Entrepreneur ADD & what to do about it.

“*Opening eyes* It looks gloomy out. *Rolls over and grabs phone next to head* Let me check my emails and delete/organize before I get out of bed. Crap, 40 minutes has passed! Ok, I’ll shower later. Time to respond to my East Coast client. *Email typing* Ooh, 4 key steps to harness your brand’s power. *Beep, beep* Got a video message from fiancé at academy training. *Ring, ring* Another voicemail added to the pile of moving companies calling to quote our upcoming big move to Texas. How is it 10:30am already? It’s so-and-so’s birthday, I better leave a note on Facebook for them. I really need to eat. Better yet, I really need to go to the bathroom and take a shower. *Scrub a dub dub* Ok, basic needs met. Time to approve some creative for the client. *Dinggg* Conference call in 2 minutes. *Insert amazing insight* Time to research some wedding venue stuff. Pinterest will be helpful. Ooh, a table made from pallate wood. *Clock strikes 2pm* Back on track, time to do some major reading for school. This could really apply to my startup idea. *Writing, scribbling* There goes another two hours. Headache…need to eat! Eww, these floors really need be washed. Inhalation of food complete. Sh*t it’s 6:30pm?! I really need to get some blood flowing and real vitamin D on this vampire skin. *Sprinting up stairs* If I offload my lease and buy a cheaper car to reduce payments I can funnel that money into the new house. Speaking of, I need to call those realtors when I get back. *Ring, ring* So now I need to research FHA loans. *Clock strikes 11pm* I should really watch some TV or do something to unwind before bed. *Laying down in bed* I feel like I’ve accomplished hardly anything today. Oh, well I’ll get it done tomorrow.”

Work from home; be your own boss; set your own hours. All those statements sound so freeing and limitless until you realize that those things can be bad things too. Being an entrepreneur from your home means there’s no clocking in or clocking out, no manager or boss to tell you what your priorities are or that clean division between work time  and home time. I’ve worked from home once in awhile when I was someone’s employee and always loved rolling out of bed and working in my pajamas. I got so much accomplished! Now that I work 100% from home and have mounting responsibilities from multiple clients, a startup to work on, graduate school, massive life changes coming in a few months, etc. I’ve seen how easily my hours get wasted, days rolling into each other and I end up not seeing major progress in any of the areas.

I attributed my lack of results to distractions, lack of prioritization and scheduling mainly. My plate is so full with so many different things that my brain literally feels like it’s jumping around inside from topic to topic, project to project. I work a little on each one, millimetering each one a tiny step forward, in all, moving at a snail’s pace to the finish. The days are filled with research and foundation building, preparation and day-to-day management – stuck in the weeds.

So, coming from a person that resists over scheduling and planning, here’s my tips on what’s helping me to move in the direction of progress.

1. Prioritization – I’m a fly-by-my-seat kind of person that loves to “see what happens.” But that mentality doesn’t work when you’ve got client demands and other things to do. Instead, I now plan my day the night before. Nothing crazy. Just jot down my priorities for the day to help keep me on track. It’s amazing how a little list can keep me accountable to myself.

2. Me First! – Gone are the days of me forgetting to eat or not going to the restroom when I need to because I just need to finish this last sentence. Ok, maybe they aren’t gone but I’ve made myself a priority. Make myself breakfast and get freshened up BEFORE I sit down to start doing any work. Schedule my workout time so I can’t bail on myself. Sounds simple but it’s the first thing to go whenever people get busy (ask your mom, she knows).

3. Time Blocking – My swift movements from item to item were leaving me feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and a lack of achievement. The only way I’m going to make any big progress on any of my to-do’s is if I dedicate a chunk of time to do so. Enter time blocking. Simply blocking off hours of time to dedicate to one activity. Read that again, ONE activity. I usually associate a time with the items I prioritize the night before to make it easy. Some people actually schedule meetings for themselves in their calendars. Whatever works for you.

4. Social Media Avoidance – Pretend Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and whatever other networks you’re on are that ex-boyfriend you can’t stand to see. Avoid at all costs. For me this is really tough because I love learning and get tons of inspiration, insights and ideas from articles and images shared online but now I’m only time blocking and am dedicating a set time period to explore the big wide cavern that is the web aimlessly. So don’t be surprised if you see a ton of activity from me in a 30 minute block…it’s just social media time.

My new work from home organization is still new to me and definitely will need to evolve as I continue to get in my own way but so far, so good. What about you? Tell me in the comments how you achieve things when your plate is beyond full? Any cool tips or tools that you use and recommend?

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Is marriage supposed to be forever?

I’ve been extremely busy lately servicing my consulting and freelance clients and little-by-little, working on building my fitness start-up company. Interwoven into that has been settling in with my fiance’ after moving in together earlier this year, working on finishing my MBA, and wedding planning. In the midst of everything, my fiance’ received the unexpected news of a job offer in Texas last week, which would require an almost immediate move of our lives to South Texas that we have accepted. With all of this happening, I think to myself a lot about how couples stand the test of time. How exactly does a couple communicate and react in ways that will navigate life’s ups and downs? Because we all know ups and downs happen whether we like it or not! It’s just whether we are prepared to handle it or not.

Before we got engaged, we had talked about marriage and what it means to each of us. I come from a divorced family and while his parents are still together, he shares my great fear of divorce and wanting to enter into something with our eyes wide open, and with honesty and transparency about our expectations of each other, as well as crisis plans for when things go upside down. We’ve talked about why we want to marry each other, besides the love we share because we obviously love each other a ton and wouldn’t be doing this otherwise. But actually, why do we choose each other. What marriage means in terms of what does marriage look like, act like, etc. Who marriage is for. Are we doing this for us, for parents, because society tells us so, or what? What are we going to do when things get bad, because we are imperfect humans that make mistakes. What expectations do we have for each other in those times. What do I love that he does for me that makes me feel good and vice versa, so hopefully we can do more of that. And so on. Not your typical Friday night conversation over a delicious, dark craft beer, which is the only way I personally think these conversations should happen, but hey, we’re boundary pushers!

