Archive

Monthly Archives: February 2017

What is the Surprising Meaning of the Odd Phrase “Back Forty”?

back-forty

When interacting with partners, sponsors, customers, members, and The Back Forty community in general, there is one question that gets asked over and over.

What does “back forty” mean?

Usually by that point, whoever I’m speaking with knows that our company, The Back Forty, is about making your second half of life your best half of life. So the logical jump is that we are talking about life between the years of 40 and 80. And this common misconception leads to questions like, why do you say midlife starts at 40? What if I’m over 80? What if I’m 37? Why are you putting these strict rules around what defines midlife?

To all of these questions, I say wait just a minute and let me explain.

First, let’s look at the actual definition of “back forty”. Merriam-Webster defines back forty as “a remote and uncultivated or undeveloped piece of land of indefinite size (as on a farm)”.

The Back Forty Ranch with No Victim Zone 2.jpgIf you didn’t know this, don’t worry. This phrase is less popular than over 80% of all words in the English dictionary. Like the definition mentions, it was originally used to describe the most remote 40 acres of a farm or ranch and was first used in the 1860s when the Homestead Act of 1862 granted 160 acres of land to anyone willing to farm it for at least five years (thus two front forty acres of land and two back forty acres of land). So, when farmers were too far away to be reached it was usually because they were in the back forty of their farm.

Knowing all of this probably brings up more questions than you originally had. For example, “what the heck does farming in the 1800s have to do with midlife?” Hang in there just a bit longer because it is all about to be made clear.

We use back forty as a metaphor for midlife. Just like the back forty of a farm is usually an uncultivated piece of land, your second half of life is uncultivated. The way we see it, your “back forty” of life is a blank canvas. It is uncultivated, which makes it full of potential.

So, no. The Back Forty isn’t referring to the ages of 40-80. It is simply a complex metaphor demonstrating that midlife is full of even more possibilities than you could ever imagine. Many people believe that once you hit midlife your life gets more predictable. You have a family, responsibilities, a job, you have to save for retirement, or your children’s college…the list can go on and on. We at The Back Forty believe the opposite is true. Midlife is just the beginning and your first half of life was simply research for what is still to come.

Whether you are 35, 43, 67, 92 or anywhere in-between, we believe that the best things in your life are still ahead of you and that you can cultivate your own “back forty” to be full of playfulness, passion, and purpose.

If you would like to learn more about The Back Forty, click the link below to download our Co-Founder’s Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half of Life!

hot-air-balloon

25 Life Hacks To Make Midlife a Breeze

Today I have found and compiled the 25 best life hacks for mid-life!

Enjoy!

sunset

The Makings of a Conscious Team

workplace-1245776.jpg

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” 

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Conscious Leadership causes Conscious Teams.  Conscious Teams empower Conscious Leadership.

Together they provide the makings for a truly Conscious Organization, committed to The Back Forty™ organizational future of vision and purpose.

In a truly Conscious Organization, there are no boundaries between leadership and teams.

What then, are the makings of a truly Conscious Team?

Sports provide a wealth of great examples for studying teamwork.  

We’ve seen numerous examples of tremendous talent brought together in a sports team, yet they perform poorly.

On the other hand, in 1980 the US Olympic Hockey team made up of amateur and collegiate players defeated the Soviet team, who were considered to be the best hockey team in the world at the time.  No one could name the individual players of that team.  Why did they win?  Clearly, not because the team was made up of stars.

Also, what was missing for the other team, which happened to be made up of big names and famous players?

Your guess is as good as mine…but one thing is clear: getting a group of highly talented people together will not necessarily lead them to produce extraordinary results.

Scientific discoveries about geese flying in V-formation provide many insights into the study of teams.  

According to Dr. Robert McNeish:

  • By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% more flying range than possible if each bird flew on its own.
  • When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone… and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the uplifting power of the bird in front.
  • When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
  • Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

“Remember: upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”

– Alexander the Great

Here are the 9 most important elements I found that contribute to the formation of Conscious Teams.

