You were a little kid once—a starry-eyed, innocent child. You had dreams, big dreams. Maybe somewhere along the lines, you’ve decided you don’t deserve those dreams. (bullshit).
Instead of thinking that a new year’s resolution is a cliche, it just may be the opportunity to dust off some of those old dreams and make them real.
Life is just too damn short not to.
There are just a couple of days remaining in 2020. For many of us, this means new years resolutions. As 2020 was a tough year, 2021 promises to be a year of transcendence and growth. In many cases, this process starts with a resolution.
Half of us will resolve, yet less than one in ten will successfully achieve our new year’s resolution1. As we leave this year behind, the following are ideas that will help you navigate the next year.
Decide on Your Approach
In a recent study, researchers found that approach goals are more often achieved than avoidance goals. An approach goal is adding a habit into your life. (For example, waking up at 5 AM each morning.) An avoidance goal is subtracting something. (Like deciding not to eat chocolate.)2When making a resolution for the new year, it is more beneficial to add a habit or activity than to stop one.
Generally, there are three goal types: process goals, performance goals, or outcome goals.
Process goal: This type aims to create that habit that will drive towards the goal. IE. spending time writing each day.
Performance goal: Usually, these behaviors are linked with frequency or time and drive the behavior toward the goal. IE. writing for twenty minutes each day.
Outcome goal: Focuses on the end result, or outcome. IE. to finish writing the novel3.
The most popular resolutions are associated with losing weight and physical fitness. Challenging goals lead to higher performance levels4. Set challenging goals to raise the likelihood of achievement.
Write it down. Research shows that those who write down their goals and resolutions are more likely to follow through on them5.
Now, decide what type of goal is necessary for your resolution (make sure it’s an approach goal). Make sure it’s sufficiently challenging. Then, write it down.
Why do you want this to be your new year’s resolution?
Do you want to make more money? Do you want a bigger house? Do you want a better body? Do you want to lose thirty pounds? Why?
Who are you doing this for?
How will you feel when you achieve your goal?
The choice of resolution must clearly align with your values and something that you truly care about9. Things in the nice to have category will not qualify.
You have your resolution(s) written. Now write 1-2 pages on why. What does it mean to you? How will you feel when it’s achieved? What will potential failure look and feel like?
Question: Why do new year’s resolutions fail?
Answer: We underestimate our reactions when things get uncomfortable6.
Consequently, planning is paramount. Decide ahead of time what action you’ll take in certain contingencies. For example, if you plan to run daily and experience shin splints, what action will be acceptable to keep you on track? Bicycling may be an option7. Putting a plan-b, an if-then clause in the plan can dramatically increase the likelihood of following through8.
Planning lapses may help reach the overall goal8. The reasoning is that often when a lapse occurs, the event can trigger a complete loss of motivation and a feeling of failure. This can be avoided by building in a “lapse”. It is important to not overly rely on will-power9. This psychic energy is used in our daily lives to a great extent and is finite. When it is depleted, it is unavailable until recharged.
Develop a method to track your progress. Not to change your behavior directly, but indirectly. Track to build self-awareness, to see the state of your habits in relation to your goal11. Put time on the calendar to look at the stats. Consider relevant questions such as Am I on track? What are the obstacles/challenges? How can I simplify the process?
Manage expectations. Break the resolution down into smaller parts. Don’t expect instant results. (There is a reason it is a new year’s resolution!)
Don’t Go it Alone
Having the support of your social circle is vital to achieving your goals10. An accountability partner can help you stay positive through a shared desire to achieve your new year’s resolution. It requires some vulnerability – another to witness your potential failure. Yet, the support can go far to ensure that you stay accountable for what you set out to do.
Simply having someone to share the journey with can have a powerful positive impact in keeping engaged with the goal12.
The Tension Between the … You’s?
Considering aspects of different identity theories, ponder the dichotomy between the narrative-self and the experiential-self. The narrative-self is the idea that there is an evolving story told to oneself as a function of identity creation13. (This is also referred to as the remembering self). In contrast, the experiential-self is the part of our consciousness experiencing the present, the current experience.
When difficulty is experienced in achieving a goal, there is tension between these functions. The narrative-self decided that we’d take on the resolution. The experiential-self is having difficulty in the present moment living up to the story the narrative-self would like to be true. The solution to bridging this gap is becoming more self-aware. Many strategies exist to facilitate greater self-awareness, including meditation, taking psychometric tests, and requesting regular feedback at work.
