Why I was scared to take the plunge and why I’m glad I did

Whew. I’ve been in my new position for about a month and am happy to share that it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. I reread my post I wrote in early January (you can read it here) about the career change and it’s almost comical to me how nervous I was.

To recap, I left my position as a newspaper reporter – something I’ve been for the past three years – to accept a position in communications for a non-profit organization.

I won’t sugar coat it – I was scared. But I was scared for the wrong reasons. I was scared I would be unhappy; I was scared I would not be good at the new job and I was scared I would regret my decision.

After I thought about it, that scared feeling or uncertainty was for all the wrong reasons. I realized that I was scared I would be unhappy because I was comfortable in my job and familiar with what I was doing. I was scared I wouldn’t be good at the new job because I was good at my job as a reporter. I was scared I would regret the decision because staying in a situation is easier than making a change.

The reasons weren’t enough to stay and I am so glad that I took a chance on a new career. My new experience has been overwhelmingly positive and I thought I would share – in the event someone else is going through a similar situation – what can happen when you do take the plunge.

  1. You are treated as an equal
    I was never treated like a new employee. Yes, I had training, but my colleagues immediately treated me like an equal. They never once treated me like the new person who doesn’t know anything.
  2. Your ideas are valued
    On my second day, there was a large editing project. I expected to go into the conference room and see the process and then go back to my office to finish some training. They asked me to stay and help edit the proofs and give my feedback about what could be done to make it better. I gave some ideas and didn’t know if anything would come from it. They ended up making every change I suggested.
  3. You can have work-life balance
    This is something that I haven’t had for the past three years. Once I accepted the new job I realized that I was working each night until 7 or 8 p.m. and each Saturday until noon. I get to leave my job at the end of the day and actually leave work at work. I do not work or check emails on the weekend. This is new to me and I see now just how drastically important it is to have this balance.
  4. You will be challenged to be better
    In my position, I am very much part of a team. We constantly bounce ideas of each other and ask for opinions to make each project that we do that much more successful. The projects that I’ve done so far have been successful because of the help of the team. They have challenged me to do my best and be creative.

As you can see, it has been a positive experience for me so far. I am sure that there will be challenging days, but I already know after a month that I made the right decision. What about you? Have you made a similar decision or are you thinking about doing so? What was your experience?

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What happens when you quit a job you like

I haven’t written about this yet because I wanted to give myself time to feel feelings and get some perspective on the topic, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this is going to be as good as it gets for the time being when it comes to perspective.

I recently accepted a job in another industry. I won’t go in to too much detail about the decision to leave my job, but what I will say is that the new position offers a little more opportunity for professional growth.

What made the decision even harder is that I really do like my job. I get to interview people and write articles for publication every day. In fact, it’s all I have known for the past four years. Since graduation, I have written for three different newspapers in two different states.

On Monday, I will start my job as a communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization. I will still get to write and interview people, but it will definitely be a new pace.

Although I am excited for the new opportunity, I definitely will miss being a reporter. I thought I would share some of the things that can happen when you give two weeks notice.

1) You will feel guilty

I understand that each situation is different and some people will not experience this, but in my case, I definitely experienced this one. Actual thoughts I had before quitting included: “this is awful,” “I could vomit,” “what if they hate me,” and “I’m going to let everyone down.”

I had to have a little pep talk with myself and remind myself that, it’s not personal. If you work hard, give proper notice, let them know you appreciate everything, then there is no reason to feel guilty.

2) It will be awkward

Everyone talks about giving two weeks notice and beginning the new opportunity. No one seems to talk about the two weeks you’re left working a job that you are about to leave. You have to be around co-workers who know you’re leaving and even if they are nice and encouraging, it can be an awkward situation.

I was talking with a friend and she reminded me that I was probably acting awkward myself, which was only feeding an already awkward situation. The next day I came in with a new attitude and it was way less awkward.

3) It’s normal to question yourself

Quitting a job, especially one you like, for a new opportunity can be intimidating. It comes down to a comfort thing. A job you know and like is comfortable and it can be hard to leave that.

I questioned whether I was making the right decision at least 12 times, but when I looked a the big picture and what I thought would be best for my career, I knew I was making the right decision.

4) Remember,  mother knows best

When you are feeling unsure about the subject, ask for advice. I did just that. My mother gave me some great advice when she reminded me that I’m not married to my job. Changing careers is normal and I won’t be the last to leave the company. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but it is a natural part of business.

