Freedom in Your 40’s: Is It Time for A Change?

My new favorite book is, “The Freedom Journal:  Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days,” by John Lee Dumas (aka JLD).  John Lee Dumas hosts the EO Fire business podcast.  I listen to EO Fire every week, and I really enjoy how JLD continuously points out the importance of focusing on specific goals and taking action.  He wrote the Freedom Journal to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals.  I had to get a Freedom Journal to experience the 100 day transformation for myself.

If you have been following my posts on AskDrConnie.com, you know that I prefer the word “Intention” instead of goal.  Here’s why:

Intentions influence our actions and behaviors. If intentions are established with awareness, truth, and meaning, they help us experience a life filled with passion and personal fulfillment. Lack of understanding around our true intentions (what many people call goals) often causes frustration and confusion, which is one reason people do not achieve their goals. Many goals are written; however, they are not established with honest intent. It’s time to get brutally honest about your true intentions so you can achieve authentic goals.

Intentions have the power to strengthen your “Inner Leader” and help you move forward in a meaningful way as long as they represent what you truly want to accomplish and experience. Honest intentions, based on personal fulfillment and purpose, can also keep you motivated and focused while measuring progress and celebrating success.

Life in our 40’s can be a fascinating time of change.  Oftentimes, it is important for women over the age of 40 to reassess their goals, dreams and true intentions.  A few questions I encourage women to ask themselves:

  1. How do you define success?
  2. How are you using your intuition to guide your decisions?  Has it kicked into overdrive because it is trying to lead you into a new direction?
  3. What do you want to experience?

Sometimes, it is time for a change.  The great thing is that you have the freedom to decide to make the changes and adjustments that best suit you.  You just need to make sure you are headed for the right change!

The Freedom Journal is my new favorite book.  It is a tool I can use to clarify my intentions and help keep my busy life focused.  I will keep you posted on my 100-day journey and a few other adventures (my trip to Wyoming, etc.) as well!

Go Wild with Your Freedom!

-Dr. Connie

Mom, Memories and Miracles

Two events in 2010 changed the trajectory of my life forever.

I was driving home on June 22, 2010. As usual, I was talking to Mom. We talked about everyday things like my kids and when we would see each other next. I told her that I had been stranded at home the day before because every road to work was flooded due to heavy rainfall.

She wondered why I had not called. The truth was, I was being selfish and wanted a day to myself. I was scheduled to leave on a work-related trip to Costa Rica on June 26, so I spent the day packing and getting everything ready. I knew calling Mom would result in a two-hour phone conversation, so I made the decision not to call.

As I pulled into the garage, I told her (again) that I had to go because I wanted to take my three-year-old daughter to the pool or run with her through the sprinkler. It was finally hot enough to get into some water—for the first time in 2010!

My daughter, Raquel, loved the water, and so did I. My love of the water came from Mom. She taught my siblings and me how to swim when we were very young and always made sure we spent a lot of time at the pool. I wanted to get Raquel in the water so we could have some fun, but also because she had been talking about swimming with Mom (a.k.a. Grandma Reimers) since January. Raquel loved going swimming with Mom, and Mom loved swimming with her.

I told Mom again that I had to go and for a split second thought about telling her that I loved her. She said, “Okay,” quietly and with disappointment in her voice. Mom and I talked often, so I left the “I love you” out of the conversation and bolted out of the vehicle to see Raquel. She was ready to get wet, but my nine-month-old son was not feeling well. We opted for the sprinkler and had a great time laughing, playing, and goofing around in the yard. When you live in Nebraska, the first time getting wet in the summer is always the best.

After running through the sprinkler, my husband, Jim, and I gave the kids a bath. I got into the shower around 9:00 p.m. I had just stepped in and turned the water on when Jim came into the bathroom and told me that Dad was calling. I was not worried and told Jim that I would call Mom and Dad back after I showered.

He came back a few minutes later and told me I had better call home, because it was an emergency. I called home. The line was busy. Then I called my sister Marsha, and the words that came out with great sorrow as she cried and sobbed will haunt me forever: “Mom is dead…she’s dead!”

In that single moment, my life changed forever. I quickly packed a bag and drove to my parents’ home to be with Dad. It was dark, and I drove through a very strong thunderstorm for the entire two hours it took me to get there. The thunder, lightning, and torrential rain seemed to mirror that exact moment of my life. It was dark, turbulent, and cold. My soul was numb.

Seeing Dad’s face after I walked in the door added to the pain. He was the one who found Mom—his wife of forty-five years, the woman with whom he had raised six kids and spent most of his life. I was the first one he called…and I was not there for him. While Mom was dying, I was running through the sprinkler with my daughter. It was the beginning of a very dark time in my life.

