How is your state of mind right before you go on a trip?
Here’s mine more often than I want to admit:
My psyche is feeling cramped and my Best Me routine is unravelling. I have been working like crazy on a couple different fronts before I leave, and we are moving out of our apartment this month. I'm channeling spring fever energy to sustain the pace.
This apartment in Mexico City has been a good extended stop, but I won’t miss it. I love cities and part of me will miss being here, yet I’m looking forward to complete immersion in a deep green landscape soon, opening up to the subconscious creative flow that comes from new vistas and natural experiences.
Did you know that there are many studies that prove nature’s beneficial effect on mental health?
This line in an article caught my eye:
When it comes to seeking happiness, the quality of the green space matters more than the quantity.
Is it possible we get as much benefit from a few lovely houseplants as we do a larger, tended garden? Or even a large park or forest? Is it different when we have to take care of our green space, versus when we just visit one? What do you think?
We are building much more green into our lives for the next year. Our current apartment is biking distance to Chapultepec Park- and that has been key, I knew that to enjoy an urban experience I still needed trees and trails nearby.
This month I’m going for both quality and quantity. Its the first stop in our nature therapy lifestyle tour for the next few months.
I’m working from Costa Rica for most of May, a country holding the constant energy of oceans on the north and south coasts and an amazingly intact, diverse green ecosystem between. This is the first stop of at least a year of living and working closer to nature.
The first part of the trip is with a dear friend and sustainable travel expert as we scout locations for a women’s retreat in 2019. I had thought of doing this in 2018, but I'm slowing down a bit to learn more about both Costa Rica and what makes for an amazing retreat. Good practice, no?
If you would like to follow along on our trip, I’ll be posting to Facebook and Instagram.
Do you have travel set up for this summer? Do you set intentions for your trips? I don't mean taking a stack of work with you. I mean verbalizing some insights or new inspiration you want to be open to. Inviting in the wisdom that doesn't come from "thinking about it", but that rises to the surface when you spend time not thinking so much about it. aka inspiration.
I’m sharing that with you because my intention for this trip is to draw on the energy in CR for clarity in refining my work-life balance, including YinCaravana phase 2. I am clearer now on the niche of women I am best able to serve in the process of reinventing their second half of life, and I’ve got some super cool ideas for tangible tools around that.
After Costa Rica, I’ll be in San Miguel de Allende for a solo month - I cherish my time alone and am finally honoring that without compromise. It’s not something my sweet man Sergio understands, but he knows time away is important for me so he supports my decision and doesn’t make it about him. I really appreciate that.
After that, this is our nature based plan for where to visit or live, work and play. Our intention is to learn as much as we can about the eco-systems and spend time exploring and playing in them.
Cabo San Lucas - ocean
Todos Santos - ocean and desert
Montana - mountains! snow skiing!
Thailand - jungle, beach, amazing food.
In July we will be in Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos, in Baja Mexico. The summer will be a purge of sorts - I'll work early in the day to beat the heat, we are going to live and eat simply, sweat a lot, prioritize workouts, and spend most early evenings at the beach.
In 2019 we'll be in Thailand for a few months, another country with amazing natural locations (and FOOD!)
For now, though, Costa Rica, San Miguel and Baja will support a significant work schedule I’ve mapped out - YinCaravana’s next phase and building out the team for the Ultimate System for Fab Videos, Finally Done, the new service to help entrepreneurs transform their business with video, plus a couple other to-dos.
Have a fantastic week and I look forward to sharing more details to come in June and over the summer. If you have any trips planned I'd love to hear about them. What will your intention be?
All my best -
ARTICLE LINK: http://time.com/4881665/green-spaces-nature-happiness/
Spring Read: The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams.
Whether we are moms or aunties, we obviously know how to nurture the young beings in our lives so they will grow and develop properly.
In other areas of our lives, where we are trying to grow, sometimes we hold back.
Today’s case in point: a business we are trying to start on the side of an otherwise comfortable life.
Generally speaking, if you are the sole breadwinner in your situation, like Jackie, this post is not for you.
Jackie is a single mom with a full time job that covers her living expenses while she is starting her business on the side. Women like Jackie tend to move faster and make progress more quickly.
Even though it is not easy, it may involve taking on debt or cutting back uncomfortably, Jackie feels empowered to spend money. She doesn’t have to negotiate with a life partner.
She knows that she can reasonably expect her existing salary to continue while she gets the foundation in place for a new venture.
Finally, Jackie knows that replacing the income from her current job is the key to making the transition to working for herself, so she’s more open to taking risks to get there sooner.
This makes for very busy days and weekends, of course. But it is an almost perfect combination of cushion and pressure cooker to add up to a huge advantage, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.
This isn’t just my opinion.
Why do you think the fastest rate of business creation, by a long shot, in the United States is coming from African American and immigrant women? These are 2 sectors of women in the US that are likely already working a day job, see opportunity in entrepreneurship, and need to show progress quickly on their side business because they don’t have much of a resource cushion.
