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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

7 ways for Mid Lifers to conquer their shyness in the workplace - has your shyness held you back?

Guest post by Simon Stapleton - Workplace Survival Guru for Professionals

7 Ways to Conquer Shyness in the Workplace:

The problem is, shyness leads to avoidance of contact with other people, but other people often perceive it as aloofness, arrogance or being ’snooty’. When in fact, it’s often very much not the case!
If you’re shy, then I bet it’s very frustrating. I know, I am shy too. Most people who know me well wouldn’t say I am – perhaps they would say I am the most ‘un-shy’ person they know. But the fact is, I don’t easily just walk up to someone and start chatting about stuff, full of charisma. It’s frustrating for me, because my job demands the charisma of me.

Do you feel this way too?

There is good news – there is a way through it. Over a number of years I’ve learned how I can conquer shyness (I am not there yet, but it’s a lot better for me). There are 7 things you can try, like I did, to get over the shyness.

1. Recognize you’re shy, and accept the responsibility to overcome it – it starts by accepting it, and taking responsibility for it. Only you can make you less shy, nobody else. So unless you’re prepared to take full responsibility for it, you’ll fail in your goal. The best way to start taking responsibility is to tell people about your shyness.

2. Watch how ‘non-shy’ people are, and learn – take some cues from non shy people and try replicating them. Be prepared to fail at first – this is part of the learning process. Having a role model (even if they don’t know they are) really helps.

3. Talk to somebody new every single day – it’s a small goal, but it will make a massive difference. You probably address many people in your day – the guy at security when you walk into your office, or the barista when you’re buying coffee, but instead, really talk to them; ask these people how they are, or say ‘Good Morning’ – anything that gives you an opportunity to speak clearly and positively.

4. Forget about YOU – one of the characteristics of shyness is a belief that everyone else is staring, or is judging, or harboring thoughts about us. Chances are – those people have too much going on in their own lives to be doing this, or are shy and are thinking the same about you too. The trick is to forget yourself – don’t even consider that other people find you interesting enough to stare, judge, or harbor thoughts. So take the focus off yourself, and place it on something else.

5. Accept the worst – if you must, try this. It’s a rough way of doing it, but it does work very well. When you face a situation (like a meeting) where your shyness will flare up, because you think people are going to laugh at you, talk about you, think bad of you, then accept that they already are. Face this truth you have created before you put yourself into the situation. Feel the hurt, and deal with the pain. When you’ve been through that, you’ll feel so much better about it that when you step into the situation, your shyness will have reduced by a mile.

6. Mix with non-shy people - OK, you’re stepping into the breach, but associating with non-shy people will help you learn by osmosis. It’s easier to learn something new when you’re mixing with the people who exhibit the skill. This might only be possible by mixing with folks outside of your core team. It’s the antithesis of mixing with shy people; you might feel more comfortable at first in this group, but in the long-run, you won’t be learning the skills and behaviors you’re trying to develop.

7. Don’t give up on people - one thing shy people tend to do (that is, if they haven’t accepted responsibility for their shyness) is to dismiss people outright if they have a bad experience. It’s a way of coping. But a bad experience is a good learning opportunity, and often, a single encounter is not a good measure of a person’s character. Don’t give up if someone rebuffs you or gives you a hard time because of your shyness. The workplace can be a harsh place at the best of times, but don’t let one exchange result in a dysfunctional team!
I hope you find these tips useful. They won’t all work overnight. Some might not work for you at all. But you won’t know until you’ve given them a go!

©2010 All Rights Reserved.
The Mid Life Opportunity ( is a community for Mid Lifers. Advice and Guidance will soon be available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join so what are you waiting for?
If you would like some help now with aspects of your life, contact Better Life Coaching:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Your brain is at its peak in Mid Life

Review by Maureen Callahan - New York Post

Given the subject matter, the title of science writer Barbara Strauch’s new book feels limited: In it, she examines and explores new scientific research that shows the human brain, at mid-life, is at its most nimble, agile, and best. It’s not so much that the middle-aged mind has surprising “talents” — it’s that new scientific study is demanding an entire re-assessment of what it means to get older, and almost all the data is positive.

Strauch doesn’t so much define what middle age is as by what it isn’t; given our lengthy life spans, she considers someone like Nora Ephron, 68, still in the middle.

