Authoring Your Future

If you had to pick one thing in your life,

that you could do better, 

what would it be?  

 

That is the first question in a process called Future Authoring.

The purpose of Future Authoring is to create your life story; the story of your ideal future. The idea behind it is that we all live a story, but most of us don’t know what our story is, and we should know our story because it might be heading to a tragedy of some sort. Like wasting the precious time of retirement!

Another angle on this is that we fall into our story; or, we inherit our story. We just accept the story handed to us. And, the tragedy may be that it’s not satisfying because it’s not ours. The possibility is to own it and author our life story; specifically and in writing.

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that people who take charge of their story and actually author it, write it out in some detail, accomplish more of what they want in life. 

We all know about having goals and aims in life.

It doesn’t stop with retirement. In fact, the urgency may be even greater now. But viewing your life from the perspective of a story is different. Goals are within a story. 

Your story contains who you are and who you want to become. It includes where you’ve been; where you are now; where you want to go; the challenges that you face; and how you are going to overcome those challenges to get to the next page and the next chapter in your story. 

As the saying goes, “It’s about the process, not the end result”. It’s the process we live in at the present moment. But it is useful to know where the present moment fits in your ‘story arc’. (See addendum)

I started Future Authoring a couple of years ago.  I go back to it periodically to review it and make revisions. 

This morning I decided to change my answer.

I had written months ago that the thing I could do better was, to take care of my health. My rationale was that if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything! So health was my top priority. 

But today it occurred to me that there is a higher and better priority; to do a better job of managing my story. It came clear to me this morning, unexpectedly I might add, that my story contains everything in my life, including my health. Therefore, it should be my top priority; it is the driver!

One of the cool things about this process is no one watching.

There’s no one to please. There’s just what’s right for you. There’s just you and your story and how it unfolds. AND, you can change it!

But there is a catch…you have to be honest with yourself. That’s where the crunch comes…the drama you might say.  Will you face it or will you avoid it?

When I first wrote my story I didn’t like parts of it. I wanted it to be deep, rich and fascinating, but instead, parts of it were thin, boring and empty. Some parts were full and fun and I was pleased with them. There were yet other parts that were too easy.

I knew they were easy because they were stock answers. Answers that I’d read or heard somewhere. They might have been OK answers but, I didn’t really own them. Nevertheless, I’d write them in as place holders. I would improve them later, I thought. 

Do it Badly.

One of the instructions at the beginning of Future Authoring is “do it badly”. In other words, do something. Get started. It is easier to fix something that’s been started than to write the first draft. So, you have to get over needing it to be perfect the first time. It may be a long way from perfect! 

Like those empty parts. I knew that they reflected emptiness in me. Or my inability to express what I wanted in a way I liked.  I felt like looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching. Sometimes I’ve been able to go back and make them better, sometimes not. They just stay there looking empty. 

I also notice as life unfolds, each little painful experience can lead to seeing the truth and finding an answer. 

It’s like a puzzle. You struggle with it. Then you set it aside. Later you come back to it and boom there’s the answer. It’s the creative process. 

Your story, your masterpiece, is a lifetime project.

Call to action: Soo…If you had to pick one thing that you could do better, what would it be?

Future Authoring link: https://www.selfauthoring.com/future-authoring

Addendum: 

A ‘story arc’ is made up of three points:

A Goal: Every protagonist needs to have a goal; something they are going after.

We will soon see that their journey will be hindered by…

A Lie: A deeply-rooted misconception they have about themselves, that keeps them from reaching their goal. In order to reach their goal, they’ll need to acknowledge and overcome the Lie, by facing…

The Truth: While our hero may have their own plans, the ‘story arc’ has it’s own goal: growth. This is achieved when they learn to reject The Lie and embrace The Truth.

Ain’t it fun!

Note: Raymonde and I are heading to Berkley in the morning for a five-day Enneagram training with Tom Condon. He’s been in the game for about 25 years. I’m looking forward to his take. Hope to come back with all sorts of goodies to share. Back in two weeks.

 

 

 

 

“It’s alright ma I’m only bleeding”

Phew.

Today’s blog on ‘unselfing’ and ‘reselfing’ was the hardest yet.

I went to bed last night thinking the unselfing reselfing language was a mistake. I’d rewritten it 4 or 5 times. My poor proofreader and editor Becky stuck with me cheerfully. 

I suppose I was trying to a better job of making it work…of communicating it clearly, but I wasn’t happy. So I slept on it.

You know what happens when you’ve been working on something intensely. Your subconscious works on it all night and you may even dream about it. 

