Conquering Misbeliefs: If I Build it They Will Come

moving past our misbeliefs--photo credit iosphere of fdp.netYou don’t have to be familiar with the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, to have heard the popular, yet misleading phrase, “if you build it, they will come.” This ethereal phrase is what initiated Ray Kinsella, portrayed by Kevin Costner, to build a baseball field in his corn field. It’s also the motivation for many starry-eyed entrepreneurs to pursue their own vision of dreams. For many, however, our misbeliefs slither their way into our personal failure files.

Are you one of the hopeful business people lured by the “if you build it” mantra? I was. Like many entrepreneurs, I had an idea and a lofty goal. I fell for the overnight success stories and believed all I had to do was build it. Unfortunately, the trouble with the “if you build it” theory is twofold:

  • It conveys the message that all one has to do is to present a life-changing idea to the world and then sit back and wait for everyone to fall at my feet.
  • Most hopeful entrepreneurs (including me) lack a true understanding of what is necessary to build and grow a business.

The Genesis of Misbeliefs

Mine started in 1996. I was almost 5 years into an unsuccessful job search. Rather than continue the useless pursuit and destroy the fragments of my confidence, I decided to build a business that incorporated my experience and education.

My first steps involved creating a business and marketing plan based on advice from traditional business resources. As I happily wrote the documents that outlined my beautiful business, I was elevated by the “if you build it” mantra. I fully believed all I had to do was make my business look good on paper, toss an ad in the local classified section of the newspaper, and make a few appearances at the local Chamber of Commerce.

My early efforts gained the attention of a postage meter company and sympathetic business community members who suggested I sponsor events or dedicate my expertise to a thinly associated activity related to their business. For free. I was promised that exposure would be my reward. I swallowed their hooks.

The Results of Misbeliefs

Naiveté. Clouded by “if you build it” and the promise of exposure intensified my lack of knowledge. I filled many an organizations’ need for speakers but never earned the money, the opportunities, or the testimonials that was promised. I stubbornly maintained the belief that this was the way.

Taken advantage of. People come out of the shadows seeking naïve entrepreneurs and I was their biggest catch. I was eager to build awareness and a following; they were eager to suck me dry.

Time lost. Clinging too long to this belief resulted in lost opportunity in the form of legitimate clients and revenue.

Lessons Learned

It’s a slow, cringe-worthy process, but over time, those moments led to lessons learned and growth.

  • My naivete eventually revealed how these beliefs misguided me. This discovery led to asking for help.
  • Learn from others. Network. Connect. Share expertise. Talking and listening to others helped me move past shame and embarrassment.
  • Abandon the comfort zone. Once I recognized that building a business is a lot harder than it appears, my comfort zone was no longer comfy. That became my moment to pursue or pivot, then take the proper action.
  • Be stringent with your time and money. Volunteerism is admirable, but when it creeps into a full-time job, then it’s no longer advantageous.
  • Put in the work. Learn about business, not just your industry and niche. You don’t need an MBA, but attend workshops, read, and learn from others.

There is magic in business ownership, and the best magic occurs when you identify your misbeliefs and reframe your knowledge base. As we’re taught to embrace our failures, I felt it most helpful to do so by sharing mine. Read my failure files on good girl, self-sacrifice, and negative mindset then reach out if you need more guidance!

Kristen

Is the Fear of Asking for Help Keeping You Stagnant?

“No man is an island entire of itself;” –John Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, 1624

is the fear of asking for help holding you back?Perhaps it’s my love for literature that makes this quote from John Donne one of my favorites. In reality, however, it’s a gentle reminder that I cannot do everything myself despite the desire to prove that I CAN! While I’m acutely aware of my weaknesses, when it comes to asking for help, I feel as if I’m suddenly putting them on display. Unfortunately, when we hesitate to ask for help, the result is a loss of time, energy, and money. When it continues for longer than it should, it then becomes an entry into our personal failure files. This is the fourth installment on my failures which helps me understand their origins, but to also help you diminish your mistakes.

Part 1: Where does it begin?

In school. While we’re all taught to work well with others and that team work is best, confidence suffers when an idea or request for help is ridiculed by our peers. This happened a lot to me, as it did for many of us.

Result: the good girl in me didn’t stand up for herself. I learned it was safer to remain quiet and do things myself, which included asking for help.