I never follow celebrity news and gossip but when I heard about the “conscious uncoupling” announcement from Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin I was intrigued. Is it ridiculous that my fiance’ and I’s thoughts about divorce are so filled with fear and negativity? Should we not be looking at our coming marriage as forever but for this period of our lives? The idea that a couple can go through a process of healing and separation in a positive way sounds so appealing, healthy, ideal in an utopian world, and one that I would definitely want to use should I find myself in that position. It makes me ask myself if relationship separations have to be painful and traumatic or is that also an effect of societal expectations and pressure?

My experience of divorce was spent watching my parents argue, point fingers, place blame, talk horribly about each other, participate in court battles, put us kids in the middle, etc. The “research” behind conscious uncoupling (I put it in quotes because I don’t know the validity of the claims) seems to make logical sense in that we are living longer than ever, so it is reasonable to think that marriage today would be different than it was back then. For my parents case, it felt like it was more due to a mismatch and lack of communication about who they are and what they want in life. They simply were completely different than each other and wanted different things out of life.

What I can’t wrap my mind around though is the thought that if all of this is true, then when we say, “I do.” in spring of next year, are we saying it for better or worse for forever or for better or worse in the time that we spend together, whatever that may be? My first reaction to that is that this doesn’t feel right to enter into a commitment thinking that it’s temporary. That seems like you’re setting yourself up for failure. It also makes me question if whether my negative reaction is due to the societal training I’ve been given that marriage is forever and when it ends in divorce it’s nasty and no fun. If you go into a marriage thinking that it’s for a finite period of time from the onset, then I think you probably shouldn’t be marrying that person. But to honor the eyes wide open practice, I do think it’s realistic to look at what you’ll do as a couple when things go awry. How will you treat each other? What are the steps you’ll take when you’re both at an impasse? What do you guys consider the final breaking point and what do you have to do as a couple before you’ll ever agree to severing the relationship?

When I start to peel the onion on this topic, it feels much more complex and layered than whether marriage is forever or not and whether divorce needs to be a positive or negative experience. I see on the surface you have divorce and how you chose to go about it, whether that’s negative or positive. This is where the conscious uncoupling comes into play. Underneath that you have the marriage in two parts: the interactions while married and why you entered into marriage in the first place. This feels crucial to my fiance and I and is why we’ve talked so extensively about all of this. If you entered into a marriage because you felt like you’re supposed to at a certain age or because your parents pressured you, then it doesn’t matter how you treat each other or handle divorce – It’s all going to not work because the intentions were never there to begin with. Underneath the marriage, there’s what people are hard wired to do. This is the heart of who we are and why we do and say the things we do. This stuff is hard to change/influence but can be if the person has a willingness and self-awareness strong enough to do so, which is rare I think. It also can be shifted if the person was never acting like their true heart to begin with. Sometimes we cover our true heart and feelings to protect ourselves out of fear of being hurt. When you’re able to remove that fear, you blossom into the person you truly are. Beneath that you have familial wiring, which is influence by the people who are around us and raise us. At the bottom we have our biological tendencies. This is biologically who we are wired to be in terms of genders. Enter “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.”

I see all of these areas as being hazy and living in the grey area, completely dependent on people’s personal beliefs and experiences. But when you start to break it down piece by piece, it’s easy to see how difficult relationships are because people are just complex beings with so many past influences and experiences living and breathing in our present moments and actions. This could possibly be why the divorce rate is so high.

So for my fiance’ and I, we understand and take stock of all these levels of influence and still, whether naively or not, choose to enter into a life of marriage with one another because of the greater person we both help each other to be, along with the love and fun stuff like making each other laugh hysterically.

I, of course, have no answers to any of these questions and am no closer to knowing whether conscious uncoupling is the right way or even possible. I’m going to enter in this living experiment officially next year and I’m sure will learn so many lessons and see things how I’ve never seen them before throughout our marriage. But, I do feel like we’ve tried to do our best to set ourselves up for success by at least being transparent and honest about our shortcomings, strengths and desires in the hopes that we will better navigate the hard times ahead of us.

I am extremely interested to hear from you on the this topic. What do you think is the crucial factor in whether a marriage is successful or not? And, do you think marriage is meant to be forever? If not, is it okay to go into a marriage thinking it’s temporary?

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The moving in nesting bug

So my fiance is moving in to my apartment this weekend. It’s a very momentous occasion of course. I’m beginning to wonder though, is it possible to go into nesting mode without being pregnant? I kid, but seriously. I’ve gone into a mode that is so unlike me normally. Furniture arrangement research on how best to define spaces and use an L-shaped sectional, cleaning of every hidden crevice not that unused areas are exposed, purging of old stuff to make space for his stuff and all encompassing OCD greatness. Because we aren’t moving into a new place together, I feel a sense of duty to make sure that this space is new to the both of us and most importantly, feels like it is his and not just him fitting himself into my world. During this time, I’ve gone back to some tried and true sites and blogs and found some new ones with tips on everything from design to cleaning.

I’ll share some pictures of design choices for our apartment as it progresses but for now, here are some of my favorite sites I turn to for inspiration on DIY projects, L-shaped furniture and maximizing space in an apartment.

