You’re Now Middle Age–Here Are Some Benefits

As we begin a new year, pause for a few moments to take your emotional temperature. Now that you are firmly entrenched in middle age–over 40, 50, perhaps even 60–do you still celebrate being alive and look forward to a joyful and purposeful second half? I trust you don’t consider yourself trapped in a dull, mind-numbing daily routine. Are idealism, romance and a sense of adventure gone from your life, replaced by a never-ending struggle simply to maintain the status quo? Worst of all, do you worry continually about growing old, anticipating a steady decline physically and mentally, ending life as a whisper in the “Care Center” of your local retirement home?

Negative emotions like those described above are symptomatic of an all-too-common midlife malaise: the curse of lost dreams and diminished expectations! At some point beyond 40, so many of us become haunted by the realization that we are not as young, athletic and physically attractive as we once were, that children who once were the center of our universe are growing up and beginning to tune us out and that our most recent job promotion likely will be our last. Perhaps for the first time, you now acknowledge that those lofty career and lifestyle goals that once seemed so attainable today appear out of reach.

When you’re in a better mood, I trust you reflect upon the many blessings of middle age.  Your children are, or soon will be, fully grown and off on their own. Perhaps for the first time in years, you and your spouse or life partner have ample time to spend quality time both alone and together, to broaden personal horizons and to share life-enriching adventures just for two.

Grandchildren have or soon will add a wonderful new dimension. Cable or direct TV, mobile communication devices, the Internet and Social Media bring undreamed of culture, education, self-expression and entertainment right into your home. As empty nesters, you two may be alone in your residence but you can communicate in a heartbeat with offspring, relatives, friends and loved ones all arround the world.

Thanks to years of diligent savings and investment, I trust you have attained financial security you only dreamed of in your twenties and thirties. Your personal resume has been building over the past 20 to 30 years. As a mature adult, you have experienced both the bitter and the sweet and you know how to distinguish true gold from glitter. You routinely avoid the foolish mistakes you might have made 25 years ago. In fact, never before have you been better equipped to take control, set priorities and to joyfully accomplish those essential lifelong goals that really matter to you.

When you think about it, most of your life up to now has been directed by someone else or by circumstances. As a child, your next steps were determined by parents and teachers. In your teen years, social contemporaries and teen influencers had a say. In college, it was professors and fraternity/sorority brothers/sisters; in the military your commanding officer or Sargent and early on in your career, the boss and your employer. After you were married, circumstances–child-bearing, caring for and nurturing infants, toddlers and small children–pretty much determined how you and your spouse spent your time.

Now that you are in middle age, it’s time to take over personal control of life’s next stages. You may still have a boss to report to, but you no longer need to play office politics and you can take far more initiative in prioritizing and defining your workday. Middle age is an ideal point to redefine yourself as an individual–your worth is defined by far more than your position at work. Is your life balanced? What career track do you want to be on? A fresh, positive attitude and the commitment to take primary control of personal destiny can make your 40′s, 50′s and 60′s a period of maximum joy, fulfillment and service to others.

The secret to a joyful, productive and rewarding second half is to recapture a youthful zest for living blended in with the mature judgment of middle age–a winning combination! Once you regain firm control over your emotions and set the gage on ‘positive’, there is absolutely no reason to fear the future. Prepare financially now, then relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the journey. As a positive, self-confident individual pursuing a proactive agenda, you will have no room for lingering bitterness, self-doubt or recrimination.

Here’s a question for you: “Will you take full responsibility for your destiny moving forward?”   If your answer is “yes”, please sit back and make yourself three solemn pledges:

  1. “Starting right now, I no longer will dwell upon past mistakes and seek to blame myself, circumstances or anyone else on where I am today.”
  2. “As of this moment, I hereby appoint myself as CEO of me.”
  3. “I solemnly pledge that I will search diligently for new ways to make all my tomorrows positive, focused and productive. Change is not my enemy, I hereby embrace it as my best friend!”

As soon as you clear your mind of regret and stop blaming self and others for things that are “wrong” with your life today, you can fill the void with positive heartfelt images of the renewed  creative, forward thinking individual you intend to become.  This person is not a total stranger–it is the new, improved you. You are now fully capable of combining the idealism of youth with an irreplaceable wealth of hard-earned knowledge and experience–so who’s to stop you now?

No one can prevent you from believing in yourself 100%. Ladies and gentlemen, wake up! Right now at the beginning of a new calendar year is a great point in time to begin reconstruction of the positive, goal-oriented person you were created to be! Once renewed in mind and spirit, you will join a select vanguard of cutting-edge, midlife winners fully capable of testing boundaries, analyzing problems, promoting creative solutions and enjoying every moment of being alive.

Want to learn more about the art of midlife renewal in the new year? Tune in to the December 29 and January 5 installments of my acclaimed Internet radio program ‘Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age!’ You can find our program link on Google at the top of page 1.

 

 

 

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De-Stess the Holidays Before They Arrive

Thanksgiving is upon us and Christmas, Hanukkah & New Year’s will be here before we know it. For all too many, this will be not the “season of joy” but rather “the season of stress.” At middle age, you’ve been down Santa Claus lane a few times before. Ask yourself this question: “Do I look forward to the holidays this year with joyful expectation or am I dreading all the things I need to accomplish just to get ready?”