Part 2: Good question vs bad question

Did you hesitate to raise your hand in front of classmates? It’s terrifying, isn’t it? Even so, it wasn’t until the 1990s or so that the phrase, “there is no such thing as a bad question” or “there are others who have the same question” became the IN thing. Where was that phrase while I was growing up? Also, where were the others who had the same question as I did? I would have happily let them take the ‘great question’ credit.

Result: my resistance to put myself out there is deeply ingrained, which amplified my reluctance to ask for help.

Part 3: Business balks

Now I’m older. And wiser. Regardless, when it comes to business, my childhood fears and memories are now adult sized. Life is finite and there is no time to appear weak, especially if we’re recovering from a layoff, unplanned retirement, divorce, debt, or other setback. Asking for help intensifies an unwanted reality. I’m guilty of this, especially following the events of 2009.

Result: growth is SLOW! In my determination to avoid shame and vulnerability, I’ve put the brakes on opportunity. Happiness is delayed.

Lessons Learned

  • What we imagine is far worse than reality. Shame and vulnerability is a by-product of our own making. Once I realized how this mindset damaged my present and my future, I discovered asking for help was far less damaging than the reality I was already living.
  • Referring back to John Donne, human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. I’d like to add we do not grow when isolated from others. Growth occurs when we seek answers, solutions, and simplicity. The way to make that happen is to ask for help.
  • Build a network! These are people who have answers or may know someone who does. The bigger your network, the bigger your pool of experts.
  • Return the favor. It’s funny how eager we are to help others, yet resistant to ask for help ourselves. Why deny someone else of that pleasure?
  • Make it easy. Why do things the hard way when the solution is one question mark away? There are plenty of free resources available, but if it comes down to money, do you hesitate to pay? I’m guilty of floundering around, while hoping to stumble upon the answer in order to save a dollar or two. When I found myself A YEAR LATER no closer to a solution or income, I was furious. If you find yourself still floundering or procrastinating, ask yourself how much income opportunity has been lost by NOT asking for help and NOT willing to pay. You won’t be pleased with the answer. I certainly wasn’t.

In business, as in life, a little failure is inevitable. However, the fear of asking for help shouldn’t be among them. Learn from my mistakes, collect those business questions, then get out there and ask. If you need a little more encouragement, I’m here for you.

Who will you ask for help TODAY?

Kristen

The Failure Files: The Power of A Negative Mindset

a negative mindset will prevent growth--image from freedigitalimages.netBad things happen. We lose a job. A loved one dies. We divorce. We suffer a health issue. A natural disaster occurs. When disaster surrounds us, how is your mindset? Do you cuss and cry and wallow in pity, or do you regroup and step forward with determination? If you slip into a negative mindset, it can quickly lead to other or contribute to existing failures.

2009 was the year disaster came my way. It started by quitting my job to be salvage a marriage of 19 years. By midyear I divorced, left the state, and had half the assets my husband and I stringently built, never expecting to divorce. My grandfather died in July. I suffered a health issue Thanksgiving Day. My father suffered an injury that left him severely brain damaged. Let’s not forget the economic turmoil and I was 45 years old, unemployed, and in a new state (geographical as well as mental mindset).

It was tough to bounce back after the last half of 2009. While I did everything right on the outside to deal with the loss, inside was where the storm raged.

For 3 years.

During those years, I battled what I thought was the biggest obstacle to my success: introversion. I attended up to 5 networking events per week, within a 150 mile radius to build awareness for my business.

Growth occurred externally, but internally, I continued to grieve all I lost in 2009. While I blamed myself for much of the sorrow, I was also guilty of waiting for things to improve on their own.

It wasn’t until my mother, still grieving the loss of her husband (who was in a semi-vegetative state) said, “Nothing every goes right for our little family.”

“That’s not true!” I insisted. When she asked me to prove it, however, I couldn’t. We had been so locked in our negative mindset that growth and peace continued to evade us. The dark clouds still hovered and I was appalled by my negativity. I could have done something to end the storm.

Blowing the Clouds AwayRebuilding begins with a smile--from KRE archives

It started with a smile. A soul-deep smile that radiated throughout the body. A smile that would attract people rather than keep them at a distance. (I won a contest based on this picture.)