1. Apartment Therapy

I love this blog. I get so much everyday inspiration and DIY ideas for small budgets from this site. I like the simplicity but layered effect in this room. Everything in it is also very affordable.

apartmenttherapy, interiordesign, thirtiessurevival, design, apartment

2. The Inspired Room

This is a new find for me. I got sucked in by an image search and spent about an hour clicking through all the great ideas and tours of her own work-in-progress home. Great do-able ideas all around. This room has the color palette I love. All earthy tones with a splash of purple, my favorite color.

theinspiredroom, interiordesign, thirtiessurevival, design, apartment

3. Decorologist

This is another new find for me. The design on this site definitely seems to skew more for higher budgets but it’s great inspiration nonetheless. Many of the ideas could be replicated on limited to zero budgets if you get creative. I love the pop of color in contrast to the whiteness of the room she designed below.

decorologist, interiordesign, thirtiessurevival, design, apartment

4. Adore Your Place

This is another tried and true site. It has a good mix of higher end ideas and DIY. I really love the combination of textures, colors and patterns in the room below.

adoreyourplace, interiordesign, thirtiessurevival, design, apartment

5. Better Homes & Garden

This is a design staple for America. Everyone knows the name and the prestige that goes with it. If it’s good enough for Charlotte on Sex & The City then it’s good enough for me. Most of BHG is for the wealthy homes but I actually found a lot of normal apartment style tips like the one for embracing the TV wall below.

BetterHomesandGarden, interiordesign, thirtiessurevival, design, apartment

6. Houzz

This is one I keep coming across because I do many searches by image. I’m a visual person and always find what I’m looking for if I switch over to image mode. This site is chock full of very inspiring and beautiful home images. I liked taking bits and pieces of images to add to my projects folder. I love the concept of the art wall below, taken to the next level with dimension and texture.

houzz, interiordesign, thirtiessurevival, design, apartment

I always love to hear from you. So what are some of your favorite creative inspiration, interior design and DIY project websites? Leave your favorites in the comments below.

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When you’re not Christian enough in their eyes.

Religion. It’s an amazingly powerful word, full of emotion. Wars have been fought and won over it. Relationships have ended and started because of it. People’s lives have been turned around as a result of it. My faith, lack of faith and every step of the way in between has been an evolutionary process full of love-hate moments. It wasn’t until this week that my questioning religion came full circle.

I grew up in the Presbyterian Christian church. My family would proclaim themselves Christians but I never experienced any of the family values that Jesus talks about in the Bible at home with my “Christian” parents. It was a house with some fun moments but a lot of mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, physical and verbal abuse and plain old dysfunction. I would constantly question God and why He would let all of these bad things happen in our house. I would go to Forest Home, a Christian weekend retreat in Big Bear, for a weekend and be completely inspired and feeling His love, then return home to my mom and her boyfriend violently fighting with cops on their way. I would instantly go back into questioning Him mode. The cycle would continue like that throughout my elementary, junior and high school years. I had no doubt in my mind that I could feel something greater than myself but I doubted the plan being used. These were my agnostic years.

In college, I explored every religion and spiritual ideology I could get my hands on. What I started to see was a general pattern of a great being(s), guidelines and rules, decisions and consequences. Everything seemed to center around one common principle of love. Love for yourself, family, friends, strangers around you, the Earth and skies. So I focused on love. These were my spiritual but not religious years.

About 3-4 years ago, I was living in Los Angeles where I’d moved for a job and was in a very serious and tumultuous relationship. This person resembled the bi-polarness, alcohol abuse and general dysfunction that I’d grown up around with my mom but I saw a better person in him than he could see in himself and held steadfast that he had the ability to change. We all know where that was headed, right? Right after the new year had passed, I got laid off for the first time ever and broken up with in the same day. Needless to say, I was beside myself and felt completely destroyed. My ego was battered and bruised in a completely new way than I was used to. This feeling went on for a couple weeks until one night, for no reason at all, I began praying out loud in the dark while laying in my bed, for the first time in 7 years. I said that I needed confirmation that He was around me because it didn’t feel that way and asked for something very specific and unlikely to happen the next day. To my astonishment, it actually happened the next day. Things just kept getting worse over the next month. One morning, I woke up at sunrise and sat on my knees in front of my mirror and began praying out loud again. This time with such emotion it scared me. I said, “I don’t know what to do anymore. Everything I do seems to make my situation worse. I’m giving up trying to control everything and am trusting you for guidance.” No one will ever believe this but in that moment I truly felt that I got an answer to my prayer. I had a feeling of relief and lightness sweep over me that I hadn’t felt in months and my internal thoughts said to break my apartment lease and move to Long Beach where I could ease my finances, nurse my heartbreak and get back on my feet. I’ve never been someone that understood using religion as a way to ease discomfort or other crutches its used for many times but for the first time, I understood the idea around knowing you have someone in your corner. So I did just what I felt I was told, negotiated and paid myself out of my lease, packed up and moved to a cheaper place in Long Beach, worked on my issues around choosing a partner that relived the unhealthy family cycle I knew, found new work and got back to feeling healthy and joyful. From that moment on my knees forward, I completely trusted in God and the Christian faith.

After getting settled in Long Beach, I joined the ParkCrest church community and relished in finding a church that focused on love, understood that life is not black and white but gray, didn’t pass judgement and generally wanted to do good in the world. The past 6 months, I’ve been training at ParkCrest to become a coach. This coaching method focuses on the coachee, moving them forward in their life, giving them action steps by asking perspective opening questions, without giving any advice or personal bias. It’s been a truly exciting and fulfilling process to see it really help people quickly. This past Sunday I finished my final training and my missional life pastor deemed me suitable for my first coach pairing. I get a call this morning, thinking this is information on my first coachee, and she says,  “I need to ask you a very personal question.” I say, “Ok.” “Are you and your fiance sleeping together?” You’d think someone had punched me in the gut and cut my tongue out over the degree of silent shock unheard from me. I answer her, “Yes” after what felt like a lifetime of silence. She said ok, well then we aren’t going to be able to allow to be a coach. I’m silently processing everything that just happened and she asks me something about how I’m feeling. I said,”Well, I’m disapointed. Disappointed that I can’t coach, which I feel I’m naturally good at and disappointed about being judged by the church I love so much.” I’m choking back tears at this point. She says she understands how I would feel like I’m being judged but that they hold their church leaders to biblical standards and not having sex before marriage would be one of those expectations. This is the first time I’m hearing that this is being seen as a leadership position in any way and that there are any set expectations on this role. My confusion over what is going on is palpable. I say ok and get off the phone.