I was in the pre-waking dream state this morning and it came clear to me that this is about transformation. Obvious of course but still interesting that it should come back to that word. Like a sign. It’s the keyword in the definition of ‘unselfing.’

Unselfing and reselfing may be awkward words because they are new, but, this morning anyway, they seem like useful words.  Because they are ’active’ words that describe the process. And we need both. They are partners.

It’s about continuous letting go of the younger self and purposefully creating the new self. If we don’t do that we drift or fall into a stuck place. Growth must be on purpose and self-directed by the inner architect self. (New Retirement Project is the tool kit and the process to facilitate transformation)

I worried about the Reselfing part of the blog. That it may be too cookbookish, too instructional, and needed to be more stories instead. I still feel that may be so, but it was time to move on. One can second guess and tinker forever.

The basic concept that came back in my dream state. 

-The world changes and we change as we age. Two forces of change.

-We must adapt by unselfing what no longer fits and reselfing to be effective in the new world and to have new meaning and purpose 

Bob said it when he was very young …”He not busy being born is busy dying”. We grow or we die.

Forty years later he adds …”It’s not about finding your self…it’s about creating your self!”

We lose capabilities as we age but the trick is to see what gifts remain and to grow them. The mistake is to fall into a stuck place in a mood of resentment. A one hit wonder perhaps.

No one can save us… we have to save ourselves. 

 

YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYajHZ4QUVM

It could save your life

 

Have you ever heard of ‘unselfing’?

Did you know…

it could save your life?

I think the first time I ever heard the word ‘unselfing’ was from my friend PJ Reece.  At first, it occurred to me as an unfamiliar, awkward word. Not friendly. Not inviting. Perhaps even a bit dangerous. 

Yet PJ was fascinated by it. I was curious. “Why should I be interested in this word,” I asked. Because it could save your life,” he said with a smile… as if he was sharing the secret of life. 

I thought I would drill deeper to answer the question…

How can ‘unselfing’ save us? 

Definitions may be useful here:

Self: noun: a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others. The object of introspection. 

To ‘Unself’: Transitive verb. To separate or free from self; transform into a different self. To do away with selfhood or selfishness. 

How can a person’s ‘self’ be life threatening? 

Recently PJ gave a superb speech about “Unselfing” at Toastmasters. He demonstrated ‘unselfing’ by unpacking a backpack containing an old brick as well as several other heavy objects and even a toy cat that meowed. 

His proposition was that ‘unselfing’ is about discarding the burdensome parts of the old ‘self’ that are no longer useful and thus lightening our load.

Not exactly life-threatening, you might say, but certainly threatening to the quality of life. 

Depending on the weight of the baggage, it could easily lead to more serious problems!

The burden may be a brick… like; hopelessness, depression, resentment, anger, despair, guilt, grief, fear or insecurity. Things that can lead to health problems, substance abuse, premature death, suicide and even murder. Sometimes the baggage is too much to bear!

So, I get PJ’s point. The ‘self’ can be threatening to the quality of life and life itself.

How does ‘unselfing’ work?

There are several ways we can shift out of a ‘self’ that is burdensome. It starts with developing the ability to rise above and observe ourselves in a situation. Then we can choose our action.

Change your ‘observer’. Maybe you are being your mother, or your father, as you talk to someone. Listen to your words. Who are you being? That can be a horrifying realization:)

We all look at the world through the lens of our Personality Type. That can be a huge burden. The Perfectionist is likely to see what’s wrong; that may generate annoyance or anger and a strong desire to fix it. The Peacemaker may be wanting to let it go and avoid conflict. 

We can observe, assess and shift.(unself)

Change your ‘way of being’: Something happens! Like your Apple device won’t work. You are resentful and frustrated. You hate the idea of calling Apple. You resist for two days hoping the problem will go away. Then you realize that this ‘way of being’ is heading no place good. So you choose to change your way of being from ‘resentful problem avoider’ to ‘curious problem solver’. You feel an immediate internal shift and now you are ready to call Apple. You just transformed. (‘unselfed’ to ‘reselfed’)

Change your language. Your words can ‘sentence’ you to hard labour. Changing your words can free you. For example, navigating from that self that is “blaming and complaining” to a self that is using words of “responsibility and commitment” frees you from prison.

A ‘change of heart’: The protagonist in a story is hell-bent on a certain course of action. We see them heading toward tragedy. Then something happens. Perhaps a child’s tears. The protagonist has a ‘change of heart’, they see the tragedy and suffering they are creating for themselves, and others and they decide to change; drop the old ‘self’ and adopt a new way of being.