They are showing the rest of us the way.
This post is for women starting a business from a place of abundance - a dual income situation, or a situation where one partner makes good money and the household doesn’t really “need” a second income.
In other words, a nice cushion.
On the one hand, that sounds like a dream scenario, right?
Well, it isn’t always, and especially for women.
The first point is obvious. It can undermine a sense of urgency. Entrepreneur magazine says this of people (not just women) with a cushion:
You’ll naturally consider your startup more of a hobby than a living, and you’ll be less motivated to nurture it to fruition. Rather than being motivated by the sink-or-swim nature of sole entrepreneurship, your safety net will keep you from fully mentally investing in your enterprise.*
The second point is more gender specific. Women usually deal with some level of guilt, self-doubt and fear. I'm not saying that's you. But if it rings a bell, read on.
Let’s say Viv has worked part time for years, and her spouse’s income pays the bills. She prioritized a flexible part-time schedule to accommodate her family's schedule. As her kids get older, she’s ready to scale her business, or perhaps start a new one.
In this case, Viv has more hesitation and reluctance to spend money on the business than Jackie does, because that would mean spending the money that her spouse makes, and likely some of their savings, on her business.
She also has to claim more of her time as her own, time that her family is used to her spending on their priorities.
Those can be hard conversations to have so Viv tries to save money by doing almost everything herself, at odd hours and late at night.
This leads to a tough cycle:
This isn’t growing your business on the side, this is sucking the enjoyment out of a hobby while keeping it on life support.
I’m projecting here, because I was Viv in many ways. I’ve interviewed dozens of women about their business dreams, too, and there are a lot of Vivs out there.
I also see women in dual income relationships who make good money do the same thing. The family takes amazing vacations, but suddenly when it comes to spending money on a VA to support her in a fledgling business, they can’t afford that.
I’m not here to tell anyone how to run their life, hobby, side business, or finances. If you are feeling frustrated or discontented, I am here to encourage you to make your choices and enjoy them, and not let creeping expectations undermine you.
I have heard women in this cycle express guilt over “not growing fast enough”. It’s a catch 22, they don’t spend money on the right things to help get them to where they can grow, or even fail, faster.
Wait, did I just say fail? Yes, I did. No one wants to think that their business is going to fail, especially if they are spending money that they don’t feel is “their money” on it.
But the reality is, sometimes money is not the problem. It’s the wasting of TIME that is the real robbery.
You do want to find out what is wrong with your idea sooner rather than later. If you have a cushion, there is a danger of spending 2 years “working on a business idea” that is bound for failure, rather than spend 6 months in an inexpensive process testing that idea, and move on or adjust if the first version “fails”.
When a side business is a good thing.
There is nothing wrong with a side business. I just talked to a friend in real estate about video for her business.
She said, "No, no! Don't tempt me, I don't want to be any busier than I am now."
That kind of clarity is healthy.
The problem is when our ego (and possibly others) tells us that isn't good enough, we harbor expectations around it being more than that, but in reality we don’t feed it enough - we starve it’s growth.
This is a recipe for discontent. Been there, done that.
1) Accept and enjoy that its a side business, part time for now. Have fun learning and experimenting.
2 ) Go for it.
I encourage you to consider #2.
If you are fortunate to live in the US, sitting on cushions created by education and decent income, and you want to build a business, consider taking on a little more risk to move faster.
I live in Mexico City and have traveled extensively.
One reason I live here is because it is much less expensive for me while I build my business. I chose not to pursue alimony during my divorce even though there was huge disparity between my earnings and my ex-husband's income (partly due to the Viv effect I just described above).
I started over with no source of support outside of savings, side work from online video editing, and fledgling revenue from some new ventures.
I only mention that to let you know I'm walking my talk, I'm not "shoulding" you and suggesting you do something I have not done, and continue to do.
Mexico City is filled with small entrepreneurs and thousands of family businesses. It is inspiring but it is not glamorous. Prices and wage are quite low. The retirement safety net does not exist unless you work for the government or big companies for years - those jobs are hard to get. It is long hours and a lot of hard work to make ends meet. The banks are terrible.
I also currently share my life with a man who grew up here without much money or good social connections. In Mexico, you need one or the other to get ahead.
Living outside of my country, seeing life here through his eyes, has shown me that even with the barriers (racial, gender) that still exist in the US and other developed countries, first world women have incredible opportunities and resources at their fingertips that women in other countries do not.
This is what the immigrants to our country see clearly. The American Dream for them is not home ownership. It is the freedom to start a small business in an environment where the rules are clear, their investment is protected by a functioning rule of law, and they are supported by a healthy banking system.
This is not meant to guilt anyone in the US. I'm also not saying that American women are automatically better off in every way. I like the way Latinas make time for friends, family and leisure. I don’t miss the hyper-consumeristic, over-scheduled pace of my homeland.
It’s simply to give you some perspective and encourage you to consider taking on a bit more risk to move faster.
Because quite frankly, ladies, the world needs you out here, sooner rather than later.
