Always on the lookout for fresh ideas for building mid-life confidence, I just finished Sherri Salada’s new book The Beautiful No. It’s a snappy take on tackling on the 2nd half of life with brave enthusiasm. A former Oprah show executive producer, Salada left the job of her dreams to begin all over again in her mid-fifties. The big takeaway?
Mid-life doesn’t have to be a one-way trip downhill. There’s a whole new chapter ahead of you just waiting to be lived!
I love meeting my clients in this place. Women at a life’s crossroads, looking for the support and resources to step into the future they aspire to. Right on! I say. Committing to a new goal, or big life change is exciting! Picturing yourself in that bright new future is a natural high that feels like enough to keep you going all the way through to the finish line.
But here’s where the coach in me kicks in. I know firsthand that the trip through any major life overhaul; looking for a job, starting a business or working toward a health goal, is never pothole-free.
As committed as you are to the outcome, both highs and lows pave the path to any new territory.
Throughout your journey, there will be times when you’ll doubt yourself and your ability to succeed. Why? Because you’re entering the unknown without your friendly GPS system there to reassure you every step of the way.
In my experience, the fastest path to mid-life confidence is positive feedback.
Personal interaction and feedback are so highly correlated with health, motivation and even career success, it’s a central component to reaching your goals. Without it life can feel pretty dismal. And when things aren’t going as well or as quickly as you planned, it’s more important than ever.
Coaches and accountability partners are great at this. But not everyone has the option to work with a coach or join a program. Does this mean your efforts are doomed? Holla no! Fortunately, there’s a trick to generating the positive feedback you need to stay on track and optimistic throughout your journey. Best of all, it’s free!
The magic ingredient is social connection.
Studies show that while strong social ties are key to health and happiness, so in fact are weak ones. Weak ties are those connections; coworkers, bus drivers, baristas….you get it; people you see on a regular basis but only in passing. These weak ties can be as closely related to positive health benefits as strong social ties, if you know how to leverage them.
‘Leveraging weak ties’ is clinical-speak for making small talk with those people you run into in the elevator, sit next to on the train, or stand next to in line. Even if you’ve never seen them before and may never see them again, friendly eye contact, a smile and a brief hello is enough to significantly correlate with outcomes such as mood, energy and motivation.
And you don’t need to tell them your life story for this to work.
Recently I had the funniest conversation with the Trader Joe’s checkout person during the course of my 45 second transaction. It was an instant uplift made better by how unexpected it was. Who know buying groceries could be so much fun?!
Just like “laughter is contagious”, so are the good feelings that arise from positively connecting with others, no matter how short the conversation.
Whether you’re connecting with people as a customer, acquaintance or passer-by, a few friendly words are all it takes to elevate feelings of positivity for you both.
Make it a point to positively connect with everyone you meet during the course of a week to engage the positive feedback loop. Smile at strangers, say hi to a passer by, ask the checkout clerk how their day is. That’s all it takes to launch a seismic shift in generating confidence and positivity. When you feel good about yourself, it’s easier to make the choices and stay the course to making your goals a reality.
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