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Nancy Anderson

June 11, 2009, 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mountain, Noon Central, 1 pm EST

It’s Never Too Late to Reach Your Full Potential and Make the Money You Need


Given the troubled times now,  it is not just a matter of if individuals in midlife and beyond should find the work they love, it’s the only way to survive the turmoil that will be around for some time to come.



Nancy  Anderson is a nationally acclaimed career and life consultant and the author of the best selling career guide, Work with Passion, How To Do What You Love For a Living. She's had her own radio show and has participated in radio talk show interviews, as well being a regular guest on a San Francisco morning television show, and live interviews for CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS. Nancy has spoken to groups such as The Commonwealth Club, The National Association of Colleges and Employers, The Learning Annex, Chambers of Commerce and women's organizations like the National Association of Executive Women, as well as churches and other spiritually-based organizations. 

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

The following is excerpted from Chapter 6 in Nancy Anderson’s upcoming book, Work with Passion in Mid-Life and Beyond, It’s Never Too Late to Reach Your Full Potential and Make the Money You Need (January, 2010 by New World Library).


By Nancy Anderson

There are five signals that let you know when you are off, way off the path to reaching your full potential and making the money you need. As you read the clues keep in mind that it is normal to go off course. You are a human not a saint. So don’t think there is something wrong with you if the signals sound familiar. What counts is how quickly you get back on track.

Off Track Signal # 1:  Make money your priority.

            Making money your priority increases the likelihood that you will make poor career (and investment) choices. There’s nothing wrong with the desire for money; after all, you live on the earth and you are supposed to enjoy the things that money can buy. The problem arises when money is your focus. When considering a job, business or creative project your first question is how much money will I make, rather than would I do the work even if I did not get paid (Passion clue #1).

But wait, you say, how about all those wealthy people who live in big mansions? Look at the fine cars they drive, the trips and vacations, the fame and fortune. I bet they are not on the wrong track. I would sure like to trade places with them.

I don’t know to whom you refer so all I can say is you could be right, but maybe not. If wealth is their priority that means the false self is calling the shots. And there is never enough money to satisfy the ego’s craving for more and more of what it craves.

Have you ever wondered why some people get addicted to alcohol and drugs after they have the villa in France, the cars, boats, trips, the power and the fame? Why did material success leave them feeling so empty? Did the view from the top turn out to be a disappointment?

The top is not always the best vantage point; often the most humble among us see people as they are not as they want them to be. One can only speculate when looking from the outside at others’ lavish lives. But if you put love of the process before money in time you will make all the money you need (need, not crave), and you will be rich in emotional satisfaction.

Off Track Signal # 2: Worry about what others think.

            Worrying about what others think is a symptom of the fear of criticism. When you are afraid to make a mistake you ask people what they think rather than listen to yourself. Later you regret the time you wasted on what turned out to be other people’s opinions.

The fear of criticism can be a holdover from adolescence. Many teenagers live and die based on what peers think. When there is no escape from the hothouse of neurosis that constitutes middle and high school, teenagers numb their feelings to survive the onslaught of criticism. Like Sleeping Beauty, they have to wait until the rational mind (the Prince) matures to the point that it can liberate them from self-imposed slumber.

Getting over the fear of criticism starts with asking yourself whose opinions concern you the most. Why are these people so important? Can they harm you if you disagree with them? Do they worry about what others think? Would they desert you if you lost everything? Are they afraid to take the risks you take? If so, shouldn’t these people be concerned about what you think of them?

Think of the people you admire and respect. Can they live without the need for agreement? Do they accept mistakes as part of the creative process? Do they stand up for you when others criticize you unfairly? Is integrity the standard by which they measure success? Do they take the same risks you take? If so, you won’t have to worry these people, unless you betray your values to fit in with others. Even then, they will forgive you because they made the same mistake.

Off Track Signal # 3: Focus on the end result not the process.

Focusing on the end result, not the process is another indication you have gone off the passion/money path. It can also mean you are impatient. The end is nowhere in sight and you are feeling anxious. Getting there is all you can think about, not being content with where you are.

