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Pass It On Series: A Getting Better Mindset

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We're all guilty of being hard on ourselves. 

Is it possible that being too hard on yourself can actually be deterimental?

Based on this presentation from Heidi Grant Halvorson, if we'd just focus on getting better and not being "best" we'd have a greater chance of an expansive life of personal and professional growth. 

"Better" get to it.....

If you've done meaningful work you'll know the story.  

The annual report you worked on, the numbers that you ran for that important project, the web page you designed, the on-boarding process you designed for your small business, we've all done one or the other. And, we've tried as hard as we can on each and every one of them.  

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But it always seems we're in the race for the illusive "perfect" effort.  For some, it's the hunt for the replication of the perfect process, the repeatable, seemingly automatic method of producing superior results.  

We can all stop.  

The reality is that the pathway to "perfect" is right in front of us.  

All we need to do is to focus on making each piece of work, better than the last time we did that work. Not light years better, or miles better, just better. 

Incremental improvements are awesome when we stack them up, one on top of the other.  

So, Monday morning when you get back at it; don't focus on being great (but please don't focus on being ordinary) or being super or even being awesome.  

Just focus on being better.  

And start stacking 'em up. You'll get there. 

 

The Illusion of More Time

Over the course of the last few years, as investment balances have shrunk, savings rates have reached all time lows and the conversation began in earnest about changes to social programs, the financial media and even some advisors have lead you down a path that is fraught with lack of any “think-through.” 

Transient

While it’s been empirically easy to avoid action when it comes to retirement planning, although that will not save you, the innate ability to hide the issues has now been buttressed.  And, perhaps the new “normal” is the greatest cloaking device since the Klingon’s wanted to hide from Kirk and Spock in a Star Trek deep-space showdown: 

“I’ll just have to work longer.....”

That’s powerful. I say that because it involves the voluntary initiative to continue to do something known resoundingly as unpleasant; work.  It is, I suppose, the ultimate “fall on our own sword.” Talk about taking one for the team. This very comment is the stuff of legends. 

There’s only one problem.  Other than another avoidance mechanism and admittedly one steeped in plaudits and accolades for the effort, it’s highly likely not to work.   

First, it pre-supposes that you’ll be healthy enough to work. Fact is, there’s more than enough evidence that shows that this may not be the thing you want to count on and if you do count on it, do so knowing that the data shows that your likely to be in the vast minority of retirees who are not healthy enough to work in any meaningful way. 

Secondarily, it pre-supposes that your spouse or partner is going to be healthy enough. Once again this is the lesser likely statistical outcome by today’s math. Reality is that when your spouse or partner is gravely ill, your ability to get or keep meaningful employment is a less than optimistic slant to take. 

Third, it pre-supposes that you’ll find work. And again, not a real good bet based on the current math since the rate of unemployment is higher among older age groups than almost any other. You could start your own business and perhaps you should but counting on that as a means to provide your sustenance isn’t likely wise given that like marriages, about half of all small businesses fail within the first few years. Marriages may take longer, but the end result is about the same. 

Truth is that work after retirement may be able to provide you with some bonus dollars to help but ascribing the effort the gold medal for saving retirement is, at best, premature. 

Better, I’d suggest, that you give working "post retirement" it’s rightful place; it may provide you with some extras.

So where is the answer to a better retirement? It’s where it’s always been, it’s here and it’s now. Now is the time to start doing something about your future.

I watched the Little League World Series this weekend, Japan against the U.S. The young man pitching for the Japanese team threw the his fastball nearly 80 miles and hour which in the distances of Little League was the equivalent of a 100 mile-an-hour plus fastball in the major leagues. The U.S. coach told his players, “you’ve got to make you mind up to swing before he’s even let the ball go; if you wait to size it up, it’ll be too late.”

Evidently, preparing early and often works on a whole host of levels and for many of the same reasons and in many of the same ways. 

As a noted motivational speaker once said, “everything you do counts, what you do counts and what you don’t do counts, it’s all adding up, either helping or hurting.”

Doing nothing doesn’t mean nothing happens.

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part...

Tom Petty thinks this is the case. And we can all agree that he's on to something, at least if those millions of records he sold based on the song with that title are any indication.  

But, I don't think that he's right in every instance, the waiting isn't always the hardest part. We're a society built on waiting and frankly we appear to be pretty good at it. Especially when instant gratification of some sort isn't immediately involved.

Yesterday, you said today- Nike

Yesterday, you said today- Nike

But, I don't think that he's right in every instance, the waiting isn't always the hardest part. We're a society built on waiting and frankly we appear to be pretty good at it. Especially when instant gratification of some sort isn't immediately involved. 

It seems at times that we can wait forever. We've got tons of excuses as to why we're waiting, why we have to wait, and why doing it now just isn't going to work. There's always going to be the urgent things to attend to, that's not what needs to change. What needs to change is how the urgent things seem to always crowd-out the important things. 

No, the waiting isn't the hardest part. The hardest part is paying the price of having waited when it exacts one, and it often does. The hard part will be trying to recover from the waiting, to win the day, to not fall back. 

Please if you're waiting on something, waiting for a new start, waiting for a new beginning, putting off important work of some kind. STOP and get to it NOW. The urgent work screams to be completed. The important work quietly begs for it's chance, often muted out by the volume of the urgent. 

A while back I wrote about practice. What are you practicing? If you leave the spoon from the ice cream on the counter instead of putting it in the dishwasher, you're practicing leaving a mess behind and eventually, given enough practice, you're going to get really good at it. 

If you're practicing putting off what is truly important, then you're practicing building a regime of bad decision making and trying to succeed through last minute maneuvering. The urgent you'll find, doesn't leverage your resources or prepare your life for any major paradigm shifts. 

It's easy to see how that won't pay off in the long run.