Retirement: A Beginning

When I retired from my job with the University, many asked me how it felt to retire.  Well, it felt exciting.  Still does!  You see, now ALL of my time is my own to do with as I wish.  I can spend all day lazing around the house.  Play with the grandchildren more.  Garden when I feel like.  Travel at will without asking my boss for permission to take time off.  Sleep in or not.  Eat lunch on my schedule.  My time is my own to use or waste.  Do I do some or all of this?  Sure. I retired from a job, not life.  Ask me what I retired to and I will tell you I retired to LIFE.  Living Intentionally For Excellence.  I alone am responsible for all of my minutes so I choose to spend my time maximizing my relationships, health, personal development and effort to serve others.  When you retire, what will you retire to?  Tractor Dudes, in abstract copy

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Would you go after that new degree?

Would you get married?

Would you train for the Olympics?

Would you become a parent?

Would you start a business?

Would you found an animal sanctuary?

Would you start an international childrens’ charity?

Would you tell your boss it was time for you to move on to a new life that didn’t include working for someone else anymore?

Would go on a diet?

Would you move to a new State or even a new country?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Everything worthwhile involves some failure.  The trick is to stay focused on where you are going rather than what you are going through.  Fail your way to your goals and dreams.  It is worth it in the long run.

Mirror, Mirror

What does a three year old child see when looking in the mirror? “Me!”

  • There is a sense of awe and wonder about the image in the mirror. “That’s me!”
  • It is fascinating to watch the image move and change expressions.
  • There are great conversations held with the child in the mirror.  “Such a grand playmate!”
  • “Aren’t I awesome!”

 

What does a nine year old child see when looking in the mirror? “Not enough.”

A bit of the awe and wonder remains but it is quickly squelched by the ever present feeling of “I am ok, but I am not enough.”

  • I am not smart enough.
  • I am not athletic enough.
  • I am not popular enough.
  • I am not pretty / handsome enough.
  • Everyone is more than I am.

 

What does a teenager see when looking in the mirror? “I don’t matter.”

  • No one cares about me.
  • No one cares if I live or die.
  • No one cares if I show up for class.
  • No one cares to ask me to the prom.
  • No one cares enough about me to give me their time and attention, therefore I must not be worth caring about.

'Gadget,' a long-haired Chihuahua looking in mirror

What does a 21 year old adult see when looking in the mirror?  “I am afraid.”

  • I am afraid of the future.
  • I am afraid of the unknown.
  • I am afraid of making mistakes.
  • I am afraid to fail.
  • I am afraid I may not be good enough to make it – whatever “it” is.

 

What does a 45 year old adult see when looking in the mirror? “Never.”

  • I am never going to get out of debt.
  • I am never going to amount to much.
  • I am never going to get ahead.
  • I am never going to achieve my goals.
  • I am never going to, so I might as well settle for less.

old beagle looking in mirror

What does a 60 year old adult see when looking in the mirror? “Too late.”

  • It is too late to go after my dreams.
  • It is too late to fix my relationships.
  • It is too late to fix my finances.
  • It is too late to take care of my health.
  • I should’a, could’a, would’a.

Remember, the mirror only reflects our beliefs, limiting or otherwise.

Help each other see a better reflection by acting as a mirror for others.  Reflect the beauty, strength, value, and heart of each person you encounter.

Help them see themselves through kind eyes.

Decisions

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You are in the condition you are today is due to choices you’ve made yesterday.

Your marriage is in the shape it is today due to choices you’ve made.

Your relationship with your family is in the shape it is today due to choices you’ve made.

You are in financial bondage or freedom today due to choices you’ve made.

You are in good or poor health today due to choices you’ve made.

Your life style is limited due to choices you’ve made.

Your past decisions influenced your present and your present decisions influences your future.  If you don’t like something about your life, now is the time to start the change.  You have the power to change your results.  You have the power and the responsibility.  Start now.  Make smart decisions!

Nuggets of Wisdom

I love to attend Leadership seminars! I find that they are great resources for stretching my mind. I attended one recently where the keynote speakers were a young couple named MacNamara. Here are a few of the nuggets I picked up. I hope they help you stretch your thinking!two dogs holding little apple branches

  • Curiosity is the cure for boredom.
  • 95% of your success and failure is a reflection of whom you associate with.
  • Don’t listen to those who do not have the results you want.
  • Every problem introduces the person to her.
  • It is hard to improve when you have no one but yourself
    to follow.
  • To know the road ahead, ask those who are coming back to guide those coming along.
  • Applied knowledge equals wisdom.
  • Great things happen when we stop seeing ourselves as a gift to others and see others as a gift to us.
  • Leaders encourage 90% of the time and correct only 10% of the time. People already know what they are doing wrong.
  • If you aren’t doing something with your life, it doesn’t matter how long you live.
  • Focus on self-development, not self-fulfillment. Becoming the best version of your self is the goal.
  • Leaders never arrive. They are always stretching and growing.
  • The people who start the journey with you may not finish with you. Their journey is not yours.
  • Small choices lead to big habits.
  • If you are truthful with yourself, you know you can do better than you are currently.
  • If you miss a personal goal, don’t change the goal. Change the target date.
  • A parent’s life is a child’s handbook.
  • Don’t worry about whether or not your child is listening to you. Worry about whether or not your child is copying you.
  • Don’t make promises when you are happy or decisions when you are angry.
  • Debt is selling the future to live in the present.
  • Big wins start with small ones.
  • Detect the lies you tell yourself. Find the ones that are holding you back.

