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Creativity 101: Be Nice to Your Own Ideas

October 8, 2013

Genius?  Visionary? Adventurous? Cutting edge?  Catalytic?

OR … Naive?  Dumb?  Impractical? Out of touch? Ridiculous?  Pie in the sky?

Frankly, when new ideas emerge, it’s hard to tell them apart.  I have been lovingly celebrated for being creative and  “an idea person.” Good!! And I’ve been criticized, ignored and dismissed for being just too creative… “an idea person!”  Bad!!!

It’s difficult to argue that new ideas have changed the world. From planes that fly to computers that sit on your lap and tubes for videos.  However, ideas ALSO challenge what’s normal, what’s working and what’s cool today.   New ideas often require us to move outside ourselves and think different. Ideas have consequences.  AND, some ideas really do stink!  Maybe most of them!  Some ideas should be flushed before they get in the way of real work.  It’s just not always so easy to tell!

Is brainstorming a great use of your time?  Or a waste of time?  Is writing up a business plan for an idea fabulous for you at this time?  Or is it foolish?

Either way: be nice to your ideas.

Few things are created and perfected at the same time.  Baby birds need to be incubated as do alligators, paintings, companies and careers.  Ideas rarely start out just right.  They may take years to be ready for the public!  Yet, the temptation is to think that our ideas should have instant marketability, momentum and investors waiving money?  Realized the hard way: Even good ideas come across to most people as stupid, asinine and wretched.  And I know that I’ve destroyed great ideas before they had the slightest chance.  Haven’t you?  As it’s been said, “If it was easy, everyone would do it!” Birthing and raising new ideas is work!  Sometime really hard work!

The temptation: Try to microwave ideas and make them acceptable to the masses before they’re ready.  “What do you think??”  may must be our own people pleasing.  OR we can share them with the words written on our foreheads: “Please stamp out my fire” The fact is… they probably WON’T share our enthusiasm, vision or passion. Why do we think they’ll just fall head over heals in LOVE with our new idea??

I confess I have judged other’s ideas and others with them way too quickly.  At times, my awesome wife has needed to hold up a mirror to help me see my own squint, judgmental face….”What??”    I do it too!  Even if  I so hate when I get that face from others…  Hmmmmm… How do you spell hypocrit?

Let me suggest three ways to care for your ideas and keep them from those of us who get the squinty, judgmental face.  Hipocrites.

1. Don’t judge your idea before you’ve given the chance to let it express itself in the real world.  Just write it down and plan to come back to it.  Create an idea file.

2. Don’t share it with just anyone.  Some people do not do well with new ideas. You don’t need their approval and they most likely won’t give it, like it or see good In it.   Who are the safe people who will know it’s still in the tiny infant stage?  Let them know that this isn’t full-baked.  Just be really, really careful.

3. Don’t share it too soon.  You may need to turn it over in your own mind more before releasing it for public consumption.

According to Eleanor Roosevelt’ “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  She might have added: And the beauty of their own ideas.  

Keep that future alive!  Dream new dreams… Take risks… Be nice to your ideas!  AND be cautious.  The idea you save may be your own.

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Why You Should Make Money Blogging…or any other way

October 3, 2013

I realize for some the “Why Make Money” question doesn’t really take up much brain space.  Instead they may be  asking, “HOW can I make money?” Right?  Or “How should I make MORE money?”

This post is for any of us who’ve ever questioned: Should I make money doing this?  Or even, Is it OK if I make a lot of money doing this??

If you look up what questions people are interested on Wordracker.com, when it comes to money lately, 411,994 people recently searched “Blogging make money.”  411,1157 typed in “Make money blogging.”  That’s like a small city of possible blogging professionals!  How many searched “Why make money?”  That would be …. um…. 0.  None. Not one!  Even “Why can’t I make more money” chalked up  4 searches!

I will go against all search trends because I believe many of us have never truly answered the question: Why make money?   EVEN if we don’t google it!  However if we gained freedom in this area, we might actually be free to make more money!  Or possibly change HOW we make the money we make.

