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Posts Tagged ‘self-esteem’

I am back. After a hiatus from writing, accompanied by some exploration and reflection, I am exploring the possibility of pulling together a program/learning manual dedicated to Thriving in the Third Act. I always do better when I have a little structure.

In the upcoming weeks I thought I would use my blog to roll out the framework and hope that you, as my audience would offer some feedback to me. I have never written a book this way before, so bear with me. It is a new way of doing it for a new phase in life. So here is the first installment, the Forward:

Thriving in the Third Act

Forward

Tim Carroll, Artistic Director of the Shaw Theatre wrote this for the 2017 season:

“An actor friend of mine said once that all directors are either mechanics or gardeners. A mechanic solves problems so that the machine works; a gardener creates the conditions in which something can grow. Some of the most vital jobs at the Shaw require mechanics but to direct our plays, I want gardeners.”

As I read this, I could not help but reflect on how his words not only applies to plays, they applied to life. If you simply replaced the word play with the Third Act, would the same sentiment not also apply. You can be mechanical in your approach to the Third Act. You can address whatever issues you have identified with a mechanistic approach of ‘let’s fix it’, as if life were a machine that has simply broken down. In fact, this has been in my view, the way in which retirement planning has been approached, a plan which deals dominantly with finances and the practical aspects of the Third Act years.

Or, you can decide to be gardeners and create the conditions for your Third Act whereby you can thrive. And what does thriving mean: feeling curious and engaged, exploring how you might use your gifts, talents and experience differently, being of service both to yourself and others and more.

Carroll went on to say that gardening in theatre work means “a process in which rehearsals are playful and exploratory. It means we don’t try to nail down the ‘right’ version of a scene; we play inside it and allow it to reveal itself.

Isn’t that just perfect. The Third Act is not a new job, it is simply your life’s work and experience. There is no requirement to ‘nail’ it down. The experience is designed to be softer, easier, free-flowing allowing you to ’play inside it and reveal itself ’.

I think this is perhaps the most important aspect of the Third Act, a stage in life, and if you will your ‘two-thirds life crisis’, when you transition into a new phase. It need not be governed by goals as many of you have been forced to live by during your working careers. It is most likely best expressed through intentions, the knowledge of what you want with no need to understand exactly how you will obtain this. Goals nail down the results whereas intentions allow you to live into this new phase of life and let it be revealed.

That said, what you want may not be obvious. I know that has been the case for me. In fact, the ‘do not wants’ have been much more clear at times, most of them predicated on a fear of boredom, and becoming a ‘couch potato’.

Welcome to Thriving in the Third Act, a personal self-discovery journey for ME, as I learn to transition from my career as a coach/consultant into my Third Act and one which I invite you to share.

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In mid-June I attended the Canadian Positive Psychology Conference. One of the questions I carried with me throughout the conference is how can we engage the principles of Positive Psychology to enhance our experience of the Third Act.

It is interesting to note that, at least at the conference, there was little focus on or dialogue regarding this question. Of greater interest to the attendees is the impact of Positive Psychology in education and the workplace. Understood, as this is probably where the greatest opportunities lie. And let’s not be the ‘lost generation’ in this important field of study.

Which brings me back to the whole idea of ‘Flourishing in the Third Act’. So let me share a few of my ‘take-aways’ from the conference and explore how these apply to the Third Act.

Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity and Love 2.0, was the opening key-note speaker. I find her ‘Broaden and Build’ Theory very compelling, as she examines what positivity versus negativity offers us in life. Here is a synopsis of what I took away from her presentation and how I believe this applies to our experience of the Third Act.

Central to Barbara’s research regarding Positivity is what she refers to as the Broaden and Build Theory. BROADEN implies expansive. Unlike negative emotions, which narrow people’s ideas about possible actions (eg. Response to dangerous situation) and outcomes, positive emotions do the opposite – they broaden your ideas about possible actions, open your awareness to a wider range of thoughts and actions, sparking your interest and urging you to explore and learn

Positivity opens us…our hearts and our minds, making us more receptive and creative.

