Pursuing Your Dreams–Let’s Go!

First Step, a Self-Image Checkup
What does your self-image have to do with kicking down the door to new opportunities? Everything! In society as a whole, and in the working world, your level of self-esteem plays a crucial part in having the kind of career and relationships you truly want. What is self-image? It is 1) how you see yourself, 2) how you believe others see you, and 3) how you allow yourself to be treated. Self-image affects not only your ability to get ahead in the working world, but how you get along with your family and those you come into contact with every day. It is one of the most important ingredients that give you the ability to move forward in life with confidence, knowing you deserve good things (yes, you DO) and that you “count” greatly in this world. It makes you smile and helps you meet the challenges of life head on.
We often limit our success by the way we think, how we interpret ourselves and the world based on our past experiences. If we expect rejection, failure, and discouragement–due to past experiences, previous conditioning from other people and circumstances and self-talk–that is what comes knocking at our door. If we anticipate greater success, satisfying personal and professional relationships, or becoming a successful entrepreneur, guess what? Our energy and focus is like a magnet taking us towards those goals.

Unfortunately, some individuals follow the same format of defeat for a lifetime, unable to still reach their goal because they were not able to in the past. Why? There are any number of reasons, such as a myriad of personal struggles, lack of finances, limited education, their own personality traits, or the people closest to them causing hindrances. Some have faced the additional challenge of feeling like they never fit in, or have only heard discouraging words from parents, teachers, or others that have been a key part of their life. The list of characteristics and circumstances is limitless.

Our perceptions may be correct or may be completely false. However, how many opportunities do we miss because we do not perceive ourselves as good enough, competent enough, educated enough, or dressed nicely enough, for instance. We can fill in the blank with any number of reasons. Let’s show the world that we are smart, experienced, professional, and look the part of a man or woman who knows where he/she is going and how to get there!

Your new Boomer motto: Step aside world, I’m coming through!
This mindset is strengthened by not allowing anything negative from the past to determine your worth or ability to launch out into the best years of your life! If you were told that you could not do something because you were not as smart as a sibling, neighbor, relative, or another student in school, cancel that negative feedback and break the record that keeps playing in your mind. Any self-defeating beliefs can cause you to stop trying for the brass ring and instead, continue circling the merry-go-round of life. Immediately stop that thought and write out or speak the exact opposite. “Stupid” should be changed to “I have a Divinely created mind, therefore, I can create the life I deserve (yes, deserve) with my Divinely created mind. Remember, this is a daily practice until only the positive, constructive thoughts flow automatically.

Do you want to “kick open the door” to a new life, career, or relationship? Do you lack the confidence to try for a new or long-time business or personal goal, the one you may have wanted since way back in junior high? Do you minimize your own skills and abilities by comparing your credentials to others? Instead, nourish and feed all of the wonderful attributes YOU possess. If someone’s years of experience, looks, youth, or bank account intimidate you from trying for that still-unfulfilled goal, focus on all of your attributes like your contagious enthusiasm, healthy humility, passion for excellence and superb people skills that far surpass what he or she has to offer. Remember, even if your present talent or material possessions are not enough to get you to the finish line, you can still take the next step, and the next. The end result? Flourishing in the career you always dreamed of, marrying a quality person like you truly deserve, starting the civic organization that stokes a fire down in your soul, or whatever you love.

For some, it may not be a career or marriage but fulfilling a creative need, like taking art or dance classes, joining a gym, attending interesting seminars, meeting with a group of like-minded individuals who bring more joy into life, mentoring a struggling student, volunteering at a hospital or library, taking some “me” time to soak in a bubble bath or have a pedicure, or any number of little experiences that can make life more enjoyable. Everyone needs and deserves time for themselves.

Always keep in mind, if you allow the same limiting thoughts to be entertained, you cannot expect to produce anything differently from what you have experienced in life up until now. Perhaps it is time to assess what changes can be made in your current life or business plan. How can you increase your knowledge? How can you refine your image and communication skills? What local groups and online social media can you become active in to connect with others passionate about your same dreams and goals? Boomers/Xers need to learn from the younger generation and they also need the camaraderie and support of their own generation.

