Seeds of Doubt Lead To Seeds of Promise: How Stress Leads to Success

 

In this blog-post, we are focusing on why it’s good for you and never too late to:

1) take up new physical activities,

2) engage in new social activities and

3) pursue new intellectual challenges that can make a positive difference in your well-being – for the short-run and in the years ahead.

If you happen to be job-hunting over the age of 40, after many years of being firmly entrenched in the same company, industry or location, you’re probably feeling that is a daring project in and of itself – which it is.  In that case, plant something new that takes care of your innermost self and boosts your confidence and sense of control while you’re grappling with change. Plant something that improves your physical health, ramps up your intellectual power and unleashes beneficial brain chemicals that contribute to your well-being. Here are just a few of the reasons experts advise you should plant new seeds now, especially if you’re dealing with added stress.

1.)  If Your Sneakers Are Moldy, Your Brain Will Get Oldie. A few years ago, the only weight I ever pushed around came from the sound of my own loud mouth. A year later, and dozens of pounds lost, I can attest that exercise saved my life, improved my well-being and enhanced my intellectual focus. Here’s why it would work for you:

  • Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, says in his book,  “Brain Rules,” that a lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary. Medina asserts that exercisers outperform couch potatoes in all sorts of brain metrics tests, such as those that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid-intelligence tasks – which refers to how you put to use the information that you learn. One of the biggest surprises is that you don’t even have to exercise that long or hard to reap these benefits! Did you know that even walking several times a week will benefit your brain? The ideal is doing two to three bouts of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes – which can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%!
  • Exercise improves your mood because it stimulates the release of three feel good chemicals in your brain. Called neurotransmitters, their medical names are serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. By stimulating the release of these hormones, exercise has been proven to help lower depression and anxiety.  So, get out there and walk off the stress, or go for a bike ride, or – if you’re not the outdoorsy type – put on some music and dance like a fool in your own home.

2.)  If the only laugh lines you have are from streaming comedies, you need to get some real friends. When was the last time you had a conversation with a friend who made you laugh? More importantly, when was the last time you actually felt you could cry with a good friend who wouldn’t judge you?  If you don’t have friends like that, maybe now’s the time to consider going beyond your current circle of friends (or all those online LinkedIn connections.  Would you ever want any of them to see you with streaked mascara?  I didn’t think so.)

Additional tips:

  • Be proactive about cultivating, engaging and caring about people you really want as friends, and weed out the ones who don’t feel that way about you. In this day and age it’s too easy to rationalize that there are many other things we need to be doing work- and family- wise rather than spending time with friends. Yet, connections with true friends and family members are what matters to our well-being.
  • According to psychoanalyst, educator and author, Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., positive social interactions are a powerful mechanism for controlling stress. As women talk with other women about worrisome occurrences in their lives, their stress levels fall because oxytocin (the maternal friendship and bonding hormone) levels rise. Even during non-stressful times, having solid friendships has been proven to improve health and extend one’s lifespan.
  • If you’ve been a mom for most of your adult life and your circle of friends is tied to your children, now might be the perfect time to expand your circle of friends. Getting involved in organizations other than your children’s school or church expands your perspectives.

3.)  Unchain Your Brain, Train Against the Drain. Learning a new language, researching the competition before starting a company or learning to play a musical instrument are all exercises to unchain your brain. To plant or seed something new, challenging and fulfilling while waiting for the next big thing to take seed, it’s a good idea to engage in an activity that is not related to a work situation or family demand.

The following are a few reasons why:

  • Taking up new intellectual activities stimulates different neural regions and develops new pathways within the brain.  This helps to re-energize the brain against the dreaded “brain-drain” many women complain about in middle age, and helps you see problems in a different light.  As Dr. John Medina writes in Brain Rules, “What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like – it literally rewires it.”
  • The more you stimulate the neural regions and pathways, the more adept you become at the new skill or activity you’re learning. It’s that fluid intelligence thing again. One of the other major benefits of taking up new intellectual activities is that it increases your self-confidence that you can, indeed, learn new things.
  • There are nine different kinds of intelligence, but most people neglect to explore, let alone develop, those outside their comfort zone. Conversely, we all know of artists, musicians, business-owners and scientists who did their best work after the age of 40, 50 or even 60.  By developing different facets of their intellectual capacity, they surpassed the creativity and productivity of their youth in ways they never would have dared or imagined earlier in their lives.
  • Those are just a few of the reasons why planting something new – physically, socially or intellectually – can be beneficial both in the short run and over the long haul, even in times of stress.  Next week, we’ll provide a list of ideas for what to plant or seed. There’s no limit to why, what, where and how you can grow by daring yourself!

 

 

http://www.LizDiMarcoWeinmann.com

Copyright © 2020 Liz DiMarco Weinmann. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Tips for Over-50 Career Switchers

Our media cauldron is still spitting out assertions that baby boomers are retiring in record numbers, and continue to moan that there are simply not enough 30-somethings to fill this void. In fact, recent reports indicate there are more unemployed over-50 than at any time in history.

