Tag Archives: post grad

Budgeting Tips For Your 20s

15 Apr

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If you know me, then you know that I’m like absolutely beyond obsessed with saving money.

I mean, I can’t even go grocery shopping with my man-friend anymore because he’s the “just get what you need, I don’t care how much it costs” type…and I’m more like, “hey, I’m going to be here a while trying to figure out which pack of paper plates gives us the best value.”

LOL just writing that makes me feel ridiculous.

But that’s fine…because I’ve got more $$$ in my wallet. Success!

So today, my friend Ryan is talking about budgeting and I absolutely love it because, well…I’m a nerd like that. Enjoy!

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Retirement seems like something so far off into the future that young people rarely even think about it. However, it’s something that people in their twenties should really prepare for financially–aside from medical emergencies, the possibility of starting a family, and/or buying a home for the first time. To save money and achieve any—or all—of these financial goals, here are a few  tips on budgeting for the smart twenty-something.

1. Learn to Differentiate Between “Wants” and  “Needs”

Budgeting requires learning to differentiate between wants and needs. The line that separates a need from a want can be blurrysometimes,but  you’re the only one who can make these decisions. Food, housing, and warmth, of course, fall under the needs category. Things like a fast broadband connection could be be considered a need too, especially if you work from home. But if you just use it for entertainment, then it’s probably a want, given that less expensive options are usually available.

Once you’ve created a list of things you’d want to spend on and need to spend on, then you can start creating a budget based on your income and how much those wants and needs cost. Prioritize your needs over your wants when you make your budget for those items, and don’t forget to set aside a portion of your money for your savings fund.

2. Use a Personal Finance App

Creating a budget isn’t even half the battle. The greatest challenge when it comes to managing your finances is actually sticking to one. There are lots of apps for your smartphone that can help you monitor your expenses so you can stay on top of your money. A quick search on your phone’s app store for personal finance apps will bring up a selection of budget trackers—many of which are free to download or usually pretty cheap. Apps like Mint help you monitor your checking and savings accounts and even help you keep an eye on your expenses which makes it easy to see if you’re still well within your budget at any given time. Other free apps include Toshl Finance and SavedPlus.

3. Review Your Expenses

What’s even cooler is that the personal finance apps mentioned above can often provide you with expense reports so it’ll be easy for you to check which areas you need to improve on.

If your expense report tells you you’ve achieved your budget goals, then congratulations! But don’t stop there! Periodically review your expenses and look at categories you spend the most on. You could be surprised at how much you’re spending on things that don’t seem very expensive but add up over time like impulse purchases and snacks at gas stations whenever you gas up. Reviewing your expenses also helps you find out whether your budget plan is still feasible. Prices of utilities and even your rent can change, so this can help you determine whether or not you need to adjust your budget to meet your current needs.

These are just a few budgeting tips that will hopefully help you out a bit. The earlier you learn to improve your budgeting skills, the better off you’ll be in the future when your financial goals change.

Ryan Del Villar is a Content Strategist for MoneyHero. Ryan is also a freelance writer at Helm Word, an Online Reputation Management company.

So tell me… what do YOU do to keep your finances in order?

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Why We Ought to Take Blogs A Little More Seriously

7 Apr

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For some reason that I’ll never understand, a lot of people in the wonderful world of academia tend to hate bloggers.

Maybe not hate-hate, but they certainly don’t take blogs seriously.

Because apparently, if you’re not published in some fancy-pants journal, your work isn’t  important.

Makes sense, right?!

Well, no. No it doesn’t.

So in response to all the blogger-haters out there, here are a couple reasons why blogs are awesome and should be given all the credit they deserve.

1. They Allow for Thinking at All Levels

No, you don’t need to have a PhD to have a thought process. Brains, people! Everyone has one! So to believe that only those who somehow publish their thoughts in a journal or a book are entitled to USE their brains, is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The awesome thing about blogs is that so many people with different perspectives get to provide insight on various issues. I mean, even kids (so long as they know how to type) can give their two cents on any given topic. And we ought to listen to what they have to say. Because blogging allows for us to learn from ANYONE, really.

You don’t need to be rich to blog. You don’t have to be the CEO of a company. You don’t have to have 53,000 Twitter followers. And you don’t have to have 5 diplomas hanging on your wall. If you have thoughts, you’re able to put them out there. And I think that this diversity in ideas and in thought patterns is absolutely invaluable.