The secret: It is NEVER too late to reinvent yourself! It is NEVER too late to start over no matter what has happened to you! Determine that your new life starts today! Remember the old saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had.” What holds you back? Are you over committed trying to make everyone else happy? You know what you need! Rehearse your new role in life from this moment forward!

Introductions and Mingling: How do I Conduct Myself?

Many people are uncomfortable mingling during business networking or other public events. Are you one who is often worried about what people will think of you? The easiest way to get around that is to put our focus on “them”. How? First of all, look for people who appear somewhat lonely, standing by themselves. They will appreciate you coming up to them and initiating a conversation. This helps get relationship-building conversations started while promoting confidence in yourself and them. It is easier to join a group previously engaged in a discussion after someone leaves, breaking the circle of participants, which then allow us to comfortably slip right in. The following guidelines will also help:

People approach when your back is to the light, such as standing in front of a window during the daytime

Keep your posture erect, palms up with arms and fingers open and a friendly smile that invites conversation.
Always hold your beverage in your “left” hand to avoid a wet and clammy handshake.

Be mindful that the best conversationalists are the ones with the best “active listening” skills! Let them talk 60% of the time. Reflect back to them tidbits of what they said to show you “heard” them.

Introductions can be confusing so here is an easy way to confidently introduce two people:

Introduce the person with the “least important” title (regardless of gender) to the person with the most important title. For example: Mr. or Ms. Greater Authority, I would like to introduce you to Mr. or Ms. Lesser Authority. An example is introducing a company president’s name before a sales representative. When introducing someone to an individual from another company, however, the one with the “highest position” is actually the guest, or client…even if he/she holds “lower” title.

Introductions should be brief. “How do you do?” or “Hello” is fine. If you can’t remember someone’s name, reintroduce yourself and they will often say their name again. If they don’t, say something like, “We met at last month’s marketing conference at the Embassy Suites. I’m (name).” They should offer it to you at that point. If they still don’t, just smile and say, “I apologize. Would you give me your name again please?”

The main point to remember is: lean slightly forward,positive and confident posture, give a warm handshake, smile and be totally sincere and engaged in getting to know them and what they do! That kind of interest will have them wanting to get to know you better as well. Enjoy!!

Leaving Yes-butville for Can-Do City!

Moving Sale! Oh the freedom when you leave Yes-butville for Can-Do City! 

I once read that no material in the world is as resilient as the human spirit! However, every word and deed can affect that spirit. Relationships impact us immediately from the moment we are born and some experts say even from the womb. What happens as we grow up can have a profound effect on our success in life, the patterns we form and live by, and how well we manage the major and minor transitions in life–basically, everything we are and do. Now is the time where excuses are no longer accepted, and where we realize that no matter what has transpired in our lives, we CAN move forward and live fulfilling and rewarding lives. We can embrace solid relationships that last throughout our golden years. Think of the human spirit as a tire that is low on air. If it is going flat, pump it back up and get back on the ride of your life!

Here are suggestions to recharge your battery! Please take time to carefully examine the following points and determine:
• “What is the most important area that I would like to change as far as the perception I am giving to others?” Could it be getting in better shape to appear more energetic and feel better about myself?
• Would it be helpful to make simple changes in my demeanor and body language such as a more confident handshake, erect posture and good eye contact, remembering to smile more and center myself to be calm if I am a bit nervous? Work on these if need be with a positive role model.
• Could a few adjustments in grooming show others that I take good care of myself, therefore, I will also take equally good care of them, their business and relationships?
• What would make me “feel” more confident in my exciting new Boomer life? Shall I take a class in public speaking, get a makeover, or join an organization or committee where I will make new friends and gain new skills?
• What kind of image am I formulating in the mind of others by my attitude, energy and appearance? Write your answers in a journal for a time and notice any patterns that emerge. You can then prioritize according to importance.
• What kind of energy am I projecting as a 40+ person venturing out on a new life path? Is it positive, negative, forceful, supportive? Energetic or tired? Hopeful or hopeless? Determined or deflated? Ask a close confidante for feedback.

Write you vision for 5 years from now, 90 days from now, and weekly action steps. I can help you with that as you plan out and then work backwards to what you can begin doing today.

Need to create a new game in your life?

