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Do You Procrastinate?

You’re about to begin an important project — and suddenly all the chores you’ve been ignoring demand immediate attention. This happens whenever I head towards my computer for some serious writing. Dishes, laundry, plants that need repotting – anything and everything keeps me from my desk.

According to recent studies,
we ALL procrastinate.

For twenty percent of us, it is a chronic problem in our lives. Procrastination makes us feel weak or indecisive —and later on, guilty for not doing what we said we would. Want to overcome this? Here are my methods.

  1. Ask Yourself WHY You Are Not Getting “X” Done.
    • Whose idea was it? Maybe you are trying to please someone else but it isn’t what you WANT to do. In that case, can you graciously refuse? How about delegating this task to another person?
    • Do you need more preparation or information? Bring yourself up to speed and then try again. I found this worked in writing this article. I couldn’t get near the blank page for several weeks but ideas “stewed” in my subconscious and spilled out when I finally sat down to write.
    • Are you ready emotionally?
      Often we tell ourselves to do something that sounds logical but balk at the task because we aren’t ready on an emotional level.

      For instance you receive a request for an interview from a prospective employer but can’t get yourself to call him back for days. The reason? You still need to come to terms with your recent lay off and sense of betrayal at the way you were treated.

      One way to tell if you’re ready: when you picture yourself doing or meeting “X,” you feel calm, not anxious or upset.
    • Face your inner conflicts
      Get in touch with your inner conflicts by brainstorming. To do this, place your question in the center of a piece of paper and write out your key thoughts, not stopping to think about them. For example your question may be, “What’s stopping me from completing my new business plan?” and the quick answers may be: “Alex doesn’t think it’s a good idea – maybe he’s right” (self-doubt); “What if it takes off? I’m not sure I can handle the extra work!”; and “What if the business fails?”
    • What are you afraid of?
      Fear is one of the underlying causes of procrastination. Often this is a fear of failure or of not getting it right. You may be a perfectionist and find it easier to put off doing something than to do it at a substandard level.
      Allow yourself to start off badly
      and then work to improve.
  2. Deal with Your Resistance.
    • Listen to Your Resistance.
      What is it telling you? I always procrastinate when I need to write promotional copy for myself or my services. Why? I have to first see the value in what I am doing before I can advertise effectively. Maybe you need to do something else BEFORE you tackle “X,” like having a serious discussion with your partner.

      Also pay attention to your energy level. If you are forcing yourself to do something when your energy is really drawn elsewhere, consider switching gears.

      Before I started life coaching, I wanted to write a personal growth column but my energy just wasn’t there. I gave my attention to the life coaching instead and the ideas and focus for the column came one year later!
    • Conquer the Resistance Monster.
      Some people are paralyzed by their resistance. They are too intimidated by the task at hand to even get started. To conquer such strong resistance, use the “Swiss Cheese Method.”Take one small, easy step towards your goal;
      stop immediately if you feel queasy.
      Later take another small step.
      For example, if you want to switch to translation work but feel overwhelmed at the prospect of change, research the Net. Then speak to someone who is already in the field to find out more. Whittle away at that slab of resistance until it’s full of holes. This works well if you are venturing into unknown territory. The more you learn about your goal, the more familiar and less intimidating it will feel!

  3. Make a Decision.

    Eliminate the words “try” or “should” from your vocabulary! Look at what you want to accomplish, after considering the reasons for your resistance, and decide if now is the best time for your project. Make a decision to postpone it if appropriate. Think in terms of “do,” “do later” or “not do at all.”

    If you say to yourself that you are “trying” to do something, and then you don’t do it, you disempower yourself. See yourself as someone who makes solid decisions.

    When you commit to something, honour it. What you gain in self-respect will pay dividends.

  4. Prioritize and Dramatize.

    Of course you are facing a multitude of demands on your time – we all are! Put this task at the top of your list, as a “must do,” or it may remain at the bottom forever. Give yourself a deadline and work towards it.

    Some people stay on track by using two lists. The first itemizes the high priority and time sensitive stuff. The second list contains low priority items like updating files or ordering a new book. They handle items on the high priority list daily and periodically go through the low priority list to choose something at random that they feel like doing now.

    For many people, a sense of urgency is needed to accomplish their goals. If this is you, dramatize the importance of doing “X.” Picture the headlines: “MESSY SOCK DRAWER RE-ORGANIZED” or “JAIL TIME AVERTED; OVERDUE BILLS FINALLY PAID.”

  5. Avoid Distractions.

    It’s easy to be tempted away from your task by distractions like TV, the Internet or invitations to socialize. Many successful people habitually seal themselves off from the world to work on their pet projects. Remember, what you don’t accomplish today will be there to greet you first thing tomorrow. Wouldn’t you rather just get it DONE?