Empathize: You can ‘unself’ and be less ‘self-ish’ by looking at things from another person’s point of view. An extreme example might be arguing a position from the other person’s point of view as a good lawyer would do.

What if you don’t change? A coaching technique is to ask… What does your future look like if you don’t change? Where will you be in a year, five years, or ten years? 

Once you see where you are headed, you may decide to focus on a better future; drop the old self and adopt a new way of being! You can ask yourself … What does my future look like if I don’t change? Is that what I want? How do I need to change to have a better future?

Unselfing is a decision: Mostly often ‘unselfing’ is a decision to let go of an old way of being and shift to a new way of being. We make the decision to change when we face the cost of not changing. Pain motivates more than pleasure.

Having looked at some ways to ‘unself’ and ‘reself’ we can take the game to even level. I refer to the master…

“ Life is not about finding yourself…

it’s about creating yourself.

(Bob Dylan commenting in the new Netflix movie, Rolling Thunder Review)

bob-dylan-hd-wallpapers-free-download-6-2.jpg (1440×900)

How many versions of Dylan have we seen? Folk singer, rock star, true believer, and now a Sinatra style crooner. It’s how he keeps going at 78 years old!

Underneath every new ‘self’ is the deeper ‘self’; the architect of the new ‘self’. It was the deeper self that had the dream to invent Bob Dylan in the first place. I get the impression that he invents new versions of Bob Dylan because he is done with the old version; it’s his time to move on… explore a new self.

It is important to note that he’s not doing this for his audience. In fact, his old fans often object to the latest new ‘self’ that he creates. He literally turns his back on them! He remains true to himself. A true artist. That’s why people love him.

Retirement is a time for Un-Selfing and Re-Selfing

Retirement means we walk away from a lifetime of identifying with our work and parenting roles. Take these roles away and we are lost. We ask ourselves …”Who am I now?”

We can ‘unself’ by letting go of the old work ‘self’ and invent a new ‘self’ to find new meaning and purpose

The lucky ones hear and feel a calling and respond to it. Their interest is their future ‘self’ calling to them in the present, calling them to ‘reself’!

‘Unselfing’ in this context is consciously letting go of the old self and filling the void with a new self with new interests, new priorities, and new ways of being.

The retiree makes new friends; the business person becomes a poet; the nurse becomes an artist. It takes courage and work to be a beginner again. And it is an adventure in finding unopened gifts and buried treasures.

“Life is not about finding yourself…

it’s about creating yourself.”

Links:

http://pjreece.ca/category/blog/

https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself2.htm

 

 

The Power of a Noble Aim

 

Having aims makes life better.

 

The nobler your aim the better your life.

 

A noble aim is your antidote to suffering.

 

He had a slight smile of contentment on his face. The two of us, my retired engineer friend and I, were early, waiting for others to arrive for a 7 am Toastmasters meeting. “What’s up?” I asked, “You look like you are happy with life”.

He reflected….“Oh, I was just thinking about yesterday. I spent most of the day at my sister’s place doing odd jobs. It felt pretty good. I should do that more often.”

My friend’s story is a simple example of what it means to have a noble aim.

Definition of ‘Noble’: ‘superiority of mind, character, ideals or morals

Where was the nobility in what he did?

He saw a problem that was causing suffering. (Need)

He had the desire to fix the problem and relieve the suffering. (Heart connection)

He gave his day for someone else. (Sacrifice)

He reduced suffering for someone and felt good.(Kindness rewarded )

An antidote to his own suffering.

This same man regularly exhibited irritation and bursts of rage. I imagined that it was, at least partly, due to the frustration of losing his ability to hear. He wanted to participate in meetings but often couldn’t hear properly. It was infuriating for him. (internal chaos)

Yet, when he helped his sister all that anger disappeared. (Do more of that and life gets better!)

It could be a ‘random act of kindness’… It could become a ‘way of being’.

Noble Aims in Action 

When I first learned about the idea of a ‘noble aim’ I wanted to put it to the test. The advice was to start with basics close to home. For example…

Care for yourself. What is one thing you could do for yourself today? Give yourself that gift. Notice how you feel.

Improve yourself.  What are three things you could improve yourself? Pick one and start working on it. Notice how you feel.

Make something better. Like “clean your room”. ( or something else)  I cleaned my office after Christmas and felt better. Creates order out of chaos. Get your own house in order, then seek other projects.

Beautify something. I looked around my office. I hadn’t changed anything in ten years ….boring! So, I changed some pictures on my walls. And, the big move…I got a new rug to add some colour and some warmth to the room. It was fun to do, and I felt good about the result. I still do!

