January Resolution: Care

I’m tackling a new resolution each month this year. For January, my action word is ‘care.’ This can take on many different meanings: to care for family and friends; to care for strangers; to care for myself.

I’m going to encompass all three into January, which will focus on random acts of kindness. While I already consider myself a caring person, I’d like to become more actively involved and step out of my comfort zone. My goal is to carry this type of behavior throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

By the time January 31 rolls around, I will have accomplished the following:

  1. Donate used books to a local library
  2. Hold the door open for others whenever the occasion arises
  3. Pay the Starbucks’ tab for the person behind me in the drive-thru
  4. Send birthday cards to family/friends
  5. Donate blood
  6. Comment on three blogs/week
  7. Be polite on the road
  8. Leave five recommendations on LinkedIn
  9. Bring coworkers a special treat
  10. Send flowers to a local nursing home

While I feel like most of these are common sense, they’re often put on the back burner. Not anymore! I can’t wait to report back at the end of the month… where I’ll hopefully be able to check off a few other items as well!

Advertisements

The Short Guide to Finding Your Passion

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold Toynbee

I came across the above quote while reading a blog post by Leo Babauta, journalist and author. I’ve taken his list and added some of my own commentary.

I’m on a mission to be a better, happier and healthier person. I’m dedicated to finding and doing what I’m passionate about every single day. My goal for the next year is to literally leap out of bed every morning because I’m so excited about the life I’m living.

Of course, I’ll need to break that down into smaller chunks… but I think I’m off to a strong start!

The Short Guide to Finding Your Passion

1. What are you good at?
Sometimes the most obvious isn’t always the answer. As years pass, it can be easy to forget what you were good at 5, or even 10 years ago. Was it writing? Drawing? Organizing? Dancing? Teaching? Spend at least 30 minutes thinking back on old jobs and hobbies. Create a list of possibilities.

2. What excites you?
This can be anything. A small part of your job, something you do on the side. Do you volunteer and enjoy spending your time there? Do you like cooking for your family or thinking of fun activities for your friends? Again, this could be something you haven’t done in awhile so THINK! Don’t shortchange yourself. Keep adding to your list…

3. What do you read about?
If you spend time reading it, chances are it interests you. What do you read online? What’s the first website you visit? What blogs do you follow? What types of books do you read? Again- add them to your list!

4. What have you secretly dreamed of?
I know there are several ridiculous dream jobs I’ve always imagined myself doing. Think of a job you’ve always wanted but thought impossible. A novelist, an artist, a designer, an architect? For me, it was usually fear and self-doubt holding me back, causing me to dismiss the idea. Even if it’s unrealistic, continue with the list.

5. Learn, ask, take notes
Look over your list and choose what excites you the most. Read about it and contact those who have been successful in the field. Most likely someone has found a way to capitalize on it. Connect with them through their blog or send them a quick email. Make a list of notes of things you need to learn and improve on to take the next step.

6. Experiment, try
Here’s where the learning really takes place. Start to do the thing you’ve chosen. JUST DO IT. Make it public however you can. This motivates you to improve and gets you feedback. As you continue on this path, your reputation will improve. Blog about the experience. Pay attention to how you feel doing it and ask yourself if it’s something you look forward to and want to share.

7. Narrow things down
Pick three things from your list and do steps 5 and 6 with them. Which one gets you the most excited and produces something people will pay for and get excited about with you? Which one can you see yourself doing for years? Don’t necessarily go with the most traditional career path. Make it into a career if possible. If that doesn’t work out, try the next thing on your list. Failure teaches valuable lessons that will drive your success in the next attempt.

8. Banish your fears
This is definitely my biggest problem: getting rid of self-doubt and fear of failure. It helps to acknowledge it rather than ignore or deny it. Feel it and be okay with it. Even if the worst possible scenario happens, know that it won’t be the end of the world. Prepare yourself and then do it. And my favorite part: celebrate your successes, no matter how small!

9. Find the time
If you think you don’t have time, you’re wrong. Make the time, darn it! If it’s a priority, you’ll rearrange your life until you do. This might mean waking up earlier, canceling commitments, simplifying your work routine or doing a lot of work in advance. Whatever it takes, do it.