  6. Get support.

    Many procrastinators join groups or link up in a “buddy system” to motivate themselves to accomplish their goals. When you tell others what you are planning to do, and at the next meeting must account for your actions, you quickly run out of excuses. Also, there’s nothing like a little encouragement to get you moving!

  7. Break It Down.

    Many times the tasks we find the hardest to begin are overwhelming when looked at in their entirety. I remember how intimidated I was when writing my first novel – until I learned to outline, and then to focus on one chapter at a time, then each scene.

    Draw up a game plan, with reasonable deadlines for each phase of your work. Remember to check off every step you accomplish in order to acknowledge your progress.

  8. Just BEGIN.

    Don’t wait to be “in the mood” – just begin. I’ve learned to do this in my writing. I allow myself to write a really bad first draft, just to get going. If I stare at the blank page, trying to find the perfect place to start, I freeze. So take a step, any step, towards your goal. You will most likely feel compelled to continue.

  9. Visualize Positive Results.

    See yourself with the finished product and FEEL what this does for you. Are you relieved, happy, excited? See and feel all of this in detail and do it on a regular basis. This alone will help to overcome your doubts and fears.

  10. Reward Yourself.

    When you must complete something you don’t relish, promise yourself a little reward. It could be something as simple as a stroll through the park or renting a movie. Looking forward to a tangible reward spurs motivation.

    You can also reward yourself WHILE you are tackling your task. For example, you can listen to your favourite music as you prepare your income tax returns!

    It is also important to allow yourself to feel good about your accomplishments. We tend to get down on ourselves for the things we HAVEN’T done instead of giving ourselves credit for our progress so far. Remember the little stars you received as a child for good performance?
    Create your own system to recognize what you’ve done,
    even if it’s checking items off your “to do” list
    with a green marker.

Next time you find yourself procrastinating, go through this checklist to see what’s stopping you and then kick-start yourself into gear. Still procrastinating? Allow yourself to do something enjoyable, with the proviso that you deal with your task later. Then come back and do it!

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Sell Your Skills & Expertise

“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross,
there lies your vocation.” — Aristotle

Are you looking to make extra money? Or want to find ways to live without a regular job so that you will have more time for your family and interests? Consider selling your skills and/or expertise.

Work Skills

What are your marketable skills and how much are they worth? Can you contract these skills out or offer them on a part-time basis?


  • computer skills (website design, troubleshooting, temp with MS Office skills)
  • writing skills (write for local paper or magazines, do flyers and brochures for small companies, copywriting, editorial services)
  • organizational skills (assist others with time management or space clearance)
  • management skills (lead programs or groups)

Can you continue to work part-time or on a consulting basis for your former employer? Many people do this after leaving their full-time jobs – whether it’s to help out in peak periods, to work on a project basis or as a regular part-time employee. Or, depending on the type of business you are in, as a self-employed person you may be able to work for some of your former clients on a contractual basis.

You can also use your skills and experience elsewhere. For example, an insurance benefits counselor at a large corporation left to start a freelance career and gain more flexibility in her life. She now offers her services to several small companies and works one day a week at each company.

See the value of the skills you now have and then consider the different ways you can offer them for money. Think outside the box!

Interest Skills & Expertise

Do you have an area of knowledge or expertise that people will pay you for? For example:

  • financial planning
  • how to grow your own herbs
  • play the piano
  • teach a language
  • become a travel guide
  • dance (can tutor or teach; offer line dancing or square dancing to the public)

Often our interest and knowledge in a certain area
can blossom into a money-making venture
as others turn to us for information and advice:

  • Sandra Phillips, a veteran of bargain shopping, is now a “consumer consultant.” Her breadth of knowledge led to a weekly newspaper column, a successful book called Smart Shopping Montreal (now in its 19th edition) and requests for appearances on TV as well as on phone-in radio shows.
  • Leila Peltosaari was a stay-at-home mother with a fondness for sewing and costume design. She became a successful self-publisher of easy-to-read sewing books (over 200,000 copies sold). Her latest bestseller is Easy Halloween Costumes for Kids. To read how she did it, go to or go to her website at

What have you become good at?
Know a lot about?

Many adult education courses are given by people who have experience in the field but do not necessarily have teaching credentials.

For example, my local community college has a Lifestyles Program that offers the following classes: Cake Decorating for Beginners, Home Decorating and Design, Boat Model Building, Organic Gardening, Chinese Painting & Calligraphy, Dog Grooming Workshop, How to Look Beautiful.. At Any Age, Golf for Women, The Joy of Public Speaking, Business Writing That Works, Discover Your Psychic Abilities, Beyond Positive Thinking and many more.


