Sixty-five Can’t be the New Forty-five — Until Respect for Time Aligns

ClockMix2From our mother’s first contraction and throughout our working lives, time is sacrosanct. Weekdays are a series of tightly coiled con calls and meetings with minimal buffers for overage or bio breaks. We even send our spouse outlook invites to book date nights, as we may never see them without the electronic reminder.

But when we cross the abyss at 65, we’re supposed to drop all these conventions. You see, time shouldn’t matter to seniors. At least I think that’s what service providers and our culture leads us to believe.

For example, when my active 88-year-old mother had a tumble, I learned:

  • The physiotherapist assigned to her senior’s complex would “show up” randomly for her  appointments with no advance notice. (Aside from the inconvenience, this could be privately disruptive should she feel under the weather or have company.)
  • The personal support worker might show up a half hour late for her scheduled home visit and expect mom to wait without being advised of the delay. (Mom waited 25 minutes once and then, thinking she’d been forgotten, left for her scheduled art class.)

I’ve also seen a wheel trans service show up and cart a devoted gentleman off midway through his Sunday church service. This happened on several occasions even though service times were carefully communicated at the time of booking, which was days in advance.

With scenarios like these, how can a fit 65-year-old live a 45-year-old lifestyle? How can they plan ahead or commit to any set time with confidence?

Certainly I’m grateful for the tightly stretched, high quality of care available in Ontario (and elsewhere) for an aging population and others with healthcare challenges. Asking for seniors and their time to also be given the same respect as others may be a luxury — or is it?

If we want to strive for fulfilling and productive lives well into our golden years, we need more than good health and marketing. Likely it will take more funding, resources and innovation to bring timing for seniors more in line with the rest of the world.

For those of us at the end of the baby boom, now may be the time to change perceptions and address challenges because arriving late for your performance, plane or sky diving class just won’t work in a 24/7 world.

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How Do You Measure the Days in a Year?

Time to reflect back on 525,600 minutes, assess and plan for the year ahead.  We know it’s important to examine our own personal growth strides and professional results but what about the world beyond?

Increasingly companies are measuring and being measured for more than their financial output and stakeholders are asking: “Success at what cost?”  Should we use a similar scale to take stock of our own results? If we do, what would it look like?

Taking a page from triple-bottom line reporting, it might look something like the graphic below, with the core spheres and their guiding principles, with of course some cross-over between them. As with traditional corporate social responsibility, we’re not legally mandated to adhere to these principles but when we do, we contribute to sustainable well-being of our society and world for today and future generations.

PersonalCSR2

To assess 2012 against this model and set goals for the year ahead, here are some possible questions to ask or examples to identify:

Societal:

  • What specific networking actions helped others? When did you tap into your network for support? (Did you “take” more than “give”?)
  • Did you mentor or provide support to someone at an earlier stage in their career?
  • How did you connect with and nurture relationships with your family and close friends?
  • How did you volunteer or “give back” locally, professionally or even globally? How much time, in-kind support or resources did you provide?
  • Did you treat co-workers, staff and management fairly and ethically? When you had to make hard business decisions, did you take the most humane and respectful route? What could you have done better?

Personal:

  • Did you take steps to optimize your health through diet, exercise, sleep, medical check-ups and other recommended practices? Did you meet (or approach) your fitness goals for the year?
  • Did you feel like you made a viable contribution at work and home this year? Did your efforts make a difference beyond your organization or could they?
  • Did you challenge yourself to learn new skills and what level of mastery did you reach?
  • Did you take a course or tap other resources to expand your knowledge? What were the 3 most important things you learned?
  • How engaged were you within and outside your workplace? At what points did you feel particularly valued, respected or part of a community?
  • What did you do that was particularly innovative or creative this year (at work or elsewhere)?
  • What were your 3 most noted achievements? What goals are carrying over to next year?

To dig deeper in this sphere, you may want to check Eileen Chadnick’s 12 questions to get the jump on the year ahead, which appeared in the Globe and Mail or  Finding Meaning at Work Even if your Job is Dull , a recent HBR post.

Financial:

  • Did you meet your personal compensation goals for the year (in terms of salary, bonus and other perks)?
  • Did you maximize your investment opportunities and take full advantage of RSPs, tax-free savings accounts, RESPs and other financial savings options? Where could you improve?
  • If you had a budget, did you stick to it or where did you go astray?
  • Did you research, compare costs to make sensible purchasing decisions? (Did you pay $100 or more on anything you quickly regretted?)
  • Did you make ethical financial choices personally and at work (where applicable)? If relevant, did you practice good governance at work?