Reframe a chore as a noble aim. I did that with gardening this spring. Weeding is a major chore that we dread. We’ve hired people in other years, but it’s expensive.  I wondered If I could reframe this chore as a noble aim to beautify our property and home. I’d never really thought about it that way. As I got into the task I noticed that didn’t resent having to do it. Instead, I was enjoying being “ down in the dirt “.

Gardening Thyme

 

Apparently, it is all about attitude! Reframe a chore by thinking how it contributes to what you care about and ‘voila’, the chore becomes a pleasure.

Call to action: Commit to betterment every day. There is always something that needs fixing…. And, it feels good to use your abilities to make things better!

 

We feel better when we are moving

towards what we care about.

 

Jordan Peterson video about having a noble aim.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEKKIWCKhD8

I hear you knocking

What if…

that ‘interest’ that you have

is your future self…

beckoning to you in the present.

 

An interest showed up. When you retired and had more time, did you notice a particular interest showing up? Maybe it was there when you were younger, but life got in the way, and you lost track of it… until now! Or perhaps it is a new interest that has emerged. Either way, It is not a passing fancy. It is a persistent interest you cannot ignore.

What do your interests mean? Carl Jung believed that a person’s ‘interest’ is their future self trying to manifest itself in the present.  I’ve noticed that people find this idea intriguing. Perhaps it’s because Jung’s idea changes what interest means to us. It’s one thing to ignore an interest. It’s another to ignore your future self calling to you in the present….isn’t it?!

If your interest is your future self calling to you in the present, and you ignore the call, what might that mean for your future?  What might you be missing? What tragedy might you be setting up?

Stop and think about that for a minute.

On the other hand, what could it mean if you fully embraced that persistent interest you are seeing?

What’s your story? Another Jungian idea is that we all live a story, and we don’t know what our story is.  We should know what our story is, because it might be a tragedy, and we may want to avoid that.

How do you imagine your life story? Do you imagine a life of adventure, a life that is rich and full of meaning and purpose? Or is it more of the same? Kinda boring? Retirement should be about more than “staying busy”. Perhaps your interest is calling you to a better future.

What could be tragic about ignoring your interests? Putting it a different way …what are the consequences of letting your fear stop you from embracing and developing your interest?

In a nutshell, doesn’t it mean that you will never be your true self?

And if that is true, isn’t that the definition of tragedy?

Fear...is what holds us back from engaging our interests and evolving to our new future self!

You have been who you are for a long time. Naturally, it will feel strange to let go and discover or, perhaps rediscover your true self now. Your ego personality will try to control you with stories about keeping you safe, being practical, not being selfish, and not looking foolish. We all have that voice. And…

You are not that voice!  You are the author of your life!

Call to action.  A powerful way to shake loose of the past and generate your new future is to author your new story. Write it out, declare your new life into being!

It might be a paragraph or a page or ten pages! You might imagine you are in conversation with your future self. You might start by saying…”I hear you knocking”.

 

“Until you make the unconscious conscious,

it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

(Carl Jung)

 

 

Enneagram Series Part 8

enneagram is a way to look at my life differently

You take your life in your hands, and what happens?

A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

-Erica Jong

Here we are at # 8; the last in the current Enneagram Series. (For now at least.) I’ve been trying to think of a way to wrap up the Series with something ‘special’, but what seems natural is just to talk about the experience.

In case you missed it, this Enneagram Series was prompted by a Toastmasters assignment that I took on. “Post 8 blogs in a month”, it said. “A bit excessive,” I thought. But probably exactly what I needed to blast through all of my resistance.  I knew that once I committed, there would be no more wallowing in my stories about why “I can’t do this”. There’d be no way out, only forward! A hero’s journey. (Hey, it’s my story!)

Day one: I was dead in the water. I struggled with WordPress, the ‘blog launching program’, for a couple of painful hours. Then, in desperation, I called out for help; not something I do naturally. In fact, it is more accurate to say that I called out for sympathy!  As you know ‘help’, though well intended, is often not very helpful. People say…do this or that…you try it, you fail, and now you feel more depressed.

For me, starting a blog was overwhelming. So much to learn. Where do I start?

Help arrived in abundance. Friends, who are bloggers, mentored and encouraged me. But, it was Katherine Scott, a Toastmasters friend, who turned out to be my lifesaver. She took me by the hand and cheerfully, “I think you’ve had enough for today”, guided and mothered me, over the phone, through the first painful postings.

