Many Gen Xers are taking on challenges that seem better suited for the young. They’re pushing the limits of what they’re physically capable of through endurance athletics and extreme fitness:
Today, almost a third of all triathlon participants in the United States are between the ages of 40 and 49, according to the U.S. Triathlon organization. That’s the largest age demographic by decade and one of the most competitive.
Pundits like to say this is our version of the midlife crisis. But I think it’s more like a desire for midlife reinvention.
You may feel stuck in a career that no longer satisfies you, but you can’t just blow things up with your family depending on you. Instead, you seek transformation by pushing yourself in ways you’ve never experienced before.
This is a completely valid way to change who you are. Although don’t be surprised when it’s just the beginning.
True change happens when you desire to change who you are in some way — to create a new future self. You begin behaving how that new person behaves, which leads you to believe that you’re that person.
This is not just an outcome or surface-level change. It’s a change of identity driven by purpose. And that’s the crucial key to truly changing your life.
In other words, you may desire to be thin, but that’s just a beneficial outcome, not who you want to become. And before you can become a different person in a particular way, you need to be able to adopt a process that you can stick with.
Here’s how James Clear puts it:
Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe.
Belief stems from doing — by engaging in a process that provides your desired outcome and changes who you are. But you have to really want your new “fit” identity first.
Head over to 12 Minute Athlete for more:
Strive to Thrive
The best type of passion situates you fully in the present moment. Modern psychology calls that flow: a state of being totally absorbed in what you’re doing, completely in the zone. Trudi has more on flow below, and this article puts striving into the proper perspective.
Pandemic Effects on Work
Will working from home become the norm for some people? Sure. But also expect a decline in middle management positions. Automation, particularly of repetitive jobs, is likely to accelerate due to corporate investment made during the pandemic. Get ready.
“We often hear about the importance of “balance” in our self-improvement efforts. But what exactly are we balancing? Good behaviors and bad ones? Are we looking for lives that are equal parts wisdom and recklessness?”
Think about it: when you get a break, what do you normally do? Go on your phone or computer? Check messages or social media or your favorite websites? Watch video online? Is this an actual break?
By Trudi Roth
Lately, there’s been much ado about pandemic-induced productivity. Companies are hopping on the work-from-home bandwagon, delighted to discover that overlording isn’t necessary to get results.
In an internal survey by online learning company Chegg, for example, 86% of employees said their productivity was on par with or better than before. That’s thanks to not having commutes or workday boundaries (shocking).
That insight, along with the spike in immersive activities like bread baking, gardening, and bike riding reveals a silver lining to the pandemic. The disruption has created a perfect storm of precariousness, hardship, and risk.
And the resulting runoff can be channeled into a productive state of flow.
Diving into flow
Being in flow as defined by pioneering positivity psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi is the ultimate mind-eraser:
“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
In his influential TED talk, Csíkszentmihályi also describes flow as an “ecstatic state,” which references the ancient Greek definition of “ecstasy”: to stand to the side of something. In other words, it’s a mental state where you transcend routines. Csíkszentmihályi says it’s like stepping into an alternative reality.
Additionally, author Stephen Kotler, who wrote about how extreme athletes get into the zone in The Rise of Superman, found that the best performances tend to happen when there’s a combo platter of complicated challenges and threats.
Alternative reality, check. VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), check. So how can you leverage these triggers to unlock the flow show?
It begins with having a well-defined goal that challenges your skills, yet is ultimately within reach. For example, I’m currently learning a five-minute Sanskrit chant as part of meditation teacher training. Each morning, I work on two lines (about ten words) at a time.
In the process, I lose track of time and any urges for breakfast. This is what getting into the zone is all about.
Conscious thoughts are reduced. This is referred to as “efficiency exchange.” We’re literally exchanging the energy we typically spend on conscious thought (or even self-conscious thought) for attention to a goal.
Flow continues when I check my pronunciation against my teacher’s recording, and later, by teaming up with classmates to practice. Those are also hallmarks of flow; constructive collaboration helps deepen the experience.
Would I be making as much rapid progress if the COVID crisis hadn’t upended my routine? Hard to say, but it’s certainly shifted my priorities. And that seems to be true for others, as finding bliss in productive distraction is a thing.
Might as well go with the flow.
Guns N' Roses – Sweet Child O' Mine
Appetite for Destruction, 1987
Appetite for Destruction was released in 1987 and basically ignored. It wasn't until the following year that it became a massive success, and it's now regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. Sweet Child O' Mine is definitely part of the reason why. (YouTube)
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