When I consider this concept, I see the importance for Third Acters. Here’s why. Personally I have approached this age with some reticence, largely because of the beliefs I held regarding ‘retirement’. Of course my beliefs have been fed by society’s reaction to this stage of life as well. If however, we approach the Third Act with positivity and optimism, refusing to accept what societal beliefs have been, we have this great opportunity to broaden the possibilities of what is possible, desirable and engaging for us. Key to this notion then of broadening is our ability to exercise our curiosity and explore all the possibilities that light you up and which may have been lingering for a while.

The second aspect of Fredrickson’s theory is building, or more accurately resource building.
Again, if you approach life through the lens of negativity and neutrality you will constrain your experience of your Third Act, and your knowledge, of the world. Positivity does the opposite – it draws you out to explore, to mix up your world in unexpected ways. This leads to new learning and gains in knowledge. All of this may be useful during the Third Act, giving you the opportunity to broaden your sense of possibility, leading you to curiously explore what may be next and broadening your experience and desire to learn.

The Broaden and Build Theory holds that – Positive emotions were consequential to our human ancestors because over time those good feelings broadened our ancestor’s mindsets and built their resources for the future.

Positivity broadens and builds. It transforms people and helps them become their best. And when at their best, people live longer, and they have more fulfilling lives.

In other words, they flourish.

Positivity also offers you the following:

  • It opens possibilities,
  • improves cognition (that’s important!),
  • has the physical effect of broadening and opening our posture (less stooping!),
  • and affects how you view the world.

 

Like a good diet filled with nutrients, it builds over time, improving your resilience in the face of difficulties, improving your heart rate variability and your immune systems, all essential ingredients to healthy aging.

The Third Act can be a generative time in your life and your capacity to approach it with a positive attitude enhances your ability to broaden and build your life. So let’s imagine for a moment that we all agreed to begin this great experiment where we approached each day with a few simple questions/intentions:

  • I wonder what is possible today?
  • I have always wanted to learn more about….; why not now?
  • I plan to approach each day with optimism, gratitude and wonder; to be a positive influence for both myself and others
  • What a great opportunity I now have. My obligations and responsibilities have lessened. The only responsibility I have now is ME!

Speaking about this great experiment, are you not curious about what we as Third Acters can create when we take this approach; how we may influence the future? Just sayin’!

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The Third Act of Life is a newer term in the ‘retirement landscape’ referring to those years 60 to 90. In re-framing the idea of retirement, the Third Act examines the opportunities that those falling in this age group have to continue to grow, learn, serve and contribute to society. The notion of flourishing, drawn from the Positive Psychology literature, turns the commonly held beliefs of retirement on its heels and examines the strategies and tools by which ‘Third Acters’ can lead a rich and meaningful life beyond the expiration date of their careers.

Although we have arrived in 2016, with an exponential growth in the number of individuals reaching the Third Act, we are still not tapping into this unlimited resource effectively. Retirement programs offered by organizations continue to focus on two consistent themes: financial planning and legal concerns. And while there is no argument that this focus offers important information to retirees, this approach fails to address other key concerns:

  • What will I do once I step away from my job/career?
  • What will be my identity?
  • What will engage me?
  • Will I still be useful to society?
  • Who will be my tribe?
  • Who will I be without this definition of self?

It is fair to say that the exploration of these questions is not the organization’s business or concern but is it really true? From where I sit, many of us are clinging onto our ‘jobs’ because we cannot see the future. In my case this is not so serious. I am self-employed. This is not the case however, where senior employees may be blocking the entry of the next generation. Let me be clear, this is not to suggest that these senior employees are no longer contributing, it simply beckons these question:

  1. If these employees had a clearer sense of what life could look like beyond their current employment, would they choose to stay?
  2. What if they were offered a road map for navigating the waters for one of life’s most significant transitions?
  3. What if they were offered the tools to assess how they can continue to contribute and forge a path filled with purpose and meaning?
  4. What would be the benefits to the organization and the younger generations as well?

