Don’t retire, ReFire!: It all starts with you

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By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

The main focus of every article that I’ve written, centers on taking positive steps towards being the best version of ourselves. It’s about knowing who we are, which is easier said than done in many cases.

In my case, this is something that was never brought up, when I was growing up. It wasn’t a conversation that my parents had with me and wasn’t something that I knew to bring up for discussion. My parents were good, honest, decent people who didn’t value themselves because they weren’t taught to value themselves, because THEIR parents didn’t value themselves and so it goes. How could they possibly teach me? Sadly, because they didn’t value themselves their lives were a struggle. No one ever said, “Find out what you want.”, “Get to know who you are.” “Be true to you.” These are all very important concepts to know and solidify.

How do we figure this out, if our minds were never open to that sort of dialogue by our parents, our relatives, our teachers. We can’t dwell on that, though. We can’t move forward if we are always looking in the rearview mirror. I say that it’s better late than never. I am very passionate about being a positive influence, not only to my family and friends, but to my colleagues, my acquaintances and those who cross my path every day. We may never know how our actions, whether it be in word or deed, could be the very thing that changes someone’s outlook on life. It is THEE MOST IMPORTANT GIFT you could give someone and THEE MOST IMPORTANT GIFT you could give yourself. How do we do that? We grow. Where do we start?

Here are three suggestions on how to open you mind and to think long and hard and go deep to reveal the real you….the true you. This will be a cathartic exercise for those who accept the challenge, just as it was for me to write this article.

  1. Ask questions. Never stop asking questions of yourself. It’s the only path to take in order to find out what really makes you tick. How do you spend your days? Do you waste time? How? Do you have a daily routine? What do you do? Are you productive? Do you value yourself? What would you do if money weren’t a concern? Would what you do be different? Who do you want to spend more time with? Who are your biggest supporters? What have you always wanted to do but were too afraid to try? (I learned how to play the drums at 60!) You also have to ask yourself hard questions. Are you spending any of your valuable time with people who don’t see you for the person you are? Do they try to force their views on you rather than appreciate the differences of opinion?
  2. Make a List. After you answer the thought-provoking questions you asked yourself, you will have discovered your strengths and truths and, yes, your weaknesses and possibly the blockages and negative internal conversation that rolls around in your head. Write it all down! It’s important to recognize both sides and commit them to paper, with one side being your positive discoveries about what is important to you, what you want in life and what your purpose on this earth is and on the other side, list what isn’t important to you and what you don’t want in your life. You may be surprised to find that some of the items on your negative list actually take up some of your precious time! If you have any of those items on your list, seeing them on paper is the first step to eliminating them from draining your energy. Focus on your positive qualities. Find out what you’re made of. This is the growth process.
  3. Analzye/Assess. Now that you have internalized your list of positive and negative characteristics, create a daily mantra that keeps you focused on your positive qualities which highlight the true you. Your mantra can change. Go with the change.

The only way we can get to our true selves is to GROW. Growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow will be better. The challenge with growth is that growth means change. It’s a challenge because we may want change but the difficulty is that we don’t want to change. To take it further, it’s not that we don’t want to change, it’s more like we don’t know how to change.

To grow, we must always be learning and opening our minds to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world, all while staying centered. With that, we must continually assess and reassess as we change. In learning and growing and being true to ourselves, we then understand what it means to value ourselves. We must value ourselves first, in order to be valued by others. Do it true! The power lies within.

I would love to hear your points of view!

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