Another Toastmasters friend, Becky Beaton, showed up as my proofreader and my tactful, “this doesn’t make any sense Mike”, editor. She taught me about active voice vs passive voice, and how to use  “I, we, you” orientation in the writing. Becky was my sounding board when I needed help getting unstuck. Perhaps, best of all, she taught me to read the copy out loud several times to make sure it flows and sounds natural and conversational.

There were several practical reasons for doing this blog.  The process forced me to clarify my thinking about the Enneagram in a way I would not have done otherwise. Katherine suggested turning the Series into an ebook, to give away. Good idea. For future New Retirement Projects, it will be a great hand out and reference resource. For past and current clients, the blog is a good way to stay connected and “keep the conversation alive”. For potential clients, it is a way to connect and whet their appetite. In all cases, I hope, it’s a good way to share useful ideas.

Breaking News! I just received an email from an old friend and client, Al Cook, Facility Manager at an Ontario School Board. A note to say that he’s retiring. Al is one of a few clients over the years who became a special friend. When I was doing my Enneagram training, some years ago,  I asked Al to do the Enneagram questionnaire. It turned out that he was a ‘Helper’ in the Enneagram model. He didn’t care for that much. As an engineer and a Facility Manager, he joked that he was hoping for something a bit “more manly”. I tried to console him by telling him that Jesus was a Helper, but that didn’t ‘ help’. So he did the Enneagram again. Still a Helper! Al is also ex-military and, as it happened, he was heading to a class reunion at RMC in Kingston. “Great,” I said, “you can tell the boys that you’re a Helper. “Ya”, he said, “they’ll order me to go get them drinks”. We never talked about the Enneagram again. (Sorry Al. Couldn’t resist. Good memories.)

Closing Story: Everyday application of the Enneagram

My son PJ took me to see Neil Young last week in Vancouver. (That’s Neil in the spotlight. Honest.)  It was a birthday treat. The show was mostly a walk through fifty years of memories. He did offer some new stuff; mostly about environmental issues. ” Green is blue”, I thought was a good line. Staying relevant. Good to see.

On the ferry trip over from Gibsons, I had an experience that was a good example of an everyday application of the Enneagram teachings. A small thing that could have had big negative consequences; the sort of thing that happens to everyone almost every day.

Raymonde dropped me off at the ferry at Langdale to ‘walk on’. On the way to the waiting room, I recognized the man walking in front of me. It was John, the husband of one of Raymonde’s ‘Dragon Boating’ friends.  I noticed that all he was carrying a hardcover book. As we sat down I said “Hi John”, expecting an enthusiastic response. Instead, I got a weak smile, a nod and then he was into his book. He was right across from me.

It was the sort of thing that can leave a person feeling offended. John’s behaviour could be interpreted as rude. It could leave a bad feeling. It could cause one to start thinking “ what’s up with him” or “what have I done.” Imagination making up stories.

I’m guessing that John is a Researcher; Enneagram Type 5. In any case, it was obvious that he wanted “me time”. I saw the book and I know Type 5 is a ‘head type’. They like to separate themselves. They love to be in their heads, lost in thinking. He’d probably been looking forward to this escape all morning, and then I come along all smiley and friendly and wanting to chat. ….Horrors. Go away! 

Perhaps he didn’t recognize me. I hadn’t seen him for some time. I know he sees a lot of people in his work day. In any case, I knew it wasn’t personal.  Or I should say, I chose not to make it personal. He was just being John. He needed his ‘me-time’.  

You don’t need to be an expert in the Enneagram to observe people and situations in this way. I can’t tell at a glance what a person’s Type is, but I can start gathering information by paying attention.  I can observe a person’s behaviour and I can see my emotional reactions and judgements. I can observe myself starting to take it personally. And, I can let it all go! I can allow the person to be who they are without judgement.

It is so liberating!

Notes: Future blogs will generally be within the framework of the New Retirement Project.

If you want to know your Enneagram Type, request a free copy of our self-scoring questionnaire. Once you identify your Type, I will send you a free Report along with suggestions for further exploration.

There is a cool  Enneagram app called ‘EnneaApp’. It’s three bucks. It’s a quick and handy reference resource.

Comments are welcome.

Enneagram Series Part 7

 

enneagram is a way to look at my life differently

The Benefits

People who “do the Enneagram” sometimes treat it like a ‘party game’. “Isn’t it fun to know my Personality Type”, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Once they know their Type, it is quickly forgotten. Maybe they don’t know what else to do with it?

The truth is, the Enneagram has a lot to offer. You can go as deep as you want. Even basic insights can lead to a better life.

If you don’t know your personality type, and can’t see the personality types of others, you are flying blind; you are subject to constant risks and missed opportunities.

