February 1, 2008
(It is important to add that Ann Fry was actually born on January 1, 1946, which puts her into the category of being on the cutting edge of our fellow baby boomers. But, even more interesting, Ann Fry has no intention of "stopping or quitting work." As the Editor of NowWhatJobs.net, I strongly agree with her conclusion on this subject.)
If it’s time for a change, here are some strategies
I have a mantra that I live my life by.
It’s “Aw, what the heck, do it anyhow!”
It’s especially what I say to myself when
I’m scared to death to do what’s next.
Like many, I know how important it is
to rattle my cage, to do things new and
differently, to grow my career, add new
products, change my topics—the list
goes on. But I get stopped by fear,
negativity, doubt, procrastination and,
sometimes, by sheer laziness.
You know the saying, “If you do what
you’ve always done, then you get what
you’ve always gotten.” Well, I want
things to be different. I get bored with
the same old things; and if I get bored,
perhaps others (as in my clients) do as
well. Consider that taking the risk and
doing things differently might bring you
much more repeat business. Perhaps an
even more attractive reason for doing
things differently is that it will keep you
original, fresh and on top of your game.
Keep in mind that different is, well,
different. It’s not necessarily better; it
could be more or less; just not the same
old same old. To start, take a look
inside your closet (metaphorically
speaking) and determine what to keep
and toss, and what to add and do differently.
The New Year is the perfect
time to take stock of what needs to be
changed. Take a moment and say out
loud to yourself, “You know, one thing
I really want to try doing is __________
[fill in the blank].” Okay, so that’s something
you want, but the real issue—and
test—is how to make things different.
Different Is as Different Does
Just because you say you want to make a
change doesn’t mean you will. Most
speakers have tons of ideas and an equally
full desire to change, but when it comes
down to doing it, well, things get in the
way. We get attached to how things are,
we become nervous and scared, and all of
a sudden everyone has an opinion about
whether we should make a leap. Then we
get stuck in change paralysis. Listen,
achieving the status quo is easy. Change,
well, that’s a bit more of a challenge.
So, what’s a speaker to do? Here are
three simple steps to going from wanting
things to be different to actually
making things different.
1. Don’t do anything you don’t want to
do (or the alternate: Do what you do
want to do). Assess, really assess that
the things you want to do are because
you really want to do them. Assess and
make sure they make sense and fit into
your model. If they’re exciting and
they reflect you, then go for it. Case
in point, my friend Bob. He’s always
loved speaking and mentoring, but
along the way (for 30+ years) he got
tied up in the mortgage world. He
doesn’t want to do that anymore and
he’s giving it up. Now, he’s finally
revving his old speaking talents.
He loves being in the front of the room.
He’s doing due diligence, researching
his niche and he’s taken me on for
a mentor. However, he clearly
knows it’s a bit of a scary business.
He’s worried about money and all that,
but he’s going for it. And, he’s thrilled
and excited and passionate.
2. Don’t let anyone else tell you that
you can’t do it. People love to have
opinions and they’ll share them, even
without an invitation to do so. They
will, in fact, kill your dreams and
dampen your spirits if you let them. So,
when you know what you want, do it
despite other’s objections. That translates
across the board. Speak on the
topics that are meaningful to you, dress
in the style that suits you, write the
book others said you couldn’t and
never, never, ever let them talk you out
of it. Consider Pat. He was tired of
being a CFO and crunching numbers in
a corporation. He wanted to teach and
speak and consult, particularly with
non-profits. He did the research, went
on some interviews, but his wife was
insistent that their lifestyle would
change too much. He let her talk him
out of his dream. He took another CFO
job and gave up. Don’t let this be you.
3. Always say, “Aw, what the heck”
over and over. Then take the leap and
do it anyhow—and don’t look back. In
early 2006, I decided I wanted to leave
Austin, Texas, and move to Manhattan
(as in New York). It was my dream. I
can’t tell you how many people told me
it was a bad idea. In my heart, I knew it
was right. I moved anyhow. My business
is thriving, I’m busier than I’ve
ever been and I’m happy. The move
revitalized my speaking and consulting
career. I have a whole new direction
and a lot more work. I was scared to
pick up and move by myself and start
over and reinvent. I wasn’t 22. I was
much older. It was definitely playing
outside the lines for me. But, I didn’t
want to “settle” for something that
didn’t feel good anymore. So, I did it
anyhow! It’s thrilling.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “It
sounds too simple. It’s selfish to just do
what I want and to not consider others.
I have responsibilities. How can I just
leap?” Come from the premise that you
only go around once in life and ask yourself
some tough, but revealing, questions:
When you answer these questions,
take a few hours, days, even a month to
think about your responses. Reflect,
talk to people you trust, meditate.
Remember times in the past when you
were less risk-phobic and just went
after what you wanted with unencumbered
and wild abandon. Remember the
exhilaration you felt when you jumped
for that trapeze—and you didn’t fall.
Reconnect with your resiliency. Trust
yourself and know that you will not fail
if you play full tilt.
- How’s it going for you?
- Are you happy with where you are?
- Are you sharing what you want the
world to know or are you suppressing?
- Are you letting others tell you how to
do your career, or are you taking the
risks to develop your unique style?
- What’s missing? What do you really
want to be doing, saying, creating?
- What are you putting off? And for
what rainy day are you waiting?
- What gets in the way of you having it
or being it?
- How can you get out of the way?
The beauty of being in NSA is that there
is wonderful support for doing things differently.
You can call upon the spirit of
Cavett Robert and the generosity of the
membership. People will be there to catch
you if you start to slide back down. You
have a safety net, so take that leap.
You’re a professional speaker. You present
to thousands of folks every year,
with the desire to inspire them to do
something new and different. You must
walk the walk and talk the talk. You
must be willing to let go and know
there are many who will catch you on
the way down and send you back up
again, like a balloon. And, maybe, just
maybe, you won’t fall at all, but rather,
will soar into the ozone with the lightness
and freedom and fulfillment
you’ve only dreamed about.
This is your career—you get to do it
your way. For those of you old enough
to remember, I now really get the
words to Frank Sinatra’s song, My Way.
I used to think it was arrogant; now I
know it’s necessary in this business.
Ann Fry is the "head boomer"/CEO of It's BoomerTime. She's also a workplace "culture" expert. Ann is the person you want to work with when you want things to be different. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 212-787-6320.