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Archive for June, 2010

New Credibility for Perserverance

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The “tennis match that wouldn’t end” is a lesson for all of us.  When John Isner and Nicholas Mahut played at Wimbledon this week it took three days (11 hours and 5 minutes of actual play) and 183 games to decide the winner.  By the time it was finished, people all over the world were shaking their heads.  That’s a lot of tennis.

It was sad to have a loser in that match, since both put so much into it.  But we are all winners in what they demonstrated for us.  We got a refresher course in how to keep going.  Many of us are probably thinking differently about whatever it was that we were ready to give up on:  “If those guys could play so hard for so long, maybe I can put a little bit more into this.”

Perserverance.  We learn it as we go through life, but when life is easy, the lessons are pretty rare.    Then when times get tough, it’s hard to remember how to do it.  These guys gave a great demonstration.

As older workers and members of society, it’s even easier to just give up.  When we are looking for a job, there’s often the option of “just retiring” in the back of our heads.  When we are trying to find the right volunteer niche, it’s easy to quit the first time it doesn’t go well.  When we decide to take control of our health, letting the medical establishment decide is merely a matter of getting distracted from your mission.

We need to perservere.  To chase the dreams that we’ve not yet lived.  To create a lifestyle that has meaning and joy.  To respect the uniqueness of our own bodies in how we manage our health.  To not just love but lust for being a part of something good.

We can do that–but only if we make ourselves do that.  It may not be a matter of winning at Wimbledon, but it’s a matter of winning at life.


Mary Lloyd is a consultant and speaker and author of Supercharged Retirement:  Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love.

Getting Real About Salary

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Just because you made a certain wage before doesn’t mean you’ll get it now.

One of the problems that keeps cropping up with why employers don’t want to hire older workers is salary expectations–or so they say.  Taking the time to look at where you are on this issue is important whether you are in the hunt for a new position or not.

All too often, salary is a matter of ego.  “I am a success because I make a six figure income.”   I’m convinced that’s why CEO’s get the ridiculous salaries they do.  (And let’s not get me going on their appearances in front of Congress to explain their company’s bad decisions where they claim they knew nothing about what was going on.  A leader who’s out of the loop isn’t worth $1 a year.)  So let’s get rid of this baloney right now.  We are not ranked by salary in terms of our worth as human beings.

Some people think that just because they “need” a certain amount to live, they should be paid that, too.  That might work in a communist state (which have been pretty much proven not to work well overall).  But it’s completely at odds with how capitalism works.    A fair wage, yes,  but not more than that just because it makes your life work better.

Capitalism revolves around supply and demand.  If you want to make better money, you do the things that are in short supply.  At the same time, whatever you do you need to do well, so you also need to be working toward doing what you love.   When you have it right, you will find yourself saying “I can’t believe they pay me to do this!”

Here are a few dead ends you want to avoid:

  • I should be making what everyone else is making at this job.   This is true to a point, but only if you are doing the same amount of work, of the same complexity, with the same amount of supervision to get it done in the same amount of time.  If you are being paid less, find out why.  Don’t assume it’s just because your boss–or HR or “the Company”–wants to be unfair.  One of the first people I supervised thought she was ready to move into my job and that she should be paid accordingly.  She was an entry level stenographer.  I was finishing my PhD and using that knowledge in the work I was doing.  We weren’t anywhere close to equivalent. Her expectations were totally unrealistic.
  • I should be making at least as much as I made at my last job.  What’s going on in this job has no relation to what you did before.  Plus in a down economy, even if you are a superstar, there may be salary cuts.  The job you are in now pays what it’s worth in that company to do that work now.  Period.  If that isn’t what you want, then it’s time to start a job search.
  • I should make more because I’ve been here longer.  Nope…not if you are doing the same work as everyone else.  But you probably do because seniority has been a union issue for at least half a century.   In a nasty economic climate, that higher salary is like painting a bull’s eye on yourself.  Pay attention to the context you are operating in as you consider asking for a raise.

The “Great Recession” pushed the reset button on salary growth.  It’s also given us the chance to use other things as elements of a compensation package.  Free time is often more valuable than the cut in pay to go to a four day (8 hour ) week.  The chance to cross train may be worth more to you than the raise you are suppposed to get.

With cities and states cutting budgets to make ends meet, it’s obvious we aren’t out of the weeds yet.  One of the ways to keep your own path clear is to be willing to flex on salary when needed.  You’re worth as a human doesn’t rest on what you make.


The No-Cost Face Lift

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Announcing a no-cost, non-surgical way to look younger!!!


We spend a lot of time, money, and effort trying to “make the most of what we’ve got,” but there really is a lot of truth to the suggestion that inner beauty improves your looks far more effectively.  And inner beauty is totally a matter of personal choices rather than medical advances.

We tend to believe that the things we want most are going to cost us.  Beauty (or “handsomeness” if you prefer) is one of those things.  But beauty is more about what you’re thinking than which face cream you’re using.  Or how many cosmetic surgery procedures you can afford.