2. They Create the Opportunity for Oh-So-Important Dialogue

You know that wonderful little box at the end of most blogs that lets you comment on what you’ve read? Well, it’s kind of the bomb. Because comment boxes allow us to engage in dialogue.

Communication… Something that a lot of people these days are forgetting how to participate in.

While I’m not knocking journals and books, I think that blogs do provide additional value in that they allow for readers to reflect on things that they’ve read, and then engage in that dialogue immediately. Sometimes readers disagree with what they’ve read. Sometimes readers love it! Sometimes readers decide to share their own experiences, and like #1, this allows for various shared perspectives.

So yes, I’m definitely a fan of the comment box!

3. They Provide Real-Time Analyses of Situations

This one’s easy. Things are always happening. There are issues and problems and conferences that people are attending and new thoughts that are being introduced every. single. minute. of every day.

And while yes, it’s great if you can talk about these things in a fancy-pants journal, here’s the problem…

Journals and books take SO LONG to publish.

With blogs, you don’t have to wait.

You can experience/witness something and open your laptop, write, and publish. All of this in less than 15 mins. Heck- you can even do it from your phone these days! You don’t even need a computer.

And in this society that we live in…where we want updates and information 24/7…blogs definitely help us stay up-to-date on recent happenings.

4. Easy, Simple, and FREE Disbursement of Knowledge!

Maybe you catch up on all your favorite blogs first thing in the morning. Maybe you do it on your lunch break. Regardless, throughout the day, you’re bound to come across a post that you absolutely love…something you know is worth sharing.

Now with a book or a journal, you can see something you like and you can recommend that your friends check it out, but it requires time and money and energy…which let’s face it… few people have these days.

But blogs are amazing because you can share thoughts and ideas in like 2.5 seconds! You see something you want to share? AWESOME! Grab the link. Copy. Paste. Post on Facebook. Post on Twitter. Send link via text, etc. Some blogs have made it so easy that you just need to click a button.

So yea, I don’t know about you, but I’m all about free knowledge. And if it’s simple and easy to access, even better.

5. Connections All Over the World

When I’m chatting with someone from New Zealand, that’s pretty freaking awesome! I mean, I don’t travel often (since I’m poor), yet it’s such a great experience to be able to connect with people from all over the world. Not only is it super-cool, but connecting with industry professionals who happen to live on different continents is also a great opportunity to expand your network. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll find yourself in New Zealand, unemployed, and the many connections you’ve  made over the years will provide you with opportunities that may otherwise not have been possible.

So, that’s it! Let’s stop hating blogs. Let’s stop hating bloggers. Because we all have something to contribute. And we don’t lose anything by gaining additional perspectives.

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Self-Employment for Gen Y

31 Mar

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So I’ve been thinking a lot about self-employment lately. Because naturally, as a creative writer, that’s what us crazy people tend to do. Actually, it seems that a lot of young professionals are pursuing self-employment these days…since…well…there aren’t many jobs out there. Rather than crying in our rooms about how terrible and unfair the world is, many millennials are taking it upon themselves to create their own jobs. Freelancing at its finest. And you know what? Tons of them are successful! So in today’s guest post, Patricia lets us know why self-employment is kind of awesome, and walks us through a few options that you may want to consider. Enjoy!

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 #entitled #narcissistic #self-obsessed #unemployed. Millennials, young people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, are often seen as slackers. Millennials (also known as Generation Y) communicate with hashtags and take selfies. They want to turn dreams and passions into flashy jobs that can afford them the latest Apple gadgets and trips around the world. Gen Y is, perhaps unfairly, condemned for its “me attitude,” lack of preparedness and commitment to the workforce and unrealistic expectations of life gains.

Gen Y isn’t the demise of our society, though. Twenty-somethings are also applauded for open-mindedness, forward thinking and self-expression. Along with liberal views, new perspectives and cultural confidence, the kids of Gen Y are future leaders who just need outlets for their creative talents and opportunities for professional establishment. A millennial can shut down his or her generation’s harsh judgments while earning a living.

The Beauty of Self-Employment

LinkedIn Talent Blog contributor Lydia Abbott empathizes with Gen Y, since she herself is a millennial. Obviously pro-millennial, Abbott shares the characteristics and desires of a Gen Y individual, collected from the LinkedIn Talent Connect’s Q&A: “Millennials: How to Attract, Hire, & Retain Today’s Workforce.” Work-life balance and flexibility attract millennials. They’ve adopted the “work hard, play hard” mantra and have a hard time sacrificing a fulfilling personal life for an advancing career

A freelance career offers independence and flexibility, a professionally kinder word to describe freedom from a tight schedule and stifling office location. Sara Sutton, CEO of professional job service FlexJobs, told Forbes.com that the shift to freelancing is exciting. Young people can fit work into their lives, rather than try to find time for life outside of work. Freelancing also offers collaboration, diversification and career ownership, as well as self-appointed opportunities to make a difference and foster an entrepreneurial spirit.