Next, I sought positivity in the past tragedies and applied it to the growth and opportunity in the present. With these tools, smiling became easier and I didn’t feel so mentally weighed down.

Glimpses of Light

The Universe observed my activity. It wasn’t going to immediately give me a thumbs-up and lay out a shiny red carpet in front of me. Nope. It tested me. A new lead backed out at the last minute. A client wasn’t pleased with my services. I got bronchitis. Twice. My laptop died. I was tempted to slip back into the storm, but moved forward instead.

Then tiny things happened. I slept better. Clients sent referrals. Migraines diminished. My blog took on new life as I focused on entrepreneurship and life after 50.

My rebrand progressed until Dad died November 2015. There were a few related setbacks but they didn’t hold me for long.

Until June 2017. I lost my two largest clients due to budget cuts and suddenly had no money coming in. This was a huge trial for me, but I kept going.

The Results of a Positive Mindset

  • The gloom faded quickly.
  • The storm didn’t infect other aspects of life.
  • Opportunities were easier to identify.
  • Additionally, I could dedicate myself fully to my rebrand without other projects competing for my time and attention.

Armed with these super powers, I got back to business with fire and determination. In under 2 months I got published in 6 online publications and was ASKED to become associate editor for Boomalally magazine.

Lessons learned:

  • Blow the clouds away.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Test your limits and push past them.
  • Take risks.
  • Ignore the naysayers
  • Abandon the self-pity. It only gives others the opportunity to race past you.
  • Don’t waste another minute. Too much has already been wasted.
  • Make every moment count.
  • Furthermore, SMILE!

Recently, my mother sent a text message saying she’s having a burst of happiness. When I encouraged her to have more, she said, “I’m not normally a positive person, so I’m sure you have something to do with it.”

That certainly made me smile.

Are you ready to smile again? You’ll quickly discover that a positive mindset is contagious.

Kristen

The Failure Files: When Self-Sacrifice Goes Too Far

Too much self-sacrifice ends in burnout from freedigitalphotos.net

Digging deep into our failures is an exercise in discomfort. As mentioned in my first entry for The Failure Files, to learn from our failures requires us to deeply examine them in order to learn from them. The more I dig, the more uncomfortable I become. This week I explore self-sacrifice.

I recently found a note from 1997 in which I outline several steps to become a better person. Perhaps it was Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues, written in 1726, that inspired me to write my own version. Twenty years later, however, my revision demanded excessive self-sacrifice and limitations. None of which would be healthy for anyone.

In my youth, I liked being the one people looked to for help and solutions when life was in turmoil. I could feel others’ stress and wanted to avoid it. As a result, I helped however, whenever I could. When I didn’t, for whatever reason, those offended by my decline to help called me selfish. Avoiding that label became a weakness. The result: I was taken advantage of. Repeatedly.

Too Much Self-Sacrifice

Failure #1: Spreading myself too thin/too much volunteering. For a long stretch of time, I was volunteering for 9 causes. Only one was fun, the rest were guilt-induced by other people or entities. Every time a request came my way, I responded. Because of my good girl status and discomfort around negative vibes, I didn’t want to rock the boat. Unfortunately, the cost benefit analysis was too high. My time, energy, and well-being suffered.

Recovery: Limit volunteering. Avoid guilt or peer pressure.

I very rarely volunteer and when I do, it is only after serious self-examination and availability. I never give a response right away and let myself and the person requesting my time a day or two to thoroughly examine the situation. Just because I was asked on the spot doesn’t mean I’m the ideal person for the task. It also does not require an immediate response. If there was pressure to provide an immediate answer, my answer would be no. It became very similar to dealing with annoying telemarketers.

Lessons Learned

  • Examine the task in question.
  • Ask yourself if this is something you truly believe in.
  • Ask yourself if this will enrich your life or stress you out.
  • Stand up for yourself.
  • Let go of guilt.
  • Ignore peer pressure. You are no longer in high school.

You are entering a phase in life where you have freedom to create the life you want. Use this opportunity to make everything you do valuable and meaningful to who you are and your pursuits. Any activity you pursue must enrich YOUR life, not drain or guilt you.

Keep in mind, not everything will advance you as a person or a professional. When it comes to professional activities, be cautious that it doesn’t drain your energy budget as well as your financial budget.

What failure makes you cringe? What growth has occurred from those experiences?

