of this as we keep adding belongings.  Clutter is just a fact of life, right?

We keep stuff for all kinds of reasons–  “I might need it…”  “It was Grandma’s…” “I might decide to go back into that…”  But the ongoing accumulation of “things” is a slow motion disaster.  A few weeks ago, a woman in Connecticut was killed when the floor of her house collapsed—because of the weight of the stuff she had on it.  They didn’t find her until two days later; the volume was so massive that it looked like the floor was still there when the police checked initially.

That’s an extreme case, but we’re all affected by “stuff.” If you haven’t had to deal with someone else’s after they’ve died, count yourself lucky. If you have, you know what I’m talking about. But here’s the deal. If you can’t face dealing with it, how can someone else—who knows a whole lot less about it–manage to do it after you’re gone?

My family just went through this. Six siblings plus a dear and unflinching sister-in-law hauled load after load out of my youngest brother’s 900-square-foot home for five full days. We got rid of over 100 cubic yards of “stuff.” Don’t naively assume it was just a case of walking it to the dumpster again and again either. Landfills have rules these days. You must dispose of electronics, assorted batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, oil-based paint, other hazardous materials, etc. in very specific ways—or face a fine. There’s a whole different routine for latex paint. Plus, if those doing the disposing have half a conscience about environmental stewardship, there will be trips to the local food bank, Goodwill or a similar second-hand store, and perhaps the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to donate appropriate “stuff.” And there will be lots of trips to the recycle center.

Accumulated “stuff” is not the benign, minor flaw we want to believe it is. Letting stuff you don’t need, don’t use, and don’t care about pile up leaves less space, resources, and time for what could bring you joy now. Holding onto too many things from the past means you don’t have faith in the present–or the future. It’s also a waste of money if you’re insuring, maintaining, paying for space to keep, and otherwise lavishing resources on all that “stuff.”

My loved one didn’t set out to leave a huge mess for the rest of us to clean up. He felt he needed everything he acquired. That’s how we usually amass stuff…a teeny bit at a time, time after time. But “stuff” doesn’t go away on its own. Somebody is going to have to deal with it eventually.

All six of us siblings came home vowing “I’m not going to do that to anybody!” so I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do make getting rid of my “stuff” less of a burden when I depart. Everyone’s list will be unique, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
1. Clean out the file drawers! Going through files is huge time sink for next of kin, and I can find most of what I’m keeping online if I do need it.
2. Make sure my kids really want what I’m keeping for them.
3. Whenever I learn someone needs what I’ve discovered I have (and don’t need), give it to them.
4. Mark the contents of boxes I do keep. Include a “Get rid of after ___” date to avoid going through boxes again myself when I can.
5. Donate to the food bank from my pantry. (This gets food I bought for a unique reason and then didn’t use onto someone’s plate rather than sitting on my pantry shelf until it expires.)
6. Dispose of the old paint immediately when I repaint. (But do keep the new paint for repairs.)
7. Be honest with stuff I get as gifts. If I’m not going to use it, return it, donate it, or regift it.
8. Remove anything I haven’t worn in the last year from my closet. Donate what I’m willing to part with. Put the rest in a separate stack. If I don’t wear it in another 12 months, donate it then.
9. Go through my bookshelves quarterly. Pass on anything I don’t expect to read again.
10. Leave notes for my loved ones about what’s what and how to get rid of it.

I want to do this right. From what I’ve seen lately, it’s a really good way to say “I love you.”

 

Find SOMETHING to Celebrate

Find SOMETHING to Celebrate

We tend to save our non-holiday celebration efforts for rare occasions–college graduations, golden wedding anniversaries, and the like.  That’s too bad because celebrating is good for all of us—both the person being feted and those doing the hurrah.  It’s not always necessary to make it a big elaborate deal either.

In the last two weeks, I have been to a wedding, a funeral, and two birthday parties. Let’s start with the wedding.

This is one of those official “rare occasions” but these kids were onto something a lot of us miss when planning that event.  This wedding was definitely designed to be a party.  The young couple was happy to be committing to each other and wanted everyone to be happy with them.  Our job as guests for the evening:  Have a good time.

Even the ceremony itself, performed by a funny yet legally authorized friend, was light hearted.  Weddings are supposed to be happy occasions, but frequently, they become high-stress, major productions.  Instead of a fun party, you end up observing an unfolding effort to make everything go perfectly.   Leave the big productions for Bollywood. Whatever you want to celebrate, focus on the fun rather than the fanfare.

The funeral was for a relative who died at the age of 85 after several years of horrible health.  In my younger years, funerals were solemn events full of fervent prayer for the person who’d died.  Now we celebrate life rather than mourning death—a vast improvement for all concerned.  We spent the time together remembering her in her prime and reliving the fun of years past.

The first birthday party was for a dear friend who turned 75 this year.  Turning 75 really means something to me.  It’s the time when the rest of us get to  acknowledge that the birthday girl or boy has earned their Merit Badge as a wise person.  Sounds like a great reason for a party to me!

