Wednesday, June 26, 2019


I live in Saratoga Springs, NY where the historic thoroughbred racetrack attracts thousands of visitors every summer. Since residing here, I’ve learned a little something about horse racing.

As the horses move into position at the starting gate, some of them are fitted with blinkers—firm leather squares that attach to the bridle. The blinkers allow horses to only see what is directly in front of them, eliminating distractions from their peripheral vision. Without the blinkers, they can end up running off course. The blinkers keep them focused.

Maybe there’s a place for “blinkers” in retirement, especially when it comes to being in the starting gate. Let me explain.

In my retirement workshops, I frequently talk with people who are wrestling with the question, “What’s next?” The answer to this question often requires starting something. But when I begin to explore possibilities, people are quick to talk about all the reasons not to start. “It’s going to cost too much. It’s going to take too long. It’s going to require work.” 

Instead of being distracted with all the reasons not to start, what if you put on blinkers? What if, no matter what your circumstances and reasons for not doing something, you imagine yourself in the starting gate? The blinkers keep you focused. They help you successfully finish the race.

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Life Responds

"Life isn't happening to you. Life is responding to you." --Rhonda Byrne

This quote arrived in my “Best Year Yet” daily email at exactly the right time. I had just finished an interview for a part-time job that I almost didn’t apply for because I didn’t want to update my references. If I hadn’t reached out to my references, nothing would have happened. My application would be incomplete, and consequently it would never be brought to the selection committee. Instead, by putting something into motion, life responded with an opportunity to interview. My actions made a difference.

Psychologists call this feeling of control over actions and their consequences a “sense of agency.” It serves an important role in our mental and physical health. And yet, research suggests starting at around age of 50 years, and especially between 60-80 years old, we increasingly feel less control over what happens in our lives. Often this has to do with poor health and a reduction in quality of life. Which brings me back to the quote: “Life isn’t happening to you. Life is responding to you.”

For life to respond, you have to put something into motion. The good news is even the smallest movement matters. Frans Johansson of The Click Moment agrees, "By taking action, you open up a wide range of new ideas, possibilities, and connections." By putting something into motion, you "create something for these forces to latch on to. You must actually do something, even if you are not sure where it will lead."

What can you do to increase your sense of agency? Put something into motion and then enjoy the thrill of seeing how life responds!

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.