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Archive for August, 2009

Blogging to My Own Beat

Monday, August 31st, 2009

When I started this blog over a year ago, I did so with quite a bit of reluctance.  I am to that point in life where flexibility is paramount and I didn’t want to be bound be the “musts” of blogging.  Thou shalt blog at least once a day.  Thou shalt blog no more than 400 words at a time.  Thou shalt be prepared to blog while on vacation and otherwise away from the space where you are prepared and outfitted to blog…in any corner of the world at any time of the day.

Obviously, I have not played by those rules and the most glaring example has been the last three weeks.  You haven’t heard a peep from me.  I’m really sorry about that.  But I can explain.

It’s not anything awful.  It’s just…well…I’ve been living my life.  And that involved a bike trip followed by two weeks on the road in Colorado doing book tour stuff and having some fun.  I’m not a fan of the “I’m making myself dinner” style of blogging, so you didn’t hear about all that.

I finally realized as I was slithering out from under the resulting pile of guilt this afternoon that those who read this are most likely just as happy with that  as I am.  When I write here, I hope it’s to offer something useful.   If I write too often, I may actually be offering you less.  Case in point:  I am subscribed to several online newsletters and the ones that come even once a week are starting to wear me out.  TOO MUCH INFORMATION!

So this post is just to set the record straight.  I will write when I can and you will read when you want.  Hopefully, we can enjoy each other best that way.  If you need more, please feel free to complain by sending me a note.  Or commenting on this post.  Thanks.

Life is sweetest when rules are kept to a minimum.  Down with blogging tyranny!

HOW do you want to work?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Assuming retirement is the only way to get balance in our lives is silly.  But achieving balance while employed fulltime takes some effort—and courage.  Would your life be better if your work was shaped differently?

Some basic questions:

Does what you do have to be done during regular work hours?   The “9 to 5” job is essential when the next guy is adding a bolt to the assemblage you just worked on.  It was also best when the fastest way to share information was to stop at the desk of the coworker you needed to talk to.  But today’s “product” is often information, and the quickest way to get it to someone else is electronically–even if you’re sitting next to him. If what you do is independent of what others do for the majority of the process, when you get it done might be negotiable—as long as you know how to do it.

Does your work have to be done at the Company’s physical location? Working at home is far more productive for many employees. Some companies have reduced the amount of space they lease for doing business by using this strategy. Both Company and individual worker can benefit big time with telecommuting arrangements if they are carefully crafted. What would you lose by working off site?  What would the Company gain?

Is it essential to work for someone else?  Yes, you need a paycheck, but lots of people do very well pursuing them as freelancers and contract employees. Being your own boss gives you the most flexibility for meshing work with the rest of your life.

But there are risks.  If you think working for yourself is the answer, do your homework.  What’s the market for what you want to do? Who will hire you? Will that kind of work go on indefinitely? Etc.

If you decide to go for it, there’s set-up work to be done to get it right.

  • Prove to your boss that you are productive without constant supervision. You have to be a “self-starter” to be able to not work at the office.  From this day on, get things done without asking unnecessary questions, calling avoidable meetings, and otherwise wasting time—yours and others’.  Get on with the task before someone checks to see if you are working on it.  (Waiting to start until a supervisor—or the person who needs it—asks how far you are on a project will imprison you in that cubicle forever.)
  • Work smarter.  Get hints from the “old pros.”  Don’t spend work time on non-work activities (personal phone calls, texting, online games, social sites).  How can your boss trust you to work at home if you’re playing solitaire every time she walks by your desk?
  • Be incredibly good at what you do. Learn your craft and develop an in-depth knowledge base.  Learn the interpersonal territory well, too–be it as a sales person or a troubleshooter.  Become aware of how well you are doing the job relative to others at your company and beyond.  Strive to excel.  Do this before you utter one word about working from home or with unconventional hours. Being really good at what you is prime job insurance.  It’s also going to be your ace when you start talking to your boss about a different way to work.
  • Design your nontraditional strategy so that improves your quality of life rather than just complicating it. Everyone else is still going to be working the old way.  Set boundaries so their inefficiencies and interruptions don’t invade the time you’ve opened up for other things.  Be accommodating on legitimate requests.  But get proficient at saying “no” to the people who want you to do their jobs because you know more than they do.  (This is the one negative of being good at what you do.)

If we come out of the cave on how we design work, we can make huge progress on reducing the stress of work.  For the time being, it’s going to be up to courageous individuals to lead the way.  If you are up for the challenge, it just might make “retirement” irrelevant for you—because you will love your life the way it already is.




Why Does Health Become a Linear Decline?

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

When we were kids and we broke a bone, we thought in terms of “when it’s better.”  When we were young adults, we saw any kind of health limitation as a nuisance to be endured for as long as you had to until it healed.  But somewhere north of 50, the culture starts to see whatever goes wrong with a human body as permanent–part of the inevitable downward spiral.   You’re a victim of aging rather than a broken foot.  “It’s only going to get worse…”

We need to stop buying that baloney.  We are just as capable of getting back into the swing of things as younger people if we commit to recovery.  Yes, it’s not automatic anymore.  But it’s certainly doable.   Too often, we accept the fate decreed by our uninformed culture and let ourselves go sliding down the resulting slope instead.

You can become more healthy when you are faced with a life changing medical condition.  Take diabetes.  One of the men in my family was diagnosed with it last year.  He is now 20 pounds lighter and has more energy than he’s had in years.  A woman friend decided to quit smoking and work on her fitness level after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  That was more then a decade ago.  She’s twelve years my senior but will beat me up a hill on a bicycle any day.

And you don’t have to be diagnosed with some dread disease to reverse that mythical “downward spiral to the grave.”  You just have to want to do something so much that you put the effort into getting fit enough for it.  For me, that was hiking.  Being able to hike up trails that take me high into the mountains is bliss.  It’s made an immense difference in my life. I had to improve my endurance dramatically to be able to keep up.  Now I just might be the one in the lead.  I started hiking when I was 59.  I will never again assume that I can’t do more and feel better tomorrow than I do today.  (And I feel pretty dang good today!)

Give this some thought: How are you limiting yourself with “expectations of being old” if you are old enough to be “aging”? (We are all aging at the same rate, incidentally…one day at a time.)

If you are not yet to age 50, give it some thought anyway.  Are your comments, assumptions or behaviors encouraging those you love who are over 50 to think they “can’t?”

“Can’t” is for sissies.  We use it way too much.  Let’s get back to living and do what we want no matter how old we are.  It starts by getting yourself into good enough shape to pull it off.  Go for it!

12 Reasons to Be Happy — 2009 Happy Thon

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

HappyThon 09 is kicking-off

the 10th Annual Happiness Month, this August

Here are 12 reasons for me to be happy…

1.  It’s summer!

2.  Babies…and GRAND babies

3.  Our national parks

4.  Roads that get us where we want to go

5.  Heartwarming stories

6.  People who do amazing and positive things

7.  The innocent kindness of children

8.  Friends who make you laugh

9.  Funny movies

10.  Breathing…that really is worth smiling about

11.  A fresh, juicy peach–or some other goodie from the farmers market

12.  Living life on my own terms

Pop quiz!  These are mine…now it’s your turn.  List 12 things that make you happy.