"There are no second acts in American lives." ( F. Scott Fitzgerald )
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The Second Act - take the 7 steps

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , , , , , , , | Add Your comment

Each of the 7 main sections you see in the above navigation menu will take you to the next. They are like stairs going up from ground (failure) to top level : where you will make space to grow and stage your own Second Act, instead of following the script someone else chose for you.

Here’s some good news. Maximum despair is a prerequisite to personal development. This is what psychiatrist Carl Jung believed. This is what I experienced. The Second Act is your chance to leave your footprint. The opportunity to take center stage.

Use your failure as a spotlight : it will point out what is wrong with your life. It will make you realize that you have been so busy climbing uphill during your First Act - building a career, raising a family, dealing with immediate concerns - that you have lost yourself, dumped your dreams and flattened your creativity in the process.

Failure has many faces and there are many ways to deal with it. You need to make your own way through "this sea of troubles". I invite you to explore the 7 main sections of The Second Act. I hope my articles will help you improve your navigational skills : not only to survive the storm but to sail in pursuit of your dreams.


Your first step is simple : accept the fact that your life must change. And take control of the change : it is all about deciding… to decide. Deal with fear and rage, get rid of excuses and of your inner critic. And start decluttering :

  • your mind,
  • your life,
  • your space.
Remember : where there is space, growth occurs.

Understand your values, clarify your beliefs, find out what is really important to you and ask yourself : what can I do TODAY to change my mindset so that TOMORROW I can change my life ? Whatever it is, make it your first goal. DO IT. Build momentum brick by brick.

KEY WORDS : self-motivation.


Getting started calls for huge efforts. You need fuel. Maybe you have no one to comfort you, encourage you to get up, congratulate you for trying to write your own Second Act. You have to learn how to comfort yourself. Practice mindfulness, relaxation, productive daydreaming… And start enjoying your company :

  • forgive yourself,
  • get aware of your needs
  • focus actively on your well-being.
Remember : above all, allow yourself to dream.

Not about a « perfect » life : about an authentic life. Use the power of your imagination to see the bigger picture, connect with those high qualities you have (you do have them) which make you unique – and lovable. What your authentic life would be like ? Visualize it. Visualize the road leading to it. It may be shorter than you think…

KEY WORDS : mental well-being.


Learning how to comfort yourself helps you restore your integrity and rebuild your self-esteem from within. Improving your appearance will further boost your self image.

It is not easy to « shine » when you feel hopeless and helpless. But keeping clean and tidy plays a vital part in the conquest of the two things you lack most when you face a major life change :
  • self-confidence,
  • mental well-being.
Remember : Personal grooming will make your mind feel in control.

It will provide the inner peace you need to start being productive again.

KEY WORDS : physical well-being.


Now that you are ready to shine again, it’s time to get in touch with people. When you experience a major setback you are torn between two impulses : a) you want to stay alone and not talk to anyone ; b) you want to talk with anyone but you feel that no one wants to talk to you.

Well, you are not totally wrong. Some people, even some of your “good” friends, hate bad news; others fear to be contaminated by “failure”; others will pity you while obviously feeling glad they are not in your shoes, etc... You better stay away from them. But, as you will soon discover, other people will prove to be trustworthy and ready to advise you without second thoughts.

Remember : tough times are a good test, revealing who your true friends really are.

So : a) don’t stay alone, but : b) don’t talk to just anyone :
  • don’t beg for friendship,
  • learn to say « no »,
  • stay away from toxic people,
  • open up to new people.
Discuss your choices and share your goals ONLY with non-complainers and true supporters, who can show you how to bring out your best, who are as « goal minded » and as serious about self growth as you are.

KEY WORD : network.


Following the first 4 steps will make you feel resourceful again. By accomplishing some simple, short-terms goals, you have converted fear and inertia into assertiveness. Now it is time to get clear about what you really want, find a direction for your life change, set a long-term goal and focus on it. Focus will help you :
  • put your Second Act together,
  • channel your energy,
  • fight bad habits,
  • finish what you start.
Remember : learning to focus enables you to choose your priorities.