10. How to make a living doing it
This doesn’t happen overnight. It requires doing something, succeeding at it and being passionate about it. Having fun with it is the most important part. It’s at this point where you are so invested and so great at what you’re doing that others are willing to pay you for it.

It won’t necessarily be easy. It will require a lot of reflection and soul-searching. And after, that a lot of courage, learning and experimentation. Lastly, but most importantly, it will take a lot of commitment.

But it’s all worth it. Every second, every ounce of courage and every bit effort. In the end, you’ll have something that will transform your life, giving you that reason to jump out of bed. 

Life is Like Riding a Bicycle

Balance

Life is busy. Duh. Whether it’s calling/visiting friends and family, volunteering for a cause, getting your workout in, nurturing your relationship… it’s a lot to think about.

But life is all about balance and that’s the tricky part. When does it become too much? When are the meetings, the workouts, the volunteering commitments too much? And how do you keep it from snowballing into one big mess?

For me, I thrive when I have things to do and a set schedule. I love working to fit everything in. If I have nothing planned out in advance, I’m more likely to spend the night sitting on the couch, thinking I have all the time in the world. Then it’s 11 p.m. and nothing has been accomplished.

The scale differs and my healthy balance isn’t going to be the same as the next person’s. A few general tips helped me find mine and showed me the areas of my life that I should focus on. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you:

  1. Track your schedule for one week. Compare how you’re spending your time against your top priorities (friendships, family, etc…)
  2. Cut out dysfunctional or draining relationships. Life can hit you hard and you need to save up your resources for things and people that really matter.
  3. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish in the next year, 5 years and 10 years. When you see them on paper it will help you map out how to reach them.
  4. Have open conversations with loved ones when you’re struggling. This will not only relieve stress, but offer insight into ways to overcome your rough patch.
  5. Learn to say no. If it’s not a productive use of your time, don’t do it.

I haven’t figured out the exact formula yet and I’m the first to admit sometimes I overdo it. But I discovered what it feels like when I’m about to hit a wall. I know when I need a Saturday night at home on the couch because it’s been a tough week and that sometimes letting loose is scheduling the “me time” I rarely get.

My point is this: Life is busy. It will never calm down and you will always have commitments. That’s a great thing! You have to keep moving through the hustle and bustle and come up with a way to deal with it that is uniquely you.

How to Deal with People Who Frustrate You

How to Deal with Frustrating People

“Insisting the other person (their bad driving or selfish attitude) is the sole cause of your frustration results in (a) your continued frustration at the whim of others, and (b) the situation not turning out better for you next time.

To habitually regard yourself as the knower – the wiser one — in each of these run-ins is to cling to an unenforceable rule that states, “Other people must always behave in ways that make sense to me and are sympathetic to my needs.”“

Always Be Thankful

Always Be Thankful

Mondays can seem like the worst thing ever after an extended holiday weekend with friends and family. However, I realize I can be thankful for one thing: getting back to my normal eating and workout routine! Groceries are bought for the week and my exercise schedule is set.

Also, I should mention I’m thankful for falling asleep while trying to watch Liz and Dick last night. You will never hear me utter the words “But she’s a good actress…” again. Promise!

What Success Looks Like

Image

I’m a morning person. The type that pops out of bed with no alarm at 7 a.m. on a lazy Saturday. From the second my eyes open via my internal alarm clock, I feel like I’m missing out on something if I lie there another second!

However, when I began my early morning workout routines… that was another story. Even for me, 5 a.m. was considered night. With a little pushing, though, I was able to conquer my alternating morning barre3 and spinning classes. I read through some great tips via @KateUpdates and pumped myself up with the help of @MissMissyGlee.. and voilà! A morning exerciser was born.

I’m more dedicated now than ever to my fitness routine, healthy eating and listening to my body. As I get older, I realize that it’s what’s keeping me here. Also, it’s going to need cared for even more than right now as I age! If I don’t get enough rest, if I fill it with junk food and alcohol, if I don’t exercise- I’m ruining it, and I’m stacking the cards against myself. Sounds a little crazy, right?

Of course, it’s not always easy- which is why I love the image above regarding success. When looked at from the outside, it does seem like a straight upward climb. I look at those around me conquering health and fitness goals, and I’m jealous! I think, “How is this so EASY for them?”