The need for certainty is a basic human need; witness the stock market’s sensitivity to world events. The more uncertainty the more money heads for what is safe as protection from loss. Risk tolerance, then, is measured by the amount of uncertainty you can handle.

To increase certainty set small goals, since that will get you in the habit of succeeding. Before you move on to the next step take time to consolidate gains. When you are not in a hurry you can correct errors before they escalate into disasters. You will also bounce back from the setbacks that are a normal part of the journey to any goal.  

Off Track Signal # 4:  Take shortcuts to achieve your objectives.

Taking shortcuts is based on the belief that there is a quick and easy way to get where you want to go. When the journey takes longer than you expect you look for a faster route to your objective.

Taking shortcuts works in tandem with the previous off track signal; focusing on outcomes not the process, and (coming up next) off track signal number five: taking on more than you can handle. As soon as you set a goal you can’t be at peace until you cross the finish line. But once you get there you set another goal.

Is there a quick and easy way to get to any worthwhile goal? The answer is yes, and no. Some shortcuts save time, like the buttons you click on your editing palette, or roads you take that bypass traffic.

Another way to save time is to ask experts for advice. Those who have gone down the road you are traveling can tell you where you are, what to expect, and what to avoid. However, some experts are not doing what they really love, although they may make a great deal of money, be well known in their fields, and even say they are passionate about what they do. But if you listen carefully you will hear the ego’s craving for recognition and approval.

To make sure who is who when you meet with experts look for signs of over extension: inattentiveness, overweight, bad health, trying to be all things to all people, bragging and addictions. You will also hear put downs of competitors, including you if you are perceived to be a threat.

Helpful experts are aware of their limitations. Because they live moderately they can give you their full attention. After you meet with these people, you come away feeling enlightened and encouraged. You know what you are doing wrong and how to improve. You also know what you are doing right since these experts are generous with praise.

Another shortcut to avoid is associating with people who take shortcuts, financially and morally. Con artists appeal to laziness and greed, the all-too-human desire to get something without working for it. As the circus magnate P.T. Barnum once said, “There is a sucker born every minute.” So beware of people who tell you there is a fast track to success.

You won’t find as many people on the slow path to wealth and emotional satisfaction. But those who travel that road learned the hard way that anything well done takes time and effort.  They can’t be taken in by promises that don’t deliver, or by people whose lives contradict what they say.

Off Track Signal # 5: Take on more than you can handle.

Off track signal number five is the most common cause of misery and defeat. Taking on more than you can handle leads to failure with money, work and relationships or, worse, mediocrity.

Over extension is a collective as well as an individual phenomenon, witness the alarming increase in stress related diseases, obesity, and global financial crises. In a highly extroverted society the goal is more and more sensory stimulation, greed that sends countries and people over the cliff, where ruin awaits at the bottom.

Spending money keeps economies humming along, but spending for what you don’t need eventually destroys you and the economy. Then you work to pay debt and interest, not for pleasure. This creates an adversarial relationship with money because you have to do what you hate to pay the bills.

Over extension is its own downfall, as history has proved again and again. The fall of nations and economies can be tracked back to the day leaders took on more than they could handle, promising anything to their constituents to get and stay in power.

The pendulum swings in every life and nation from excess to contraction, since this is how we learn, or not learn. Given the volatile times we each need to right the imbalance in our personal lives, not add to the world’s chaos by doing more than we can do well. Nothing in excess, the Greek philosophers said, counsel that applies today, tomorrow and always.

Moderation is not the most glamorous way to live but it is the key to balance, collectively and individually. One content person may seem like a tiny step to prosperity and peace. But a balanced life affects everyone since we are all part of a larger whole.

The next time you set a goal double the amount of time you need to reach your objective. When you compare yourself with others, stop. Don’t worry that they will get there before you, or that they will outdo you. They could be taking shortcuts, or someone is making it easy for them. Or (more likely) they are taking on more than they can handle and will soon crash and burn.

When others pressure you to go too fast, too far and too high, laugh and then say that you may take longer than most people to reach your full potential and make the money you need. But by the time you get there you will really know what you are doing.



