Don’t Retire, ReFire: Never stop improving

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

August is my birthday month and each year, just as I do for the turning of each New Year, I reflect on where I am and what I want to accomplish, while being very aware that time is a tickin’.

One of the key components to living an enriched, fulfilled life is to never stop improving and learning. Most of us strive to improve ourselves each day, relating to the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Knowledge is when you learn something new every day”. Side note: Ralph Waldo Emerson is a 19th century American essayist and poet….I Googled it.

In order to activate the study of improving, one of my daily rituals, whether it’s for research or amusement, is that I take time to turn to my search engine, Google, to find out information, from checking the background of a celebrity, reading up on the person who made an amazing quote, obtaining the definition and/or pronunciation of new words, to gathering in-depth material for my business projects.

Knowing that we as human beings are creatures of looking ahead at what will happen in the next moment, day, week, month or year; we need to continually focus on being mindful of the present moment. A relevant quote from James Baraz, an American Teacher, defines mindfulness perfectly, Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).

Sometimes, many times, complacency can set in and that’s when our mind, body and spirit can turn to Jell-O. We humans can be so easily distracted and get off track and out of focus.

How do we avoid this deterioration? Why don’t we want that to happen? How do we get on track and stay on track?

Read on and I will share some of what I’ve learned, so far, in my sixty-ninth trip around the sun.

The top way to stay focused and on track, which will make way for more time to be present, is to write down your goals, thoughts and dreams on paper. Setting goals and making plans are essential and separate from staying present with each moment of the day.

I haven’t always been that person. I use to think I could remember everything but as time passes, I not only know that I can’t, I have learned, particularly in the last decade that I shouldn’t even try! Think about it this way, rather than tagging ourselves as “forgetful”, think of putting pen to paper as a positive exercise in celebrating the life we’re living.

Include all aspects of life, trying to balance out as best as possible in each category of business, finance, health and well-being, spirituality, family and relationships and finally lifestyle. Seeing what you’ve written on paper can help you assess where you want to improve, which may be in more than one area.

In order to embrace self-improvement, we must resist the negative self-talk that can result in mental paralysis. The more conscience we become of the limiting beliefs that deflate us, the less and less it becomes a struggle.

Let inertia kick in as we build and increase momentum in order to get where we want to go with less effort rather than the starting and stopping.

When life throws a curve ball and we get knocked down, in the lyrics of the song Pick Yourself Up by Fred Astaire, Nothing’s impossible I have found, For when my chin is on the ground, I pick myself up, Dust myself off, Start all over again.

Distinguish between what is “the” world and what is “your’ world, meaning what we can and cannot control. We can’t cure all that’s going on in the world but we can contribute, each in our way, to its betterment. My top goal is to contribute to society and leave my mark on this world that my children and grandchildren will be proud of and remember long after I’m gone.

Let your improvement spill out onto others, encouraging them to improve themselves, through your example, and let this be the most amazing ripple effect that could ever be in this world.

It’s never too late and time is a wastin’.

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