Love & Other Drugs

Social media was flooded with two types of posts this past Saturday: people believing in love and people jaded by love. On one side, there were pictures of flowers, chocolates and jewelry. On the other side, cynical quotes tagged with #singlesawarenessday. So many emotions, so little characters, all for one day!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t phase me; it’s just another day on the calendar. If you’re not in a relationship, then maybe you should focus on the good relationships you do have – your parents, siblings, extended family and friends. Most think of love in terms of a romance, with a significant other. But there’s so many other types of love out there, why limit Valentine’s Day to a celebration of just romantic love?

SATCOne observation: most millennials are good about broadening this definition of love. Generally speaking, we’re not a generation hyper-focused on getting married and having babies. I’m not going to pretend that I know why or that I’ve done research that shows why. My best guesses are we’re more focused on bettering ourselves, finding a career that makes us happy versus makes us money and giving back. Also, we saw how our parents did it and might not want that for ourselves. Or maybe Carrie Bradshaw did have it right, that our girlfriends are the true loves of our lives.

I don’t want to generalize and say all millennials are waiting to get married or have babies. That’s not the truth. What I am saying is that there’s something about the 20 something female that is different in this generation versus past ones. The dating game has changed with the advent of Match.com, Tinder and the like. Also, the ability to Google anyone and anything might hurt our cause versus help it. Maybe technology has helped us create this barrier, this layer of protection, so we can somewhat hide behind a computer or phone screen. It makes us less vulnerable.

I’ll admit dating does intimidate me. I don’t like to be vulnerable and put myself out there. But, as the real lovesaying goes, no risk, no reward. I waver between understanding that statement and wondering if real, true love is sought after. If it’s meant to be, won’t it find a way? Or should I be searching for it on the Internet? I don’t have an answer yet but I do know I’ll figure it out in my own way on my own time.

Either way, however you look at it, wherever you are in the dating game, have an open mind and heart. I’m going to try and suggest you do that same. You know I want to hear your thoughts on this topic! Share away!

Honing Your Craft

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to attend the Training Magazine Top 125 expo and gala. I was one of ten people to be picked as a representative of my company. I’m so glad I was able to go!

At the suggestion of a colleague, I arrived in Atlanta early in order to attend the expo. I’ll admit I was a bit overwhelmed as I walked into a giant room with numerous training and development professionals. I wasn’t entirely sure where to begin. But, I knew my time was limited so I had to make the most of it!

I walked around the expo, looking at the booths and engaging with other professionals. I naturally gravitated towards booths that discussed the use of social media to enhance employee engagement and overall learning. As you can probably tell, I enjoy social media and am interested in how to use it more efficiently. My other favorite part of the expo was the pop-up bookstore that had tons of books at a discounted price. I came home with four new books to read!

The welcome message as we entered the gala.

The welcome message as we entered the gala.

I haven’t begun to distill down all of the information I received at the expo. That’s a full weekend project! The big takeaway for me was the importance of honing your craft. Even if you’re a more junior employee, it’s vital to invest in yourself. Raise your hand and ask for those developmental opportunities! For me, I’m not 100% sure what my craft is or the exact direction my career will go in (no one actually knows this). But I do know what interests me and how it can apply to the projects I’m currently working on. I’d recommend we all take a step back, figure out our interests, apply them to our project and then find different opportunities to build upon those skills.

Later that night, I attended the Training Magazine Top 125 Gala. What an incredible experience! It was

My co-worker and I all dressed up for the gala.

My co-worker and I all dressed up for the gala.

awesome to see other companies who value learning, development and training. It was also a good reminder of how much my company invests in its employees. Sometimes, we are so busy with our heads down that we forget what motivates us to do the work we do. My 24 hours in Atlanta was a reminder to keep my head up, looks for development opportunities that will help me hone my craft while also helping my team achieve its collective goals.

How do you invest in your professional self? Share in the comments section below!

My R&R: Routines and Rituals

In last week’s post, I talked about how stuck I’ve been recently. One way I’ve be able to start taking baby steps forward is using the routines I previously had in place. They’re familiar, comfortable and have made each day easier. But why are routines and rituals so important?

Most of us have routines in place unintentionally. If you catch same train every day or brush your teeth before bed, you have an established routine. Those are unconscious decisions we’ve made for a while. The routines that are more important are the ones we intentionally decide to implement in our lives.

