A Different Way

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“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

Have you ever caught yourself doing something the same way and then asked yourself: 1) Why am I so predictable? or 2) Why not try this differently?

There are many explanations for our conditioned behavior and/or actions, among them: We think, act and create in certain ways because that is likely how we were taught or told; Maybe it seems a more convenient or efficient manner in which to produce a desired outcome or; There exists the possibility that we’ve simply not given ourselves permission to explore or invoke an alternative.

Here is a personal example. I am a ‘night owl.’ I have been seemingly forever. I get much accomplished when other people are winding down their day or perhaps, even asleep. It’s my productive time.

Not long ago I gave pause and considered, could I be just as effective, more creative, maybe an even better problem solver were I to try being a morning lark? And guess what?

downloadTo those of you who can relate to this – one way or the other – you probably understand the challenge in pulling a 180 here and shifting your lifestyle to the early morning or late night hours. This could be brutal!

Yet not every one of us is this adventurous or willing to introduce subtle (or radical) change into our routine. You may be one of those people who enjoy being a creature of habit or living the status quo. And that’s fine.

However, if the prospect of different (and possibly pleasing or beneficial) results intrigue you, then why not step outside of your certain comfort zone?

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Who says you have to plant a kiss squarely? Consider modifying that tried and true recipe. Be open to finding new ways to drive to a regular haven. Act on those crazy ideas you get when showering. Seek a destination that differs from where you always travel.

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Three simple suggestions, for your consideration, if you desire different results:

  1. Follow your heart for a change, even if your mind thinks otherwise.
  2. View something boring or monotonous as an opportunity to mix things up.
  3. Be comfortable dispelling or dismissing boundaries. Invite your inner rebel to act, respond, or be different. Shed your old thinking and welcome a new, distinctive mind-set.

Why not?

Comfort Zones

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” ~ Max DePree

Those who knew me then, would say I was a relatively shy child. Even today, I am comfortable tagging myself as an introvert. A little insecurity is not a bad thing for a young person trying to find their grounding in the world. Yet overcoming initial insecurity makes one more self-confident and prepared to step out of their comfort zone. At least it did for me.

Animals in the wild have their comfort zones. A bear will return to its lair to lick its wounds or sleep the winter away. But it cannot survive for long without stepping outside its comfort zone. Unfortunately, most of us survive quite well living entirely inside our cocoons. Our lives, our habits, our thinking gets into a rut.

In an early 2012 survey of 5,000+ people, it was found that males have a larger comfort zone than females, but when broken down by ‘comfort zone types’ it’s clear that while men have a larger ‘professional comfort zone,’ women have a larger ‘lifestyle comfort zone.’

At one time, comfort zones served a purpose in our lives. But staying in that space does little to enable the growth most want to achieve now. Parting ways with your comfort zone and stepping into the world of personal expansion can present opportunities that will, in time, assist in refining your purpose. Starting small and choosing to shift beyond your limited comfort zones often exposes you to new experiences, opinions and interests.

It has been said that any challenge falls into one of three ‘zones’ – our comfort zone, our growth zone, and our panic zone. An unwillingness to move out of a panic or comfort zone and into a growth zone, is often indicative of a resistance to change. If you are open to stepping out of your comfort zone and stretching yourself, here are three suggestions:

  1. Understand the truth about your habits. They represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully. That’s how habits grow and why they feel useful. To shift from what is less than ideal in your life, you need to give up on your tightly held habits and try new ways of thinking and acting. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas.
  2. Do something weird. One obvious way to leave your comfort zone, even if temporarily, is to do something new. But a more interesting option might be to do something weird. When you choose something new you may choose something that aligns with your personality and thus, comfort. This can be limiting. Instead, choose something that is out of character for you. Something that isn’t you and the people close to you wouldn’t think that you would do.
  3. Get a partner. There are some things that aren’t meant to be done alone. It’s amazing to see how much fun it is to explore and create with an ally alongside. And since you’re no longer alone in your adventure, you can feel safe as you step into a ‘growth zone.’ Find a partner. Make it happen.

Focusing on Self-Reliance

“People who cannot invent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out.” ~ Warren G. Bennis

On last week’s (10/29) Awakening to Awareness Radio Show, my guest, Bob Grassberger, Ph.D., talked about several issues and related opportunities for Baby Boomers heading into retirement. I thought I’d continue the thread that he kicked off, which included Encore Careers, Lifelong Learning, and Entrepreneurship.

Bob alluded that just because boomers want to work during their retirement years doesn’t mean they’ll find a job. About two-thirds of older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, according to a survey by AARP. Increasingly, boomers are getting around that problem by working for themselves. In 2011, individuals aged 55 to 64 accounted for nearly 21% of new entrepreneurs, up from 14.3% in 1996, reports the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. I find this fascinating and encouraging.

Intellectual curiosity isn’t limited to the young. Across the U.S., colleges and universities are designing programs for boomers who want to learn a language or read all those books they put aside when their kids were born. Through a program funded by the Bernard Osher Foundations, more than 100 colleges and universities offer noncredit courses for students age 50 and older.

Community colleges, meanwhile, are reaching out to boomers who want to update their job skills. The American Association of Community Colleges’ Plus 50 Initiative help community colleges create or expand programs targeted at students age 50 and older, particularly those who want to prepare for a new career.