I admit up front to having somewhat of my own”religious hangover” about making money. ( And some don’t have any of that. I get that)  I grew up believing that “money is the root of all evils.”  “Blessed are the poor.”  It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I learned that what the Bible really says is: “The LOVE OF MONEY”  was the “root of all  kinds of evils”  In other words, money itself’s not evil!   BUT making money our own god… our be all – end all… that’s what’s evil!   When what we REALLY care about is money for money’s sake, then our soul may be heading toward or immersed in soul sickness.  (the feeling that life feels empty, meaningless and yuk!)

The religious distortion that made material bad and poverty is good was just that… a distortion. Though warped, this “matter and money is all evil” thinking still holds power over some of our us.   We would see a church building or synagogues as good … holy… significant.    A factory,  business building  or restaurant… well those aren’t really good Or maybe just neutral but certainly not “good” or” great!”  And then we have some question about those mansion type of folks!  We may still think things like, “Why do so many problems in the world came from those bad, greedy rich people!?”   Hmmm… as if I  wasn’t already in the top 2% of wealth in the world just because of where I was born.  You too?

So, first,   Here are 6 reasons to  NOT to make money.     (The Bad news first)

1. To be Perceived as being “successful” If we truly believe that success = money, then we would have to say that people like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, most school teachers, missionaries, or those who work with the handicapped are not successful.  Really??   And caring about perception… well, really a lousy way to live.  (though I know I’ve done it, do it and will do it again. )

2. To Prove our own self-worth.  Yes, it’s true that many multimillionaires are driven to prove themselves and can’t stop seeking to keep up with the Jones, the Gates and the Zuckerbergs.  As John D. Rockefellar was reported to have said when asked how much was enough “Just One more dollar than I have.”  You are more than your bank account!  Much more!

3. To Please Others: This doesn’t mean that helping others or serving them doesn’t matter… However, making money just to please parents, friends or even spouses  whose “net inner worth” is tied to our own is financial co-dependence…or just co-dependence period!   This may relate to #1 and #2, but is more focused on what THEY want or feel like THEY need to be OK.

4. As a Poser of some sorts: This involves not giving great value to others for the money they give us in return.   This may be to a boss, a client or a patron.  Wouldn’t it be lousy to live by charging money to people for services we stink at or second-rate products we don’t believe in?  If we don’t feel good about charging what we charge for our services or products, we may be posers.  That stinks. It may be time to change!

5. For Personal Pleasure and nothing but: If all we earn and spend is just for more stuff and all about me, myself and I, we are likely making  money for the wrong reasons….. even if its from blogging!

6. To Protect Ourselves from having to depend on anyone including God: It really is possible to think that money can keep us from needing the help of others, or from harm or even from trusting God.  That won’t work forever.  Just saying.

OK – that was the reasons not… the good news: THERE ARE SOME GREAT REASONS YOU SHOULD MAKE MONEY…. MAYBE EVEN A LOT OF IT!!

1. Self-Sufficiency: This means being an, uh, yep, an adult.  It means buying the burger with the buck you just made.

2. . Support Your Family:  Yes they need shelter, food and clothes… and probably a whole lot more!

3Stimulate the Economy: OK, though most of us don’t tend to think this big picture, when we earn money, we then spend money and others can earn money and so one and so on.  This is how poverty gets alleviated and people in places like Kansas, Calcutta and Kenya get to eat as well.

4. Share your Gifts even more: If you get paid to do what you’re great at…you can free your time to do more of it.  You really have gifts that others need!  Get paid by using your best gifts!

5.  So That You Can Help Others: When you earn more money, you can then give more money to help others do great things.   Some like to say “I make money SO THAT…’ What’s your so that?  So that you you can pay for daughter’s education.  So that you can give to teens to go on mission trips.  So that you can sponsor a child through Compassion International.  Some even make a whole lot of money so that they can pay to drill wells, start schools or even businesses to put provide meaningful work for people in whole nations!  Very cool!