Kristen

The Failure Files: Good Girl and Entrepreneurship Don’t Mix

Too much weight on shoulders leads to failure--image from pixabayFailure. We all experience failure and are taught to be ashamed of it. Only recently phrases like ‘fail fast’ and ‘embrace your failures’ have become popular, allowing us to see failure as an opportunity to learn. To learn from our failures, however, requires us to drag them out of the dark recesses of our past. We need to take a hard look at them, to study them, and harder still, accept them.

I’ve experienced several failures in my first 50 years. My problem: I kept them too close to the surface, unknowingly giving them permission to rule my life. Now, I recognize when they negatively influence my actions and can reframe my thoughts. It still isn’t easy which is why I’m starting The Failure Files, freely giving you the opportunity to learn from my failures. Are you ready?

Failure: too much good girl

This is probably the crux of all my failures. I was a good girl. I don’t even have a memory of causing undue strain on my parents. My younger brothers did plenty of that. School reports that embarrassed my parents. Police visits. Neighbor complaints. Drugs. Abuse. Alcohol. I saw the effects and avoided it all. While my brothers got arrested, I acquired my bachelor’s degree. While my brothers married and divorced twice apiece, I obtained my master’s degree and married.

Because I didn’t want to stir the pot, I tumbled into the obedient world of sheeple. I followed the herd, trusting and believing in a world that was getting ready to kick us all in the teeth. I graduated from high school in the top 10%, I immediately obtained a bachelor’s degree and got a job soon after, filling the non-work time by doing administrative work at my father’s or boyfriend’s place of business.

Failure #1: My good-girl status didn’t save me from unexpectedly losing my first REAL job 10 months later. It didn’t save me from spending a year in the unemployment line. It didn’t help me find a job in my chosen profession.

Recovery action: Go back to school. I obtained my master’s degree a few years later while working for the university to pay my education. During this time, I married and had my first child.

Failure #2: It took 10 years to find a job in my profession. I jumped on it, consequently accepting a salary that was 64 cents above minimum wage. Following 8 years of dedicated employment, my salary peeked at $9.08/hour.

Recovery action: I quit my job, without a follow up plan. I tentatively began my new business. In 2008.

Failure #3: Viewing divorce as failure. Playing all the society rules for life, marriage, career, contribution, and sacrifice didn’t save me from the sorrows of divorce. Even worse, I caved in to the embarrassment my parents expressed (We’re terrible parents. How did we go wrong?) and the emotional intimidation my husband heaped on me (my job will suffer, my credit score will suffer, it will take you too long to find another job—just like before). As a result, I wore my (I mean their) shame and disappeared with little to cling to. Hope, confidence, and stability shattered.

Recovery action: I recognized that my long-standing goodie-goodie status got me NOWHERE! Reality hit hard and I realized life gave no favors. I was overdue to be me without the constraints of what everyone expected me to be.

When I began my business, however, I struggled to fully release the good girl mentality.

Failure #4: Taken advantage of, under paid, and pushed aside. The business world does not tolerate goodie-goodies. It interacts with people who are willing to take risks, stand up for themselves, and don’t falter.

Recovery action: Take risks and chances without concern for what others think. Especially relevant: I had to be willing to upset the status quo.

It took a while to learn this and depleted my time, energy, and finances.

Lesson to Share

This isn’t a woe-is-me story, but a story I share because of the lessons learned. I had been over-manipulated by a youth where I saw the negative side of breaking the rules then inaccurately transferred that to all aspects of life and career. I learned that playing by the rules doesn’t guarantee anything other than being stomped upon. Breaking a few rules, as in doing something out of the ordinary, gets you noticed. The world likes those that shake up the world in a positive way.

My challenge to you: Let go, refuse to be haunted by your failures and surge forward to become happier, freer, and more confident.

How will you positively shake up the world?

Kristen Edens

Super Hero Tips for Balancing the Generations

Be a superhero for your generationsLife is a struggle for all generations. Most Boomers and Gen Xers cope with retirement uncertainties, social security unknowns, health care instability, and their own daily living. Meanwhile, our parents, spouse, and adult children have their own troubles and turn to us for venting purposes and, sometimes, wisdom.