Some of the science isn’t new. For several years now, we’ve known that the brain doesn’t lose cells as it ages, as previously believed, but can and does generate new ones, along with new connections and pathways. We also know that older people tend to have more perspective, experience and wisdom than younger people, but neuroscience has just begun to quantify this common-sensical idea. (Strauch cites the actions of hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger as a quintessential example of the older brain’s ability to call on vast reams of synthesized information in order to make a series of swift, correct decisions under pressure.)
Strauch makes a strong argument for the notion that minor, intermittent forgetfulness — misplacing your keys, the inability to remember an acquaintance’s name — are not signs of a diminishing brain. We forget things like this in our 20s, too, but because we are in our 20s, we don’t read them as signs of impending dementia. She also points to studies that show that picayune details may elude the aging brain because it is soaked with more information and has a denser neural infrastructure than a younger one.

“The middle-aged brain is a contradiction,” she writes. “Some parts run better than others . . . [but] despite a misstep now and then, our cognitive abilities continue to grow.”

Among the many exciting recent discoveries: Your brain is at its peak in middle age, so much so that scientists are re-evaluating whether there is such a thing as a midlife crisis (the thinking now is that isolated individuals already prone to depression tend to be depressed in middle age.) But the middle-aged brain seems designed to filter experience and information positively, that it regulates emotions with great control, and that both hemispheres suddenly begin to act in concert, allowing greater facility with ideas and logic.
Also: There are people who live with advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and never show any symptoms. These individuals are rare, and they tend to be highly intelligent and social, but they exist. (Monkeys, by the way, do not get Alzheimer’s.) These same kinds of people are also far more likely to suffer less damage in sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Their creativity actually increases, because we make more interesting and disparate connections and are more prone to daydreaming and wandering thoughts (like, where are the keys?). In short, neuroscientists believe that through our own efforts — reading, exercising, proper nutrition, staying engaged with the world — and future scientific innovation, we can and should expect our brains to function highly long into our dotage.
Strauch’s greater, larger point — one that she could have made a bit more forcefully, but that exists nonetheless — is that the culture needs to shift its preconceived attitudes about the inexorable decline and diminishment of neurological function as we age. “Our current vision of middle age is new,” she writes. “In fact, the study of middle age is so new, as one scientist told me, ‘It’s like researching nuclear physics, something that simply did not exist before.’ “
The one ironic flaw in Strauch’s thesis: She often repeats the same information over and over, as though she’d not mentioned it several times before, in slightly different ways, as if she’s presenting it for the first time. But as she so comfortingly puts it, we all must cut the middle-aged brain some slack. Or, in the words of William James, who she quotes here, “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain
The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind
by Barbara Strauch

The Mid Life Opportunity ( is a community for Mid Lifers. Advice and Guidance will soon be available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join so what are you waiting for?

If you would like some help now with aspects of your life, contact Better Life Coaching:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Mid Life guide to adjusting your finances for life on a pension

It’s on the horizon, you can almost smell the beach at the Costa Del Sol, you’ve earned a five star retirement but have you saved enough of those earnings to see you through? 

If you’re like most people on the verge of retirement, you’ve probably got a money worry or two. Adjusting to life on a pension doesn’t have to be intimidating. 

Pension contributions
Hopefully, you have been taking advantage of the Inland Revenue Salary Sacrifice system or AVCs and plowing extra money into your retirement fund.  By sacrificing some money now, and placing it into your tax free pension account, you reduce your taxable income, so you can eventually spend your tax pounds on that trip of a lifetime.  There may also be other ways to minimize your tax through family trusts and clever investments, make sure you’re watching every penny!

Now is the time to review your investments too.  The recent financial crisis may have left a big hole in your portfolio.  If you haven’t already, it’s time to consult your financial advisor about reassessing your investments, to find the best balance between maximized income and long term security.   If you don’t have an ISA – start one now!

Where does the money go?
Next, take careful stock of where your money goes each month – it’s time to decide where you can tighten the proverbial belt.   List the things you have always dreamt of doing and set aside the money you will need for the important ones.  If you have this money now, put it in a high interest bearing account until you are ready to use it. 

Find out exactly how much you will have to retire on, set yourself a livable daily budget (you may like to try an online retirement calculator to help you plan your spending), and practice living to this budget now.  Once you remove your work expenses, will this budget be sufficient?  If not, speak to your financial advisor about what can be done now.