And there are more pluses to inner beauty than looking good, too.  Research has demonstrated a strong correlation between a positive attitude and both longevity and good health.  So if you want to be beautiful, healthy, and long-lived, work on your smile.

Most Friday nights I dance to rock ‘n roll with my friend Diane.  She is a pretty woman in the commercial sense of the word.  But when she dances, she becomes ten times more beautiful—because she beams the whole time she is on the dance floor.  She also talks to everyone in the place and learns about them in neighborly terms.  (Last night, we went to a new place and the first couple with whom she struck up a conversation was from Scotland!)  This woman literally lights up the room with her attitude.  She’s one of my favorite role models.

Choosing to be happy with whatever the day brings is a major plus for health reasons.  Choosing to share a smile every chance you get is better than Botox for how you come across.

So…how do you keep that smile?

• Choose not to judge other people.  Judging is stern work.  Look in the mirror the next time you’re in the middle of deciding someone else is wrong.  You’re scowling, right?  Most of our judgments are unnecessary—no action resulted from what you decreed.  You just felt some negative thought—self-righteousness or irritation maybe—and then hung onto it like it was Holy Writ.

Even worse, we are often wrong in what we decide is the case.  One of my favorite sayings is “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by ignorance.”   It keeps me from berating someone else’s dumb choice—like cutting me off on the freeway.  “They just didn’t know any better” leaves me with an easy smile.   “That arrogant bastard in the disgusting Hummer should be ticketed for aggressive driving” doesn’t keep me as serene.  Or as attractive.

• Notice the good stuff in your day.   It doesn’t have to be huge to make a difference.  I once sat in traffic admiring the shade of red in the stoplight.  I was on my way to an appointment with a therapist—and that stoplight made me realize my world was fine and I didn’t need to see her any more.

• Hope.  Believe in the goodness of life and your own potential.  Even if your prospects aren’t promising at the moment, keep trying and keep going.  Hope is a key element of a good life, but we don’t tend to focus on it until we’ve lost it.  Do all you can to keep yours in your life all the time.

• Let it go.  We tend to want to control what goes on in our lives—to be the one who decides how things are going to be.  When things don’t go the way we want, we dwell on it, replaying the dissatisfying situation again and again.  All this does is make you look ugly (really!).  Letting go of whatever happened five minutes ago keeps you ready for whatever is coming next.  It also gives your mind enough space to notice the good stuff that’s going on now. Smiling in the now is priceless.

If you want to look young forever, be happy.  There’s no predetermining gene for this.  Anyone at all can learn to smile.   It starts with being happy, and being happy is a choice.  Choose to be happy and smile.  The more you do, the more you will—and the more beautiful you will be on an on-going basis.


AGEISM: How Long Can We Afford It?

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

We’re setting ourselves–and the country–up by relegating anyone over 60 to the “discard pile.”  How long are we going to keep doing this same dumb thing?

Why are we setting these people adrift instead of using what they know and what they are good at?  As the population bulge that is the Baby Boom moves into the “retirement” phase of life, the cost of this folly will skyrocket.  Is that what we want our grandkids paying for?

The current assumption is that as you age, you become inept, but research doesn’t support that. Seventy percent of what we blame on aging is the result of lousy lifestyle choices.  And a lot of what we assume to be so about the marauding ineptitude of aging is just plain baloney.

The prevailing wisdom is that those who can afford to want to retire.  But in a 2005 study of over 3000 baby boomers, the Merrill Lynch Foundation found that only 17% wanted that lifestyle.

Every time we “retire” someone, we lose their expertise.  Younger workers could be a lot better at what they do a lot faster if the “old pros” were serving as mentors.   We lose senior members’ understanding of the context in which the work got done, too–and the resulting problem-solving, negotiating, and customer support advantages.   We lose a ton of information about what works and what doesn’t across the spectrum of the jobs that older workers are retiring from–which is most of them.

The system we have in place, assumes our most experienced, skilled workers want and need to “disappear”  at a specific age.  We pay them to do so.   What’s the benefit of that?

Even worse, the consequences  of not having a purpose in life are dire. So we set those same capable people up for a downward spiral would could avoid just be asking them to use what they know how to do.  People who have a reason to get up in the morning stay a lot healthier and live longer.  It’s a double whammy for the country–first we pay them not to work and then we pay for healthcare they may not have even needed if they were working.

Worst of all though, we are each setting ourselves up for this same frustrating decline into perceived uselessness by letting the system continue as is.

There a few things we need to accept:

  • Every person in society deserves a purpose and needs to be encouraged to claim it.
  • Not all important jobs are full time.  Some aren’t even paid.
  • “Old” is not a disease.   Wrinkles don’t erase competence.
  • Things don’t improve by having capable people sitting around doing nothing.

The idea that youth and progress are the only things that have value  has been around since the Second Great Awakening that began around 1825.  It’s time to let go of this outdated thinking and grab onto something more innovative. The challenge is not in chosing between young and old. The true test of our mettle as a nation, as business entities, and as individuals is in becoming a culture that values–and uses–both the freshness of its youth and the wisdom of its elders.