When planning, make it easy for your experiential-self. Understand that our subconscious judges an experience by the best or worst part and the end of the experience14. That being so, make sure to really enjoy the best part of the approach goal and arrange the events so that the end is thoroughly delightful.
Breaking It Down
Decide your approach- write it down.
Think about why-write it down.
Plan-contingencies, lapses, etc.
Ask for support.
Become self-aware- Ease tension between experiential and narrative-self.
Just look at you—cute little kid, deserving of the world. There’s only one you and you (may) only get one try at life. Honor your inner child, honor yourself, and go after it
Daily, @whoareweblog on Instagram, a thought-provoking quote is posted. It is intended to shift paradigms, inspire, and/or give perspective. Often, personal experience is considered in searching for quotes. Just as often, society’s experience is considered. Here, We dive into the top 8 Life-Saving Quotes of the Day posted in the year past.
“God Have Mercy on the Man Who Doubts What He’s Sure of…”
Bruce Springsteen is the perfect place to start due to his philosophical lyricism. The lyric “God have mercy on the man who doubts what he’s sure of…” is the last line of the song “Brilliant Disguise”. The line stands apart, barely intelligible as the mystery’s final pondering between two individuals romantically involved. But the line hits a broader chord.
It is my belief that many of us ‘know’ certain things. These ideations may be difficult to reconcile. They may require a complete change in life or an uncomfortable confrontation. And so we doubt, often to our own detriment. We may need to confront the conversation with our significant other about the relationship. We may need to quit our job and pursue something with more meaning. We may need to move to a warmer climate, take a vacation by ourselves, or step down from CEO to barista to feel connected to life once again.
This beautiful Idea inspires courage and certainty, self-knowledge and hope. And perhaps most importantly, forgiveness at the times we lack the courage to go in the direction of our dreams.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us….”
Gandalf the Grey so poignantly explains to Frodo, attempting to quell his despair. This may sound obvious or trite. In times when in the greatest despair, the simplicity of this idea is the remedy. Gandalf restates the idea that the quality of life is 90% your reaction to life’s events. It’s about what is done. Additionally, there is a boundary of time.
The average human lifespan is seventy-nine years. That’s 4,108 weeks. In your first ten years, you can’t do much about your living conditions. That’s 520 weeks of life. By the age of twenty, you’re beginning to find your identity. That’s 1,040 weeks, more than 25% of your life. By the age of thirty, you begin to understand who you are and what is sought. There’s still some exploring left to do. At thirty-five, there’s kids, bills, a mortgage, and a 401k – you’re a grown-up. That cost you 1,820 weeks. Without offending anyone, let’s say the last nine years of your life, you may not be as mobile and able – that’s 468 weeks. That totals at 2,288 weeks.
Time is limited. Are you deciding properly what to do with the time given?
“And those who were dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
The individual experience is unique. Many of the ideas that now guide everyday understanding were initially seen as insane. Consider Galileo. Essentially, labeled foolish, an absurdist, and a heritic by the powers that be. His life, reputation and livelihood threatened by his notion the earth was not the center of the galaxy. Instead, he suggested the sun was the center point. Galileo knew this to be true by the evidence he gathered, the measurements and observations made. He was dancing – but no one could hear the music.
This is true for many. Intuition suggests something not evident and we ignore or subdue it because we can’t be seen “dancing”, at least when no one else can hear the music. This idea reminds us to know what we know and know it to our core…the world will come around.
“Every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around.”
Vanilla Sky (Abre Los Ojos) is a wonderful movie. In the main character’s dream of a perfect life, his love, Sofia, presents this fantastical idea. The idea reveals we are not what we’ve done. There is little to be done about past actions. We have only the present and the future. The idea is fascinating, freeing us from past guilt and allowing us the opportunity to learn.
The idea served as a gateway to the concept of mindfulness. Each moment is a moment of transition, a moment of change. The extent of that change is in our power to control. Also, the moment is passing – you’re in a moment, right now. Right now, there exists an opportunity to change course, to begin again. In the comfort of this thought exists peace and hope. In Sofia’s certainty, an opportunity for healing and growth.
“The quality of your life is more important than the destination of your life.”