Sometimes, life’s changes and challenges can but tough, disappointing and confusing. They may come on so quickly we wonder “what happened” and “how will I ever manage beyond this?” They can also open the door to so many new and wonderful possibilities. Realize, rebuild and raise up your inner strength and create a beautiful new picture out of the puzzle pieces of life. Explore ways to thrive and excel.

YOU are ultimately responsible for your own legacy. Others can help you or hurt you but they cannot live your life for you. To make the rest of your life the best of your life, sit down and assess:

• Do I seek out those who are positive, ambitious and high quality? Do I “allow” those who tend to be negative, lazy and self-willed try to keep me from creating a new version of myself?

• Do friends and family encourage or discourage me? You can pray for new friends just as I did and God will be faithful to bring them to you. Remember, you deserve the best! Never allow yourself to become a servant of what you fear from here on out, whether competing for a new career, moving to a new city, or even living alone for the first time!

Researchers believe that if you hold on to negative feelings, sad emotions or depressing memories, it is possible they could reshape your body’s cells to the point where your thoughts of the past have a negative effect on your mental and physical health. Defy the aging process with food and exercises that nourish your mind and body and keep you strong and active. Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly:

Do my past life experiences:
1) serve any good or constructive purpose?
2) help me move forward or keep me in the pit?
3) work in my favor or against me in any way?

If you get thoughts telling you it is time to change or remove those negative influences, tell yourself: “This emotion/feeling/habit does not help me get out–or stay out–of the box. I am letting it go and focusing on my next constructive step. That step could be finding a class or mentor who can help you with a new job skill, finding a support group to help you think more positively and gain new supportive friends, check out new ways to fix your hair and put on makeup, for instance. You get the idea.

HOW you “choose” to view your circumstances will determine whether you arrive at the finish line you really want. You have the opportunity to write the next chapter of your life. Embrace it with open arms even if the fear of the unknown tempts you to push it away.

When self-pity creeps in, kick it out! Immediately take action, fix yourself up, put on something colorful that makes you feel good. Get out and get going. Take a walk. Call a supportive friend, read the kind of blogs or books that pump you up or teach you a skill or behavior that shows where courage in the face of trial can take you. Just set boundaries that promote a healthy body, mind and plenty of self-respect. Don’t look back! Immediately take positive action.

This is the day for your new beginning–another exciting step towards your new life. After you have unwrapped the dreams that you previously stashed at the back of your mental closet, take one step at a time and walk through each life-altering phase. Do what it takes, in small increments, to blossom. Think about new classes, programs, friends, career opportunities, travel experiences you can take. Do something new and fun to rejuvenate your spirit. It may be a cake decorating or art class, attending a personal development program, or even learning to fix your own car!

Add to your list now.
• What do I desire to change? Relationships? Health? Finances? Career? Be detailed.
• What will it take to transform my life: Different friends? Letting go of someone or something that keeps me down? An exercise and eating plan? Courses that will equip me for my dream job?
• Who or where can I turn to for support?
• Who or what is preventing me from stepping into my new life? Are they perceived or real roadblocks? Be honest.
• If I cannot completely change a particular area of my life, what steps can I take to make it better? An example is if you are now a caregiver, can you trade services with someone who can care for your loved one a few hours per week in exchange for some of your awesome cooking, bookkeeping skills or other talent? Use this time for “you.”
• Where I am speaking in negative or defeated terms, what can I say to turn it into victory statements? Take each negative thought and literally rewrite it. You can change, “I am too old to change careers” to “I have years of valuable experience, insight and creative relationship skills that will connect me to the perfect organization for my goals.”

If you feel life has passed you by, that a new life at your age is impossible, that you are too old or don’t have enough money, education, talent, or a myriad of other thoughts and emotions, stop that thought immediately. Go back to your list and determine the next step, no matter how small it may seem at the time. Each day we must notice, replace, and change our defeating self-talk.

Gravitate towards those things that make you happy and enable you to fulfill your life’s purpose. Before long, they will overtake and replace any dull, dark areas that previously had residence in your life. Choose the life of a spunky, thriving Baby Boomer!