Events such as someone’s untimely death make you question your life. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself about the purpose of life since June 22, 2010. Sometimes life itself doesn’t even seem real. It seems more like a dream.

I started questioning my religious beliefs and career choices. There were so many things about Mom’s death that made me question everything, including my life purpose.

My parents had just celebrated their forty-fifth wedding anniversary the month before we lost Mom. We celebrated the anniversary on the day of my daughter’s third birthday party. It was a fun day—a beautiful day. The six of us kids tried to surprise Mom and Dad with champagne and cake, but of course she had packed a cooler with champagne too. Mom was hard to surprise, because she knew us all so well.

The six children and their families bought a gift certificate for my parents. It was for a rock on which they could have their names inscribed. They could place it at either their house in town or on the acreage they purchased after my grandma’s death. The acreage is part of the Reimers family farm, which has been in our family for over one hundred years.

Mom and Dad spent a lot of time working on the acreage. When I called in the evening, they usually told me they were “farming.” My parents both grew up on farms and had farming in their blood. Mom and Dad’s “farm” is truly a historical and spiritual place for my family. My dad grew up on it, and all six of us kids spent time there as children. We all have great memories of the farm and still spend a lot of time there enjoying our large family.

A few weeks after the combined birthday/anniversary celebration, my parents went to my husband’s hometown to celebrate his parents’ fiftieth anniversary. It was a Saturday, and Dad had to work. I told Mom several times that my in-laws would understand if they couldn’t make it. She really wanted to be there, so Mom and Dad made the two-hour journey to the anniversary celebration after he was done working.

It was a busy day. I spent most of my time taking care of our two kids. I could not get our infant son, Jagger, to take a nap. He was very fussy, and I tried everything I could to comfort him. Mom took him, and she put him right to sleep. Thank God for grandmas!

While Mom snuggled Jagger, my sister and I took pictures of the celebration. Mom asked me to take a picture of her and Jagger. I took a few shots, and she asked me to take some more. I remember thinking Ugh! I already did this. Why is she being so insistent? But she was determined to get a good shot of the two of them together.

That was the last time she held my son. It’s one of the few pictures I have of the two of them together. It was the last day I would see her alive.

My sister’s little boy was having fun with the camera and took the last picture of Mom that weekend. She was sitting on a chair in their living room, waving at him with a wonderful smile on her face. Mom passed away ten days later. Fate is a strange and fickle trickster.

According to the autopsy, Mom’s death was “undetectable and unavoidable.” She didn’t know it was coming, and neither did the rest of us. I was the last one to talk to her. Mom and I finished our call a little after 5:30 the night of her passing. Dad had to work late that night, which rarely happened.

Mom passed away in those few hours between my hanging up the phone and Dad’s coming home. Dad has felt guilty for not being there with her, and I have felt guilty about hanging up the phone. We still do not know exactly what happened, but we do know she was alone in her final moments.

We know Mom was in the middle of making dinner and had her suitcase half packed. She was getting ready for a meal with Dad and to travel to a grandson’s baby shower.

My brother and his wife were expecting their first child—a boy. Mom had already started packing, which was strange for her. She was usually very last-minute. Mom was really excited about the baby. In her suitcase was a box of Matchbox cars my brother played with as a child, and it was time to pass them on to the next generation. She was simply going about her day when she died. I guess that’s what happens with a death that is undetectable and unavoidable.

Mom made sure we had a family picture taken in April of 2010. She had wanted one for some time. According to the hairstyles, our last formal family picture was taken in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. It was my parents’ forty-fifth anniversary, and she was determined to make the picture happen to commemorate such a tremendous milestone. Mom, Dad, and the six of us had a fun day taking pictures. It was just us again. No spouses, no kids. We took pictures, goofed off a lot, and had lunch together. I can’t remember the last time we had a day like that!

The goal was to get a complete family portrait taken after my brother’s baby was born. Then each of us six kids would have at least one child. It never happened, and it never will. We used the family picture we took in April for Mom’s funeral. Mom’s insight had been right again. We are all so thankful to have one last family portrait. It would have been better to have a picture with all the spouses and grandchildren too, but it was not meant to be, I guess.

One of the things I noticed most after Mom’s sudden death was the odd assortment of sympathy cards. I kept reading phrases like “Be thankful now that life’s anguish has ended” and “Your loved one is now in Heaven where they are in pain no more.”

Why do we assume people are in so much pain and anguish while they are living? Mom was not sick. Actually, she appeared to be very healthy. She did not have a long-term illness or any apparent health concerns. Were the sympathy cards supposed to make my family feel better by trying to tell us that her sucky life finally ended? Truthfully, I could not relate to many of the cards. The only one that would have really worked would have read something like this:

“Sorry to hear of your Mom’s sudden death. That really sucks, and you have every right to question everything and be pissed off at the world. Your family was totally awesome, and your Mom was an amazing woman. Let us know when you want to come over and have a good cry. Your favorite bottle of wine is chilling in the fridge.”