This is where ‘Flourishing in the Third Act’ intersects with life, a program dedicated to exploring the waters of transition, where self-evaluation and self-discovery are central tenets, and where the goal is to re-discover self and create a vision for what can be some of the most productive years of one’s life.

Society forgets all too quickly that many of our favorite authors, artists, inventors and scientists made their most significant contributions during their Third Act. A few examples:

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie published her first book at age 64
  • Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence at age 70
  • Nelson Mandala became president of South Africa at age 76
  • At age 69 Mother Theresa won the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Forced to retire at age 70, Peter Mark Roget complied the Roget’s Thesaurus at age 73
  • Gandhi began his quest for Indian independence at age 61
  • Dames Maggie Smith and Judy Dench have picked up more awards and accolades in their third act then in their early careers
  • Acclaimed artist Grandma Moses began painting at the age of 76

The list goes on.

It is my belief that those of us approaching or currently living the Third Act need not sell ourselves short. This is the time in our life when we can take inventory, review our contributions and wonder what’s next. We do not fundamentally change; life circumstances do. We have the capacity to learn and to take all of life’s lessons and apply these in new ways.

As I sit with this concept of Flourishing in the Third Act, reflecting on the possibilities that lie ahead, I see a landscape of vast opportunity. I wonder how can I sharpen the focus on that vision. This is where I, and I imagine others, need some structure, some tools for us to enhance our self-awareness and give direction to what’s next.

What immediately comes to mind is to simply remember that everything I have learned up to now is carried forward. I have vast resources available to me including:

  • My accrued wisdom and knowledge
  • My strengths
  • My work experiences
  • My values
  • My talents and gifts
  • My education

Hopefully all of these resources can be married with curiosity and wonder and a desire to understand in what other ways can I apply these various aspects of me to new opportunities.

Certainly curiosity is at the heart of flourishing. There will be those who simply want to retire, and by this I mean dis-engage, disappear, or take their position on the couch. And it is also my belief that this does not define most of us.

So here’s to curiosity and exploring all of those resources we have!

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Recently I have found myself attracted to the stories of older women. Whether it is my own age that drives me there or simply that older women are interesting, I have yet to decide. What I do know for sure is that all of us are going to age and we have a say in how this aging will happen. And so I write this to share some of what I am observing, to explore my own journey of getting older and to share a little of the wisdom I am picking up along the way.

Choose Your Role Models Carefully
I enjoy older women. I like their humanity and I love their stories. There is a deeper sense of wisdom beneath those wrinkles and grey hair. And yes, like you, I have noticed that not all older women (and men) are people I would choose to hang-out with. And so it is that in our own journey of growing older, I suggest we choose role models who inspire us. Maya Angelou comes to mind for me. Now is her late eighties, this is a woman who continues to teach and share her stories with a self-deprecating way that is humorous and wise.

I also watched a brief film on YouTube the other day, Fabulous Fashionistas, about six older women, average age 80. In sharing their lives several things became obvious. First, each of these women had a sense of purpose, whether that was continuing to work, having a passion, or promoting a cause. As I watch my family members and some of my friends age, I realize that growing old happens quickly when there is nothing to keep you engaged, a reason to throw your feet on the cold floor each morning.

Secondly, each of these women had a sense of style, even flare. They embraced a “the hell with it” attitude that spoke of caring little for what others think or do, and simply showing up the way you are and want to be. I love that. Break all the rules, the way you are supposed to act like because someone in society said that older women should not wear miniskirts or jeans, have long hair or drink beer in public.

Thirdly, they were active. Despite knee and hip replacements, daily exercise was a must. Dance, running, yoga, whatever it took to keep the muscles and bone moving; use it or lose it.

Yes, I loved these women.

sparkle

You Know Best
Whether you are 23, 45, 69 or 83, today is the day to decide what aging looks like for you. My suggestion – don’t settle. By that, I mean disregard the expectations of others and decide on what is perfect for you. Set your intentions around what you truly want rather than what you think you ‘should’ be doing.

