Just the other day, Sharon Cohen of the Associated Press wrote a story of Baby Boomers aged 50+ looking for long-term work. The article expressed the despair and rejection qualified candidates feel while searching for gainful employment. It evoked tough memories for me as well, when I was laid off the first time in my career, almost 25 years ago.
Ms. Cohen’s article chronicled the efforts of the job seekers – looking online, scouring the classifieds and even networking groups of other unemployed. I ran into the same issues – sending 100s of resumes to blind ads, knocking on storefronts with help wanted signs – and like many of my Boomer colleagues, I was told more than once that my knowledge and skills made me “over-qualified” for a position. The frustration and rejection can be overwhelming.
While these are traditional, classic methods, they are not the way most employers find great employees – the rules have changed and Boomers need to be aware of where to channel their time and energy. (more…)
We have been discussing expectations related to our happiness and success in our workshops for years. A recent book, Your Brain at Work, by David Rock (2009) puts some new light on the subject–There is a physiological reason we are disappointed when life does not meet our expectations. It has to do with dopamine. Alina Tugend explains this theory in an excellent article, What Did Your Expect? It Makes A Difference, on Jan 14, 2012 in the NY Times:
‘If we expect to get x and we get x, there is a slight rise in dopamine. If we expect to get x and we get 2x there is a greater rise. But if we expect to get x and get 0.9x, then we get a much bigger drop. Our brain doesn’t get slightly unhappy, it sends out a message of danger or threat.”
The conclusions from this research, as well as others, indicate that we must adapt to change and not to expect too much during this time of economic instability—especially when there are things out of our control.
In our book, Upside: How to Zig When Life Zags, we say the following:
“Feeling that you are entitled to a certain way of life, or expecting it to turn out a certain way, could be holding you back from success and happiness. Many of us were raised by parents who expected us to get an education, find a great job, buy a house and start a family. While that may have been possible for your parents, it set the bar for unrealistic expectations and feelings of entitlement for you today.”
If you can detect the source of your expectations, the upside is that it will be easier to move ahead on your journey to sustainable success. Holding on to what life should have will make deal with the not-known more difficult.
Can you develop your own American Dream?Can you accept that your lifestyle may be different than the last generation?Can you still be happy?
In our book, Upside:How to Zig When Life Zags, we discuss the meaning of happiness.Our premise is that even during a recession and hard times, it is possible to be happy.One of the core elements in the book is the idea that happiness comes from many things other than material possessions. We also emphasize the importance of reworking your American Dream to fit the new reality.
A new survey conducted by MetLife indicates that many are pursuing their own version of the American Dream.Beth Hirschhorn, executive vice president and chief marketing, says “people are adapting and pursuing their own American dream.” There is a de-emphasis on material values, even to the extent of accepting lower living standards.
“The American Dream for many – higher education, owning a home, a great career, providing a financial safety net and building retirement assets – is eitherunachievable or irrelevant.Posted on:Dream’s dark hour By GREGORY BRESIGER January 7, 2012
Survey spokeswoman Laura Adams, adds that the American Dream is less conventional and more personalized than previously defined. The average American wants to realize his own dream, not that of a group.
Each year at this time, we make a list of things we want to change or improve. Some individuals make wishes—things they hope will occur in the new year.
At a recent winter Solstice celebration, we wrote on paper our passions—things that we can do in 2012 that make a difference in the world. We then shared them with the group.
My suggestion is to expand this idea is to include children in the process. My friend, Judy Chiss, former educational director of the Children’s Museum in Chicago, said she was making a “wish booklet” with her children and grandchildren.
This concept has great merit for introducing the idea of goal setting to young adults and children. It also offers the opportunity for a dialogue between family members. It creates opportunities for expression and learning more about each other. Imagine your child setting a goal to finish homework on time or not fighting with a sibling. This intention offers opportunities for self-managing and awareness.
Parents, too, can set goals such as no email, texts or phones after work thus creating more chances for face to face communication with family members. Once these goals are said out loud, the family has a responsibility to work together to reach their goals.
New Year’s goals, intentions, and wishes can be an excellent way to achieve something important, especially when they are shared. Make a wish list with your family today and see how your family system can improve.
In addition check out our book, Upside: How to Zig When Life Zags to increase the probability of your success.