6. Serve More People in Great Ways! Yes, if you make money blogging, or any other way – you get to help people who need what you have to offer.

Which of these 6 feels MOST motivating for you?

May you make a lot of money doing what you’re great at for all those good reasons and more!

Secret Weapon to Experiencing a Great Day

September 30, 2013

The best way to create a great year is to experience more great months. The best way to create more great months is to experience more great weeks . The best way to create more great weeks is to experience more great days.   Simple enough!  Start by stringing together enough great days and before you know it, you’re on your way to experience a great life no matter what the market does or whether Congress gets their act together!

So, it all starts with you having a single great day…. today!  (And as you know, YOU having a great day today impacts those closest to you having great days… Spouses, siblings, children, friends, co-workers, clients, the man in the grocery store….. and so on and so on —-  which impacts those closest to them having great days… and before you know it, the world is having great day!)  So change the world by having a great day!

What’s the secret weapon to experiencing your version of a great day?

1. Well, it starts with asking yourself to think of the last time you had a great day. (Don’t think about a vacation day, or special day.. just an ordinary work day kind of day.)   Do you have one in mind?

2. What three things did you DO that day that made it a great day?   (Not things that just happened to you, things you can’t control types of things like getting a big sale or winning the lottery or being invited to appear on American Idol types of things… Just things that you did that day.) What did you DO that day?

3. Write those three things down and put them somewhere where you will see them… today… and tomorrow…. and the the next day…

4. Tell someone else about the three things you DO when you experience a great day. 

5. Do those three things today…. and tomorrow…. and the next day….

You will discover is that your best days are the days where you accomplish all three!  Awesome!  Three stars!  When you only do two: A good day.  When you do one: passable.  When you don’t do any of these things: Not too good.  : (

This SIMPLE idea is life-changing and great day producing!  : )

The very fact that I just wrote this blog today helps me move toward a great day.  Now, just one more “to – do” and I’m there!

Have a great day!  And a great week!  And a great month!  And a great year!  And a great life!

How to FOCUS Your Business by the End of the Month

September 28, 2013

Pareto was on to something when he said that 80% of our results come from just 20% of our effort.   Just a small amount of cause creates extraordinary results…  like a huge invisible lever to achieve results with purpose and peace!  When we do the INTENTIONAL RIGHT THINGS  we almost invariably accomplish more than by wantonly wasting time working 13 hour days and losing sleep. AND definitely more than worrying!

Isn’t it the case the majority of us accomplish much more from OUR FOCUSED EFFORT on the RIGHT THINGS than from doing the same things over and expecting different results?  And these can’t be other people or companies RIGHT THINGS.  Just doesn’t work! Instead they must be OUR RIGHT THINGS.

THE PROBLEM: How do you know? …. what 20% “right things”  to focus on that is?  How can you be sure that by doing THESE things…you can achieve breakthrough results?  How can you be sure if you’re focused on the best 20%?  Most companies AND people never really know!  Most don’t do the vital thinking that can change everything!  Just think:  if 4 out of 5 thoughts we think are the same thoughts we thought yesterday, we may just be hard-wired to keep doing the same stuff with the same results.

So, what might you do to find the best 20% regularly?

Here are 5 ways to FOCUS and find those best things.  I’ve already seen these principles work for me and  others in dramatic ways.

FIRE UP AROUND A CLEAR NEED AND NICHE

Fire means that you passionately engage and utilize your energy and desire to focus on this problem or help these specific types of people.  Though the temptation is to do it all or help everyone, you and your company can’t.  You need to go big by going small.  In other words, narrow who you’re helping and you may find that you are widening your world!  Actively ignore all others that take you away from those key needs and niche.

Do you believe that people have needs that you are uniquely suited to solve?  “No one is born whose work is not born with him” and  you are meant to do meaningful work: Some key questions to get there:

  • Who has a need that YOU can best solve?  
  • What or who would be “without” or lacking if you didn’t help them?
  • What group of people would gladly pay you if you solved their problem and met their need?