Freelancers and independent workers account for 16 million people in the workforce, and that number is predicted to increase to 65 to 70 million workers within the decade, estimates freelance recruiting firm MBO Partners. It’s predicted more than half of all employees will work independently as freelancers or consultants by 2020. For a motivated millennial with an appetite for a balanced and flexible career, the following freelancing opportunities can match that Gen Y lifestyle.

Here are some options…

Writer

Gen Y enjoys its self-expression, from hipster looks to blogging. Writing provides Gen Y creatives with opportunities to establish an online persona, independent voice and meaningful conversations. Huffington Post contributor David Hochman recommends freelancers “think like an investor” and diversify. Hochman’s writing projects range from a blogging gig, corporate writing assignments, print magazine profiles, and a personal essay.

Gaming Developer

Video gaming masterminds can now earn a profit turning a hobby into a profession. Freelancing network oDesk connects game design specialists and designers with clients. Gaming gurus can post a profile that markets game design skills, including game development and testing, iOS development, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, 3D modeling, and 2D/3D animation. Gaming platform iWin also develops, publishes and distributes games with its Developer First Program. iWin games can be downloaded to PCs and even published on Facebook.

Event Planner

Professional event planners can outsource their services for community fundraisers and philanthropic events. Millennials who have a hand in work with a greater purpose feel energized. Millennials want to help drive change and make an impact, which ultimately provides intrinsic self-reward and recognition. Freelance event consulting for a nonprofit organization can provide a sense of advocacy and goodwill.

Social Media

Millennials suffer from smartphone addiction and habitual need for connection. A self-employed social media coordinator or community manager experiences work autonomy and social engagement. A social media professional will be responsible for managing and updating social media platforms, according to Forbes.com. They’ll create online marketing campaigns, implement social strategies and publish content.

 Any others that we’re missing??

Patricia Wood is a freelance writer in Phoenix, Arizona. She enjoys blogging about millennials, social media and non-profits. She’s working on her master’s degree from Arizona State University.

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The 5 Most Valuable Lessons Grad School Taught Me

17 Mar

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I honestly can’t believe it. 43 days till I’m done with school… forever!!! There are no words to express how absolutely elated I am. No words at all.  

For the past two years, I’ve been working full time while pursuing my Master in Public Administration degree.

I’ve written paper after paper after paper…

I’ve had more group projects than really necessary…

And I’ve also been sleep-deprived (Dear God I so look forward to getting more sleep.)

So now that this chapter in my life is coming to a close, I thought I’d get drunk and celebrate  reflect on the most important things I’ve learned in Grad School. Because I really have learned a lot.

Not just about my field of study, but about life in general and about my future in the workplace.

And in writing this, I’m really really happy. I’m happy because I DO feel that I’ve learned things.

Two years and way too much money later, it really has been worth it.

1. It’s the quality of your work, not the quantity.

I’ll honestly never understand why some students feel the need to write 20 page papers when the professor asks for 5. I mean, come on… really? 15 extra pages?? Do you have nothing else to do? Some people really think that by writing more pages, they’ll get a better grade. It’s kind of funny actually. Some people think to themselves, “I have no idea what to write this paper about, but if I hand in a really big stack of paper, and write 10 extra pages, I’ll probably get a better grade than someone who hands in 5.” Well…um…it doesn’t work that way.

In both grad school and in the workplace, your teachers and your bosses are more often concerned with the quality of your work rather than the quantity. It’s all about efficiency, people… producing great quality work in the least amount of time. So you can be the student who spends 15 hours on a paper and turns in 15 pages, and yes, gets an A. Or, you could be the student who spends 3 hours on a paper, turns in 5 pages, and ALSO gets an A.

At the end of the day,  who’s more efficient?

It’s no secret that companies want efficient employees. It’s no secret that employers want great-quality work. So if you can find a way to be efficient with your time while still producing great quality, I’d say you’re pretty set in terms of life after college.

2. Importance of time management.

I don’t care if you have the world’s best memory…Nor do I care if you can memorize a whole deck of cards in under a minute. If you don’t have a calendar/planner/phone reminder system, you will fail miserably as an adult.

