Claire Cook is the master of midlife re-invention. You might know her as the author of Must Love Dogs, which became a successful movie starring John Cusack and Diane Lane. But, did you know that Must Love Dogs was only her second published novel? Or that she published her first novel at 45? A woman who successfully transitioned from high school teacher to walking the red carpet at 50 has wisdom to share with the rest of us and she’s done just that in two books just for midlife women looking to re-invent their lives: Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) and Shine On: How To Grow Awesome Instead of Old.
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If you’re lucky enough to live in the Atlanta area, she also has regular workshops where she shares her tips on reinventing your life and I was lucky enough to attend a workshop lately.
Like a lot of women my age, my life is changing whether I want it to or not. A few years ago, my life revolved around car pools and after-school activities. With 3 kids, the house was full of noise, often messy and occasionally chaotic. Now I come home to a quiet house with no messes and I’ve got time to myself to wonder what’s next for me. I’ve made it to middle age and it’s time to figure out just where I want to be for the next phase of my life.
When I walked into the surprisingly large and surprisingly full classroom last January, I expected to see maybe 30 or so middle-aged women like myself wanting to talk about what’s next for them. Instead I found perhaps 100 women from mid-twenties to late-sixties who were there for a variety of reasons: they had taken their first step out into the world and were now pondering their next step or they were maybe ten years into a career and weren’t sure if they wanted to put any more time into it. And yes, there were definitely several women like me who were looking to see what they wanted to do now that they had time to be more than just a mom.
As Claire put it, no matter who we were and why we were there, everyone there could be loosely classified into one of two groups: those who knew what they wanted to do and those who just knew they wanted to do something. She tailored her talk to both groups and even though I went in with a clear goal (starting this blog), I found value in everything.
I’ve enjoyed both of Claire’s books on reinvention and the seminar was a good companion to the books. Here are five tips Claire shared on reinventing your life that I found especially helpful.
1. Keep your plans to your self at first
People can’t give you appropriate feedback if you haven’t even fully articulated your idea to yourself yet. Spend some time with your idea alone before you start showing it to the world. I’ve found this to be true in my own life. So many people don’t really understand what a blog is and why anyone would want to start one. It wasn’t until I had several posts out there that I felt comfortable sharing what I was doing. I needed to spend some time working on my blog project before I took it out into the world.
2. Have a schedule and hold yourself accountable to it
Claire writes two pages a day. I’ve been holding myself to a schedule of working on my blog for two hours every day in the evenings before I do anything else and my traffic has grown immensely since the days when I just sort of wrote posts when I felt inspired.
3. Keep notebooks everywhere to hold your ideas.
Claire keeps little notebooks everywhere and writes ideas in the nearest one available when inspiration strikes. Then when she needs inspiration, she gathers them all together and reads through them all looking for ideas. I like this idea a lot, but I use a little more high-tech version. I have the Evernote app on my phone, iPad and computer so that when I have a thought I can quickly jot it in the appropriate note.
4. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Claire covers a full chapter in her book on why we might start and then choke and quit. Is it fear of success? Fear of failure? New shiny object? Need to know the full path? Think everything must be perfect? Yeah, it doesn’t matter, just keep going.
I wrote down something Claire said in the seminar and she says it in her book as well:
“Give me two people, one who is super-talented and who is just tenacious and just keeps going and I’ll put my money on the second one.”
5. Karma is a boomerang.
At it’s simplest level, of course, that can simply mean how you treat people can come back to you. And I believe that.
But it can be so much more than that as well. I was reminded of something a friend of mine and I used to talk about in the pre-law of attraction days. We called it “The Karma of Putting it Out There” and we used that phrase to describe the phenomenon of wanting something, like more business, taking action to achieve it, like attending a networking event, and then getting more business from a completely different source, maybe because someone called you from out of the blue.
In our minds, attending the networking event did, in fact, bring the new business due to the principle of “The Karma of Putting it Out There.” We expressed a desire and took action to achieve it and the universe rewarded us with what we wanted. We were half-kidding, but not so much that we stopped attending our networking events, much like you’re totally sure it’s not really your lucky underwear that’s bringing you the home run streak, but who wants to take that chance? It seems to me that karma can come from faith, the faith that keeps you going even you can’t see what’s coming.
If you’re a woman in the Atlanta area thinking about making some changes in your life, I highly recommend NEVER TOO LATE: Reinvention Workshop with Bestselling Author Claire Cook through Evening at Emory. The cost is super reasonable at $45.00. If you’re not in the Atlanta area, definitely grab a copy of her book Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention or Shine On: How To Grow Awesome Instead of Old.
Here’s to Karma!
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