Harnessing the power of When

No matter your age, personal reinvention is possible

If you felt – or are feeling – a dip in your contentment in your 50s or 60s, you are living true to life’s timing.

So says author, Daniel pink, in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Pink does not subscribe to the notion of a midlife crisis. “It’s a myth, not supported by evidence,” he asserts.

What does hold validity, in Pink’s opinion, is the U-shaped Curve of Happiness, the subject of an increasing number of books (notably, The Happiness Curve by Jonathan Rauch), articles and blogs.

Because the fifties are also known as the ‘empty nesting years’, there is a sense of sadness and loss, a dip in the U-shaped curve of happiness. It’s not a drastic dip, says Pink, but it is noticeable. The good news is that reaching a mid-point of a pursuit signals a change – a psychological alarm is sounded.

What is your clarion call saying, at whatever point you find yourself now?

According to Pink, the advantage at this stage is that there is still time to change – to reinvent yourself. If you have always longed to play an instrument, always wanted to impact your community through strategically volunteering your skills and time, if you have long recognised that you have always wanted to teach – now is the time. You have a carte blanche to reinvent yourself, your relationships and your career.

What to do about that purposeless feeling

Pink advocates finding a mentor, the benefits of which are clear. Having someone who has walked the path help you find or shape your own gives you insight and reassurance that you can take the risk, strike out on your own, take the initiative to heal that relationship.

Pink draws on Buffett’s five-twenty-five principle. First, write down your top 25 goals for your life (personally, I prefer the notion of self-improvement to goals, or Twyla Tharp’s Pledge – never reached, always inviting you to the next adventure); second, highlight the top five and focus on those only until you feel you have achieved them.

Third, decide what you need to say ‘Yes’ to, and, equally important, ‘No’ to in order to achieve these Top Five. Take time to determine this – write it down. This will give you the clear vision (2020 vision?) that will cause confusion and muddled thinking to evaporate.

What’s your ‘When’ horizon?

Finally, can you allow yourself time? Not everything needs to happen now. Will you allow yourself imperfection? Change ‘destination’ to ‘journey’ – you are always growing, learning and evolving. Self-acceptance and serenity may hold the secret to the contentment that you seek.

Celebrating a life well lived

Life is unpredictable and sometimes, we experience such immense loss and sadness that it stops us in our tracks and forces us to pause for a little while.

December 2019 was such a time for me. Stew Lithgow, one of the first clients I ever helped transition into RetiremeantTM, passed away, leaving behind his wonderful, courageous wife, Kathy, and three adult children. Stew’s death came as a huge shock as he was tragically killed doing what he loved most, flying his glider in Plettenburg Bay. As a former SAA pilot, one of Stew’s passions was to share his love for flying with people in his new hometown.

I was utterly devastated for Stew’s family at his memorial service. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the plans they had made and everything they still wanted to do together – he was taken too soon. On reflection, I realised two things: Stew and Kathy treasured every moment of their life together, living fully in the moment; and, Stew has left the memory of having lived a full, happy and abundant life.

It was such a privilege to know Stew and I am so grateful for the time we spent together. As a couple, Stew and Kathy were true ambassadors for RetiremeantTM, living with so much meaning and joy – intentionally present and fully engaged in each area of their lives. Stew and Kath made their dream to live in beautiful Plettenburg Bay a reality; they travelled, and spent happy times with good friends, family and their children. It was always clear how much Stew loved Kath, how much they loved each other.

Stew did not merely pass on. His words and his actions passed forward a powerful message to nurture and grow, to make each day count and to live life to the fullest. In this newsletter we share an article written by Stew for Retire Successfully. We will always remember just how high you flew in retirement, Stew! Thank you for sharing your life with us.

I encourage you to prioritise love this year, to seize each day and fill it with laughter, joy and treasured memories.

May 2020 be your year to live life fully,

What a mentor means to you

Stew Lithgow authored an article for the Retire Successfully community on creating a new career of his passion for flying (you can read the article by clicking here).

There is perhaps no greater metaphor for how this wonderful man lived his life – freely flying into the endless blue skies of hope, of dreams, of possibility. And passing on this love of life was part of his purpose also.

