Leaving Nothing on the Field: An Ode to Playing a 12 Year Old Game

140824201116-01-little-league-0824-horizontal-large-galleryI was out to dinner with my family after one of my son’s high school baseball games.  We had a great win and were celebrating when a text came from my son’s coach saying congratulations and how he had played a 12 year old’s game.  That was intriguing to me, so I asked what exactly was that?  I guess it’s a common adage in baseball and means you get to play it all (pitch, hit, field) and leave nothing on the field.  12 year olds in Little League get that feeling on good days, when they get to pitch, catch, play infield, outfield and hit over-the- fence home runs.  It’s a beautiful thing, when the game is simpler and offers more joy on long spring evenings.

And then those 12 year old moments begin to become rarer, as players age and get identified in specific positions, playing out the roles expected of them. Basically real life, “adult stuff.”  High school ball models this kind of hierarchy in many ways, with pecking orders, defined roles and formal/informal leadership. But once in a while you get that old feeling back, when magic happens and roles expand and you hit one out of the park or pitch a shut out game, or both; leaving nothing on the field.

What are our own stories of hitting it out of the park?  What did it take to make that feeling become a reality?  Was it private or public, or a little of both?  There is a lot to learn from the mentality of a 12 year old’s approach, being fearless and loose, with nothing to lose.  It’s expanding rather than contracting, and also a lot of fun.  I would argue that when roles get too narrowly defined and expectations become pre-scripted, the joy begins to dissolve and can begin to feel more like drudgery.

So it’s a conundrum, as we sort out our own inner 12 year old spirit and spunk. My guess is it’s still there, waiting to come out and play.  Try exploring how your own personal narrative helps you to reflect back and look forward.  Ask yourself some questions, for example:

  1. When was the last time you felt you hit it out of the park?  Was it through work, sports, school, or something deeply personal you overcame?
  2. Take yourself back to that moment in time.  Explore your senses to appreciate how it felt to be on top of the world.  Describe these feelings in more detail.
  3. Write a story about this experience, coming from the voice of the age you were when it happened.  Play close attention to not judging this narrative, as you may have been more naive and hopeful back then.
  4. Find something presently you would like to aim for, that feels like you would be playing up, say to a 12 year old level with that swagger and fearlessness.  Set a goal that has a date and approach this priority with joy and fun and tell someone your plan so you have accountability.

I’d love to hear about it.  I will be sharing mine soon, after I finish my own assignment.  Send me your 12 year old story at julia@personalmasterycoaching.com


Life and the Currency of Time

Time Stream

When you think about your third act, where does your imagination take you? Travel, the Great Outdoors, part-time work, hobbies, fitness, service, mentoring, grandchildren – there are many avenues when thinking ahead to this important chapter in our lives.

Retirement readiness is most often associated with money: Is there enough in the bank to retire? This is an important question because financial security is a natural buffer in life. As a certified coach specializing in mid-life transitions, I don’t minimize this emphasis, however planning ahead on how you will spend time, not just your money, is also necessary. It’s a matter of being proactive rather than reactive and requires us to dig deeply to ask the question, “What’s next for me?”

In previous generations retirement was considered more of an end point. Today, it can be a vital new beginning. For this to happen, an investment needs to be made, with a consideration of time as a currency. On average, retirement lasts over three decades and offers many phases and stages. The goal of financial independence is securing a comfortable lifestyle that takes into consideration the ever-changing scenarios related to aging.

The question becomes, when every day is Saturday, how do you create meaningful contrasts, balancing novelty with routine? It’s the paradox of leisure: When all you have is free time, for some it can start to feel like work to fill it. During the “Decompression Phase” of retirement, time is an ally, with energy going toward taking that long awaited trip that lasts more than two weeks, or puttering around the house with home projects, taking leisurely lunches with friends, an extra round of golf or an afternoon matinee. Once the novelty wears off and life starts to normalize, the reality is there are a lot of hours to fill each day. It’s going from a model of time scarcity to time abundance. Having a newly minted, meaningful life plan in place allows you to feel more secure with the natural shifts this existential transition brings to the surface.