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You’re scrambling around to clear the clutter and get your house all clean and spiffy before Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas overnight guests arrive.
  • You’re charging down supermarket aisles, rushing around the mall to find Christmas gifts, then waiting in long check-out lines. (‘Why was I crazy enough to Christmas shop on Black Friday again this year?”)
  • You will spend all Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings cooking the holiday meal for a large group of relatives, then after dinner you get to wash the dishes all by yourself.
  • You are hanging outdoor Christmas lights haphazardly on a bitter-cold late November day, trying like crazy not to fall off the ladder.
  • At the last minute, you’re frantically mailing cards and gifts to everyone on your list, making certain that no one is left out.
  • You’re rushing to catch a flight or gassing up the old SUV, then struggling through airport security or creeping down a clogged highway made worse by the 6-10″ snowfall from the night before.
  • You’re dreading how you’ll respond at Thanksgiving dinner when your mother-in-law or Uncle Fred, as they always do, says something mean that gets your goat.

Not one of these expectations sounds very appealing does it? I know this sounds crazy, but each year when Christmas finally arrives I find myself exhausted, bored, almost let-down because I have nothing else to rush around to accomplish. My wife Gloria and I generally spend the week between Christmas & New Year’s mostly de-compressing from pre-holiday stress, generally too worn down to enjoy our company. CRAZY, isn’t it?

What if this year the holidays could be less about stress and more about celebration? Here’s an even better idea: Let’s make this year’s holiday season a positive dress rehearsal for stress-free living throughout the coming year!  Everyone has his or her own formulas to remain calm under pressure but here are my “10 Commandments” for the holidays:

  1. Plan out your pre-holiday and holiday routine well before the actual day arrives. Set goals not just for yourself (and not simply to ‘survive’) but for every guest and family member. What positive experience will each one to take away from your time together?
  2. In what ways do you love, respect and admire each person you will have contact with over the holidays? In what ways can you demonstrate love, concern and affection?
  3. List the good points of everyone who will visit and how you might ‘make their day.’
  4. Make peace with yourself. Love yourself so much that that love and compassion will overflow to others. This may sound selfish, but it follows Christ’s command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  5. Refuse to feel and act like you’re under another’s microscope. You’re not perfect and neither is he or she! Brush off criticism lightly and without malice, then move on.
  6. Never set holiday expectations too high. Simply because Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s are designated as holidays doesn’t mean they always will be the greatest day of the year. Each holiday, sit back, relax and enjoy a quiet yet fun time with close friends and family, Who knows, February 20 and May 12 might turn out to be your best days of nest year!
  7. When pre-holiday crowds get to you, find a quite corner and take deep breaths. Shopping and travel are not life or death experiences after all. If you miss out on that gift or miss your airport connection, it won’t really make a lick of difference to your long-term health and wellbeing?
  8. To make this holiday season truly special, give some time and money to those less fortunate. Volunteering could turn out to be your highlight of the season.
  9. Ladies–don’t hesitate to ask others for help preparing holiday meals or cleaning up after. Genuinely caring friends & loved ones will willingly pitch in and likely will benefit as much as you.
  10. If at all possible, find a way to include children in your holiday. Thanksgiving and Christmas simply aren’t the same without the expectation, joy and enthusiasm of young minds, bodies and spirits!

Let me throw in three bonus suggestions:

  • For every planned activity, always have a backup plan in mind. If the mall is too crowded on Saturday, address Christmas cards and return to shop after work next Tuesday.
  • Shop or travel with someone relaxed whom you love or admire. When things get too hectic and lines get too long, smile, chat and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Plan as many as possible fun activities that don’t involve food. You don’t want to fight the battle of the bulge throughout the early part of next year. (P.S: if you attend a holiday movie, no buttered popcorn!)

One other suggestion: if you’re a person of faith, try not to forget the reason for the season. (Hint: Christmas time is not just about the jolly little fat man in the pretty red suit.)

In conclusion, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s are meant to be joyful times, peaceful, warm and loving. It makes absolutely no sense to wear down or stress yourself out preparing for them! Therefore, I strongly urge you to plan in advance then take it easy and have a jolly good time. Let’s make this a year when on January 2 you don’t sigh in relief, glad that the holidays are finally over until next November!

Care to learn more about de-stressing the holidays? Tune in to the Monday November 24 edition of my weekly Internet radio show ‘Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age.’ Our expert guest Dr. Elaine Ferguson, M.D., author of the acclaimed book SUPERHEALING, will present some powerful keys to remaining cool, calm, collected–and joyful–before, during and after the holidays this year. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s not fair, but you ladies tend to bear more than your share of the holiday preparation

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Managing Seasoned Employees–Advice from a Midlife Perspective

As enterprise leaders from the first wave of Baby Boomers retire, they are being replaced by talented but novice younger managers and executives. In ever increasing numbers, employees too young for wrinkles, bifocals or midlife bulge are being promoted to senior and intermediate leadership positions in enterprises large and small. At times, they supervise seasoned employees old enough to be their parents!