This legacy from Stew is captured in the tribute to him posted on the Retire Successfully website by his friend, Sven Heyrowsky:
Rest in peace my friend. Stew passed away in December 2019. Always you will remain my idol as a pilot.

Sven reminds us of the value of surrounding ourselves with those who will help us pilot our lives significantly. His words are reminiscent of Chip Conley’s reflections on the quest for wisdom:

Seeking wisdom is a tricky business.

We think we need all kinds of degrees and certificates, or bells and whistles. Spend a weekend walking on burning coals with Tony Robbins or binge-watch Oprah’s SuperSoul Sundays. Maybe a good Deepak Chopra book has our answers. The truth is, wisdom is much closer. Perhaps right next to us.

Imagine your wisest friend for a few minutes:

  • How do they go about creating a purposeful life?
  • What qualities do you most admire in them?
  • How could you emulate them beginning today?
  • Better yet, when was the last time you reached out and asked them for advice?

Chip Conley, author of ‘Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder

Who are your mentors? Take time to connect with them this week.

See differently to live differently

Have 2020 vision for a fulfilling new year

Yes, I am one of those who makes new year’s resolutions. Who’s with me?

I relish the sense of refreshing and hope that comes with a new year. I feel sure that these ‘self-promises’ reflect our longing to improve, to create a more contented life for ourselves, those we love, and those whose lives we can touch positively. The goal may be to lose those five kilograms (or 10!), sign up for a course of learning, or be a better friend – whatever it is, it sets an expectation of a better year.

I know that many people pooh-pooh this habit, mostly because we so often fail to sustain our resolve. Check your inbox and you’ll find any number of articles suggesting ways to stick to our intentions: create small steps, write it down, form an accountability group.

It seems to me, though, that 2020 lends itself to the notion of fresh vision – and if we want an improved life, a renewed view of ourselves, our relationships and the world can be freeing and empowering.

Change your view

Professor Adam Brandenburger, in a Harvard Business Review article, encourages us to ‘defamiliarise’ our way of seeing – “to stop seeing the world in the familiar way and start seeing it in unfamiliar and generative ways”.

He expands: “When we look at the world, we should not just examine, but examine with a deliberately different perspective. Not just name what is around us, but come up with new names. Not just consider the whole, but break things up (or down) into pieces. These techniques can help us see our way to the new and revolutionary”.

How does this new habit help us create a meaningful life?

Avid birdwatchers, or regular bush trekkers understand Branderburger’s advice: taking that moment to enjoy, not only identify the bird, but admiring its colour, its wing formation, its song, makes that moment beautiful.

Consider those things you take for granted, that are now ‘habituated’ and live in our peripheral vision. This applies to our relationships, work, hobbies, and daily rituals.

He urges us to counter our built-in tendency to habituate, to sink into familiar ways of seeing and experiencing.

“One way in which great artists, entrepreneurs, and creators of all kinds come up with the insights that enable them to change the world is that, very literally, they do not see the way that most of us do. By seeing differently, we can end up seeing what no-one else has yet seen. That is how the future is built,” he concludes.

Your year of seeing differently

So, what will you see differently this year? What needs renaming in your world?

A starting point for me is to change the term “new year’s resolutions” to “steps in making personal progress” – it has a much more active ring to it!

How can you redefine ‘success’ to encourage self-acceptance and gratitude?

I love Arianna Huffington’s thoughts in her book Thrive:

We now know through the latest scientific findings that if we worship money, we’ll never feel truly abundant. If we worship power, recognition and fame, we’ll never feel we have enough. And if we live our lives madly rushing around, trying to find and save time, we’ll always find ourselves living in a time famine, frazzled and stressed.

There’s a collective longing to stop living in the shallows, to stop hurting our health and our relationships by striving so relentlessly after success as the world defines it — and instead tap into the riches, joy and amazing possibilities our lives embody.

Finally, I am recognising that much of the contentment I seek is what I already have; it’s just having the eyes to see it – faith, hope and love. I take the words of Thomas Merton, monk, scholar and social activist. I hope they will serve you also for fresh vision in 2020:

We have what we seek. It is there all the time, and if we slow down and be still, it will make itself known to us.

Kim Forbes is the Writer and a Life Coach at Chartered Wealth Solutions.