Let’s sing, dance and ride the roller coaster of life in high gear. You can choose to live life to the fullest. Start now, right where you are, and make a brand new ending to the story of your life!

Kicking Your Way Out of the Box!

Sometimes, the life of a “mature person” must be completely shaken, shifted and reshuffled to bring them to where they were meant to be in the first place! Some events are beyond our control that make those shifts necessary: losing a job, children moving back home, a health crisis or death of a loved one. Others open up the time and opportunities to explore new adventures. Even if you are experiencing issues that have hindered your ability to do what you love, read on and think about how you can incorporate your desires into your everyday life. 

First secret: If you have not grown up by age 40, you don’t have to! Allow yourself to rekindle your childlike faith and enthusiasm as you ride the roller coaster of life in high gear.
You? Getting Older? You Are Just Getting Started!
Could it be possible that age only counts with wine and cheese? By the time we have reached age 40+, many of us have pushed important dreams and goals deep into the back of life’s closet. Situations, obstacles and excuses may have taken up residence in our homes and our heads, replacing our dreams with the ever-changing world we call “life.” News Flash! It is never too late to pull those boxes of dreams down off the shelf, tear them open with childlike enthusiasm, and initiate your plan. Yes, our lives may have taken a different course, filled to overflowing with work and relationships that left little or no time to pursue our original goals. By the time we are 40+ (or 50, 60, 70), we may feel there are several reasons why it could be too late to get out of that all too familiar box. Some reasons may be legitimate for a season; others are based on fear or lack of self-confidence. The more time and energy we expend entertaining those reasons, the farther away we become from grasping our own brass ring.

It is Never Too Late to Grab the Brass Ring!
Several years ago, I read the story of how the term “reaching for the brass ring” originated. This phrase has always symbolized reaching for, and achieving, one’s goals. The brightly painted carousels had beautiful wooden ponies that pranced up and down on shiny brass poles to the sound of calliope music. Children excitedly stretched high with determination to grab a fist-sized metal ring from a dispenser suspended just outside of the carousel. Most of the time, they would get a black ring. How joyful they were when, every once in a while, someone would grasp a “gold” one, the brass ring! That brass ring came to symbolize adventure, passion, joy, and having the ability to achieve their biggest hopes and dreams. If an 80 year old woman can earn her Bachelor’s Degree and a 65 year old obtained her pilot’s license, let me encourage you to go in hot pursuit of your dreams too! As a Boomer (or older GenX), have you grabbed your ring yet?

What steps can be added, or changes made, to your current lifestyle to bring those dreams to fruition? Let’s assess the experiences in your life to see how they can help you kick your way out of the box and live life to the fullest:

1. What is a true heart’s desire—a meaningful and important goal—you want to accomplish in your lifetime? Answer honestly without worrying about “how” to accomplish it.

2. A positive image is a vital secret for living the vibrant Boomer (or GenX) life. What do you believe your personal and professional image is at this time? What would you like to change? Be specific: friends, job/career, home/city, personal and professional relationships that either help or hinder.
3. Up until now, how much time have you spent on yourself, your family and career? How has this impacted your ability to fulfill your desired lifestyle? How can you change it?
4. What is different now? An empty nest? Are you married/divorced/widowed? Have you obtained a higher education? Is it necessary to now be a caregiver? Have children who were gone but have returned home? Do you have more or less time and money now?
5. How can you use these experiences to build new opportunities and help others in the process? Life lessons are awesome teachers that equip you to scale new heights.

It is time to dust off those dreams so let’s get going! You can’t move forward while looking the rearview mirror! Add more roads (steps) to your life map and enjoy the ride. (Stay tuned for the following articles).

Being An Exemplary Leader Has Nothing To Do With Title!

Not all leaders are in actual designated “leadership positions.” We have the opportunity to be a high quality leader every day, in whatever capacity the day calls for, whether it is with those in our same household or with business people worldwide.

Critical leadership characteristics are the ability to be results-focused and still give a warm word of support; to operate with a focus that incorporates their mind and their heart in decision-making and problem resolution. They show a willingness to let go of biases and positions to acknowledge other possibilities; to create space/environments of inclusion and acceptance; and think of themselves as resources and not “Bosses”.