Most often, we’re there for listening and support. Other times we must rally the time and energy to be their super hero. We love them and want to help them. We do our best to keep up with their emotional, physical, and financial needs. Unfortunately, we are not super heroes. However, you can appear like a super hero when things are on the verge of surging toward disaster. Here’s how:

Super Hero Secrets

Be available: keep your phone handy (and charged) throughout the day. Yes, that even means during the wee hours. Being able to reach you at any hour provides immeasurable comfort to those who need you most. Whether your parents or children are local or out of state, easy access by phone is often the calming solution family members need.

Be patient. Those that reach out to you at odd hours or inconvenient hours will forget you have a life too, especially when there is disaster on their end. Whenever possible, answer the phone. If unable, reply with a text, a voice message, or other means of communication as soon as possible. Most times, the situation isn’t urgent; the loved one simply needs a sympathetic, calm ear.

  1. If you can answer at that moment but the timing isn’t convenient let the loved one know that you are in a meeting, driving, 1 minute from a client call, etc. Get the gist of the emergency, offer one quick tip, back-up caller, or sympathetic (but sincere) comment, and then offer to call back at an appropriate time.
  2. If you are unable to answer, send a similar response by text to let your loved one know you have received the message and will reply within a certain time. Offer a back-up caller, if possible. I usually refer these emergency calls to my partner.

Be firm. Your loved one may misinterpret your availability as you are available at any time and any place. If the ‘emergencies’ turn out to be a false alarm (‘you just have to hear this joke’ or ‘do you want to come over for a movie’) then you will need to set clear instructions on work hours and play hours.

Be positive. One person’s disaster is another person’s inconvenience. Okay—this is a quote modification, but most of the issues your family members call on you for is not a true disaster. Your best option is to listen and offer a calm reflection of the situation. You are often in the ‘outside-looking-in’ position to help the loved one regroup and restructure the next steps.

Follow up. If the disaster occurs at 8am, provide suggestions and offer to follow up by noon. Then do it! By then, the situation has often diffused itself, and life has returned to a level of calm. The person in question will be more at ease knowing that you have their back.

Bonus tip—Keep notes: this is not to say our memory is failing us, but we have our own lives to attend to as well. Keep a list of what’s happening with each person. Most of the immediate emergencies will be forgotten in a matter of hours, but the more serious ones may linger. Judge whether or not to mention them again, but staying on top of the game saves headaches later and clears your head for clear-thinking and meditation.

Remember: You have a life too!

Making Midlife Better
Kristen Edens

Life Lessons from a High School Reunion

high school reunion nametag: life lessonsDid you enjoy high school? Were you one of the Jocks or the Brains or the Hotsy-Totsies? Or were you one of the Nerds or the Hoods or the Bums? Perhaps you were like me and didn’t fall into either category.

High school was not fun for me—and I had the undesirable experience of attending 2 high schools. It was difficult to be my own person with everyone attempting to place a label on me. As a result, I had no interest in attending reunions.

Until recently. I attended as my partner’s guest to his 40th high school reunion. As we drove to the reunion, I asked him how many true friends he had. His reply: very few. I asked: how many have you kept in touch with over the years? His reply: even fewer.

Upon attending the reunion, the crowded room of 100+ from a class of 320 now wrinkled, gray-haired, and slightly overweight men and women struggled more to recognize classmates than remembering which clique everyone belonged to. Back in the day, fraternizing with the wrong clique meant doom. Now the goal was to flashback to a perceived easier time of life.

Reunion Results–life lessons emerge

  • Graduates barely recognized each other—by face or by name. They relied more on where they lived in town, what grade school they attended, and what classes they possibly shared.
  • There were the occasional, “Oh, I remember you!” followed by, “Let’s connect on Facebook.”
  • Some admitted to avoiding those they hated in high school, but couldn’t remember why.
  • Most found high school to be highly stressful.
  • Upon graduation, everyone went their own way toward living their vision of the American Dream.
  • Many were happy with life. Those I spoke with admitted to be comfortable with who they were, preferring their current life with gray hair, wrinkles, and arthritis to puberty, acne, and peer pressure.
  • Cliques no longer mattered. We were all in our 50s, hoping to have enough money for retirement. None I spoke with were living or planning to live the dreamy retirement vision we were raised to strive for. What mattered most was to stay close to their roots and to enjoy their family.