What are the differences between Perfectionism and Excellence

And why Excellence is a better for you and everyone else!

Aiming for perfection always in our lives – our expectations of reality, our expectations of ourselves, our tasks, our relationships. Excellence, experts and psychologists suggest, is a healthier goal. It allows us to meet high standards and still leave room for mistakes. This article highlights contrasts in the influence and effects of each approach:

(source: Psychology Today – Dr Barbara Markway; Forbes – Angela Civitella)


PERFECTIONISTS


PURSUERS OF EXCELLENCE

Strive for impossible goalsEnjoy meeting high standards within reach
Value themselves by what they doValue themselves by who they are
When they run into difficulty, they get easily overwhelmed and give upExperience temporary disappointment, but keep going
Can be devastated by failureLearns from failure
Remember mistakes, dwell on themCorrect mistakes and learns from them
Wants to be number oneCan live with not being the best, especially when they know they’ve tried their hardest
Hates criticismSee criticism as a way to learn
Have to win to keep high self-esteemCan finish second and still feel good about themselves
How things appear to others and whether they’re done rightHave a reason for actions, being driven by that purpose to achieve success
Sets up for failure, drains, causes pain and the disillusionment of not being up to parRazor-sharp focus to execute and accomplish what matters and what needs to get done to achieve
No gain, little reward, no joy or sense of accomplishment; only disillusionmentAllows you to be productive, stay the course, keep the end goal in sight

Five tips to free yourself from paralysing perfectionism

It’s the season of festivities and the hosting of family gatherings … and my stomach is already in a knot. How can I make the event perfect by meeting each person’s needs and preferences perfectly? What would be the perfect menu? How can I get everyone to relax and enjoy themselves, when I am contorted by anxiety?

It can be paralysing.

As someone with a tendency to criticise myself for not achieving self-imposed high standards, I found the advice in this article to relinquish perfectionism immensely helpful. I hope you will benefit also, by embracing excellence without the need for perfectionism.

One is myth, one is reality, says Angela Civitella, CEO and Founder of business coaching service Intinde.
(source: Forbes.com)

Harriet Braiker says, “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”

Which one do you aspire to attain? Some people think excellence and perfection are the same. Actually, the best way to achieve excellence is not to demand perfection.

Maladaptive perfectionism prevents you from starting or completing things you set out to do. Your head and heart get in the way, and you’re left inactive, in perpetual inertia and with a constant drip of self-blame, and in some cases, pointing the finger at anyone and anything because you can’t accept the demons inside you that are leaving you paralyzed in the face of getting things done. There isn’t much fun there.

Here are tips to help you navigate and conquer perfectionism and make room for pursuing excellence, a much better option all around.

  1. Forget the perpetual lie you tell yourself that being perfect will make you successful. It’s not true. Hard work, great vision, knowing the right people, asking the right people for help and getting others to believe in your journey make you successful.
  2. People don’t relate well to perfectionists. Perfectionism makes the rest of us feel like there’s no common ground and no equitable human exchange. To put it mildly, it’s intimidating, and people don’t seek out people that intimidate them.
  3. There’s no power in being perfect. All perfectionism does is show how weak you truly are. Powerful people are comfortable with showing their limitations — it gives them the pulse to want to do better and better. That’s what people respect.
  4. Being perfect doesn’t increase nor decrease your self-worth. They aren’t connected. Value all of you — the good, bad and very ugly — to function in a healthy, productive and results-oriented way. If you’re focused on how it looks, rather than how it is, you’ll never get to your destination.
  5. Being perfect isn’t normal or regular. If you get caught up in being perfect, you set yourself up to think that you’re more than everyone else. A word to the wise: being perfect is an illusion; it doesn’t give you superpowers others don’t have. All perfectionism does is isolate you from participating in life and from the people around you who, if asked, would gladly help you on your journey to excellence.

People gravitate toward others’ strengths, not their weaknesses, and striving for perfection is just that — a sign of weakness. Strong people with conviction are admired and respected. People who think and work alone because they think they’re perfect and above all others end up only doing one thing: being alone.

More reasons to say Yes!

I sometimes feel undecided. It’s like sitting on a seesaw, carefully balanced right in the middle between going up and down.