We are entering an era where more and more of us will be growing old together. At 63, I may be closer than some of you. Perhaps that’s why I find myself looking for those role models at the moment and making some decisions about aging with grace.

I am learning that age is largely about attitude. I have watched friends and family assume that they were no longer valuable and choose to step away. It saddens me to see them, disengaged and growing older with each moment. I have also observed the opposite, those women who continue to ‘kick ass’ regardless (I won’t name them here but you know who you are). They are artists, gardeners, writes, dancers, and most importantly, they are alive. Aging for them seems to be at a stand still.

And so I say to all of you, women of all ages, and men if you choose to join in, it is time for us to celebrate:

  • to be enlivened by life and never put down
  • to live with purpose and never give up
  • to be inspired and inspire others
  • to dress for YOU and disobey the rules
  • to play with your inner child and never grow up
  • to choose your path, what’s perfect for you, and turn a deaf ear to ‘they said’
  • to work and play as you choose rather than being the norm
  • to re-fire rather than re-tire when the time comes.

Final Thoughts
As one of the women in Fabulous Fashionistas noted, ageism is pervasive in society; the focus on youth and all that goes with it lingers. Reality tells us that older women are quickly becoming the majority. I say, let’s not be the silent majority!

If you want this attitude to change, be part of the change. If you don’t know how, find some role models to inform you. If you have retired, re-fire, identify a new project or cause, re-ignite your passion. Most importantly live large, be bold, and be YOU!

Betty Healey

Betty Healey is an award-winning author, coach and inspiring speaker. You can book Betty for a workshop or speaking engagement at www.roadSIGNS.ca or contact her at betty@roadSIGNS.ca.

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I never saw myself as a writer nor did I set out to become an author. Pulling my thoughts together in what has now become a total of five books seems more like a happy accident than a specific goal.

Writing really happened when I began to understand that when I wrote things down, I shifted. Journals became a place to ‘dump’ my hurts and vent my anger; a place where emotions which are sometimes difficult to express verbally could be placed and not judged by others. Recording my ideas has allowed me to expand them.

If your brain works at all like mine, ideas appear in rapid succession and unless written down, disappear. As a result I always have a journal with me to simply capture what is in my head, imbed it on the pages and move on. These are the ideas that spawn my work and also feed my own sense of self-discovery.

In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron writes that “the pages are a pathway to a strong and clear sense of self”. It was her book that started my writer’s journey. One of the exercises within the twelve week program outlined within the book are something called Morning Pages, which Cameron refers to as the primary tool for creative recovery.

What are Morning Pages: three pages of handwritten, stream-of-consciousness writing. Yes I am aware that most of you now write with a computer and I have to share that writing longhand is different. Somehow the physical connection of pen in hand is different than pecking at keys. Stream-of-consciousness means that once you begin writing, you do not stop until all three pages are filled. At first it may be nonsense, like ‘good morning world, I have no idea what I am writing about this morning, blah, blah…’. That’s okay for at a certain point something switches and your hand starts writing things that seemingly come from out of nowhere and now you are in the ‘juicy zone’.

As I began my own writer’s journey, I kept to the habit of morning pages for over a year. Poems emerged, feelings were exposed, truths realized. I came to know me. Because I could record anything, free of the judgment of others, I had a sense of freedom rarely experienced in my outer world. In this type of writing, grammar doesn’t matter nor does punctuation. There is no English teacher staring over your shoulder assessing these things. You write only for yourself.

Morning pages is only one of many writing tools however. I no longer keep my ‘pages’, I am more prone to simply record random thoughts and ideas as they show up in my day. There are no rules in my world although serious journal writers would disagree with me.

Journal B W sketch ORIGINAL SCAN

Writing, if you choose this path, is there to serve you, no one else. Writing for self-discovery is designed to feed your soul, lift your spirit, help you to see yourself through the lens of your inner world rather than through the eyes of others. It is designed for appreciation rather than a place for your self-critic to put you down.

That said, I suggest that if you decide to take up your pen, you begin by recording everything you know about yourself, your gifts, strengths and values. As you place these attributes on the pages of your journal, you create an amazing foundation for moving forward and directing your personal journey.