So if you are ready trade in a little cushion and grow your business, check out this post 3 Smart Steps for Women to Move a Side Business to Center Stage.
Dear Ladies: I've talked to many women, I think we are all a little fatigued with the Sell Sell Sell approach online and in our email inboxes these days.
Sometimes its hard to know what to do, especially when you have a lot of questions and the main one is "Where Do I Start?"
Before spending a lot of money on an expensive coach or complex online course with thousands of other people, be sure you are ready.
But how do you know?
One of the first things we do when we want to start a business is look for advice and guidance. This is natural.
But just having a lot of questions does not mean you are ready for most “how to start a business” programs. Let me explain.
If you are looking on the internet, you will quickly come across advice, programs and coaches with huge budgets to advertise. (That, by the way, is not me. Like you, my budget doesn’t have a bunch of zeros behind it!)
There are some terrific resources out there for sure! You are likely on the email list of several of them. I know I am and I’m grateful for them.
The only problem is this: the failure rate for new businesses in the US is at least 50% in the first 5 years.
One big reason new businesses fail is that they run out of money, partly because people spend money on the wrong things, first.
Things like expensive complex business programs with a zillion other people, or high end coaching packages.
I’ve interviewed dozens of women with business ideas. One of them, we’ll call her Andrea, signed up for an expensive, complex business program online. She fretted about it and didn’t want to tell her partner or family.
She dove in, became overwhelmed, and quit, joining the estimated 40- 90% of people who enroll in online courses and don’t complete them.
Not only that, she felt guilty for having spent the money.
This is the opposite of how you should feel when you take the first step toward starting your business.
Why did Andrea have this outcome in a program where so many others take their ideas to the next level?
She wasn’t ready.
The key is you have to be ready.
How do you know?
You DON'T need an expensive multi-week program with thousands of other people or an executive coach to help you answer the most basic questions:
If you answered NO to 4 or more, than the answer is no, you should not sign up for an expensive coaching package or business education with a zillion other people.
The odds of your feeling lost, overwhelmed and quitting are high. I have talked to several women who have had this experience.
I don’t want that to be the outcome of your first baby steps with your DreamBiz idea!
You can find out the answers to all of the above in about a month, without spending a ton of time and money you don’t really have.
How do you find all of this out in an organized way, when you are working full time and don’t have a budget with lots of zeros and money falling out of your pocket?
The DreamBiz Test Drive miniseries - A FREE, 5 part video miniseries of short videos and some helpful downloads that walk you through the 5 steps to lay a very SMART foundation of the most important pieces of your business.
The total series is about 30 minutes long, you can binge watch it on your lunch break if you like.
We talk about you, your customer, your network, your Boss Mindset, how to visualize your business, and how to take your idea on a playdate.
You can sign up here: DreamBiz Video Miniseries
THIS IS WHAT IT IS NOT:
This is not a quickie offer to get you into an expensive coaching package or business education program with thousands of other people.
We are not selling anything with this offer at the end of your miniseries. There is no invitation to a sales webinar coming your way tomorrow.
If you want to join our small online Facebook group community after your miniseries, awesome! Feel free to ask us for the invitation, we would love to have you but we won’t be bugging you to join.
You won’t receive a deluge of sales emails from us or from other people - "influencers" - selling a course for us. Seriously, is that what you gave your email address to them for? So they could help yet another person sell something to you and profit from the referral?
We will put you on our email list to keep in touch. If at any time you don’t want to hear from us, simply unsubscribe or let us know and we’ll do it for you.
Thanks so much for reading through this. We hope you enjoy the miniseries if this seems like a fit for you.
Oh, and like I mentioned, my budget doesn’t have a bunch of zeros behind it. The wealthiest coaches dominate the online ad space - have you noticed you only see the same 1 or 2 coaches or companies in your feed?
I’m not complaining, that’s business, right?
One way you can help our mission to let women know they have everything they need right now to explore the important fundamentals of their business idea - for free - is to share this with a friend who might benefit.
Here is the page to sign up for the Video MiniSeries
All my best to you and for you -
The full DreamBiz Test Drive course is closed right now (and by the way, is not expensive or crowded with thousands of other people, either.) We will respectfully keep you posted on future course opportunities later in the year.
Like many of you, I woke to the news of the tragic events in Florida. I spent some time in meditation, sending love and compassion to the families and friends of the victims.
How was it for you? Did you feel angry, sad, powerless? Is there a creeping sense of numbness that you don't want to admit is there? Don't feel guilty, that sense of detachment is your brain trying to help you cope.
Developing an inspired personal response to bad news is another Not Your Mama’s Midlife moment. We have the wisdom within us to respond as leaders; I’ve included a strategy in the link below to help you frame it, claim it, and share it to inspire and comfort those around you.
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The sad truth is, its becoming obvious that this is not the last time we will experience a mass shooting in the United States. I live in Mexico right now, a country with its own problems with drug related violence.
I’m not discounting yesterday’s tragedy with the rest of this post. What I’m doing is saying that bad news is nothing new and it will continue as our society makes its way through some very challenging times.