I Quit!

The majority of people don’t actually quit anything. In my experience, very few people actually say:

  • “I quit working out.”
  • “I quit my friendship with Mary. We see each other occasionally and pretend we care, but if I never saw her again, it really wouldn’t matter to me.”
  • “I show up at my job day after day and do acceptable work, but I actually quit years ago.”
  • “I quit my marriage, but I still live with the guy. We are doing ok. I am not putting in any effort anymore.”
  • “I show up at family events, but I quit the family. I show up out of obligation, but I don’t do anything to foster the relationships.”
  • “I quit my business. I just make sure the doors are open on time each morning, inventory is stocked and the bills are paid. However, I am not doing anything anymore to assure success.”

People don’t actually quit. They just fade away.

Let’s use the example of working out. Initially, there might be motivation for working out. Maybe you have gained a couple of pounds. Or, your high school reunion is coming up. Maybe your doctor tells you that you are headed for a medical train wreck if you don’t get in shape. Then, you have this great idea. “I’m going to do it! I am going to go to the gym 5 days a week and get this old bod in shape.” You start off strong. Maybe the first two weeks you make it to the gym 5 days each week. You might even do this for several months. Then, there is the fateful day when you give yourself an excuse to miss one day. You are too tired, busy, have an ingrown toenail, overtime at work, have to take the kids to soccer, the weather is too hot/cold, have to do the grocery shopping…just about any excuse will work. Besides, it is only one day.

The following week you stick to the plan and make it to the gym all 5 days. Then it happens again. You miss a day or two or three because you have a cold or maybe there is a big wedding to attend out of town. Ooops! Missed the gym again. Now, you begin missing your workouts more and more frequently. But, you haven’t quit! You tell yourself you will get back into the swing of things soon. Things are just hectic right now. Uh huh. Eventually, you even stop thinking about it. No more working out and you never actually admit that you have quit. You just fade away.

How does this apply to less tangible areas such as your job or business? Remember the first day on your new job? You were so excited and nervous. You couldn’t wait to get started on this new adventure. You were on time every day and worked with enthusiasm. Usually, this “honeymoon” period lasts 6 months to a year. It gets harder and harder to get up on time each morning. You are dying for that first cup of coffee and start looking forward to your first break of the day before you arrive at work. The tasks are becoming routine. You pretty much know what to expect each day. Before you know it, you only do enough each day to get by. You do what is required, but no more than this. You don’t actually quit your job, but you have faded away.

Why do people fade away? There are thousands of excuses, but only one reason: lack of commitment. People like the idea of getting fit or looking good, being married, getting a paycheck, owning their own business, etc., but they aren’t committed to doing what it takes. They only stick things out as long as it is easy and convenient. When people say “I am going to work out 5 days per week” what they actually mean is “I will work out 5 days a week until it becomes more work than my health is worth to me.” In reality, they have quit before they have even started because they are not committed to the decision.

Personally, I am trying to be very careful about what I say. When I say “I would like to paint the garage” rather than “I am painting the garage this weekend”, there is a huge difference in my mind. The first is wishful thinking and the second is a firm commitment.

Make a decision once. Not over and over and over. Decide once you are going to work out 5 days a week and then follow through consistently. Decide once that you are going to do your best every day at your job rather than dragging your butt out of bed each morning forcing yourself to go. Decide once to persistently build your business in spite of the obstacles, long hours and learning curve rather than “trying” to build a business.

Or quit. Really and truly quit. Quit your job. Cancel your membership at the gym. Get out of the marriage. Close your business down. Quit relationships. Tell people you have quit. Tell yourself you have quit. Fading away is pathetic. Decide once. And, then do.

Forging Healthy Relationships

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I think all of you would agree that life is a lot smoother when our key relationships are in good shape. How do we build our relationships and keep them in good shape?I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I am a student of experts on the topic. I have gleaned much from John C. Maxwell, Susan Christy, M. Scott Peck, Oliver DeMille, Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady and a host of other experts.

Personally, I find it helpful to have what I refer to as “cheat sheets” for information I can use on a daily basis. Cheat sheets serve as my “external hard drive”. It is too easy in the chaos of the day to lose focus and slip into reactive behavior. Never a good idea when working with people!

This is one of my favorite “cheat sheets”. It keeps me on track when working with my coworkers and clients.

What personality type is the person I am speaking with?
Am I a source of encouragement or negativity?
Am I connecting with people on a professional level?
Am I focused on listening and understanding others?
Am I building trust right now?
Each of these simple questions serves to remind me of deeper questions to ask myself as I go about my day. They allow me to evaluate myself, identify where I could be doing a better job, and focus on some of what really matters.

I sincerely wish to forge healthy relationships. Unhealthy ones make the day miserable, to say the least!

How do you build good relationships?