Three Little Things: Part 1


So I’d been in a kind of a funk for the past few months. I felt like I was in a good place with my career, but was having a hard time seeing what possibilities lay ahead in the near and distant future. I was also feeling in a bit of a rut when it came to my life outside of work. It was a busy summer of family events so I wasn’t carving out a ton of me time which always throws me off balance. I felt writer’s block and demotivated when it came to this blog and to my freelance work. Healthwise I was feeling a bit lethargic. I found out I need to have surgery (not a big deal) but my insurance company is throwing a lot of hurdles in my way so I’m having to spend a lot more time and money on some preliminary things before I can get it approved. I wasn’t in a great place.

I decided to take a step back and try to focus on me and connecting to the activities and people that I love and find inspiring. I made three little changes and while it’s early it seems to be making a ton of difference. Today I’d like to talk about gratitude which is one of my focuses at the moment.

I just listed off a litany of woes in my life. While I would love to have a little pity party for myself I know that wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t see improvements in my health, writing life, or career. Instead I decided to try to bring back some things I love. I started rereading The Artist’s Way  because I remembered that the chapters were broken into weeks with assignments. Maybe it’s my background in academia, but I am a born student so setting up homework assignments is a great way for me to stay on track with something. One such task in this book is to write down three people who have been your creative champions. These are the people who encourage your passion and make you feel like your art is worth something. Art here is whatever your creative outlet is. For me that’s writing.

I decided to take this exercise a little further and write a thank you note to my three champions. I wrote to a friend I’ve known since college who is among other things a brilliant visual artist. Beyond that, Sarah is also an amazing cheerleader to all of her friends.  She is everyone’s biggest fan and her encouragement is sincere. I also wrote to my former undergraduate Creative Writing professor who is a beautiful poet and my former writing instructor and mentor who is a bestselling author and journalist.

I received a sweet text from my friend Sarah, a postcard from my undergraduate professor, and an email from my mentor inviting me to a reading she was doing later that week. That night was amazing for me.

Sue (my mentor) introduced me to her current students and they were so nice. Instead of a textbook on the art of writing, Sue gives her students a packet with clippings of published work and accepted pitch letters from her former proteges. Her students said they saw me in the packet. I was flattered…I made the book! I also ran into another author whom I had once written a profile about for a local NYC paper. I was sure he wouldn’t remember me. Not only did he remember me, but invited me to an event at the MFA program he is running.

Listening to Sue share her work was inspiring as I always find her work to be. What really got to me though was her responses to some of the Q&As after the reading. She was asked what advice she would give to people struggling to become writers. She said that you should have a job that you love that pays the bills and carve out time you’re not at work to write. This way you’re not dependent on making a living off of your art and you can write what you want.

That’s when it hit me that I’m in a great place. I love my day job and should be focusing my evenings and weekends on the writing projects I want to be working on. I got this much needed boost from writing some thank you notes. Who do you need to write a thank you note to?

 

 

 

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Career development goals for 2016

Black and White Paula

I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed when someone asks me what is your two, five, or 10 year career plan. It is great to have long term goals and dreams, but from personal experience I’ve found that life may throw you some curve balls. You may find that your interests and passions change over time, you might get burnt out from your initial career path, or you may discover a talent that you never knew you had.

My point is to leave yourself some wiggle room with your career. It’s okay to change paths and you don’t have to freak out if you don’t know what you want in your next position. I’m in a great place right now. I love my current job and I’m able to still devote some time to my freelance writing. I’m not thinking about what’s next because I’m content in this moment. That doesn’t mean that I’m putting my career development on pause though. I consider myself a lifelong learner. For this year I decided rather than stress myself out with a plan for what’s next, I’d focus on what’s now instead. I challenged myself to come up with a list of 10 career goals that were doable for me this year.