OWN A “ONE THING” MINDSET 

Gaining a “One thing mindset” involves doing more by doing less.   As author Og Mandino said, “It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance the world.”  Most of us would make great strides and be more productive if we quit multitasking and simply invested the time regularly to FIND AND DO THE ONE THING.

Imagine asking this simple question every week: What’s the one thing I can do this week such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?”   Now ask that at the beginning of every day and watch out!

Recently I started facilitating a group with other entrepreneurs where we each share the ONE THING we will THAT DAY to advance our purpose.  We do it over the internet and hold each other accountable to 1. Decide our “one thing” and 2.  Complete it.  It’s both life-giving and incredibly satisfying!

I’ve seen this concept come to life.  “According to Dr. Gail Mathew research, when you write your goals down, you are 39.5% likely to succeed.  HOWEVER, when you write them down and send progress reports to friends, you are 76.7% more likely to achieve them!”

What could it mean for you if next month, if you were to have more than a 76% shot at reaching your goals??

So, here’s an invitation open for you if you are a purpose-driven entrepreneur, solopreneur, coach, sales person, author, communicator or marketer.  Join a 30 day challenge to make October the best month ever!   Goal:  Make your October SUPER PRODUCTIVE .  It will include 4 online teaching  and group coaching sessions, regular content around being purposefully AND peacefully productive.  I’m calling it: “30 DAYS OF FOCUS” It’s mean for to create breakthrough and GO FROM DREAM TO DO!   Here’s the link for you to get more info and to register: 30 Days of FOCUS

COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS WHO DO WHAT YOU DON’T DO, WON’T DO OR CAN’T DO.

If you study the trendsetting and transformational leaders, coaches and entrepreneurs, they act on one very significant thing: They proactively partner or affiliate with other leaders, companies and experts.  NOT ANYONE – but they choose those who are great at what they do AND those who prove trustworthy.  They form joint ventures, partnerships and alliances that are win-win.  They market together. They do joint forums, webinars and telesummits.

As for marketing:  the cutting edge collaboration trend now involves creating joint ventures and affiliates who earn a percentage to market and become a virtual sales force.  They learn from affiliate market experts like Pat Flynn.  They use tools like 1ShoppingCart.com to actively track  where leads and referrals come from.  And  now they use a fantastic new tool designed just for those who want to “Make a big mark together” called BigMarker.  It provides a platform that mixes stellar online conferencing, webinar ability, the ability to share documents, posts, calendars and proactively mark progress.  Tell them Jeff sent you!

    • Who complements what you do that you do that you are currently working with? (person or organization)
    • Who complements what you do that you do that you need to start working with or do more with?
    • How can you do more together than either can do on your own?

UNPLUG FROM WHAT’S NOT WORKING

Yes, this can be excruciating for those of us who hate killing things that still possess the scent of life!   It’s like throwing away “perfectly good” strawberries simply because they’ve attracted mold by lingering in the fridge too long!  Or giving away “perfectly good pants” just because you haven’t worn them since Clinton was president. However, sometimes the best things won’t happen until we rid ourselves and our businesses of the mediocre and the messed up.  We make room for the new!

    • What is “just not working?”  (or just mediocre?)
    • What would it mean to “unplug” from what’s not working and not happening?
    • Will you do it?

Finally

SHARE YOUR MESSAGE IN THE WAYS THAT WORK BEST FOR YOU

First getting your message out means being able to answer these two key questions:

    • What is your message?
    • Who most needs to know our message? 

Then, we must then know how we will deliver the good news.  And yes, it’s now officially overwhelming to possess more channels to get our message out then an old style TV!   So little time, so many ways to post, tweet, message, vlog and blog!  Can we really utilize all of these and do them well?  If not, which ones should we focus on?  Yes, we all require a website in today’s world of messaging.  But how about just choosing 3 from this list and deciding to become GREAT at those three? (Maybe 4 max!)  