Sam Harris is a modern-day philosopher. Stark and unforgiving, his certainty is sometimes daunting. However, here he points to a softer idea. Humanity hurriedly makes its way, rushing and plotting the way through life. Yet, when the perceived destination is reached, there is often a disappointment. This is because there is still a drive to arrive at another destination.
Combining elements of the hedonic treadmill, mindfulness, and gratitude, this quote plainly points out that our drive forward has the ability to distract us from the place we’ve arrived. And at times, there is the need to reorient that drive towards the quality of the current stop on the journey. At a level deeper, enjoying the “now” will only make it easier to enjoy the “then” – our destination. After all, the place you currently occupy was once a destination, right?
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
I recently experienced this as a personal phenomenon. I came across a book (doesn’t matter which) that connected me with deep parts of myself, revealing long-forgotten desires, hopes, dreams, and personal truths that I long had forgotten. Art does that. It reorients the way we see the world, ourselves, and our relation to it. From these different vantages, we can see into different cracks in our spirits, our souls. Like finding coins in the couch or a twenty in a pair of jeans, this discovery and rediscovery bring us to life.
Though many times in my life I’ve experienced this, this quote from Sharon Begley reminds me that something out there will awaken my spirit once again, though its eternal death seems imminent. Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. Find it, and rekindle your spirit.
“Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Dylan Thomas forever changed the way I felt about words. He is very earthy in their use. The unique way he put words to the experience of human emotion has never been replicated. In this poem (aptly titled: Do not go gentle into that good night), Thomas gives a holy rendition of the perseverance of the human spirit. Against all odds, against all rationale, against the foe of death…fight.
Perhaps one of the greatest features of the human spirit is perseverance. Against insurmountable obstacles, the illogical, emotional predilection to overcome, defeat, and outlast is universally admired. The poem stirs the instinctual human belief that there is no unconquerable enemy, no miracle too large to occur, and no hope too great to hold. All is possible through the perseverance of the human spirit.
Thomas asks us to hold all these fires close to our heart and conquer the darkness, to fight for life and the magic tenacity of the human spirit.
“If life transcends death, then I will seek for you there. If not, then there too.”
These words are uttered by Arjun in the second novel in the Expanse series, Caliban’s War. The words, an expression of his undying love for his emotionally unavailable, politician wife. A certainty is expressed in the love he has for his wife. A lack of rational thinking in the matter is purposed without thought. There is something admirable about this level of devotion. Another piece suggests a hope of love’s eternal binding: the suggestion that love itself is eternal, the human desire for eternal life.
In the context of the story, Arjun serves as his wife’s only tether to the chaos and irrationality of her own humanity. She relies on him to provide this, as she struggles to stand above the fray and manage humanity.
The excerpt serves as a reminder that the true beauty of humanity may be in our chaos, thoughtless devotion to love and the magic of the experience.
Loneliness is at an all-time high in our society. Now, we enter a holiday season socially-distanced.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, holidays surrounded (physically) by family seem less and less a good idea. As the pandemic reaches a peak, we are more likely to be physically and emotionally alone. Survey data (pre-pandemic) reports that almost half of participants sometimes or always feel alone1. What’s more, the root cause is identified as social isolation or the lack of social connection. Loneliness is associated with mental and physical health issues, from depression and dementia to heart failure and stroke2. For those of us with a mental illness, the holidays tend to just make it worse3.
On the other hand, the potential for spreading COVID to family and friends is an imminent risk this holiday season. As a culture, we put a high value on our large family gatherings and holiday parties. Yet, it may be best we don’t get together in the same ways this year as we have in the past.
If you’re not visiting family this holiday season, you may be experiencing loneliness. Here are some suggestions to stave off loneliness, anxiety, and depression during this holiday season.
Rumination or Deep Thinking?
There is ample evidence that repetitive negative thoughts are detrimental to your mental health4. This is called rumination. It is essentially our stress response (meant to seek our harmful stimuli and protect us) on repeat. In this context, negative thoughts about not visiting with the family will only worsen the situation. The stress often associated with rumination tends to make our physical health decline as well. This negativity bias kept our species alive for thousands of years, yet in a pandemic, it’s driving our anxiety4.
The idea of deep thinking implies a distance between our thoughts and feelings. It is the act of observing our thoughts for their quality. Also, there is the issue of intent. Deep thinking is a very intentional practice. Rumination is primal, fear-driven, and compulsive.
What can you do to break the cycle?
Go for a walk.
