Coming to Terms with Your Career

I have written about career before, sharing advice for job hunting and running a side hustle. I’ve also written about strategies for resilience– how to just suck it up and deal, whether you like it or not.

I have followed my own advice, especially applying strategies for resilience and enduring the good and the bad. Here’s what I need to do now: I need to appreciate my career for what it is.

The thing that really makes this difficult work bearable is the knowledge that a) this is temporary, and b) I am learning. Those are the pieces that made other challenges so invigorating! I have been reading the narratives of bloggers from before they got big, and how they got where they are. Both Leandra Medine and Joanna Goddard, basically blog goddesses, pay tribute to what they considered a ‘paying of the dues’… really,  just putting in the time and gaining personal experience. What is motivating about their testimony on gaining experience is that this experience didn’t go on a resume and earn them a promotion… this experience lent itself to each woman becoming a self-made entrepreneur.

But then again, everyone’s job, no matter what it is, is hard. Goddard said as much when we talk about the public perception of her work. Everyone’s life is messy and complicated. Whether we live our lives out for public consumption or not, don’t most of us put on a brave face? “All those Pinterest quotes are so damaging,” she says, listing off clichés like, “Love what you do and it will never feel like work,” or, “You should want to do your job whether they paid your or not.”

“It’s called work; that’s why they pay you for it. It’s not always fun. If your goal is to be eternally giddy about your dream job, I’m afraid you’ll never find it.” That doesn’t mean she isn’t thankful for all that Cup of Jo has brought her, but there is a difference between gratitude and happiness. Gratitude carries us through rough patches, anxiety-ridden days and full-out downhill slides.
Quote from Man Repeller interview with Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo.

Beyond just sucking it up and getting through, something bigger has to happen. I know that to reach the next level of my career, and to be best prepared to switch careers in the future, I need to commit. I’m not very good at doing that! I don’t want to commit because this is so hard and so emotionally trying. I’m afraid. I’m tempted to leave all the time. But if I commit, and deeply invest my time and energy, I will be better at it and better for it. The community that I serve will be better served. I may see growth, but if I don’t I’ll also have one hell of an experience to put on my resume.

Strategies to Invest and Commit in Your Career

  1. Step up and be more active.
    Take on a new role and more responsibility in your work place. The more involved you are, the more skills and connections you gain and the easier the job itself becomes. Sometimes this means volunteering for a job that no one else wants to do, or putting in an extra couple of hours each week.
  2. Seek out professional development
    Maintain a growth mindset and seek out the resources to make you better at what you do. Bonus: these opportunities may give you a much needed break, which will ease the burnout. By taking the time to learn and grow in your field, and stepping away from the workplace for a few days to evaluate your own performance, you will return to your workplace with fresh eyes and new ideas.
  3. Try new things
    This is the easiest way to get out of a rut with anything in life. Do something different! Approach your day differently, adjust your schedule, apply new skills within your work. If you can totally switch something within your job, try it! Maybe move from the desk to the field or vice versa, or changing your focus from one specialization to another.
  4. Explore what will make you long term happy
    When you are off work, try a hobby or new career trajectory that you enjoy- something that brings you lasting joy and peace. Pursue your curiosity in other things! It may be an investment in your future career. You may surprise yourself: as we develop our personal interests and break out of our comfort zone (read: pattern of tv and pizza), often other things (like work) and positively impacted.
  5. Invest in the present while planning the future
    Be really awesome at your current job, and promote your success. This positive attention puts you in a position to continue moving forward. You’ll need those wins whether you are trying to grow in your current career or look for other work.
  6. Be a resource
    After a few years in one job, you are able to be a mentor for new professionals. Apply your expertise and feel purposeful in your work by making yourself or you work available as a resource to your peers. This could be done by circulating a resource you developed within your network or online, even selling materials or starting a website. This will deepen your personal practice as you shift your thinking to “What have I learned and how can I teach it?”
  7. Create opportunity
    Are you bored? Annoyed with the lack of community at work? Change things! Step up, because if you want something to happen differently, it takes an initiator. The break room is sad and uncomfortable so everyone eats alone at their desk? Volunteer to decorate it and start a committee to host fun events with the staff! Basically, see a need, fill a need. You will be happier to be there and will be recognized as a valuable self-starter.
  8. Make new friends and keep the old
    Seek and build a community for yourself. Reach out and start new things with coworkers. Does it feel impossible to spend anytime with coworkers? The internet makes it so easy to search for friends! There are book clubs on Meetup, and women’s events on Eventbrite. Ladies Get Paid is a cool resource to find other career-minded women in your area. I also highly recommend taking crazy classes all the time, like rock climbing, scuba, ceramics, woodworking, dance, improv, etc. You will meet the coolest people, and feel deeply connected.
  9. Reach out
    I always forget that other people have/are suffered/suffering through this and forge a path through it. By reaching out to people who have been there, done that, and finding a mentor or comrade in the field, you are reminded that you are not alone, and may find a greater sense of purpose and interest.
  10. Make it worth your while
    Spend your money on what you really want. What brings you peace and joy and happiness? What makes your daily life easier? Don’t waste your HARD EARNED MONEY on stuff that doesn’t serve you. I am trying to buy experiences over stuff, and stuff that has a specific need. Also, if you what you really want is a different career or a long retirement, then save that money. Make yourself a fuck off fund or carefully pad your retirement account and then leave when you’re ready.