But it’s never quite the same from the inside- especially knowing the path I’ve gone down to reach some of my own goals over the past few years. I can vouch that it isn’t always a straight climb to the top. As I said in a previous post, it’s the ability to get back up after you fall, and keep trying that allows you to reach success (however you define it).

Whatever goal you have, don’t get discouraged. Keep pushing through the tough spots. There will be valleys and hills, but once you reach and surpass the goals you set for yourself, you’ll look back in amazement. And the best part? You get to define another new set of achievements to reach for!

When Enough is Enough

I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to write this post. I want to share one of my past experiences with other job seekers looking to break into the PR/media world. Or any job world for that matter.

I am generally an upbeat person, which works well because everyone says to focus on the positive and forget the negative. But I don’t think that’s always the case. If this post can help just one person, then it’s doing more good than harm.

In November 2011, I left a position at a company I loved. However, I recently transitioned into a non-communications based role and I missed the writing, talking and, well, communicating! So when an opportunity came along at the Columbus-based emerging food brand advertising/PR agency, RMD Advertising, I jumped.

During the interview it seemed like a great place to work (friendly interviewers, a dog in the office, couches to work on, music blasting) and I didn’t see any red flags. However, a quick Google search would have helped raise some for me (Glassdoor.com reviews, two blog posts [one and two] from former employees.) The negative reviews must have been brought to their attention, with a recent influx of positive reviews. It’s easy to see the glaring differences between the two. Nobody speaks negatively of a company just for the fun of it.

Below, I will describe what I encountered there. Every day was a struggle, everyone was talked about behind their back and nobody was treated with any ounce of respect. It was unethical, immoral and awful behavior that no one should ever have to deal with.

  1. Lunch break? Think again. You ate at your desk (if at all) while working.
  2. The expected hours were Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 7:15 p.m. You were then to go home and get online. And work over the weekend.
  3. Interns were not there to learn- they were there to clean the kitchen and office mess, and it was normal to hear “I want (fill in food/coffee choice). Intern, go get it for me.” They were talked down to constantly by owners and employees alike.
  4. You were required to listen to religious and motivational speakers on your iPod on the way to and from work, in addition to going into the office early on Fridays and listening as a group.
  5. The owners constantly berated and put down the people who worked for them. It was normal to hear crude jokes, screaming, swearing and yelling multiple times a day.

Here are a few specific events that opened my eyes, and ultimately led me to quit:

  1. One of the owners was late for a media segment I secured for him, after he spent the day before reminding me over and over not to be late. I spent 45 minutes calling him with no answer, and he arrived 50 minutes later. His wife (the other owner) blamed it on me.
  2. We were told to “watch” as one of the owners embarrassed and berated an intern in front of the group. After the intern left the office, the owner smiled at us and said, “That’s how it’s done.”
  3. I watched a co-worker break down in a meeting after we were yelled at for not attending a 5K run that the owners decided the company would participate in (not sponsor, not for one of our clients.) Through tears, a co-worker explained she had family obligations that weekend. The owner gave her a dirty look, told her to “stop being a baby” and said “bring your family with you next time.”
  4. They unfairly docked my paycheck during the holidays, claiming I was new so they didn’t pay out for holiday time-off. I was (a) on salary and (b) had worked through every holiday anyway. After I let them know I was quitting, the owner then told me I would be paid for that time. A huge red flag.
  5. I received a call from my mom one morning on my way to work, letting me know my uncle had unexpectedly passed away. When I built up enough courage to ask my boss for two days of unpaid time off to attend the calling hours and funeral, the owner lectured me on professionalism. I had to beg them for unpaid time off.
  6. On a related note, that same day one of my co-workers, when referencing the situation, told me to “suck it up.” This still makes me sick to my stomach.

I can’t believe it took me 3 months to say “enough is enough!” I resigned in January 2012, with no job offer or at that point solid prospect. It was the smartest decision I have ever made. It wasn’t easy, and I can’t thank my husband enough for supporting me in that decision.

Nobody is going to look up to you for sticking out this type of job. And nobody will want to hire you for having these people as “business contacts.” If you find yourself in that situation, get out while you can and never look back. It’s just not worth it.

Special note: I’d also like to thank my old employer, who provided me with a contracted position on an interim basis after I quit until I found something permanent. Which I did! And it’s amazing.