You will make the difference between important and urgent, between movement and real action, between your values+skills and the values+skills others (society, family, friends) decided you should have to be successful.

KEY-WORD : direction


Creativity is not a gift possessed only by artists. According to cognitive psychologist Robert J. Sternberg, it is « the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile ».

Maybe you don’t realize it yet, but you already are more productive, therefore more creative than you think. Now that you decided to fulfill your dream and make your Second Act an act of success, you need to break this major goal into smaller, actionable, segments and take action.

Remember : you don’t have to go by the book. Be inventive :

  • create a daily routine,
  • find your own system of getting things done,
  • look for a variety of scenarios when approaching situations,
  • adapt the methods taught by productivity experts to your needs.
Improve your creative thinking – and therefore your productivity – by identifying your abilities and the processes you use most often to express them. Challenge yourself to further develop these skills. Write down your goals, your steps, learn to manage your time, to set deadlines and to predict+eliminate distractions.

KEY WORD : productivity.


You are now facing the biggest challenge : getting on track and staying there. Of course, you don’t need to become obsessed with accomplishing your goal. But you need to remain aware of it every single day :
  • visualize your goal (on your desk, your calendar, etc.),
  • visualize yourself succeeding,
  • list people you could choose to be accountable,
  • list the good things that will happen when you reach your goal,
  • review your goal at least once a week.

Remember : the journey to your goal is not a straight line.

You will fall off track quite often. But you will also learn to change your frustration into a powerful force that gets you back on track. So every time you will mess up, acknowledge your mistake and use your creativity to find ways to avoid it in the future. Don't let doubts and mistakes lead to disregard for your goal. Use them to reassess your goal and inspire yourself.

KEY WORD : purpose.

Start climbing the stairs to top level ! And if you need somebody by your side to encourage, motivate and hopefully advise you : I am here.

Go Behind the Scenes.

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Visualize your success by dressing the part - Introduction

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , | Add Your comment

Self-growth coaches advise you to "dress for success" in order to make it happen. Usually, this means dressing up to the standards of the dream job or activity supposed to buy you an one-way ticket to Success-City. But dressing for the trip to Success is not the same thing as dressing like a resident of Success : one who has nothing to prove ; who doesn’t need to wear a successful uniform to be labeled as successful ; who doesn’t bother to have the most suitable, fashionable, show-off wardrobe around.

Why ?

Because instead, the resident of Success-City has "it" : ELEGANCE.

I worked for years as contributor, project manager or editor in chief of women’s magazines filled with content on fashion. One thing I know is that "it" is something you don’t achieve by visualizing yourself as the standard achiever. But by visualizing yourself (your unique self) AT YOUR BEST. And isn’t becoming your best self the true measure of success ?

The "fake it till you make it" mantra can be very efficient when your life is stuck. You are in a career slump ; or you have to deal with a difficult family situation ; you feel disheartened, exhausted, anxious… But you don’t give up : you want to make your Second Act an act of success. Dressing the part is a powerful tool when you want to achieve a goal leading to a major life change.

But dressing what part ? I stumbled upon numerous self-growth articles saying : if you want to make it in the corporate world, dress like executives do ; if you want your boss’s job, dress like your boss ; If you are trying to be a dancer in a theatre company... dress the part. I even read that if your dream job entails wearing protective clothes, you should start wearing them now !

By wearing the typical uniform of your dream job you will attract that job, they say...
Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

Right ! You are told by these experts of the "law of attraction" theory that your brain (or part of it) doesn’t know the difference between reality and fiction, between manifestation and intention. So by putting on the typical uniform of your dream job you will attract that job. Ok. Now imagine yourself morning after morning, wearing your tutu or your splash suit, ready for a Swan Lake rehearsal or for an intense workday in your cell biology laboratory. I bet your brain (or the other part of it) will reply : "Who do you think you’re fooling" ?