A clash of generational cultures is already beginning to take place, creating stress, strain and discontent both for young bosses and their older subordinates. Long-tenured veterans who have prospered for years in traditional top-down hierarchies have grown accustomed to the dictum: “With age and experience comes authority.” Seasoned employees simmer, “How dare my company promote someone with so little experience over me! Why am I being tossed aside? How in the world can I take orders from a boss younger than my daughter?”

Young bosses may experience high anxiety as well: “Will a subordinate with 25 years in this business take me seriously? How will I authenticate my authority? How in the world can I inspire senior citizens to abandon stone-age notions, master the latest technology and contribute in this information age?”

As a long-standing representative of the post-50 workforce, I offer some unsolicited advice to young leaders on how to overcome our intransigence, resentment and fear of the future. Believe it or not, a lot of us are receptive to change, are more than willing to follow your direction and greatly admire your mastery of the communication age.

To bring out the best in us old folks, here are a few suggestions:

Suggestion #1: Tell us what you want. Effective communication between young and old is an absolute necessity. Do not simply hand out assignments then move on. We don’t always understand the new technology and all the terms that go with it but we are willing to try so long as you stick around to give us clear instructions. Also, we would appreciate that you listen to our input before you blithely hand out workload.

Suggestion #2: Respect our experience both in the workplace and in life. Even the 50-year-old mother of grown children entering the workforce for the first time has a wealth of experience–managing the household, motivating individuals (husband & kids) and interacting with others. Please look beyond formal education and job history to uncover those valuable skills transferable to the present situation.

Suggestion #3: Make us feel special. Admittedly, many of us don’t feel wonderful about being passed over for the position you now hold. Overcome our resentment by demonstrating time and again that we still belong–indeed you can’t get the job done without us. Sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ is all that we need. If asked, we will be honored to fill you in on company and industry history and to help train and mentor our less-experienced colleagues. Of course, whenever merited we old-timers would appreciate a raise, incentive bonus or alternative form of monetary reward.

Suggestion #4: Offer us the training we need. Just because we are over 50 doesn’t mean we have no desire to learn new skills or explore fresh horizons. Not unlike our younger colleagues, we need to remain abreast of the latest technology. Regardless of age, keeping us up to date will be well worth the investment. If not effectively trained and indoctrinated, we may not be able to contribute enough to justify our compensation.

Suggestion #5: Please try not to lord it over us that you are the boss. Most of us grew up in a traditional command and control business environment and we will follow you so long as you demonstrate competence, impartiality and totally ethical behavior. We are well aware that you are the one in charge, so you needn’t keep telling us! In addition to giving orders, we ask that you coach us to sharpen our focus and help us to hone our workplace skills.

Suggestion 6: Recognize that we many years invested in this company. Most of us have a lot to lose! I am certain you understand our overriding concern for job security. At our age, it would be difficult if not impossible to locate a comparable position in another enterprise. We simply want assurances we can keep our jobs so long as we meet realistic performance criteria and the enterprise remains sound.

Suggestion #7--Above all else, do not stereotype us, your seasoned employees or arbitrarily assume that we are unable to change. Every one of us is a living, breathing human being, not a stereotypical Baby Boomer. Do so-called experts honestly believe that all 76 million of us think and behave the same? More than a few of us are open to radical new ideas and to bold mid-career experimentation.

To summarize, here are my “16 E’s” of seasoned employee motivation:

  1. Empower on-board veteran employees. 
  2. Exchange information freely; create an information democracy.
  3. Elicit feedback. We’ve been around a long time and have learned a lot.
  4. Educate veteran employees, ensuring us the skills needed for a bang-up job.
  5. Encourage  subordinates to move forward, even at mid-career and beyond.
  6. Entice veteran employees to recommit to company goals by offering an inspiring positive vision of the future.
  7. Enlist dedicated seasoned subordinates as ‘deputy agents of change.’
  8. Enhance work assignments for employees young and old.
  9. Emply the full range of employee capabilities.
  10. Enfranchise seasoned subordinates by dispersing decision rights broadly throughout your area of responsibility.
  11. Elevate performance of seasoned employees by inspirationally challenging us to new heights.
  12. Eliminate age discrimination, office politics and any similar form of destructive emotional distraction.
  13. Evaluate performance judiciously on a timely basis, providing constructive, not destructive criticism.
  14. Expand incentive programs for plateaued seasoned employees so that everyone is rewarded for contributing more.
  15. Extend careers of exceptional older employees by enriching their workday and offering part and full-time options for working beyond normal retirement age.
  16. Engage soon-to-retire employees up until their final day on the job.

An executive team that routinely promotes and lives by these ’16 E’s’ of seasoned employee motivation will attract and retain the best-of-the-best, thereby conserving and enhancing one of your company’s most prized assets: the uniquely experienced and qualified collection of seasoned on-board veterans–the ones who drive day-to-day operations.

For additional information on company revival and seasoned employee motivation, please preview my book WAKE UP CAPTAIN AND CREW–RESTART YOUR ENGINES! You can preview and purchase the book both on Amazon.com and on our website www.middleagerenewal.com.