Thanksgiving Day I picked up a book at a friend’s place and found the following poem by author Dawna Markova, which describes my relationship with writing:

 

Thinking Ourselves Home 

I write to fuse inside with out,

to salve wounds and broken dreams. 

I write to understand the many things no one has told me,

to stroke my moments clean,

to squeeze them into tiny mirror fragments shining with mind light. 

I write to turn my bold to ink, to fertilizer, to sap. 

I write so that my yes can feel, so that my heart can lick,

so that my soul can crawl from its hiding place and

gaze upon a mystery which can be neither solved nor explained.

I write to breathe my spirit live.

 

Final Thoughts

I write to breathe my spirit live. Even though you may not see yourself as a writer, I encourage you to pick up the pen. Do it for YOU, no one else. Do it to serve the journey, not to write a book. Do it to find yourself and to discover who you are today and who you are choosing to become, not to live in the past. Do it to celebrate yourself.

 

Upcoming Events: Living Your Strengths Coaching Circle, Saturday, Novemeber 23rd. For details go to:

http://www.roadsigns.ca/upcoming-retreats-events/coaching-circles-retreat/

 

Until next time…

 

Betty

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On the heels of Meatless Monday, I have decided that every Tuesday also requires a specific theme. In considering what this might be, two SIGNS triggered my choice. First was a conversation with one of my clients who decided that October was going to be gratitude month in her organization and coincidentally, October began on a Tuesday. Secondly, October is the month to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, surely another significant indicator.

So, this is my invitation to all my readers to begin focusing on gratitude and, just in case you don’t make time daily for this, to mark every Tuesday, from this point forward, as the day to acknowledge your gratitudes. From now on think of Tuesday as GratiTuesday (nice play on words, non?)

By the way, introducing gratitude into your life has been shown to have many benefits, not the least of which is to look at life differently and to bring your attention to all the great and good things happening in your life. Having a gratitude practice been shown to increase positivity, improve your sense of well-being and make you more attractive energetically to others. For those of you who are parents, introducing children to a gratitude practice has been shown to improve self-esteem and academic performance. Most importantly, gratitude is FREE!

To help you to get started, I have created an acronym based on GRATITUDE.

G =         Great, finding ways to notice and celebrate all the amazing things happening in your life and around you that you typically fail to notice.

R =          Respect, respecting yourself enough to acknowledge yourself for your accomplishments rather than noticing what you fail to get done; taking opportunities to model respect to others by acknowledging their greatness

A=          Awareness, paying attention to life, seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary, noticing the SIGNS which cross your path every day and which may be passing you by, pausing and wondering what it all means

T=           Truth, telling yourself the truth about who you are, activating your self-coach so as to tune of the inner critic (who does not tell the truth), reminding yourself that you are unique and that every day you make a difference in the life of at least one other person

I=            Intuition, listening to and living from what you know is right for you, embracing your great qualities and strengths and living from that place, allowing your heart to guide your actions while turning down the volume on all of life’s ‘shoulds’

T=           Team/Community, surrounding yourself with your perfect team, those who you love and who love you, those who are your fans and who see you uniqueness and celebrate your contributions

U=          Unconstrained FUN, laughter and joy and sharing this with your family and friends, engaging in activities which light you up!

D=          Daring, engaging in at least one new activity or adventure every month, taking the risk to stretch your pre-conceived notion of who you are and being successful, then celebrating your success.

E=           Environment, taking in random acts of beauty, sunrises and sunsets, the kaleidoscope of fall colors or the pristine whiteness of new snow, a thoughtful letter or complement from a friend or client, noticing that beauty lives in your environment every day.

Gratitude

Putting Gratitude into Practice:
Here’s the plan, if you dare to join me. Each GratiTuesday, post your gratitudes on Facebook, record your gratitudes in a special ‘gratitude journal’ or share your gratitudes with your family just before dinner or while tucking your kids into bed. Make it a weekly practice and have some fun sharing with others. I actually think this is way more exciting than Meatless Monday!