  • sell written info (print books, magazine articles, e-books sold on the Net)
  • give workshops or individual coaching
  • lecture
  • lead teleclasses (register with

For help and support in developing your own income streams using your skills and expertise, see Create Your Own Income Streams –Coaching Program.

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Your Hidden Resources

It is wise to have at least one source of “passive” income in your multiple income streams. This means money coming in on a regular basis that requires the minimum time or effort on your part.

  1. Do you have any valuable resources that you can sell access to? For example:
    • rent out a room in your home to a boarder or foreign student
    • you can also rent a room to tourists in the summer and offer info on local sights
    • if you have a lot of extra space, you can offer conference or workshop facilities
    • if you have land, offer others a place for stabling horses or space for organic gardening
    • rent garage space
  2. Do you have anything to sell that you don’t need? For example:
    • antique or unused furniture
    • used books (sell them to bookstores or on or ebay)
    • equipment (from appliances to tractors)
  3. Other sources of “passive” income:
    • income from rental property
    • an annuity
    • government support (including family allowance)
    • child support
    • your savings and investments
    • a pension and/or retirement savings
    • an inheritance or gift
    • royalties
  4. Simplify your life and SAVE money!

    The whole idea is to live well on less money. Seriously look at where you can cut corners (maybe you can eat out less often or cut your trips to the hairdresser in half). Also re-consider larger ticket items that may not be truly necessary.

    Recommended reading: Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James and Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.

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Turn Passions Into Profits

“You are never given a dream
without also being given the power to make it true.
You may have to work for it, however.”
— Richard Bach

  1. Don’t Have Any Passions?

    If you don’t know what you want to do, you are not alone. Many people are still searching for answers, usually in the wrong places. Deep down you KNOW what would make you happy, including what kind of work. However you need to see past the limitations of your own FEARS and other people’s expectations.

    For help in this important process of getting to know yourself and discover what you love, go to Your Life Compass™.

  2. Discover a New Interest

    You may be one of the fortunate people who know, from a young age, what they love to do. Do not assume that this is ALL – there may very well be OTHER areas to explore that will bring you great satisfaction.

    Certainly this was my case. I knew I loved to write and started producing and selling stories and articles in my twenties. This expanded to writing in the personal growth field. What I discovered later – in my late forties – was that I also had the ability to motivate and inspire others by my words, both written and spoken. And that I had a real passion for helping others to see themselves and live their potential.

  3. Follow Your Energy

    As we allow ourselves to expand in the work we do, we often feel drawn in certain directions. Follow your energy – and trust that you are led this way for a reason.

    Begin by finding out more about what you are attracted to and taking your first steps. A strategy for making money in this area can come LATER.

    For example, when I considered giving workshops in personal growth, I was immediately drawn to websites with message boards filled by people still searching for their answers. For a couple of months I read their posts with fascination. I then realized the usefulness of all the exercises I had been doing for my own self-development and began to put them together for others to use.

  4. A single passion can generate other income streams that are inter-related.

    For example:

    A pianist can earn money tutoring others, playing at public events and working as an organist.

    Ann Kullberg was a stay-at-home mother of two when her marriage ended. Since one of her children was autistic, she was determined to come up with creative ways of earning money from her art (she was very good at coloured pencil drawing). Now she successfully promotes her books, workshops and e-magazine through her website at

  5. Making Money
    • Test market your product or service!
      It is essential to take this step before going any further.

      FIRST you need to see the value of your work to others. Get feedback from family and friends (if you can trust them to be objective).

      THEN take your work to a larger audience – such as selling crafts at a small arts & craft show or giving your workshop to a group of people you know.

      This is the time to ask for comments
      and finetune your product.
      I test market my Life Coaching materials through my Dream Achievers Program. Feedback from this small, intensely focused group tells me what exercises work and are ready to be promoted to the world at large.

      Once you see how much people appreciate and need what you have to offer, you will feel much more confident in offering it for sale.
    • Make Your First $100
      Here is a useful guideline for knowing whether it’s time to quit or move forward with your project. After earning the first $100 with your idea or product, assess the time and energy involved in making that money and how satisfying it is for you.
    • What About Long-term Projects?
      Some income streams take longer to develop, especially if you are learning a new skill or need to do a lot of research. If this project is something that you really want to do, set up your other sources of revenue so that you can continue to pay your bills while you are in the development stage.For development work, it is usually best
      to focus on one project at a time.
      Get your project to the next level (i.e. make it profitable) and then assess its viability.