Give this some thought… which three will you use to get your message out?

  1. E-mail
  2. Social Media
  3. Print (articles, advertisements, etc..)
  4. Blog
  5. Video
  6. Write published books
  7. Write e-books
  8. Podcast
  9. Speak at live events
  10. Host seminars
  11. Live and Recorded Webinars

Do you see the point?  Sharing our messages just has got easier in the last ten years… AND more overwhelmingly complicated with more options at the same time.  SO, choose the ones that you want to master.

So here’s the summary of how to DO MORE by DOING LESS… and FOCUS YOUR BUSINESS BY THE END OF THE MONTH

Fire up around a single need or niche

Own a “ONE THING” mindset

Collaborate with others who do what you do don’t do, won’t do or can’t do.

Unplug from what’s not working.

Share your message in the ways that work best for you.

The 8 Short Quotes That Change Everything

September 25, 2013

pretty cloudsThe average native English speaking person knows and uses in the realm of 12,000 – 20,000 words, varying with the level of education achieved. Some say college/university graduates use upwards of 20-25,000 words.  Some of would rather just stick to a precious few.  Great words like, “Huh?”  Or “Ya think!” or “Who me?”  : )

We get bombarded by words every single day.  HOWEVER once in a while a single person strings together a few words into a thought,a  question or an idea in a way that has the power and potential to change everything … how we think, what we do, what we care about….  Personally, I am a collector of great quotes.  I underline, star, highlight and bracket my books. I keep quotes in notebooks.  And, yes, e-books have made this task more difficult.

Most quotes don’t change our lives.  BUT, A FEW REALLY DO…or can if we let them!  A few words strung together can change us at a core level.  And for me, a few really have!  (or at least, are still in the process of working their way through me.)  Here are 8  practical and powerful ones.

1. “Private victory precedes public victory.”  Stephen Covey

Covey’s book, the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People gave hope that change was possible.  This idea that our personal inside-out work could be done and that would affect the rest of life and leadership was significant.  Who we are when no one else is looking will impact what and who we are when others are looking.

2. “Now with God’s help, I shall become myself.”  Soren Kierkegaard

Spiritual growth involves not becoming like anybody else… but becoming fully and freely and really us!  The most mature me is the me who lives out the best version of me!  This is similar to story in the Talmud of Zusha, the great Chassidic master, who lay crying on his deathbed. His students asked him, “Rebbe, why are you so sad? After all the mitzvahs and good deeds you have done, you will surely get a great reward in heaven!”  “I’m afraid!” said Zusha. “Because when I get to heaven, I know God’s not going to ask me ‘Why weren’t you more like Moses?’ or ‘Why weren’t you more like King David?’ But I’m afraid that God will ask ‘Zusha, why weren’t you more like Zusha?’ And then what will I say?!”

3. “I want to live my life, not have life live me.”  My friend Lori Petersen from Massachusetts

Wow!  Lori casually said this one day while we were at her house.  The message here: Be proactive.  Be intentional. Life tends to pass us by if we don’t decide who we really are, what we really want and what we seek to accomplish.

4. “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”  Jesus

Like many, I had no practical idea that the vision Jesus shared was a plan was that could equip us to live and be fully alive NOW, just not when we died and went to heaven.  This needs to be taught…. and lived!

5.  “Hurry is not just a disordered schedule.  Hurry is a disordered life….You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” John Ortberg

Here’s the context from John’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted:   “Another long pause. “Okay, I’ve written that one down,” I told him, a little impatiently. “That’s a good one. Now what else is there?” I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible. Another long pause. “There is nothing else,” he said. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Whenever I catch myself living in hurry, I think:  My soul has become disordered.  Work to be done!  Got hurry?

6. “No one is born into the world whose work is not born with him.”  James Russell Lowell

Imagine, there really might be something we are here to do!?  Think of the implications of that!  Wouldn’t it make sense to find what that work is — and do it?  Wouldn’t it make sense to help other find AND do their work?  Welcome to my calling….