Set time for solving the problem
Reframe your thoughts...I won’t get to see the family this year, but just think how great it will be when I do next year.
Show gratitude..to yourself. Write down three things your grateful for, even in the midst of this pandemic.
Gift Giving: Make it Meaningful
Giving has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, provide greater life satisfaction, and even a longer life5. Getting crafty and making the gift, for example, painting, textiles, and creative writing can also greatly impact well-being and life satisfaction6. Additionally, making the gift provides more meaning in comparison to simply buying the gift.
Just … Breathe
Mindfulness practice can have an eternity of benefits. Focusing on breathing techniques and meditation can help in many ways8. Mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce loneliness6. By simply setting aside ten minutes a day and settling your body and mind with deep breathing can reduce negative emotions7. Taking a moment to pay attention to what’s happening inside and outside of your body, lessens stress and anxiety levels. In addition to reducing loneliness, mindfulness can improve social connections in social situations that do arrise9.
Be Aware of Your Reactions
One of the benefits of mindfulness is building awareness. When becoming aware of emotions, become aware of their triggers. Embracing a non-reactive habit to emotions yields a decrease in their negative affect10. Significant experiences of change and loss will cause feelings of grief. These elements are common this year, especially this time of year.
Reset Your Expectations
Often, there is an idea in our minds of how things “should be.” This year things will certainly be different. Come to accept this fact, yet understand that achieving a connected experience with your family and friends is still possible. Though it may not be in a traditional fashion, we sometimes conceptualize the holidays. Making internal adjustments such as embracing a Christmas zoom call provides the experience of connection that is sought10.
Also, social comparison is almost always a poor idea. Don’t allow yourself to compare your experiences to others. If you feel triggered by social media (or hell, your next-door neighbor) pictures from others’ holidays, don’t permit yourself the comparison. We are coping with the frustration, loss, and lack of normalcy the last year has brought upon us.
Take Care of YOU!
During the holidays, many of us have a rare opportunity to reflect. This may arise in the form of longing. The longing for family, friends, security, or family can put us in a state of loneliness10. Practice self-care. Understand you will need some time, space, and tools to reorient your mind and emotions to your current circumstances. I hope the above offers a doorway to the tools that will help in a time of need.
Inspiring stories of those who achieved their dreams later in life
As we age, it can feel like a clock is ticking. A “scarcity mindset” with regard to time can take hold. And still, the message in our culture is that ‘youth is king’ and ‘forty is over the hill’. I’ve had this feeling. I’ve had the idea ‘what I’m doing is not an expression of who I am!?’ This is not the career for me! I wish I could...and a whole list of ideas and potential regrets comes to mind.
The need for novelty is human. Change is necessary to keep us invigorated. The average person changes careers at age 391. Being 40 and having these thoughts, it appears I’m in good company.
However, there are countless examples of household names who’ve turned their lives around later in life. They’ve set out to find the success they’ve dreamt of. They’ve changed their whole lives, to better suit their purpose. Proving that it’s not too late to achieve your dreams, to change your trajectory.
These are ten powerful ways to turn it all around.
Know What You Know and Bank On It
Regardless of how you feel about retail giant Wal-Mart, the story of Sam Walton is one to learn from. Walton started at J.C. Penney’s and was told by his boss that he was not cut out for retail and threatened to fire him. His books and clerical skills were a mess.
His saving grace?
Walton instinctively knew what he knew. The books weren’t as important as making sure the customer was happy! He instinctively knew this truth is what mattered to the success of a business.
Walton was drafted into the army during World War II. After the war, he invested his own money and secured a twenty thousand dollar loan for a retail store. Walton banked on knowing what he knows, even though his previous boss told him he wasn’t cut out for it. Before long, he had the best variety store of its kind in Newport, Arkansas.
Smooth sailing, right?
Not so much.
Seeing his success, his landlord refused the renewal of the lease and took over the store, giving it to his son!
Walton didn’t give up. He found a new location (this time insisting on a 99-year lease), in Benton, Arkansas. He called it Walton’s Five & Dime. In ten years, he had grown to 15 variety stores. He was putting in the hours, but still just wasn’t seeing the profits. That’s when Walton implemented a new business strategy. He’d cut prices so low as to undercut his competition12.
Knowing that he’d have to continue to open more locations, he approached the company that he franchised many of the stores from to ask for an investment. They firmly said, no. Consequently, Walton mortgaged his house and borrowed all the money he could to finance the first Wal-Mart. He was 42 years old! He put it all on the line because he knew, what he knew.