My friend and creator of more happy hours, Jullien Gordon was the person who got me thinking about intentional routines and rituals over two years ago. At the beginning of each year, Jullien creates his New Year Guide, which allows people to focus on goals in each area of their lives. He helps people dive deeper in how they’ll achieve the goal, what obstacles they’ll face and how to implement more consistent routines in their lives.

RoutinesI just finished filling out my guide last night and was completely energized by it. There’s something about writing down aspirations for the future and your plan for achieving them that excites me. During this process, I was reminded of how chosen routines will help me along. For example, I’m running (hopefully not trotting) Mudderella this summer with my super talented runner friend. I’m totally intimidated and know training more regularly is a must. So I thought about what I could intentionally do to ensure I stick to a training plan. Some of my thoughts included:

  • Telling as many people as possible about the race. These people then will help to hold me accountable and will hopefully check in to see how I’m progressing
  • Starting smart and pacing myself. I’m not going to be able to run five miles immediately. It’s more about setting realistic goals, like running for 30 minutes twice a week and gradually increasing from there
  • Thinking about the big picture. So it’s not just about running since there are obstacles included in this race. Eating better and meal prepping will help; so will strength training. One routine I wanted to start that’s been a struggle is doing a bit of strength training in the morning before I get ready for work. No matter what I tell myself or how early I set my alarm, I haven’t been able to jump start this one. Any ideas you have to help are appreciated.

You can apply my tips listed above to implementing any new routine. You also shouldn’t try to create a bunch of new routines at once. You’re going to be so focused on getting each one perfected that they won’t stick. Like with most everything else, it’s a balancing act. Give yourself permission to mess up a routine once in a while. Getting frustrated isn’t going to help.

Ultimately, routines and rituals energize you and help create consistently across all aspects of your life. Believing in and harnessing their power will absolutely help you achieve your goals. Share some of your favorite routines or rituals on the comments section!

Upside Down

I started January 2015 with a brand new planner, a series of written-out resolutions and a game plan to make this year the best one yet. Full of good intentions, I resurrected my workout routine and meal prepping, determined to be healthier and happier in 2015.

Then, two weeks into this glorious new year, my world was turned upside down. A loved one passed away. Unfortunately, I know I’m not the first one to experience this and certainly won’t be the last. No matter how much you prepare, even the most type-A person doesn’t know what to do. Plans go out the window. You forgot what the word routine even means. You’re frozen, paralyzed  with a variety of emotions, unsure of how to get yourself unstuck. It’s a very weird place to be.

GreifSo you go through the motions, you say goodbye, then you’re left at home with more food and flowers than Whole Foods. Now what? Yeah, I can’t answer that question for you. I barely can answer it for myself. The few things I do know include:

  • You have to grieve. That’s going to look different for each person. But cry if you need to, yell if you must. Go through pictures and talk about your loved one. Do whatever you need to so you can accept this loss.
  • Listen to your body. True, there is some level of forcing yourself out of the rut you’re in, but your body will tell you what it needs. After a week of Italian cold cuts, my body told me to find a salad!
  • It’s going to look different for each person. When a loved ones dies, those who remain will react in a variety of ways. No two reactions are going to be the same. Just like you have to grieve, so does everyone else.
  • It’s ok to be upside down. Literally, that’s how I’ve felt the last couple of weeks. My mind would wander, I’d experience a wave of emotions all at once. For me, this is not how I operate. I have a schedule, a plan, for each day. Going rouge is not my thing. But, this is a traumatic experience, so I gave myself the permission to go off the grid. This is not an everyday occurrence, so your everyday gameplay won’t work.

I think I’m back to normal. I feel better than I did a week ago and assume I’ll feel even better in a month. This is the new normal and accepting that is the only way to move forward. Having concrete routines in place before all of this did help get me back on track. More about the importance of routines and how to develop them in my next post!

Don’t Talk About It, Be About It

Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to attend an event called P3: People, Purpose and Possibilities. When I signed up, I wasn’t entirely sure what the day would bring. Let’s just say I haven’t felt this inspired in a while.