  6. Support Your Passion

    It is important to give yourself the support you need to work in a given area, especially if this is a new field for you. Network with others who are already active in this field and find mentors who can share their own experience and help you with next steps. Let yourself get absorbed in this interest of yours! Read books and articles and visit websites where others share your passion; also see what customers are looking for. There are specialty magazines and websites for everything from Cats to Kayaking to Zen.

    Join associations. For example, if you do arts & crafts, check out the National Craft Association at

    Also inform yourself about GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS (local or federal) and nonprofit COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS. If you qualify as a “small business” you should be able to obtain help with set up as well as with funding.

  7. Get Inspired!

    You will also find inspiration reading about others who dared to follow their passions and created one or more income streams.

    Ann Benson is a novelist, bead artist and needlecraft designer. All these income streams are promoted on her website at

    David Loria – turned his hobby as a photographer into a successful 2nd career. After he left his social service job in Washington, D.C., he took pictures around the capital and asked if anyone would pay. Soon his work started appearing in D.C. magazines and guide books. Later a postcard company bought scenic photos of the city. His photographs now appear on over 80 postcards, tourist guides and calendars in the Washington area.

    Later he combined his expertise with a camera with his passion for languages. He now runs Washington Photo Safari, a multi-lingual trolley tour of Washington where he gives lessons on the best way to photograph city’s landmarks. See

    Gayle Lawrence – was a dental hygienist who combined her love of nature, travel and spiritual growth. She launched a travel company for women seeking deeper meaning in their lives called Journeys of Discovery. Gayle customizes exotic trips for women that allow them to swim with dolphins in the Bahamas, get close to Caribbean Humpback Whales or African wildlife or visit ancient sacred sites in Peru. Go to

  8. Create the Life You Love with Multiple Income Streams

    Be creative in coming up with different ways to make a living as you follow your dreams. Many people develop multiple income streams while they are still working a regular job, whether full-time or part-time.
    • A part-time social worker works as a jazz musician on weekends and makes extra money doing gardening for seniors.
    • A therapist who works with dyslexic children also holds workshops in personal growth where she sells CDs and tapes.
    • A writer of feature articles and humour pieces also sells second-hand books through and works in a bookstore 2 days a week.
    • A website designer also creates business logos and stationery for clients.
  • Still not sure what you’d love to do? See Your Life Compass™, a package to help you find your overall Life Direction.

  • Once you know your direction, you can also test your ideas out on the bulletin board at Barbara Sher’s website at There you will find a worldwide community of creative people who are very supportive in sharing ideas and helping each other. (In particular see forums “Wishes and Obstacles” and “Jobs and Income Streams.”)

  • Do you know what you want to do but FEEL STUCK? Afraid to move ahead? For help, go to Kick-start Your Dreams (Coaching Program).

  • For personal guidance and support in setting up one or more income streams of your own, go to Create Your Own Income Instreams (Coaching Program).
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190 Businesses to Start on a Shoestring

Are you interested in having a small home-based business but can‘t handle large start-up costs? Don‘t worry. All of the businesses listed below demand minimal capital to begin. What you contribute is your skill, knowledge and experience!

But remember…

your business is more likely to succeed
if this is something you truly enjoy
and not just a way of making money.

You will need to consider who your customers are and how to reach them. Also check out your competition to determine appropriate rates and how you can make your business unique. Start small, with people you know. After you gather valuable feedback on your own services, you can grow from a solid foundation. For more information, go to Turn Passions into Profits, in particular section 5.

Good luck!