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This is Dr. Sally Gelardin with Careerwell Tele-Interviews.  Welcome listeners and welcome Nancy Anderson. I discovered Nancy Anderson around the turn of the century when I was  at the Mill Valley library where my daughter was doing reasearch for a high school assignment.  I had just left my full-time job at the university and was thinking about what I was going to do next for work.  I saw on the shelves Nancy's audio tapes and book on "Work with Passion: How to do what you love for a living." After listening to her audios and reading her book (which has been in print for over 30 years and recently republished), I discovered she lived in my county. Though I knew numerous career counselors and coaches, I was attracted to Nancy's approach.  When I arrived at her home office, the first thing I noticed was that it was very quiet, neat and clean, which my chaotic brain at the time appreciated. I found her work with narratives and family influences insightful. Shortly after I met with her I was inspired to write my mother-daughter book, followed by two more books, the most recent of which was just published by the National Career Development Association this week:  Career and Caregiving:  Empowering the Shadow Workforce of Family Caregivers. I usually don't talk about my own work, but because Nancy was such as strong influence on my writing, I would like to exress my appreciation.  Thanks Nancy.


Today she is going to talk about It’s Never too late To Reach Your Full Potential and Make the Money You Need. This talk is primarily directed to mid-life and older workers. For more information on this topic, go to careerwell.org and click on Nancy Anderson  in the left menu.


Now I'm sure you'd like to hear from her directly. Nancy, here is my first question.



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Sample interview questions:

1. Off-Track Signal #1:  Make money your priority
In your exercise on how not to make money, the first off-track signal is making money your priority. You mention love of the process.  I love interviewing industry experts like you, but I do not always love sitting at the computer preparing for the interviews.  Can one love part of the process, but not the entire process and if so, how does one know how much of the process makes the venture worth while?

2. Off-Track Signal #2:  Worry about what others think
You suggest that we think of the people we admire and respect, instead of fearing criticism from others. Do you mean that associating with those you think highly of will make you more successful and if so, how? You also mentioned generational thinking and taking a class in critical thinking and improvizational acting. What do you mean by that?

3. Off-Track Signal #3:  Focus on the end result, not the process
Rather than drowning in stock market speculation, you suggest that to increase certainty set small goals and before moving to the next step take time to consolidate gains.  What do you mean by that?  Could you give an example?

4. Off-Track Signal #4:  Take shortcuts to achieve your objectives
Some shortcuts you do recommend is asking experts for advice.  What kinds of experts and shortcut people should you beware of?

5. Off-Track Signal #5: Take on more than you can handle

Sounds like the turtle and the hare story. You suggest,  "The next time you set a goal, double the amount of time you need to reach your objective."  Could you give an example or two of how that has worked for a client or for a successful well-known person, and/or for yourself?  How do we get rid of mind (and environmental) clutter (use it, love it; donate; give away)?

6. Mid-Life Application

How can all the above work for a mid-life and beyond person who has been laid off, lost their savings in the stock market, and finds him/herself caring for an aging parent or spouse?

7. Summary

How do you know when you are on-track with a client? Could you summarize how you see mid-life and beyond workers in transition reaching their full potential and making the money they need?

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Thank you Nancy.

Listeners, be sure to register for Dan Pink, who will speak on on June 25.  Dan Pink will share insights to pass on to young people such as talent being ovrerrated and that there is no plan. If you haven't already, register at careerwell.org and fill out the evaluation form linked on your call-in email.


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Hello Passion Fan!

March, 2010 is the new release date for my book, Work with Passion in Mid-Life and Beyond, Reach Your Full Potential and Make the Money You Need. As you know, finding the right niche in work is always timely, more so in an uncertain economy, and imperative once you reach mid-life and beyond. The book’s theme is that getting in tune with who you really are (the work of the second half of life) puts you on the path to fulfillment and money. An added bonus is that as you age you get better and better at the work you love to do, making you virtually recession-proof.

I’ll be discussing passion and the steps to getting there in an internet radio interview with mental health expert Dr. Rich Varlinsky on Monday, September 14 at 9 a.m. PDT. If you can’t tune in Monday you can listen anytime after the broadcast. After you get onsite select the program on the left hand side of the page: www.myexpertsolution.com...


Nancy Anderson

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ABC News Interview with Nancy Anderson: Finding Passion in Midlife




DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.