Shop around 
Contact your utilities and communications providers and your local Council One Stop Shop to ask for any discounts such as subsidized transport or electricity supply you may soon qualify for.  It may also be useful to discuss your finances with your local benefits office depending on your situation.

Next, shop around for insurance.  Nowadays there are plenty of insurance companies catering to retired people with heavily discounted motor and home insurance on offer.  Consider whether a second car is still necessary, and whether you still need that cell phone and high speed internet you’ve been using for work. 

The Grocery bill
You will find that one of your biggest expenses is the weekly grocery bill.  Investigate fresh food markets and countryside stalls that sell heavily discounted fresh food in the peak of its season.  There may also be a bulk fresh food market nearby that caters to retailers, often these are open to the public too and are a far cheaper option. Purchase meat and household items in bulk from warehouse stores.  If you have a business name registered (for any earnings from your hobbies) you may be able to buy from wholesalers, saving extra on tax.

Take note of the clearance days at your local market.  At least one day each week, larger stores will clear fresh foods, dairy and other perishables that are still in perfectly good condition but will soon reach their sell by date (sometimes stores called it their “market day”).  Either cook or freeze these items straight away.   Cook extra portions of foods such as pasta sauces and casseroles to freeze and then reheat as needed.  And of course, keep an eye out for offers at your local grocery store.

Now that you have more time, consider growing a vegetable garden or window box.  Try to plant the more expensive vegetables and herbs that you use regularly.

If your financial situation becomes unmanageable, there are options to make money in retirement.  If you own your own home or at least have a spare room, consider opening your doors to a foreign student.  Students pay up to £120 per week and in many situations, this money is tax free.  You may also wish to consider generating income from something you enjoy, such as teaching a musical instrument, hosting cosmetic and home wares parties, selling craftwork on Ebay or even qualifying as a Marriage Celebrant, ESL teacher or Interpreter.  

And finally, before you make a purchase, calculate just how much it is really going to cost. Beyond the price plus vat, a £500 purchase today may cost you a holiday next year.  Consider how many hours you had to work to save that £500, and consider if the purchase will make you happy for at least that long.  If not, don’t buy it, and if so, wait a week and see if you still want it so badly.

Consult your Financial Adviser on all the ways that you can manage your investments and budgets better and retire the way you’ve always wanted!

About the Author:
Susan Long has spent many years developing strategies for making the retirement dollar go further through her work at Sell House Fast

The Mid Life Opportunity ( is a community for Mid Lifers. Advice and Guidance will soon be available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join so what are you waiting for?

If you would like some help now with aspects of your life, contact Better Life Coaching:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Home Remodeling When Going Through Mid Life Transition

Guest post by Amanda Thomas

Mid-life transition is something that almost everyone must  go through. It takes place around your 40s (give or take a decade) and it is a  natural part of life, one that does not necessarily imply having any kind of  “crisis.” However, the word crisis is commonly associated with the adult  mid-life period. This is because middle age is a time in which adults begin to  take on new and important responsibilities, which in turn compels them to reappraise  their previous and current life styles and choices.
Mid-life is a time of  reassessment and change, which can surely cause severe stress, but can also be  a great opportunity for taking on new and exciting projects. Home remodeling is  just one of the many things that adults can focus on when they reach middle  age. There comes a point when you begin to notice that your wallpaper is  outdated, or that your chairs and couches are much harder on your joints and  back. You’ve worked hard all your life to have a home, so why not have some fun  with it? Now that you have time to think about what it is you want to have in  your life, it’s a perfect time for a mature home remodeling project. Here are  some tips to keep in mind!

What Do You Want Out  of Your Home?

It’s good to start by considering what home remodeling  projects you’ve always wanted to take on, but haven’t had the time for thus  far. Have marble kitchen countertops been a dream of yours for many years that  you just haven’t gotten around to? Or maybe you’ve wanted to change your  flooring for a while. Sit down and take some time to figure out what you want  your home to look like. Figure out what style you want to go for, the  aesthetics and attitude that you want your home to portray. Let yourself have a  vision and do not be afraid of trying out new things. It’s your home, after  all, and it should look exactly how you imagine.

The Big Elements of  Your Home Interior Design

The interior design of your home is one of the most fun  aspects of a home remodeling project. Here are some of the big elements of your  interior home design that you should consider carefully.