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Be Still

Just a reminder* to breathe today. Take a moment. Call an old friend, or close family. Write a letter to someone or to yourself. Do something slow, like making tea or taking a walk. Cry if you feel like it. Or laugh if you feel like it. Appreciate the moments, the fleeting ones that you are worried you will forget, like that unexpected coffee with an unexpected friend. Just pause.

*Reminders for myself

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Pajama Crush

For some period of 5-10 years growing up, every Valentine’s Day my family would have a nice meal together, a special dessert, and then we would receive a special gift. Pajamas from Mom, and plants from Dad! This was a tradition that just… emerged. I think that plants are the frugal version of flowers, they keep on living, and they are easily found at the grocery store, but MAN receiving a live plant always feels like a special gift. And February is so cold and dark there is nothing more comforting than new pajamas! Some of these PJs are inspired by my family’s Valentine’s tradition and combine my affinity for plants and pajamas. Since I am still holding off on personal spending, this is a wish list or hard hint to my family or boyfriend.

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15046629308447098429_thumbnail_405x552Plants on Pink

 

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Speckled pink and a classic robe

How to Take Your Fitness Goals to the Next Level

Okay so I want to climb more. But what does that mean?

While I was climbing this week, I realized that I needed to make my goal of climbing more even more specific in order to make that goal attainable. I realized, once I specified my goal, that I needed a little planning in order to make it happen.

Chapter One

Here is how to meet your 2018 fitness goals:

  1. Get specific!
    “I want to get more into running,” leaves a lot of room to… not actually get into running. Try making your goal measurable, like “I want to run 3 times a week,” or “I want to run a marathon in August,” instead. My climbing goal: I want to learn to lead climb (and then do it outside with my sister!)
  2. Break it down.
    I can’t learn to lead climb until I am can climb harder levels. In order to learn to lead, I need to climb 5.10s without needing to rest every 2 seconds. If you want to run a marathon, maybe you need smaller time goals. “By March I will run a 5k,” or “I will run 3 hours a week.”
  3. Set Goals
    Setting small goals along the way allows you to feed off of the positive energy that comes from reaching a new milestone. This is also a crucial step in maintaining and continuing your practice. If you want to continue your exercise longterm, set yourself small forward-reaching goals every few months. My current climbing goals include completing a set of full pull-ups (I met my goal of doing one whole pull-up!!!) and climbing my first V3.
  4. Get Creative
    It is easy to stagnate in any practice. In order to develop alternative muscles and keep it interesting, alternate your training. If you are doing something that is primarily cardio, add strength training. If you are doing something strength based, through in running days, or a dance cardio class to keep it interesting!
  5. Gear Up
    Sometimes you can’t take it to the next level until you get proper equipment. These leggings and this pair of shoes changed the game and took my training to the next level by increasing my flexibility and stability. Not having to adjust my clothing all the time allows me to focus on my workout without interruption or excuse.
  6. Commit time
    I feel like one of the most important steps for me to accomplish my fitness goals is for me to block out every day of the week that I need to exercise, and what I need to do on those days. It is equally important to find a rhythm that works for you. If you need consistency above all in order to meet your goal, then go all out and don’t make compromises. If you are worried about burnout, plan for 3 days a week with a fun alternative workout thrown in there. Commit that time and don’t cancel plans with yourself.
  7. Plan out every second!
    Once you have committed to the days you will workout, plan out every tiny detail of those sessions. Have an overarching plan, and a step-by-step or goal-based process for the actual sessions. Recently, I had a session planned that started with a strength based warm-up and was followed by a strict endurance builder. If something didn’t work right one day, sit down and adjust your plan for next time. Thoughtful planning and reflection will keep you committed to your goals, and help keep your goals attainable.
  8. Leave room for fun
    Enjoy your workouts! Invite friends on your run or to your class, add party music one day, and have some fun day instead of zero days- go to the gym anyway, but try new things. All of these little celebrations will prevent burnout.
  9. Be accountable
    SET THE DATE. Your running a marathon? Finally doing 10 pull-ups! You are going to try competitive figure skating??! Invite your friends! “Hello everybody. On August 22nd, I will complete 10 pull-ups at the gym. You are all invited to view the pull-ups and celebrate with drinks after!” Make it into a silly/fun/cool event. A group of women I climb with recently got together to make posters and cheer on a friend running the marathon. What a cool way to support each other and spend time together.
  10. Keep setting goals
    After you meet your BIG goal, it is hard to keep going. As you approach your big goal, plan your next moves. The week before the marathon, maybe you know you need a full 2 weeks of rest. Fine, plan that, but plan your first day back. What will you do to get back into it and continue to enjoy it? Be ready to keep the momentum! And plan your NEXT goal. If the marathon felt like a lot, scale it back and do a fun run somewhere. If you’re hooked, try to best your time and qualify for a different city. Maybe you like the variety of a triathlon! Keep pushing yourself to get out and get moving.