I’m instantly brought back to my agnostic years in the church where I was judged because I’m a multiracial child of divorce and less than desirable family going-ons. I never felt Christian enough in their eyes and for the first time in ages, I was feeling the same judgement. I have family that work in ministry and know of the no drinking and sex before marriage contracts they have to sign to be able to work at the church. If this was that kind of situation why was there no mention or discussion of the role or expectations until 6 months after I’ve put my heart and time into this? I ran into her at a sports bar over the past weekend having a beer with her boyfriend. How can they handpick which rules to apply to people? My fiance and I both have looked at the moment he put that ring on my finger like we are married. In our eyes, the wedding we’re planning and license we’ll get are a celebration for our family and friends, and legal paperwork for the government. I very easily could’ve said no or I didn’t feel comfortable answering that question and I’d be paired up to begin coaching but I chose honesty and the consequence is being shut out. What value of honesty does that teach? The whole situation could’ve been handled in so many different ways along the way, instead its resulted in ambush, humiliation and hurt.

So I’m left now feeling completely rejected, wondering what the future of my relationship with ParkCrest will be. I’m questioning the paradigm of religion and spirituality. Can I have and be a part of both? Does all religion have judgement in it? Can spirituality be applied in a community setting? So many questions now, with no answers.

All I know is that I’ve had coaching brought into my life by a God that I love and trust. It’s a surprising path that fulfills me and serves in a way that is meaningful others. I know that I will continue doing it in a larger way, outside of the church. For that, I’m truly thankful.

I want to hear from you. What has your experience with religion been like? What do you think the difference between religion and spirituality is? Tell me your story in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive new blog alerts and share with your friends.

2014 begins with the end in mind.

Eat less sugar. Buy a house. Stop cussing. Get in bikini bod shape. Complete a marathon. These are few of the New Year’s resolutions I’ve made in years past. I actually completely stopped making resolutions entirely because I felt they weren’t genuine and like most others’ resolutions, are very shortly lived. It wasn’t until I found The Desire Map that I started to look at goals in a completely new way, deciding for the first time in a very long while to set goals for the new year.

It begins with the end in mind by asking yourself, “How do I want to feel?” Your goals plant roots in those core desired feelings and grow, enriching and energizing you while you work towards accomplishing your goals. So in the end, you feel accomplishment full of your core desired feelings, rather than feeling empty achievement because you set goals based on shoulds and woulds, detached from your core desires. How we all haven’t thought of this common sense idea that we would set goals that are centered around how we want to feel in the end stumps me. But hey, I’m thankful I found it!

So after a weeks worth of desire mapping, I share with you my core desired feelings and goals for 2014. I share these with you because I plan on holding myself accountable through this blog and hope you will join me in the journey.

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The words at the top are my core desired feelings that I want to feel this year. These words are by no means static; they are living, breathing feelings that may fluctuate and change over the course of the year. The list of five goals below the core desired feelings are what I will achieve this year and will directly impact how I feel in a positive way–no empty goals this year! Of course, there are a billion other emotions I will feel this year but I’ve zeroed in on what the root of my emotions stem from and these five words sum up the ways I want to feel.

Abundance: wholeness, fullness, rich, gracious, thankful, warm, giving/helpful, positive, loving, joyful, trusting, manages emotions, inspires other, enriched, and nourished.

Inspired: motivated, driven, creative, energized, invigorated, positivity, enriched, soulful, active, full of ideas, without fear and self-doubt, going after what I want, and procrastination-free.

Healthy: strong, in control, balanced, comfortable, calm, aligned, vibrant, radiant, fit, energized, light, living in the gray area, body supports me in action, active, nourished, rejuvenated, and connected.

Connected: loving, understood, cared for, warm, communicative, vulnerable, abundant, risk-taking, laughter, happiness, supportive, more opportunities, trusted, respected, intuitive, thoughtful, goose bumps, touching, and hugging.

Empowered: womanly, strong, doubtless, fearless, go-getter, motivated, driven, inspired, confident, positive, take bull by the horns, trust myself, energized, transformative, mobilized, active, conviction, free of restraint, powerful, creative, and playful.

The goals I chose came from a long list of about 25 other goals. There are many other things I will accomplish this year, like completing an Olympic distance triathlon, wedding planning with my love, and further spiritual growth but this short list is do-able, excites me when I think about accomplishing it, is the right amount of challenging, and pushes me outside my comfort zone. These five goals are balanced and touch the five parts of my life in great ways: Livelihood & Lifestyle, Body & Wellness, Creativity & Learning, Relationships & Society, and Essence & Spirituality.

Why launch a first kick-ass iteration of a fitness website? This comes from a need in the market that doesn’t yet exist. I’ve vetted the idea around for a few months now and it appears to have legs for major growth. If I tap into my marketing and digital advertising skills, online and startup contacts and push myself to think differently, I think I’ll have a pretty great idea to launch. It’s business plan go time!

Why keep blogging and devise a plan to get even more eyeballs and clicks? I’ve been writing however I could, since I was extremely little. Before I could write, I would highlight my Frog & Toad books and scribble lines in the sides of the pages like I was commenting on the relationship of the amphibians! I have an innate desire to write and communicate. I’ve written privately in journals, publicly in published articles, new business proposals, websites, marketing collateral, and social media posts for brands. I even tried to write a book several times but blogging feels more personally connected and feasible. So I’d like to get more intentional about writing and expand my voice.

