Have you ever wanted more out of life? Have you ever thought about following your dreams? In The Eighty-Year Rule, author and Certified Whole Person Coach Claire Yeung gives you the tools you need to live boldly and to dare greatly.
Through entertaining personal stories and professional experience, Yeung provides you with the courageous space you need to discover your authentic self, your purpose, and your passion, which seek to emerge from within, so you can make the most of every moment in your life.
With exercises included, The Eighty-Year Rule helps you assess where you are in life and offers steps and activities to help you get where you want to be.
Praise for The Eighty-Year-Rule
"Claire Yeung's The Eighty-Year Rule is more than a book, as it is an inspiring and practical guide to help you live your best life by making better choices along the way. I recommend it highly."
-Robert Ricciardelli, Founder, Converging Zone,
and Owner, Choose Growth
"This clear, concise, and inspirational how-to guide will help anyone press the restart button on their own life and pay attention to what really matters: living boldly and daring greatly. A useful read for those who want to act on their own dreams."
-Norman Nawrocki, Author, Cazzarola!
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Read an Excerpt
The Eighty-Year Rule
What Would You Regret Not Doing in Your Lifetime?
By Claire Yeung
iUniverseCopyright © 2015 Claire Yeung
All rights reserved.
Maybe It's a Virus
Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most define us.
— Deena Kastor
I had been an attorney for 23 years when in March 2012, while training for the Vancouver International Marathon, I got sick. All of a sudden, I couldn't run one mile, let alone 26.2. Bam! I was suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. I found that I had no energy whatsoever. I could hardly get out of bed. My doctor had me tested for everything under the sun. Maybe it was a thyroid issue; maybe it was an autoimmune disorder; maybe it was a virus. No one knew what was actually wrong with me. After six months of endless medical tests, my doctor decided I probably had some sort of virus, which was really code for "we have no idea."
Being an endurance runner made me feel strong, capable and confident. When I started experiencing health problems and lost the ability to run, all of a sudden I felt incredibly vulnerable, like I'd lost my mojo. Those six months made me reflect upon my life's purpose and why I was here on this earth. What was I doing to make the world a better place? What was my true calling? Being an attorney had never been my dream career. It was just a job where I could earn a good living. I was 50 years old and in a job that I didn't love, waiting out the next 10 years for retirement. Wow, how the hell did I get here?
Let me tell you my backstory to put things into context. I was born in Hong Kong in 1962. Typhoon Wanda blew through town the day after I was born. Wanda blew the roof off the hospital, forcing my mom and me to evacuate. This event was a foreshadowing of the tumultuous times ahead for Hong Kong in the 1960s.
In 1967, riots broke out in Hong Kong as a result of growing dissatisfaction with British colonial rule. What initially began as a labour dispute between trade unions and factory owners culminated in full-scale violence. Pro-Communist leftists clashed with the Hong Kong police, planting bombs throughout the city and murdering anti-leftist radio commentator Lam Bun. The violence subsided only when Premier Zhou Enlai of the People's Republic of China ordered the leftist groups in Hong Kong to stop the bombings in December 1967. As a result of the unrest and uncertainty over Hong Kong's future as a British colony, many of the residents of Hong Kong decided to immigrate to North America. I recall my grandparents and parents being concerned about communist influence on Hong Kong and whether the People's Republic of China would take back the British colony before the 1997 handover. This is what prompted my family to leave a very comfortable middle-class life in Hong Kong to start again in Canada.
In 1969, my parents and I followed my grandparents' lead, leaving Hong Kong for Canada. We landed in Vancouver, British Columbia, on April 1. When my parents told me that we were moving to Canada, I had visions of us living in a mansion with a gated entrance, a long tree-lined driveway and a pool like I'd seen in the movies. I was quite disappointed when we arrived at my grandparents' home in Vancouver, a modest three-bedroom house in a quiet neighbourhood — no gated entrance, no long tree-lined driveway and no pool. I'd also assumed that our lifestyle would be very similar to what we'd enjoyed in Hong Kong. We'd had a live-in housekeeper/cook, a live-in nanny and a driver who drove me to private school in Hong Kong. Much to my surprise, we enjoyed none of those luxuries in Canada. Not only were there no more nannies, housekeepers and cooks, but my parents and I had to live with my grandparents after we arrived in Canada because my parents had not secured employment prior to leaving Hong Kong. In my grandparents' modest home resided my parents and me, my uncle, who was in university, and my aunt and her husband, who were finishing their residency to become doctors. A full house!