That said, after I had been certified as an Enneagram coach, I asked myself what had I gained from the experience. I remember feeling disturbed that the answer wasn’t immediate and overwhelmingly positive. I had just given a year of my life to studying this ‘thing’ and I wanted to be impressed!

So, I decided to sit down and start writing out the benefits I had experienced.

The benefits I discovered:

Renewing my direction: Once I accepted that my Type was the Helper, I realized that that was my gift! I remember asking myself, “How can I be the ‘best Helper’ I can be, now that I am retired”. Asking that question led me to discover New Retirement coaching which opened a new world of meaning and purpose helping others to find their new meaning and purpose.

Improving my marriage: When we learned each others’ Types, me a Helper and Raymonde a Reformer / Perfectionist, it created new conversations about how we could avoid conflicts, how we could help each other satisfy our needs, and how we could make better use of each others’ strengths. A whole new level of intimacy and richness thirty-five years in! Not bad.

Managing my reactive stress: The Enneagram made me aware that when I am really stressed I disengage. We all have a reactive strategy for dealing with stressful situations. Usually, it costs us! In my case, it caused me to become stuck. Having an Increased awareness of what I was doing to myself, gave me new power to make better choices; to get out of the stuck place faster with the results of less cost and a Better Life!

Observations:


Concepts don’t make your life better: The Enneagram teachings are all concepts until they are applied. Concepts may be exciting in themselves. They may seem to be beneficial because they are new, but they don’t add value without application.

Benefits can be invisible. Even when I applied the ideas, the benefits would quickly become transparent. The new ways of being become part of us and the benefits can disappear from view. It’s good to stop and take stock once in a while.

It’s easy to forget.  The benefits and applications can easily be forgotten. I found this particularly true in training. I was flooded with ideas and application assignments. It was always ‘on to the next thing’. Later there is a need to keep the ideas alive through conversation and further conscious applications. Coaching others is my teacher.

It all can become a blur. The mind is boggled by too much input. In my case, asking myself, “What value did I get?”  was a good prompt to sit down and assess what I had learned.

Can a person get these benefits from The New Retirement Project?

Even in the short five-week process, I observe people experiencing all of the benefits and more.

Effectively navigating life changes, like retirement, is a primary application for the Enneagram. It helps you to see your self more accurately.

Working in a small group accelerates learning by seeing the experience of other people, with different personality types.

Notes:

A cool Enneagram app is EnneaApp. It’s three bucks.

If you want to know your Enneagram Type, request a free copy of our self-scoring questionnaire. Once you identify your Type, I will send you a free Report along with suggestions for further exploration.

Enneagram Series Part 6

enneagram is a way to look at my life differently

Dealing with Life Problems

 

Do you have a serious problem situation?

Do you have the problem or does it have you?

What is it costing you?

What will it take to liberate yourself?

 

The purpose of this blog is to shed light on what happens when you commit. 

There is a school of thinking in psychology that what may appear to be an emotional problem is really a life problem. Emotional wellbeing will be restored when the life problem is resolved.

“Easy to get in. Hard to get out.”  It’s easy to get into situations and often very hard to get out. The cost can be lots of suffering. 

Story one.

A friend of mine, newly single again, decided to rent out a room in his place to help carry the load. He found someone right away on Craigslist. “Easy to get in”. Three months later she had become the tenant from hell.  Apparently, she had anger issues. This is when he realized that it would be “hard to get out”. Ever try to evict a tenant who has become a squatter?

After his situation was resolved, my friend shared some of his story with me.

“I’d tell myself …I’m going to deal with this…maybe tomorrow.” (Easy to procrastinate) He was understandably afraid of the confrontation.

Finally, he realized that the situation had to change. He committed to himself “to deal with it…today!” Once he committed the first thing that occurred to him was that he needed help. “I needed someone who didn’t mind a scrap” he explained. He found someone to help who seemed “a bit crazy”, but turned out to be “ just the right guy”. Apparently, the tenant being evicted clicked with this fellow right away.  Perhaps they were kindred spirits.

That’s how the process started.

Sparing you the details, suffice it to say, the process was not smooth. The police were involved, and it was very chaotic. My friend said that at times he didn’t know what would happen next. “But,” he said “it was as if the universe collaborated with me. I certainly wasn’t in control. All I did was commit and start the ball rolling.”

At the end of that day, the tenant loaded her truck and off she went. She even had a friendly goodbye with my friend.

The lesson seems to be that once you commit, the universe collaborates with you to get you where you want to go.

Story two:

People fall into retirement with a story that it’s going to be like a long vacation. How could that go wrong? They’ll be free to do whatever you want. Yet many get stuck. They find themselves struggling with a lack of direction.