Saying “yes” as opposed to “no” is just like that. The weight of the extra responsibility may topple you downwards to “no” – but, what if you said “yes”? What if your “yes” opens up an opportunity to meet someone wonderful, experience something truly amazing or learn something quite unexpectedly? Caption: Kim in her garden with Helen and two club members

I received a call in July this year from lady who introduced herself as Helen. She heard that I had a lovely garden and wondered if she and some members of her garden club could view it as a venue option for their next event. I was hesitant. I had been so busy and didn’t really want to take on an extra project. Also, inviting strangers into my home feels like an intrusion into my private space.

To my astonishment, I said “yes!” Helen then surprised me by saying that she needed to inspect and assess my garden for its suitability to host the function. At that moment, I desperately wanted to replace my “yes” with a resounding, regrettable “no!” But I really could not retract my offer.

I finally met Helen during the site visit to my garden. We started chatting and she shared her story with: she had felt at a complete loss after her husband was murdered in their home after a senseless break-in. Searching for beautiful gardens to host the Union of Jewish Women’s charity events had kept her motivated to get out of bed and make a difference in the world. It’s something she really enjoys doing and it gives her a wonderful new purpose.

Helen’s story shook me and I realised anew how strong and resilient people are. Even though Helen is still struggling to make sense of this tragedy, helping others has given her the strength and willpower to rise, face life and still make a significant and fulfilling contribution.

Two months later, forty ladies enjoyed a wonderful morning in my garden. I shared with them the philosophy of how our money beliefs impact our relationship with money and our lives. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event and a good sum of money was raised for the less privileged.

I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to meet Helen and the other members of her club – they truly do inspirational and courageous work.

Why not try saying “yes” the next time you’re asked? It may just open up a world of magic and new opportunities that will surpass your expectations.

An incredible story of survival

Stephen McGowan was 36 years old and fulfilling a lifelong dream of biking through Africa when he was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda from Timbuktu, along with a Swedish and a Dutch national. Just short of six years later, he was released. On 2 October, Chartered Wealth Solutions hosted this remarkable young man, whose tale of courage and endurance kept the audience spellbound.

While very rare videos would be released, showing Stephen and his fellow captives still alive, his family had no idea where he was, nor indeed how he was faring emotionally, physically and psychologically.

The truth was that he was being kept deep in the Sahara, hidden from French surveillance planes and drones. Communication with the world beyond was limited, then completely cut off when French military forces showed up in Mali.

Stephen’s story became even more harrowing as he shared of how he learned to protect himself from extreme natural elements, while daily dreading a violent end at the hands of his captors.

Living outdoors, Stephen learned a range of survival skills (including how to dig for water and skin a gazelle) but keeping hope and the will to survive alive were the real challenges. He shared with the Chartered audience how he maintained sanity, with a positive attitude, gratitude and relinquishing what you can’t control as crucial mindsets.

He also stuck to a daily physical exercise regime, and learnt to speak and read Arabic, and recite from the Qur’an.

Stephen was released end July 2017 and is adapting to life back home in South Africa with his family. Chartered guests enthusiastically asked questions, in awe of Stephen’s bravery in sharing his story and inspired to face life’s hurdles with the same courage.

Steering your course with purpose

My son, Josh, is leaving home next year. He’ll be going to university – in a different city. I’m nervous and excited, but most of all, I am an incredibly proud mother, because I know Josh is ready for the journey. Sure, it’s not going to be easy, for him, or me, but it’s a transition necessary for his development and growth. And it will be one of many transitions that he’ll face in his life.

Retirement is like that, too; it’s not the final frontier. Retirement is but one transition – and within this journey, there are many more. Retirement is filled with opportunities: new work, a new social circle, new hobbies, a new lifestyle … the list goes on. But as life and your circumstances change, there’ll also be challenges, choices and decisions. So how will you steer your course ahead with intent and purpose?

In preparing Josh for his transition, we spoke about his internal compass. We all have one – your true north, your gut instinct, everything you know about yourself that is true to you.

In my mind (you may have your own ideas), your internal compass has three components: a positive mindset, your top values, and having an integrity partner. These serve as a checklist, a benchmark to guide your decisions – whichever journey you are embarking on.