  Regardless of what flooring option you want, be sure to  explore other possibilities in the planning period. You never know what you  might end up liking. Take the time to shop around and consult with your local  home improvement store experts. One great way to customize your existing floors  is to add decorative rugs. Rugs are very versatile; they let you change the  color and patterning of your floor easily, so that it can go with whatever  overall interior décor style you want.


  Your windows are another important element of your home and  one that can have as huge of an effect on your remodeling project as your  walls. One of the keys to window décor is the window dressings, such as the  curtains, shades and/or blinds you install; many people like to upgrade to  versatile flat roman shades from their standard blinds when they remodel their home. Take your  time to explore all the options, and you’ll see that each type of window  dressing lends its own unique attitude to the interior design of a room.  Whether you end up with custom made roman shades or traditional wooden blinds, new window treatments will make  a big difference in the overall result of your home remodeling project.

Kitchen and Baths

  Your kitchen and bathroom are two of the most trafficked  rooms in your home, so you’ll definitely want to pay special attention to them.  They can also be some of the most expensive parts of a home remodeling project.  Since many kitchens and bathrooms are shaped differently than other areas of  your home, you may need to find specialty cabinets, hand-cut tiles, and custom blinds, which can add to the  price. Make sure to shop around plenty before making decisions, and look online  for guides on how to get more for your money with handy interior design  strategies. If you are willing to look for it, you can find plenty of  information and creative ideas online.

The Mid Life Opportunity ( is a community for Mid Lifers. Advice and Guidance will soon be available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join so what are you waiting for?

If you would like some help now with aspects of your life, contact Better Life Coaching:

Monday, April 19, 2010

5 secrets of the mid life mind

5 Secrets of the Middle-Aged Mind, by Barbara Strauch

The author of a provocative new book reveals the latest research on the grown-up brain.

Over the past few years, neuroscientists have upended much of what we thought we knew about our middle-aged brains. Using scanners and studying the results of new, more sophisticated long-term studies that have followed real people as they age, researchers themselves have been amazed by what they’ve found. Here are just a few of the surprising things they’ve recently uncovered:

1. We are smarter than ever in middle age.
 In most areas, including reasoning, we improve as we age, and peak cognitive performance actually occurs in our 40s through 60s – and not in our 20s, as many had thought. It’s true that some glitches develop: Remembering names gets harder, and brain-processing speed slows down. But for most of what we do in middle age, it turns out that those skills might not matter that much. In areas as diverse as inductive reasoning and vocabulary, our brains continue to develop. What’s more, as we age we get better at getting the "gist” of arguments, making judgments of character, or even finances. And each generation is now smarter than its parents were in middle age.
2. We grow happier with age. We’ve all been conditioned to dread middle age, a time of midlife crises and empty nests. But there is no evidence for such widespread angst. Instead, research shows that we actually become happier during this period. In part, this is because our brains start acting differently by reacting less to the negative, a trait that may have developed because the grown-ups who were more optimistic could take better care of their young. And the idea that we get more depressed or troubled in midlife is a myth. New long-term studies that have followed real people in their lives for years find that men and women have a greater sense of well-being in middle age. Those who are in crisis, the studies show, have tended to have crises throughout their lives, not just in middle age.
We've all been conditioned to dread middle age. But ... we actually become happier during this period.
3. The brain does not lose millions of brain cells. For years, researchers thought our brains lost up to 30 percent of their neurons as we got older. That idea led science to largely ignore the brain as it aged. Why waste time researching something that was going to decay on a set schedule? Now, new studies show that while we can lose brain connections if they are unused, we keep most of our brain cells for as long as we live. This means that the quest to find real ways to maintain our brain cells is now being taken up in earnest.
4. The brain is like the heart: It needs blood. Nutrients, as well as certain growth chemicals produced by muscles when they exercise, are now known to cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain, which needs healthy blood flow as much as our heart. This, too, overturns longtime scientific dogma that for many years said the brain was protected, but also was so insulated that it could not be improved. There are many things we can do to keep our brains in gear. Indeed, exercise has now been shown to be one of the best things you can do. Not only does exercise pump blood through our brain’s blood vessels, but it also prompts the creation of new brain cells, even at older ages. Scientists at Columbia University and elsewhere have watched these new cells be born in the brains of animals and humans who have exercised.
5. Crossword puzzles are not enough. In fact, if we want to keep our brains sharp, we need to move beyond just recalling information we know (the main activity with crossword puzzles) and instead push them to experience new ideas to create and nourish new brain connections. This can mean anything that gets us out of our "comfort zones,” including making new friends, learning to play the cello — or even confronting ideas and people who disagree with us. One longtime researcher at Columbia University says that if we want our grown-up brains to stretch, we have to present them with a "disorienting dilemma” — in particular ideas or concepts that challenge our view of the world. As one researcher put it, we need to "shake up the cognitive egg" and push ourselves to consider other viewpoints.
The point is that we need not passively accept decline. If our brains are healthy, we can keep them functioning well, even into old age. But to do that, we need to continue to make them work — hard.
Barbara Strauch is deputy science editor at The New York Times. Her new book is The Secret Life of the Grown Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle Aged Mind. Visit Barbara’s website by clicking here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Are you a Mid Life Lark or a Mid Life Owl?