What IS new is the way we are assaulted with the information, and we need a framework for coping and not letting bad news literally “bring us down”. We need a plan for consciously processing bad news and setting a healthy example for the people in our lives that we influence.
Here is what is new versus what we grew up with, see if any of this sounds familiar, and think about the effect it has on you and your loved ones:
You are scrolling through your social media when you see news of a friend’s baby. The next post is photos of shooting victims that someone has shared.
Bad news is only a tap away on our cell phones as we check in with social media. The buffer between social chatter and terrible news is gone.
Today as I saw someone on Facebook refer to teachers as "liberal idiots" in a comment thread on a friend's post. I don't know that person, don't want to know him, but seeing that comment evoked a stress response and anger in me. For my body, the damage was done. See how this works? Can you imagine the impact on your health after a extended immersion in Facebook around a controversy or tragedy?
Dozens of comments from friends and strangers magnify the impact of news we see online. In the past, if you saw something disturbing on the nightly news, you had to pick up the phone to have a conversation about it outside of your family circle. Now you can be caught up instantly in an online conversation thread. Even if you don’t participate, just seeing some comments can raise your stress level by activating anger or fear.
Your daughter (or niece or sister or friend) is having a good day and goes online to message a friend about a fun event they are planning. She gets caught up in the posting of bios of the latest school shooting victims and 30 minutes later emerges from behind her phone feeling depressed and sad.
Events can be streamed on social media as they are happening. We can access a constant flow of updates from different sources. This is different from in the past when we had to wait for updates - on the radio, nightly news, or in the morning paper. Today you can spend your whole day following and “checking in” on a news story.
Photos in the paper and film on nightly news were censored in the past. Now anyone with a cell phone can post images and video. Images are extremely powerful, they instantly imprint a visual attached to an emotion, planting an echo of depression and despair that may linger for months if not years. Studies have shown that our emotional response to a memory or a photo from the past is the same as when we are in the moment.
If you or a young person in your life are “visual” - meaning you learn best from seeing and remembering images, you literally have to protect your mind’s eye and teach them how to as well. My son and I are extremely visual. I started very early with him on this practice, and he continues to guard his visual exposure even as a young man in his 20s. if you need some suggestions just let me know.
Your attention is precious. When we talk about “paying attention” it is true - you are spending a precious resource.
The direction and quality of your attention has a direct impact on your life and those you influence.
Creating more intention for where you spend your attention is the key.
Last year, after the tragedy in Charlottesville, I posted a framework for dealing with bad news.
You can see the post here.
I hope you find it helpful in tapping into your experience to create a resilient response to challenging events. The world needs more of the collective inner wisdom from midlife women in these times, wouldn't you agree?
What tips do you have to weather bad news? Did you learn anything from your grandmother around this topic? Please share below.
I like men and I enjoy being in relationship. But I don’t need that be content. Ironically, I think this is a big reason why my relationships tend to last awhile.
I don’t look to a partner to provide my air, water, food, shelter, peace of mind. When I was married with small children, our cooperative arrangement was that my husband’s work take priority; he made more money and it seemed logical. But I never felt fear that if he couldn’t bring home the bacon than my children would starve. I knew if I chose to, I could make more money.
This is not because I’m special. It was a gift from growing up in a US middle class white household - true poverty was never a threat. We received good educations, our parents modeled a consistent work ethic, and we had healthy social connections.
After children grow and move on, relationships often face a big challenge. Even if children are not in the picture, its a time of change and both parties may not see eye to eye.
In an interview on NBCNews.com, Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says:
"The number one divorce rate in the country is among the 50-plus, mostly initiated by the woman.
When we talk to men about what they think retirement is going to be, it’s almost celebratory: If they’ve saved their money, they see it as a time to play golf, take that trip, buy that new car. And they often talk about spending time with their wives.
I can’t tell you how many women have told me, ‘I don’t know who this man is on my couch but I wish he would just go and get a job. I have routines, I have things to do and he’s always there and he’s always asking me what to do next.’
I have a friend with healthy self-confidence and boundaries. Her partner once said to her, “I’m just trying to figure out how to be with you”. Her independent mindset feels like distance to him.
On the other hand, I talked to another woman in her 50s who is scared to tell her husband she wants to go on a yoga retreat without him. She has never taken any trips apart from him, although he travels extensively for business. In her words, he has a “bit of a controlling personality”. A man accustomed to a routine may feel threatened by his wife’s desire for evolution in midlife.
Power struggles aside, I learned years ago that when I’m irritated by something in my partner, it’s a useful pointer to something I’m not happy with in myself. Not always, though.
I do have some baselines for relationship - should I call them needs? They are the non-negotiable elements I require to stay in a relationship, not because I need someone else to provide them, but because I expect them of myself, first.
I call it my soul-house. Its a place inside my soul, built from stones I’ve gathered outside of my comfort zone, placed one at a time as I earned them, like the houses in the Mexican pueblos.