7. “When you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay closest attention.” Frederick Buechner

The message here is: pay attention.  Your own body may actually be telling you what matters most and what direction you should head.  Got tears?

8. “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

A very, very small minority of people have ever really changed the world. Who is that group?  Are we willing to join them?

Are you a leader? How to know!

September 23, 2013

Calm_LeaderOver veggie omlettes and coffee at the classic corner diner, my good friend Brien asks my opinion on a common acquaintance.  “Would you say he’s a leader?” he questions me.  “Well, um, yeah.  I would think so..  Um, yeah, I think he…  Well, he…  yeah…”

Though I’ve read hundreds of book on the topic and attended no less than one “leadership” conference a year, I  struggle to decipher the: “Yes, that’s a leader.”  Or “No, that’s not a leader” thing.  Defining or answering the “Leader thing” tends to feel quite subjective or challenging, especially when you remove them from context of current position or title.  Where does one look to see if they’re really a leader or not?   Sensing my struggle to provide a definitive answer  Brien asks, “Jeff, would you say I’m a leader?”

Wow, that was vulnerable!

So, how would you answer?  Do you know how to identify a “leader” when you see one?   And then to get personal:  “Would you say you’re a leader?”  Why or why not?   Who says?

What makes you… or anyone else legitimately a” leader?”  Is it position?  Title?  Gifting?  Size of organization?   A  “leader” is, well what again???  Synonyms come to mind including “Influencer.” “Manager.”  “Boss.”  “Guide.”  “Chief.”  But, when does someone have “it?” You, know the leader thing?  Leadership?

This wouldn’t be important if words and titles didn’t have an unmistakable potential to impact how we think, how we perceive life and what we do or don’t do…. particularly words with the power and punch of “leader.”  If someone you really respect were to  tell you,  You’re a real leader!  how would that affect you?   Or, what if that same powerful person were to say: “You’re really not a leader.”  So, why have I never really understood where the concept of the word “leader came from?”

Until today!

In his book Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words, author Kevin Hall shares that the word “leader” atually derives from the Indo-European combination of two words:  “Lea” which means path.  “Der” which means finder.  So, at it’s root, a “leader” is one who finds paths: a pathfinder. Leaders  read signs and clues. They see the way to go and they show the way.

In the world of hunting, leader as “pathfinder” would have been understood as the person or people who did the work of discerning and discovering the signs of the game. They searched for clues, ear to the ground, discerning direction through movements in the bush or scent in the air.

But that’s not all: Once the lea-der found the direction – THEN they call others to adventure with them.  “Come with me!” “Let’s go that way!”  The leader points others to follow until they gain the ultimate goal.  The game is caught.  The families are fed.  Mission accomplished.

A lea-der really has two hey jobs:

1. Discern and discover the path or direction.

2. Invite others to come along the path.

Leaders must do both jobs. Leave one out and that’s not “lea-dership”  But clearly one comes first says Hall, “Being a leader means finding the path.  But before you can help someone else find their path, you must find yours.” 

Wow!  Imagine that?  First step in leadership:  Know thy own path!  Know where YOU are going.  Know YOUR mission. Know YOUR vision.  You must do the work of finding your own path.  You must know your own goals  and be able to lead yourself.  That work can’t be underestimated or undervalued!  You lost…. everyone else lost!  You unclear….. everyone lost in a fog!

So, with this “lea-der” understanding in mind ARE YOU A LEADER?   Do you know where you are going and where you want to take others?  Great if yes!  Secondly,  #2 : Are you willing and able to invited others to join you on this path?

  • Yes to both.  A  leader!
  • No to both.  Not a leader.
  • Not yet to one or the other: A leader needing to do the work of leadership!  Find your path.  Invite others to come on.

All answers are good ones.  But, each may require it’s own action.

Bad leadership would thus involve

1. Not knowing where you’re going.  (Think of the classic bumper sticker: “Don’t follow me. I’m lost!”)

2. Unwillingness or instability to invite, challenge, inform, encourage, teach, write, motivate, establish structures… so that others could come on the path as well.