The vast majority of people are either “Morning types” (Larks) or “Evening types” (Owls). This is governed by our own natural body clock and it is not something that we are at liberty to tinker with. You are at your most productive either at the beginning of the day or the end of the day. Some jobs obviously suit particular types. Delivering the post or the morning milk is clearly a job for a Morning Type. Working in a nightclub is not! If you're thinking of changing your job or you are actively job hunting, being aware of whether you are a Lark or an Owl is important. You haven't changed your type during your working life to date and you're unlikely to change in the future.

You need to organise your working day around your type. If you are a Morning type, then plan your main tasks for the beginning of the day. It will be fatal to leave important (but possibly unappealing tasks) until after lunch. The afternoon will arrive, you will look at the task and decide that “as I am a Morning type, I’ll leave this until tomorrow morning.” Taken to its logical conclusion, tomorrow never comes and you can find yourself putting the task off until it is really too late.

If you are an Evening type you should plan those important tasks for later in the day. You should also arrange your meetings at this time when you are at your most productive and most alert. Start the day with the routine tasks that don’t require a lot of brainpower. But beware of falling in to the trap of concentrating on the easy (and possibly more enjoyable) tasks throughout the whole day. This may sound simple but just take a moment to think about some of your recent working days. Have you been as productive as you should have been? If not, have you tried to address tasks at the wrong time of the day with predictable outcomes?

When you are thinking about your Mid Life career move, try to uncover the culture of the company that you are considering working for. In order for you to be happy in a new role, the culture of the company has to map to your own. If you're a morning person you will want to arrive at work early. If you find yourself working in a culture where nobody leaves until the boss has gone home in the evening, you may not thrive!

The Mid Life Opportunity ( is a community for Mid Lifers. Advice and Guidance will soon be available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join so what are you waiting for?

If you would like some help now with aspects of your life, contact Better Life Coaching:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Mid Life Crossroads

Many people feel as if they have reached a crossroads at some point during their mid life. They can see two (or more) paths in front of them. One path is a continuation of their current life, the other(s) leads off in different directions. The relative size of the paths will dictate which path the Mid Lifer chooses to take. If the current life path looks like a motorway (freeway) and the alternatives look like country lanes, it is likely that our Mid Lifer will continue with their current life. They might dally for a while down one of the country lanes (change their wardrobe, take an evening class) but their life won’t change dramatically. But if one of the alternatives looks like a motorway, and the current life path looks like a gravel track, then watch out – change is coming. For better or for worse.

It may be a change of career, a new relationship or a full blown mid life crisis.
Seeing the crossroads up ahead can seem quite daunting but it can also be quite liberating, It’s very easy to be ‘stuck in a rut’ and we all know people who are stuck in their own rut. They’re not happy, they moan about most aspects of their life but they are too frightened or lazy to do anything about it. They will be the people who get to the end of their lives and think ‘if only…’

Sometimes the crossroads appear out of nowhere, like driving in the fog. You might be made redundant or your partner might decide that their relationship with you just isn’t working any longer. These crossroads are much more difficult to manage as you don’t feel in control. You feel like ‘flotsam and jetsam’ tossed around by the tide and pitching up on the shore at some point but not the point where you’d like to be.

The important thing is to take the positive view – yes, it’s easier said than done but there is always a positive angle to every situation. If the crossroads is thrust upon you and you suddenly find yourself travelling down a strange road, stop, take stock and regroup.

Understand that you’re not alone. You won’t be the first person to travel down this road (or the last). You will have friends or relatives that can help you. If not, there are self help groups everywhere which you can tap into – the internet is a wonderful, life changing development!