  • Raison d’etre.  A powerful team shares a common vision, direction, and sense of community.  It is clearly stated and is the team’s raison d’etre.
  • Trust. The team can travel with velocity and ease when it is traveling on the thrust of one another.
  • Leadership.  Great teams produce and empower great leaders, and if needed, another member of the team will step up and take a leadership role.
  • Alignment.  Everyone on the team may not always agree, however, the team is aligned and acts as one, regardless of individual opinions or disagreements.
  • Listening.  Team members listen to each other powerfully, without judgment or blaming, and with a commitment to truly understand.
  • Straight Talk. Direct and honest communication is essential for teamwork and everyone on the team is committed to working out any and all differences through communication.
  • Commitment. Teammates relate to each other based on their commitment to the team’s vision and future, not as their individual personality, temperament, or opinions, and they support each other in becoming the best versions of themselves.
  • Integrity.  Everyone does what they said they were going to do when they were going to do it
  • Responsibility.  Everyone on the team has “the buck stops here” attitude.  Period.  And if they make a mistake, they fess up, clean up, and move on.

What will take to create Conscious Teams right where you are – in your organization, family, and community?

homes

Quick Survey, Raffle & Free Gifts!

Man Having Video Chat With Female Doctor

Today I have a quick favor to ask. If you’ve been getting any value out of our blog, we would love your input!

The Back Forty is currently seeking to build the services and support most wanted and needed by The Back Forty community. In order to do that, we would love to hear from you!

Please answer this 1-min survey to give us your valuable feedback. Plus, if you choose to include your email address, you will be entered into a raffle to win our first online program, “The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL” (Value: $29). You can also download for free the eBook, “Birth of The Back Forty” and the “Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half of Life”.

Thanks for your help!

survey-button

Tips for Embracing Edginess

Edginess (2-22-17).jpgsport

“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

-Hunter S. Thompson

Going to the edge is not how we’re wired. Our internal, anti-vertigo systems tells us to stay back.

Especially in The Back Forty, our tendency to play safe and keep things manageable is at a premium…because we have bruises and scars from when we didn’t.

Look at how we can sometimes be in an intimate relationship: either get used to the one we’re with and there’s no mystery left – because we wrangled either them or ourselves into a comfortable knowing (instead of growing?)…

OR…

we pursue and intend to attract that final, perfect partner while peering out at them and the world from deep inside our protective armor.

Look at how we can sometimes be in business or career growth: either we stay doing what we’ve always done because it meets our current thermostat (the amount of heat we can stand)…

OR…

we attempt to create a new venture or try a new path inside of our old mindsets of needing to do things “right” and have it all figured out.

None of these Play Safe ways of operating call for progress.

I see my own resistance to edginess when I’m called upon to create business plans and set up systems that are required to go to the next level of growth and contribution-ability. “I’ve just never been good at that!” or “I haven’t gotten that skill down yet”. All thoughts pulling for the center rather than the edge.

Kurt Vonnegut says “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

Want to grow? Envision a new possibility or future? Step into your own promised land?

You have to go to the edge to accomplish it.

Here are a few tips to help embrace edginess:

1. Hear the Center Speaking

Try to notice when you feel that your pressing into uncharted (and thus perceived as rough) waters…and listen to what the Voice is saying.

If it’s the same standard line you’ve heard a thousand times, simply step aside from it. Realize it’s an old friend, with an emphasis on old. If you’re wanting new, then pay your respects to the old friend by saying “Thanks for that.  I know you’re wanting the best for me.”

And then go do what you WANT to do, like you did as a teen when your parent told you what THEY wanted you to do.

2. Take a Risk

Look, whatever you do in this moment is not life altering, either way.

If you take the risk of sharing something very personal with your spouse or a date that your Play Safe Voice would be shocked by, you really never know what may come of it.  You may open a door to intimacy you never thought possible.

If you don’t know how to do a perfect business plan or how to make the career change, try anyhow or get a coach.  Taking a risk will get you further than sitting paralyzed by the Play Safe Voice.

At a minimum, you’ll learn something.  In the best of all worlds, you’ll expand.  For sure, you won’t die.

3. Repeat

Return to tip 1.

Perhaps all progress depends on consistent edginess.

What areas of your life are you willing to walk out on the brink of so as to see another future?

“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.”

