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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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

5 Rules for Your Side Hustle

One way I’ve realized for me to feel more independent and content with a high-stress job is to have a little side hustle running. I tried driving for Lyft, and I am ready to peel off my stickers and downgrade car insurance. It’s a hassle and frankly, I’m overqualified. I can earn 5 hours of Lyft money in one hour of private piano lessons. Here are my strategies for a little money to pad my rainy day/ sunny day accounts.

  1. Ask what you deserve. 
    There is no better time than when you are your own boss. This work is your overtime, and if you are going to put in extra hours you might as well earn what you deserve. If I am going to spend 2 hours teaching piano after 8 hours of butting heads with students, then that money best be worth my time, because it’s going to take a lot of energy and patiences.
  2. Don’t hate it. 
    You had a food service job in college and it drove you crazy. Don’t go pick up an evening shift at the place down the street! For the love of all that is good, find work that you can at least tolerate!
  3. Don’t let it interrupt your main gig (unless that’s secretly the plan)
    Look, for now teaching provides health insurance, a somewhat reliable income, and summers off. I am not going to jeopardize that consistency unless I have a solid footing for another career in place. That doesn’t mean I won’t explore other skillets and options, but it does mean I won’t pick up any crazy night shifts that will affect my ability to work the next day.
  4. Promote yourself
    Just like when applying to and interviewing for jobs, you are your own best advocate! Tout your skills and achievements loudly and proudly, because you deserve to make gains from your accomplishments.
  5. Schedule on time and off time
    Extra work and money can be a little addicting. When you start lining up your new opportunities, be sure to schedule solid time to yourself. Solid time doing what you love, like hanging out with friends or having dinner with your partner, but also some time to yourself. It’s healthy. You need it. Don’t go crazy with your side hustle.

 

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Money Minds and Summer Saving

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Summer Saving from 3 Money Minds: Teachers in Chicago

Everyone approaches money differently. I like to spend my money, but I am also meticulous about tracking my spending and planning my savings. I log into my Mint account several times a day!

Maybe that’s not healthy.

I recently had a conversation with my coworkers, about financial planning for something that will happen much sooner than retirement… the summer.

We are teachers! Teachers in Chicago Public Schools, no less, and we do not get paid over the summer. Here are three strategies:

Profile 1: the gym teacher   73-512

“Last year, I didn’t save anything. I literally lived off my credit card. I lived like a millionaire, and I’m still paying it off! This year, I’m trying to have something saved.”

Profile 2: the art teacher   paint-palette-board-with-brush-outline_318-44779

“Uhm, I also lived like a millionaire, but I had saved for it. I saved like $7,000 and I thought I would have enough left over to put into my retirement account or something. Nope. Two trips to Europe cleaned out my savings. Get a job. Seriously, get a job, I’m already driving for Lyft.”

Profile 3: the music teacher  musical-notes-symbols_318-29778

“This is my first year, and I made this very careful plan to have $10,000 saved, in case we move or an emergency happens. I was behind my goal, and was planning to throw in my $3,000 tax return in its entirety along with every other pay check. Last week my cat had a medical emergency that cost over $2,000, so… I guess I’ll get a job. And start driving with Lyft.”

If CPS didn’t run through the end of June I would totally apply at a National Park somewhere, or a museum downtown! The other problem is that CPS may end school early… meaning that we would lose several paychecks that we are currently anticipating. Sadly, that means many teachers are working double duty and looking for jobs to get us through the summer.