Environmental:

  • Did you reduce, recycle and reuse items within your home this year and if so, how much?
  • Do you know your personal or family’s carbon footprint and what did you do to reduce it in your daily lifestyle? (If not, you may want to measure it through zerofootprint and set a reduction plan for 2013. Alternatively, you can calculate your footprint and amount to offset it at BC’s Lifestyle Carbon Calculator.)
  • Did you support any community efforts to improve the environment? (If not, what is your community doing to reduce its environmental impact and what role might you play in the coming year?)

Put this into a carefully crafted instrument and we could have a personal scorecard to measure our year, as well as identify imbalances and growth opportunities for the coming year.

Caveat: Please note, I’m not a professional coach and don’t profess to be one. I’m posing these questions simply to scratch the surface on how we might want to consider integrating CSR practices and sustainable thinking into our own lives.

Efficiency Links for a Desert Island with Wi-Fi

Truth be told, working as an independent consultant is sometimes like being on a desert island. Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools to make business and personal life more efficient.

Here are my top picks (in Letterman order) and most are free (unless cited):

10. You Send It – When everyone has access to an FTP site except your client (or employer) and you need to send a massive video, conference call recording (done that), presentation or the like — it’s indispensable and free for files up to 100 MB or 1 GB per month.

9. Mapquest – I’m chronically direction-challenged and even some well meaning GPSs can throw me off. So getting step-by-step directions in advance can make my day.  Even with a high navigation IQ, you may still find value.

8. Jacquie Lawson ($12 CDN or US per year) – Personal niceties are good and near the top of the list is remembering a birthday. Sending an eCard is wonderful but your intentions may backfire if you hit them with a ton of ads. This site offers an array of watercolour animations set to classical and original music. Great if you’re a pet lover or even if you’re not.

7. SurveyMonkey – Dependable online survey development tool for external questionnaires to internal peer evaluations. There is a free version but to stop the ‘hard sell’ to your users, the $20 (US) monthly fee is worth it. [As an aside, I’ve just discovered Fanappz for somewhat hassle-free Facebook quizzes.]

6. morgue File – Sounds morbid but this is my site for a good range of free, downloadable stock photos you can legally copy, distribute, transmit or adapt. (You just can’t use them as standalones to profit by.) Ideal for small iconic photos for blogs and Facebook pages (e.g. events) and I’ve yet to see a corpse pop up. And you can make a donation to help sustain this site for the long-term.

5. Twellow – Good tool for identifying Tweeter users (tweeps) that cite a specific topic in their profile and you can use it to narrow to a specific geographic region [e.g. Search: Toronto, Within: Dogs (selected from available topics)]. Wefollow and Listorious are also helpful. None is perfect but you need to start somewhere.

4. Klout – Once you’ve found them, Klout measures the size and strength of a person’s sphere of influence on Twitter in terms of: True Reach (real people followers & friends not robots)Amplification (likelihood their messages will be re-tweeted or spark dialogue); and Network (if their engaged followers are influential). Would I bet money on its accuracy? Definitely not, as it has me pegged as a Montreal Canadiens fan, for one thing. (As a Toronto native, I’ll always hold a candle for the Leafs.) But it does offer some insights.

3. Bit.ly – Even before Twitter, URLs were like octopuses always getting tangled and truncated at the worst times but with the 140 cutoff, something had to give. Drop your URL in the gigantic blue field, release mouse and a short URL appears. What’s more, it can track clicks to this URL and even create a Quick Response (QR) code. (Click Info Page+)

2. Alexa The Web Information Company – Comprehensive tool for navigating the web to find relevant blogs and discover their DNA (inbound links, origin, Alexa ranking, traffic ranking within various countries, etc.). You can even set it as a widget on your toolbar to assess sites on the fly.

1. Snag-it ($49.95 US one-time purchase) – More an application than an online tool — but I keep it open 24/7, so it might as well be. It captures small sections of a screen that you can then “copy” and “paste” or save in almost any file type. (Guess how I made the collage on this post?) Invaluable for copying sections of a reference document or website that refuses to print the regular way.

That’s my list. What’s yours? And what have I missed?

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