-Guillaume Apollinaire

Do You Have the Bravery to Commit to Your Own Unique Greatness?

This week I want to share the following quote with you. Let’s jump right in and I’ll meet you (as always) on the other side:

your-own-unique-greatness

There are many quotes, concepts, and ideas based on this general idea. Believe in yourself! Love yourself! Trust yourself! And all of these concepts boil down to the same idea; you have to believe in yourself before you can truly start to succeed.

This isn’t some obscure concept that will shock you to your core, but it might be something that you need to hear today. It’s easy to get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we don’t even take the time to think about ourselves, not to mention the time to figure out (or remember) what our “unique greatness” is. And when we don’t think about why we need to be trusting, and loving, and believing in ourselves – it’s easy to just not.

So today’s post is your wake-up call.

What is your own unique greatness? Why should you believe in yourself? What do you love about yourself? What is something you haven’t been trusting your gut about and is there any reason for you to actually be doubting yourself?

You have incomprehensible potential within you. You are uniquely great. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to.

So what’s stopping you?

Spend just three minutes (180 seconds) thinking about why you are uniquely great and then carry that through the rest of your day because, as the quote says, “If you don’t commit to your own unique greatness, nobody else ever will.”

pink

Work Smart.  Work Consciously.

Back Forty General Laptop with Logo.jpg

We all talk about working smarter not harder.  Working smart is working consciously.  Working consciously moves us closer to building a Conscious Organization.

Working smart increases velocity, produces synergy, and creates exponential growth.  It allows us to move through our day with more focus, awareness, and purpose.

Here are some ideas for working smart.  Try them on and see what fits best.

Take a break.

Our brains can focus for a maximum of 90 minutes at a time.  By taking a short break every 90 minutes, we allow our body and mind to rest and refresh.  Taking breaks makes us more effective.

Sharpen the Saw.

According to Steven Covey, “sharpen the saw” means preserving and enhancing you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of our life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Take a day off.

Choose one day when you don’t work.  Sounds crazy, I know.  Do it anyway. Take a day off to relax, refresh, disconnect from the ongoing stream of work, and do the things that bring you joy.  It’s good for your soul and mind, and will make you more focused, effective, and productive in the long run.

Spend time in nature.

Spending time in nature allows our mind to fully relax and unwind and helps us focus better when we return to work.

Be quick.  But don’t hurry.

This one is a classic from UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.  Read it.  Make it your own. Find your own meaning.  If it does not make sense to you, ponder it until it does.

Make a “don’t do” list.

This is a timeless suggestion from Tom Peters.  Make a list of useless tasks, meetings, projects and conversations that you should not waste your time on.  Have it with you at all times.  Know it by heart.  Stick to it.

Start your day with a ritual.

You can impact the rest of your day by making mindful choices when you first wake up. Your creative mind is at its best in the early hours.  Take this time to connect with your soul and create how your day is going to go.

Here are a few of my favorites.  Try one or more, or create your own.

  • Create and write your intentions for the day
  • Express gratitude
  • Meditate
  • Pray
  • Visualize the outcomes you desire
  • Journal
  • Read something inspiring

Your turn.  What will you do to work smart this week?

lightbulb

3 Opportunities to KISS Happy

3-opportunities-to-kiss-happy-2-15-17sunset

“If you want to be happy, be.”

-Leo Tolstoy

If we wanted, we could just keep-it-simple-stupid (KISS) the quote above and that would be that.

But sometimes the simplest of truths call forth our complication-making machinery.

We entertain this reason or that, compelling “evidence” that it’s just not possible. The more legitimate the reason, the more we negate the simple truth.

For example, I woke up this morning with that nagging feeling that something just wasn’t right.

First, I looked to see if there was some hold-over issue from yesterday that I may have carried into my today.

Then, I looked to see if I could remember my dreams: was there something that went through my mind during the night still in my head?

Or – and here’s an even deeper cut to take: since our dreams access our most subconscious thoughts and feelings, IF I DID HAVE A BAD DREAM which left its remnants, what does that mean? Should I be worried about what’s going on in my subconscious?

It’s truly amazing how far down the rabbit hole one can go!

