Success and Other Magic Formulas

“Success Kit. Your second chance in life just arrived.”

I was so excited when I saw this in my email. At last! Instructions on how to live.Success Kit It’s not too late! No more tedious decisions for me. The answers are all here in this handy kit.

Reading further, I see the sender is at Oh, okay. That kind of success. Making money.

I hit Delete. Not that I’m against making money. I like being able to support a roof over my head, wheels and shoes on the ground, the occasional flight to distant destinations. I have figured out a way, by trial and error and about 25 jobs, how to make enough money using my wits and writing ability. I don’t need a magic formula, which usually involves the slippery, hard slope of a pyramid plus multi-level slave labor.

I like to think of my work as making a living and money is just a part of it. There is so much more, from enjoying the small moments to undertaking huge new challenges, taking care of myself and others, discovering each day where I need to do more, or less.

Bikini Body  Sometimes this is not easy. My work changes daily and thus so does my free time for my own writing and other interests. I have to be flexible and grab moments while I can. And sometimes I admit I am tired. Tired of thinking and planning. Thus the appeal of instant answers, available at the click of a mouse. Some examples:

The seven behaviors of successful people.

How to be happy in five easy steps.

How to meet the man/woman of your dreams, not nightmares.

The six foods you must eat to avoid having belly fat. Or is it the six foods you must avoid?

Write a bestseller in 21 days.

The Plan of a Lifetime. Lose 20 pounds, zap up your sex life and make Alzheimer’s a distant memory.

Look 20 years younger with this simple ingredient from your kitchen.

As for the life of the spirits:

Make your own wine and prevent heart disease.

Or (and I am not making this up):

Hire a Certified Soul Memory Discovery Facilitator.

Or sign up for online therapy –

My mouse clicks don’t lead to easy answers. Maybe there’s a mental click if someone else’s success kit sparks an idea. But the brain and heart and gut must engage, chew, digest and even spit out if necessary. There are many, many chances in life, not just one or two. At some point, it’s okay to send these advice messages to the junk mail folder and rely on our own inner Inbox.Get RichLook Younger



1, 2, 3 … In or Out

In sorting through my files recently, I came across a chart I created on one of my jobs. It was a rating system to help me evaluate my job each day and then decide after a trial period, say a few weeks, whether I should stay or go.Exit

These were the games I played with myself while staring at grey cubicle or office walls, or at technical manuals that needed continual revising. Not that I hated the work. It could be satisfying, but frequently the corporate hierarchy found ways to quash and squash my enjoyment. And they didn’t hesitate to rate us. Just like we were first graders, they put us in boxes from one to five, never to climb out. (1 = incompetent and soon to be fired; 2 = lazy ass goof off; 3 = average; 4 = workaholic; 5 = unobtainable super star.)

So my way of making corporate life more interesting and to rebel a little was to rate them. Every day, on my chart, I would assign a value from one (the lowest) to ten (the highest) in several categories, including physical, emotional and intellectual. What was my comfort level in each of these areas? My ratings were:

1 = toxic waste dump

2 = graveyard

3 = dentist’s waiting room

4 = Dept. Motor Vehicles line

5 = walking down sidewalk

6 = sitting in restaurant alone

7 = dinner with friends

8 = reading a good book

9 = planning a trip to Hawaii

10 = beach on Maui

I don’t remember now the exact job where I started this or the outcome, but most likely it was not rated high up there with vacations. If there was any vacation, it was often a forced one.

One WayMost of my jobs lasted less than a year and ended in layoffs or in quick leaps out the door if the situation was really unbearable. One exception was my technical writing position at Xerox, which lasted six years. However, they moved and reorganized us four times while I was there, so it really was like four different jobs.

Except that the rating system never changed. Our personnel files followed us wherever we landed within the company. I’d walk in to meet a new manager and there he or she would be holding my file. She might as well have said, “Hello Number Three.”

Since I didn’t want to work 60 to 80 hours a week, I gave up any aspirations to climb the ladder to Box Number Four and just did the best job I could every day. Some bosses only saw a Number Three, but one or two exceptions saw beyond the labels and expressed appreciation. One such boss loved to take us on team building outings (sailing, baseball games, picnics with Pictionary) that were genuinely fun. Those days came closer to “lying on a beach.” And the days following, back in the cubicle, were less dreary too. That is, until another boss arrived, the lunatic from the dark, dark toxic depths of the underworld.