So what the heck, might as well enrol in this program called The New Retirement Project. They say it’s about “finding new meaning and purpose”.

The Process begins week one by exploring a Wellbeing checklist and developing actions to make life better.

Next, we delve into everyone’s Enneagram personality profile to help them to “come back” to who they really are. Their “essence” as described by the name of their personality type.

As people begin to clarify what they really want, their ‘autopilot’ kicks in with a story that stops them from taking action. It usually involves personality related inner conflicts that conjure up “beasts” and stories that justify why they can’t take action to get what they want. It turns out taking care of yourself is not that easy for some.

The Process ends at week five with everyone telling a story to the group about their transformation. What we see is that breakthrough occurs when people trust themselves and are true to themselves; true to what they know will be best for them.

The pivot point in their story is their commitment; deciding what they want, what they know is best for them, and then committing to act.

A case in point. One of our participants in the last New Retirement Project had lived on a sailboat most of her life. She had aged, and so had the boat. She knew she needed to make a change, but she was understandably attached to her boat. Apparently, the New Retirement Process helped her to declare her commitment to moving. She would have to find a home for the boat and a new home for herself.

Now that she was committed, a friend showed up who was passionate about “tiny homes”.  

The rest, as they say, is history.

 

 

 

Enneagram Series Part 5

enneagram is a way to look at my life differently

Finding Meaning and Purpose

You feel better when you are moving toward something you care about.

The way out of the doldrums is to make something better.

The antidote to inner chaos is noble aims.

The nobler your aims, the better your life.

The purpose of this blog is to explore ways to align your personality with your purpose.

In blog #4 I said that it is useful to think of your personality Type as your new identity. Having retired from a lifetime work role, it’s normal to feel the loss of identity. Knowing your Enneagram Personality Type gives you a foundation to build your new identity.

Most people have two basic questions: “Who am I” and “Why am I here”

Knowing your Personality Type provides clues to the answer to both those questions.

 

Enneagram map of personality types

Consider:

The Helper who is programmed to help people in some way. They are often in support roles such as teaching and healthcare. They want to feel connected and make a difference. The challenge is how to do that in retirement.

The Achiever who has been striving for goals all her life doesn’t suddenly lose that motivation when she retires. She is wired to achieve, to accomplish, to win. To make things happen. She wants to feel accomplished. That is who she is! Now the challenge is to find a meaningful way to channel that gift.

The Investigator who was a program analyst or financial analyst now focuses his gift on researching what it is going to take to sail around the world and return safely.

Pick any one of the nine Enneagram Types. The same principle applies. There’s a motivation looking for a meaningful specific aim. “The nobler your aim the better your life.”

You are not your personality

While it is useful to think of who you are in terms of your personality, it is not the whole truth. You are not your personality, you are the one who has the personality. You get into trouble when your autopilot personality has you..when it runs you. Consciousness is the key to freedom. Consciousness, the real you at your ‘best’, is what chooses a higher purpose.

You know you are not your personality because you are able to observe and direct it. Personalities are programmed with certain basic motivations and characteristics. But it is you, the conscious one behind the scenes, who can make the big decisions in terms of purpose.

The value in knowing more about your personality is you can be more effective in choosing aims that fit your personality, as opposed to activities that just show up or aims that others foist upon you. Contentment comes when you align your personality, your true nature, with your purpose.

Strategies to Find Higher Aims.

Notice your interests. They hold meaning for you. Oddly we don’t control our interests. They are just there! But we can develop and cultivate them with more self-education or training. See what that produces. Then perhaps you will get committed to a purpose related to your interest.

Focus on betterment. Ask yourself, what are three things about me that if I corrected them, life would be better for me for others around me.  Start close to home. Start small. Clean your room. Beautify your room. Make your home better. Notice how you feel. Clean someone else’s room. Notice how you feel. Start making ‘bettering’ the world your aim. Make it a daily preoccupation. Notice how you feel. (See the top)

What if you make your life purpose to create the highest good you can imagine? If you seriously ask that question of yourself what shows up? Yes, it may look like work. You’ll have to ask yourself..” Do I have something better to do”

Something unexpected may occur

When you arrive at retirement you are relatively secure. You have no job responsibilities, you are free.

It may be time to come home to your ‘self’.

It turns out that when we feel secure we can access a part of ourselves we didn’t know was there.

The Helper may initially wonder if she should do the same role she’s been doing all of her life but then she notices reluctance. Her body says “no”. The time may have come to help herself. To take care of herself like she is someone she cares about, and for whom she is responsible. That may lead to discovering a new creative part of her personality that wants to be an artist. Her new mission may be something like bringing beauty to the world by becoming an artist.