Positive mindset

I have said it before – attitude is everything. So often, when faced with the unknown, we spend a lot of time in our heads worrying and feeling anxious about the possible outcomes. Neuroscientists believe our brains are wired in such a way that we fill in the missing data; and very often we fabricate imaginary experiences and outcomes not based on reality. So, keeping a positive mindset is an attitude; it’s about continuously challenging imagined realities, reassessing your thought patterns and structuring positive thinking with intent.

Your core values

Your values represent your true self, and once you are clear on your top values, you can always check in with yourself to see if your decisions line up with your values. Lucky for me, Josh’s core values are achievement and discipline, which I’m pretty sure he’ll keep in mind when faced with a choice between partying or studying – though I may just convince him to add a fun element to his values list.

Integrity partner

I have previously written about Brené Brown’s concept of having a square squad in your life. Your square squad or integrity partners are the people in your life whose opinions matter to you; they hold you to your values and provide support when you are most vulnerable. These are not side-line critics, but people who will have open and honest conversations with you.

The good news is that the wisdom is already inside you, you have everything you need to be strong and confident. You just need to tap in your instincts – and your truth.

Best wishes,

Are you aiming to be successful or significant?

Because we live in such a success-oriented world, when we are asked to choose between success or significance, it seems only natural to choose success.

Today, success is measured in material wealth, position, status and popularity. When young, we may dream of being rich and famous. That, we think, is the road to happiness. Wouldn’t it be nice never to worry about money? You bet! Wouldn’t it be great if adoring fans mobbed us and clamoured for our attention wherever we went? Sounds tempting!

How, then, do we explain the problem I encounter as I interact with executives and entrepreneurs who have achieved outstanding financial and career success, but who are Quote_ what matters is not your success but your significanceactually deeply unhappy and living miserable lives?

When it comes to material wealth, they have it all – one of these people was described by a colleague as “being so wealthy that his grandchildren won’t have to work.” But, in the next breath, the colleague added that this person was very unhappy.

As one is confronted by story after story of people living unhappy lives in many of the mansions scattered around upmarket suburbs, it becomes clear that, contrary to popular belief, money can’t buy love (Jim Carrey will vouch for that) and it can’t buy happiness (maybe Britney Spears could say, “Amen” to that).

If we’re making a mistake chasing success, what then should we be doing? What is the point of all the hard work and sacrifice we put in every day?

It’s important to note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being financially comfortable or wealthy. Some believe that it is a sin to be wealthy and that purity and goodness can only be achieved by living a life of poverty and deprivation. Rubbish!

The key to realizing a dream quoteWhile it may be more blessed to give than to receive, if you don’t have anything to give, there’s not much fun in giving. It’s admirable to work towards financial success, BUT … if that’s all you’re aiming at, you’re setting yourself up for a life of emptiness while you sit on your comfortable upmarket furniture and drive your luxury car.

Every human being craves to be significant. We all have a desire to make some impact on the world in which we live and on the people with whom we interact. When young, we may be less concerned about significance – we’re in success mode. But if we chase success at the cost of everything else, we find an emptiness growing inside ourselves that we just can‘t fill.

And because we don’t understand the “Law of Enough”, we end up chasing the ever-moving target of financial wealth that will torment us no matter how long and how hard we run after it. That’s because some people incorrectly believe that they need to become MORE financially successful to fill the emptiness. Understand this: money can buy comfort and convenience, but it can’t fill a heart. Only meaning can do that.

Significance is therefore achieved by helping others not as fortunate as yourself in Quote on the true measure of lifeseveral ways. If you’re able, you could make regular financial contributions to a worthy cause or give of your time to help such a cause. You could also donate your skills and expertise to assist in an area of need (helping with the selection and recruitment of suitable workers or doing books and managing finances).

Think about what you could do to achieve significance. The world needs your unique personality, talents, gifts and skills. Don’t limit them to the walls of your workplace. Don’t put a price on them when it comes to achieving significance. Aim for success, but also strive to be significant. You will achieve a far greater sense of fulfilment and will leave the world a better place.

Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag. He is a recognised authority on leadership skills for the future and helps business leaders learn to lead with purpose and agility.