Leadership Strategies & Outcomes: The impact of Leader has no bounds! An ancient quote from Phillip II of Macedon still holds true today: “An army of deer led by a lion(esse) is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a deer.” Why? A lion(esse) is involved, firm and confident, and scouts new opportunities for provisions. They take position for battle AND they take care of their own. Deer are peaceful, passive and run away when frightened.

Strong leaders listen to staff. Take this simple test to check your listening skills. At the end of your week, write three things – learned from employees that week. Examples: insight about customers, is there a better way to handle a process, or reasons why a project didn’t work? There is so much to learn from employees. If you can’t list at least three things per week, you may not be listening carefully enough.

Nurture and Inspire: You can be a great leader without degrading others as you move forward, in your career, or as a leader or coach. Always be mindful of other people’s feelings and to never jump to conclusions about their behavior. No one may know what challenge they may be dealing with.

Positive Influence: We all have a need for a sense of belonging and do things that make people feel included. Leaders let others know that they are valued members of the team. Female leaders are particularly talented at helping their employees feel like they belong. Talk to each employee as a human with needs, emotions and goals. Develop an other-person mindset. Begin looking for ways to include others. Caring means a genuine concern for others that can create a more productive work atmosphere. Let’s do that whether at work or play, at home or on the job!

Surefire Ways to a Powerful, Professional Image

In today’s competitive business environment, a professional image and good manners can make the difference between getting ahead and being left behind. As objective as we like to think we are in business relationships, we still judge people by how they act, speak, write and look.

Did you know it takes only seven seconds to capture your prospect’s or audience’s attention? It also only takes 20 seconds to get the substance of your message across to someone so they will decide if they want to listen further or walk away. Although it really isn’t fair, in the first seven seconds, people are making judgments about our self-image, outlook on life, moral character, economic and educational levels, trustworthiness, social position and future success. Wow!

Exceptional business protocol is the epitome of professionalism and is all about presenting ourselves with the kind of polish that shows we can be taken seriously. It is using a code of behavior based on consideration and thoughtfulness. It is treating ALL people with respect, courtesy, manners and appreciation no matter who they are or what position they hold.

The Polished Professional – Why You Seriously Want Good Business Etiquette!

Why is good business etiquette important??  Because it differentiates us from the competition and is often the defining reason one person is chosen over another!  It makes people want to know us better and have us on their team.

Professional protocol enables us to have confidence in a variety of settings with people from all walks of life.  This includes how to conduct ourselves in meetings with all internal and external customers, which impacts how much they respect us, our products and services. Respect is critical for a solid reputation, one that continually attracts new business and maintains longstanding relationships. Proper protocol also enhances our credibility on sales calls, in negotiations, on the golf course, and definitely while conducting business over meals.  What happens during business social events can definitely be a deal maker or deal breaker depending on the perceptions people have of us. Were our manners, appearance and conversation conducive to building a solid future with them?

We also have the advantage of psychological power in how others treat us, which plays a critical role in how they respond.  Why?  Think of how you would act in response to a well-groomed, energetic, mannerly and confident individual versus one who looks disheveled, disorganized and has poor speech patterns or negative body language.  Much research has proven that when two people have similar qualifications, the one who is more polished and professional is usually the one chosen!

Image and Good Manners Make the Difference

Our self-image, behaviors and abilities are relayed to those around us through communication skills that are broken down into three parts: 55% of our message is non-verbal (how we look, act, sit stand, enter a room, our posture, movements & gestures, handshake, what do with our hands, how high we hold our head); 38% is the quality of voice (our expressions, pitch and tone), while only 7% are the actual words we speak. Whether we meet others for the first or the tenth, it is critical to project a confident, friendly demeanor that says, “I want to build–or continue building–a mutually rewarding relationship with you.”   Remember, we only have one chance to make a good first impression! A positive and confident “presence” makes us more approachable, believable, and appealing to our prospects. However, a poor impression can repel people, giving the notion that we are not as effective or straightforward as they want in a business partner.