Why extend coaching at church to friends and strangers? This is a really interesting and surprising life path that has been lit before me through the Life Compass training I blogged about previously. I’ve always been the person that my friends and family come to for advice; even strangers open up to me about very private matters. I love being that go-to person so much that I thought I wanted to be a psychologist but have always been concerned about taking home too much of others lives. So I was more than pleasantly shocked when I prayed about meaningful ways to get more involved in my church, was brought back to my love for helping others in a mentoring/coaching/life line kind of way and in the same day coaching training practically laid itself in my lap. Since then, I’ve been going through extensive training to offer free coaching to help members of our congregation move forward in life. I can help anyone through an issue by actively listening and asking the right questions to help themselves discover what they need to do, rather than telling them my advice or unpacking all their baggage. I see this being a valuable and fulfilling role for me and I’d love to extend this out to friends and possibly build a business out of it. Stay tuned…

Why do 4 networking events and 4 community charity events with Henry, family and friends? This is actually a combination of multiple goals that have spawned from my busy schedule and not spending enough time with the people I love. I want to be more intentional about spending time with my loved ones, networking for business and giving back to the community regularly. In my true multitasking ways, why not just combine them all? Invites will be on their way to you soon.

Why get more sexy and creative in the bedroom? Ok, so this one is definitely TMI but in an effort to be transparent I didn’t exclude it. Actually, I think many of my ladies can relate I hope. With a busy schedule, rigorous workouts and just the way life works out many times, my sexuality has been put on the back-burner lately. Well, I’m intentionally moving it to the front burner and turning it on high! As a newly engaged woman to a ridiculously funny and handsome man, it’s time to have some fun. I most likely will not be updating you on this one, since I’m blushing just writing this!

So, there you have it. I’ve pinpointed how I want to feel this year and set some goals to accomplish. I’m breaking those goals down into actionable steps for each month this year to keep me moving and accountable.

I want to hear from you. Did you set resolutions or goals for 2014? What methods did you use to arrive at them?

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So a job, a career and a calling are sitting at a table.

So here I am, sitting in my twelfth interview in the past four months, at a small but beautifully designed agency. I’m chatting with a young-ish owner about the various businesses he’s got his hands in, in addition to the one I’m interviewing for. Our conversation feels more like two people chatting over drinks than an interview. My thoughts start to wander to the internal dialogue happening inside my head that is making it very hard for me to concentrate on what he’s saying. I’m nodding and mm-hmm’ing as my thoughts are completely centered around the immediate awareness that this position is clearly just a job to me; not part of my career path and definitely not my calling.

I’ve always been on a quest to find my calling, since a young age. That thing that you do for the rest of your life that is all the most amazing things wrapped into one: balanced, harmonious, the right fit, makes a ton of money, inspires you and others, doesn’t feel like a job, never causes Sunday night dread or a case of the Mondays, is so comfortable but yet so challenging and is what you want to devote your life to. I’ve taken countless career tests, read dozens of professional self-help books and talked with tons of people that claim to be living their calling. I used to think that a career is synonymous with a calling, well I guess it can be both, but what I’ve come to realize through my job turned career journey is that there truly is a distinction between the three: a job, a career and a calling. I am in search of the third.

I spent all of my high school and most of my college years chasing the job. It was all about survival. Living paycheck to paycheck to keep a roof over my head and at least one meal a day in my stomach. My basic needs. I began to understand the possibility of a career in the last year of college and a few years after college but had absolutely no idea how to go about getting one. I didn’t have mentors or parents that showed me how to do things like that. So I got a few internships and tried on some different jobs to get a feel for what I liked. I very quickly went back to job mode, seeking the paycheck instead of finding a career that stayed true to myself. That led me to leave journalism, something I loved that didn’t pay well in the least, to marketing, something that came very naturally to me and paid pretty good compared.

I’ve done it all. I made keys at Ace Hardware, ordered fruit at Jamba Juice, sold clothes at BCBG Max Azria, tanned people at a tanning salon, passed out shots and flyers as a promotional model, did cigar runs for tips as a caterer, written bios for graffiti artists, managed promotional street teams for SF Bay Guardian, served tables at a golf course, researched art grants for The Lab, watched four kids under the age of four as a nanny, trained spokespersons for Costco Roadshows at SebaMed, slept at offices and printers for Wunderman and Young & Rubicam, and even cleaned houses for cash.

We all have these vivid and awe-inspiring professional histories that have taught us about what we like and don’t like doing with the 30% of our lives that we spend working. I like being around people, a lot. I like health. I like brands with distinct personalities. I hate using my sexuality to sell something. I like helping others. I hate subjecting people to UV rays that will expedite their deaths. I like planning parties. I like using my brain, charm and wit. I like researching things. I don’t like cleaning diarrhea diapers. I like knowing that I’m making someone else’s day easier in some way. I like casual, creative work environments.

In my professional career, I’ve advanced in all the ways imagineable: title, money, experience, and respect. But at the end of the day, it felt empty. I didn’t feel that I was serving a greater good or invigorating my soul. Does your work need to do that for you? Maybe not. Maybe they can be separate things, like stock broker by day and yogi by night. Or maybe it all depends on what your purpose for working is. Maybe if you know your purpose is to make ends meet then the ends justify the means. For me, I just know I didn’t feel good and that’s important to me.

So the quest continues. I’ve done what I need to do to pay the bills and give myself space to explore the differences between a career and calling and what exactly that looks like to me. I’ve interviewed with dozens of companies, large and small, start-up to established. I’m starting to get more of sense of what kind of companies I like being a part of, if I decide to work for someone else. My own creative juices are brimming with dreams of companies that I would like to start on my own.

