Thursday, February 7, 2019

I wish I had...

For one day on a Brooklyn, NY sidewalk, a large chalkboard was displayed with the words "WRITE YOUR BIGGEST REGRET." Click here to view video.

At the end of the day, the word that showed up most is the regret felt for things not done. People didn't regret failing; people most regretted failing to try. Fear of risk and failure holds us back from pursuing dreams and goals. And we're left with regrets. Is there a way to manage risk and avoid regret? Yes.

Author Jonathan Fields, in his book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, offers three questions to help you get over the fear of risk and failure.

One: What if I go to zero? 
Suppose your goal doesn't work out as planned. In fact, it is a big failure. What are you going to do now? How will you recover from this place? Describe your plan in detail. This is the worse case scenario. Once you see how you will recover, you know even a failure isn't the end of the world. When you know you can recover, you proceed with more confidence.

Two: What if I do nothing?
This question will help you understand how much this goal means to you. If the idea seems too scary, too risky, and so you ignore it and do nothing, how does this make you feel? Is doing nothing okay with you or will it show up on a biggest regret list a few years from now?

Three: What if I succeed? 
And now for the fun part—what if this crazy idea actually succeeds? How will this change your life? What will this add to your life?

Risk or Regret. The decision is yours. How will you respond?

"Your biggest failure is the thing you dreamed of contributing, 
but didn’t find the guts to do." –Seth Godin

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bring Your Letter to Life!

Earlier this month I invited you to write a letter that describes 2019 in detail—your best year yet! If you haven't written your letter, do it now. You might have noticed in the past couple blog posts, I ask you to do something, then I build on this in the next post. Creating the life you want takes action. You can’t watch from the sidelines. So if you're playing catch up on an assignment, that’s okay. Just do it now.

Once you know what you want to happen in 2019, what are you going to do about it? How do you turn a dream into reality? How do you make the uncertain, more certain? Answer: Use your letter to inspire action.

Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, says, "When you are driven by a calling or a deeply personal quest and you allow that calling to inspire action, you live in the world differently. You do a thousand little things you've never done before. You act and interact with more confidence and vitality….You begin to radiate the quest. You come alive." This is how your letter comes to life!

To get started, choose one thing from your letter that really matters to you. Then ask, "To accomplish this dream, what actions will I take?" I suggest beginning with an ambition that's creative and fun. If losing weight has been on your list for the past decade, save that for later, after you've built up some momentum. Experience the power of the letter to inspire action, and then use this fuel to help you achieve the more challenging goals.

In my letter, I wrote, "Because I was intentional about putting friendships on project status I have a group of people who I can easily reach out to. It's wonderful! And just what I needed. I knew I had to do something or else go through life lonely." This quest has inspired me to reach out to people, invite them to lunch or dinner, and be more open and vulnerable. Or as Fields states, "do a thousand little things you've never done before."

I've reread my letter multiple times. Partly because it's fun to imagine the life I wrote about and partly because it reveals what I need to do to make it a reality. I'm holding myself accountable to achieve these plans. Not from obligation, but from inspiration. I'm pledging to my future self a best year yet!

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 11, 2019

What Do I Really Want This Year?

Last month I guided you through an exercise that brought closure to 2018. If you haven't done it yet, I encourage you to do it now (click here) before you start preparing for 2019. Without reflection, your future will be more difficult to bring into focus.

Next, imagine it is one year from today. You have paused to reflect on the past 365 days and to celebrate what an amazing year it has been. Consider the following questions:

If this were my best year yet, how would it look?
What would have happened?
What would I have achieved?

Now, write a letter to yourself describing the highlights of 2019 AS IF they have already happened. Write in the present tense. For example, this is how I started my letter: "Wow! What a year it has been. I've never felt more engaged, more enlivened, more richly satisfied than how I feel now." Then I described why I felt this way.

As I was writing, and obviously enjoying the experience, my husband asked, "What are you working on?" I explained it was a letter to myself, dated one year from today that reveals everything I want for 2019. He rolled his eyes. I can guess what that means. Patrice is doing her dreaming thing again. Forewarning: Even the people who love you most might think your dreaming is, well, dreaming. Don't let this discourage you. This is your one true life, so start writing!