Everyone has challenges, but shouldn’t life be grand? Life is a gift, not a burden. Contrary to what most sympathy cards seem to portray, life is a journey. It should not be viewed as a seemingly endless challenge filled with misery and pain. Mom’s death was the first thing in 2010 that made me want to fulfill the wishes on my “bucket list.” A trip to Costa Rica was the second.

Fortunately, I work for a great organization. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) helped me take care of my travel arrangements after Mom died in June and rescheduled my trip to Costa Rica for November. That set the stage for event number two. The wheels of fate kept moving forward.

It was a fantastic trip. I experienced a new country with numerous cultures for the first time with two other faculty members (and friends) with whom I went to graduate school. The spouse of one of the faculty members, who is also a good friend, made the trip with us. It truly was a great experience both personally and professionally.

We toured two different campuses of Earth University, spending time in the urban area of San Jose and in rural Costa Rica exploring the relationships between agriculture, natural resources, leadership, and education. Our group also visited a farm family in the rainforest, which ended up being a highlight of the trip. The day before we arrived, the family we visited had access to electricity for the first time. They were excited to show us their progress.

The house itself was what many of us living in rural Nebraska would consider a machine shed that needed work. Picture a worn wood frame covered with rusty pieces of corrugated tin on top of a dirt floor that turned to mud when it rained. Wooden planks were used for a partial floor in the tiny living area, where two parents were raising three children and taking care of an elderly parent. Blankets and curtains substituted for walls.

We talked with the woman of the house. She was a wife and mother as well as a leader in the agricultural community. She and her husband were building a very diverse farming operation, which was growing more successful each year. She was a tiny woman with big, beautiful brown eyes, glowing skin, and a gorgeous smile. Her young son clung to her while we were standing in their kitchen.

With the help of a professor from Earth University, she told us all about the advances they had made in their farming operation. It was a great story. They hooked into electricity a couple of days before we visited, and they also recently had access to methane. She turned on her stove, and a huge flame came shooting out of one of the burners. The look on her face said it all—the thrill of success! It was a great tribute to the hard work her family had invested in their farming operation. It was a wonderful sight. I didn’t have the guts to ask for a picture, but wish I had. What a great moment!

It was raining quite hard while we were there. The woman’s husband was out tending to some business and met us just as we were leaving to head to our next destination. He was wearing a torn plastic bag to protect himself from the rain. The torn bag was not working well. He was soaked! We were finished touring the rainy side of Costa Rica and moving to the drier side, so we gave our ponchos to the family. Amazing how the disposable poncho I purchased for ninety-nine cents could be so valuable. Yet another reminder of how spoiled many of us are without knowing it.

Driving through the rainforest is a thrilling experience. The scenery there is very different from the views we have in Nebraska. Both are beautiful in their unique ways. We drove on very narrow, winding roads that were heavily traveled. Many semis were on the road because it was the best route to the main ports. We were driving around a sharp, narrow curve and nearly hit a vehicle that was coming around from the opposite direction. The vehicles on the opposite side had to cross the centerline to get around the sharp curves. Phew! The first semi that crossed the centerline had missed us. We weren’t so lucky the next time.

It all happened in what felt like slow motion. We were driving around the next curve when a huge semi came from the opposite direction. Our driver, Walter, took our midsize SUV as far to the right as possible. There was a sharp drop-off on our side of the road, so he could get over only so far without either sending us off the side of the road or rolling the vehicle. I was sitting behind Walter and could see the semi coming right toward my window. It’s one of those life moments when you know what is about to happen and can’t do anything to stop it.

My young family flashed through my mind. Jim’s worst fear was something happening to me in a foreign country, leaving him with two young kids to raise by himself. In that moment, I was afraid that was exactly what was going to happen. As the semi barreled toward my window, I thought about my family and braced for impact. I closed my eyes when the semi was about to hit. Crash! The impact was on the side of my door and the rear bumper behind my seat. I opened my eyes and realized we were miraculously spared. I do not use the word miraculously lightly. To this day, I have no idea how we walked away from that accident.

It really didn’t make any sense. The semi had swung way beyond the centerline to make the curve, and we didn’t have a great deal of room on our side of the road to maneuver. I truly believe Walter’s amazing driving skills and divine intervention were at work. We were safe and didn’t have any injuries. I still can’t believe it when my mind flashes back to that moment.