Like, big time.

Like I mentioned before, these past two years I’ve juggled work, school, my slowly-becoming-non-existent social life, a relationship, a house, crossfit, this blog, and my family.

Miraculously, I’ve managed to keep some of my sanity.

When you get to grown-up status, you realize just how crazy and hectic life becomes.Like, there’s really no time for anything. While in grad school, I’d go to work, then go to school, and by the time I got home, you know what I wanted to do? NOTHING!! Absolutely nothing!

I’ve been living a life of pure exhaustion.

But I’ve certainly found that having a planner helps organize my brain, because without it, I’d have zero idea about what I have to do.

So regardless of how crazy things get, make time-management a priority. It’s super important. Because as you get older, there’s a lot more to your life. More responsibilities, more to remember, more to accomplish. 

But I’m absolutely positive that if you organize yourself you can somehow become a fully-functioning member of society. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

3. Corporate America is very bad at implementing best practices.

This lesson makes me very sad. This lesson also makes me want to punch a giant hole in the wall and the only reason I don’t punch a giant hole in the wall is because I don’t have money to fix it if I did.

But anyway, this lesson that I’ve learned makes me extremely mad. Because I go to school and I read these massive books that are more often than not, quite boring. And then I write paper after paper after paper. And then somehow, throughout that process, I learn things. Through my Public Administration degree, I’ve learned about…you guessed it! Administration! Administration, and leadership, and organizational behavior. I’ve learned about HR practices and what it takes to run a company in the most ethical way possible.

I’ve learned and I’ve studied extensively about what the workplace SHOULD LOOK LIKE.

And then through my work experience, I’ve seen what it REALLY LOOKS LIKE.

Total opposites most of the time.

There’s so much dishonesty in the workplace and there’s a lot of poor leadership. That’s the reality. And it’s hard to deal with in a sense because knowing what I know, there are days when I just want to slap people and say, “Hellooooo?!?!?! What are you doing?!?!?! This is NOT how you’re supposed to do things! That’s not what I learned in my HR class!”

But I don’t slap people at work because that’s also one of the things I learned. You don’t slap people if you want to keep your job.

So what does that mean for us? What does that mean for us recent college grads? It means that we have a lot of work to do. It means that we’re going to see things that we don’t like in the workplace. And really, it’s up to us to do something about it.

Maybe we’re not in the position at this point in our careers to make a huge difference, but one day, when we can make decisions, we’ll need to make the right ones. Because, maybe naively, I still believe that the workplace can be a much better place if we fight for it.

4. People will surprise you.

When you’re in a class that requires you to complete a group project, you spend approximately 5 minutes praying that your group members are smart. So that’s what I did a few months ago and well, my prayer was not answered.

One of my teammates, let’s call her Ashley, had zero interest in the class we were taking. Why do I say that? Well, we had a quiz a few weeks into class and our professor allowed us to use a note card as a “cheat sheet” to write down stuff so we wouldn’t forget.

She was filling out her note card 3 minutes before the quiz.

Let’s see… she also rarely attended class. Then, the day of our group presentation, while our whole group showed up 15 minutes before class…she was late. We almost had to start without her. So obviously, my impression of Ashley was that she was the worst group member ever and that she wasn’t very smart.

A few weeks after our group presentation, we were doing another group project where our goal was to build the tallest structure using marshmallows and spaghetti… one of those team-building, hands-on kind of projects. And as time was almost up, my group had no idea what to do to get the marshmallow to stay at the top of the structure without knocking it down. Point is… Ashley had an idea. And you know what I did with her idea? I didn’t listen to it.

Not a single bit.

Because I had completely written this girl off as my incompetent teammate who shows up late and doesn’t study. So we obviously failed, we didn’t have the tallest structure. And when our professor briefed us on how we could have done better, that same idea Ashley had…that’s what he told us we should have done.

People will surprise you. Good ideas come from anywhere. So you need to be open to listening to them.

5.  Importance of a strong support system.

I’ve had serious panic attacks in the past. Like, I-can’t-breathe-I’m-never-going-to-finish-this-paper-but-it’s-my-own-fault-because-I-procrastinated- panic attacks. They’re not fun. There have been days when I’ve gone to work on 2.5-3 hours of sleep and I look and feel like a  zombie. It’s just like being drunk. Only I’m not drunk because I wasn’t able to go out and drink because I was finishing an assignment.