The one we planned for this friend was designed as a surprise.  And we actually pulled that off!  This was a group of hikers.  We usually dress ready to hit the trail.  It was fun just to see everyone gussied up.

The first gift the birthday girl received was a crown of real flowers.  (A flower crown makes you feel pretty dang special.  I learned this as the recipient at a surprise party when I turned 59.) She ended up fielding questions from strangers at the restaurant about what was going on for the entire evening, but that was also part of the fun.  Our friend was radiant, and we all were happy together.

The other birthday party?  My own.  It was staged by my three-year old granddaughter.  I’d agreed to watch her and her six-month-old sister while her parents went to a class a few days after my birthday.  My son had taken the time to make chocolate cupcakes and luscious chocolate frosting before they left, but how we put them together and what we did with them was up to my older granddaughter and me.  She took the lead.

First, we had to be sure there was going to be dessert.  She announced at the beginning of dinner that she was going to be a member of the Clean Plate Club that night and she followed through on that.  After dinner, we carefully slathered two cupcakes with the frosting.  Then she insisted we needed candles.  Oh great.  How was I going to come up with them?  She confidently went to the “junk” drawer and found one.  Then she coached me until I found another.  (We had to have two so she could blow one out along with me.)  We put the candles in the cupcakes, I lit them, and she proceeded to sing the entire Happy Birthday song to me.  We blew out our candles.  Then we lit them again and sang the whole song to her.  What a perfect party!

No matter what the situation, there is something to celebrate—something to be happy about.  Sometimes it’s a formal event.  Sometimes it’s a cupcake with a three-year-old.  Sometimes, it’s just clicking your orange juice glasses at the breakfast table  to acknowledge that the sun is out and we have another day together.

Celebrating marks that moment as happy.  It reminds us that life is good—whether it’s happy stories about an 85 year-old loved one who’s just passed or a pre-school graduation.  Celebrating is about giving—recognition, laughter, and the shared happiness of seeing someone accomplish a milestone.  It’s the pinnacle of being “connected.”

Let’s not wait for the super special occasions.  Celebrate something.  Soon.

Do the Next Thing

Do the Next Thing

Whether it’s building a business, finding a job, creating the life you really want, the best advice is “Do the next thing.”  Too often, we do one thing and stop.  Then we wait for the reaction on that thing–the email or phone call expressing interest, the dreaded form rejection letter, the suggestion that a prospective client wants to hear more.

Doing it that way means you spend a lot of your time waiting for what someone else may or may not do.  Waiting is a passive process.  So you lose momentum.  And you feel less effective because…well..nothing’s happening while you are doing all that waiting.

In other cases, you capitalize on one opportunity and call it good.  The chance to speak to a group or have coffee with someone who’s willing to mentor you.  Instead of using that as a springboard for doing more things, we consider ourselves done once we’ve written the thank you note.

Why do we do this?  I think it’s because it’s easier to handle life in little tidbits–to do one thing and then…well….rest.   The problem with this approach is that you start from the point of inertia every time and have to work up the moxie to do that one thing again and again.  You have to talk yourself into it and then get yourself going over and over.

If you look for the next thing with everything you do, you don’t have that acceleration challenge because you’re already moving.  You don’t have to talk yourself into it because you’re still finishing the last thing so you’re already in “do it” mode.

But even better, those “next things” can hold some pretty fun magic.  A year ago,  a career counselor on the other side of the country contacted me about reviewing my book on her blog.  Of course, I was delighted to send a review copy, and she did a wonderful write-up of what I had to say.   End of story, right?

Not really.  After I thanked her for the review, I decided I needed to check out her website more thoroughly.  Among the many things she offers there were links to TV shows she’d done interviewing people who had switched careers after 50 and were thriving.  One  interview in particular intrigued me, and I asked her to e-introduce me to that person.  She graciously agreed.

Then the “next thing” was to contact him.  When I did, I discovered he was looking for experts to write for his web-based business.  In particular, he was looking for somene to cover the business perspective of employing older workers.  That’s an angle I’d been trying to find a way to work for a year.  Perfect.  And that was it, right?  Nope.

The next thing?  Well, there were two.  Through that contact I met another expert who’s focused on people who start their own businesses after 50.  That gave me another angle from which to promote better use of our “retirement” years, another way to expand my knowledge base, and one more platform for increasing my visibility.

The second thing?  I got a request to be a keynote speaker for a conference on the topic because of the articles I’ve been writing from the business perspective.

Here’s the point:  None of these opportunities would have developed had I not gone beyond “thank you” with the woman who offered to review my book.  Stopping at the first thing means you’ll miss a lot of opportunities.

Doing the next thing gives you a sense of both control and movement.  Those are both vital and rare.

Do the next thing no matter what you are trying to do.  Go beyond what has to be done.  Look for what else might be worth the effort.  It will increase your chances of success dramatically.  And it will be more fun than waiting for the phone to ring or the tone that announces a new e-mail to chime on your computer.