This is powerful stuff, here. There are things that you know, ideas you have that other folk do not. You could change the world with your idea.
Why did Walton do this?
In the most simple terms, his first Commandment: Commit to your Business.
We know the rest of the story about Wal-Mart. But it all starts by believing and knowing what you know to your core. And Walton did this even though he was 42.
Indulge Your Passions Without Fear
We all have passions, some not related to our careers. Some of us are lucky enough to live out at least some of our passions in our work. Vera Wang wished to attend Fashion Design school, but her father (a successful businessman) forbade it. He told her to get a job while she studied Art History. She did what she was told. By some stroke of luck, she ran into the fashion director for Vogue magazine at the boutique where she worked. She arranged an interview years later and was hired. She worked her way up, eventually leaving Vogue for Ralph Lauren. Here, she became the design director2.
Success, right!? End of Story!?
This is only the start. And often, when some level of stability is reached in our careers, we may be fearful about doing anything to threaten this.
Though Wang achieved a great deal of success in writing about fashion, what she really wanted was to create it. She decided to open her bridal boutique13. Largely, this came from the fact that she had to make her wedding dress! She was unhappy with the lack of fashion involved in wedding dresses. Now she is widely known for this impact on the fashion industry.
Wang admits to not knowing anything about wedding dresses in the beginning. But she approached her passion fearlessly.
Wang loves fashion, but writing about it didn’t allow her to fully express her passion. The fearless passion for creating the fashion eventually came to bring her, her most fulfilling success. And she did not make this evolution until she was 40!
Do what you love and it has the power to define your life.
Don’t Ever Stop Fighting For Your Passion
Harland “Colonel” Sanders was 62 when he first franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken. His success came as the result of a long life journey.
Sander’s father died young, leaving his mother to work and he to take care of his three younger siblings. He left school after sixth grade. His mother remarried and he did not get along with his new stepfather. At 13, he set out on his own.
For 28 years, he had an unsettling amount of jobs, ranging from a lawyer to a streetcar operator. Sanders was characterized as temperamental, short-tempered, exemplified by his getting into a fistfight with his client in the courtroom3.
Sander’s personal life was also…difficult. His troubles holding a position caused his wife and mother of three children to leave him. His oldest son passed away from complications due to a routine procedure, a tonsillectomy. These events led Sanders to suffer depression for much of his adult life.
He began running a gas station, cooking food for travelers passing through on the highway nearby. During this period, he developed his recipe for fried chicken, the now-famous KFC recipe. For the first time, the Colonel was experiencing some success. But alas, a new highway was built nearby that cut off visibility and traffic to this location. This would wipe out his business.
Sanders hit the road selling his recipe to various restaurants and franchises for royalties of 4 cents on every piece of chicken sold. The tides were turning for Sanders. By the age of 74, he had over 600 outlets serving his secret recipe chicken. He sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken, yet continued to work for them.
The Colonel was known for his constant fighting with KFC. They sued each other back and forth, several times. Sanders even started a new restaurant he called “Colonel Sander’s Dinner House”, in which Kentucky Fried Chicken sued him over the use of the word “colonel”. He publicly complained about the direction and quality of the food, referring to the gravy as wallpaper paste!
This would continue until the end.
Harland Sanders never stopped fighting for his vision. If something was wrong or out of place, he called it out. He never stopped fighting. He lived to be 90 years old, fighting the whole way. KFC is now one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
Colonel Sanders was buried in his iconic white suit.
Don’t ever stop fighting for what you want.
Be Crazy About What You Want
Ray Kroc is credited with the success of the mega-fast food chain, McDonalds. He bought his first McDonalds at age 52. He was known for his intense, focused and obsessive business style.
At an early age, Kroc had a desire to serve. He wanted to serve in World War I but was 15. And so, he lied about his age so that he could go overseas with the Red Cross. A born salesman, Kroc had many jobs all displaying his ability to connect with people. As a milkshake machine salesman, he sold a machine to the McDonald’s brothers. He became obsessed with the idea that their business could be uber-successful if placed all throughout the country. The brothers had already started this process. However, the process was conducted with far less fervor than would be by Kroc. When the McDonalds’ franchising agent stepped away due to health issues, Kroc was there to help4.
