Is Your Second Act Stagnant? Examine Your Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs keep large dog trapped behind small gateMy daughter recently purchased a pure-breed Newfoundland puppy. It was an adorable bundle of black fur, and now at 7 months old, it is a huge, energetic, and still-growing bundle of black fur. The dog rapidly outgrew the kitchen space it spends a portion of the day in, blocked only by toddler gates. The dog can easily leap up and drape its massive front legs over either gate, but never jumps the gate. Why? Because as a puppy, the gates prevented escape. Now, 7 months later, the dog still believes it cannot escape.

Do you have a business idea you’d like to pursue? Are you itching to try something new in your life? Are you bursting at the seams to break free of your boundaries but feel something isn’t right? Maybe it’s time to examine your mental gates. Just as my daughter’s puppy believes it cannot escape its kitchen confines, we are blocked by limiting beliefs. What’s worse is we may not be aware of these beliefs. Some imprint on us at an early age. Some are as easy to overcome as stepping over a barrier, but it’s our beliefs that keep us trapped. Here are a few exercises to help you explore your past to identify and remove the beliefs that are holding you back.

What challenges did you have as a child?

Did you struggle in school? Were you bullied? Did you have a learning disability? These situations can influence us early in life which leads to early limiting beliefs. As you explore your childhood, review your memories to discover events that may have contributed to your current beliefs.

What was home life like?

What elements of family life crept into your subconscious? Did your family struggle with money? Were you raised by a single-parent? Did your parents work long hours? How our parents or guardians handled these situations plus overheard conversations can impact our beliefs. For instance, I was the quiet child who preferred to stay home, read, and be by myself. Meanwhile, all my cousins excelled in school, sports, and extracurricular activities. I overheard my uncle ask my dad what activities I enjoyed. My dad’s answer: “Kristen marches to the beat of a different drummer.” There was no disappointment or animosity in his tone, however, I knew I was different and for a long time, believed I was too different to make a difference. Thirty years later, I was able to release that limiting belief and pursue my own interests.

What experiences did you have that influenced your life?Large dog believes he can't jump gate

Did death touch your family unexpectedly? Or a natural disaster? Did you move a lot? If you were always the new kid at school, you may have a belief that you won’t fit in, which may translate to your business idea won’t fit in. Were you unemployed or laid-off? This may translate into the limiting belief that you are unemployable.

Give yourself time to review your memories and experiences, then list the ideas that stand out most. Next, reshape those thoughts through meditation, writing, and repetition. For instance, if you moved a lot, reshape a limiting belief to, “I have regional and cultural experience that will be helpful to my business.”

Make each mantra a new habit. Repetition and persistence—especially when you feel blocked by the thought—will help release that limiting belief.

I recently attended a series of webinars on career reinvention for Boomers and GenXers in which confidence was a top issue. The common thread was how to rebuild following our outdated beliefs:

Beliefs => thoughts => actions => results

How are your beliefs influencing your results? If you find your progress less than satisfactory and the results you seek are still out of reach, then you’re overdue to reexamine your beliefs. Some of them will be easy to overcome, like a dog jumping over a gate, while others will take longer to redirect. Explore the exercises above, weed them out, and then reframe them with newer, positive and productive beliefs.

And step over your gate!

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

Ditch the Job Boards! Build Your Second Act Brand Instead

Rejection stamp image signifying denied from job boardsFinding a job is always a difficult task. In my early job-hunt days (age 16 to 26), I would physically VISIT job agencies or the location I wished to work. Attempts to reach the manager often failed but resulted in an almost friendly invitation by an office manager to fill out an application onsite or to mail it in. Today, the process is hastened by the internet, which still results in a long wait…to NO.

I began freelancing in 2006 and took my business to full time in 2008. I scoured the online job boards with resolute determination, especially early days or when clients were few. Guess how many jobs I acquired through these boards.

NOT ONE!Kristen's job post rejection from online job boards

Unless you count the client that asked me to write a full 10-page website for $6. Yes, SIX DOLLARS!

After two primary clients ended their contracts earlier this year, I returned to the job boards with cautious hope. It didn’t take long, however, to walk the agonizing road to NO. Through the process, I discovered that only 7 to 15 percent of job openings are filled through online applications and that most job placement occurs through REFERRALS or my own ACTION. Even as a teenager, building awareness to MY EXISTENCE, AVAILABILITY, and ABILITY was more effective than filling out flat sheets of paper. Back then, as now, I built my brand.

While the job hunt hasn’t changed, what we bring to the world has. We have 30+ years of knowledge and experience and the determination to make something new. Therefore, it’s time to abandon the job boards and build your brand and your second act with these action steps.