Make a new holiday experience—one that fits in with today’s reality. Wipe the slate clean and do something different. The last blog included the following suggestions: Define what holiday means to you (and your family) and keep it simple. Other suggestions are detailed below:
Give to others in greater need
A good case study comes from a woman and her son that volunteer for the homeless by bringing blankets and food donations. She reflects that the experience gives her joy, resilience and strength in countless ways and it is an excellent way to educate children. She says, “It’s what the holiday is all about.”
Bring people together
Use your creative self to hold gatherings of friends and family and plan something unique—games, song fests, sharing memories and old photos of holidays. Make it a potluck so you aren’t responsible for all the food.
Stay out of the malls
My advice is that it is too tempting with all the hype, music, and sale signs. Go shopping for what you absolutely need, or better still, find it online. The need vs. want syndrome can be addictive. (See exercises in Upside: How to Zig When Life Zags, www.upsidethebook.com)
The Center for a New American Dream, suggests giving oneself—providing gifts of time or experiences that will be remembered. Examples: give a friend her dream, sign her up for a class, purchase a gift certificate for a spa, or give tickets to a community theater.
Attitude, attitude, attitude
Bring your best attitude to the season. It will affect all members of your family. If you are showing more doom and gloom about your current circumstances, it will affect everyone you care about. It is difficult to remain upbeat in these difficult times but the upside is that you have a choice on how to react. Your willingness to be motivated and have fun despite your circumstances will strengthen you in the long run.
Look forward and not behind
It’s not what you don’t have but what you do have. It is a time for being grateful for everything we do have. Asking family members what they are grateful for is an excellent way to bring people together. After all, the greatest gift is that you have family and friends.
For some people, wanting to make a difference sounds cliché; for Dawn Z. Bournand, it’s a life passion. Her philosophy is simple: give the best of yourself as often as you can. Dawn was inspired to name her company “Fabulously Successful” to help others break out of their comfort zones to grow and reach out on the level they were destined to achieve.
Dawn’s approach is different from other life coaches. While she supports and empowers people to live their purpose and create their own version of fabulous success, she also believes that owning your own business can often be a great way to accomplish your dreams. Dawn and her team focus on clients’ passions to determine how they may be able to weave them into their lives on a daily basis and perhaps even begin to make a living doing what they love.
One of the keys to fabulous success, Dawn believes, is finding joy in all parts of your life. As a mother of three young boys, she lives her message that life balance is not only possible but vital. According to Dawn, when one lives their life purpose, they have a reason, a why and they move forward with these core values in mind. That clarity makes it easy to decide the more important activities and release the rest.
The path to purpose has not always been easy for Dawn. As an expat in Paris, she was surprised and depressed by the lack of career options. Her turning point came as she silently prayed for guidance on a metro train, only to discover a phone message on her cell that would start her on her path to fabulous success.
For Dawn, touching just one person, igniting that spark of empowering others to excel is the reason she continues to grow her business. www.FabulouslySuccessful.com now offers group coaching and a Fabulously Successful Elite Club for Women and will be adding personal VIP days and workshops in France and in select cities around the world – all designed to help women use their light to shine even brighter and inspire others.
Advice for getting on track with your life’s purpose? “Go for it!,” says Dawn. “Find a success buddy, group or coach who can help you through the rough spots.” These rough spots can be the key to moving to the next level or taking your next step. Learn more about Dawn at www.FabulouslySuccessful.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/dawnbournand.
This eight-part blog series, exclusively for www.UpsideTheBook.com, highlights the Every Woman Visionary. Each of these women, along with myself, are featured in the first-ever Spirited Woman 2012 Directory: Resources For An Inspired Life! (www.thespiritedwoman.com) set to launch on 12/12/11. It is an exciting time for women, and the FREE magazine-style digital directory – rich with inspirational stories, resources and more – is our gift to you. Women from six countries and over 25 states participated in the directory.
Today, November 27, The Diane Rehm Show, www.thedianerehm.org, focused on the loss of the American Dream. (I encourage you to listen to the podcast.) There were many poignant stories of individuals who followed the rules—did everything right and still fell behind. There were many reasons why—loss of job or health, cost of health care, lack of education, government services, union issues, housing, etc.