Kroc was a known workaholic. He worked obsessively to expand the McDonald’s restaurant to the rest of the country. His first and second wife left him due to his obsession. Inside the business, he indoctrinated discipline and codes of conduct, standardizing the way the work was done. This simplified the process of expansion. He mortgaged and nearly lost his home to keep the business afloat, early on.
Kroc was insatiable about building the business. His first wife once asked him when it would be enough. He responded: Honestly, probably never.
Kroc also had his issues personally, but his craze about the business he built could not be denied. Without Kroc’s devotion to the business, the Golden Arches would not be as recognizable as they are today.
Be crazy about what you’re building.
Ride the Wave Humbly, But Do Ride the Wave
Taikichiro Mori was an economics professor at what is now Yokohama University. He also served as the Dean for his last five years. He was 51 when he started a real estate company, using two apartment buildings inherited from his father. Mori used the inheritance and completely redeveloped the Toronoman area. This part of town was left devastated by a 1923 earthquake and US bombs during World War II. Due to his background in economics, he believed that land prices were to grow in price exponentially5.
Grow they certainly did. In the end, his company owned 83 buildings in Tokyo’s downtown. In 1992, Mori was named the richest man on earth. Mori understood that he was simply in a position to take advantage of the trajectory of the economy.
Though he became very rich, he remained humble. Mori is quoted as saying “I guess I am called the world’s richest man, but that doesn’t necessarily do anything for me. I just got to be that because land prices in Tokyo shot up.“15
Mori was modest when recognized on the world stage. He was able to take what his father had built, infuse it with the tools that he already had in his knowledge of economics, and ride the wave of rising land prices in Japan. Though Mori passed away soon after, his family remains among the richest in the world.
It’s important to understand that success in our ventures is sometimes dependent on us riding the wave, the momentum of the moment. When this happens, ride the wave! But stay humble in doing so as Mori did with the Mori Building Company.
(And this wave may not come until you’re in your fifties, as it did for Mori.)
Be a Passionate Problem Solver
Donald Fisher was forty when he purchased a Sacramento Hotel. Spending his life renovating hotels, he was ready to own and run his own.
Also in the hotel space, Fisher rented retail space to the Levi jean company. He went shopping for some jeans. He wore a size 31 waist (an uncommon size) and couldn’t get the jeans to fit. They would not allow him to return the jeans! He suggested to the manager that they stock and display all different sizes of jeans for customers to look at and try on. Unlike today, this was simply not done at the time. This spawned the idea for a “Wall of Levi’s” where the jeans would be displayed in the Levi retail space6.
The manager began to see that the idea of the display was working. Fisher asked him to be a partner in a new clothing/retail venture but was turned down. Fisher also noted that other retailers did not display or offer their jeans to be tried on. And so partnering with his wife, he raised $63,000 in 1969 to open their first retail store “The Generation Gap”. They displayed and sold Levi’s jeans, records and tapes. Eventually, they were known simply as “The Gap”.
In 1972, they began making their own brand of jeans. They were the first retailer to have the store name the same as the label on their jeans. This is another common practice in retail today.
By 1973 The Gap went public, changing the face of the retail clothing store for generations to come. Fisher and his wife went on to acquire The Banana Republic and begin Old Navy, two other significant retail stores that maintain popularity today.
If Fisher wouldn’t have set out to end his frustration with buying jeans, he may have never started The Gap. Lesson learned, be a passionate problem solver.
Persevere Over Your Person
Samuel L. Jackson was in the acting business long before he ever “made it big”. His father left his mother when he was very young and died of alcoholism shortly thereafter. Jackson became interested in acting while in college in his 20’s. After graduation, he moved to Harlem to pursue stage acting. He performed in several plays and in the ’80s had several small parts in movies7.
Behind the scenes, Jackson was dealing with his own demons. In 1991, he was admitted to rehab for alcoholism and cocaine addiction. Upon his release, Jackson secured a role in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, as Gator Purify. The serendipitous opportunity was presented to him to play the role of a cocaine addict. His performance earned him a “Best Supporting Actor” award from the Cannes Film Festival as well as the New York Film Critic Award. At 41, Jackson was finally on the map16.
After becoming sober in 91, Jackson’s career took off. He was 41 years old.
Jackson did not believe that he had a problem with addiction. But after going to a bachelor party, he passed out in the kitchen while heating crack cocaine on the stove. His wife and daughter discovered him and begged him to go to rehab.