Throughout the day, we heard from numerous speakers who had a variety of experiences. Robert

Dear World Meaning

The guidelines for all Dear World pictures

Fogary, spoke to us about his Dear World project and humans’ desire to be heard. Aaron Hurst from Taproot, talked about aligning purpose with career, how all work should feel like pro bono work and that purpose is a choice we make daily. Kai Kight, a violinist, wowed us with his amazing rendition of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. He talked about ignoring the standard and creating your own path, writing the songs of the future versus playing someone else’s songs of the past. Nadine Burke-Harris, founder of Center for Youth Wellness, spoke about adverse situations impact children’s’ health, that being in chronic fight or flight leads to major health problems. As you can see, we heard from a variety of people, too many to name, who each defined purpose differently.

I’ll admit, I left feeling inspired but not sure what to do with the wealth of information I just received. It took me time to process everything I heard and create an action plan or purpose statement. We will get to that but below are my biggest takeaways from the event.

  • One of the PwC directors reminded us that finding your purpose is a journey. It is okay to not be 100% certain about your purpose statement, especially if you are younger in your career. I’m glad she mentioned that because I’m not entirely sure but plan to be more self-conscious about my purpose across all aspects of my life.
  • I know my company invests in their employees but this event was the reminder I needed. Not many companies let you spend a day in reflection around what your purpose is and how it aligns to the company’s purpose.
  • Another PwC director put purpose in the context of “what do you want to be remembered for?” That’s a big question that could cause some to be overwhelmed. If you think of that question each morning and keep it in the back of your mind during the day, you’ll create a life driven by what you believe in versus just going through the motions.
  • Aaron Hurst gave us a few examples of where purpose could come from including relationships, something greater than yourself and personal growth/challenges. Again, I drilled this down to the daily interactions I have that align with what I believe my purpose to be. It’s also about stretching yourself to try new things that could inspire others. Andrew Yang from Venture for America also said there’s no courage or challenge without risk. For me, risk makes me a bit anxious so what he said really resonated. Without any risk or new experiences, you become complacent.
  • Another PwC director reminded us that our purpose, whatever it is, should be evident across all of life’s domains. So you should bring your purpose to work, to your community and to your personal relationships. If you feel like your work isn’t meaningful, talk to someone about how to change that.

After some reflection, here is my current purpose statement: I want to positively impact people and live an authentic life. I know this will evolve over time and plan to review it often. I’ve been trying to keep this in mind at the start of each day. Some days are easier than others. When I think about my job and how this is applicable, I think about each interaction I have: something as small as a thank you email or happily answering a question. Those small things matter and are a part of the bigger picture.

Dear World PicAs for the authentic piece, take a look at the picture to the left. That is my Dear World picture, which is intended to convey my story to the world. For me, I don’t want to just say I believe in something, I want my actions to speak volumes. Saying you believe in something is much different from actually going out there and living out your values. I want to show up as my authentic self, every day in every aspect of my life. Part of this is being more intentional with my time. If I say blogging or exercising is a priority, then I must intentionally dedicate my time to those activities. If at work, I say having an eye for detail is important, then I need to spend time reviewing each aspect of my projects.

Knowing your purpose and applying it to daily life isn’t easy. You won’t always get it right. But I challenge you to think more about it and your values. Please share your purpose statements in the comments section!

Little “A” Moments

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.

During one of our team meetings at work, a colleague asked us to share a great adventure we’ve had. She explained that it could be a little “A” adventure instead of a big “A” adventure. This icebreaker inspired me to participate in Jess Lawlor’s second Get Gutsy essay content.

What I’ve realized after a year of reflection is that getting gutsy or stepping outside of your comfort zone comes in many forms, some grand obstacles that you overcome (like running my first 5K last year) or smaller, more personal moments. For me, all of them can be described as adventures.

All of these adventures happened towards the end of my 2014. It was like the universe knew I’d need material for this essay contest! But regardless of the contest, I hope you’ll see your own meaningful moments that push you outside of your comfort zone and can happen in the most ordinary of circumstances. These are my moments, adventures that defined getting gutsy.