No, don’t try to fool your brain with this kind of masquerade. While it is important to visualize yourself in your dream job, you don’t need to dress the part when you spend your days working (or looking for work) at home. Of course, the concept "thoughts become things" is not totally absurd ; desire and autosuggestion do have an energetic pull. But not an infallible pull.

When it comes to successful clothing, the only infallible approach is elegance. This is what you need to learn, much more than the ability to choose the wardrobe, color combinations and accessories commonly perceived as status symbols. Elegance is NOT about wearing expensive "costumes". It is about finding your charisma (that personality trait which sets you apart and draws people’s attention and admiration), then expressing it through timeless harmony among clothes, accessories, hair-style.

Think of all the famous people labelled as "charismatic". What do they have in common ? An unique "silhouette". What is an unique "silhouette" ? It is the expression of an unique personality.

Subscribe to The Second Act by Email and stay updated on the release date of my FREE REPORT. Be the first to download it and learn more about the keys to visualizing your success by dressing the part… with elegance.

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5 guidelines for a successful goal buddy system

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , | Add Your comment

Now that you’ve chosen a compatible goal buddy, you will want to get together on a regular basis to review each other’s progress. But, before deciding on the procedure to follow during your meetings, you need to ensure that your partnership will be mutually beneficial. Here are 5 guidelines for creating a successful goal-buddy system.

Use the accountability system only
if you need support to achieve a goal. If you ask your buddy to keep you accountable for a goal you can very well achieve alone, you are wasting his time (and yours).

Trade written material
(specific goal descriptions, business plans, recaps, task schedules, etc.) related to your goals and action steps. And give your buddy every piece of information he or she needs to know in terms of accountability : the reasons why you wanted to achieve this specific goal in the first place, the deadlines, a list of potential problems…

Set up your partnership for a limited time
. For instance, I started to work with a goal buddy on September 15, 2009. We have similar goals : writing a book of about 80-120 pages. We also have the same deadline : the end of December, 2009.

Now, three months are quite a long time for an accountability partnership. But my goal buddy and I know each other well, we have already worked together and have discussed projects or career moves in the past. If you have never worked with a goal buddy (or with this particular buddy) before, my advice is to set a shorter time-limit in order to avoid a drop in motivation on both sides.
Set numeric goals
for every meeting. It is the only way both you and your partner will know you are making progress. For example, last week I told my goal buddy : « I will finish chapter 3 before our next meeting ».

A numeric goal can consist of :

  • Repeating the same action daily for a number of days. For example, writing 1000 words daily for 5 days. Or decluttering your home for 30 minutes daily for 7 days.
  • Repeating an action a certain number of times. For example, getting in touch with 4 people who could provide good advice or connections for your job search before the next meeting with your goal buddy.
  • Doing several actions within a time limit. For instance, 3 actions during the next 10 days : 1. decluttering your wardrobe ; 2. writing the introduction to your new e-book ; 3. making a list of people you should get in touch with to revive your professional network.

Work out a schedule
consistent with your needs and lifestyle. As I explained in 3 golden rules when choosing your goal buddy, you don’t have to meet in person with your accountability partner. You can very well check each other’s progress by phone.

The frequency of the calls depends on the type of goals you have set (which is a good reason why you should choose a partner with similar goals), your respective responsibilities and time zones.

When you select the days and times for your calls, keep in mind that you should talk with your goal buddy often enough, but not too often. Your partnership is supposed to boost your motivation and help you focus, not to become a burden.

You should also agree on :

  • taking turns with your partner : each of you should make half of the calls ;
  • a time limit for the calls ;
  • a procedure if you need extra-support between meetings (e-mails, online chats…) ;
  • a specific checklist (the questions you will always ask each other during the meetings).
Finally, decide if you will include some sort of « penalty » for missing a meeting. I never do it but I know some goal buddies agree on small « punishments », like buying coffee or a beer next time you will meet in person.