But most importantly, I’m digging into that off feeling I felt, with the help of a book, more a workbook, called The Desire Map. What did that feeling mean? What was it signaling? Why was I feeling that way? How do I want to feel? How do I bring that feeling to life in my professional career?

I definitely don’t have all the answers but am pushing myself to start to figure them out. Because heck, if I’m going to spend as much of my time working as I do sleeping (We all love sleeping, right?!), I might as well completely love what I’m doing, while I’m doing it.

Tell me about the feeling you get at your job, career or calling in the comments below. Love it? Hate it? Feel numb?

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What should be right for one, isn’t always right for another

Life is filled with shoulds. You should do this. You should be doing that. It feels like they are the most active in the thirties years of life. This is a time when many lives shift from an immature, present focused mindset of achieving and having fun, centered around the self to a more mature, future focused mindset of building a life and family, which inevitably centers around the kids and spouse. I think the should’s for men and women moving into their thirties are very different from one another. For men, it seems more focused on financial and career, like buying a home and achieving that glorified job title. For women, our shoulds tend to hover around the marriage and kids category. Of course, this is a generalization. There are tons of people I know, including myself, who are doing it different but even if one of my girlfriends is focused on achieving a career title and buying a home, she’s still getting pressure from everyone around her on when she’s going to settle down, marry and start a family. So, while we may choose to be different, shoulds are still snapping at our ankles along the life path.

So when I told my dad that my boyfriend and I started engagement ring shopping and are planning on getting engaged in the next couple of months–a decision that surprised me even–his reaction reminded me of these shoulds I’ve been hearing for years. Mind you, I’m the oldest of all my cousins and siblings. All of them either are married, have children or both.

“Oh wow! I was beginning to wonder when this was going to happen. You know, when you enter your thirties it’s time to start thinking about that. I was going to start putting some pressure on you,” he said.

I responded with shock and laughter. He continued to explain his thought on how this should be happening in my thirties for many valid reasons: having kids, etc. It is a fact that if I wanted to have children of my own, then having them earlier than later in my thirties reduces the health risks associated. Managing the facts against the shoulds are definitely important. One for dad.

He then approached another engagement should. “Wait, I don’t know if I should congratulate you or not. So, is this an engagement or a talk about engagement? Shouldn’t he just buy a ring and surprise you with a proposal? And, shouldn’t he be talking to me about this?” So many shoulds my head was spinning.

I answered him, “Yes, this is an engagement. Would you rather us jump into something blindly based on emotions, rather than talk it through like mature adults and make a smart decision?” Also I said, “You know me. I have my own thoughts about things. The ring being one of them because I always envisioned using grandma’s emerald.” I continued to explain, “Once the ring is finished, I’m stepping out of the process to give him the space to decide how and when he wants to propose.”

He responded, “Oh, of course I wouldn’t want you to do that. Is this like a new modern way of doing it? I’ve never heard of this. I just surprised your mom with a ring. But okay. So when are you guys moving in and setting a wedding date?” Ay dios mio!

I mean, I get it. This is a departure from how engagements traditionally happen but more and more I’m seeing friends and family doing it this way. It has more purposeful intention and careful thought involved, which was important for me if I were to ever move into this next phase of life. Coming from divorce, marriage always seemed like an unsustainable thing without a roadmap on how to do it long-term. So for me to actually get married, I needed to know that divorce is off the options table for us, unless there are extenuating circumstances like abuse.

Based on family history, previous relationships and my modern woman mentality that developed, I began to wonder if this path really was a fit for me. My mentality has definitely always shaken up my dad with how I do things. Over the years, starting in high school, he’s always tried to push my extremely independent and self-sufficient personality more toward the traditional dependency on men idea because that’s what he comes from. Which now looking back on it in this moment, I see why my dad and extremely independent and opinionated mom didn’t work out. Go figure!

In the end, I saw values in each style that seemed important to possess and have been able to find a nice balance between the two: independent, modern woman in business and a more give-and-take traditional woman in romantic relationships, who lets my man be the man, without sacrificing my independence and opinions. I’ve been lucky to find a man that values my intelligence and independence, while also loving my thoughtful, caring side. When I asked him what attracted him to me the most, he answered “Your brain. It’s amazing how it works.”

So, very soon, I will embarking on a road very heavily traveled by many others that I wasn’t always sure would happen for me. One thing I know for certain, I will be pushing all the should’s of weddings and marriage out the window in true Tiffany fashion.

What about you? Tell me about the should’s people tell you or you feel you should be doing in the comments below. How do you handle the pressure? Do you agree or disagree with the shoulds?

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Little miss busy’s 10 tools to manage life better

BusyPeople almost automatically respond “I’m so busy but doing good!” when asked how things are going. I’m definitely guilty of it myself. Ironically, I actually mean it when I say it. I must be a secret masochist because I tend to  pile more on top of an already busy schedule.  I can’t pass up fun/exciting/engaging/great/challenging opportunities for the life of me. My friends in college poked fun at my “I’m so busy!” 21 units, Varsity tennis team, 2 jobs, 2 internships schedule one birthday by giving me this Ms. Busy book. Point taken guys!

My late twenties and now my thirties seem busier than ever before. Freelance/consulting, continually interviewing with companies for the ideal FT position, MBA program with a ridiculous amount of reading and projects, start-up company venture, investment property purchasing process, triathlon training, life coach for my congregation, miscellaneous church activities, industry networking, social engagements, the never-ending list of birthdays/engagements/baby showers/bachelorettes/weddings, and last but definitely not least, QT time with boyfriend, family and friends. Now that I look at the list, maybe it’s not that I’m any busier than usual but that I have less of that twenties energizer bunny energy to tap!