I have one more week of work before I start the new job. I am sure I will continue to add to this list and write more about the new job in the future.

What about you? Have you experienced something similar or did you have a different experience?

Work-life balance and learning to adult

Sometimes work consumes my life. I wake up at 6:30 a.m., travel for work, interview sources and take photographs and then travel home to write for a few hours. I repeat this throughout the week and sometimes even continue this Saturday morning to meet a deadline.

It really hit me that this was becoming a routine when I caught up with a friend over coffee. We each talked about what was new and as I was talking I realized everything I had to report was about work.

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I don’t usually realize that this is happening until I go to write the title and date on an article and it’s almost a new month. Time is flying by and it’s because I am letting my life revolve so heavily around work.

I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to have more of a work-life balance and because I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I thought I would write about it here.

Extra hours don’t always mean better work

Trust me I understand working at home after work. I do it more often than I should, but I’ve found that my work isn’t necessarily any better. In fact, I usually have to edit it or add something else the next morning. I took an honest look at the work I was doing and once I realized the extra hours weren’t really doing me any favors, I decided to put more effort in getting things done during the day.

Break the iPhone habit

Are you constantly checking your phone for calls or emails from work? I know I sometimes am. I hate the feeling when I am checking my work email for the 10th time and don’t even mean to be. If you can, pick a time in the evening where you won’t check on work. I personally try to avoid looking at my email after 6 p.m.

Make your schedule work for you

I find that I am more productive in the morning. I can’t back this up with stats or scientific facts, but I can tell you I feel more focused in the morning. I try to do everything I can in that time period and leave some smaller assignments for the afternoon. By doing this, I feel more productive and find myself procrastinating less by looking at a cat video or a clip from last nights Dancing With the Stars episode.

Find out what you can do to leave work at work

Do yoga. Hang out with friends. Play with your pet. Do something that you like. I was seriously concerned when all I had to talk about was work. I took a look at my past month and realized I hadn’t been hiking or to yoga class, which are two things that I enjoy that help me clear my mind.

Organize. Organize. Organize. 

I spent an hour the other day organizing my desk and my work bag. Again, I don’t have scientific facts to back this up, but it made my work week better. By taking some extra time to organize instead of throwing it all in a pile on top of my desk, I was able to focus my time on what needed to be done, not searching for that one paper that should be in that one folder.

While I’m all for women kicking ass in the work world, I know that I personally don’t want my career to be all that defines me. When people ask me what I’ve been up to, I would like to have something more interesting to say than “oh, I’ve been working a lot.” And while these might not apply to everyone in their careers, I hope that it helps.

Now when people ask me what I’ve been up to, I can tell them about some of the other things I’ve been doing besides work.

What about you? Do these apply to you? Do you have anything to add? Teach me your ways.

To travel, or not to travel, that is NOT the question

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Our twenties are full of questions, challenges and tough decisions to be made. The entire decade is full of never-ending transitions that have no road map.

One thing that should never be on the list of questions, challenges or tough decisions is whether or not to travel, which does have a road map. If given the option to travel, the answer should always be yes.

Take vacations

I know vacation time at work can be sacred. Use the vacation time. You earned time off and deserve to spend it doing something you enjoy.

Travel to as many places as you can

Whether it’s a two-hour road-trip, a weekend trip in a big city, a beach vacation, a mountain getaway or a 15-hour flight to a different country, it is worth it.

Don’t let money stop you 

It’s okay to say yes. I know all about tight budgets. I know that it’s hard to spend money you worked hard for. I also know there are realistic travel options for twenty-somethings on a budget and then there are unrealistic travel options. Sure you may want to travel to New Zealand, but the several thousand dollar flight is going to potentially stop you from doing that. I get that. But, you CAN afford to take some kind of trip. There are plenty of affordable options to help make it happen.

Never stop wondering

Learn from other people when you travel. Learn from different cultures. Learn from different food. Learn everything you can about everything.

Never stop wandering

Visit family, travel with friends or take a solo vacation. Dream. Explore. Go somewhere new. Try something new.

Say yes to traveling

I double dog dare you.

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A conversation with a marathon runner

Marathon runners

With Americans across the country watching and supporting the Boston Marathon that took place Tuesday, I thought it would be appropriate to share a conversation I previously shared with Bryce Baldwin, a twenty something who completed his first marathon last year.