There have been days when I’ve felt like just quitting half-way. “So what if I’m only 9 credits away from graduation? I’m totally over this.”

And I definitely would have, if I didn’t have such a strong support system in my life.

I have an amazing family that has encouraged me my whole life really, but especially these past two years.  

My boyfriend, who I live with and love like crazy, has endured my mood swings, calmed me down during my panic attacks, and has reminded me that I’m not allowed to stop.

Must. Keep. Going.

So in 43 days when I graduate, I’m going to wear some weird dress/robe thing and I’m going to be handed by diploma, and I’m going to look out into the audience and I’m going to see my family and my boyfriend. And I’m going to feel so eternally grateful to have them in my life. Because without them, I know for a fact that I would have given up. I know that I wouldn’t have made it this far.

Because life in general is just way too crazy and too much for any one person to deal with alone.

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Your Cubicle Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly

3 Mar

So today I’m not writing anything fancy.                  

Nope.

Nothing soul-crushingly deep.

 I just wanna talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while now.

 So here it goes…

 Your cubicle doesn’t have to be ugly.

 Not a teeny tiny bit.

 It doesn’t have to be dark and gray and dreary.

And you know what else? It doesn’t have to look like a prison.

Instead, it can be fun.

It can be vibrant and uplifting.

It can be a reflection of your super-awesome personality if you want it to.

There’s been a lot of research lately about office design and productivity.

More and more I’m coming across articles that discuss office design and how it affects our mood.

So I guess I kind of think it’s important.

Probably because we spend more time in our office space than we do at home (sadly).

And I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time making sure that my home is comfy.

I spend a lot of time making sure that my home makes me feel good.

We buy things and re-position objects that we probably don’t even need and we do these things because it’s part of making our environment a positive one.

Our cubicle…our office space…it’s our second home.

So if it’s killing your mood and makes you feel awful, it’s probably time you do something about that.

I recently started making a few changes to my little lonely cubicle. Now it’s kind of cool.

Blog Design 1

First of all, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a quote fanatic, so I’ve got some awesome motivational posters that keep me somewhat sane when I’m having a really crappy day.

 

Blog Design 2

Then I’ve got these super cute items from UrbanGirl.Com. I don’t know what to tell you… My Jonathan Adler Block Calendar and LoLo Stanley Case… sure, they’re not essential, but they bring so much color to my desk and they just make me feel happy.

*Sidenote: The elephant, even though it’s pink, was bought because I’m a huge Alabama Football fan, so everytime I look at it I get excited for the season to start again.

Blog Design 3

Then I’ve got my shrine to all the important people in my life. Sorry mom and dad, I need to get a picture of you guys too! (Don’t hate me.) But anyway, it just makes me happy to know that outside of work, I’ve got so many positive relationships in my life, and THAT- on its own- gives me even more of a reason to want to work hard. Even though I’m working and I may not enjoy every second of every day, I’m working so that I can have the resources to make more memories with these people. (Because you know, you can’t go out and do awesome super-fun things if you’re totally poor.)

Blog Design 4

 

And then, finally, I’ve got my vacation corner. This picture of me and my man-friend was taken in Gettysburg, PA. We went up there a while back and it was such an incredible experience. Right under it sits my Panama City Beach snow globe. Again, we’ve vacationed there together and we’ve loved every minute of it. So my vacation corner reminds me that the world’s a lot bigger than my cubicle, and it reminds me to try to experience as much of it as possible.

Now it’s your turn! What do you love about your office space, and if the answer is NOTHING, then what are you gunna do to fix that?

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5 Things You Can Do to Fall in Love with Your Job Again

19 Feb

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Some days I feel like breaking up with my job. Big time. It’s not you…it’s me…

Actually it IS you, and I need to get out of here. It’s just not working anymore.

We all have those days. Days when we seriously consider jumping out the window in the coffee break room.

You’re not giong to love your job every day. If you do, consider yourself super lucky.

So the trick is to learn how to fall back in love with it, and today’s guest blogger Naomi Shaw shares with us just how to do that. Enjoy!

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When you’ve started a new job, you feel like the world is at your fingertips. You’re at the very beginning of an exciting new journey, so things are great. But once you’ve done the same job for many long months or years, the passion and joy can begin to fade. It happens.

In many cases, jobs just get boring because of the routine, and it isn’t uncommon for people to feel burned out. But to avoid this, you probably just need to find ways to make your job fun again. Yes…fun.

So use these five tips to help you fall in love with your job again, because you liked it when you first started, and you can like it again.