Starting over in a new country meant a huge step down the socio-economic ladder for my family. In Hong Kong, my grandfather was a banker and my grandmother was an elementary-school principal. They lived in a large three-bedroom apartment in an upscale neighbourhood of Hong Kong. My grandfather owned a racehorse and belonged to the very prestigious Hong Kong Jockey Club. When my parents got married, there were 700 guests at their wedding. The threat of communist influence in Hong Kong must have been incredibly frightening for my grandparents to decide at ages 58 and 52 to leave their privileged lifestyle behind to face the unknown in a new country they'd never set foot in before.
At the time we arrived in Vancouver, my family had very few life skills in terms of day-to-day living in North America. No one knew how to mow the lawn or do yard work or housework or cook. Those were not skills that we'd needed in Hong Kong. There was a huge learning curve on the life-skills front for everyone in my family. On top of that, my parents also had to find work. In Hong Kong, my dad worked in middle management for an arm of the government, and my mom was a teacher. Fortunately, everyone in my family, except for me, spoke English fluently (one advantage of living in a British colony). But my grandfather developed quite a green thumb over the years, growing more than 100 rose bushes in our yard, as well as growing bonsai plants on the back deck. I still remember my first day of school. My parents walked me up to the school on the Monday after we arrived in Vancouver to enrol me in Grade 1. My English vocabulary consisted of about five words. My parents had a conversation with the school principal that I couldn't understand, and the next thing I knew my parents were handing me over to the principal. They told me they would come back at lunchtime to take me home and then would walk me back to school after lunch. They wished me good luck and waved goodbye. I stood there, dumbfounded, and then started to cry. "What do you mean you're leaving me here with this stranger who speaks no Cantonese?"
The principal took me to the Grade 1 class and introduced me to the teacher. That was my first taste of my family's "sink or swim" philosophy. Until lunchtime, I was there in a classroom with non-Cantonese speaking people. I decided I might as well make the best of it and try to decipher what was going on. If nothing else, my parents and my grandparents were very pragmatic people. I would eventually have to go to school, so there was no sense delaying the inevitable. And besides, I would learn English much faster being thrown into an English- speaking environment. Of course, they were right. By the time my parents came back to fetch me at lunchtime, I'd made a few friends and was eager to go back to school after lunch.
Because both my parents worked (my dad as program manager for a non-profit, my mom a teacher at a Catholic school), we continued to live with my grandparents so that they could help to look after me. That was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. I had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with my grandfather, tagging along to the horse races, the bowling alley and for dim sum lunches. He taught me some really valuable life lessons: care about your community, be generous toward others, be kind to everyone and, most of all, have fun. I also benefited from my grandmother's wisdom — and her spaghetti and meat sauce, which she made for me every day after school. When I was about 10 years old, she told me that as a girl, I had to get a good education and then a good job so that I could stand on my own two feet and not have to depend on someone else to provide for me. I have never forgotten her advice.
Fast forward 40-odd years. How did I end up in a career that I wasn't passionate about, working just for the money? As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back at the first 50 years of my life at what I thought was the why behind my parents' and grandparents' decisions, I now see how totally off-base I was. I'd lived the first half of my life thinking that my life's purpose was to regain the affluent lifestyle that we'd enjoyed in Hong Kong. I believed that my parents went back to university to get their master's degrees to further their careers so that they could make more money. Yes, that was part of it, but the part that never dawned on me was that they loved their work and wanted to be the best they could be. My mom is a really accomplished woman. She was the first Chinese woman to be appointed principal of an elementary school in the Vancouver School Board; she had been a lecturer at the University of British Columbia, and she was an expert on teaching children with learning disabilities. My dad loves information. He reads the newspaper, watches the news and loves to amuse people with tidbits of miscellaneous information. He is also one of the kindest people I know.
For me, becoming an attorney was just something I sort of fell into. None of the careers available to business school graduates really interested me, so going to law school was a good way to put off "getting a real job." After law school, I ended up practicing law in the areas of human rights, labour, and employment — interesting enough but certainly not work that I had a burning passion for. The income was good, so I didn't think about whether I actually enjoyed what I was doing. I was totally focused on regaining the affluent lifestyle I knew as a child in Hong Kong. It wasn't until I was struck by my mysterious illness that I started to question the why behind my life's decisions.
My grandparents had the courage to start over in a new country. My parents built their careers from the ground up in a new country. My family lived by the sink-or-swim philosophy. You jump in with both feet and figure it out — no whining, no coddling, no feeling sorry for yourself and, most of all, no crying.
I took matters into my own hands in September 2012 (just after my 50th birthday). I walked away from my six-figure job as an attorney. When I was feeling like the walking dead most days, I simply could not sustain the 50- to 70-hour work-weeks that my job demanded. I decided it was time for me to put my career on the back burner and regain my health. Was it scary? Hell yes! But most of all it was like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It was incredibly liberating to simply walk away and not know what was next. No plan, no destination, just an open road. Here was my chance to figure it out. Sink or swim. I learned to adventure race at the age of 37 and ran my first marathon at the age of 48, so I chose to believe that at the age of 50 I could walk away from my job to find a more meaningful life. The only thing I knew for certain when I walked away from my job was that I wanted to do work that inspired me, that gave my life purpose and meaning, that truly helped others.