If you have done the work to build a healthy, clutter free soul-house, prepare to be invaded. Do you know the story of Jesus’ panic attack when all the people crowded around for healing? Bingo.
I think this is a challenge for women particularly. We are home personified. Even if we haven’t had children, we still embody the nurturer.
I saw a post in a forum from a woman who had done the hard work of disentangling from a long term relationship with an alcoholic. Her ex refused to leave her alone and did not want to move on with his own life.
On a lighter note, I had a friend with 5 kids all in pre-teen to teenage stage. When she asked them to clean up, she got the predictable rolling of the eyes, the declarations that their messy rooms were “their space”, that they preferred living in squalor because they were not all uptight and controlling like her.
OK fine. The interesting thing was that when my friend reorganized her own room, creating some order, adding plants and candles to a newly decluttered space, guess where the kids all suddenly wanted to congregate and lay on the bed to chat?
My soul-house shelters these values: mutual respect, positivity, curiosity, bravery, an open mind, and taking risks in a continued engagement with life.
People may visit, I may make tea or coffee for them, share a story or two, but if they threaten or are threatened by the clarity in my house, they are not invited to stay.
If they start to bring in their unmet wants, asking me to carry that bag for them because they don’t want the responsibility, it causes stress because I don’t have room in my soul house for lots of baggage and clutter.
The soul-house is a great filter, too. Just today I looked at my values and compared it to why I’ve been annoyed recently with Sergio. Hmmm. I see that he actually continues to show up to the values that live in my soul-house.
So guess what? The stuff I’m annoyed about? It matches up with some stress and fear I’m feeling, some areas where I feel I am falling short right now. I’m projecting.
Everyone's soul-house looks different. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be, don’t you? Its part of the work and reward of partnership.
So what I’m doing now is being more curious about my partner’s soul house even as I continue to hold the ground on mine. I’m trying to remain aware of the times I want to pick up my ray gun and let loose.
I picture us building our shared Casa de Alma in the middle, where we spend more and more time together. For some people this shared house goes up quickly. Culturally for Sergio, it popped up 10 minutes after we met. He regularly refers to me as his wife, even though we are not married and have no plans to do so.
Its taking me longer to meet in the middle.
So in this month of hearts and arrows and too much candy - where are you on this spectrum? Are you feeling pressured by someone else’s perceived “needs”? Or are you feeling a lack of something from your partner - attention, affirmation, something else?
Try this - journal or draw your soul house. Is it pretty clear to you? If not, can you do some work to get clearer on the core values that you embody? If you are single, this is a golden opportunity to do this work free of distraction and strengthen your base.
If you are with someone, imagine your partner’s soul house. See where the floor plans match up and start having juicy conversations about how you can take mutual action around those values.
Big Love - Kala
If you found this helpful, please consider sharing with a friend.
I'm on a call with Neil Murthy, a successful entrepreneur and mentor in Houston. I have my list of questions, most of which focus on prioritizing goals in the very early stages of a business.
Like a good mentor, he takes that line of questioning and blows it up to the stratosphere. He says, “I want you to step back from this week, month or even year. Your biggest goal should be that which you cannot complete in your lifetime. What impact do you want to leave behind? Then you work back from there.”
We may think that’s crazy talk, but in reality, it is a truth that is simply asking us to be intentional about our biggest life. When we die, it’s not like all trace of our life here on earth is wiped away immediately, right? What would you like to see still up and running the day after you are not? If your biggest goal doesn’t make you a little bit embarrassed to talk about, its not big enough.
If you have tried and failed with starting from today to map out a path to a big awesome long term goal, you are not alone. Our fear based brain undermines us quickly with overwhelm and doubt. Instead, start with the end in mind.
A note about being realistic about your goals:
For your biggest dream, go ahead and be crazy. I'm not saying that to be trite. There is a practical reason for this that I explain in a minute.
If you want to be an astronaut, put it down. If you want to be president, an elite athlete, a movie star, the best doctor on the planet, a real estate mogul - go ahead and write it down as if it has happened.
Then work backward in the way we’ve described above to what you should be working on today to make that happen.
Does this mean that by starting at 40 or 50+ years old you will actually be able to become an astronaut in 10 - 15 years? Probably not.
But don't let it stop you, and here is why:
In the process of breaking open what that big dream contains, you will discover the do-able thread that isn’t really about becoming an astronaut after all. It will likely be about something related to science, or teaching, or adventure that is eminently doable. There are thousands of steps one must take to become an astronaut, its in the journey that you will find the true outcome reveals itself.
Will I ever really own and run a gorgeous retreat center in nature? Maybe not, but that dream is rooted in some of my core values, and so I trust that letting it dictate some of my direction will lead me to meet the right people and take the right actions.
It provides part of the motivation that keeps me investing precious time and money into building a business when I could settle for living on a beach somewhere, work a lot less and scrimp my pennies until Social Security kicks in.