THUS: a leader CAN be a writer, communicator, manager, parent, friend, entrepreneur…..etc… People who “pathfind”.. and help others find the path too.

So, now to personalize: Are you a leader?

If not, it may be time to become one (or become a better one) by doing the work of discerning or discovering your path… then courageously invite others along!  What’s to lose?

The 5 Questions You Should Ask Your 88 Year Old Self

September 19, 2013

young man old man father sonImagine you get the chance to step into a time machine.  The metallic doors slide shut behind you and of course the weird green lights flash and swirly clouds swoosh around you.   When you arrive “back to the future,” you timidly step out and there before your eyes sits your 88 year old self!  “Wow!  That’s me!”  (Yes, this does assume you’re younger than 88… and if you’re not please just add ten year, OK?)

Your time is limited: But a loud voice blares a simple command: “You may ask 88 year old you just 5 questions.   But THEN you must return to the now…… ” That’s it.  You’re left there staring at your 88 year old self.  You’re puzzled of course….  So then:  What would YOU ask? 

Maybe you have read the interviews with people in their 80’s asking the questions like: “What would you do if you were to live your life over again?”  I’ll admit,I’m fascinated about those studies and read them.  However, to be honest,  I typically am able to rationalize away their challenges like: Take more risks. Reflect more. Live for the things that will outlast you.   Hmmmm… good stuff, well, they’re not me.  They haven’t had my life. They don’t live in my skin or deal with MY issues, or manage MY relationships….

But the main message from all of these people tends to be the same one:  Don’t try to live anyone else’s life but your own. Live with NO REGETS and do what you alone are meant to to do.  Loud and clear: Do your thing.  Live with no regrets.  After their extensive research with the aged back in 1994, authors Gilovich and Medvec highlighted this NO REGRET challenge. They said, “When people look back on their lives, it is the things they have not done that generate the greatest regret. People’s actions may be troublesome initially; it is their inactions that plague them most with long-term feelings of regret.”

So, to help regret-proof your own life. I put myself through the 88 year old me exercise.  It’s really helpful!   And I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend you give it a try.

1. Grab a journal or notebook and copy each of these 5 questions in them.

2. Then, either now or when you choose to MAKE TIME, get away to a quiet place and answer these 5 questions.

Here are 5 questions to ask as you imagine addressing your 88 year old self.

1. What are you really glad that you didn’t give up on?

Think about what they would tell you from their older vantage point.  What would they be really, really glad they didn’t quit on?  Really, how you answer this says much about what you value and what’s NOT worth giving up on now, despite the level of difficulty and challenge. You care about these things.

2. What would you have done if you had more courage and persistence?

Create a list of what the 88 year old says.   Don’t edit!  I can look back already and see some things I never should have given less than my best for… Why would I want to do that in the future?   What is this list?  Isn’t this the authentic list of your dreams?  This is what you dream you will do!   As Red (played by Morgan Freeman) said in the Shawshank Redemption: “You either get busy living…. or get busy dying. Time to get busy living!”  Why not get busy with those dreams?

3. Who should I be sure to stay deeply connected with during the next stage of my life?

Answering this will inform you about which people and relationships count most to you. These are worth investing in and staying current with.  These are the relationships you will want to go on vacations with, grab dinner with and just BE with.

4. What habits or disciplines would you be sure to stay committed to?

This makes me think of something I heard from a man over 90: “If I had known I was gonna live so long, I woulda treated my body better!”  But even beyond the physical habits, what would your 88 year old you tell you they would have stayed committed to doing?  Why?   Could this inform you what should be on your to-do list now?

5. What would you NOT do or be sure to let go of?

These are the things that will “kick your butt” along the way and keep your dreams from happening.  Actually, these will get in the way of 1-4!  So, listen to what 88 year old has to say here!

Enjoy this process!  In a very short time, you will learn MUCH about what the real you now is all about… or needs to be more about!  Living starts today!