Friday, December 16, 2016

Book Club Magic

My sister Laurie asked me to recommend a book for her neighborhood book club. November was her month to select the book and lead the discussion. She reached out to me because every so often the club diverts from reading novels to "your type of book" she said. In other words, something that's inspiring and motivating.

I thought about the recent books I had read and one immediately came to mind: Big Magic—Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Laurie liked the title and decided to go with it. As the evening approached, I got a text message.

(Ping) Would you give me some discussion questions for our meeting?

Sure. I'd love to. Do you want me to drive over (3 hours) to lead the discussion? (I turn everything into a seminar!)

(Ping) No thanks. We mostly talk and drink wine.

Since the club likely overlooked the effort I put into developing thought-provoking questions, I decided to share these ideas with you. Even if you haven't read Gilbert's book (which I recommend reading) her quotes will help stimulate responses to the following questions.

"When I refer to 'creative living,' I'm speaking more broadly. I'm talking about a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." 
  • What do you think of when you hear the phrase "creative living?" Do you desire to live a creative life?
"I finally realized that my fear was boring."
  • If you accept that your fear is boring, how will this change your life or your decisions?
"What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?"
  • How will you answer this question? What will you do about it?
"And any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion." 
  • What can you put into motion, even if you don't have a clear vision of where you're going?
"Do whatever brings you life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart."
  • What causes a revolution in your heart? How will you respond?

As we close out this year, my hope is that your retirement years will be magical. Not because a fairy godmother grants your wish, but because you commit to creating a life that is engaging, enthralling and enchanting. The magic is in the motion.

Copyright 2016. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Future Selves

Do you spend much time thinking about your future self—what your life will be like in 5, 10 or 15 years? Looking ahead to the future is a fun exercise, especially if you're newly retired and in a position to create your next big thing. 

To help my workshop participants get in a future mindset, I have used this Future Self assignment:

Imagine that you have been granted the opportunity to interview a wise, happy person who just happens to be your best self 10 years from now.  As you approach the woman's home describe what you find. What does she look like? What is she wearing? Is she living alone, and if not, whom is she living with? What is the feeling you get when you spend time with her?  (Write down your observations.)
Next, pull out your questions and begin the interview.  (You will want to create your own questions, but these may help you get started.)
  1. You look so happy and relaxed.  What is your secret?

  1. Was there one decision that was responsible for getting you started down this path?

  1. What were some of the first steps you took to make this change? 

  1. You always said you wanted to do something great.  Have you done that?  Is it different now from what you thought it was 10 years ago?

  1. Is there a dream that you thought you were going to have to give up on, but didn't?

This exercise is one way to get in touch with how you want your life to look in 10 years or so. It's fun to imagine our future selves enjoying health, wealth, and happiness. It's a perfect dream. But sometimes a dream isn't enough to get us into action. And when we don't take action, our future vision remains a dream.

Maybe a better approach is to be concerned about the respect we have for our future selves. Consider this quote from Christine Tappolet, a philosophy professor at the University of Montreal:

"Future selves are considered to be strangers, to whom one can pass the buck and impose a heavy and uncompensated burden." (Noted by Phyllis Korkki, in her book, The Big Thing: How to Complete Your Creative Project Even if You're a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Me.)

I found the respect perspective is a better approach to planning for my future. I have no problem identifying what I'm doing today that could impose a heavy burden on my future self. Not that I'm all-bad. I have taken some of my own advice and been good to my future self. This is why I'm here, now, writing this blog and speaking on retirement wellness. Ten years ago I created a vision for this work and put forth the effort and discipline to make it happen.

So while I haven't totally ditched my future self, there are areas where she is being sabotaged. It's surprising how easy it is to identify these areas. I suggest creating a table as shown below. In the left column list areas where you are being good to your future self.  In the right column, identify areas where you are burdening your future self.

Positive Future Self
Burdened Future Self
·      Write first book
·     Finished Ph.D.

·      Disciplined eating and exercise

·       Procrastinating on creating corporate retirement wellness programs

Once you complete the chart, decide what you're going to do about the right-hand column. My future self doesn't deserve to be sabotaged by procrastination and lazy living. She deserves to have the future she envisions—vibrantly engaged with her family, work, and community. 

Out of respect, I'm going to put into action the steps needed so that I meet up with this future self in 5 years.

Copyright 2016. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Just Say Yes!

After finishing a 6-mile hike in the Adirondacks with a group of nine women, many of whom I met for the first time, Ruth asked for my contact information. She loves to take part in outdoor activities so she was glad to meet other women who also enjoy the outdoors. Apparently since I joined this hike, I was perceived as someone who fits into this group.

As Ruth was entering my cell phone number in her contact list, she asked me a series of questions. 

You must like to hike. Well, sort of. 
Do you like to kayak? No
Canoe? Not really
Do you like to bike? Yes, as long as it's along a paved path. 
Can you do 20 miles? I bike the 10-mile Saratoga National Historical site loop. 
How about 20 miles? Not so sure. 
If it's flat you can do it. Okay. 
How about snowshoeing and cross-country skiing? Sure. 
On the drive home I got to thinking about my responses to Ruth's questions. Instead of sticking to my comfort zone (I'm really not much of an outdoor person) what if I had said yes to more activities? What if I said, "Sure, I'll join you for a canoe or kayak outing." How would saying yes to more add more to my life?

The idea of saying yes to more resurfaced on my weekend flight to Albuquerque. A story headline in the Southwest airlines magazine: "Say Yes!" Then the topic appeared again in the airport bookstore, "A Year of Yes" on the bestseller listing. Maybe I'm supposed to get this message. How would my life be different if I said yes more often? It's worth a try to find out.

I have a couple opportunities to get started on my YES experiment. This weekend Ruth is organizing a 7-mile hike. Ok. I'll be there. (Yikes!) Another chance is in response to an invitation to meet up with a person I met at a recent event. This woman holds a prominent position in the community and so I'm a little intimidated to follow up on her invite to, "Call my office and we'll get a cup of coffee." And yet, if I just say yes who knows what might come from our time together. I'll do it.

Why say yes? Am I trying to become something that I'm not? Absolutely not. Instead I'm intent on becoming all that I can be. Early in life we narrow our choices and interests. We decide what "type" we are and regard that belief as though it's fact and fixed. By saying yes to more, we challenge these beliefs.

How about you? How might your life change if you said yes to more opportunities, invitations, and possibilities? What can you do today to start your own YES experiment?

Copyright 2016. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.