Next time, we’ll look at the some of the typical mid life crossroads and some suggestions on how to manage them.

The Mid Life Opportunity ( is a community for Mid Lifers. Advice and Guidance will soon be available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join so what are you waiting for?

If you would like some help now with aspects of your life, contact Better Life Coaching:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What is a Mid Lifer?

What is a Mid Lifer?

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What is a Mid Lifer?

Simplistically, we might conclude that a Mid Lifer is someone between the ages of say, mid thirties to late fifties. Mid Life, though, is a state of mind as much as a physical age. So you may be older (or younger) and still consider yourself to be a Mid Lifer.

Typically, many of your habits will be set – you know what you like to drink, the type of holidays that you enjoy, the clothes that you wear and your hobbies, for example. These won’t be set in stone and may change as you grow older but by and large, you know who you are and you know what you want.

Some Mid Lifers may have young families as they have delayed parenthood whilst enjoying their youth. Others may have a young family with a second partner. At the other end of the family spectrum, some Mid Lifers will have seen their children leave home and this may lead to life changing decisions – moving house, reviewing their career, taking early retirement for example.
Mid Lifers may be carers for their elderly parents or they may have experienced the trauma of their parents passing away.

Many Mid Lifers spent their youth swearing that there would never be a generation gap between them and their children – then finding themselves wondering why their offspring listen to ‘such mindless music’ and have such odd hairstyles.

Some Mid Lifers will feel that they’ve reached the top of the ‘bell curve’ and it’s all downhill from here. These are the people that often experience a ‘mid life crisis’ with all the negative aspects that this holds for them and their family and friends.

This will be the future for some Mid Lifers but it doesn’t have to be. As Henry Ford once famously said ‘Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re usually right’. So mid life may be a time of retrospection and review and your conclusion may be that your best days are behind you. More positively, you might conclude that the experience and learning that you’ve gained in your younger years provide you with the springboard to greater things in the second half of your life.

Life is always full of opportunities – the trick is in recognising them for what they are.

The Mid Life Opportunity highlights all of the positive aspects of Mid Life whilst also recognising that not everyone is in this happy place.

If you have issues with your career, finances, relationships or your health you will be able to find Advice and Guidance from experts in their field. Experts who can help you to see that your coping skills, experiences, maturity and accumulated wisdom can increase your confidence and show you the way through your current crisis to a brighter future.

Thanks for your interest in The Mid Life Opportunity and do please join the community and add your voice.

The Mid Life Opportunity –

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What happened to We? What became of Us?

Most of us Mid Lifers will recall eating  meals together as a family and then sitting down to watch a TV programme together. Perhaps we still do. Our parents will remember the days before TV when they might have gathered round the piano to sing songs, play card games and enjoy other party games as a group.

In many, perhaps most, households today these scenes are unrecognisable. Children eat meals at different times from their parents and often in their bedroom. They watch different TV programmes on different TV sets in different rooms. They may catch up with missed programmes on an iplayer on their laptop. They will certainly be using the internet, talking to virtual friends while the rest of the family are doing their own thing. In some cases, the parents may be sitting in the same room watching different programmes on their laptops or surfing the web using headphones.

What has happened to family interaction? What are the consequences of this breakdown in family gatherings? The members of the family may all be fine in themselves and the family may be a strong unit but how will this ‘individualisation’ affect people’s lives in the future?

We are already seeing a growth in the ‘I’ culture. People think of themselves first, others second. The concept of neighbourliness and helping others is fast disappearing. When the great names of the Industrial Revolution made their fortunes they ploughed much of it back into their communities – building civic buildings, improving the housing of their workers or setting up Foundations to help the poor escape from poverty. How many of today’s high earners think the same way? Not so many, though, as always, there are notable exceptions.
When you travel on public transport or walk down the street, how many people do you see wearing earplugs, listening to music? How aware are they of the ambient noise around them? They have very little interaction with others, content to move along in their own private worlds.

People are becoming more focussed on their own world, real and virtual and less concerned about the effects of their actions on others.

It is ‘Me’ not ‘We’ and ‘I’ not ‘Us’.  Discuss …

The community for Mid Lifers: and the associated blog:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mistake-Proofing Your Start-Up Business – advice for Midlifers & others

Mistake-Proofing Your Start-Up Business 
By Jay Arthur

With so many people out of work, or afraid of losing work, it should come as no surprise that many are thinking about starting their own businesses. So how can entrepreneurs mistake-proof their start-ups? All it takes is a little time using free online tools and search engine research with Google.