While you should take your partnership seriously, don’t forget that the aim of a goal buddy system is to make goal achievement a lighthearted experience.

Go to Part III :
Discover the ready-to-use "Goal Progress Review" with your goal buddy.

Return to Part I :

The 3 golden rules when choosing your goal buddy.

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choosing a reliable goal buddy.

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3 golden rules when choosing your goal buddy

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , | Add Your comment

Congratulations ! You are back on track and confident in the happy ending of your Second Act. Unproductive exhaustion, lack of inspiration, fear of commitment… they’re all yesterday’s papers. You have set new, inspiring goals for yourself and formed a plan of action for achieving them.
You know that sticking to your plan is the key to success. You also know how difficult it is to fight doubt, excuses and procrastination : since you set your goal in private, nobody is going to blame, dismiss, encourage, congratulate you if you fail or succeed. To increase the chances of following through with your action steps, you need an accountability partner – a goal buddy.

First, a brief definition :

A goal buddy is a person who helps you stay committed to your goal by keeping you accountable. He will check your progress, provide positive reinforcement, play devil’s advocate or reprimand you when necessary.

A goal buddy doesn’t have to be a close friend or a member of your family. He can be a colleague or former co-worker, or somebody you only meet online. The important thing is to find a person who not only agrees to be your goal buddy, but who has set his own goal and wants you to be his goal buddy.

Both you and your buddy need to take your partnership seriously and get together on a regular basis to check each other’s progress, set deadlines, review accomplishments – and celebrate them.

Easier said than done. When you go public with your goal and ask your friends to hold you accountable, most of them will say «Great, I will !» and never give it another thought… unless you remind them of their promise. Now, this is NOT what a goal buddy is supposed to do.

When you start looking for an accountability partner, the fist step is to make a short list of people who may fit the definition. The following «do-not» rules will help you brainstorm your list and filter potential goal buddies BEFORE sharing your intentions.

1. DO NOT discuss your goals with just anyone.

Going public with your goal can be a disappointing experience (trust me, I know what I’m talking about), and you don’t need that right now, when your self confidence is still unsteady.

All your close friends and relatives most certainly love you and wish you the best. But some of them don’t strive to reach higher. Some live in the past (« I could have done this or that…»). Some live only in the future (« As soon as this or that happens, I will… »). Some others have problems finishing tasks and sticking to plans… Because of their own shortcomings, their subconscious mind cannot accept to visualize you as a successful person. Even if they don’t mean any harm, these people will try to drag you down and sabotage your efforts.

The keeper. Share your goals ONLY with people who have good results when faced with important choices, who can show you how to bring out your best, who are as «goal minded» and as serious about self growth as you are.

2. DO NOT announce your goal and action plan as accomplishments.

Going public with your goals gives you a «premature sense of completeness». Research has found that whenever an intention is acknowledged by others, your brain sees it already as a «social reality», even if the goal is far from achieved. Therefore, you are less motivated to follow through your action plan.

The keeper. Always announce your goals as challenges. Keep in mind that goal setting is not the solution to a problem, only the hypothesis. You still need to carry out the experiment before drawing the conclusion.

3. DO NOT consider that your goal buddy’s only raison d’ĂȘtre is to hold you accountable.

You must play the same role in his or her plan of action. Remember : you are partners, you swap services, you share your goals. This means you also share moments of frustration, steam loss, self sabotage. So make sure both of you are equal to the task.

The keeper. Don’t forget to be your goal buddy’s goal buddy. Having an accountability partner is like getting two birds with one stone. The first and obvious benefit of this partnership is the extra strength it will give you to accomplish your goal.

But there is also a second, greater benefit : working with a goal-buddy will boost your self-esteem, by proving yourself a reliable team-player, able to provide support to someone else during bad times and to celebrate with him during good times.

Having a goal buddy not only helps you become successful, it makes you feel you deserve to be successful.

Go to Part II :
discover the guidelines to a successful goal buddy system.

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choosing a reliable goal buddy.

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