  1. Publish articles about career development in my field
  2. Learn a new skill
  3. Speak at a conference or on a panel
  4. Develop a network of peers in my field
  5. Improve on my flaws and weaknesses
  6. Find more opportunities to do the the aspects of my job that I love the most
  7. Be an exemplary, selfless, and collaborative coworker
  8. Don’t neglect my writing
  9. Reconnect with former colleagues I admire
  10. Access at the end of the year and get ready to concur 2017

What are your career goals for this year?

Resolutions

stripes

It’s new year’s eve. I haven’t been a big one for resolutions in the past because I feel that a lot of people, myself included set goals that are often unachievable usually because of the time frame. This year though I decided to give intentions for the year another try.

I’m doing it a little differently than I have in the past. Rather than one huge goal for the year, I’m looking at a few different goals for each of the areas of my life that I’m focusing on for this site next year.

Wanderlust: For me you don’t need to have a passport to be a wanderluster. While I’d love nothing more than to travel to everywhere on my bucket list in the near future, I like most people don’t have the time or funds that would entail. If you are in a position where travel isn’t in the cards presently you can still fulfill your sense of wanderlust by exploring new cuisines, cultures, and neighborhoods in your own town or simply opening yourself up to new adventures.

Wanderlust goals for 2016: 

1. Travel: I let concerns about time, money, and other commitments prevent me from traveling when they really don’t have to. This year I plan to take some local trips and am challenging myself to take the time to travel someplace new.

2.Cooking around the world: I love going to restaurants with cuisines from all over the world. I thought it would be fun to add dishes from different countries to my cooking repertoire.

3. Unusual experiences: I’ve had some fun experiences in the past. I’ve participated in a no pants subway ride, gone to James Bond role-playing parties, and even went to trapeze school.  This year I want to make it a point to be on the lookout for more opportunities for new experiences.

Wellness: I focussed on this last year too and will focus on this every year. For me, wellness is health, mindfulness, and balance.

Wellness goals for 2016:

1. Yoga journal: Last year I started practicing yoga and experimented with different styles, instructors, and studios. This year I’m starting a yoga journal to track my progress and growth.

2. Meditation: Partly in tandem with yoga I’ve also begun meditating on a regular basis. I meditate nightly before bed and I find that it helps calm my mind and helps me fall asleep faster. This year I want to make an effort to meditate at other points in the day too.

3. Push myself: When something feels comfortable I’m guilty of sticking with that routine or pace. This year I want to challenge myself to up my game and try new forms of exercise.

Working it: I used to be a career counselor and I still find myself mentoring friends and former colleagues on career development, job searching, and discovering their passions. I love helping others find work that is challenging and fulfilling. This will be a new topic for the site this year that I’m going to put a lot of focus into.

Working it goals for 2016:

1. Projects for my day job: Having the holidays off was a great opportunity for me to recharge my batteries and think about what I should be focusing on this year and quarter at work. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running when I go back to the office next week.

2. Future planning: I’m really bad about looking ahead especially when I’m content. I started a new position this past June and I absolutely love it. I can see myself there for a while. Recently I had a nice dinner with colleagues in my field and someone asked, “Where do you see yourself at 45?” I and most others couldn’t answer that. I do want to take some time to really reflect on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to be in the future and come up with a flexible game plan on how I see myself getting there.

3. Coding: I know some basic HTML, but I really want to enhance my coding skills this year. I work in the tech industry and even as I continue to build out this site I can see how having more coding knowledge under my belt would help me. Beefing up my skills will be a focus for this year.

Life: This topic encompasses several former categories from the site and expands to include other subjects too. In these posts, I’ll cover style, home, entertaining, DIY, and some spinster humor.

Life goals for 2016: 

1. Budget: Setting up a budget isn’t hard. What is more challenging is figuring out what are the priority things to save up for and plan your spendings and savings around that.

2. Home: Last year I was focusing on purging items I didn’t want. There may be a little more purging to do, but I am excited about moving on to bringing in new items and arranging my home in a way that truly feels like me.

3. Style: This is similar to my home goals. I purged my closet last year and this year I’m focusing on adding new pieces that reflect my style and life at this age.

So those are my resolutions. What are yours?