 

 

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Here’s Your Formula for a Joyfull and Prosperous Second Half

In your forties or fifties, are you convinced that your best years are behind you? Perhaps you were an outstanding athlete or head cheerleader in high school or college but your early success hasn’t carried over to your adult years. Maybe your early years of marriage and parenthood where filled were filled with romance and joy but the spark is gone and your home life has become a daily grind. Many of us settle into a job that we don’t truly admire and find ourselves expending far too much time and energy attempting to ‘get ahead.’ Maybe you’re not ready financially to retire and anyway you and your spouse haven’t made solid plans for your post-retirement years.

Are you destined to suffer through the dreaded “same-old-same-old” over the next thirty years until you wind up in a nursing home? Heck no! You may already be acquainted with the persistent message on this blog, our website and my radio program: the second half can be absolutely the best years of your life!

I will not go into all the advantages of mature adulthood–the years you are living right now–but I want to introduce the “O.P.E.N.S.” formula, my prescription for a joyful, rewarding and prosperous second half. Let’s examine each letter in turn:

  • “O” is for an Optimistic outlook on today and the future. Get in the habit of always looking on positive aspects of any circumstance you find yourself in. None of us can fully control our environment but every one of us has complete control over how we respond. An essential ingredient to optimism is solid confidence in yourself: assurance that with the help of God and others, you can claw yourself out of every difficulty. Good news: once you become consistently optimistic towards life, you will inspire those around you to be positive and will attract optimistic people into your life. Good results will follow.
  • “P” is for Prayer–a solid spiritual connection to a higher power, whether you call that power God, Allah, the Eternal Being or Universal Intelligence. No matter how smart, you are not likely to experience a meaningful, joy-filled life if you rely solely upon your internal resources.  There is a little bit of God in all of us but that inner God will starve without proper nourishment of wisdom from beyond.
  • “E” is for Exercise. Let’s face it, you are not likely to renew mind and spirit in a 50-pound overweight body. Exercise needn’t be strenuous and must be appropriate for your age and prior conditioning. Like me, I’m certain your mind works better after a walk in the woods. Don’t attempt to go from couch potato to marathon runner in a week–not unless you want a fatal heart attack! Whether or not you seek professional guidance, an effective exercise program begins in the mind. First commit yourself to specific weight and fitness goal then routinely visualize how great you will look and feel once goals are accomplished. Now set for yourself a realistic timetable of accomplishment and get started.
  • “N” is for Nutrition. I’m not a dietitian, but like me I’m certain your are aware of the nutritional shortcomings of the average American diet. I’ll bet you don’t feel all that great after a breakfast on the run of coffee and doughnuts! Why do restaurants feed us such large portions when we go out to lunch? Why does the processed food we eat at home have so many of the healthful vitamins and minerals removed? Tune in to the Sept. 15, 2014 installment of my Internet radio program ‘Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age’ to learn why even those who follow healthy diets need to take daily vitamin supplements to ensure fulfillment of personal nutritional needs.
  • “S” is for Service to the greater good and our fellow humans. Guess what: no matter how great the shape you’re in, how good you look and how positive your outlook, you won’t remain fulfilled for long without a firm commitment to serve others. Your secret is to dedicate your talents, performing only activities you like to do and are good at, in service to others. The more you benefit others, the better off you will feel but there are limits. Don’t overextend yourself or wear yourself down. You were placed on this earth to have a good time and there is no way you are required deprive yourself of a joyful life experience to serve others.

The “OPENS” formula works for me and it can work for you. Put to rest that negative attitude and outlook on your future–it is getting you nowhere! Your best years are not behind you! Stop sleepwalking through life and go to work on each of the five letters. Over time, I guarantee the formula will produce positive results!

 

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Career Plateau, Kids Grown–What Can I Look Forward To?

At some point in middle age, most of us realize that we no longer are climbing the ladder to success–at least not in conventional terms. Our youngest child is grown and has left home for college, the military or an apartment across town. Our boss informs that we are highly unlikely to receive future promotions. The work is OK, but we face the ‘same-old-same-old’ until we retire. Perhaps we face pending mandatory retirement but our entire sense of self-worth comes from career and we haven’t given serious thought to doing anything else.

Do you feel like you’ve just been given a life sentence of rusting away on a sidetrack? Well sir or madam, your outlook on the future is totally up to you–the glass is half-empty and half-full! In fact, right now may be the perfect time to take a hard look at goals and priorities for the rest of your life. Let’s consider each circumstance in turn:

Empty Nesting

On the day your youngest leaves home, you and your spouse deserve blue-ribbon recognition. You have just completed one of life’s most treasured missions. Now you can concentrate on making the most of approaching empty-nest years? Here are some suggestions:

  • You have not lost your children–they have simply relocated! Rapidly establish contact via the phone, e-mail, social media and frequent, well-planned visits. Stay connected, demonstrate sincere interest but don’t attempt to force yourself into every aspect of their young-adult lives.
  • Reestablish focus upon yourself. You are far more than simply “mom” or “dad.”  Commit to weekly introspection, pray for guidance, broaden your knowledge and have fun your way.
  • Reestablish focus upon your spouse as full-time life partner. Re-kindle the romantic flame. Get to know your spouse all over again. Launch shared adventures just for two. Resume joint activities you cherished before family responsibilities got in the way.
  • Reach out to your community. Volunteer for activities where you excel and will have a good time performing.
  • Reach out to the world beyond. If you can afford it, travel to foreign lands. Learn new cultures. Dedicate time and energy to a cause.

Career Plateau

Let’s look at the bright side–the pressure is off. Presuming your present position is secure and your employer healthy, you no longer need to play office politics or bust your tail for that next promotion. Here’s an opportunity to reapportion your precious time and energy:

  • Remember at all times that your worth as an individual and success in life is determined by far more than position title or earnings. You are far more than your job!
  • Continue to give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, but  ease up a bit on the job and dedicate extra time and energy to your family, church and community, public service and to enriching hobbies that you truly enjoy.
  • Contribute as a team player. Some of the world’s most valuable employees are mature plateaued professionals who contribute irreplaceable skills, knowledge and expertise.
  • Take initiative to enhance your present position. Volunteer for added responsibilities and prize temporary assignments, seeking out only those tasks that are fulfilling to you.
  • Remain flexible, continually open to change and ready to accept new challenges. The one constant in today’s world of commerce is change–something totally unexpected may open up to you.
  • Dedicate evenings and weekends to planning for the next stage: a new job, retirement or a fulfilling entrepreneurial venture.

Retirement

Have you and your spouse wisely set aside and invested amounts sufficient to fund a long and comfortable retirement? If so, your remaining task is to prepare mentally: Absent your title, accustomed daily routine, work patterns and employer perks will you continue to believe and act as though your life matters? How you choose to live and contribute in retirement is up to you but here are a few suggestions:

  • Approach your pending retirement the same as you would major career transition. How would you most like to expend time and energy for maximum benefit to self and others? Always remember, you are retiring from a job, not from life!
  • What oft-postponed lifelong goals will you strive to accomplish in retirement? Launching joyful and purposeful retirement can be every bit as fulfilling as starting a business–and you aren’t assuming the risk.
  • Once retired, promise that you will continue to behave like a person who can make a difference. Each morning, pledge to accomplish one pet project or lighten the load for at least one other person.
  • As a relaxed, adventuresome and fun-loving retiree, you will attract positive like-minded individuals like a magnet. You will not be bored or alone.

I speak from experience: I sold my insurance brokerage three years ago and ever since have had more than enough to keep me busy. Best of all, I’m enjoying every minute of it!

One Final Adventure

As we move into and progress through our twilight years, we can’t help but speculate on one final adventure–the greatest adventure of all! Like me, are you confident of life after death wondrous beyond fondest expectations? Our finite human minds cannot to begin to envision the glorious possibilities of life eternal in the spirit realm!  There can be no shortage of joyful anticipation for any spiritually-anchored woman or man.

Want to learn more about prospects for a glorious afterlife for yourself and loved ones? Tune in to the August 11, 2014 episode of my Internet radio program “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age” (available live on the Internet now.) I interview Bob Olson, a former Private Investigator, who spent 15 years investigating and 3 years writing his book Answers About the Afterlife. Tune in to learn why you have nothing to fear at all after taking your last breath here on earth. To locate our program, simply Google “middle age your best age”–our link is at the top of page one.

 

 

 

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Midlife Battle of the Bulge–Become Friends With Your Scale

As the warmth of spring turns into the heat of summer, we soon will be wearing less and showing off more. It’s much harder to hide those extra pounds gained over the winter without our sweaters and thick winter coats. Will you be proud to show off your body by the pool or at the beach?

Many of us over 40 are caught up in the never-ending ‘battle of the bulge’: Do you sometimes get on the scale in the morning only to learn you’ve gained 3 pounds from the day before?  Does this apparent weight gain emotionally ruin your whole day, perhaps even lessen your self-esteem? On a bad day, I’ve had the scale implant in my brain the notion that I looked fat in my clothes, lacked self-discipline and even harmed my self-confidence in interacting with others!

Perhaps like me, you’d like to throw that nasty scale out the window so you’d never have to get on it again. In fact, rather than blaming your scale for weight gain, why not make the bathroom scale your best friend? Here are a few suggestions on how to strike up a friendship:

  • Make it your routine to weigh yourself once and once only at roughly the same time each day–preferably early morning.
  • Step on, step off. Whatever the reading,  leave the scale’s presence both  physically and emotionally.
  • Look, then move on–it’s just a number–neither negative nor positive.
  • Note how you’re trending–chart your progress over time.
  • Never assume you’ve gained or lost weight based upon a single reading. The number on your scale can be influenced by a variety of factors (liquid retention, your most recent BM, the barometer outside, your level of stress.)
  • If you’ve gained a few pounds–it’s not because of that cheesecake dessert you ate last night.  Your body takes a long time and persistent over-eating to translate food intake into actual fat stores.
  • Detach yourself emotionally from the numbers–keep with your weight-loss intentions. Today’s reading is like a mid-term grade, not your ‘final exam’.
  • Stick with your scale. If you stop weighing altogether, your weight can get way out of hand.

One of my least favorite aspects of the annual physical exam is the weigh-in. Why is it the nurse always announces your weight for all to hear and the reading is about five pounds heavier than your home scale? Here are some suggestions on how to deal with the dreaded doctor’s office weigh-in:

  1. Simply decline: “I prefer not to be weighed today, if that’s OK.”
  2. Inquire: “Is my weight important for what I’m being treated for today?” Often, the obvious answer will be “no.”
  3. Offer the nurse the early-morning reading you copied down from your home scale.
  4. Keep your eyes closed and request the staff member not to announce your weight out loud.

Without doubt, you have more clothes on and probably have eaten breakfast and/or lunch before your appointment so doctor’s office weight will only distract (and discourage) you from your actual weight trending.

Here are five times you should never step on the scale:

  1. Right after a vacation.
  2. Right after a special holiday or celebration.
  3. Right after travel, business or pleasure, especially on a plane.
  4. Right after you’ve been sick.
  5. Whenever you feel vulnerable, e.g., following a crisis or personal loss.

As sound practice, always keep in mind the “three-day rule”: whenever you experience a major shift in fluid levels because of a disruption in your normal routine, it takes at least three days for your weight to return to normal.

Here are a few common myths about the numbers on your scale:

  • I can lose weight from the flu.” Fluids lost through vomiting and/or diarrhea may make you lighter for a day or two, but you will gain this weight back as you recover and resume normal eating habits.
  • “I exercise, so any weight gain only means I am gaining muscle.” It takes an extended regimen of both diet and exercise to transform fat into muscle, and generally muscle strengthening doesn’t cause you to gain weight.
  • It’s because of the sweets I ate this morning.” Weight gain doesn’t happen that fast and isn’t caused by an isolated ‘pig out’.
  • Extra pounds today mean I’ve been doing it all wrong–I’m quitting my diet!  Stick with the program and watch for a weight-loss trend.

Periodic weigh-ins at irregular intervals without a solid weight-loss or maintenance plan in place can indeed be traumatic. Therefore, it all starts with a clear diet and exercise plan in mind, a permanent shift in attitude and a positive outlook on life in general. With these three elements solidly in place, it soon becomes easy to make friends with your scale. The modern bathroom scale was built to assist you to get you where you want to go in weight, in shape and in health. It is not meant to traumatize you–so begin today the scale your friend for life!

To learn more, tune in to the May 5, 2014 edition of my weekly Internet radio program “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age”–you’ll find our program link on Google. (You can listen to my May 5 program at any day and time from that date on.) I interview health and nutrition expert Linda Spangle who describes how to turn your scale into a powerful weight-loss tool.

 

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When Tragedy Strikes–Midlife Recovery from Loss of a Loved One

Shortly after dinner on December 31, 2006, my wife Gloria and I settled into our family- room couch for a quiet, peaceful New Year’s Eve at home. Both of us were looking forward to a healthy and happy 2007. Only three days prior, Gloria had received a highly positive physician’s prognosis following four months of chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Her tumors had disappeared and the cancer was in total remission.

Around seven PM, our phone rang. Gloria answered then dropped the phone and turned to me in utter shock, disbelief and horror; a close friend was calling to inform us that our only daughter Kristen had been killed while piloting a small plane to fly an advertising banner over the San Diego Chargers football game.

Completely without warning, tragedy had struck home. Just one month earlier, I had published my motivational book, A Mid-Life Challenge–Wake Up!, that includes advice for recovery from traumatic loss of a loved one. Suddenly, I faced this enormous challenge myself!

In describing my path to recovery, I can assure anyone losing a loved one that the hurt will not soon go away. More than seven years after the tragedy, my wife still occasionally breaks into tears when she is reminded of our loss. From time to time, months even years after her death, emptiness engulfs me when I reflected on Kristen’s love of life and her shining future as a commercial pilot, snuffed out in a few brief seconds as her small plane tumbled nose-first into the ground, killing her instantly.

For some, like my wife and me, loss of a loved one is sudden and unanticipated. For others, a loved one’s final days are lingering, perhaps bittersweet. In either instance, the untimely loss of a spouse or offspring can darken a previously positive outlook  and bring a sudden halt to the search for a brighter tomorrow.

To shorten the period of extreme emotional distress and to re-ignite your quest for a full and happy life, I kindly suggest a shift in focus, at your own pace (recovery from loss can’t be rushed), from painful recollection of the past to a proactive game plan for the future. If asked for advice, I would counsel fellow survivors as follows:

1. Up front, accept the fact that you can never fill completely your present emotional void. The only worthy objective is to acknowledge your loss, grieve for as long as needed, then begin making plans to move forward, playing with the cards dealt to you.

2. Seek outside counsel as needed to advance beyond grief to acceptance. If like me, you believe in a Devine Presence active in human affairs, pray continuously for the strength to carry on. If it helps, contact a spiritual advisor or a qualified professional grief counselor. Join in a support group with others who have suffered loss.

3. Do all that you can to ease the burden on fellow survivors. Actively seek out and assist other family members and loved ones who grieve. From the start, a personal goal has been to travel that extra mile to make my wife’s sense of loss more tolerable. By concentrating on her emotional recovery, I have less time to worry about myself.

4. Remind yourself daily that your only realistic positive course of action is to actively plan out the remainder of your life. No matter how devastating the loss, you do not want to forfeit control over your own personal destiny. If you are a surviving spouse with children or teens at home, you will need to scope out a family recovery plan to meet the financial and emotional needs both of self and of offspring.

5. As difficult as it first may sound, the latter stages of recovery from loss is an ideal point in time to self-examine talents, aspirations and possibilities. As a survivor, you do not have the option of going back to how things used to be. Why not appoint yourself CEO in charge moving forward positively into the future?

6. Once the shock wears off, begin to test life’s boundaries. Ask yourself, “Going forward, what do I really want out of my career? How will I spend my free time? How best can I serve others? Where should I go to seek out new friendships and relationships?” If you lost a spouse, would you consider getting married again? If you lost a child, would you and your spouse consider adopting a child or serving as foster parents?  Above all, keep busy advancing a positive daily agenda you can both control and admire.

7. Dedicate yourself to pursuits that would have made your departed loved one smile. What causes did she or he cherish? For a surviving spouse with children, the most obvious cause is wise and joy-filled care and nurture of offspring. As father of a departed adult daughter, I routinely ask myself, “What causes would Kristen most like her mother and me to support? What contributions of time and money will best honor her memory?”

8. Celebrate the positives in your departed loved one’s life. I fought off initial periods of grief by preparing my daughter’s obituary and by presenting tributes at her two memorial services. Gloria and I willingly spoke with a reporter from a local TV station to recount our daughter’s life and accomplishments on the evening news. Even now, seven years after her death, I celebrate daily Kristen’s life as a Navy and civilian pilot, living out her dreams of soaring over the clouds.

The past seven years haven’t been easy, but Gloria and I continue to recover and are proudly moving forward in celebration of our daughter’s life. Similar to alcoholism, grief recovery is a continual process that must be acknowledged and overcome, one day at a time.  There will always be bad days, but overall life for us in 2014 is very good.  Life can be positive for you too as a survivor so long as you remain patient and optimistic. Take time to heal at your own pace, but when ready, take control and pursue an agenda that’s best for you and for surviving loved ones whom you cherish.

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Retirement Is a Fantasy for Many

A third of the middle class say that social security will be the primary source of income in retirement. It is expected that there will be a sharp increase in that number in the coming years.

Brian Graff, the CEO and executive director of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) says that any move by the congress to reduce the benefits accrued by contributing retirement savings will lead to fewer people saving. In effect, many retirees will be dependent on government for help increasing federal spending.

A report by the Coalition to Protect Retirement puts the contributions made to public and private retirement plans by employers between 2000 and 2009 at $3.5 trillion.

Any changes to the current incentives will lead to adverse effects to contributions, the retirement security of Americans, and employer sponsored contributions. Seeking to increase revenue should not be done at the expense of retirement savings at all.

The study by the Coalition to Protect Retirement found that the majority of people want the current tax treatment of retirement plans such as 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, and traditional IRAs. As many as 87% of Americans and 95% of people who have tax deferred retirement plans such as 401(k) say that congress should keep off retirement savings and should not consider them new revenue for the government.

The state of affairs is that retirement for many is still a fantasy.

According to a study by Wells Fargo, 37% of middle class Americans say they will never retire and will work until they  too sick or until they die. A mere 13% consider it a priority to save for retirement.

The fear is that the middle class is not making the link in being invested and the potential growth of their savings. It is perhaps apathy since there is no interest in learning about investment says Laurie Nordquist, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust.

Another surveys shows that consumers have unrealistic expectations about when to retire and the amount of money they will need in retirement and the source of income.

Eric Taylor, vice president of Genworth, says that unpredictable dates of retirement compounded by misconceptions surrounding retirement expenses and uncertain future of traditional retirement income sources put retirees at risk of outliving retirement savings if they do not prepare adequately.

46% of interviewed Americans retired sooner than planned with 25% citing never wanting to work anymore, 36% blaming job loss and 17% retiring due to health issues, according to the Future of Retirement Study by Genworth.

Expectations were entirely different from reality with 52% of pre-retirees expecting expenses to decrease while in fact 77% of retirees found their expenses increased in retirement. To breakdown the increase in retirement expenses; 41% of retirees experience increases in healthcare costs while 26% had real estate expenses increase and 18% increased expenditure on dependents.

Taylor concludes by saying that the findings inform the need to have financial solutions that provide reliable retirement income.

Kris Miller, Estate Planning Expert and Safe Money Strategist, will guide you on how you can successfully prepare your retirement plan.  For more information on how Kris can help you, call (951) 926-4158(951) 926-4158 or email Kris@ReadyForPREtirement.com and see her #1 Best Selling book at www.ReadyForPREtirement.com

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‘Shark Tank’ Yourself in Your Career

On the popular TV reality show ‘Shark Tank’ aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to potential investors. They’re not only marketing their ideas–they are also selling themselves. You may not be an entrepreneur starting up your own business and work for someone else for a paycheck, but selling yourself in the workplace remains the key to advancing in your company and in your career.

Just like any product for sale, you have distinctive one-of-a-kind assets–your very own unique combination of talent, knowledge, experience and raw brain power. To move ahead, it only makes sense to differentiate yourself from the pack by promoting yourself to the boss and to potential customers. How best can you demonstrate how your talents and capabilities are an invaluable asset both for your company and for your customers?

Here are a few simple secrets to create a personal brand which you can market within your present employer and perhaps at some point outside as well:

  1. Be proactive every day, looking upon yourself as a desirable product and your career as a business with you as CEO. You also are “Director” of an extended marketing campaign with a single product to sell–YOU!
  2. Routinely ask your boss and co-workers for constructive criticism.  When received, don’t treat the criticism as an affront but rather a personal challenge to improve performance next time. This doesn’t mean you should ask for feedback every day–only when you are undertaking a new assignment or one where you are not 100% comfortable with what you are doing.
  3. Take time out to determine where you want your career to end up then develop a personal strategic plan. Next, seek out assignments and exposure that will help get you to your intended destination. You are not likely to wind up where you want to go without a map of your journey and take-off in the right direction. Once your strategic plan is created, routinely chart progress toward fulfillment and modify objectives as circumstances and intentions change.
  4. Identify and evaluate your competitors. Routinely cooperate with co-workers who may have identical or similar career aspirations but keep an eye on them and steps others may be taking to advance their careers while leaving you behind. How can you establish an advantage and remain the best choice for promotion?
  5. Whenever in contention–even as a long-shot–for a promotion, visualize yourself continuously in your mind as an incumbent. How would an incumbent think, speak and act?  What skills are required and how can you improve on and demonstrate those skills? Are tasks performed day-in-and-day-out really those that bring you joy and satisfaction? Does the higher-up position require time or travel beyond your comfort zone? Will it stress you out?

To learn more about ten steps needed to create your own personal brand, tune in to the November 18, 2013 installment of my weekly Internet radio show, “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age.” (Google the title–our program link is at the top of page one.) My guest is Lisa Quast, author of the award-winning book YOUR CAREER, YOUR WAY, now in its second edition. Remember–this is the Internet so you can listen at your convenience any date and any time beginning November 18.  

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Begin Planning Now: The 4 Strategies Towards a Brighter Financial Future

Planning for the future is something many people are not really keen about. For many people, procrastination is their habit always saying that they will start saving and planning tomorrow. The most unfortunate part is that the tomorrow comes and passes. Years and even decades pass without realization. The result is that retirement and even emergencies come and people are not prepared for these eventualities.
Situations such a young age and tough economic times blur the need to prepare for the future. In such times, people are bound to live in the present and in the struggle to make ends meet. The last thing in their minds is the tomorrow which will seemingly never come.
Emergencies and other needs that call for some planning are usually around the corner. Irrespective of being healthy or unwell; old or young, decent salary or no salary, you should start planning for the future right now.
Here are suggestions to use when planning for the future:

Acknowledge Uncertainties
Unexpected things are bound to happen. People prefer not to dwell on such thoughts which are considered unhappy and not peaceful. Even though it is not healthy to dwell on the negatives, the acknowledgment that health issues, injuries and other setbacks may happen goes a long way in planning for the future.
Injuries happen every day and it is only advisable that you should have a plan that covers long term disability. Remember that one in seven people in long term healthcare facilities are below 65 years. Furthermore, findings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that indicate a 22 percent rise in the number of under-65 nursing home residents over the past eight years.

Invest Your Money Wisely
Very few people have invested their money wisely. This is as a result of the lack of training or classes on long term investments. People simply leave college to their careers and then find a financial planner to take care of their financial lives.
The majority of people will end up putting their money at risk. These people may end up losing the principal owing to the fact that the investments may be wholly in the stock market and in variable annuities. Find other investment options which have a lesser risk and better returns.

Keep Your Documents in Order
The Power of Attorney for financial and Power of Attorney for healthcare are two legal; documents that you should have irrespective of age and financial status. These are important and ensure that you have a competent and trustworthy person to make your decisions if you are incapacitated.
Other documents include a guardianship for young children, and long term care insurance to act as a hedge to your assets which are not spent up paying for the expenses. Long term care insurance also helps to maintain your quality of life and you can live at home with in-home care and not have to go to a nursing home.

Develop a Saving Culture
The ideal time to start saving is as early as in the 20s and 30s. However, this is not the case in the absence of a saving culture and as economic times become tough. It is emphasized that saving anything as little as a dollar puts an individual on the right path.
The earlier the saving habit is developed, the better the outcome. With the habit of saving a percentage of your income no matter the circumstances, savings definitely grow as income continues to increase. It is certainly about time to start building financial reserves.

Don’t Start Tomorrow – Begin Planning Today
Make sure that you are not caught off guard. Map out and plan for your financial future beginning today to ensure you and the family are well taken care of.
Kris Miller, Estate Planning Expert and Safe Money Strategist, will guide you on how you can successfully prepare your retirement plan.  For more information on how Kris can help you, call (951) 926-4158(951) 926-4158 or email Kris@ReadyForPREtirement.com and see her #1 Best Selling book at www.ReadyForPREtirement.com

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