The Peacemaker who spent a lifetime trying to create peace, harmony and wellbeing for others, may see that it’s time to focus on creating peace within herself. This may lead to developing a new spiritually oriented daily regimen.

The Enthusiast who has spent a lifetime giving their energy to community projects may decide that’s it is time to apply their gift to their intimate relationship. To bring joy to the home. Their challenge may be to avoid jumping at ‘shiny objects’ that seem appealing but become a trap.

The Reformer has spent a lifetime trying to make things perfect. Then she realizes that she has access to the Enthusiast’s way of being. Her new noble aim is to “have fun”. Just to enjoy life. What a concept!

Getting What You Want:

Visualize a picture frame.  Let the frame create boundaries to contain what you want. Carefully select what you want to place within the frame for your ideal future. Say “no” to things that don’t fit within the frame. Protect it carefully. Be ruthless. Be happy.

The purpose of this blog is to explore ways to align your personality with your purpose

Coming home to ourselves may sound romantic and it certainly is an adventure. For many people, it’s like coming home to meet a stranger; there are feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and guilt associated with self-focus and self-care. Trust your heart to stay the course.

 Comments, please!

Notes:

A cool Enneagram app is EnneaApp. It’s three bucks.

Request a free copy of our self-scoring questionnaire. Once you identify your Type I will send you a free Report and options for further exploration.

Enneagram Series Part 4

enneagram is a way to look at my life differently

Come Home to Who You Really Are

 

All of our lives we play roles at work.

We get absorbed and lost in those roles.

We think that’s who we are.

When we retire we lose those role identities.

We may feel a bit lost.

The purpose is of this blog is to share a way to clarify who you are, and create a strong foundation for reinventing yourself in retirement.
Our basic foundation is our personality. Most of us think of our personality in simple terms like introvert or extravert. Of course, it is actually more complicated than that, but not in a way that you need to be a psychologist to understand it. 

                       Enneagram Model

The Enneagram model makes understanding our personality very accessible. The model contains nine distinct personality types. Think of it as nine different software programs. Very different ways of operating, different ways thinking and being, different motivations, different needs, different world views and different ‘gifts’, ie. special talents.  
Getting a clearer picture of your basic personality is very helpful for the task of finding new aims in retirement; aims that align with your true nature.
One reason we feel a bit lost when we retire, is because our identity has been tied to our work. When we leave our work, we lose our identity.
Upon retirement, while you are in ‘vacation’ mode, it might seem okay. But, sooner or later you may start to feel that you are missing meaning and purpose in your life. Knowing your personality more deeply can be very helpful.
In New Retirement Coaching I encourage people to think of their Enneagram Personality Type as their new identity. It is not really all of ‘who you are’, but it is a useful way to think about your gifts and how to use them and express them to your advantage in your new situation.
When I first learned the Enneagram model, I discovered that I am an Enneagram Type Two, a Helper. I confess that I wasn’t thrilled with the word Helper. But I couldn’t deny that the main roles in my work life, management consulting and coaching, were helping roles.  I could also see my impulse to help people in other ways.
My challenge was to repackage my Helper in retirement. I shifted from consulting to coaching individuals. Now I am focused on New Retirement Coaching where I lead a process to help people to invent their future.
The Enneagram can help you to understand yourself more deeply by mapping out the different aspects of your personality. Two key aspects are foundational:
Your dominant personality type: one of the nine basic types that will be your home base. Your dominant Personality Type is your basic gift. Accepting and understanding how your personality is your gift is the starting point to reinventing your offer to the world.
Your creative space. Everyone has a special place they can go in the Enneagram circle when they feel secure. Often people discover a creative part of themselves they didn’t know was there before. It’s like finding a buried treasure!

Teryl Enjoying his New Retirement

When he was 60, Teryl Mullock pictured here went on a vacation to Italy. He attended a two-week workshop on self -expression through art. Two years later he closed is architecture practice and became a full-time artist. He said he “just knew it was time”.

The purpose is of this blog was to share a way to clarify who you are, and create a strong foundation for reinventing yourself in retirement. My experience is that the Enneagram opens the door to an adventure in self-discovery that can greatly enrich one’s life.
Call to Action: If this resonates, I encourage you to find out more about your Enneagram.
Request a free copy of our self-scoring questionnaire. Once you identify your Type I will send you a free Report and options for further exploration.
Comments: Please use the comments feature to let me know your thoughts. Let’s have a conversation.