Bryce is a humble, but talented inhabitant of the Windy City who made a bold switch in careers, hopped states, landed his dream job and discovered a new-found passion for fitness.

Bryce never pictured himself running a marathon. That changed when he started working as a digital specialist for Nike.

Originally from Indiana, Bryce moved to Los Angeles after graduating college to accept a position at a record label.

“Unfortunately, what I thought was my dream job, wasn’t,” he said.

While working at the record label he also started working for Nike, and he has stuck with that. Five years later he is still with Nike and moved from Los Angeles to Chicago, where he is now.

It’s hard not be interested in fitness when working for the athletic company, he said.

“I like what it represents,” he said of the company. “Sports have been a big part of my life- I’ve always been an athlete.

Bryce got away from athletics in college but decided to pick up running and exercising again after he started working for Nike.

“I saw how much other people enjoyed running,” he said of why he started training. “What started as running one or two miles turned into a Tough Mudder race which turned into a half marathon which eventually turned into a marathon.”

He felt a mix of emotions when he completed his first marathon in 4 hours and 8 minutes.

“The first thought was, ‘Heck yeah, I’m done,'” Bryce said. “The second was my grandmother had just passed away so I was thinking how proud she would be that I finished. Other thoughts were I want to take my shoes off and have this victory beer.”

This year he hopes to run four half marathons and one full marathon. Although he continues to set goals advice he has for others is to keep tentative goals.

On running

His goal for his upcoming marathon is to finish in less than four hours. One thing he has learned from other marathon runners is to keep tentative goals.

“You don’t want to be so focused on reaching a goal that you tear cartilage in your knee,” he said. “You also have to take into account the surroundings — if it’s raining, you’ll have to slow down.”

Advice he has for others considering running a marathon is to “give yourself a chance.”

“I never in a million years pictured I would run a marathon,” he said. “I did it because I liked how I felt after a mile or two.”

Other advice includes getting on a training program. Without a training program, it will be easy to put off running, he said.

On career

Bryce developed all of this passion for fitness when he became a digital specialist for Nike.

“When I first took the job I took it because I liked getting a paycheck doing something I liked,” he said. “Later on I really started to think about options to pursue a career I enjoy.”

Enjoying the company you work for is a definite perk. Bryce said he likes that Nike doesn’t copy other companies and  his favorite thing is the corporation’s innovation.

“Our innovation is top notch,” he said. “It’s cool to talk about what we’re doing that other companies aren’t doing — I’m very proud of that.”

The decision to switch careers has changed the way Bryce thinks in many ways, he said.

And he doesn’t regret it. Instead, he recommends others give their hobbies a shot. “Try to do something you like and go from there,” he said.

A look at some of the questions

How did you get in to running?
Seeing how much people enjoyed running was one of the reasons I first tried it out. What started as running one or two miles turned into a Tough Mudder race which turned into a half marathon which eventually turned into a marathon.

How did it feel to see all your training pay off?

The first thought was, ‘Heck yeah, I’m done. The second was my grandmother had just passed away so I was thinking how proud she would be that I finished. Other thoughts were I want to take my shoes off and have this victory beer.

What goals do you have for this year?

I hope to run four half marathons and one full marathon. I hope to finish my upcoming marathon in less than four hours, but one thing I’ve learned from other marathon runners is to keep tentative goals. You don’t want to be so focused on reaching a goal that you tear cartilage in your knee. You also have to take into account the surroundings — if it’s raining, you’ll have to slow down.At the end of the day you’re competing yourself.

What career advice can you give to those thinking about switching?

Try to do something you like and go from there. I don’t regret it.

Read other Conversations here.

Six truths of moving home

I have been living and working back in my hometown for over a year now. I write a lot about transitioning because that is what I have been doing for the past two years.

I graduated college to take an internship in a new city and new state. I went from being five minutes from friends and two hours from family to five hours from friends and 10 hours from family.

I spent a lot of time traveling and soul-searching. Right about the time I was used to the new area and new faces, I accepted a position at my hometown newspaper.

I didn’t know if I was making the right decision, but I considered myself lucky to have a position in my area of interest.

It hasn’t been easy. At times it has been boring, depressing, great and frustrating. Over the past 14 months I have learned (at least) six truths about moving back home.

