Stale. When we Baby Boomers aren't getting what we want professionally, often the reason why is that we have gotten stale. That is, our shelf life has expired.
It's the state of mind incapable of conjuring up the powers of imagining. We keep sending out pitch letters for clients or customers. No response. We keep sending out the same kind of letter. That's stale. When our imagination is operating, the no-response is simply productive feedback that we can't be doing the same old thing (SOT).
We can get stale in a growing number of ways, given the turbulence in the 21st century economy. At the top of the list is stress. The client, colleague, piece of software and/or our own imperfections eat at us. Soon enough that morphs into an emotional tsunami which drags us out into the sea of helplessness. Another major cause is debt. When it's getting larger since of being downsized that preoccupation locks out original thought.
The good news is that stale can become fresh. Here's how:
Admit we are stale. Since that happens so frequently now, this shouldn't be hard to do. At a business conference, we notice no one is paying much attention to what we said at lunch. The conclusion is probably that we are stale. Once we surrender to that reality, we are half way to solving the problem.
Figure out what's necessary now. It used to be that to "keep up" we subscribed to a ton of publications. Reading them made us feel prepared, up on things. Now we don't have the time for that. It's possible to be briefed by selecting just a few sources, then scanning them for the main points. So much of what is touted as "best practices" really is one school of thought's opinion about what should be.
Reduce fixed costs. A big monthly nut, be it for our office space or home mortgage, can become a force field in itself. It distracts us from breaking open to imagination. Part of my decision to relocate my communications boutique to the Southwest has been to reduce fixed costs. My office space will be about half what it is along the pricey Northeast Corridor.
Meditate. Mindfulness is simply the process of calming the mind and freeing it to be in the present. This doesn't have to be elaborate. We take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Our focus is on the breath. It can be useful to say in our mind a mantra such as "Clear thinking. Don't know" or "Past is over."
Lock in percentage of work time to try new approaches. If our schedule is booked solid with have-tos, then we are doomed to accelerate our shelf life to stale. There must be time to experiment. To do that we have to slow down. There is an opportunity on Mediabistro.com's Help Wanted board. Before I send off a routine response, I re-imagine how to approach the whole enchilada. Yes, we have to differentiate ourselves from the competition. About 300 others may be also submitting a pitch.
Takeaway: Stale is shortening more careers than age per se.