Until next time….

Betty

Upcoming Events:

ME FIRST Retreat: October 19-20th, 2013
Step away from the busyness of your life and re-acquaint yourself with YOU. This two day program is designed to bring you into the present, defining who you are today and who you are choosing to be as you move forward. Details at: http://www.roadsigns.ca/upcoming-retreats-events/

Living Your Strengths: November 23rd, 2013
Using the Lumina Spark Portrait, you will identify your preferred qualities/strengths and learn how to live and leverage your strengths in service of YOU. Details at: http://www.roadsigns.ca/upcoming-retreats-events/

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Your child or teenager comes home from school and presents his report card to you. You review the list of subjects and note the grade assigned to each one: English – A,  French: B+, History: A, Science: C, Math: F. In the following minutes you discuss the results with your child. What do you focus on?

According to Marcus Buckingham, author of GO, Put Your Strengths to Work, more than 70% of parents will zone in on the F grade, ignoring the decent to great marks in the other subjects. It seems that we are programed to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.

I am sure that most of you have been on the receiving end of this flawed assumption. In an interview recently with one of my clients discussing the annual performance review, they admitted that little time was given to successes and accomplishment during the review process. Time was dedicated instead to what did not happen and the weaknesses they believed the employee needed to address.

Building a Foundation

Imagine building a house or any type of structure using the same principle. Basically the foundation of human development is being built upon the premise that weaknesses must be addressed and strengths taken for granted. If this were a house, what kind of foundation would that be? Would you want to build on a weak infrastructure or would you choose to build on something strong, resilient, secure and so on.

A New Paradigm

In the work we are introducing to organizations and to individuals, we are convinced that building on strengths is the way to go. Buckingham suggests that there are three myths associated with personality and living from our strengths:

Myth #1: As you grow your personality changes.

Truth: As you grow, you become more of who you really are.

That doesn’t imply that you don’t change and grow at all, this simply means that you are born with the personality you have, and with that your innate strengths. Over time what may change are your values, your beliefs, and even your behaviors, the result of your personality gaining life experience.

 

Myth #2: You will grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness

Truth: You will grow the most in your areas of greatest strength

New medical research is actually showing that those who focus their development from their weaknesses are prone to chronic pain and other illnesses. Spending time investing in your strengths however, keeps you engaged, inquisitive, resilient, creative and invested in your learning.

 

Myth #3: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team.

Truth: A good team member deliberately volunteers his strengths to the team.

We are taught that we must be all things to all people. This is sure to burn you out. A great person or team member is not well-rounded, a great team is. A great team is well rounded because each member comes to play from their respective strengths. It is not your job to be all things.

Lumina Circle

Final Word

If you are feeling disconnected from yourself in any way, chances are you have invested a lot of time addressing your weaknesses. This is not a criticism of you. In all likelihood, you were told you had to, by a parent, a teacher, a colleague or a boss.

Guess what – it’s time to change the conversation because trust me; it is time to start investing in building a strong foundation for your inner house. Find a way to identify your strengths (we use the Lumina Spark Portrait for these purposes). Take a stand for them once they have been identified. Educate those around you, your colleagues, your manager, your family members, about who you are through the lens of your strengths. This is not bragging – it is stating a fact!

On the Mat 06

Take some courses that help you in invest in your strengths and engage them in doing your work, whatever that may be. And finally, address your least favorite activities by activating your strengths.

Each person is unique, possessing a cadre of strengths that defines who they are and how they play in the world. Wouldn’t it be amazing if each person played from their strengths while respecting the strengths exhibited by others? This is true collaboration.

 

What are your strengths?

 

Until Next Time….

Betty Healey

 

roadSIGNS is offering two programs in the upcoming weeks:

 

The Living from Your Strengths Coaching Circle: go to http://www.roadsigns.ca/wp/our-focus/conscious-communication-for-self-discovery/coaching/coaching-circle/, beginiing September 24th.

The Living from Your Strengths Retreat Day – Saturday, Nov. 23rd/13

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