  • Create a social media presence where your audience (B2C) AND your peers (B2B) are (these are often not the same).
  • Create bios suitable for both audiences
  • Create an elevator speech that is adaptable to your audience
  • Attend local events related to your industry and niche. Be visible to attendees and event organizers.
  • Volunteer at events
  • Find your people online. Connect, like, follow, comment.
  • Join social media groups related to your industry and niche—Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and Twitter chats are top methods to build awareness, discover trends, identify needs.
  • Above all: FOLLOW UP! Keep in touch through social media, blogging, newsletters, events, and conversation.

Sound intimidating? Perhaps time-consuming? Nope. When weighed against the long wait to NO from an online job application, these methods keep you active and top of mind.

Put your time and talent in yourself and build the brand that gets things done: YOU!

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

What to Know as POA for Multiple Family Members

family members discuss POA wishesAre you prepared medically and financially if something unfortunate happens to you and you could not make a critical decision for yourself? What about a parent, spouse, or adult child? Why wait a moment longer? Get your POA (power of attorney) in order now!

I am not an attorney, a financial advisor, a wealth advisor, or an estate planner. What I am, however, is a mother, a daughter, a partner, a sister, and a grandmother. I’m also the power of attorney (POA) for 5 family members.

I recently attended a workshop entitled, Aging in America,  in which financial and legal issues for family members and caregivers were addressed. Individuals of all ages tend to wait until an unfortunate event to begin thinking about ‘what ifs’. Furthermore, many family members ignore reality and postpone taking action, as it happened with my family. Due to the cost and time-consuming options available after the fact, it is advised we obtain, at a minimum, a financial and medical durable power of attorney now.

This seems easy enough but the challenge is to get everyone onboard. According to AARP, the following age groups lack a will or other estate planning documents:

  • 19% of those 72+
  • 42% of Boomers (ages 53 to 71)
  • 64% of Gen Xers (ages 37 to 52)
  • 78% of Millennials (ages 18 to 36)

Regardless of where you or your loved ones fit into the family tree, it is vital to initiate the conversation to spare cost, delay, and emotional stress. Use these prompts to start the conversation.

The family talk

First of all, let your family know that it’s important to establish their powers of attorney. Ask them how theyman in therapy after debilitating injury want their decisions handled should they become incapacitated. Use current events, a terminal illness, death, or this article to start the discussion. Providing free POA forms (see Where to Find Documents) can help move the process forward. Your goal isn’t to frighten them, but to ensure they are protected financially and medically. As a result, you may have more success taking this approach.

Address the facts

Because each of us must choose an agent to handle our requests, it’s important this person is:

  • Up to the task
  • Readily available
  • Willing to meet the needs of the individual
  • Trustworthy and reliable
  • Able to make decisions while dealing with their own emotions

Choosing an Agent

  • If the medical POA and financial POA are different people, ensure that they will work well together.
  • Review the POA with the family member every 3 to 5 years. Sometimes a listed agent becomes unwilling, unable, or estranged from the family member. Furthermore, a periodic review will ensure that the documents are up to date and the agent(s) wish to continue their duties.

Where to Find Documents

The documents are easy to create, but requires each individual to make their wishes known and to name their agents. Contact an estate planning attorney or search online for medical or financial POA forms within your state. There are many free and paying sites available, or you can contact a local attorney to create the forms for you.

The Agent

  • As the agent, keep the documents (preferably 2 original copies) in a safe, readily available location.
  • Additionally, if you are the agent for several people, keep all records in the same safe place. Let your principles (the people who named you as POA) know where you have their documents but also let your agents know the location.
  • Be the one to follow up every 3 to 5 years with each principal. People forget, life changes fast, and people come and go. You may wish to be removed as the agent for unknown reasons.

While we all want to live a long, healthy life, things happen. Be the proactive family member and start the process. Taking the extra measure to protect the desires of your loved ones and your own will help make the tough decisions easier.

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

Opportunity or Despair: How Do You Respond to Change?

One moment, I’m doing F.A.I.R. with business and then the next moment, my two biggest clients lose funding and cannot extend my contract.

These things happen, I tell myself. It’s a normal cycle as a freelancer. Just buckle down, regroup, and reach out. I’m good at what I do and there are plenty of opportunities out there.

That’s what I told myself—repeatedly—as the weeks flew by and no new clients accepted my proposals.

By July, half my client income was missing. The bills were more painful to pay. I reexamined my expenses and cut the fat from a budget that was already anorexic. The fears and doubts seeped into my brain, but I believed in myself.

Besides, what else was there to do? Cuss? Cry? Quit? I’m 53 and seeking employment elsewhere is more challenging.

Then on July 26th, I got the word that a third client had to postpone our contract until further notice.

“As soon as things change, Kris, I’ll get right back to you.”

As those words flowed from his lips, I wondered if it was as painful for him to say them as it was for me to hear them. The call ended on a pleasant note, but I’m certain neither of us were in a pleasant mood.