1. Learn something new that you can use in your job. There are a variety of ways to do this, from going back to school to seeking an advanced degree to simply buying a few books that can help you in your career.

Whatever you do, pursuing interesting facts about your chosen profession can help make your work more interesting and rewarding when it’s starting to feel like you’re just going about the same routine day after day.

 2. Look for a mentor to help you learn more about your career. When a job gets tiresome and a bit boring, it might be a good time to learn more about your profession and what it has to offer.

Meeting with a mentor can help you discover new opportunities to pursue in your current job.It’s also helpful to learn from somebody who’s likely been where you are right now. Bored, over it, and looking for their next step.

3. Question your expectations and set goals. If you once loved your job and it’s just not giving you the satisfaction it used to, there could be a good reason for that. Perhaps you thought you’d have more responsibility by now, or that your role with a company would have changed over time.

Knowing what you expect from your job, and knowing whether or not it’s something you can feasibly work toward can boost your focus. It can give you back some control, making work less of a chore and more of a chosen path again.

4. Knock difficult tasks out of the way first. Perhaps that sounds like an awful way to start the day, but if you spend every second at the office waiting until the end of the day to make that painful call or finish paperwork, you’re going to dread each and every second of every day!

Take care of tasks you don’t like in the morning. You’ll go home after doing things you enjoy more, which can make it a lot easier to look forward to the next day at work.

5.Stay positive. It might sound like silly advice, but simply putting on a smile in the morning and reminding yourself that you used to love your job is sometimes all it takes to fight the boredom and repetition.

Keeping a positive mindset can also help you perform better at work, increasing your chances for advancement and more fulfilling positions.

For many people, work can feel like something they do every day just to pay the bills. But it can be much more rewarding that. Getting your passion back takes some work, but it’s worth it. Because when you’re passionate about your work, you enjoy every day –even the work days – a lot more.

Naomi Shaw is a stay-at-home mom in Southern California. She enjoys blogging about DIY crafts and mommy tips, providing insight, advice and more!  She hopes you enjoy this article.

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5 Easy Ways to Make This Year Awesome

5 Feb

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It’s February already. Can you believe it?

It’s semi-depressing to me, really. 

Time keeps going by more quickly (aka…I’m getting old).

I kind of need to focus here, though…only 11 more months to make this year the best one yet.

So here’s the list I’m using to make sure this year is awesome.

Because to tell you the truth, I’m not settling for anything less than that.

1. Make Time For Travel

If you’re looking for excuses to not travel, there’s plenty. Can’t take time off work… don’t have any money… the kids are in school. Traveling isn’t just going to happen magically, and again, you can always come up with 5 different reasons why you shouldn’t plan a vacation. 30 years later though, you’ll regret not taking that trip.

Traveling is an important part of life. I really don’t think this whole giant world was made so beautiful for it to not be seen. So go out there, and see something. Anything. Even if that means driving an hour away from home to stay at a little bed and breakfast you haven’t stayed at before.

2. De-clutter & Organize

You know that spare bedroom you have that’s become a storage unit? Go clean it! What’s the point of having so much space if you can’t even use it? You really can’t have friends and family come visit if you can’t move in your own home. So fix that. 

Nothing makes me more anxious than when I look at my apartment and see that everything is thrown everywhere and there’s a huge mess. Sure, it resembles what’s going on in my brain, but it stresses me out to no end. When you take time to de-clutter and organize, you eliminate the things you don’t need in your life anymore. Maybe there’s clothes you don’t need. Maybe you’ve got 500 boxes you can throw away. You may even have some people in your life you can do without. So out with the old, in with the new. Make space in your life for things that  make you happy.

3. Stop & Reflect… A lot

We get so caught up in our everyday routine that we don’t take time to reflect on what’s really happening. We just go and go and go and go and then we get burnt out. And then we rest a bit. And then, we repeat the cycle. Reflection is the key to growth, so if we want to make our lives the best that they can be, every once in a while, we need to stop. EVERYTHING. Just stop. And then think.

What’s working? What’s not? Am I happy? Am I sad? Why am I sad? Is there something I’ve been needing to do? Why am I not doing it? What could I be doing right now to make things better?

When you actually stop and ask yourself these questions, you get to know yourself a whole lot better. Otherwise, you just continue your routine- which you very well might hate and not even realize.  