Let’s just say we all felt lucky to be alive and truly enjoyed the rest of our trip. I delicately broke the news to Jim after I returned from Costa Rica, having waited so he would not worry about me while I finished the work assignment. Experiencing Costa Rica was great, but coming home was awesome!

We touched down in Omaha on Saturday. One of my fellow travelers was not feeling well on the trip and was diagnosed with cancer right after we returned. How do you survive a crash with a semi on a narrow road in the Costa Rican rainforest only to be diagnosed with cancer a few days later?

Mom’s death, the semi crash, and a friend’s cancer—all these events caused me to rethink my life to the deepest depths possible.

The Purpose of Go Wild with Confidence

The year 2010 changed the direction of my life forever, and I am now focused on living my best life. As a researcher and coach in the areas of leadership and innovation, I have noticed one issue my clients struggle with most: confidence. Many people have great ideas and a wonderful sense of what they want to do with their lives, but they lack the confidence and inner strength that enables them to move in the right direction.

After Mom’s unexpected passing, I received a mini-book on grief from the pastor of my church. The book, Grief…Reminders for Healing by Gale Massey, was perfect! I could read it quickly and easily when I needed help dealing with Mom’s death. I also gave a copy to Dad, who found himself suddenly struggling with being a widower after forty-five years of marriage.

For those of you reading this right now, I hope you can use this short publication in the same way I used the mini-book on grief: as a simple tool to help improve your life. I now realize how important it is to live a fulfilled life every single day. I no longer take any day, hour, or minute for granted. It is my calling to help others do the same…

Innovation always begins with people. Self-confident individuals filled with passion, purpose, and confidence are the most creative and innovative. They have strong Inner Leaders and the confidence it takes to lead personal, organizational, and community change and innovation.

My research on entrepreneurial individuals and innovation identified personal fulfillment as one of the most important factors associated with motivation and success. I have also found that individuals must discover and define success for themselves. True personal fulfillment and innovation flourish when individuals have the confidence to realize their own passions and take inspired actions. Personal fulfillment is becoming more important to individuals and organizations. It serves as the foundation for a sort of “happiness factor” for individuals and employees. Personal fulfillment also encourages entrepreneurial behavior and innovation. Personally fulfilled employees are more creative, innovative, and engaged, which translates into healthy, vibrant, and successful businesses, organizations, and communities.

The world needs entrepreneurial leaders who have the capacity to nurture personal fulfillment and sustainable innovation. Before you can successfully lead others, you must first lead yourself. So invest in yourself. Focus on developing your Inner Leader by strengthening your confidence and living the life you want for yourself. And, make sure you spread the wealth! Great leaders invest in their confidence as well as the confidence of others.

This book is designed to be used. Record your notes, thoughts, and ideas as you move through the material. Make copies of the pages that speak to you, and place them where you can read them daily. Keep your work in front of you. Take note of your dreams and progress many times per day, especially first thing in the morning and before going to bed. Constant focus on your intentions and progress will help you embed powerful thoughts into your subconscious mind, which is a great way to strengthen your confidence and your Inner Leader.

Confidence is one of the keys to personal fulfillment and happiness. I sincerely hope this book helps you strengthen your Inner Leader and confidence while enjoying life to the fullest. Feel free to share this work to help build the confidence of others. A world of confident people living with purpose and passion is a world of unique gifts and talents that are being used to help us all live in a better place.

Do yourself a favor, and Go Wild with Confidence!
-Dr. Connie

The above passage was published in my first book, Go Wild with Confidence!: Strengthen your Inner Leader and live your best life with purpose, passion and fun!

I wrote Go Wild to process my Mom’s death and my own brush with it.  Today marks the anniversary of her death, and I am working hard to celebrate her life instead of reliving her sudden and traumatic departure.  It’s still not easy.  I am writing this with gratitude  today remembering my Mom and all that she taught me.  Her legacy lives through me, my Dad and siblings as well as her grandchildren.  I am a better person and mother because of her.  Our family will always celebrate and cherish the great memories.  Her legacy will live on for future generations.  This fact demonstrates the importance of parenting!

Below are parting thoughts from Go Wild with Confidence!: Strengthen your Inner Leader and live your best life with purpose, passion and fun!   The scientific side of me likes data and facts; however, I have discovered the rich world of the unknown in the years since Mom’s death.  Miracles do happen.  I also believe in the power of intuition and think we receive signs if we are open to them.  More on this in future posts.

 

Parting Thoughts

There are many ways to develop your confidence. Ultimately, you have to decide what is right for you. Journaling, meditation, goal setting, visualization, art, nature, healthy eating, physical activity, fun, the use of personal mantras, affirmations, Visual Visions, Personal Confidence Statements, and Personal Confidence Teams can all be great tools to help move you forward. You may also want to consider hiring a coach. Whatever you decide, just make sure the strategies and structures you put in place work for you and are focused on what you truly want to accomplish and experience. Many people set false goals they never achieve because they left their heart and personal desire out of the process.

