After the recession, I wrote about the new norm in the book Upside: How to Zig When Life Zags.Now we are experiencing a new phenomenon associated with the new norm that newspapers are calling the new normal. (Examples: NY Times November 7, 2012 – By MIREYA NAVARRO, November 01, 2012 – By ANDREW C. REVKIN) The words are different but the effect on humans is the same. Individuals are facing more change and upheaval than ever before. There are fewer things we can count on–jobs, security, and now weather possibly associated with climate change.
How do you weather the new storms?
More than ever individuals must remove expectations and learn to be extremely resilient and flexible. Think about that ball on a string as it goes up and down. That is you going through difficult times and then times of stability. The challenge is to find new, different, and creative ways to be happy in spite of the difficult times.
Problem solving using innovative methods is the key to getting through the new normal. Multitasking can be an important skill to use but it is different now–it is being able to juggle emotions and practical actions at the same time. Dealing with loss while picking up your life, your belongings and moving forward.
Count your blessings instead of your losses.
Those blessings may be disguised in small things like a child’s hug or a friend’s message of love. We are still a free nation and people around you care what happens.
As I traveled the world this summer I was often reminded about the many institutions we have to help us during times of crises. There are few countries that have the resources, spirit, and volunteer organizations willing to help out.
The new normal is here to stay. Your willingness to push through and find a life that is meaningful and productive is your challenge. If you have lost a lot or a little, it is an opportunity for you to think over what was and is important and what you might want to do differently.
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.
Economist and best-selling author Juliet Schor has a new video describing the new American Dream: http://vimeo.com/26573848. The film shows why economic and job-related strategies from the past that don’t work in today’s economy. It depicts, in her words, “what a post-consumer society could look like, with people working fewer hours and pursuing re-skilling, homesteading, and small-scale enterprises that can help reduce the overall size and impact of the consumer economy.”
In our book Upside, we talk about the need for creating your own career crystal ball of the future. This film is an excellent example of our concept: taking advantage of emerging job opportunities based on the needs of the future. It also takes into account the need to pay attention to our dwindling resources as that affects job opportunities, too. (more…)
Last night I had the honor of addressing a truly remarkable group of women. The Executive Women International (EWI/ www.executivewomen.org) chapter in Birmingham, AL asked me to be their after-dinner speaker for their annual awards banquet. It was a festive, heartfelt event that reminded me of the power of gratitude.
EWI sponsors a scholarship program for women “off the grid.” These are not traditional students; most are moms going back to school to make a difference in the lives of their family and community. Called ASIST (Adult Students in Scholastic Transition), the program awards four women scholarships from $1000 to $5000. The women who won are truly inspirational – and these are their stories… (more…)
Our current road trip to Chicago took us through North Carolina last week. While in a little town called Maggie Valley, an unusual blue building that looked like a mini warehouse caught my eye. It turned out to be a unique used bookstore on a residential side street. The building was surrounded by trees with the Smoky Mountains as a backdrop while a fish-stocked pond and flowers were in front of the building.
When I entered the building, I had the feeling of being smothered with books, some a little musty. Every single space, ceiling to floor, was filled with books, with a few very small aisles to walk through. Almost disguised in a corner was a middle aged woman smiling and welcoming. After some pleasantries, she began to tell me her story. She is the author of a biographical story of her growing up. This isn’t an ordinary growing up story—it is a horror story and one of endurance. I won’t go through all the brutality as you can get her book but I was taken aback at her willingness to share—extreme poverty (no shoes or winter clothes), continuous beatings by parents and teachers, hunger, sexual abuse, repeated physical danger from bears, panthers, and poisonous snakes. I think you get the picture.
Yet, I kept looking at this jolly, smiling woman as she recounted some of the episodes and wondered how she ever made it through—alive. After I bought her book, her parting words to me were, “People need to know that they can change their lives even under the worst circumstances. It is possible to find a new life filled with love and compassion. They don’t have to repeat brutal patterns suffered in their childhood. They can change their lives” (more…)
Often the most difficult stage of transition is “limbo” – the past is still somewhat active and we are not yet fully anchored in the present or even future plans. I hate limbo. I’ve always struggled with limbo in my life and find it challenging to remain positive when all I want to do is move ahead…but the timing isn’t right.
Personally, I’ve been struggling with a professional decision for several years now. There is a goal, plans even, and yet the timing has not been right. Now, I find myself so used to treading water in the land of limbo that it’s difficult to get excited about finally moving ahead. Isn’t that often the case? We are excited initially but after the first adrenaline rush, reality sinks in and is not nearly as much fun.
So that’s the topic of discussion: how do you launch from limbo? That question came up today at lunch with a very sharp colleague. While we are on different professional paths, we both agree that launching successfully requires clear vision and strategy. While neither of us don’t mind working and working hard, neither is willing to risk our personal lives to get there.
And that’s when it hit me – we can’t live our lives based on the “what ifs” that involve other people. We can only assess, redirect and make plans based on “what is.” Read that again, because it’s deeper than it seems.
My hesitation is based on a family decision that has not come to fruition in almost 3 years. The time is finally here – when I see the situation as it really is and not how I want it to be, the path, the plan and the strategy become crystal clear.
“What ifs” are not knowns and refuse to be rushed – they evolve in their own time. What are the “what ifs” in your life? What hesitations are standing in the way of you launching your new life direction from limbo? It may be time to take a good long look at the “what is” to find your motivation to move forward.
OK, if you’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil show, “simplicity” isn’t the first word used to describe their shows. The Canadian-based company features acrobats, dancers and artists from around the world performing feats that leave audiences not only breathless, but constantly diverted by multiple staging acts. For me, Cirque can be a visual overload at times – not so with one of their newer shows, KA.
Last week, we saw KA in a custom-built theatre based in Las Vegas. “Mind-blowing, phenomenal and amazing” are the words I use to describe this visual feast. Yet KA is markedly different from other Cirque performances. While the company markets the show as the first “themed” storyline throughout, that’s not what intrigued me. It is their use of a simple, universal and transformational staging element that kept the audience riveted for almost 2 hours – not an easy task. (more…)
If you’re like almost 45% of American adults, you are planning to make New Year resolutions for 2011. You might be surprised to know – or not! – that only 10% of this group is actually successful in keeping those resolutions. (Source: www.psychologytoday.com/node/36639)
So, when setting New Years resolutions, here are five sustainable strategies taken from Upside: How to Zig When Life Zags to increase the probability of your success: (more…)
Five years ago, I moved my office to another state. The furniture arrived with no apparent damage but the file cabinets were another issue. The file credenza attached to my desk, that I use every day, suffered the worst. Despite best efforts, the hanging files refused to hang, so I simply piled them in the drawer and made the most of the situation.
You’ve probably guessed that meticulous files are not a motivator for me…still the current system worked well until a few days ago. Apparently, the final straw, or additional file, broke the camel’s back and my file drawer with the most pertinent information jammed. So much for ignoring the problem…
As Thanksgiving approaches, families are struggling financially and emotionally to make ends meet. During a time when traditionally we give thanks, many individuals feel lost and hopeless. To negate these feelings of despair, it is important to focus on what we do have instead of what we don’t, and to count and celebrate our blessings, both large and small. (more…)