Challenging the conventional wisdom which held that boomers are only concerned about the present, another AARP study finds strong evidence that they have actually focused quite a lot on the prospect of retirement. A strong majority of boomers (72%) say they have given a lot or at least some thought to their retirement years, Baby Boomers’ definition of their retirement seems to include a large measure of self-reliance. It is worthy to note that two-thirds of boomers are satisfied with the amount of money they are putting away today for retirement.

In the July 19, 2013 issue of The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Retirement Weekly Editor Robert Powell wrote on “Creating your ‘retirement vision’.” It’s an informative story that talks about tasks that pre-retirees ought to complete before officially leaving their working lives behind. The piece serves as a useful checklist.

If the notion of self-reliance resonates and you’re interested in listening to my Bob Grassberger interview, the free podcast can be downloaded here. Looking for some retirement planning starters, consider these three:

  • Know your boundaries. It is inevitable that people will decide that since you are retired, you have extra time and extra resources. With this in mind, understand that if you are willing to do whatever, someone will let you. Set your own agenda and do so before you are asked. Learn to say “no” and mean it. You can learn to say it nicely and still get your point across.
  • Make life plans. It is important to plan for the non-financial aspect of retirement by considering what will make you happy. Tackle what you’ve always dreamed of doing. Make a life plan and kick-off your experiences as you move forward.
  • Consider what retiree Pia Louise advises: Give up regrets. “I almost destroyed myself over things I cannot change. I’ve reinvented myself. I do not think on the past anymore,” she says. “I’m so present in my life — I went from a zero to a ten. It took some time but I could not be happier.” “You’ve come this far, be who you dream you want to be!”

Tres Mas

“True morality consists not in following the beaten track, but in finding the true path for ourselves, and fearlessly following it.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Continuing yesterday’s focus, here are three more clues to validate that you’re on your chosen path, as well as some hints that you may be deviating from it and working against both flow and forward progress.

Clue #4
You play, have fun and see the humor in everything. You find delight in everything that crosses your path. You are passionate about how you cross the paths of others while honoring how you can share your unique message, mission and gifts with them. You look forward to your work and how you are contributing to the betterment of others. When the unexpected happens, you are curious and in awe of the mystery it presents.

Hints:
You are stressed by the unexpected and fearful of what you don’t know. You don’t trust other people and especially their intentions. You feel protective and defensive of your reality for your experiences and your life. You seek control, understanding, and act to get what you want, even if it’s taken from others.

Clue #5
You allow each day and situation to flow. You are confident that all that is wanted for you will flow to you if you are open to receiving it. You know that elaborate plans and myriad goals interfere with flow and move you into an “efforting” agenda. You trust yourself and who you are being to join the flow and allow your life to unfold to be adventurous and inspiring.

Hints:
You believe the more you plan and the more you do, the more you can get. You are intense and easily disappointed when what you want doesn’t show up as you wanted and when. You blame yourself, others, and the world for denying you or causing your issues and problems. Complaining, criticizing, and judging keep you feeling justified for how you feel.

Clue #6
You have strong boundaries to protect your time, space, energy, money and joy. You know to whom, what, and how much of each of these areas you will share. You also give time, space, and energy each day to caring for your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Hints:
Your body shows evidence of chronic stress. You worry about your health and fear what could happen to you and your health. You are resentful that people don’t respect your boundaries and demand and take your time, space, energy, money and joy. You feel overwhelmed and drained by it all and guilty that you can’t give or don’t want to give more.

When you’re on your intended path, these and the previously shared clues keep reminding you that your life is on track. The hints are like road signs that say not this way, get back on the path. Beacons or signs exist in every moment. Which ones are you seeing right now?

Doable Change

Of Course I Can!

Of Course I Can!

Ever wonder how to get started? How to shift a dream into motion? How to convert an idea into positive action?

The world is full of people in transition; people who want to change some aspect of their lives or to pursue a vision. Many, however, are unsure of how to proceed. Others too easily accept the status quo, resigning themselves to live unfulfilled lives. Then there are the daring; individuals who are committed to making change in their life but not quite sure about the first steps to take.

Sure there are countless self-help books, motivational speakers and support groups that offer ways to effect change. And often, these resources are constructive. In many cases though, the more you read and the more you listen to others espouse what you should do, the more complex the process of change becomes.

I believe in keeping matters as simple as possible. In that vein then, I’ll demystify the challenge of change and offer one easy action. (And yes, there are other actions.)

Dispel the “I Just Can’t” Belief

Everywhere you turn there are characters, our ego included, that work very hard to convince us that we are incapable of getting what we want. Words like “limits,” “boundaries” and “can’t” are frequently placed in front of us. Unfortunately, many people accept these words as insurmountable barriers.

Viewed positively, these obstacles can be seen as opportunity to eliminate a limitation and in its place, introduce choice and affirmation. Sure there may be some sacrifice involved, and self-discipline too, but once you acknowledge the “you can’t” voices as mere challenges to overcome, you are already making progress toward your desired outcome.

Granted, some limitations do exist: human beings can’t fly. Yet when you choose to believe you can and there is conviction, the door to change begins to open. Just look at the above photo!