Harvard Business Review described a study in which folks were monitored for how their morning mood impacted the rest of their day.

And there’s some evidence that one of many external factors can play a part in the setting up of one’s mood at the outset of the day.

Yet, outside of any external factors, the real value is in the development of internal happiness control.

Aside from a healthy self-awareness and any good life-skills techniques we employ to embrace living, maybe it’s as simple as the choice to be happy.

At least 3 Points to KISS Happy daily are (feel free to add more):

1. Morning – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

Despite the rabbit hole of quandary as to what could be the culprit behind the questionable mood, exercise the power of your will and choose to be in a good mood today anyway.

Some therapists suggest anchoring the thought with 5 deep breaths…and then finding times throughout the day to take those 5 deep breaths again and remember that choice.

2. Daily Reason Points – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

The day will no doubt present as many viable reasons as possible to choose to go to the dark side.  In the face of the reasons, it adds so much to our inner confidence and sense of power over our life every time we can choose to choose a happy thought anyway.

What technique can you employ to pivot? Step away from the machine for a moment and do your 5 breaths? Play a mind game of counting of your blessings?

Here’s a little mind trick I like: Envision the Negative!

Think back to one of the best things that ever happened to you – a fortunate break, an unexpected gift, a chance meeting, a wonderful opportunity, an amazing relationship – and then imagine for a moment that it HADN’T happened…and where you’d be now.  Sounds like it’s pointing toward the negative, but it’s a great way to jettison yourself into humongous gratitude and happiness in short order!

3. Evening – Choosing to Be Happy Anyway

When it’s all said and done for the day, if you worked your KISS Happy muscle, a lot of “evidence” might already be in place to justify going to bed happy.  However, if any slip-ups occurred, you might engage in a late-night, rest-prep workout.

What were the BEST things that DID happen today? How did they make you feel?

How DID you grow and expand today, and what are your intentions for doing so tomorrow?

I like the thought that the way to be happy is to choose every morning that I’m in a good mood, and to keep choosing that choice throughout the day.

I also like the thought that sometimes happiness is a feeling, and sometimes it’s a choice.

All feelings aside, what’s the biggest choice you can make today?

Choose KISS Happy.

“Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.”

-Ralph Marston

DIY Valentine’s Day Ideas That Will Make You Feel the Love

valentine-title-pic

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to thinking of the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for my husband (or even the perfect things to do on Valentine’s Day), it often feels impossible.

First, there is the question of if I even want to attempt to brave the crazy world of reservations and official activities. Then it’s the question of if I want to celebrate on Valentine’s Day or if I want to celebrate the previous or following weekend. By that point, thinking of an actual gift is absolutely exhausting. It seems as if we’ve done everything already. Romantic dinner? Check. Flowers? Check. Chocolates? Check. By the time you are in the midst of midlife it often feels like the day is hardly worth it and (usually) pretty unsurprising. But, with the right commitment and a little time, you can create the perfect DIY Valentine’s Day present to show your significant other exactly how much you appreciate them – regardless of the day of the year (which brings me to today’s post).

How to create the perfect DIY Valentine’s Day gift to make you (and your significant other) feel the love!

Today I am going to bring you four DIY Valentine’s gifts for him (although, these gifts would also be perfect for her). My inspiration? The DIY Valentine’s Day gifts I created for my husband five years ago (to this day, this is my favorite DIY Valentine’s Day gift I have ever made).

Take a look at my assembled gift below, and then I’ll go through all of the DIY ideas you can choose to re-create!

dsc00235

The gift included (1) a pop-up Valentine card, (2) paper fortune cookies, (3), a paper rose, and (4) a pop-out memory box.

I’m going to start with the easiest and quickest parts of my gift and work my way up to the more complicated/time-consuming ideas. Pick and choose the ideas that you like the most and then make them your own!

1. Paper Fortune Cookies

As I mentioned above, these are the easiest part of the gift. All you need is paper, scissors, and glue! Quickly fold the fortune cookies, write whatever fortunes you would like about the love of your life and your future together, and slide your fortunes into the cookies. Voila! You have cute little fortunes to share with your significant other!

See how I made them by clicking on this link!