Reading non-verbal signals helps us “interpret” what others are really saying so we know how to frame our response. Example: If someone is saying something nice but their body is stiff and there is fire in their eyes, it is usually more accurate to believe what the body is truly saying rather than just their words. Pay attention to sudden changes in their posture, expression or other cues because you may have hit a nerve. If they all of a sudden they act or speak to you in a “different” manner, go back and think about what just happened and what might have triggered the change. Ask questions, clarify for agreement (or disagreement), explain yourself again, or change directions in order to get them back on a positive course. The more you practice this skill, the more effective and favorable relationships you will have.

By watching a job candidate or business prospect’s body signals, we can discern how aggressive they may be, whether they come across as obnoxious, personable, are shy or feel inferior. Bottom line, technical skills are not the only requirement for a new job or business opportunity. Good soft skills are critical for taking us where we want to go in life and in business.

Exhibiting the Kind of Impression That You Want Them to Have

When conducting business, including business social events, ensure that your appearance, wardrobe and grooming are exhibiting the kind of impression that you want others to have of you.  Our appearance reveals a lot about our self-image.  We appear more responsible, organized and capable if we are all “put together.”  When people see that we take pride in our appearance, they assume we will take more pride in “our” work and “their” business as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2. Learn tips and techniques to begin using immediately and will last a lifetime! Workshops forming now! Private or group coaching and training is just a phone call or email away!


Breaking Through Defeating Thoughts

          When someone says something about you, either positive or negative, that seed tries to plant itself in the soil of your life. It is at this very moment that you determine whether or not to allow that seed to take root and grow into a self-sabotaging weed. If you dwell on what was said or done to you, you are watering and fertilizing the damaging seed and it will manifest in your life. That is why you must stop it every time–immediately! Shift–and meditate on positive thoughts and blessings throughout the day. These thoughts can be as basic as “I can see, hear, walk, talk, have food to eat,” etc. Now really, we really are blessed, right? Nourish those seeds and watch them grow into your newly created reality!

          Stop right now and really analyze what is going on beneath the surface, where your daily observations, feelings and concentration have been attracting that very thing you want to change. Do you “see” yourself more confident, slimmer, healthier, in a better relationship—whatever it is you desire—or do you tell yourself there is no way your goal can manifest because you don’t have enough money, don’t think you’re attractive or smart enough, have the finances or a myriad of other self-defeating thoughts? It can take a hard thrust forward to crack a tough, confining shell against the obstacle that must go! Visualize what you want to draw into your life rather than just wonder how it could happen. Do not let “…but I don’t know how to ever hold you back. Once you determine it will be done, the how will actually take care of itself. 

Take time to thoughtfully answer the following:

  •                Thoughts that have been hindering me and keeping in the wilderness:
  •                New thoughts I am replacing the old ones with that will now help steer me in my life’s new direction:
  •                Words that can no longer have a place in my heart and mind: 
  •                Words of growth, inspiration, hope, healthy and happy goals that I am using from this day forward:

Taken from Creating Your Own Destiny: Power Steps for Mind-Body Renewal

Fear: dark room that develops your negatives. Turn the lights on!

  Fear and faith both project into the future and what we say is what we get. 

          You CAN overcome the fears of rejection, failure, other’s opinions, your feelings about your education or finances or a myriad of other areas.  Bring the unseen into the Seeing realm, so to speak, by continuously visualizing what you want to see manifested in the next six months, then a year from now. This requires planting positive seeds of work, love, focus, and action. Feed positive thoughts, words and endeavors into the lion within you. You shape your life by the choices you make. Ask yourself: which emotions will I allow to be stronger? The more fervent ones win! Cross over out of the wilderness into the land of Transformation. For starters, you may claim “I am healthy, wealthy and wise…and greatly loved”! Take like a medicine as often as needed.

          Start journaling. Create positive thoughts where frustrating circumstances emerge. “I get to plan my day because I am in charge of what happens to me”. (Oops, here comes one more unexpected event to my day). However, I will deal appropriately with anyone or anything that seeks to upset my day. This is my day and I can overcome! God created me and He will strengthen me, give me wisdom (ask for it), and make my path straight.” Can’t you just feel your chin lift, the corners of your mouth turn up in a smile, even if just a little? Do you detect a refreshing deep sigh of relief? Ok, show your day who’s boss…you!!!! Smile!

Taken from Creating Your Own Destiny: Power Steps for Mind-Body Renewal