  1. Aerobic instructor
  2. Aquarium service
  3. Astrology
  4. Auctioneer
  5. Auto dealer
  6. Baker – cakes or cookies
  7. Balloon design and delivery
  8. Bed and breakfast reservation service
  9. Bicycle repair and sales
  10. Bicycle touring
  11. Blinds cleaning
  12. Boat maintenance
  13. Burglar alarm sales and installation
  14. Business plan writing
  15. Cabinet maker
  16. Calligraphy
  17. Car alarm installer
  18. Car wash
  19. Care of disabled
  20. Care of elderly
  21. Career Counselor
  22. Caricaturist
  23. Carpet Cleaning
  24. Cartoonist
  25. Catering
  26. Ceiling Cleaning
  27. Childcare
  28. Child-care referral
  29. Chimney sweep
  30. Chinese food take-out service
  31. Christmas tree lot
  32. Cleaning service – for houses
  33. Cleaning service – garage & attic
    (you haul away junk)
  34. Clown
  35. Coach – Personal or Business
  36. Coffee shop owner
  37. Coin dealer
  38. Collection agency
  39. Columnist
  40. Comedian (stand-up)
  41. Companion to elderly or disabled
  42. Computer animator
  43. Consultant – (according to expertise e.g. business, computer, or publishing)
  44. Cooking classes
  45. Costume rentals or sales
  46. Courier service (bike)
  47. Crafts businesses
  48. Crafts instructor
  49. Craft supplies catalogue
  50. Dance instructor
  51. Dating service
  52. Daycare (for adults or children)
  53. Desktop publishing
  54. Disc jockey (mobile)
  55. Disk duplication
  56. Dog grooming or training
  57. Drapery cleaning
  58. Dry waller
  59. eBay Seller (buy items at garage sales & flea markets, sell on eBay)
  60. Editing and proofreading service
  61. Errand service
  62. Etiquette training
  63. Event planning
  64. Executive recruiter
  65. Financial planning services
  66. First aid instructor
  67. Flea market sales
  68. Flower stands
  69. Foreign language instructor
  70. Formal wear rental service (male or female)
  71. Freelance writing
  72. Fundraiser
  73. Furniture refinishing & repair
  74. Gardening consultant
  75. Garage sale organizer
  76. Gift basket maker
  77. Glass tinters
  78. Grant writing consultant
  79. Graphic design services
  80. Greeting card service
  81. Gutter cleaning
  82. Hairdresser (mobile)
  83. Handyman services
  84. Healthcare consultant
  85. Herb farming
  86. Home inspection service
  87. Home repair
  88. House cleaning
  89. Housekeeper
  90. House painting
  91. Housesitting
  92. Ice cream truck
  93. Image consultant
  94. Import products
  95. Human resources consultant
  96. Information and research service
  97. Interior decorating
  98. Janitorial services
  99. Jewelry design or repair
  100. Juggler
  101. Knife sharpening
  102. Knitting
  103. Landscaping
  104. Laundry service
  105. Lawn care
  106. Letter writing service
  107. Limo service
  108. Literary agent
  109. Loan consultant
  110. Locksmith
  111. Macramé
  112. Mail order
  113. Magician
  114. Marketing consultant
  115. Massage therapist
  116. Meal delivery
  117. Meeting planner
  118. Message answering service
  119. Mime
  120. Multilevel marketing
  121. Music instructor
  122. Musician
  123. Nail salon
  124. Nanny placement service
  125. Newsletters
  126. Novelty shop
  127. Organizational consultant
  128. Packaging and shipping
  129. Painting service (interior or exterior)
  130. Party planner (children or adults)
  131. Personal fitness trainer
  132. Personal services – shopping & errands
  133. Personal services – for the elderly
  134. Pest removal
  135. Pet grooming or sitting
  136. Photographer
  137. Piano tuner
  138. Picture framing services
  139. Plant maintenance
  140. Plant nursery (grow & sell plants)
  141. Plasterer
  142. Pool service
  143. Portrait artist
  144. Posters
  145. Pottery
  146. Private investigating
  147. Publicist/agent
  148. Public speaker
  149. Puppeteer
  150. Recycling service
  151. Relocation service
  152. Rental finding service
  153. Restaurant delivery service
  154. Resumé writing
  155. Reunion planning
  156. Roof restoration
  157. Sandwich stands
  158. Screen printing
  159. Seminar services
  160. Sewing school
  161. Shoe repair
  162. Shopping service
  163. Sightseeing tours
  164. Small business consultant
  165. Snow removal
  166. Stamps
  167. Tax preparation service
  168. Teaching English as second language
  169. Technical writing
  170. Telemarketing service
  171. Television and appliance repair
  172. Temporary help service
  173. Thrift store
  174. Tour guide (walking, hiking, cycling, car)
  175. Training consultant
  176. Translator
  177. Tutoring
  178. Upholstery cleaning or repair
  179. Used bookstore owner
  180. Used clothing sales
  181. Vending machine service
  182. Videotaping service
  183. Web designer
  184. Website hosting
  185. Wedding planner
  186. Wallpaper hanging
  187. Window cleaning
  188. Windshield repair service
  189. Word processing service
  190. Yoga instructor
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Retire to Do What You Love

In my forties I started to feel that life was passing me by. I had a very busy job in Corporate Human Resources in a large multinational and the days, weeks and months seemed to fly by faster every year! I thought it was normal to experience this as we get older – but it still worried me. I realized that I didn’t have forever to do the things I really wanted to do.

I was writing stories in my spare time but finding the energy to do creative work after putting in a full day at the office became increasingly difficult. I even tried getting up at 3:30 a.m. to write for a couple of hours before leaving for work! That only lasted a few weeks because I became too exhausted.

My uncle died at age 59, before he had a chance to retire and live out his dreams. That gave me a big message that there are NO GUARANTEES in life. I retired early (age 49) to pursue my interests in writing and life coaching.

Ask yourself this question: If you died tomorrow,
what would you regret not having done?