That wraps up the first step to setting the stage for Midlife Transformation - figuring out where you are going. Why doesn’t everyone do this? Why do we lose enthusiasm? Because its scary and involves risk. I talk about that in this blog post: How our Cave Woman Brain Keeps us Stuck.
In an interview with Oprah, Jim Carrey tells this story about achieving his dream. Years ago, he put the number $10,000,000 on a piece of paper and carried it around in his wallet. One day, after the movie Dumb and Dumber had become a commercial success, he found that piece of paper he had forgotten about, still in his wallet. Guess how much he had made from that movie? $10,000,0000.
Of course it was not a magic piece of paper. The magic was in the hard work in between. The point that both he and Oprah agreed upon is this: You can’t just "put your dream out there". You have to see it as a goal. A goal is a dream with an action plan. As he put it, “You have to do the work, you can’t just go have a sandwich”.
Do you set goals? Whatever the answer, step back for a minute and think about how you are different now versus a few years ago. On the one hand, most of us have limiting beliefs we have carried around for years. “I’m too old, I don’t have enough time or money, I don’t know how, it’s too late.” There are ways of getting around our limiting beliefs, as I detail in this 10 part series on midlife limiting beliefs.
On the other hand, we know a hell of a lot more than we used to. Every experience you have had in your life happened to bring you to this point.
One thing I do know - goal setting is essential for most of us if we want our life to have impact. Perhaps there are gurus that wake up every day and just react to their routine and surroundings. I did that for years and it led me to depression, not enlightenment.
I wasn’t tapping into my inner guides. For years I did not even know I had another inner life. I thought I was my thoughts. We are not our thoughts. What we “are” is our deepest truth and inner wisdom.
If you are over 40 and do not set goals tied to your inner brilliance that wants to be expressed, you are literally at a crossroads. From my research and observations, if we continue on auto-pilot into our later years, we will spend the last half of our life spinning around the same set of issues. Growth slows. It doesn’t necessarily mean that life will be terrible, it simply means it will be a ghost of the brilliance that is possible.
The first step in the 5 part Not Your Mama’s Midlife transformation system is to get Intentional - set your long term goal and see how your mid and short term goals flow from that.
People talk about goals being SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time defined.
Forget about that for a minute. We’ll come back to it but for now, try this instead:
Before you set your goals, be sure you have a technique for getting that guidance out of your soul and into your life:
Start to really pay attention to what shows up in your life
Here is just one of many examples of the way it works for me:
It’s 6:00 am in early January. The room is cold, I’m tired, a bit uninspired, but I’m showing up to my morning routine.
Guess what signing up for that race has done for me? Made me ACCOUNTABLE. I have been slowly progressing but I have not missed a training run since that time.
Obviously, practicing accountability and focus is the message for me for a few weeks.
So that’s the formula - engage with your inner self on a regular basis, cut out negativity as much as you can, be as present as possible in the moment, and your goals will evolve differently.
Speaking of goals, In the next post, we talk about how to set your goals in a way I bet you haven't experienced before!
Last week Sergio and I found ourselves in a heated discussion (ie fight) in a park in Oaxaca City. Yes, I was full-on channeling my inner Latina, yelling at my boyfriend in a park. It had been a tiring day on our trip and don’t tell me you’ve never had a road trip brawl.
All I can say is, Spanish is a super satisfying language to fight in, and once you can have a verbal disagreement in a second language, you can say you are truly bilingual.
It was the end of a week of mostly beautiful experiences and laced with some relationship tension. Almost anytime you travel with others for more than a few days, this will come up.
That’s how it was for me when I first started traveling. Now, several countries and thousands of miles later, I’ve developed not only an appreciation for solo travel - ha! - but also a more flexible internal response to traveling with others.
But that doesn’t mean I never have days of fatigue or annoyance, and this day was one of them.
My sweet man and I are at a transition point where we’ve uncovered each other’s current no-budge zones. We are now at times asking for that which the other feels they cannot give. Its not a death knell for our duo by any means; I think all authentic relationships have this phase.
The following morning, in the clarity of those first waking moments, I thought, “What are my needs? If I get clear on that and get clear on his, than we can figure this out, right?”
It was weird, it felt like an echo of an old recording of the past.
Then next thought, clearer and fresher than the previous, was, “What? Kala, ‘getting your needs met' is the wrong basis for a relationship with this man, with friends, family or anyone else.”
Really, is "getting our needs met" not THE most childish thought pattern we carry into adulthood? I can see our inner toddlers, red in the face, fists clenched, wanting that cookie, NEEDING that cookie, and mama says no.
The phrase “get my needs met” comes up so often in American conversations about relationships that we’ve become accustomed to thinking it is a reasonable expectation. Google the phrase and you will see dozens of blog posts from supposedly credible sources, like Psychology Today, for example.
“I need to get my needs met” is a passive statement that sets up expectation from someone else. Dangerous territory from the get-go.
To state the obvious and reset to zero: A true need is something our body requires to stay alive. Our most basic need is for air. Then we need water. And food. We must learn to source these things to survive.