Retirement Revelations

There were 3 types of current retirees:

  • Retired due to health issues, or
  • Age discrimination, or
  • Career limitations.

Given the choice, these graduates would have kept working. Because of where they find themselves now, many are uncertain what’s next for them. They all feel they are too young to ‘kick the bucket’. One graduate ‘fills his time’ restoring motorcycles and cars. Another graduate volunteers until she can find a job—in anything, she admits. My partner, disabled since 2015, enjoys tutoring, helping others organize their lives, and conducting administrative tasks, but doubts this is a viable money-making option for him.

Those that are working toward retirement want to ensure their future is secure in the midst of all the unknowns. Everyone I spoke with feared how long their health will hold up.

Quite a difference from our high school years!

While this reunion is one of thousands that occur across the country, we all share the same hopes, dreams, and fears. The peer pressure and cliques from the past no longer matter. What matters is that we are happy as we continue to live and to share our life with those we love.

How will you grow and live?

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

An Eye for Safety: Helping a Parent Age in Place

using stairlift The stairs in my childhood home had been a source of fun for my brothers and me. We enjoyed rushing down to breakfast bumping down the stairs on our bottoms then hopping up to join our parents. To my mother, however, the stairs were a constant state of stress. She daily warned us to be careful, don’t play around the stairs, and ALWAYS reminded us to hold the railing. Each night she would drape a flimsy net across the top of the stairway to protect us from falling to our deaths.

She should have continued that habit for her and Dad. I became concerned when I noticed her constantly climbing the stairs on hands and knees—while wearing her robe and carrying a glass of water! In June 2009, I secretly suggested to Dad to get a stair lift for her. He agreed but didn’t find it to be an immediate necessity. A few days later, Dad slipped down the last two steps and landed on his backside with a painful ‘ooph’! Doubly concerned, I reiterated the need for the stair lift for both of them. Dad immediately went on the defensive and harshly lectured me on respect, ageism, and minding my own damn business.

Then on December 8, 2009, at age 72, Dad fell down the stairs and suffered extreme brain damage and paralysis, eventually dying from his injuries six years later.

Needless to say, I am sensitive to the probability of falls. I rarely hesitate to act on a safety improvement for my mother or my loved ones, even if it must come from my own finances.

According to the World Health Organization:

  • Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide.
  • Adults older than 65 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.

Further data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states:

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.

Soon after Dad’s fall, Mom and I ordered the stair lift, refraining from the ‘closing the barn door after the horse escaped’ reality. Mom still needed several safety measures and I planned to get them done! Other immediate activities included:

  • Removing trip hazards, especially loose rugs.
  • Purchasing slippers or socks that were anti-slip.
  • Hiring a handyman to repair loose floorboards or uneven treads.
  • Purchasing a Personal Emergency Response System such as Great Call or First Alert.
  • Moving most used items within reach.

While my mother still lives 500 miles away, I make frequent visits to help with general care, providing companionship, and to maintain the safety watch. During my latest visit, I installed grab bars in risky areas (bathtub, shower, toilet) and anti-slip strips on tub and shower floors after observing some unsteady habits. When I stated my concern to my mother, she attempted to comfort me by saying, “I’ll get to it soon. It’s been on my mind too”. Then a few sentences later she admitted, “I’m getting so forgetful.” I was at the store purchasing equipment lessinstalling shower handle for safety than an hour later!

If you are providing long-distant care for a parent or are close enough to visit on a daily basis, use these tips to maintain household safety as your parent ages in place:

  • Check established safety measures to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Replace, upgrade, or improve safety measures as needed.
  • Observe your parent’s activities: does she lean more? Is she unsteady? Is it tougher for her to accomplish tasks? Implement safety measures to accommodate these changes.
  • Listen to your parent! Comments like, “I’m unsteady when I get out of bed” or “I’m afraid I’ll slip getting out of the shower” are warning signs. Take swift action on these hints.
  • Keep an open communication with your parent. Request to attend occasional doctor visits to be part of the conversation but to also report observations and progress.

It’s tough to lose a parent to something so common, but it’s also harder to know that simple safety measures could have prevented these injuries. As your parent ages—in place or at a facility—be their guardian and take the action they are reluctant or forgetful to do themselves. If they fuss, tell them it’s because you love them and don’t want to lose them.

Kristen Edens
Making Midlife Better

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