Setting and pursuing false goals leads to a lack of interest and motivation, which leads to goal abandonment and ultimately to a feeling of failure and self-doubt. Feelings of failure and self-doubt can seriously erode self-confidence. Goals should be set for you as an individual and based on personal fulfillment, not simply on what you think you should do based on the thoughts and influences of others or society. Establish your personal definition of success. When creating a plan to achieve your definition of success, be sure to develop goals, strategies, and structures that are holistic and recognize the importance and power of the mind-body-spirit connection.

After Mom’s sudden death, I had many conversations with Dad about living life. He told me he had no regrets. My parents celebrated forty-five years of marriage a month before Mom’s passing, and Dad said they did everything they wanted to do together. I will never know Mom’s true thoughts on this subject; I just hope she felt the same way.

Life-changing events have a way of putting things into perspective. My philosophy about life has become this: Life should be a journey filled with wonderful experiences, and we must define success for ourselves. Many of us tend to focus too much on accumulating titles and stuff rather than experiences. Our individual journeys should be what we want to experience and enjoy. Life should not be a daily grind. Life should not be a to-do list.

My family gathered together on the family farm for the 4th of July after Mom’s death. The Fourth was her favorite holiday, and celebrating it was always a big deal. This time, there was a cloud of deep sadness over my family. We wanted to be together on her favorite holiday, but celebrating without her was incredibly painful. As a thick sadness filled the air, it began to sprinkle and a beautiful rainbow appeared. We all stood there in a sort of surprised and unsettling awe. Then, a reassuring feeling came over everyone. We were all thinking it, but my cousin Dann was the only one brave enough to say it out loud. It was a sign from Mom. I later read that rainbows and butterflies commonly serve as after-death communications. Some believe rainbows are the connection between heaven and earth. All I know for sure is that it was a very special moment for my family. We have a picture of Mom’s rainbow over the farm on her favorite holiday. Every time I look at it, I think of Mom, that moment, and the gift of life. Reimers-Hild, Go Wild with Confidence! 101 Your time on this planet is short, so enjoy it. Go Wild with Confidence! Strengthen your Inner Leader, and live your best life with purpose, passion, and fun!

Be You & Do Something Cool!

-Dr. Connie

The Future Leadership and Women on Pure Nebraska

I had the wonderful opportunity to stretch myself yesterday on Pure Nebraska with Jon and Taryn Vanderford.  I was all set to discuss the future of leadership with a focus on women.  My goal was to point out the important contributions women have been making for a long time in the area of leadership.  I also wanted to note that their contributions have often gone unrecognized, and that it is time to change the mindset and conversation around women and leadership.   It is critical for us to redefine leadership while realizing  that people want to connect with their purpose and issues that matter to them.  I also wanted to talk about their participation in the growing #GigEconomy.  Research by the National Women’s Business Council noted that 91% of female entrepreneurs are in businesses for themselves.  I related this to their participation in growing #GigEconomy.  Women are participating in the #GigEconomy  in an effort to make economic gains while building lives they enjoy, which often involves balancing income generation with family time.

Let’s just say that the three minute segment went faster than I thought, and I did not make my key points very well.   It was so different from recording videos that are edited. However, it was an amazing experience!  I left thinking about all the ways I should have/could have, etc.  Then, I realized how much of a stretch experience this was for me.  Recording a live, three-minute segment was a first.  I had fun, learned a lot and would love to do it again.

My experience yesterday reminded me of the importance of taking risks and enjoying the ride.  I tend to be very critical of myself but also realize it is hard to do well when taking on new experiences.  The point is to have the new experience!   Being entrepreneurial requires us to take risks, learn, tweak and repeat.  Was it perfect?  No.  Was it cool? Yes!

I am not sure I have been living entrepreneurially lately. The Pure Nebraska interview was a great reminder that I need to intentionally incorporate more risk into my everyday life!  And, I have to live my mantra:  Be You & Do Something Cool!  Life should be lived as an amazing adventure.

Thanks Jon, Taryn and the Pure Nebraska crew for the opportunity!  And, a BIG thanks to the Rural Futures team for your support and help getting the interview out to the world.  You are all amazing!

Go Wild, Take Risks and Have Fun!

-Dr. Connie

PS:  Check out the Pure Nebraska segment below.