4. Make an Effort to be Social

This is big on my list this year because basically, I’ve become a hermit. I’ve got so much going on in my life that I don’t even have a minute to breathe. And when I do have a minute, all I want to do is sleep. All the time. Forever. Because I’m exhausted. So yes, I’ve become a bad friend and I don’t get invited to social functions all that much anymore. For good reason, though, because whenever I do get asked, I respectully decline. Go out to a bar? LOL, negative. My bed just looks too comfy.

But hello! I’m 23 years old! I need to be social. I need to make a better effort to continue developing the relationships that I have. I also *cringe* need to make new relationships. Make new friends?? Ugh that sounds so stressful. But I’ve got to. So this year, my man friend and I have made that a priority. We redecorated our place so that we can invite people over. Because we realize that without family and friends, life kind of sucks.

5. Find Something You’re Passionate About & Dive In

Purpose. You’ve got to have one. So if you want to make this year 10 times better than the last, try finding something you love and throw every ounce of yourself into doing that. Maybe it’s a social cause. Maybe it’s just opening up a book and reading. Maybe it’s learning how to cook. Maybe you’re lucky and it’s your actual job. Just find something that you enjoy doing. Find something that puts a smile on your face because you’re  doing something good or something challenging- something that requires personal growth.

When you’ve got things in your life that you look forward to, the daily grind seems a whole lot more bearable. So try to find these things, and when you do, don’t lose them. Don’t forget about them. Don’t stop trying. Because there’s so much that we can look forward to in life…so many things that we can experience. It would be a real shame to waste our lives doing nothing.

So tell me…how are YOU going to make this year a great one? I’m curious.

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Why You Need to Learn To Get Over It

20 Jan

I think I have  a memory problem.

I mean, I hope I don’t…but I’m a little concerned.

I have a really hard time remembering things that happened yesterday, and sometimes, when other people bring up things from the past, I can’t remember what the heck they’re talking about.

No, I don’t remember going to that party.

No, I don’t remember getting in trouble that night.

Ashley? Who the heck is Ashley?

So as I’m thinking about all of this while praying that I don’t have some kind of early-onset Alzheimer’s, I realize that although this really bad memory of mine is somewhat problematic, it’s also very much a blessing too.

Yea, it kind of stinks when I can’t find my keys.

It’s even worse when I can’t find my work badge.

But if there’s one really positive thing about my memory issue, it’s that I’m really not capable of holding a grudge.

Because I can’t remember that I was mad in the first place.

Or I often forget after a few days.

It’s a beautiful thing, this semi-amnesia.

When I think about it, I know a lot of people that get upset about things and stay upset for a really long time.

Heck- I know some people who’ve been mad their whole lives.

But that’s really not healthy.

The more I experience in my life, the more I realize that conflict is going to happen.

I don’t like it, but it’s a fact.

At some point, you’ll be hurt, and at some point, you’ll hurt someone too.

At some point you’ll be mad at your family, your friends, your boyfriend, your co-workers- your boss, even.

But that anger and that pain… it doesn’t need to hang around forever.

It’s just not good for you.

So if there’s one thing you really ought to learn how to do, it’s how to forgive and forget and move on.

AKA… GET OVER IT.

Because there’s nothing more damaging to your spirit than holding on to anger.

So if you want to be mad, be mad.

But only for a day or two.

After that, pretend it never happened, and you’ll realize just how much lighter you feel.

And that, at the end of the day, will make you much much happier.

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How to Get Noticed at Work in Your 20s

8 Jan

Coaching_Mentoring

I once had a boss tell me that had she known I was 20 years old when she hired me, I would have never gotten the job.

Nice lady.

But if you know me and/or if you’ve read my writing, you know that I’m a huge proponent of the fact that age has zero to do with success and potential.

I’m sure that there are plenty of really really uber-smart 16 year olds who can do my job better than I can.  So age, therefore, should have nothing to do with the hiring process.

Despite my strong opinion on this subject, let’s face it… ageism exists. People who are older have to deal with it and those of us fresh out of college have to deal with it too.

It’s not fun.

Some people don’t think we’re capable of much. Some people really underestimate our ability.

So here are some things that we can do in our twenties to prove all those haters wrong. Because if you’re doing the right things in the workplace, you’re going to get noticed.

But you’re going to get noticed as the amazing and capable employee, not as the little twenty year old fresh out of college.