Mistake 1: Not Listening to the Voice of the Customer
Many start-ups fail because they didn’t understand the “voice of the customer.” First, figure out where the crowds of customers are going and then get in front of the crowd. In the old days, this would involve lots of market research, focus groups and money. Today, these answers can be easily found on the Internet for free with Google’s key word tool:

Mistake 2: Not Speaking Your Customer's Language
Customer language can differ from our own. When naming your business, don't paraphrase; use the customer's exact words. Then check website domain name availability. If it's available, register it; if not, try adding other key words likely to attract customers.

Mistake 3: Not Making Your Product or Service Better, Faster and Cheaper
Too many entrepreneurs try to enter an already crowded market. Search the Internet to find out how many competitors are out there. Customers want you to be better, faster and cheaper than the competition. Ask, “What is the competition? What can we do differently?” If you can’t answer these questions, neither can your customers. When customers can't distinguish one business from another, they default to the familiar or low cost one.

Mistake 4: Not Testing the Business Concept
To test your business or product concept, Google Adwords offers another powerful tool. Google makes its money by putting ads around its search results. Many entrepreneurs use Adwords to test business and marketing concepts before they throw a lot of money at it. All of this research might take a few weeks and a few hundred dollars, but it’s a lot cheaper than wasting your hard-earned money on a doomed startup.

Mistake 5: Not Bootstrapping the Business
Entrepreneurs don’t always need a lot of money to get started. If the business is a product, don't make 10,000 of them. Put up a Web site; bake a few in your kitchen and sell them online or give away free samples to test the response. If the business idea is a service, print some business cards (with your keywords) and pass them out. This is how entrepreneurs bootstrap businesses that grow. It's also how they avoid sinking huge sums of money into bad ideas.

If the first business idea doesn't click, try another one. Walt Disney went bankrupt several times before succeeding … but then again, he didn't have Google. Good luck with your start-up!

Jay Arthur, the KnowWare Man, works with companies to fire up their profits with Lean Six Sigma. Jay is author of "Double Your Profits: Plug the Leaks in Your Cash Flow." He spent the last 20 years helping organizations maximize revenue through the "Lean Six Sigma System," a collection of audio, video, books and software. Jay is also the author of "Lean Six Sigma Demystified" and the "QI Macros SPC Software" for Excel. To plug the leaks in your cash flow, sign up for free Lean Six Sigma lessons online at: or call (888) 468-1537.

Advice and guidance for Mid Lifers - The Mid Life Opportunity: and the Mid Life blog:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mid Life - a time to shed shells

Adult life has been described as a series of cycles. Throughout these cycles we build life structures that later need to be revised or abandoned. Changes come, and we need a more suitable life pattern. Old structures that no longer serve us can block our personal growth leaving us with a 'smile off' life existence.
My own midlife experience will testify it's not easy for us to shed shells, because the current one is comfortable and known. Inertia can be powerful, but if we refuse to make appropriate changes, we sabotage our own lives. Stagnation and loss of our smile feed on such an attitude. How often have you heard someone say: "This job is soul destroying, but I'm making good money and we're just at the point of being financially comfortable. How can I afford to make a change?" Such questions should make us look more carefully at the life we are leading and lay out some options. Will a small change make a difference? Or is a more radical step needed?
We, as a family, took the radical approach of shell shedding by stopping the world and getting off for a year to live on the quite and peaceful Island of Fuerteventura. What ever you decide, as you shed shells it is normal to go through a period of personal soul searching: thinking about the future and even shutting out the world to some extent.
This soul searching is particularly acute when we face one of life's three 'un's.' The unexpected, the uninvited and the unthinkable: divorce, widowhood, job loss, or serious illness. Dealing with these life 'un's' requires unhurried and quiet time to cope with endings and losses, to sort things out and focus on the future. With the support of others, and our own efforts, a new life pattern gradually emerges bringing with it a new found smile.
Colin writes about how to find your smile, discover your right livelihood and create your ideal life at Midlife Maverick.
If you enjoyed this article you may wish to download his acclaimed free e-course, "Live Your Own Life, Only Better!"
Or, Join his ezine and get "Breaking Free" ebook as a gift.
For help and advice in Mid Life:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Life Lessons - written by a 90 year old

The list below was written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio:
To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone...