I know that I’m not the only one with a full, busy life. Many of my friends do all of this, plus manage their household and children. So my question is, how do you prioritize and organize your life? What do you use to do this? Whiteboards, notebooks, post-it notes, digital tools? There are tons of how-to’s, tools, tips, and tricks to help us multi-task and run our lives more efficiently. Here’s 10 things I use to keep myself from pulling my hair out and running around like a chicken with its head cut off:

1. iPhone: I’m one of those people that has their entire life on their phone. If I lost my phone, I’m virtually cut off from the world and all the things that I need to do. I’m the real-life meme checking my phone in bed before bedtime and first thing upon waking, in bed. I pre-organize emails, texts, news and to-do’s by deleting inapplicable stuff, skim news and flag anything to go back and read in-depth later, delete and flag important emails and texts to answer later and compose my to-do list based on what was left from the day prior and what I flagged upon waking. This morning ritual helps me to feel prepared for the day.

– I have all my different emails (personal life, 2 personal business, university, company) synced so I can easily communicate with the hundreds of emails I get a day.

prayer

2. Morning Prayer: I have a morning prayer that is on my vanity mirror that I say each morning. This puts my day in perspective and reminds me of the person I want to be every day.
3. Social Bridge Apps/Platforms: I totally made up that category name but essentially that’s what platforms like HootSuite do. Social networks are a huge part of my day-to-day work life, so anything that helps me get the message out to multiple channels more easily the better! I have all the apps (Facebook, Facebook Pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, Yammer, Instagram, About.me, etc.) synced on my phone so I can efficiently manage the myriad of personal and business accounts throughout the day, wherever I may be. I also have a HootSuite account so I can manage multiple accounts across all social channels.4. Flipboard: All of my news sources (Top news, tech, advertising, marketing, social media, psychology, start-up, local, etc.) are synced to my phone through Flipboard so I can easily keep up on the daily industry news and refer to any timely items in business conversations.5. Podcasts: Podcasts are a big learning resource for me. My phone is loaded with leadership, self-improvement, entrepreneurial, marketing and language podcasts that I listen to while driving all over the Southern California area. I’m currently learning from Coffee Break Spanish, ParkCrest Christian Church, EntreLeadership, The Accidental Creative, TED Talks, and Starting From Nothing.

timematrix

6. Time Management Matrix: I’ve only recently learned that the actual name of the prioritization system I use is dubbed the Time Management Matrix while reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Go figure! This system basically gives you a filter to examine your tasks through to prioritize them by Important/Not Important/Urgent/Not Urgent. Obviously anything with a deadline becomes an annoying line jumper. But, I always make sure that I “pay” myself back with things that are important to me like fitness, self-improvement and family time.

7. iPhone Notes, Reminders & Tasks: I have a lot of big projects on my plate right now. So to help make sure that I’m making movements forward on these, I like to break them down to their most basic and essential tasks and start checking those off one at a time. I do this through Notes and load them into Tasks and Reminders with color coding, urgency and alarm settings. So while it may take me awhile to actually get to the finish line, I can look over my progress and know I’m working toward the long-term end goal and not get lost in short-sighted tunnel vision.

8. Kindara: I’m not going to go into too much detail on this app because it might be TMI but lets just say it’s a female-aimed app for Flo 😉 and it’s freaking awesome. Talk to me in the comments if you want to know more.

9. Live Strong: I’m training for my third triathlon and am trying to restore my metabolism. So nutrition tracking is super important to make sure I’m eating consistently and at the calorie levels I need to keep up with everything. This app is great for that. It has a ton of Trader Joe’s foods which I’ve never seen in a food app before, so I don’t have to enter them all myself.

10. Elevatr: I have a start-up company venture that I’m working on and tons of company ideas that pop into my head all the time. This app helps you organize all your ideas and start filling out the business plan for each, 140 characters at a time. If you feel like you have a solid idea, you can export it to a Word doc or share access with teammates to collaborate better. It’s really rad!

Now it’s your turn. I’m dying to learn about what tools, apps and items you use to make your life more manageable. Tell me all the details in the comments below. Hopefully I’ll learn a trick or two!

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Hope you have a productive and efficient rest of the week!

What does friendship look like in your thirties?

For many people, their friends are like family members. Beloved and cherished friendships that bring grounding, strength, love, faith, hope, happiness and excitement to our lives. Friends can be made in so many different ways. From school, work or while waiting for a flight even. Through romantic relationships and friends of friends. Living in different places will cultivate various groups of friends that know unique parts of you. Some friends you’ve known your whole life and others since last month. Of these friends, there’s a core group that I consider family.

I always envisioned my friends and I having extravagant trips, carousing Europe and Spain together, consuming  champagne on our beach front patios, enjoying the good life. Once the movie montage in my mind ran its course, the reality of friendship in my thirties settled in a bit different. Instead of extravagant trips (because we’re on budgets and saving for our future desires), we have potluck dinners every few months with Spanish wine and chit chat around the dining table, from one of our modest two bedroom apartments that we share with a roommate. Scheduling time together is a nightmare since we all have so many passions and commitments that take up our time. Our lives are jam packed with career goal pursuits, boyfriends and family events that pull us all in separate directions. The vision in my mind of us popping by each other’s homes every day for wine after a long day is quickly replaced with group texts that sometimes take us a couple days to respond to.

When I was young, my friends were the only ones I felt I could depend on. We had some amazingly fun times together coming to age, which for me during that time was a huge relief from home life. They gave me a break from the family stresses that were going on, gave me sleepovers when I needed to escape my mom’s crazy moments, fed and clothed me when I had neither. We supported each other when we needed it most.

Developing and maintaining friendships were easier then because they were such a huge part of our lives. We depended so heavily on friends as part of our day-to-day lives at school. Our lives now are filled with co-workers, colleagues, clients, nephews, siblings, kids and boyfriends. We have to make more of a point to schedule time together. But there’s one thing that maintains with good friends: Regardless of how much time has passed, good friends pick right back up where they left off without missing a beat.

