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Jane Pauley Answers TTN's Questions

March 15, 2014


TTN:   What differences have you seen between men and women when it comes to reimaging their future?  Have you seen any differences between age groups (50’s vs. 70’s for instance?)
JP:   Men are more likely to shed tears.  Four times – maybe five– men I’ve interviewed have grown tearful with regret that a new discovery that gave so much joy had been so late in arriving. Women haven’t shed tears for lives that weren’t discovered soon enough.

TTN:  What holds people back from successfully transforming their lives and what things would you recommend to help them overcome these barriers? 

JP:  People get stuck on the ‘big idea’. I think the answer is to begin with a small idea.  Words like ‘transforming’ can be intimidating.  A little change may inspire another bigger one.  I’ve read that the brain likes novelty – and seeing change happen is what motivates change.  So don’t wait for your ‘epiphany’.  Go for a walk. 

TTN:   We’ve noticed that writers who approach us for stories of transition are interested in the ones that show dramatic shifts in lifestyle.  But most people won’t or can’t completely alter their lives at this stage.  What’s in store for those who are looking for a less dramatic change and how does the approach to making that alteration differ? 

JP:  I don’t look for drama so much, though my partners at TODAY probably do. The most dramatic change to society would be if many of us found smaller ways to stay productive, creative and engaged. We all don’t need to be world-changers like Jenny Bowen.   But storytelling is more powerful than anything I can think of to motivate people to want to be productive, creative and engaged.  A good dramatic story will get attention. I hope my array of examples are received in general as a sample of people pretty much like you. I never aspired to astound people.  I aspire to move them. 

TTN:  Here at The Transition Network, we support our members in their transitions by helping them CONNECT with one another as they DISCOVER the options and opportunities that are available to them so they can IMPACT themselves, each other and the broader community.  How you describe the process to “reimagine” one’s life and would there be anything to add to what we’ve described here?
JP:  The secret of your success is that you’re an organization with a mission that begins by bringing people in as MEMBERS. That’s a powerful narrative for someone to become a member.  Connections, Discovery and Impact will follow.

TTN:  What characteristics do people who have successfully reimagined their lives have in common?  Which ones would indicate that success is possible and likely? What key things are fundamental to everyone’s transition? 

JP:  I’ve noticed people who have a long history of volunteering seem to approach transitions more easily. I’m not one of them. But if you are accustomed to saying, “I can do that – if you show me how,” you are a resourceful person developing more resources. 
While I think ‘happiness’ is illusive – as our wise founders described the ‘pursuit’ of it -- I’m reminded of Joe Liles, one of my Your Life Calling subjects, who was not looking to reinvent his life, he was looking for a new ‘way to live.’ He was a pessimist, “doomed to live life the hard way” who set out to hike the entire Appalachian Trail hoping to come back with a new way of seeing the world. It was a 2 million step process, but it worked.  Frankly, I think he began changing at the moment he first had the idea that his perspective on life could be changed and that he had the power to change it.
Sue Halpern who trained her dog to be a therapy dog --  put it well when she said people get into our routines, and something shakes us out of them. A child leaving for college as an example – something motivates that first impulse to change – a spark – and then a journey begins.
TTN:  If one doesn’t really have an immediate answer to the question, “what’s your passion?” how do you recommend that they go about reimaging their life?
JP:  I don’t! And Thomas Betts had one --- sailboat racing – he’d work years lovingly fixing up a sailboat.  He and his wife had talked about sailing around the world.  Then he discovered alpaca ranching. How did he buy is first small herd?  He SOLD THE BOAT. If you have one – good for you!  But I think ‘passions’ can be overrated.

TTN:  What are the best ways to ensure that all one’s needs (emotional, physical, spiritual) are addressed as one embarks on a plan to reimaging their life? 

JP:  ALL –that’s a lot of stuff.  I’d focus on one thing -- getting fit for instance, or join a church, or a book club – but not all at once!