1. Keep Your Word

Did you just say you were going to do something? Awesome! Now do it. There’s nothing more frustrating to a boss than an employee who says they’ll take care of something and then doesn’t. Be mindful of the commitments you make and have excellent follow-through. Your boss will be much more likely to continue giving you great assignments if they believe that you’ll really get it done.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For More Work

People -especially us in our twenties- tend to avoid voicing our work needs because we’re afraid that our bosses will think we’re annoying. Regardless of how busy your boss is, real leaders will take the time to listen to you. If you feel that you’re not being challenged, let it be known. If you want more work and more assignments, say it. That’s the only way you’re going to be given more opportunities. Don’t be afraid to be known as the employee who’s hungry for growth opportunities.

3. For The Love of God, Avoid Gossiping At All Costs

Having worked in a big-girl-real-life job for about 4 years now, it’s beyond sad to me how some “grown-ups” behave at work. I mean, it’s really worse than high school- or at least, high school all over again. If you want to get noticed at work as that all-star employee, avoid the gossiping at all costs. Keep yourself put together and avoid any kind of negative behavior that your co-workers are participating in. People twice your age will act like kids- you don’t need to be one of them. You’re a professional, so act like it.

4. Read Up On Your Industry

Read books. Read magazines. Read journal articles. Read at home. Read before bed. Read during your lunch break. You should be known as an expert in your field, and the only way to do that is to be constantly learning. Things change quickly, and if you stay on top of current industry happenings, you’ll be the perfect person to turn to when your boss needs to know what’s up.

5. Be Willing To Do The Work No One Wants To Do

I get it… no one wants to be the guy who takes out the trash on Friday… no one wants to be the guy who works with that difficult client… That new project that seems impossible? No one wants it.

Not a single soul.

And that’s exactly why YOU SHOULD DO IT.

Put a nice big smile on your face and get those things done, becuase if you say yes to those awful tasks, better opportunities and more responsibility will be given to you.

Your boss needs to know that you’re a team player. She needs to know that you can do the annoying stuff before she can fully depend on you to tackle the stuff you’d really love to do.

So hopefully that helps a little! Anything else you can think of?

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My Problem With All This Talk About the New Year

30 Dec

2014

With just a couple more days before the New Year, there’s a lot of talk about making resolutions.

Now I personally think resolutions are great, that’s not what I have an issue with.

Here’s what really frustrates me…

Sure, 2014 is full of promise. It’s a chance to start over or simply start something new.

But as the New Year approaches, we find ourselves making wishes.

We find ourselves begging and pleading…

2014… please be good to me.

And then when 2014 doesn’t turn out to be as good as you’d hoped for, suddenly it’s 2014′s fault. Suddenly you find yourself hoping for 2015…probably sometime around March.

But that’s kind of crazy, because a year is just a year.

What you put into that year… that’s what makes the difference.

You can have a terrible year, or you can have a good year.

Heck, you can have the best year of your life.

But it’s entirely up to you.

You won’t lose those 20 pounds you’re hoping you’ll lose without eating right and exercising.

You won’t land that new job if you’re not working on your resume and sending it out to potential employers.

You won’t make your relationship better if you sit in front of your new PS4 every night.

I don’t know how it happened or why it happened, exactly, but it seems that we’ve come to enjoy playing the role of victim in our everyday lives.

When something bad happens, it’s not our fault.

And when something good happens, it’s only because we got really lucky.

But my question, I guess, is the following: is there any personal accountability anymore?

We’re looking to 2014 as if it’s this magical place of hope and joy…

A place where suddenly we have more money and have better relationships and we’re just overall much happier.

But it’s just a freaking year.

It’s just a number.

After 1 comes 2 and after 2013 comes 2014.

Your 2014 will be what you make of it.

If you put effort into it, chances are, it’ll be a great year for you.

And if you sit back hoping that good things are just going to magically happen to you, then I’m sure you’ll find yourself disappointed.

So use this time wisely.

What I love the most about this time right before the New Year is that it’s an opportunity to reflect on the things that have happened over the past 365 days.

I ask myself a series of questions…

What’s been awesome?

What really sucked?

How can I do better?

What do I need to work on?

What do I want?

But most importantly…

How can I make that happen?

Because at the end of the day, you can make all the wishes you want while eating your grapes on New Years Eve, but if you don’t realize that the success of 2014 is up to YOU, you’ll just be making the same wishes next year.

So make your new year count.

Make it the best one by far.

Make it so good that when 2015 comes along you’re just so damn proud of yourself.

Because you were responsible for it.

Because you put forth the effort.

Because you went after everything you wanted.

And you got it.

Hope your new year is absolutely wonderful and that 2014 brings you the determination to be the very best version of yourself.

Really, there’s nothing better than that. xoxo, Kayla

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