Chances are that you will live a lot longer than my uncle did, probably into your eighties.

Don’t buy into the notion that it’s all downhill after age 40 or 50! The reality is actually the reverse. As we mature, we have more life experience, skills and wisdom. We also have a better understanding of ourselves and what we want to do. Hopefully by the time we hit our mid-fifties, we have more financial resources as well. All this makes us MORE able to pursue something we are passionate about or even accomplish incredible things!

Also our children are grown and have hopefully left the nest by the time we retire. For once in our lives, we actually have free time.

In It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now, Barbara Sher writes, “People in their fifties and sixties report the feeling that all kinds of new things are beginning for them. More people over 45 travel to unknown places, start new studies and begin new enterprises and relationships than those under 45.”

Her inspiring book helped me to see the advantages of getting older and how this is really the BEST time of our lives when it comes to satisfying our personal dreams.

Sher also explains how our sense of time actually SLOWS DOWN when we are doing what we love, because we are absorbed in the activity and completely in the moment. Now that I have been “retired” for 18 months, I know this is true. The hours seem to stretch to accommodate my interests – and my life feels so much richer and more meaningful because I am following my own agenda.

Think of retirement as a NEW LIFE – because that’s what it is. You are not “retiring” from the world, only from a way of life that controlled you for so many years. It’s really a passport to freedom, but only if you know where you’re going!

It’s important to develop at least one strong interest
while you are still working.

A worst-case scenario is to retire with nothing in mind except taking more vacations, maybe playing golf, and catching up on your reading. You will get bored within a few months, guaranteed. You will also become depressed if you don’t have a sense of purpose and excitement about what you’re doing.

Using your skills, talent and experience in retirement will help you maintain a strong sense of identity and self-worth and, as an added bonus, you will find yourself with a whole new network of friends. Too many people retire to DO NOTHING. If you still have your health and vitality, make the best of the productive years you still have left. Now is your chance to make a larger contribution to society or simply lead a more SATISFYING and meaningful life.

Wondering if you should write a novel, go back to school to study languages, or embark on a new career as a landscape gardener? What do you have to lose? GO FOR IT!

You don’t need great wealth to enjoy a happy retirement. You need a sense of purpose, a feeling of connection to others and to know that what you are doing is meaningful.

Retirement is not the end of life as you know it …. it is the START of a bigger future, one filled with enormous possibility.

Mark Twain gave us some great advice:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

To read about people who met new challenges to create an exciting second career in the latter half of their lives, go to and click on True Stories. Some examples:

  • Ann Mariah Stewart, who at 58 ended thirty years as an educator to author a health column for San Diego Magazine On-Line and pursue her dream of sailing. She later fulfilled another long-time interest by becoming a park ranger.
  • Kathleen Cano, 60, who after years in administration as well as customer service for the Friendly Restaurant chain, returned to the Tompkins Square Playhouse in New York’s East Village to indulge in her love for community theatre – dancing, singing and costume designing.
  • Peg Heglund, 68, a veteran nurse who started a thriving employment agency called Back to Work for people 55+
  • Shia Saltzman, a 69-year-old grandfather of three who retired from his career as a paint salesman to become a drama coach at Bayonne High School, NJ.

It’s normal to feel apprehensive or afraid when starting a whole new chapter in your life. You need to research your area of interest, talk to others in the field, and find people to encourage you.

For personal guidance and support in exploring or pursuing something you love for your retirement years, go to Life Coaching.

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Should You Retire Early?

Are you one of the 80 million baby boomers heading towards retirement? If so, you may be asking yourself this question: can I retire early?

What is usually meant by this question is whether you can AFFORD to leave the workforce at an earlier age.

Of course you need to determine what leaving early means from a financial point of view (more about this later). However there has been so much emphasis on the financial side that I would like you to first look at other parts of the equation.

  1. What will you do with your TIME?

    The working world has ruled your life for many years on a day-to-day basis, from deciding what time to get up in the morning, to the people you regularly see, to the kind of work that occupies your time. Along with all of this comes the stress of commuting or traveling on business, the need to dress in a certain way, and the pressures that leave you drained at the end of the day.

    You have likely grown tired of most of this and dream of the leisure time you will have when you retire. Time to do what YOU want. Travel more, play more golf, see all your friends and find some new interests.

    But will that be ENOUGH to feel satisfied? Or will you, like so many others, get bored within a few months of this more relaxed lifestyle?

    The fact is,
    purpose and motivation
    are what keep us going.

    Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
    • Do I still find enjoyment and satisfaction from my work?
    • Is there a more meaningful activity that I would rather be doing? Do I know what this is and have I put some time and energy into developing it?
    • Do I have a DREAM which I want to go after? If so, can I start preparing for it or take any needed training, while I am still in the workforce?

