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The Lost Art of Storytelling

Think back to when you were a child. What was your favorite bedtime story, one you could hear over and over again? Now looking back, what was it about that story that intrigued you? The characters, a particular moral, a happy ending? Either way, it’s clear that stories, whether real or fictional, have the power to influence.

storytellingA few weeks ago, I listened to a presentation by Lani Peterson, an award-winning storyteller, author and public speaker. In her 60 minute talk, she spoke about how powerful personal stories can be if constructed correctly. Her main points are summarized below:

  • Stories need to be personal, emotional and connected to your values. If a story isn’t authentic, it loses its power. Having a powerful story positively contributes to your presence and identity.
  • As you’re telling your story to others, take time to step back and evaluate. Check in with yourself and others within your organization to ensure the story you’re telling is aligned to what others know or hear about you.
  • There is also immense power in listening, especially when you are new to a company and need to better understand their story and the motivations behind it. By listening, you can find common values between you and your colleagues or your company at large.

After listening to Lani, I reflected on what she said and really thought about my own story. I’d venture to say your personal and professional narratives are one in the same. You might need to tailor it to your audience. I asked myself the following questions to strengthen my story:

  • What do I want to be known for?
  • How did I get here/what did the journey look like?
  • If I wasn’t in the room and someone asked about Alex, what would I want that response to look like?

Your story is essentially your personal brand. It’s a tool you should use to build your credibility andbranding establish strong relationships with others. What I find challenging when developing your story is aligning it to your company’s values while also stay true to its meaning. Like Lani said, a story must be authentic to be powerful. But, it’s also important to message it correctly so it resonates with others within your organization.

As I move forward in my career journey, I plan to take Lani’s tips with me. I’ll also continue to evolve my story as I experience new things or challenges. How have you created a career narrative? Has it changed over time?

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Professional F.O.M.O

FOMO

F.O.M.O or fear of missing out is something we’ve all experienced. Personal F.O.M.O gives you that annoying little pang of pity. Oh my friends are at Coachella and I’m not. Boo hoo! But professional F.O.M.O leaves you feeling anxious, frustrated and confused. The consequences are much more far-reaching when you feel like you’re missing out on your career.

First, let me state that I love my current job. The projects I work on challenge me daily, I work with some of the best people around and I’m doing work that helps people. I don’t want to leave my job, I just don’t know if I want to stay forever. Fear. Of. Missing. Out.

The plan all through college was to enter the public relations industry upon graduation. It felt (and looked on paper) that I did everything right. But the road took me elsewhere and for that, I’m beyond grateful. Still even with a great job that includes traveling, I still feel like I’m missing out. I look at my two best friends as well as pretty much everyone I graduated with and wonder about all of the what if’s. Such a short time ago, I had everything figured out. Now I have no clue where to go from here.

Admitting my professional F.O.M.O isn’t easy. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for my current job nor do I want to sound like I’m complaining. Life is good and I’m certainly developing a wealth of transferable skills. But someone please tell me how I build media contacts when I do not work with the media?

What also contributes to my F.O.M.O condition is my inherit need to plan. It’s just in my blood: the color-coding, making plans, setting goals, knowing what’s next. But right now, I have no idea what the future holds and am desperately trying to become comfortable with that.

I’m trying to manage this F.O.M.O by recognizing it’s normal not to know exactly what you want. I’ve also written professional goals to achieve at my current job. As far as keeping my public relations edge, I utilize Feedly to compile a great list of PR blogs and publications to check on my commute home. I’m also trying to network through social media to possibly set up informational interviews. Hopefully, all of this will help keep my F.O.M.O at bay!

Throughout this F.O.M.O journey, one thing is evident: comparing yourself to others will just drive you crazy. Everyone’s path is different and unique to them; it doesn’t make one way right and the other wrong. I need to figure out what I want and how to get there without worrying about what my friends are doing.