As we know, in this political climate it will be a long time before the government is able to do anything substantial. However, there are still some things individuals can begin to do on their own. In Upside: How to Zig when Life Zags, we encourage individuals to reinvent their American Dream—that means start over. Wipe the slate clean of expectations, things that worked in the past. In today’s world, we must constantly invent. We must also think about alternatives in every aspect of our lives—where and how we live, how to educate our children, how to save money, and how to protect our health.
As I watched the frenzy on Black Friday, I was amazed that people are still being tempted to spend even during these difficult times. I have nothing against purchasing goods but that day could have been spent enjoying family and brainstorming the next steps for many during this transition.
None of this is easy but we aren’t alone. We must find the courage and the mental and physical resources to move on and find the answers. We must be strong and commit to being resourceful and find others with which to share the journey.
During my vacation trip to Africa, I didn’t have my cell phone. There were a few days of withdrawal especially with email. I survived but I now that I’m back in the US I can admit to being addicted.
In our book, Upside: How to Zig When Life Zags, we discuss Need Vs. Want and ask readers to seriously ask the question as they make daily choices—especially in this economy. Do I really need this item?
“I need that toy”! Exclaims a child to his mother is a store. This often-heard phrase is a reminder of our society’s use of the word need. We need shelter and food—but what else do we really need? Abraham Maslow created a diagram in 1943 that outlines basic needs of mankind. Shelter and food are the essential foundation of the hierarchy, and once those are satisfied, love, acceptance, meaningful work and social relationships follow. (Excerpt)
In an August 19 article in the Chicago Tribune, a reporter, Mary Schmich, writes about getting her cell phone deluged in Lake Michigan in a wet biking splash. After days without a cell phone, she still managed to get her story written—no easy task. She had some words of wisdom as she was going through cell phone detox, “Life is largely a series of itches. We mistake cravings for necessities, dependencies for needs.”
As we know cell phones and other “tech toys” make life in our busy world easier, but what are the lessons that we can learn from Mary’s experience? In retrospect, without my phone I was able to be fully present and not distracted. I had a richer experience and was able to quiet my mind and enjoy my trip more.
As you go through your work week, be aware of those things in your life that you feel you really need. Try going without a phone, computer, or other devices. See if you can determine those things you crave vs. necessity– and, avoid those itches.
These are exciting times and important events with the new protests as they indicate changes are in the air. People are frustrated and looking for solutions. The world has become more difficult to navigate and people are angry and confused, and want to make the world a more livable place for themselves and others. In our book, Upside, we discuss “the not known is the new norm” which is happening and creating instability. People want stability and that comes when change occurs at all levels—corporate, government, and individual.
As I listen to comments from protesters one theme seems to reoccur: the American Dream. One protester in Florida said, “I feel like the American Dream has passed me by.” Others have said, “What happened to the American Dream?” We have researched this topic and address it in our book at length– It is time to reinvent your American Dream to adapt to the changing times. Your American Dream will look different moving forward than it did in the past. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy and prosper. It does mean that you will have to change the paradigm so it is sustainable.
My hope for the protest groups is that they organize at some point to address their issues and put them in categories so we all can brainstorm and begin problem solving. There are answers and ways to address all the issues but it will take a commitment and willingness from our whole society to change. The New American Dream will be at the core.
My perception of the simple life changed dramatically after my recent trip to the countries of Namibia and Botswana in Africa.
In my US workshops, I often ask people to determine what are the things in their life that contribute to happiness. The subsequent discussion with attendees usually includes how to lead a simpler life and be happy.
In my travels through Africa, my observations about the simple life caused me to reflect once more. For Africans, access to basics like water and electricity are minimal. Cooking is simple, done outside over a wood burning fire. This is the extreme in simple living. Walking five miles a day for water is a normal activity for everyone. Transportation to anywhere is limited to donkey carts or hitching rides.
I’ve read about these living circumstances but seeing it first hand, is monumental. I didn’t do any surveys on happiness but children playing without toys seemed very happy. Our guide said that “when you don’t know any other life it is easy to accept your circumstances and be happy with what you have.”
We can’t compare our US lives to African ones but we can take on their attitude of being happy with what we have—which is ten times more than any individual living in the African villages.
When asked in a recent radio interview on happiness what I was thankful for it was easy to reply—clean water out of a faucet. What are you grateful for that contributes to your happiness?