 

 

Watch more on Pure Nebraska here:  http://www.1011now.com/purenebraska

Also, connect with the Rural Futures Institute at RuralFutures.Nebraska.edu and Nebraska’s Community Vitality Team at CVI.UNL.EDU

 

The Future of Women: Globally Connecting in the #GigEconomy

Women are one segment of society benefitting from the #GigEconomy.  They are taking advantage of being globally connected in a big way!  Women are selling products on Etsy, Amazon and their own stores.  They are using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites to grow their online presence while supporting their businesses and families.

In 2015, I co-published an article, Become a Future-Focused Leader:  Use Three Megatrends to Grow Your Rural Business, with Alyssa Dye (an amazing young female entrepreneur!)  We also published three videos on the three megatrends I will share in the Future of Women series.  You can download the full-text article focused on rural entrepreneurs, including related references by clicking here.  The first video is below.  The article and videos were targeted to rural entrepreneurs; however, the same ideas are important for female entrepreneurs.  I made a few changes to the original article and posted a few segments below.  When you read or hear “rural entrepreneur” in the video you can think “female entrepreneur.”  The #GigEconomy is full of challenges and opportunities for women in business.

No one can predict the future; however, entrepreneurs and business owners can use a future-focused leadership approach, which includes examining megatrends, to shape the future of their businesses and lives. Megatrends are global shifts that influence society, the economy and the environment. This “Future of Women” series will  discusses three megatrends shaping the future:
1) The Rise of the #GigEconomy
2) Living with Purpose and Meaning
3) The Decentralized Marketplace

While many companies are struggling to keep up with the rapid rate of change, future-focused entrepreneurs are growing their businesses by blending technology with the human experience. And, many of these entrepreneurs are women.  Together, with a common purpose, female entrepreneurs can examine megatrends, utilize emerging technologies, and monitor analytics while creating meaningful experiences and innovating businesses in ways not yet imagined.

Why is this so important?  I believe many women are naturally future-focused leaders.  Research published by the National Women’s Business Council shows that nearly 91% of female entrepreneurs are in business by themselves.  They have no employees.  I believe this is by choice.  Women are working to support themselves and their families; however, they also want to build a future for their families that includes more than money.  They are looking for ways to live a full and meaningful life designed to support their families for generations.

The trend of female entrepreneurs is a critical global trend.  Women have long been leading families and communities with little to no recognition.  This trend is changing, and women will be shaping the future in ways the world has not yet imagined.

The emerging Gig Economy (#GigEconomy) will create new challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses and communities. An emerging trend, the rise of global joblessness (International Labour Office, 2014), is supporting the growth of the Gig Economy while creating a need for the marketing of talents and skills in new and meaningful ways. The ability to sell, purchase and promote goods and services, as well as individual brands, on the web has created a need for entrepreneurs to add value to the lives of others in innovative ways. People are increasingly defining success for themselves, which does not always include a college degree and a 9-5 job. In many ways, it is now much cooler to be a successful start-up entrepreneur, famous blogger or YouTube sensation than a person working in a traditional office setting for 40+ hours per week.

Approximately 53 million Americans are engaged in some manner of freelancing, which is adding around $715 billion to the economy (Edelman Berland, 2014). Further, the number of large employers is predicted to shrink in the future, causing people to find new and inventive ways to make a living. Self-employment has been identified as a vital economic tool for rural people and communities (Goetz & Rupasingha, 2014). The rising #Gig Economy may be one megatrend that can benefit rural places if technology can be leveraged to reach both local and niche audiences interested in purchasing goods and services from freelancing entrepreneurs.

One common denominator will remain the same: Women-owned businesses and people need to be found on the already crowded World Wide Web. They have to build their brands and levels of influence to strengthen both credibility and success. Businesses like Fiverr.com and Iotronics are disrupting the traditional career and job search with technology. Need a logo, book review or video? No problem. Go to Fiverr and hire outsource experts in almost anything to help you. Services start at only five dollars! Iotronics helps people generate Twesumes (Twitter + Resume = Twesume), which are resumes in 140 characters or less) to land jobs or gigs (thus, the #GigEconomy).

Connectivity is key. Female entrepreneurs can participate in the #GigEconomy as both entrepreneurs for hire as well as employers. Entrepreneurs can use #GigEconomy tools to diversify their profit centers, contract with other entrepreneurs and generate income.

Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs:

1) Consider marketing goods and services on websites that can help you test the marketplace, connect with customers and take payments. Amazon, Square and Etsy may be places to sell your ideas. Fiverr and Elance can help entrepreneurs find help or land gigs. Online marketplaces may be a way to begin selling on the Web. Make sure to do your homework first to ensure that you are working with a credible source.