Let me set the record straight, and at the same time offer up some tips for over-50s now contemplating switching careers:

1) Boomers aren’t exactly stampeding to the golf courses or beaches. That hackneyed cliché is an egregious insult to boomers who look forward to continuing their productive careers or starting fulfilling second careers. It is most insulting to boomers who have lost their savings, and even their homes.

2) The work experience and expertise of boomers make some of us costly hires in this economy. Headhunters and American corporate expatriates advise boomers to consider international work, citing India, China and Vietnam as attractive emerging markets. However, some skills may be moot even in a rebound, if the industries or companies that used to need them are mature or defunct – here and abroad. Boomers who are interested in leadership positions should also seek out small or mid-size firms rather than large corporations. Private equity firms, though somewhat dormant right now, look for experienced leaders to fill C-suite positions in their portfolio companies.

3) For career-switchers over 50, there’s another indignation: headhunters and corporations call us “seasoned professionals with a short runway.”Some presume boomers will work only five to ten years more before we retire, and therefore we’re not worth the investment. Glenn Okun, a successful venture capitalist and finance professor, has a very different view: he recently told a group of MBAs ranging in age from late 20s to mid-50s: “You’re all going to be working until you’re 90 years old.”

4) A warning regarding career switching: many boomers jump to nonprofit without considering the risks, especially if the salary is comparable to their corporate pay. Don’t presume that your hard-driving private-sector persona will be welcome everywhere. It’s a very hard transition for individuals who are used to focusing almost entirely on quantitative goals and metrics without considering the cultural ramifications. Again, know what you want and need, especially the ROLE you want to play, regardless of title and salary.

Here are some powerful strategies that reflect the advice of psychological counselors, social workers, management consultants, business academics and executive coaches who work with individuals in transition in their personal lives or careers:

1. Develop a concrete plan of action. Have clearly defined objectives, desired outcomes and a strategy for managing your transition and your finances, along with a firm deadline and benchmarks along the way. Focus on delineating what your key priorities are, what you really want and need from life, what you’re passionate about for yourself and for your loved ones. Be honest about your deal-breakers as well as what you would be willing to compromise.

2. Write in a journal about what’s on your mind, how your anxiety might be connected to past experiences, and what this means for your future. Journals can become powerful personal development tools that impart a holistic view of what’s going on in your life, eventually transforming your vents and rants into insights and solutions.

3. Dare to spend time alone. Friends, colleagues and experts are a welcome source of counsel and support, but if you’ve just had a serious loss, you need time alone to process it, be angry and mourn. If you haven’t developed strategies for being alone to take care of yourself, it could be very lonely, and drive you to fill the void with people, activities and things that could thwart your ultimate goals for moving forward.

Above all, research, train, and learn how to prevent or survive a crash landing.

Remember the infamous news story: a 58-year-old former fighter pilot and trainer with thousands of hours of experience and expertise, who commandeered a massive mess of machinery and flammables with over 160 people aboard, and prevented what would have been their certain deaths, and that of thousands of other people. It was a seasoned professional (to use headhunter jargon), supported by an expert crew of equally seasoned professionals, who shepherded everyone on board that day to walk on water, literally, and return safely to their families.

I dare ask: how many 30-somethings could have done that? Short runway, huh? Run that one by me again.

Sometimes it really does have to be all about you.

Create a Vision Board!

Are you running so hard you have no time for yourself?

If you’re like most women, you make time to take care of almost everyone but yourself. Without taking care of your own needs, you could be gasping for some fresh air.

Here are three ideas can help.

1) Create a Vision Board – a design for living the rest of your life. Write down your vision of your Before, Now and Future.

Small section: what you dreamed and excelled at between ages 10-18;
Small section: what you dreamed and achieved between 18 and now;
As much space as you want:
Think about your vision of the “perfect life,” as if you are looking back in your old age. Then decide what you are dealing with that’s keeping you from that vision, and what you need to do now to reach that vision.

Be sure to revisit and revise these last three as your priorities change.

2) Always in a Race? Protect your Space! “No” time to exercise? Need to better manage your finances? Longing to finish a personal project that’s lurking? Set a deadline, schedule time every day or every week to work on it, when you know you’ll actually do it. Otherwise, it won’t happen.

3)  Read it and reap. Start a daily journal, password it. Write what’s making you happy, driving you crazy, or whatever else is on your mind. Generate ideas for what you really want and need to accomplish for yourself – that day, the next day and so forth.

Embrace your space! Sometimes it really does have to be all about you.

 

 

 

Launching a Small Business Post-Recession? Branding is just the first step.

Having built my career in brand marketing, I’m often asked about the art and science of effective branding by friends who are launching small businesses and nonprofits – and whether branding is about building awareness, changing perceptions, improving attitudes, promoting purchase and loyalty, and other questions. To borrow a rapid-fire reply often given by pundits and comedians, my answer is “Yes.” It’s about all of those factors that speak to the tangible and intangible features and benefits of a particular brand – whether the brand is a product, service, for-profit or nonprofit entity, or Brand You.