Winners never quit and quitters never win. –Vince Lombardi

While the desire to cuss and cry intensified, I clung to a thin thread of positivity. I KNEW there was light at the other end. I just couldn’t see it. That night, I stepped into the darkness to consult the Universe:

“It’s time for a change. Where am I going next?”

I failed to recognize that change had already occurred.

I stubbornly pursued the status quo. I had two strong leads that were ready to start in August. The time frame was tight, but I reminded myself that I will be fine.

Then within 20 minutes of each other on July 31, I received emails from both leads. The first said their business direction has changed and they needed time to reevaluate their goals. The second said they wanted to shop for similar services.

Funny how that happened on the eve of August. Except I wasn’t laughing. I cussed. I cried. I considered quitting.

I slept poorly. I had bizarre dreams. Then I woke up exhausted yet with a new realization: change pursued me. It was time for me to act rather than react.

Although my emails and calls were expertly crafted, using optimistic words like ‘rebrand opportunity’ and ‘a new direction’, I could read between my own lines. I was still ashamed. And now I’m asking parents, my partner, and my network for help—at my age!

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. –John Donne

Lesson (reluctantly) learned: accept and be grateful! I had several friends and family remind me of what I had already done for them and they were grateful to return the generosity to me.

Additional lessons learned:

Coping mechanisms

  • Remain positive. This is not the end; it’s a new beginning!
  • Seek the opportunities that arise during the storm.
  • Don’t let the storm stall you—lean in and surge forward.
  • Vent your frustrations. A little cussing and crying is acceptable; avoid letting it deprive you of sleep, nourishment, or self-care.
  • Call on your support team for help, love, & assistance.

Next steps

  • Determine what can be condensed or put on hold. As with the client that had to delay our working together, I had to pass on the same sentiments to my virtual assistant. The trickle-down effect touched at least 3 households.

Results

Although the recent events APPEARED dark, I now have renewed enthusiasm and a positive outlook as I continue to evolve. My support group and recent discoveries helped create a better, stronger plan.

Insights

Change changed me. While I fought for the status quo, I emerged with the knowledge that I have the creative power and energy to generate something better for myself.

I willingly accept!

How will you emerge on the other side of change?

Kristen Edens

Tempted to Co-Sign a Student Loan? Offer these Options Instead

I’m always unsure how to respond when my daughter calls or texts me. Sometimes she vents about her work, her boyfriend, or her daughter. Sometimes it’s about the unfairness of life. Often times, it’s about money—and if I can “lend” her a couple hundred. The most recent call was to ask if I would co-sign on a student loan.

Following my shocked silence, she continued to tug my heartstrings about her limited budget, costs of school supplies, clothing, day care, and for additional oomph—“and I’m not scheduled enough hours this week” into her plight. It’s no good to toss in my own anorexic budget because it falls on deaf ears. Besides, I want to help!

However, it just isn’t possible. According to a 2014 study by the United States Government Accountability Office, nearly 40% of federal student loan debt belongs to those over 65, whether their own debt or that of an adult child. Adding to the complications are our own struggles with eliminating debt, lowered income, caregiving for parents or a partner, and perhaps that same adult child living at home.

So how can we avoid additional debt and/or risk while becoming the hero? Consider one or a combination of these ideas:

Buy books: text books are a huge expense for college students and, once tuition is paid, the sticker shock of books and supplies strikes. You can offer to cover these costs and take on the hassle of ordering, renting, shipping, and more. There are several text book rental sites available for some significant discounts.

Pay for a tutor: once your adult child has plunked down hundreds of dollars for a single course, it’s critical she passes! If your student starts to express concerns, suggest a tutor immediately and offer to pay. You don’t want your child to have to pay—or repeat—any class, especially with today’s tuition costs.

Offer to tutor: some coursework is basic (intro to math, English, science, history, etc,) so if your student needs help, offer to tutor. This can be done in person (if local to your child and her school), or virtually. Either option saves time, money, and highlights you as the lifesaver.

Become a student’s helper: offer to care for grandchildren in the evening, clean house, fix meals, handle sick children, walk the dog, and so forth. Offer the stressed student time off and gift your child with a gift certificate for a dinner and movie. Maybe offer a birthday gift certificate to a baseball game, a massage, or something special.

If you live out of town: many of the ideas and services above can be handled long-distance. If you are unable to help locally, search online for mother’s helpers, dog walkers, house keepers, and other needed tasks. These services are available at a reasonable fee and offer a win-win for you, your adult child, and the business owner.

An added bonus: with entrepreneurialism a hot activity for Boomers and GenXers, you can offer similar services to out of state students.

We love and want to help our children through their life journey, but co-signing loans adds an element of debt and risk few want to encounter. Implement these tips to help your adult child avoid deep debt with these ideas and be the lifesaver!

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better