2) Connect with other entrepreneurs inside and outside of your niche. Look for other entrepreneurs (both competitors and collaborators) on Fiverr and find gigs on places like Mom Corps, TeachersPayTeachers, Square and similar resources. LinkedIn is a great place to connect with like- minded entrepreneurs and industry leaders. Many states have an online marketplace focused on selling goods and services available in that state. For example, Grow Nebraska is a marketplace resource for Nebraska’s entrepreneurs.

3) Become vigilant and creative about building your brand. Blend online and offline worlds in ways that engage people in meaningful experiences. Have some fun and let your personality shine through! For example, a Twitter Party is a great tool to expand your brand online in real-time.

Successfully making your mark in the #GigEconomy takes patience and hard work.  However, it also presents the opportunity to earn extra income along side of your current career or as a part- or full-time entrepreneur.  The opportunities are truly endless!

Go Wild with Your Opportunity in the #GigEconomy!  This is your chance to…Be You & Do Something Cool!

-Dr. Connie

 

SMARTER Intentions and Authentic Goals: A Coaching Guide from AskDrConnie.com

All true intent is realized.  This simple yet profound truth is usually overlooked when people set goals.  If you really don’t intend to lose 15 pounds (you just want to lose weight without really trying), then don’t set a goal around weight loss.  New Year’s resolutions are often short-lived because they are not true intentions.  I am a believer in setting intentions, so I developed a coaching tool to help people set SMARTER Intentions rather than soulless goals.

What we truly intend will happen. Actions support honest intentions; therefore, all true intent is realized. Intentions become our outcomes. Intentions influence our actions and behaviors. If intentions are established with awareness, truth, and meaning, they help us experience a life filled with passion and personal fulfillment. Lack of understanding around our true intentions often causes frustration and confusion, which is one reason people oftentimes do not achieve their goals. Many goals are written; however, they are not established with honest intent. It’s time to get brutally honest about your true intentions so you can achieve authentic goals.

Intentions have the power to strengthen your Inner Leader and help you move forward in a meaningful way as long as they represent what you truly want to accomplish and experience. Honest intentions, based on personal fulfillment and purpose, can also keep you motivated and focused while measuring progress and celebrating success.

What we truly intend will happen, so I encourage my coaching clients to create SMARTER Intention Statements that support their personal vision. So, what exactly are SMARTER Intentions? They are statements designed to help you achieve your vision while holding your accountable and having some fun along the way because they are Super Cool, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound, Evolved, and Rewarded.  If you are looking to start the new year with authenticity, download my free SMARTER Intentions Coaching Guide to set your true resolutions for 2016:

AskDrConnie.com 2016 SMARTER Intentions Coaching Guide 12.31.15

Looking to kick-start 2016 with a supportive network of women?  Join me and a group of amazing female leaders at Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast for New You and [Re]New You:  A Women’s Retreat.  This amazing immersion experience is designed to help women who are looking to reinvent themselves in 2016.  We will work together to uncover your true intentions and chart a course for an amazing 2016 and beyond.  The weekend will be full of great activities ranging from painting and yoga to cooking classes, visioning and coaching.  Join us for a fabulous weekend focused on the future of you!  Contact Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast to register today!  Click on the image below to learn more and register for the retreat.  Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast

Go Wild with Your True Intentions and Have a Happy New Year!!

-Dr. Connie

Can You Be Happier in 21 Days? Yes, You Can!

Do you believe that you can become persistently happier in just 21 days?  Research by Shawn Achor and others studying the power of positive psychology shows that you can!

My interest in what I call, The Happiness Trend, continues to grow for good reason.  Happiness makes a difference!

I am really excited to be delivering a keynote, Go Wild:  Be Happy! on Friday, November 21st at the Ag-ceptional Women Conference in Norfolk, NE (Register today at:  northeast.edu/Agceptional) that combines the science of happiness with practical application people can use personally, with their families and within their organizations and communities.

My prediction:  The Happiness Trend will continue to gain steam as people look for more fulfillment and fun in their lives.  I challenge all of you to take part in the pursuit of happiness for good reasons, such as:

  • Happy employees are 31% more productive
  • Happy people have stronger immune systems
  • Happy people have stronger social connections
  • Happiness increases self-esteem. self-confidence and creativity

Researchers continue to link the power of brain science to better lives, including performance in business and in school. Happiness also impacts our family and social lives.  Check out Shawn Achor’s TED Talk, The Happiness Advantage:  Linking Positive Brains to Performance, to learn more!

Be You and Do Something Cool by Going Wild with Happiness!

-Dr. Connie

Tune in to 1110 KFAB this Wednesday!

My radio connection, Clint Bellows, invited me to “appear” on 1110 KFAB this Wednesday afternoon!  Tune in after 2:30 PM and join the conversation about leading your own life with purpose, passion and fun!

You can listen live by going to KFAB.com.  Looking forward to having a great conversation on Wednesday!