Figuring out what “The good life” looks like to you is the goal and this is definitely not a one-size-fits-all plan. The dream of a realistic, yet idyllic, post-work phase of life is certainly within reach, but it doesn’t happen on its own. There are some ways to get started to help prepare and create some comfort and confidence in the process.

First, think about the people in your life you admire in their third act. How do they spend their time? What’s their approach to everyday life? Ask them questions to better understand what is beneath the surface, both the joys and the challenges. Their responses and your inner voice will reflect your values and vision and may offer clues for how you want this next chapter to unfold.

Second, take inventory of your past interests and hobbies and see what still has appeal and potential. Think back: music, arts and crafts, sports, volunteering—to name a few. Once you have come up with a list, make it a point to regularly explore if it’s a fit again, or find an alternative that meets your abilities and interest today. Also, consider what activities you currently enjoy in your free time and find out if doing it more often is better or just becomes a drain. That sweet spot is what you are after.

Third, have conversations with your significant other to see how aligned your visions are when thinking about this all important life transition. One person may dream of traveling the world, while the other wants to stay closer to home. It is important to communicate and share ways to find common ground when it comes to scaffolding what life will look as a couple in this next chapter. Time together and apart can be hard to balance at first, but research tells us that compatible couples with an interdependent relationship have the most success in their retirement years. Honest communication goes a long way in charting a path that allows for flexibility and compromise. After all, adaptability is one of the most important attributes to have in later years and what better place to practice this trait than with your loved one?

And finally, if this transition is in the near future, it is smart to practice your new lifestyle. That way you can work out the kinks before you invest too deeply emotionally and financially. If you are planning to stay closer to home, take your vacation time and just stay put and pretend you are already retired. Try and organize around the life you intend to live and see how it feels. Do spending habits change when you have time on your hands? Do you have enough companionship beyond your spouse? Does life feel full enough? If you have more of an appetite for adventure, go out and practice that lifestyle. I am taking my own advice and renting a camper next summer with my husband to see how it feels to be on the open road. We imagine what this experience will be, but there is nothing like getting some miles in to really know whether it’s a fit. What’s important is to plan some practice rounds to assess and perhaps modify.

I love the quote from The Natural and find it fits well here, “I believe there are two lives, the one you learn with and the one you live after that.” Knowing yourself and planning ahead with your wisdom and instincts will generate a good life, your good life.

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Ask Yourself this Question…

Happy New Year hd wallpaper 2015I worked on my vision board over the weekend and found a quote that struck a chord with me and it may for you as well, “If at some point you don’t ask yourself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ then you’re not doing it right.”

Why did this hit me like a bolt of lightning? Because with every challenge I face there is a window of time when I ask myself this very question. It used to scare me because it gave me pause, thinking perhaps I was on the wrong path or had bitten off more than I could chew. These days I am more comfortable with the question, knowing it is the beginning of something, the before stage, when I have not yet met my goals and everything is yet to be.

The beauty of getting older is wisdom begins to prevail and we have enough past experiences to know what we are made of and that despite some nagging questions, we are ready, willing and able to move forward and conquer our doubts with action. After all, the best anecdote I know for fear is action. Just do something productive, keep moving and things begin to happen. It’s all about energy.

For me, I love the new year, but there is a part of entering January that gives me pause. I ask myself, what will I do differently this year that builds on last year, yet moves me beyond my current comfort zone? 2015 in particular I wonder how to balance learning and growing my coaching practice while also taking time to lighten up and have some fun? Fun is prominent on my board because with all my recent schooling and certifications, the workhorse in me got into overdrive and I need to now have the wisdom to pull back the reigns enough to enjoy the journey more and not feel it’s a race. Does this sound familiar?

A work-life-fun fit is my vision for 2015 and what I’ve gotten myself into is committing to owning fun as part of the unfolding story of what makes me a better wife, mother, friend and professional. What are you retrofitting into your vision? Half the fun is getting there, so plan accordingly.