2. Pop-Up Valentine Card

dsc00250This card is a little more complicated than the fortune cookies, but not much. You will need paper, scissors, and glue like the last craft, as well as a ruler, pencil, and stencil knife (and of course a pen to write your own love letter inside). My tip? Use a light pencil and have a good eraser on hand so that you can erase all of your lines you made to know where to cut your great pop-up design. Also, pay attention to the colors you use (for example, I had to create paper cut-outs of the letters for the front of my card because pen didn’t show up very well on the red background. So, start thinking about what you want to write because you will be done with this craft before you know it!

Make your own by following the directions at this link!

3. Paper Rosedsc00247

This is my favorite part of my gift to this day! This rose is still wrapped around the edge of our standing mirror in our bedroom today. That being said, this is also the gift that caused me the most stress. I carefully picked out pages from an old dictionary where words like “love” and “kiss” were defined and then carefully cut out the petals to make sure the right words were visible…and then I completely failed my first attempt making the flower. Turns out, it’s pretty hard to make a rose out of nothing but paper, hot glue, ribbon, wire, and scissors. That being said, after a few failed attempts, I finally got it right and I still find it absolutely gorgeous. If you’re ready to put in some time and effort, I can guarantee that this gift is something that you significant other will cherish for years to come. Plus, it lasts much longer than regular roses!

Get the tutorial here!

4. Pop-Out Memory Box

This gift idea is the most time-consuming, and the most personal. This is a box that you make from scratch and is actually almost like 3 boxes in one. As your significant other opens the box, they will be unfolding the story of your life together. On each side of the box, I put a story or a picture of me and my husband and as he unfolded the box more and more, he went further and further back into our past together. It is a thoughtful gift that takes so much time to make simply because you are putting so much time into picking the right moments of your life together to remember.

For step-by-step directions (and pictures) click here!

So, there you go! Four DIY ideas for making your Valentine’s Day gifts extra special this year!

However, if you’re reading through these ideas and you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t have time for this,” don’t fear, below are a couple easy Valentine’s Day gift ideas for him (and gift ideas for her) that you can complete in an instant (no shipping required)!

For Him

For Her

For Both of You!

  • Go out! Now, I’m not saying to brave the crowds on Valentine’s day, but use the previous or following weekend to go out on a date (dinner and a movie? I know it’s cliche, but it’s always fun) or book a room (get the romance package) at a nice hotel in town for a night. You don’t have to go far to make the holiday special.
  • Stay in! Sometimes staying in the house is just as nice as going out. Cook a special dinner, pull out a favorite movie, change into your comfiest PJs and cuddle on the couch. If your kids are still at home, don’t forget to find an overnight activity for them (my local Zoo even has an overnight scheduled for children on Valentine’s Day)!

 

beach

That Multitasking Gotta Stop

man-1633667_1920.jpg

When I answer emails while on a conference call while having lunch, I get more done in less time, right?

Wrong.

As soon as I move attention from the conference call to the email, I will miss something important.  Or I will hear my name following a question – and I will have missed the question.  All while consuming my food without noticing the tastes, flavors and eating way more than I need.  (Side note: we eat more when we eat mindlessly without paying attention to our food).

When I am multitasking, I am not actually doing more than one thing at a time.  I am diverting my attention between several tasks, therefore not fully focusing on anything, getting distracted from all, and needing more time to do everything.

According to MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller, our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”

multitasking-quoteSwitching between several tasks wastes time and productivity, because our time and attention are used for the activity of switching gears.  In addition, we don’t experience being fully “in the zone” and the amplified results it can bring.

A UCSF study found that multitasking negatively affects short-term, or “working,” memory, which is the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind for a period of time.  That, in turn, affects our creativity.  

Switching from task to task while multitasking does not save time.  It actually takes more time.  In fact, it reduces productivity by as much as 40% and increases the likelihood of errors.  

If you are multitasking between two different things, it will take more time to accomplish both than if you did them one at a time.

All in all, multitasking is a bad idea… unless you are interested in increasing your errors and reducing productivity and creative thinking.

Conscious Organizations require conscious action – and action is only conscious when we are giving it our full attention.

Are you ready to stop multitasking?

big-tips-banner