Whenever I attend good networking meetings for professional women in New York City, I want to brand the city as “The Big Cocoon” rather than The Big Apple, its more customary brand. Regardless of how many women’s networking groups there are throughout this city, spanning diverse broad and deep interests, the best ones are like cocoons where there are enthusiastic huddles, breakout sessions, brainstorms, a lot of talking over one another, a lot of exchange of insights, ideas, frustrations and opportunities as women are planning their next big moves, which often involve starting their own businesses.

In the current economic climate, thousands of people of all ages, and not just women, are starting their own businesses. Some stride confidently into setting up a business that they’ve been thinking about for a while. Others are taking on freelance assignments while they continue to network and interview for their next full-time position.

For both of these paths, you need a plan. In this age of pervasive instantaneous social media, you also need a memorable brand.

Here are eight essential factors to consider – from a personal as well as professional perspective if you’re planning and branding a small business.

  1. Deliberate and write down your dreams. Include your desires, reasons, aims and financial goals for starting your own business, and your time frame. Do they include the desire to be your own boss, control your own time, be acquired by another firm, attract investors, or work at home while you’re raising children? Do you just want to earn money as a freelancer or consultant in the short run, especially if you’re not sure what you want to do next? Those motivations will affect your personal and professional life.
  2. Write a brief “situation analysis”of your personal and professional deal. Outline your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The most successful business people leverage their strengths and passions so they maximize opportunities to enjoy their work as well as earn money. Of the many good qualities and skills you possess, prioritize the ones that you enjoy, as they are the ones that help you create, build and drive your business. Do the same with your internal weaknesses and external threats, as they could hinder your business.
  3. Envision your business. Start from the perspective of how you’ll remember it when you’re in your 80s or 90s. Home in on your values, ethics, ideals and other motivations that go beyond your basic and current needs, so you also take into account your aspirations for achievement, recognition, altruism, prestige, status, power and influence. Know which needs and aspirations motivate you at your core, because they will affect you in the long run.
  4. Identify resources to make your visions and goals a reality. Most startups fail because they lack adequate resources. Even if you’re freelancing temporarily, you’ll need some cash reserves, a reputable accountant, industry peers and others you can rely on for brainstorming, marketing advice, referrals and moral support. If you’re going to be writing and reviewing consulting contracts and nondisclosure agreements, you’ll also want legal counsel.
  5. Brand yourself – and your business. This requires strategic know-how, courage, creative flair, commitment and persistence. To get you started:
  6. Create a compelling proposition for your product or service. Define a problem, solution and call to action. Your local chamber of commerce has information about strategy consultants, accountants, attorneys and marketing agencies that could help you, many of whom volunteer their services to small businesses.
  7. Become recognized and respected as an expert, i.e., as a brand. To do this, write, give speeches, do presentations and other promotion to build awareness, credibility, trial and preference among your target customers. A website’s a must, but so are a LinkedIn profile, Facebook business page, Twitter posts, newsletter, monthly emails, even a blog or YouTube videos. Keep references, work samples and other evidence of your expertise and experience current and ready to send to those who can recommend, refer or purchase your products or services. Once you gain recognition and respect, your reputation as an skilled technician, specialist, or expert will increase, as will your assignments, preference and repeat business.
  8. Seek out others who have similar interests, experience and expertise to yours. Universities, professional organizations, trade associations, nonprofits, networking groups and other communities, online and offline, are a haven for people who already are experts, want to become experts, or want to align with, learn from and maximize their expertise.

In chapters 3, 4, 5, 8 and 12 of my book, Get DARE From Here!, I focus a lot of attention on branding and planning for personal and professional growth, specifically in: Design (chap. 3), Aims (chap. 4), Access & Approach (chap. 5), Rally (chap. 8) and Exchange (chap. 12). All of these are key levers for women over 40 who want to take charge of the rest of their lives. Inherent in these chapters is the critical message that planning the rest of your life is like planning a business. If you’re financially self-supporting or the main financial support for others in your household, you are a business.

Planning and branding a small business used to be for only the most driven and committed self-starters. Today, everyone needs to think of themselves as a small business – whether inside or outside a corporation. If you decide to go out on your own, it’s important to know and respect your core motivations, focus on your strengths, envision the long haul and, by all means, engage your own “Big Cocoon” of people who will support and champion you. Then, dare to get out there and promote yourself to those who will value your hard work.

 

~ ~ ~

 

Liz DiMarco Weinmann is founder and CEO of the DARE-Force Corp. (www.thedareforce.com), an educational resources company whose mission is to inspire all women over 40 who want to pursue, develop and lead new and fulfilling ventures. She also runs Weinmann & Associates, a strategic consulting firm serving small businesses and nonprofits. Weinmann earned her MBA in finance and leadership from New York University. She is the author of the new book, “Get DARE From Here! – 12 Principles and Practices For Women Over 40 To Take Stock, Take Action and Take Charge of the Rest Of Their Lives.”