Have you experience professional F.O.M.O? How did you cope? Please please please share your thoughts in the comments below!

London is Always a Good Idea

Have you ever wanted to just get on a plane and go, not caring where you went? That was my mindset earlier this year when my friend Lauren suggested we go to London to visit our Temple friends who were studying abroad. After some planning (I’m lucky, Lauren did everything), we were off on our London adventure earlier this month.

View from the top of the London Eye, my favorite!

View from the top of the London Eye, my favorite!

To say we were excited was an understatement. It was the first vacation we both were taking a vacation in a while and it certainly felt good to be able to afford such a trip. God bless Lauren for finding these AMAZING London passes that got us into pretty much everything: Kensington Palace, Winston Churchill War Rooms, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Thames River Tour, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. We managed to pack just the right amount to sightseeing into our week. To top it off, we also made our way to Paris midweek!

I’m not sure I can put into words how amazing this journey was. We didn’t rush but we didn’t waste a single minute. Each day was spent exploring, wandering and seeing incredible, historical masterpieces. No picture could capture the expansiveness of Tower Bridge, the view from the London Eye or the perfect architecture of the Eiffel Tower. You have to see it to believe it!

I went into this vacation wanting to decompress, to remember how fortunate I was and to enjoy a week away with one of my best friends. Maybe it was that I needed this trip or that I vowed to have an open, carefree attitude throughout, but whatever it was, my little week-long trip taught me about..

– Silence: People on the Tube (London’s subway) don’t talk to one another, aren’t on their cell phones and in turn, the ride is pretty quiet, much different from a Manhattan subway. I find silence very uncomfortable; it makes me feel like something is wrong, so I am constantly trying to fill the silence. Instead this time, I just let it be on the Tube and while wandering around. This almost calming silence allowed me to fully absorb everything I was experiencing.

– Intention: I’ve written about being more intentional and intentional choices before. But, for some reason that idea hit me again while abroad. It struck me most at Tate Modern where there were floors of Picasso and Dali masterpieces that were 100% intentional. With every stroke, they gave meaning, political or otherwise, to each one of their works. Seeing that made me want to be more intentional with my time, thoughts, everything.

– Friendship: I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know this before but I’ve found such an amazing friend in Lauren.

The only picture of us that wasn't a selfie!

The only picture of us that wasn’t a selfie!

I couldn’t imagine taking this trip with anyone else. There was a level of appreciation we both had for this trip, which made it 100 times better. She also managed not to kill me (big plus!) and we absolutely laughed our way through London.

– Travel: Another thing I knew but hadn’t experience in a while: Travel is essential to growing, evolving your perspective and becoming all you can be. It doesn’t matter where you go, who you go with or what you do, just go. While I feel like London is always a good idea, truthfully ANY travel is always a good idea! I now want to plan several more vacations because I came home feeling so recharged, appreciative and that I had learned something.

London was never on my bucket list but I am so glad Lauren pushed the idea on me. It was an exceptional week filled with history, wandering and overall good times. Now I can’t wait for the next adventure!

What places are on your bucket list? Any recommendations for my next journey? Please please please share!

Outside Abbey Road Studio, where the Beatles recorded. So cool!

Outside Abbey Road Studio, where the Beatles recorded. So cool!

Reflections: 365 Days Later

gradHappy 100th blog post to me! I can’t believe this is my 100th post OR that I graduated college a little over a year ago. As I walked through Manhattan yesterday, I saw crowds of new alumni, taking pictures and waving their tassels in the air. I was instantly taken back to my graduation only one short year ago. Two of my friends and fellow bloggers already revisited their graduations through detailed and touching blog posts. Lauren gave a recap of her last year that did in fact bring me to tears while Jess provided solid advice for recent graduates. Their posts have inspired me to reflect on my last 365 days instead of crying about them.