Go Wild with KFAB!

-Dr. Connie

 

Go Wild with Confidence Hits #136,936 on Amazon!

Celebrating a publishing milestone with my family today!  It always feels good when you take a step in the direction of your dreams.  Best-seller status here I come!

 

Fred: The Key Indicator of “Gone-to-Muchness”

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Fred: The key indicator of “Gone-to-Muchness”

I think Fred is trying to tell me something!

Granted, Fred usually gets pretty upset when I get the suitcase out and start packing.  But, this was the first time he actually sat in it!  Animals have great instincts, and he is sharing an important message with me.

It has been a busy couple of months and it is now time to do some “Spring Cleaning” of life, which includes my home, office and vehicle!  I need to clean out the old so I make room to invite in the new.  An all around freshening up of my Inner Leader is in order!

How do you go about “Spring Cleaning” your life and work?  How do you Spring Clean your Inner Leader to make room for innovation in family, work, business and life?

Go Wild with Spring Cleaning Life!

-Dr. Connie

 

Megatrend 2: Living with Purpose and Meaning

Our society is quickly evolving into an era characterized by shared purpose and meaning.  Leaders must be willing to create an atmosphere of sustainable innovation designed to continuously move organizations forward while connecting employees and clientele to meaningful experiences and their definitions of personal fulfillment.

How many distance-learning leaders are adding value to the lives of learners, faculty and staff from a holistic perspective? 

Personal fulfillment is a growing trend and may be a growing trend in distance education as well.  Research on the “entrepreneurial learner” in the distance learning environment demonstrated an increase in credit hour completion as learner motivation associated with personal fulfillment strengthened (Reimers-Hild & King, 2006).  People are looking to decrease their levels of stress and strengthen their healthy habits while finding greater fulfillment.  Minimalism is one of the trends shaping the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend because people are seeking less stuff and more life.  At first glance this may seem like an odd topic for administrators in the distance learning arena to consider; however, minimalism is gaining popularity in trend-setting places like Silicon Valley and is influencing everything from living spaces, to workplaces and web design.  The Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend will continue to grow as the global population increases and places more demands on the planet’s limited natural resources.  How can future-focused distance leaders create a better experience for learners and employees alike?  Leaders can connect with individuals’ beliefs while helping them find purpose and meaning in their educational endeavors and careers while living fuller lives with less clutter and greater health and well-being.

Technology may help distance learning administrators holistically add more purpose and meaning to the lives of both learners and employees.  For example, a forecast by Carbone and Nauth (2012) describes the evolution of the “cloud.”  They discuss the cloud evolving from a place to store data to an intelligent resource that will actively help people improve their lives:

Virtual agents will migrate from being an automated form of phone-based customer service to a personalized form of support and assistance that provides information and—more importantly—performs useful tasks. For example, such agents might design a weekly menu based on a family’s health profile, fitness goals, and eating preferences, and automatically order ingredients.

This forecast provides an example of how distance leaders can use technology to help their organizations innovate with a focus on the future.  A transition from cloud-based computing to cloud-based living and learning might be help institutions focus on both learners and employees in a more holistic manner.

Two trends supporting the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend include: 1) life increasingly flowing together instead of being compartmentalized into work, family, recreation, etc., and 2) the quest for greater well-being, health and vitality.  People are increasingly learning and living on the go in both the virtual and physical senses, which blurs the lines between family, self-care, work and play.

How do these trends influence distance learning?  As more people want to connect with their purpose, find meaning in their lives, and increase their vitality, educational institutions should take a more people-centered approach focused on meaning, well-being and the mind-body connection supported by the right social networks, experiences and technologies.  A few ideas might include:

  • Integrating holistic, healthy living and self-care principles into distance learning programs in an effort to create better learner experiences and to create more value in courses, programs and the lives of learners (including the lives of their families).
  • Providing coaching for learners and employees to help them uncover their purpose and create strategies and structures to support meaningful actions designed to improve their educational endeavors and lives.
  • Adding physical activity and fun to courses or programs in an effort to stimulate creativity, decrease stress, build camaraderie and strengthen overall wellness (perhaps an App or the intelligent cloud can help).

It’s time to move beyond the traditional grading scales, discussion boards and homework assignments and focus on the whole person and what life means to them.  Helping people find their fulfillment, purpose and definition of success may provide distance-learning administrators with tools to innovate their institutions.  Competition for learners, along with their precious time and dollars, will continue to increase.  Distance-learning institutions will have to find new ways to add increased value to the lives of learners, employees and their families.  Not only can people choose to learn anytime from anyplace, people can choose what they want to learn and from whom they want to learn it.  Institutions that add the most value will have the competitive advantage.

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