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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

Are you wondering…

Where am I going? Where am I supposed to be going?

And to answer your questions, here’s what 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.

      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’.

          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:

            “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 …’

              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.

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              It is better to look back and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t …’ rather than wistfully saying, ‘I wish I had …’

              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 realization of the right path much later in life. Ray Kroc changed his whole approach to his McDonald’s business in his early 50s.[1] Colonel Sanders didn’t start his KFC franchising efforts until he was in his early 60s.[2] And the list can go on.

              It’s never too early and it’s never too late – but you have to think about it.

              Need more help to get out of the rut? Take a look at these guides:

              Featured photo credit: Johannes Plenio via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Britannica: Ray Kroc
              [2] Biography: Colonel Sanders

              More by this author

              Rowan Manahan

              Rowan is a professional trainer with over 20 years’ experience mentoring and consulting with executives at all levels.

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              Last Updated on November 19, 2019

              How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic

              How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic

              When you become an early riser, you’ll experience a lot of benefits including feeling more energized and having more time to do what you want.

              If you’d like to become an early riser, there are some things you should know before you run off to set your oft-ignored alarm clock.

              So how to become an early riser?

              Here are five tips I’ve discovered to be most helpful in making the transition from erratic sleeper to early morning wizard:

              1. Choose to Get up Before You Go to Sleep

              You’re not very good at making decisions when you’ve just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. You’re frustrated, angry, confused, and surprised. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! And yet, most of us leave the first decision of our day to be made in a blur of partial wakefulness.

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              No more!

              If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before. This frees you from making the decision in the morning when you’ve just woken up. Instead of making a decision, you have only to follow through on your decision from the night before.

              Easier said than done? Of course. But only for the first few times. Eventually, your need for raw willpower to get out of bed will diminish and you’ll be the proud parent of a new habit!

              Steve Pavlina suggests you practice getting out of bed during the day[1] to get a few of the “practice sessions” out of the way without the early morning fog in your head.

              2. Have a Plan for Your Extra Time

              Let’s say you’ve actually made it out of bed 2 hours before you normally would. Now what? What are you going to do with all this time you’ve discovered in your day?

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              If you don’t have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a “morning nap” that wipes out all the work you put into getting up.

              What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you’d like to get done during your extra hours the following day. Do you have a book to write, paper to read, or garage to clean? Make a plan for your early hours and you’ll do more than protect yourself from backsliding into bed.

              You’ll get things done and those results will fuel your desire to build rising early into a habit!

              3. Make Rising Early a Social Activity

              Your internet or social media buddies just don’t have enough pull to make your new habit stick in the long term. The same cannot be said for the people you spend time with as part of your early morning routine.

              Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn’t it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am?

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              The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it’ll be to succeed.

              4. Don’t Use an Alarm That Makes You Angry

              If we’re all wired differently, why do we all insist on torturing ourselves with the same sort of alarm each morning?

              I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn’t have to hear it. I got pretty good, too. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. I now use the ring tone alarm as a back up for my bedside lamp plugged in to a timer.

              When the bright light doesn’t work, the cellphone picks up the slack and I wake up on time. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you. Light, sound, smells, temperature, or even some contraption that dumps water on you might be more pleasant than your old alarm clock. Give something new a try!

              5. Get Your Blood Flowing Right After Waking

              If you don’t have a neighbor, you can pick fights with at 5am, you’ll have to settle with a more mundane exercise. It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head.

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              Just pick something you don’t mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don’t do anything your doctor hasn’t approved.)

              If you live in a beautiful part of the world like me, you might want to use a bit of your early morning to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the world around you.

              If you have a coffee shop open within walking distance, dragging yourself out of bed for a cup of coffee to savor on your walk home as the world wakes around you is a wonderful experience. Try it!

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              Featured photo credit: Nomadic Julien via unsplash.com

              Reference

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