So when I see one of my friends, who I consider part of that core group that is like family, announce on Instagram he’s engaged to a woman and not tell me during a catch-up phone call the week prior, to describe my amazement as shock would be an understatement. He was not only dating someone different 8 weeks prior but said he’d met “the one” several months before that with someone different. Instantly this feels off and my friendly duties kick in to high gear.

Since we’re in our thirties now, we must all be more evolved, mature, self-aware and comfortable with honesty from one another, right? What I’m learning is that for some friends this is true. They push themselves to grow, expand and mature with every added year, being loyal and supportive despite busy times, willing to speak and listen to one another with openness and transparency about their lives. But others have not seemed to live up to those values and instead meet shock and questions about their choices with avoidance, denial and anger. What this tells me is that even in our thirties, we’re all still works in progress and that some need more compassion than others.

I’ve always looked to my friends to be the ones that tell me the truth, instead of what I want to hear. Because if your friends aren’t going to tell you the truth, who will? They should be the ones that help you see things clearly when sometimes you just can’t on your own.

The situation with my friend has reaffirmed for me how much I value my friendships based on these things. From these relationships, we’ve all grown stronger, wiser and have become better people unwilling to maintain the status quo because of misguided desires or lack of self-awareness.

So, what will come of my friend and I? I guess only time will tell. I can only hope that his soon-to-be marriage is one of those rare love at first sight intuitions that produces a solid long-term marriage. Maybe one day he’ll see my genuine concern for the love that it is and hopefully appreciate my friendship for it. I’m banking on the saying, “With age comes wisdom.”

What I do know for certain is that I don’t regret pushing the thought of conflict aside to be there for my friend and ask the hard questions after shocking choices, when it matters most. I’ll never stop being the die-hard loyal, honest, trustworthy, supportive friend who values friendships that push each other to be better, through the busy times.

Now I want to hear from you on the issue of friendship. Have you ever had a situation where you saw a good friend making decisions you didn’t agree with? Join me in the comments and tell me how you approached it. Share your story on how you support your friends in tough situations, regardless of your opinion.

20 things I know now that I didn’t know in my twenties.

I was recently reading an article by the CEO of Docstoc on Forbes about “20 Things 20-year-olds Don’t Get” and it got me thinking about my experiences and wisdom. In experience, comes wisdom. So I asked myself, “What do I know now in my thirties that I didn’t know in my twenties?”

  1. The Sex & City idea of love is completely false. Love doesn’t have to be all-consuming to be real. That love is super intense, fizzles out fast and usually pretty dysfunctional. True love is unconditional, patient and stands the test of time.
  2. Brand yourself! This is something professionals outside of the advertising industry do way too little of. Create the impression you want hiring managers to have of you.
  3. “Fake it till you make it!” is the cheesiest line ever but oh so true. It sums up the power your mind possesses and the untapped potential awaiting you.
  4. Self-awareness, acceptance and courage are the keys to EVERYTHING. Self-awareness helps you to see yourself among others and relate to them. Acceptance gives you the power to move beyond your present moment and not get stuck by things out of your control. Courage gives you the strength to change when necessary, the tenacity to go after what you love and want and the humbleness to ask for help and be vulnerable to attain closeness.
  5. That ideal life you have for yourself? Scrap it. Life happens in the unscripted moments.
  6. Know, and stick to without compromise, your 5-must have’s and no-go deal breakers when it comes to dating and choosing a partner. This is also true as you get further along in your career.
  7. People can’t make you feel anyway you don’t want to feel. You decide 100% how you react, deal with and feel about things.
  8. A fight is not the end of the world. 99% of fights can be worked through if you have self-awareness, accept the current situation and come before that person with humbleness ready to work it out, regardless of whether you are the person of fault or not.
  9. Not all believers in God are hypocritical and judgmental people. Regardless, doesn’t He say to love everyone the same and treat them how you’d want to be treated? Use those people as a test of your conviction His lesson.
  10. What you choose as your major or your first job isn’t going to be the one you stay with. It’s just a stepping stone, so jump in, soak it all up, work hard and stop having “analysis paralysis” about your life direction.
  11. You are what you eat. Pay attention to the details: where it’s grown, assembled and packaged. You’ll be thankful later when you’re healthy.
  12. Money is NOT important. It ebbs and flows just like waves; waves always come back to shore. Focus on something else and the money truly will follow.
  13. Know your limits when it comes to alcohol. There’s nothing worse than looking like an a**hole at a work function or in front of people you care about.
  14. There’s periods of time for family, work and you time. Take the personal time while you have it, before you start settling down. It’s okay to focus on yourself and have some fun.
  15. Family is THE most important thing. Period. Who you define as family is almost as important and can include blood, sisters from another mister, brothers from another mother, partners, colleagues, etc. They are the only people that will be there for you in the up’s and down’s, and will be the only people you think of when you leave this place. Cherish them now with empathy and compassion.
  16. Love yourself; all of yourself. The positives, negatives, and nice-to-have’s. You are a beautiful being and are deserving of love, even if you don’t think so.
  17. Be kind to yourself. The world can be a rough-and-tumble place sometimes. You’re going to have enough critics out there, so there’s no need for you to be so hard on yourself. Come on, cross those arms across your chest and squeeze tight!
  18. You don’t need to have it all figured out. You don’t need to know your exact purpose in life, your reason for being, your entire life plan or every detail about yourself. Life is about experiencing, exploring and learning about all of those things in due time.
  19. Laugh, all the time! It’s a great calorie burner, releases endorphins to make you feel amazing, looks great on your face and brings you closer to people you do it with.
  20. You don’t know it all. I know you think you do and truly feel like you do but you don’t. Just accept it and learn that it’s okay if you don’t know the answer. Repeat after me,”I don’t know but I will look into that.”

What are some lessons learned in your twenties?