A List of Things That I Want and Am Not Buying

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I have resolved not to buy anything that I don’t need in order to survive during the month of January. We are halfway through and I’m really enjoying the process. I think through every purchase with so much more consideration than before. The official rule of a spending diet is no shopping- like, no window shopping or internet browsing. I kind of like exercising the power or look but don’t touch here. So here is a list of totally frivolous, unnecessary things that have tempted me.

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This mug

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This fabric for a quilt or dress that I want to make eventually…

614ak67O76L._SX522_.jpgFile under “unnecessary but fun,” or “emergency sleepover kit:” this set of 11 food-inspired face masks.
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THIS SHIRT. Why do I want this shirt so badly?

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Chelsea boots.

 

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These stoneware meets tinware mugs! It’s like camping in your kitchen!

 

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Ugh. How luxurious. Rose gold makes everything more… dignified.

 

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I would really like this linen/cotton duvet for the spring. Especially with the bed frame I’m eyeing.

 

I really want either/or/both this keyring and wrist strap.

Listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Blue and White Minimalist Photo Background Winter Instagram Inspirational Quote.pngNormally, when we listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we here a short and familiar sample of “I have a dream.” But this piece is more important than having a dream. This is about being the best version of yourself even if you aren’t living that dream. Even if your work is simple, it is important, and it is what you do.

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

— From the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Link Pack: Bread, Books, and Badass Bitches

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Have you every made Friendship Bread? In line with my goal to spend less and make more, I would like to try and spread the love with fresh baked bread.

 

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The #MeToo movement has changed the conversation about women in the workplace. A word from the creator of the hashtag movement here, how to speak up at work here, and honestly, do you have a Fuck off Fund? Because you should.

 

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I look forward to NPR’s book list every year! Here is the best of 2017, and here is a sneak peak of the great books to come in 2018.

Resting Bitch Face is a Defense Mechanism

I was just talking with my sister on the phone, and we were comparing times we were scared shitless while traveling and escaped it. You know, the kind of scary thing you didn’t tell your family about at the time it happened, because they would be really worried about you? We discussed how men literally do not ever have these concerns. Most men never walk down the street with a constant inner monologue of “Will I be assaulted today? Is that old man going to tell me to smile more?” We had an epiphany: Resting Bitch Face is a Self-Defense Mechanism.

And we’ve both used it as one! My sister and I each had multiples accounts of times that a mad straight face and deaf ear might have saved our lives. I checked your previous content, and their are references of RBF sprinkled throughout many conversations about feminism and the general life of being a woman, but this perspective is unique. Of course there are opportunities to link related MR content Do You Have a Resting Bitch Face? and Feminism and RBF, but this perspective is not “what do you do about RBF” or “RBF is an issue with the way men perceive women” but about the fact that sometimes, when you are on the subway alone, you put on your biggest, baddest bitch face because you don’t want to talk, and you don’t want to hear it. Sometimes that angry frown while to stare blankly in the distance is the only way to get a little fucking security and peace and quiet while going about your day to day life. Bitch face is the ultimate Man Repeller.

What Purchase Will Help You Achieve Your Resolution?

Last year I had a tiny resolution of cutting back plastic waste- specifically, get really good at not using plastic bags. Conveniently, Chicago implemented a 7 cent bag tax as soon as a chose this resolution, so I could really justify my investment in Baggus. I bought 3 small bags, gifted one, and bought a large bag. If I forgot my bag, I bought a new one and planted it in my car or by the door. And we probably used plastic bags a hundred times less than we did in 2016.

I have been taking group physical training lately, and feeling stronger with every week. I was having trouble holding my feet still while holding planks, and I was finally sick of slipping and struggling. If my feet slip every 10 seconds, how can I hold a two minute plank? Enter: Adidas Crazy Trainers. I am so stable and can feel my strength. I was worried that once my excuse of slippery feet went away, I would discover that I couldn’t hold these poses, but was surprised to discover that I feel stronger and feel like I could hold these moves all day.

What purchases help you accomplish your goals? Is it a new cookbook? Leggings that don’t pull or tear during your workout? A nice laptop case or new backpack to make it easier to get to the coffee shop and work?

Homemade Gifts for Every Occasion in 2018

Who else is tired of buying? I have serious consumer fatigue. I am trying to take a break from spending, for my economic health and just my general sanity. Here is how I will navigate those gifting situations where you normally need to buy.

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Hostess Gift: Homemade No-Knead Bread

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Birthday: To make an easy favorite scrubby face mask, mix together honey, thyme, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

For kids: Did you know you can make your own temporary tattoos??? It looks so easy!

For soul sisters: How fun to make one of these swing dresses together!

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Wedding: A homemade blanket or quilt, or a homemade woven pillow.
A packet of seeds with a loving note and personal illustration.

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Thank You: Cinnamon Roasted Pecans

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Mother’s Day: Handmade Paper Wreath

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Father’s Day: Your top 5 recipes, hand written.

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Valentine/ Anniversary: Home cooked meal with a handmade card