At the end of the day, whatever causes us to need to break out from where we are is really inside of us. In Jackson’s case, it was his addiction to substance abuse. In this triumph, he was able to persevere over his person.
Be Your Weird, Authentic Self
Theodore Seuss Geisel had found success throughout his life. He was a visual artist, known for drawing advertisements for various retailers. He also wrote using an eccentric sense of humor9.
Several incidents in Geisel’s life had large impacts on how he would conduct himself. When he was young, his family was often shamed due to their German heritage and the events of World War II. One incident causing him to fear public speaking for the rest of his life occurred when he was to be given a medal in boy scouts. This medal was to be given by Theodore Roosevelt. Instead of receiving the medal, he was quickly ushered off stage due to his being German.
During prohibition, his father, a brewer, was forced to shut down the family’s brewery. In college, Geisel worked his way up to the position of editor in chief of the college paper, the Jack-O-Lantern. He was caught drinking and the position was taken from him (it was still prohibition). He then began submitting his writings and drawings under the name “Seuss”.
After college, Geisel went to Oxford to study. He did not fit in nor do well. And so, he returned.
While working as an advertiser, Geisel would occasionally get free-lance work in the Saturday Evening Post. He signed his work as “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss”, eventually shortening it to Dr. Seuss. After 27 rejections, he published his first children’s book, “To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street”, in 1937. Interestingly enough, Seuss’s wife wrote several children’s books during this time, published by Disney and Golden Books.
Seuss’s (Geisel) seminol book, “The Cat in the Hat” was published in 1957 permanently casting him as the eccentric children’s author. Later in his career, Seuss would publish the “Lorax”, receiving some backlash for his voicing his concerns for environmentalism. Also, in the 80’s he published “The Butter Battle Book”, open opposition to the nuclear buildup happening due to the Cold War.
Even though not accepted by the president publicly, failure to fit in at Oxford, the success of his wife in the industry, and the constant rejection, Seuss remained his eccentric, weird and quirky self. This is how he will be remembered in the halls of history.
Be your weird, authentic self…Even if you’re over the hill.
When “The” Opportunity Comes, Take It
Alan Rickman was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at age 26! Before this (and after) he was a graphic designer. The acting was something he did on the side, for fun. He was successful in his career. Though, his dream was to be a full time actor10.
For years Rickman was a stage actor, making money but really just doing it as a side-hustle. And then, at 42 he had the opportunity to play the villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Rickman’s initial reaction was to decline. He read the script and didn’t find anything immediately redeeming.
Later Rickman commented that the film was revolutionary in the way that it represented some of the minority characters. Also, his agent and friends told him that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
And so, he took it. The result changed his life.
In Rickman’s performance, he outlined the quintessential villain for future action movies. He became widely known for this role as well as his role as Snape in the Harry Potter films.
If Rickman would have gone with his initial gut instinct and declined the Hand Gruber role, staying in his comfort zone, he would have never had the opportunity to change his life as he did. But, when ‘the’ opportunity came, he took it…
Blaze Your Path
Bea Arthur began her adulthood by joining the Marines. She was one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve in 1943. After World War II, she was honorably discharged and went on to intern as a lab technician.
But she opted out of this career, and instead took a seemingly out of left field turn towards acting. But to her, it was her lifelong dream and she pursued it. She studied and went on to have a good career acting on the stage. Yet, it wasn’t until age 49 she began in television17.
In the 70’s she was known for her lead role in Maude. The role featured her personal politics and named her as a voice for the women’s liberation movement at the time. The television show brought to light societal issues from menopause to mental health. Arthur was known for her passionate voice for these and other issues.
In 1985, at the age of 63, Arthur was cast as Dorothy in the Golden Girls. The Emmy winning show was nominated six out of the seven years it aired and was Arthur’s biggest hit of her career.
The issue that was most important to Arthur was that of LGBTQ rights. She left $300,000 to the Ali Forney Center which opened the Bea Arthur Residence, a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth.
In her work and life, Arthur always spoke up and engaged her audience with her beliefs. Later, she was a voice for the issues and concerns she was most passionate about. From the decision to act, believing her family wouldn’t support her, to the opening of the shelter of her namesake, Arthur blazed her path with the change that she wanted to see in the world.
It’s never too late to start after your dreams, to change your life. The thoughts that drive us to believe this, that’s the real culprit. That’s the thing that holds us back,