  2. What about your HEALTH?

    If you are presently working 60- or 70-hour weeks in order to save enough money for your retirement, you may not have the health or vitality to enjoy any of it. Many people die within a few short months of a long-awaited retirement!

    As we get older, we need to pay more attention to our physical needs.

    Getting the right amount of exercise and sleep and following a good diet become increasingly important. The frantic pace of many workplaces makes it difficult for us to remain there for too long.

    Ask yourself:
    • As I continue to work in my fifties or beyond, am I able to lead a BALANCED life? Can I take the time I need for exercise? Am I sleeping enough? Eating well? Able to see my friends on a regular basis?
    • How is my general health? Am I getting a lot more tired than I used to?

      Health is a big factor in choosing early retirement. It may take a stroke or a serious illness for some people to realize that they need more time to look after themselves. Or they may have to look after a spouse, aging parent, or other relative and require more time in their lives to do this properly.

  3. You need to make a difference

    The working world usually provides a network of colleagues and other people whom we see regularly. We also feel we are providing an important service by whatever we are doing. Getting paid automatically gives it value.

    When you retire, suddenly you are on your own. Will you have a reason to get up in the morning? We all want to feel needed in some way. If you have grandchildren near-by, this will fill some of your need.

    If you do not have a spouse or other family that you can spend your retirement years with, you should ask yourself:

    What can I contribute
    to my community or to the world at large?
    This is a very personal question that you alone can answer!

    You are at a wonderful point in your life — with the life experience, skills and maturity to make a difference for others. In later years we normally experience a stronger desire to “give back” to the world.

    For some people this means volunteering in an area that appeals to them: for instance, with sick children, anti-poverty or environmental groups, or by visiting shut-ins or providing meals for the needy. For others it means developing their creativity and sharing their work with the world, such as through writing, painting, sculpture or crafts.

Now for the Financial Picture.

It seems everyone these days is giving us advice on whether we can afford to retire. According to most financial advisers and planners, the answer is a resounding NO.

I remember sitting with my colleagues at a retirement planning seminar while I was still in the workforce.

Through a number of dramatic graphs and hand-out documents, our dreams of retiring at 55 were dashed to smithereens. With dwindling government funds, inflation and greater life expectancy, how could we expect to support ourselves into our eighties and nineties? Forget about retiring early, we were told. Our company pension would only take us so far.

How discouraged I felt,
thinking that I had to work another ten years
before retiring!

Fortunately a few things changed my mind. A busier period at the office forced me to put my current novel, written in bits and pieces, on permanent hold — and my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I knew that I couldn’t keep up with my challenging job, look after my mother AND continue my writing.

That was when I looked into early retirement. By cutting down on expenses and making some money through my writing, I figured I could retire early. I made plans to leave in two years, when I turned 49.

Once I made the decision to leave, a new door opened for me!

I received coach training as part of a corporate mentoring program. At the same time I heard that a number of older employees would be given the option to early retire and realized that most of them would not be prepared psychologically. Wanting to leave something positive behind, I gave a workshop to co-workers on Find Your Mid-life Passion. I had never done public speaking before and was surprised by the standing ovation at the end.

This led to another corporate workshop and, after I left the workforce, to a public lecture which drew a large crowd. Next I was asked to lead a smaller, more interactive group which turned into my Dream Achievers Program.

My writing now focused on personal growth. I wrote a series of articles, some of which appear on this site, and developed a column, called Take a Moment, to help people deal with larger life issues. Life coaching, as well as writing, provided me with extra income when I retired.

If I hadn’t committed to my interests and made the decision to leave the workforce, none of this would have happened!

It is when we commit to our dreams, and take steps towards them, that things begin to change.

Scale down, simplify and
take back your life!

Many people, as they near the end of their employment years, become fed up with all the compromises they must make on a daily basis for the job.

There is a movement afoot – to simplify our lives and quit the workforce early to lead a more relaxed life. Thousands have found a way to cut back their expenses, sometimes moving to a smaller house, so that they can afford to lead jobless lives. Countless numbers pack up the house to follow their dream of traveling around the country in an RV, especially during winter months.

Financial advisers tell us that to “maintain our lifestyle” in future we must work “X” more years full-time. The truth is, we can successfully and often quite painlessly scale back – and put more life into our years by leaving the job earlier rather than later.

Books that will help are: Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James and Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. A useful link is:

Other Factors to Consider

You may have reasons to stay in the workforce for awhile. Maybe you still have to get your children through college, or have a huge debt to pay off before you can save for retirement. Maybe you are still paying off your mortgage.