Humans have developed cooperative ways to source and share food, of course - so we don’t have to be the lone hunter. When the tribe bought back the buffalo from the hunt, everyone shared in the distribution because it was a community effort. No one sat on a rock and demanded that their needs get met, except maybe the 2 year olds.
We are mammals so we don’t develop properly without human contact, but we don’t die. Some people say sex is a basic human need. Who has ever died from not having sex?
So lets say the definition of a true need is something that if we don’t get it, we will die or it measurably increases our chances of death.
Because we are complex humans, we obviously don’t stop there. There is an infinite list of wants that we confuse with needs because they make us happy or content or make us feel safe. Or, on a less healthy note, things that feed a dysfunction or enable an addiction.
This gets tricky because very often that which we think we need isn’t really the response that is going to make us happy and content after all.
The marriage counseling industry has a steady demand based on this dynamic. We fight to get our needs met, and then realize, huh, that really wasn’t what I wanted after all. Our partner, who we have asked to stretch to meet our need, is hurt, and the damage is done. Or vice versa.
Humans are masters of projection. What we think we “need” can be a projection of something we lack in ourselves. This is where the idea of "you complete me" starts. It may be something that we need to work on in ourselves, but don’t, because that is the really scary hard work.
It’s much easier to load up our ray gun and spray our relationships with expectations of unmet needs and then point the finger and feel hurt because they are not giving us what we want. Most people have been experienced both sides of this dynamic.
In the next post we'll talk about your soul-house, a visual construct you can use to create and protect peace of mind and contentment for yourself, without relying on others. This is important work, because women over 50 are initiating divorce at the highest rate of any other group.
Big Love - Kala
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If color has a hometown, it must be Oaxaca City, Mexico.
The streets, stores and people are brimming with colorful handmade items. Food here is a picturesque patchwork of dishes that satisfy before you even eat. The flowering trees lining the stony streets mock the stern reserve of the Spanish architecture. It is a beautiful, energizing place to reflect on the changes happening for the women here as well as some conversations I’ve had recently with American women. It has me thinking about the colors of our dreams.
The conversations I've had recently were with women in midlife around changes they would like to see in the next 6 months. Nearly all of them referred to some sort of change in their work.
It’s not always comfortable but it’s totally normal - it makes sense that after a couple decades of working we would step back and say, huh. What am I doing and why?
I’ve thought about that as I’m learning more about the changes that are occurring as Oaxacan society continues to respond to an increased demand for weavings and other crafts that started in the 1970s. Oaxacan women and men have participated in efforts to retain majority control in the development of their economy. Women are now better educated and leading in ways they did not before; managing businesses, showing up at meetings that were previously male only, making collective decisions that may have previously been handed down by one or two male leaders.
(That gives a very broad brushstroke to a complex subject that I can’t cover in depth here. I’ve noted a reference that I’ve been reading at the bottom of the blog post. )
We can see an analog in the U.S. with female entrepreneurs, especially women of color. An American Express Open study from 2016 reports that women-owned firms are increasing at five times the national average rate, and nearly 8 in 10 new women-owned firms are being launched by women of color.
Like the women in Oaxaca, many female entrepreneurs of color in the U.S. are organizing around a common cause - to share learning and resources, to have a say in how changes affect them and their families, and to keep each other accountable to their bigger goals.
Contrast this with another approach that many women fall back on. They have worked like crazy for years, many have gotten to a place of accomplishment, but are feeling like something is missing.
What got them there isn’t interesting to them anymore. One woman said “I tend to be extremely resilient, no matter what comes up, I focus, follow through, and then get back to where I want to be. Until now. I just can’t seem to find that motivation right now. Its really surprised me.”
The challenge I am observing ( and have lived myself) is one reason we get stuck is that we are bringing the same set of tools that worked before for us (or our mothers) to try to progress, or bump along, or even procrastinate to stay in our comfort zone.
Does this sound familiar - “I need to think about it, do some reading, research, plan a little more, see where I’m at in…” - in when?
I’m not saying that research and planning are unnecessary. I am saying that by this point in our lives we know a hell of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for, and for sure more than our culture gives us credit for. Why don’t we give ourselves credit for our hard-earned moxie?
We live in a society that is so obsessed with youth that American women, with all our education and first world trappings, are less validated for our wisdom than middle-aged indigenous women in Oaxaca!
The messaging of our popular culture is this: the older you get, the more irrelevant you become.
Try this: take a moment and disconnect how that feels emotionally - step back and look at that as a fact and not have a feeling about it. Now, who or what is served in our society by this messaging?
It serves commercial interests, primarily.
I’m calling it out because we cannot expect the message to change for us.
We can choose to see it for what it is and to take action in spite of it. We can choose to work compassionately with our fears around money, aging, our changing body. (More on that in future posts, I only bring it up here because nothing in midlife happens in a vacuum. If we are disconnected with and resentful of our amazing bodies, it affects everything else. )
What is happening, especially for this generation of women in midlife, is that we are being called to leap.