  • Leading someone more senior than me at work – So this is probably fairly common. I was given a responsibility to train and mentor people at work who have more experience than me. At first, I was a bit intimidated, but I realized that I was more experienced in the subject so it made logical sense for me to train them. Also, these individuals were so open to it, which really helped me. How this is my getting gutsy: I overcame initial intimidation to achieve a team goal.
  • rock wallClimbing a rock wall – For almost a year now, I’ve been saying I was going to climb this particular rock wall. This past November happened to be the time I chose to do it. My first attempt was a train wreck: I only got half way up before I started panicking, shaking and eventually giving up. My co-workers were at the bottom trying to cheer me on, but that just increased my anxiety level. I ended up yelling at them (no bueno) and walking away. I changed my strategy for the second round and had only one person, who was coaching me at the bottom. I rang the bell (proof to the left!) and was SO ecstatic that I did it. How this is my getting gutsy: I overcame my anxiety and fear of failure to complete a personal goal.
  • Going to church where they only speak Spanish: While visiting my friend in California this November, I attended church with her and her family. I think of this as a privilege so I tried really hard to not show that I was nervous. First off, this type of church was completely different from anything I had ever experienced. Second, the entire 90 minutes was in Spanish. Now, I can understand some Spanish and can kind of speak it (on a good day). But I always get really nervous of messing up, especially when with native Spanish speakers. I managed to gleam a couple of provoking thoughts from the mass and by the end, I really enjoyed myself. How this is my getting gutsy: I embraced a completely different setting despite being nervous and ended up learning a lot.
  • Watching a loved one get sick – In the last month, I’ve watched someone very close to me get very sick very quickly. It’s sad, scary, painful and paralyzing all at the same time. But, I go, I visit, I read and pray. Some days, I feed or make jokes or sing songs. I do anything to make this person smile. Most days, I dread walking into the room, wondering if this time is the last. But, this is bigger than me, than any of us. How this is my getting gutsy: Being selfless and sacrificing is the best way to be pulled out of your comfort zone.

I walked into 2014 eyes wide open, excited at all of the possibilities this year that to offer. The possibilities and lessons were endless and certainly caused me to grow up. The biggest lesson of them all: little “A” moments sometimes teach us the biggest lessons that put us so far outside our comfort zones that we don’t recognize our old selves. I leave you with one of my favorite songs of 2014 that truly captures all of my getting gutsy moments this year.

Peace Out 2014

Hey there, long time no write! I feel like I’m virtually dusting off this blog in order to write this post. I’m almost embarrassed that it’s been three months since my last entry. But, no use dwelling on the past, let’s look to the future.

It’s that time of year again when we all write down resolutions, renew the gym membership and swear we’re going to make this year the best one yet. Well, that’s wonderful but it’s something we should be doing all year-long, not just in January. So while I wasn’t blogging as much this year, I was:

– Developing my personal brand at work. As a young professional new to my role, I had the perfect opportunity during the last year to build my brand and network. I think I’ve done a fairly good job of that. Now it’s time to refine and focus on specific areas of interest.

– Volunteering. This was a big theme for me in 2014. I coached my brother’s little league team this spring. I also taught grammar school through a program at work and became a big sister through Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I find dedicating your time versus your money to be so rewarding.

– Traveling. I mean, we’ve discussed this already. California, Colorado, Chicago, Myrtle Beach, Florida, Philly (my second home) and the big ones: London and Paris. How many 20-somethings have that list of travel on their resume in just one year?! Not many is the answer. Traveling, whether it be for work or for pleasure, broadened my perspective and gave me some unforgettable memories.

– Sweating it. Exercise played a big role in 2014. I refound my love for Zumba and created a mini family there. I also stretched myself both literally and figuratively during yoga and continued to run, completing five races in 2014. While all the weight hasn’t fallen off, I do feel better both physically and mentally.

Looking back, 2014 was pretty awesome. I learned a lot, grew in ways I didn’t know possible and kind of, sort of figured out a plan for the future. A couple of areas I hope to focus on in 2015 are:

– More travel! Shocking, I know! The first vacation of 2015 is already in the works. I also plan to take more advantage of my work trips. Travel is just good for the soul.

– Being more mindful. This is going to be in all areas of my life. I’ll share more about how this is going to happen later with a book review. But, generally, I want to focus more and be reaching my maximum potential at all time (or almost all the time). What does being at my best look like? That’s the big question for 2015.

– This blog! Unfortunately, this blog has taken a backseat in my ever busy life. That’s going to change in 2015. I have plans for a redesign, several mini series including one about Lean In and some book reviews. It’s going to take time but it will happen! The next post you can expect is my second entry in Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy essay contest!

I hope you take the time to review your 2014 and plan for 2015. Let’s make a deal to check-in throughout the year on our progress. Wishing you another rockstar year!

2015

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