Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Perseverance – A Tough Choice in Difficult Times

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Perseverance is defined as, “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. Has there ever been a time in your life when you just wanted to give up on an endeavor you initiated, to throw the towel in? A moment where you wanted to give up on your dreams because the path to get there appeared too daunting? Throughout all of our lives there are circumstances and situations where decisions have had to be made whether to persevere or not. I certainly have experienced those times, and possess the emotional benefits and bruises from past attempted ventures as a result. Two major reflections for me that immediately come to mind were the decisions to persevere through West Point, and the U.S. Army’s Ranger School. Even more significant was the decision to continue to pursue a career in public speaking and consulting after almost losing everything in 1993. The choice not to quit did prove to be beneficial in the long run, but not without sacrifices along the way. Through experiencing the successes and failures of many such journeys, I have concluded the primary factor in deciding to persevere or not is a result of the competition between desire and risk. If desire for your life’s passion out weighs the risk in attempting to achieve that passion and you quit, there is a strong likelihood that you will regret that decision now and/or in the future. However, if it is determined the risks outweigh the desire, it may become apparent to change course from that desire or dream.

Early on in our lives the risks may be minimal because there are less responsibilities to contend with, and less to lose in “going for it”. For example, if I do not have the responsibility of family, or an established career, then the risks to my relationships and financial security would be nominal. On the other hand, the more responsibility we create in our life journey the more difficult it is to have the freedom to pursue a different dream or a new career. Many of us reach a point in life where we are inspired to invigorate our future, aspire to new creative challenges, and potential new careers. Does mid-life crisis ring a bell for anyone? Personally I came very close to destroying the things I had created to pursue a dream I was unsure I could succeed at. I am thankful and humbled for the belief my wife and children had in me to see my desire come to fruition. As a result, their support in the process of the attainment of that dream made the risks less prominent.

If you decide the risks outweigh the desire, a necessary step needs to be taken to alleviate the emotional struggle and disappointment you may experience by not pursuing that desire. That step is to comprehend the importance of becoming more accepting than expecting. I may desire more in my life, but if the risks to achieve that, such as destroying my family, my health and my finances might occur in the process, it might be necessary to forgo that dream. I must become more accepting of the choices I have made and the life I have created. Another advantage to acceptance versus expectation is to realize that if I am never satisfied and always expecting how can I be content and at peace with myself? I am not suggesting you give up on your dreams, but to fully understand the potential sacrifices needed to be made to achieve that dream. A final advantage of accepting rather than expecting is the reduction of stress in our lives. Many of us are high expectation people, and I realized a little too late in life where I would get myself the most in trouble was when I would put all my expectations on everyone else. Well not everyone is like me, and not everyone is like you. When I accepted this understanding my stress declined and I was happier day to day. It was a relief not to expect the world and everyone in it to be on my agenda. This does not mean I am accepting of behaviors that violate my values, or performance that is less than expected, but what I have come to realize is the total benefit of understanding what makes others wonderful. Enjoy new peace in your life when you reflect and appreciate what you have already created and accomplished.



Personal Rejuvenation – An Antidote for Anxiety

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Anxiety is defined as, “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” In recent months I have concluded we are rapidly becoming an anxiety-plagued society. A people overwhelmed with having to keep up with the ever-changing advancements of technology and the deciphering of information associated with that technology. I am witnessing a continually growing concern by many in regard to our social and economic stability. What will the future bring in regard to societal values and the learned social norms that evolve? How will we adapt to the magnitude of technology, and the enormous amount of information we must comprehend? The positive aspect is our access to ever changing events, societal unification, and technological advancements. The anxiety occurring is the result of the competition between the amount of information we must process, and allocating the time to manage that information. This is a classic time management, life balance predicament with the difference being the volume of information we must contend with.

Have you ever been overwhelmed with email, text messages, voicemail, twittering, facebook notifications, downloading, news, paperwork, power points, etc, and having to make rational decisions to boot? (no pun intended) However, do we really need all this information, and have we created much of this anxiety ourselves? I believe we have, and it is a choice to participate in this rapidly changing world or not. I am not suggesting we negate the necessity of information, and do not participate, but I am suggesting when the speed of change becomes overwhelming we must take a deep breath and reflect on the simpler things. Throughout my life I have discovered that the simpler my life is the happier I tend to be, because there are less responsibilities to contend with. Personal rejuvenation is going back to the basics and appreciating the little things in life, igniting a sense of personal accomplishment and peaceful fulfillment. To recognize the quality of life is a culmination of the quality of each day, and each day’s joy is the awareness of what is ultimately most important to our own individual happiness. I have started to pay more attention to the little things and the phases of life that bring joy, reflection, hope and new beginnings. It is those moments that recapture and invigorate personal and professional vitality.

Reflecting on the recent graduations of my children, one with his undergraduate degree, the other with her Masters, I was again impacted how each ending is an amazing beginning. How every phase reached in life, every failure, every success, is an opportunity to revalidate and reenergize the core values that have created who we are. Reflecting on my own failures and successes, it has been the biggest tragedies that have taught me the most about who I am, and have challenged an understanding of the core values, which define me.

Here are five primary steps we can all take to reinvigorate our lives and assist in squashing anxiety, apathy or malaise we may be experiencing. One, establish time to participate in something you are passionate about. A walk to relax, a hike to challenge, a book to be learned, a painting to be creative, a prayer to be thoughtful are just some suggestions to enable us to take a break from the world. Two, look for quiet time along the success journey to reflect and re-focus on our objectives at hand. There is solace in quiet and an opportunity to listen to the inside instead of being distracted by the outside. Three, “do not bite off more than you can chew”, as the saying goes. Realize, we may think we are getting more done with more on our agenda, but the stress of the multitude of tasks will be overwhelming, and the quality of the tasks completed will be detrimentally affected. Anxiety equals an over abundance of tasks plus a lack of quality. Four, make a date to pull out old photos, picture albums or home movies and smile, laugh and reflect on some of the good old times. When was the last time we sat down with the family and reminisced? Finally, reflect on the areas of your life that bring you the most joy and happiness, those little things that make you appreciate yourself and others. We cannot allow our ever changing, rapidly evolving, technology filled world diminish the simple and treasured joys that make life a blessing.



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