In general women in midlife way overdo the planning and thinking. Studies and our experience tell us that women are actually fairly confident in our zone of expertise. We are much less confident than men when we are out of known territory. One study showed that women were much less likely to apply for a job if they couldn't check off every requirement. Men applied even if not completely qualified. Men tend to do, women tend to wait
Yes, there are external obstacles to our progress, but we also hold ourselves back.
f you’ve been feeling unsettled or discontented for awhile now, you don’t need to think, research, plan or see how it feels 2 weeks from now.
You need to take some action, something sharp enough to get your attention, something that pokes a hole in your routine or comfort zone.
Macro view: As I’ve pointed out before, while this generation of midlife women was growing up, the world began trending at an exponential rate on almost every major indicator. For those of us in midlife, it may not seem like it matters personally, but changes in society and the planet are moving faster than ever and it IS the energetic backdrop of our lives.
Micro view: Many of the women I talk to are accustomed to figuring out their lives by themselves, really. Some have had extensive leadership development paid for by their employers, and that's fabulous, but we all know that we show up differently to things when we have sought it out and paid for it ourselves.
In my own journey, I woke up one day at 52 years old, newly single, with lots of question marks around my “job”. I had always put my spouse’s career first; he made more money, and we unquestioningly prioritized money as the priority goal in designing our lives as a couple with young children.
After my divorce, I had some savings to work with. I looked at it and thought, I could shrink my life, get 2 jobs and several roommates (I was living in Northern California at the time), and spoon feed my retirement account in little bits for the next 15 years. I could spend my 50s - the last decade or so of relative youth and energy - working for someone else. I could put my faith in the questionable ethics of Wall Street and cross my fingers that the market wouldn’t crash again in the meantime.
For what? Let’s face it, at 52, if you don’t make much money, the amount you can put into savings is not going to move the needle much in terms of return. I’m not a financial planner and actually would love to find a brave one help me create a chart of diminishing lifestyle returns.
What is the flexion point in your 50s where saving doesn’t make much difference to your retirement budget unless you can sock away a good chunk from one salary or double income?
For me, the outcome of being “sensible and safe” would have (maybe) been a few more dollars every month from Social Security at 65, at which point I would shrink my life even more, and probably still work at least one job on the side for low pay so as not to endanger my monthly check. That seemed like a life drained of color.
Leaving my former husband was the hardest thing I have ever done. I didn’t tear a piece out of my family’s heart to settle for shrinking my life.
I decided to sell what I owned, get scrappy about side work and cutting expenses, take some risks, see the world, meet a bunch of new people to enrich my network and influence - so I can begin to contribute to them and others as well.
I’ve had anxiety attacks looking at my numbers sometimes, but I’m the Boss of Me, right? I have a plan and I’m working it. My progress is imperfect and fabulous. Money doesn’t get to rule my life anymore, it’s a part of the puzzle but it's not the only goal. And right now I’m working to make ends meet, just like most of you and the women I have talked to.
This is my experiment now. Unlike most “how I did it” stories on the internet, I can’t tell you that this approach has made me wealthy in monetary terms. (Yet!)
I can tell you that I’m living my dream. One of my motivations is I'm creating a scrapbook for my 80 year old self (Try it!)
I show up to life in full color. I’m traveling the world, living where I want to, and making significant trade-offs (such as drastic downsizing) to make it sustainable because I don’t have a trust fund or alimony to rely on.
I’m not saying that my dream is yours or that it should be. Its different for everyone.
What I am saying is I know you have a dream, and I know you are capable of so much more than you probably give yourself credit for. It is the risk is what makes your dream pop! It fills your dream with colors. If it wasn’t risky, it wouldn’t be a dream because you would be doing it.
How do we do this?
If I had stayed where I was, trying to figure it out on my own, as I had always done, I would have stayed stuck.
Its almost impossible to blaze a new trail in your heart, soul and life alone. The difference is I am connected to and accountable to other women now. I have a mentor and a coach. When those arrangements end, I’ll look for creative ways to replace that accountability.
The reason I’m so passionate about connecting us to one another is that it’s the only way to make our own rate of change and progress match the rate of change in the world around us.
And that is the way our contribution stays relevant and we increase our influence, something the world desperately needs right now.
I invested in some personal development programs and coaching in the last couple of years. What I see is that there are basically 2 camps.
The women who break through and really leverage what they have learned the first half of their careers are the ones who invest in themselves - yes, spend money on a program or coach - so that they are accountable to other women for some significant stretch goals. This is because knowing we have to show up pushes us to move a little faster and take a little more risk.
The point is, I used to sit on my couch, alone, and try to recreate my life in a silo. Guess what happened? I was chronically discontented with my progress. I had friends and clients, of course - but that is different from the accountability of other women when you have put some skin in the game. That is what gets us taking action and risk, learning faster, and increasing our impact.
And here is the proof: The women who are changing society and their lives in a big way are organized and accountable to one another. Just ask the strong women of Oaxaca and thousands of female women of color entrepreneurs in the U.S.