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay cheque.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

For help and advice in Mid Life:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Touch screen mobile phones

When you upgrade your mobile to a new touch screen model, don't forget to buy some Screen Guard plastic covers to protect the screen. If you don't so this, your screen will soon be scratched and marked. Look for Screen Guards on ebay.

Surviving the Recession - 5 lessons from Nature

Many parts of the world regularly suffer from drought and famine and the local people and wildlife adopt well rehearsed strategies in order to survive:
  • They use their resources sparingly
  • They may migrate to regions which have more abundance. The annual migration of the wildebeest in Africa is one of best known examples of this.
  • They understand and anticipate the side effects. These may range from an increase in disease or plagues of mosquitoes and locusts, to a rise in food prices (exacerbating the situation) and on to land degradation, bush fires and ultimately,  social conflict and widespread death and destruction
  • They adapt, as best they can, to their new, temporary environment
  • They take advantage of unexpected opportunities – crocodiles and lions wait in ambush for the migrating wildebeest
  • Outside agencies attempt to alleviate the problems or at least, reduce the effects – Aid Agencies and other NGOs offer food and shelter in the worst effected regions.
In these difficult economic time, what lessons can we learn from the natural world?
  • They use their resources sparingly – This lesson has obviously been learned by most of us. Spending is down (which is, of course, prolongs the recession), many people are overpaying their mortgages every month and credit card debt is being paid off faster than before. ‘Eating In’ is the new ‘Going Out’ and the large supermarkets and take away chains are the main beneficiaries. In the workplace, budgets are being cut and we are all asked to ‘do more with less’.
  • They may migrate to regions which have more abundance – Many people will look around for a new job, either at home or abroad. Whilst vacancies are more limited at the moment, if you have strong transferable skills, you are better placed than most to take advantage of new opportunities.
  • They understand and anticipate the side effects – The side effects, of course, include redundancies, and longer working hours for those who survive the cull. Personal relationships may suffer as a result of this and you must recognise if this is becoming an issue in your own relationship, both at work and (more importantly) at home.
  • They adapt, as best they can, to their new, temporary environment – this point is absolutely key to your survival during this recession. Here are some thoughts for your consideration:
1. Network
Make sure you get to know as many managers as possible in your organisation and make sure they know who you are. This means getting outside of you own department!
2. Operate above your payscale
Offer suggestions to your boss, offer to make presentations at departmental meetings. Take the initiative and start (or carry on) doing things that your boss should be doing but for which you can take responsibility.
3. Make yourself indispensable
Help your line manager as much as you can. If you’ve moved around in the department, help those who are currently working in an area where you’ve worked previously (without annoying them, of course).

4. Go the extra mile
If your line manager asks you to help him/her prepare for a board meeting, for example, go the extra mile and prepare some presentation slides too. They may not be the finished article but it’s much easier to finesse something that already exists than to start with a blank piece of paper.
5. Socialise with your colleagues
Integrate with your colleagues. Go for a drink after work. Get involved in societies and clubs. You never know who you might meet and the deeper you dig yourself into the fabric of the organisation, the more difficult it becomes to do without you.
·         They take advantage of unexpected opportunities – If your line manager leaves, for whatever reason, you may find yourself running the team in a ‘holding capacity’. Take the initiative and do more than just ‘hold the fort’. Make your own decisions and add your own stamp to the team. In times of recession, it is more likely that you will be offered the job permanently, if you show promise, rather than recruiting externally.
Budget cuts may also offer opportunities for you to develop skills which are currently under-utilised.
  • Outside agencies attempt to alleviate the problems or at least, reduce the effects – In the business world, the government(s) is responsible for tackling the recession. They do this in a number of ways. Currently, interest rates are extremely low. If you have a mortgage that’s not on a fixed rate, overpay your monthly payments. You will be pleasantly surprised how this affects the length of your mortgage term. If you are on a fixed rate mortgage, check out how much you will pay in redemption fees to move to a Tracker mortgage. This may be worth your while.
Haggle! If you’re buying something over and above the usual weekly shopping, ask for a deal. You’ll often get something off the price – it all helps!
There are many survival lessons to be learned from the natural world and a whole lot more that apply in our world. The most important lesson of all is that in YOUR life, it’s up to YOU – nobody’s going to do it for you!
If you’re looking for a new job – advice here: