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Where am I going? Putting your life in context.

Where am I going? Putting your life in context.

The great writer and thinker, Christopher Morley, famously wrote:

There are three ingredients to the good life – learning, earning and yearning.

An average lifespan in the developed world is 70-something years – as indicated on the bar below.

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    Each of the phases of that life has different characteristics. The Learning phase typically stretches from the age of five into the early twenties and its over-riding characteristic is freedom.

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      Your thinking is unfettered, you are chock-full of dreams and aspirations and (happily) someone else is footing the bills. It’s not a cliché to say that schooldays, for many of us, really were the happiest days of our lives. Contrast it with adult life – no one expects very much of you, and other than passing a few exams along the way and you can just swing along, having a great old time …

      The next phase is the Earning years; the period from leaving formal education (at 20-something) to retirement (at 50-something or 60-something). Welcome to the grown-up world, welcome to the tax net:

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        The overriding concern in this Earning phase is security (I spell that word as follows: $ecurity because, for many people, this phase tends to be all about generating sufficient income to pay the monthly bills.) Reality bites. This can require sublimating the dreams of youth as a life of routine takes over. Few in the Earning years question the choices they have made because, typically, this questioning process can be quite disconcerting – oddly, I find this is particularly true of people who are less than happy with their working lives. Routine generation of wealth becomes paramount and you get swept along with the current. This is fine if you made sound choices in your late teens and early twenties with regard to your career. But if you didn’t … for routine, read ‘RUT’.

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          Which brings us to Morley’s Yearning phase – from ceasing your full-time occupation until … well, ceasing.

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            What is yearning? Unfortunately, yearning is not the same as simple hankering, wanting or desire. The dictionary definition of yearning is:

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            “A feeling of intense longing for something lost, absent or unattainable.”

            A bit gloomy. So for many people, the Yearning years are about looking back over a life not quite fulfilled and saying ‘I wish, I wish. If only … if only …’

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              With the wisdom of years comes regret for the road not taken, the too-conservative choices made. Studies conducted in the geriatric population and on terminally ill people consistently demonstrate that regrets in human beings arise as a result of decisions not taken. The wise old owls that I have talked to over the years all speak with one voice on this. It is better to look back and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t …’ rather than wistfully saying, ‘I wish I had …’

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              Think about where you are on the chart above. How far along are you in the Earning years? Just starting out or 20 years in an 20 years to go? How many job or career changes have you been through already? How many of those have been voluntary and how many involuntary? If you retired (or stepped under a bus) tomorrow, how would you look back over your working life? With indifference? Regret? Pride? Delight? Anger?

              As you think about your career, your life, and your plans for the future; you are, at the very least, going to have to contemplate some uncomfortable choices about yourself, your personal style and your level of happiness. I make no apologies for this – that’s just life. But I contend that it is better to take the time and spend the effort now to improve the choices that you make for later, rather than to have those choices made for you at a time that may not suit you.

              Some people get these choices unerringly right and they do so early in their lives. Others come to a realisation of the right path much later in life. Ray Kroc changed his whole approach to his business in his early 50s. Harlon Sanders didn’t start his franchising efforts until he was in his early 60s! It’s never too early and it’s never too late – but you have to think about it …

              Rowan Manahan is The Insultant. He blogs at Fortify Your Oasis. Apart from roaring (occasionally) helpful advice at his clients, he has written the best-seller Where’s My Oasis?. He also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines and runs Fortify Services – an Irish-based careers consultancy.

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              Last Updated on January 2, 2019

              7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

              7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It

              Are you keen to reinvent yourself this year? Or at least use the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits or pick up new ones?

              Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we feel as if we have to turn over a new leaf. The time when we misguidedly imagine that the arrival of a new year will magically provide the catalyst, motivation and persistence we need to reinvent ourselves.

              Traditionally, New Year’s Day is styled as the ideal time to kick start a new phase in your life and the time when you must make your all important new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is also one of the worst times to make a major change in your habits because it’s often a relatively stressful time, right in the middle of the party and vacation season.

              Don’t set yourself up for failure this year by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Instead follow these seven steps for successfully making a new year’s resolution you can stick to for good.

              1. Just pick one thing

              If you want to change your life or your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.

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              Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of the year and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it.

              Don’t pick a New Year’s resolution that’s bound to fail either, like running a marathon if you’re 40lbs overweight and get out of breath walking upstairs. If that’s the case resolve to walk every day. When you’ve got that habit down pat you can graduate to running in short bursts, constant running by March or April and a marathon at the end of the year. What’s the one habit you most want to change?

              2. Plan ahead

              To ensure success you need to research the change you’re making and plan ahead so you have the resources available when you need them. Here are a few things you should do to prepare and get all the systems in place ready to make your change.

              Read up on it – Go to the library and get books on the subject. Whether it’s quitting smoking, taking up running or yoga or becoming vegan there are books to help you prepare for it. Or use the Internet. If you do enough research you should even be looking forward to making the change.

              Plan for success – Get everything ready so things will run smoothly. If you’re taking up running make sure you have the trainers, clothes, hat, glasses, ipod loaded with energetic sounds at the ready. Then there can be no excuses.

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              3. Anticipate problems

              There will be problems so make a list of what they’ll be. If you think about it, you’ll be able to anticipate problems at certain times of the day, with specific people or in special situations. Once you’ve identified the times that will probably be hard work out ways to cope with them when they inevitably crop up.

              4. Pick a start date

              You don’t have to make these changes on New Year’s Day. That’s the conventional wisdom, but if you truly want to make changes then pick a day when you know you’ll be well-rested, enthusiastic and surrounded by positive people. I’ll be waiting until my kids go back to school in February.

              Sometimes picking a date doesn’t work. It’s better to wait until your whole mind and body are fully ready to take on the challenge. You’ll know when it is when the time comes.

              5. Go for it

              On the big day go for it 100%. Make a commitment and write it down on a card. You just need one short phrase you can carry in your wallet. Or keep it in your car, by your bed and on your bathroom mirror too for an extra dose of positive reinforcement.

              Your commitment card will say something like:

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              • I enjoy a clean, smoke-free life.
              • I stay calm and in control even under times of stress.
              • I’m committed to learning how to run my own business.
              • I meditate daily.

              6. Accept failure

              If you do fail and sneak a cigarette, miss a walk or shout at the kids one morning don’t hate yourself for it. Make a note of the triggers that caused this set back and vow to learn a lesson from them.

              If you know that alcohol makes you crave cigarettes and oversleep the next day cut back on it. If you know the morning rush before school makes you shout then get up earlier or prepare things the night before to make it easier on you.

              Perseverance is the key to success. Try again, keep trying and you will succeed.

              7. Plan rewards

              Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going during the hardest first days. After that you can probably reward yourself once a week with a magazine, a long-distance call to a supportive friend, a siesta, a trip to the movies or whatever makes you tick.

              Later you can change the rewards to monthly and then at the end of the year you can pick an anniversary reward. Something that you’ll look forward to. You deserve it and you’ll have earned it.

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              Whatever your plans and goals are for this year, I’d do wish you luck with them but remember, it’s your life and you make your own luck.

              Decide what you want to do this year, plan how to get it and go for it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on.

              Are you planning to make a New Year’s resolution? What is it and is it something you’ve tried to do before or something new?

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