Think of the expenses you need to clear off beforehand as well as the benefits you may lose through retirement such as dental, medical or insurance coverage.

The question that looms in your mind is: will I have ENOUGH?

It is difficult to answer this correctly when so much of your future remains to be seen!

Other things to think about:

  • Do you plan to work part-time or in a second career?
  • Are you able to cut down your living expenses?
  • Can your spouse shoulder some of the expenses?
  • Are you expecting an inheritance?

To see your own financial picture in detail, you need to sit down with a financial adviser. Be sure to tell him or her about ways you are planning to improve your income in retirement and whether you are willing to scale back.

There are also helpful retirement planning tools on the Net, such as (go to SmartMoney Retirement Worksheets or “How Long Will My Money Last?”)

In today‘s workforce reality it is possible that the choice will be taken out of your hands. You, like so many others, may be forced into an early retirement. In this case, you will likely be given a compensation package to ease the transition.

What if there are NO early retirement incentives but you are tired of working full-time? Examine other options – such as reducing your work hours or switching to part-time work. Your health and your time are not replaceable. Once they are gone, all the wealth in the world will not bring them back.

You cannot begin saving for your retirement too soon (in your thirties would be optimal, to let your investments grow tax-free).

Start thinking of a new focus for your retirement years long before they are upon you. Develop your interests! YOU‘LL BE GLAD THAT YOU DID.

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Great Achievers Over 55

“For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I admit that I, too, bought into a common misconception. And that is that our creative potential inevitably diminishes with advancing years.

How wonderful to find out that this is not TRUE!

As part of my research, I picked up a copy of The Creative Age (Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life) by Dr. Gene D. Cohen. The author is a scientist, director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University and geriatrician who has worked with the elderly for over 30 years.

Through his book he shows how we can become MORE creative as we head into our sixties, seventies and beyond.

Recent research in neuroscience proves that we can actually IMPROVE our brain’s capacity as we age. Dr. Cohen explains how it “responds to mental exercise in much the same way that muscle responds to physical exercise.” While he does not deny the biological process of our bodies’ aging, he points out that many individuals live emotionally rich and creative lives despite their physical limitations.

I was inspired by the many examples in his book as well as those I found elsewhere – of people who made great achievements late in life. It’s reassuring to know that, if health permits, we can accomplish a lot as we get older, enriching our lives and the lives of others.

  • At 57, Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty.
  • At 65, Maggie Kuhn helped to found a well-known seniors group named the Grey Panthers.
  • The Russian lyric poet and novelist Boris Pasternak wrote his first novel – Dr. Zhivago – at age 66.
  • Hanya Holm, the dancer and choreographer, choreographed more than a dozen Broadway musicals including Kiss Me, Kate at age 55, My Fair Lady at 63 and Camelot at 67.
  • Jack Benny, the comedian, retired from his successful TV show when he was 71.
  • Betty Friedan, the American feminist author, published The Feminine Mystique at age 42 and at 72 published The Fountain of Age, where she debunks misconceptions about aging.
  • Margaret Mead, the first anthropologist to study child-rearing practices among primitive cultures, remained active in her field until one year before her death at age 77.
  • Grandma Moses, noted for her rural American landscapes, only started painting at age 78. At 80 her one-woman art show at the Galerie St. Etienne in New York City brought international acclaim. By the time she died in 1961, she had created over 1500 works of art
  • Henri Matisse, the great French painter, created six major illustrated books containing hundreds of paintings between the ages of 75 and 80. Before turning 82, he designed the stained glass for the Dominican Chapel at Vence, near Nice.
  • Mae West, an American stage and film sex symbol, starred in the film Myra Breckenridge at age 78 and in the film Sextette at 85.
  • Berthold Goldschmidt, the German composer, helped to complete Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony and conducted its first performance in 1988, when he was 85.
  • Mystery writer Dame Agatha Christie wrote until she died at age 86. Her books have sold more than 100 million copies.
  • At 87, Mary Baker Eddy created a newspaper with a religious influence, called the Christian Science Monitor.
  • Helen Hooven Santmyer spent her career as an English professor and librarian. She was 88 when she wrote And Ladies of the Club, which quickly became a bestseller.
  • At 90, Artur Rubinstein, an American pianist known for his interpretation of Chopin’s works, gave a stunning performance at Carnegie Hall.
  • At 92, Luella Tyra participated in 5 categories at the U.S. Swimming Nationals in California.
  • Playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote Back to Methuselah when he was 66 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925 at the age of 69. He continued to write for more than two decades and was at work on a comedy when he died at 94.

Of course these Great Achievers are all known to the public at large. There are plenty of seniors worldwide who accomplish wonderful things in their lives — but don’t make it into the news.