Within the last year, I’ve divided my life into four major areas, listed below, in order of their current importance. While I strive for balance, I recognize that life will never be perfectly balanced; there will always be competing priorities. Here is my synopsis of the last year and the lessons I’ve learned within each of the following areas:

  • Career: Perhaps the most important part of your postgraduate life, my career still doesn’t seem steve martinreal most days. I am not in the industry I studied in school nor do I get to write as often as I expected. However, I am learning more each day while enjoying new projects, like building social media sites, something I never thought I could do. I also work with amazing people who challenge me, respect me and help me better myself. In reality, there is no such thing as the perfect job. You must be passionate about what you do but it’s ok to admit if your passions have changed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Personal: This is probably the hardest area of my life and where the most change has occurred. My family faced some challenges in the last year, battles that weren’t mine to fight. I’ve seen a new side to family members I thought I knew best. My family doesn’t feel as close as it once was and that’s hard for me to accept. BUT, I also have the extended family known as my friends, who have been the best support system. My friends are always there if I need them, but physically seeing each other and coordinating schedules can be, at times, a nightmare. I am SO proud of my friends, their own accomplishments and our ability to make it work. Truth be told though, I miss the close proximity a lot. I’ve also learned to let go of relationships that aren’t healthy anymore. People should add value to your life not continuously stress you out.
  • Self: The last year has been a journey of self-discovery and soul-searching. I know that sounds like a giant cliché but it’s true. I’ve figured out a lot about myself: my interests, my dislikes, how to manage my emotions as well as my relationships. The biggest lesson? I can change my path if I want to (or need to) as long as I am constantly bettering myself. I’m also trying to push myself outside of my comfort zone more. Example #1: Running a 5K in July.

be-in-love-with-your-life-every-minute-of-it

  • Community: In college, there were so many opportunities to give back to the community. In the last year, I haven’t volunteered or mentored as much as I would like to. I’ve always enjoyed mentoring younger people and would love to find a program close by to do that. My goal for the next year is to volunteer at least once a month.

Overall, I’d say it’s been a great first year in the real world. There were (and will always be) moments of uncertainty, doubt, fear and resentment. You can’t prevent these types of moments, though I’ve tried. I can’t go back to college no matter how many times I cry about it. Embracing this monumental change still challenges me.

For the first time in a while, I am extremely proud of myself for taking chances, being honest with myself and others and living my life for me. It’s been a year of change and adjustment but it’s also been the most trilling ride of my life.

Motivation Mondays: “This”

“So don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to stumble, to fall, cause most of the time the greatest rewards come from doing the things that scare you the most. Maybe you’ll get everything you wish for… Maybe you’ll get more than you ever could have imagined… Who knows where life will take you. The road is long and in the end… the journey is the destination”

Have you ever wondered how your life could be different if you chose a different path? What if I didn’t go to Temple? What if he didn’t break up with me? What would life be like if my parents didn’t get divorced? The possibilities are endless, right?

As the perpetual over thinker, I find myself asking all those questions too often. It goes back to over thinking the original decision I made and if it was the right one. I can be a bit indecisive and occasionally that becomes quite annoying, even to me. What will happen if I do this? Who will care? Blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.

While I do tend to over think everything, I am also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know that reason until many years later, but there is always one. After writing Thursday’s post about my friendship with Lauren, I started thinking about what life would be like if I didn’t take that position…how different my life would clearly be. That process lead me to today’s Motivation Monday post and Darius Rucker.

Darius Rucker sings a song called “This” that talks about how if things had gone differently, life wouldn’t have led him there to this. When he says this, I believe he means his life at the moment and all the great things and people who are a part of it. He makes a good point: Would your life be this great, this outstanding if it wasn’t for the “wrong turns” or mistakes you made?

When you’re worrying about making decisions, veering off your planned out life course or questioning something that happened, listen to this song. Remind yourself that you are here at this point in your life with all these wonderful things for a reason. I know I have several times and after each listen, I realize how lucky I am to have all of this.

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