If you’re not past midlife yet, one day you will be. Then this scenario will be common to you. If you’re decades off, then this is about your parents. Either way it remains relevant.
This is the first Word Carnival post for 2014 based on one of our Carnies becoming a new parent in January. No matter what age you are, parent or grandparent or no, Parentpreneurs: What Being a Parent Can Teach You About Business, will provide an abundance of relevant advice you can apply to your business today.
How many boxes does this tick for you?
You’re past midlife. Although in your mind’s eye, you’re probably still a vibrant twenty-something. Unless you look in a mirror or if you’re a woman, are foisted with a magazine filled with impossibly thin young things dressed in doll’s clothes.
Your children may now be parents, even if some of them have only just left home in their third decade. That means you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren.
Life has probably dished you up with a cocktail of tribulations and triumphs which you’ve doubtless weathered, although likely not without residual grief and a deal of stress.
You wear this resilience in the lines on your face and your ability to rise to the occasion.
You may have been in employment, but now you’re either thrown on your own resources to supplement your post employment income or looking for work. Or you were always an entrepreneur who has reinvented what you have to offer several times over.
Either way, when first world governments indicate that people will have to work until they’re past seventy before receiving any retirement income, you fall into that category. In other words you haven’t got sufficient funds yet to stop working. Nor do you want to.
Over your lifetime, you’ve gathered an encyclopaedia of knowledge, experience and expertise. This is your legacy. There’re so many ways you can collate and distribute it – writing a book, a blog or creating a film, but perhaps you don’t quite know where to start, or how to do it well.
Much of this has great potential as a revenue model. It just needs clarity of purpose to fire it up and get it going.
You’ve probably harboured an interest in making a difference somewhere, somehow. You’d like to start or leverage what you are already doing within your community. Community matters to you.
You are one of the sandwich generation. Those compelled to work still while looking out for your ageing parents or helping with the grandchildren or both. It’s a very busy life. It’s seems busier than when you were younger.
Care for yourself, mentally and physically can be sacrificed. Then you might feel overwhelmed or be made depressed by what feels remorseless.
There are occasions when younger folk ignore you, not out of disrespect but because they think they are in the thick of things, and often they are. It doesn’t mean you’re not, or that you can’t bring to bear your experience to compensate.
You still have so much to contribute, so much wisdom to dispense and you are far from redundancy.
For decades to come you can still be a vibrant, energetic changemaker within your family and the communities you belong to or wish to create. You can grow new neural pathways, learn more than you learned in the last several decades and increase your legacy manifold.
You can bring your decades of parenting skills to the table. You can be ‘the best you’ in the latter years of your life.
What can you do to call on those skills and enrich your sandwich years?
That’s a tall order to answer in a blog. But if I could, I’d suggest just these three.
1. Like a child, keep asking why.
Do you remember how hard it was sometimes to extract from your children what they REALLY wanted. It was bound to end in tears when they couldn’t articulate it. Perhaps that was just them testing out their clarity muscles.
Getting crystal clear on what you must achieve and what you want to achieve and why, means you can work out how you’ll do it and in what order.
Do you also remember how our children would ask ‘why’ and ‘why’ and ‘why’ about everything that crossed their paths? It was how we taught them and how they learned. It’s not a bad habit to adopt later on in life. Continuously asking yourself why is not half so annoying! Like children, the more we ask, the more we discover, the clearer we get.
Everything follows logically from clarity. Work it through with someone else – a business or life coach, a mentoring group, a trusted advisor or a combination of all three.
That advise goes for any age group (or parent), but it’s just a lot more critical in our later years, so that every day counts and isn’t clouded with indecision, or worse regret.
2. Be thankful. It’s a practised art.
When we first arrived in Australia, 30 years ago, our two girls were the paragon of politeness. It was how we were taught and so we taught them the same. Just a few weeks after our arrival, I was admonished by another mother for instructing my four year old to say thank you. She said, ‘she has the rest of her life to learn her social graces.’ As a newly arrived immigrant I was flummoxed. Now I know she was misguided. What I was teaching my child was to be thankful, to be grateful, to appreciate what was done for her.
I’ve been reading Brene Brown‘s two books, The Gift of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. In both, she pays attention to there being ‘enough’ in our lives and being grateful for it. When we strive for perfection in any aspect of our lives including work and parenting, we cheat ourselves of joy. Being thankful for who and what we are is as Brene indicates, a signal of our self worth.
3. Embrace blogging.
Our children are story-sponges. From fables to fantasies, anecdotes to awe, all their lives we tell them stories. We engage their synapses with our stories so that they benefit from the moral, wisdom, humour and emotion contained within them. These stories teach them to untangle complexity, accept light and dark and grieve and celebrate humanity. We use story telling to guide our children toward the best lives we wish them to live, from the weeniest babies to adults parenting themselves.
Don’t take this enormous repository of wisdom into your dotage or the grave unsung. It is your legacy. You have within you these many stories that can change the lives not just of your children and grandchildren but of multiple others too, personally and in business.
A blog post doesn’t gather dust on a book shelf. It’s there for as long as we have a world that provides the energy to power the internet. Let’s hope that is way past our great grandchildren and theirs and theirs. For centuries hence, your accumulated wisdom can be making a difference.
So here’s to the most exciting ride of your life.
PS. I LOVE blogging, so it would be my privilege to be your blogging guide if you want a hand. Contact me here.