Wow, jobless at 50, with no idea what I really wanted to be when I grew up. Definitely not how I'd envisioned my life unfolding.CHAPTER 2
Through the Looking Glass
Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
— A.A. Milne
The funny thing about life is that there's always a flip side to every situation. On the one hand, it was liberating to walk away from a job I didn't love; on the other hand, being unemployed caused my self-esteem to take a huge nosedive. I found it hard to tell people that I was taking a break from working to regain my health and to figure out my life's purpose. Somehow, saying that out loud made it sound as if I were doing something verboten. Not having a job at the age of 50 felt shameful to me. Was I really doing the right thing by quitting a well-paying job to pursue this crazy notion of mine? Maybe there was no such thing as a true calling or true purpose to one's life.
Then I stumbled upon Brené Brown's TED Talk, Listening to Shame. Those 20 minutes changed my life. Hearing her say, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change" gave me goose bumps. As she spoke about shame, our inner doubters and the fear of failure, I got shivers up my spine. When Brown recited Theodore Roosevelt's Man in the Arena quote, it strengthened my resolve to find my true calling:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
From that moment on, I knew I had to dare greatly. Sitting on the sidelines, not challenging myself to be all that I could be, not reaching my full potential, not pursuing my true calling would mean that I had squandered my life away. And that would be tragic! Brown's TED Talk helped me to reframe my perception of myself. There was nothing to be ashamed of about being unemployed at 50. It takes courage to walk away from a well-paying job to reinvent oneself and one's life.
That's what led me to become a Whole Person Certified Coach through Coach Training World in Portland. During my coaching training, it became clear to me that my life's purpose was to be the mirror for others so that they could see the possibilities in their own lives. The one big reason why I am on this earth is to see the best, the bravest, the strongest, the most successful, the most powerful parts of others and to reflect that back to them so that they too can see what I see.
From that moment on, I knew that my true calling was to help others make the most of their lives, to live boldly and without regret.CHAPTER 3
The Eighty-Year Rule
I regret nothing.
— Brigitte Bardot
Whenever she's faced with a decision point in her life, my partner, Vivienne, uses the Eighty-Year Rule to decide what to do. She asks herself, "When I'm 80 years old and I look back on my life, will I regret not taking this opportunity/doing this thing?" This approach has served her well. She's had three career changes so far and has taken four sabbaticals. Vivienne worked as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, then as a shelter manager for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and then decided to go to law school to become an attorney. During her 20 years of practice as an attorney, she took time away from her career to travel Europe for six months on her motorcycle, pursue two master's degrees, teach English in China and teach international law at a law school in Russia.
Becoming a Whole Person Certified Coach was one thing. But what would I do with my coaching credentials? Would I join a consulting firm? Find a job with an organization as a corporate coach? Start up my own coaching business? I had no experience as an entrepreneur and the prospect of not having a regular paycheque seemed incredibly scary to me. Yet, in my heart of hearts, I knew that the only way for me to help others to live boldly and without regret was to create the products and services that would allow me to do that. So, I looked to the Eighty-Year Rule for guidance. Would I regret not taking the risk of starting up my own business that would allow me to live my purpose and pursue my true calling? Put in those terms, it was clear that I had no other choice but to dare greatly. That's how my company The Peloton Group Coaching Inc. was born.CHAPTER 4
The greatest thing is at any moment, to be willing to give up who we are in order to become all that we can become.
— Max de Pree
Holy smokes! The prospect of becoming an entrepreneur was exponentially scarier than quitting my job. I knew nothing about running my own business. But I chose to believe that everything I'd learned in business school and in law school had prepared me for this moment. Those accounting, finance and tax law courses wouldn't go to waste after all!
I decided that instead of starting out by making a business plan, as any business grad or banker would advise, I would start by creating a vision board where I could define what my business means to me in terms of my purpose, my passion, my core values and my overall life's goals. My career decisions had been guided by money the first 50 years of my life. This time, I knew that my business had to be guided by my heart and my soul. Anything other than that wouldn't be worth creating.
Excerpted from The Eighty-Year Rule by Claire Yeung. Copyright © 2015 Claire Yeung. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter One — Maybe It's a Virus, 3,
Chapter Two — Through the Looking Glass, 9,
Chapter Three — The Eighty-Year Rule, 11,
Chapter Four — Uncharted Waters, 13,
Chapter Five — In Your Dreams!, 17,
Chapter Six — Be the Hero of Your Own Story, 21,
Chapter Seven — Your Turn, 25,
Afterword — Life Lessons from My Grandma, 73,