Once you’ve written your letter, read it over and answer the following questions:

To accomplish this dream, what actions will I take?
What mindset will I embrace?
What is this vision calling me to become?”

Now that you have a script for 2019, take action to transform your dreams to reality. Make this your best year yet! 

NOTE: You might believe that just thinking about what you want for the year is as effective as writing it down. It's not. Research reveals writing down your goals and aspirations increases the chance of them coming to fruition. Telling a few people about your goals will further increase the likelihood of achieving them. So write and report!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Celebrating 2018

Today is a naturally defining moment, an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and celebrate 2018.

For several years I've written a year-end review using questions provided by my friend Barbara Richards, a Master Certified life coach and author of Give Your Dream a Plan. I'm going to do this later today, from a window seat at my favorite coffee shop. I'll sip extra-hot café mocha while savoring the experience of reflecting on the past year. I'll bring completion to 2018. 

I invite you to join me in this exercise. Schedule a special time and place to contemplate the following questions. Record your responses, either in an electronic document or a favorite journal. This exercise should be done leisurely. If you're busy preparing for a New Year's Eve party, wait until another time. There isn't magic in doing the exercise on December 31.

What was the tone of the year? If I could capture the feeling of the year in a metaphor, what would it be?

What did I accomplish that I feel pleased about? What are the highlights, the best things in last year? What brought me the most joy? What unexpected good came into my life?

Where did I demonstrate courage over comfort?

What intentions are unfulfilled? What didn't happen that I wanted to? What have I learned from this, and will do differently in the future?

How have I grown as a person? What qualities have I strengthened or developed? Who have I become?

What were the gifts of the year?

When we take time to reflect, we honor the past year. We experience the joy of gratitude. We prepare our heart and mind for 2019. Happy New Year!

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Aspire Stories, Not Perfection

Have you ever noticed the family stories that get told over and over again are NOT about the times when everything turned out perfect? Instead, they are the occasions when we look back and laugh at ourselves, or the situation.

A friend was telling me about her Thanksgiving dinner. She's a great cook and gracious hostess. And yet this year, something went wrong with every part of her Thanksgiving dinner. Her kitchen has two ovens. And with so many people in the kitchen, the one with the turkey inadvertently got turned off. No one noticed until someone said, “I don't smell turkey cooking.” The butternut squash was runny and had no flavor. You might think nothing can go wrong with mashed potatoes, but somehow hers turned out dry and gritty.

Fortunately the table setting was beautiful, and the appetizers and desserts were delicious, except the whipped cream never whipped. It was more like thick milk. 

Still, more guests commented on this being the best Thanksgiving, more so than from the years when everything turned out perfect. What's up with that?

Similarly, I was challenging a workshop participant to figure out ways to make more of his interest in camping. I suggested he devote one trip to preparing all the meals over an open fire. This goal might require research on the best techniques and recipes—and if so, even better. We're not trying to make retirement easier. We're aiming to make it more interesting. He was intrigued by the idea of cooking over an open fire instead of the electric stove in his pop-up camper. If a few meals turn out bad, oh well. He has a good story.

Click here to read about my camping experience. Great story. One that gets repeated with equal laugher four years later. More actually since I was quite frazzled when I went through the experience.

At this point in our lives, our goal shouldn't be perfection. What we need and love are stories. Not that we intentionally cook a bad meal, or choose to get lost between the bathroom and campsite, but when it happens, so what?

Are you playing retirement too safe? Are you still aiming for perfection?

Author James Marshall Reilly, in his book Shake Up the World: It's Not About Finding a Job, It's About Creating a Life, says, “When you are young, there is no wrong choice other than the safe choice.” Reilly suggests that young adults have very little to lose, that they are “gifted a uniquely low-risk window of time to invest in themselves.”

I propose the same is true for those of us in retirement. Lighten up. Live life more whimsically. Now is the time to delight in your stories.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.