Thursday, January 9, 2020

Anticipation


Over the holidays I visited my dad in New Hampshire. As I drove across Vermont, I noticed many of the lakes had frozen over. And out on the lakes a few people were ice fishing. To me, it seems crazy to stand on a frozen lake, in sub-zero degree weather, huddled around a little hole in the ice. So why do people do it? It’s the anticipation of a bite that keeps them there for hours.

Anticipation.

Author Bob Goff, in his new 365-day journal, Live in Grace. Live in Love, encourages readers to “live a life of constant anticipation.”  This means we stop playing it safe. We strive for something more—something that “might be a big success or an epic failure.” We do it anyway because living with anticipation awakens our senses, builds hope, and gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

What does living a life of constant anticipation look like and how do we do it?

Start with imagining 2020 being the year that something great takes place in your life. What would you like to happen? To come up with ideas, revisit past dreams and goals. Look ahead to the story you want to tell on your 90th birthday party. Think big. Think bold. (It’s too late to play it safe.)

Next, get out your fishing pole (figuratively) and get ready to cast a line.

Think of at least one step or action that if you do it will move you in the direction of what you want to create. You might not feel like you are ready to do it—we never feel ready no matter how much preparation we have. Now, cast the line. Send an email. Make a phone call. Do the research. Make the cast big enough that you are not sure you can reel it in or that the line will hold.

Once you make your cast, you’re not finished. My dad loves to fish so I have been out with him on Lake Winnipesaukee several times (in the summer—no ice fishing for me!) I’ve noticed he will have three or four lines going at once. But he doesn’t just cast his lines and sit back and eat lunch. He periodically gives each line a “jig” to keep it active. Hence, the fish are reminded this is live bait and so they are drawn to it.

The same is true for the lines you cast. Unless you’re looking for a reason to fail, tend your lines. Keep them alive. Give them a jig. Follow up with a phone call, send another email, contact a person who may help you to get a bite.

Authors Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, in their book The Art of Possibility, advocate for viewing life from the “universe of possibility” where you set the context and let life unfold. By sending a cast and tending your lines, you’re setting the context for something to happen. You’re living a life of constant anticipation.

Copyright 2020. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

My Favorite Things


Most of us are familiar with the popular song from The Sound of Music: “My Favorite Things.” As the lyrics state—raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens—it is the little things in life that can bring us joy and satisfaction.  

These favorite things are also a great place to look for an answer to “What will I do all day?” When we know what delights us, we can use this awareness to make the most of the extra time we have in retirement. Time spent doing our favorite things is a great way to add meaning, direction, and enjoyment to the extra hours we have when we’re not going into the office everyday.

One of my favorite things to do is bake cookies—big cookies. When my children were young, I often had to bake cookies for their class parties. Baking cookies was one more task I had to squeeze into my day, usually after the kids had gone to bed.

Now that I have more time and fewer commitments, I can enjoy the process of baking. I take my time. It is the experience of measuring, mixing, and smelling the freshly baked cookies that I take pleasure in—I’m not rushing through the process just to get it done. This is where the mindset in retirement is different.

What are some of your favorite things? Write them down. Consider what it is about each experience that delights you.

Next, consider how you can delight in this “favorite” even more. I call it selling up. For example, after baking cookies on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I packaged them in brown paper packages tied up with string (I’m not kidding!) Then my husband and I delivered them to elderly friends in the nursing home. My favorite thing, baking cookies, became the favorite part of the day for several other people. I know that many of them didn’t “feel so bad” after our visit. Favorite things have a way of doing that.

To get the most out of your favorites, let yourself get totally immersed in the experience. Multiply your joy by seeking out others to enjoy the experience. And think about ways that you can sell-up your list of favorites. I can almost guarantee that on a day when the bee stings and you’re feeling sad, after doing one of your favorite things you won’t feel so bad.

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Noun vs. Verb


I’ve been thinking a lot about work identity.

This topic is also on the minds of the people in my retirement workshops. For many of us, our work identities are so tightly connected to our personal identities that what we do is who we are. We’ve built reputations on what we do, how well we do it, and how society views the importance or significance of what we do. Relinquishing this identity can negatively impact our confidence and happiness.

Perhaps there is another way to think of our work and our not working.  

Dr. Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at University of Texas at Austin suggests we “treat our career more like a verb than a noun.” He claims, “as soon as you give a label to something, you come to believe that somebody or some object has essence of that thing. A cat — why is a cat a cat? It has essence of a cat. That’s true not just for biological categories, it’s true even for professions.”

According to Markman, “Your job title doesn’t define you. It’s just one slice of your identity, and swapping out one for another doesn’t change the core of who you are.” Click here to read full story.

When we make the shift to thinking about our career as a verb, it’s easier to release some attachment to this identity. It also builds confidence in trying new identities. Try it.

The next time you’re asked, “What do you do?” remember “do” is a verb.

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Magic of a Goal


Do you believe in magic? If you asked me this question I’d say “no.” When it comes to magic, there’s always a trick. This is why I don’t enjoy watching a magician. I want to believe what she is performing is real, but I know that I’m being deceived by her skilled ability to draw my attention away from her hidden actions. Magic is trickery, not supernatural power.

There’s one exception. Goals. Let me illustrate.

The reason I’m writing this blog post on November 30th at a time when I’d rather go to bed is because I have a goal to write two blog posts each month. I’ve met this goal for the past couple years. Yes, I could write on December 1st but then my website wouldn’t show two posts for November. A goal works like a supernatural power to make things happen.

I experienced the same “magic” on October 31st. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to get a flu shot by the end of October. When I realized it was the last day of the month, I put forth the effort to get my shot. No goal. No shot. Magic.

Where else can goals perform magic? Everywhere. I have a goal to go to cycling class three times each week. At the beginning of the week I write these classes on my calendar. Almost every day I can come up with a reason to skip class just this once.  But I don’t because I want to meet my goal. Magic.

Where would you like to perform magic? Name it, and then create a goal to get you there. In writing your goal, be specific. Make your goal measurable and realistic, but don’t play it too safe. Your goal should excite you. Most important, your goal should help you achieve something that can only happened with the help of a little magic.

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.