1.)   Your friends have changed

After being away for four years, you won’t have the same friends you did in high school. If you’re like me, you didn’t keep in contact with many people after leaving town. Although some people might still be around, you will find you don’t know them anymore… and honestly you might not want to. Most of the time there is a reason you didn’t keep in contact. 

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2.)   Your friends haven’t changed at all

There are a few friends you’ve held on to. You can get together years later and pick up where you left off. You’ll find that after five years, friends have gotten married, had kids, matured, dated people and suffered break-ups. Although the topics of conversation will change, you will still be able to reminisce [and cringe] when recalling high school.

3.)   You have changed

This is a big one. You don’t want to do the same things you did in high school. You don’t want to waste your time with people who are not positive influences, always pushing you to be better. Whether it’s a friend or a relationship, you don’t want to waste your time with people or things that are negative influences.

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4.)   You’ll be bored at times

When you move home (at least my home) Starbucks isn’t open 24 hours, Jimmy Johns isn’t open until 4 a.m. and your options past 11 a.m. are Wal-Mart, Kroger, a small, local bar or Buffalo Wild Wings.

5.)   It is tough being single

When you see family and friends at holidays the first question they’ll ask is what you’re doing at work. The second question you will be asked is “so, are you seeing anyone special?”

And if your answer is no, you will get a look of pity or my personal favorite, the “you-still-have-time” response. Your friends will take it upon themselves to set you up with someone who is “so, totally perfect for you.” Also, if your friends are not single, it’s awkward to do things with them because they have “date nights” and you have “awkward-fifth-wheel” nights.

6.)   You’re still figuring it all out

The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine and made a joke about how I’m a single, 20-something who is living with my parents, barely making it on a newspaper reporter salary and still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

She reminded me this is what I want to do.

 She said, “Oh come on, you’ve always wanted this. Although it might not be as glamorous as you imagined, you’re doing what you want to do.”

And she’s right. I always said I would make a career as a writer and figure out what I want to do and where I want to be before I got married and had children. I wanted to figure things out before settling down. So, when I get discouraged and when I think I’m a mess and don’t have anything figured out, I will remember that.

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*All photos are from #thewriting.

There’s something about a thank you

thank-you

We have all been told before we shouldn’t do something for acknowledgement or reward. I believe that is true – we shouldn’t do something for the sole purpose of getting something in return. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely wonderful, when you do receive a thank you.

Without realizing what I was doing, I started a “nice notes” folder in my email. The folder includes thank you emails I have received. (Of course the thank you emails are listed under some random, unrelated folder name.

As a journalist. if you get something incorrect like *cringe* misspelling something, you will receive a call. If you word something in a way someone doesn’t approve, you get a call. If someone sent you something and it hasn’t appeared in the newspaper in what they deem a timely fashion, you get a call. It makes me wonder if they realize we aren’t evil gremlins who have the sole purpose of ruining their life, printing malicious lies and doing other evil gremlin things.

However, that being said, every time I receive a thank you email, phone call or card, I can’t help but feel validated. It reminds me there is a reason I ended up in journalism and no, it’s not the pay. I get to talk to people daily and figure out what makes them tick. Of course there will be mistakes. Whenever I’m having a bad day at work where I’ve received seven calls about how the media sucks and I suck, I turn to those emails and a yoga class and know that for every negative remark I receive, there is a silver lining in there somewhere – I actually enjoy what I do and sometimes, just sometimes it is appreciated.

So now it’s my turn to thank all the people who took the time to thank me. At the risk of sounding like a needy twenty something who is unsure of her ways – it made a difference.

Forgetting how to write

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For the past several months I’ve been juggling an editing position with a reporting position. Each had their perks, but trying to do both was stressful. I felt like the wheels of a spinning bike at the gym when the tension is too loose; out of control and going 90+ mph. 

When my editor asked me if I’d like to go back to writing full-time, I had to think about it. I was getting experience in the editing department but, at the same time, my BA is in journalism with a minor writing. While editing I had trouble finding the words I needed to write stories. Fast forward three weeks and I don’t know why I even paused. 

I’m back to writing full-time and loving every minute of it. While I was doing both jobs, I temporarily forgot to write. I was trying to complete too many things. I would sometimes wake up in a cold sweat thinking about a nearly impossible deadline the next afternoon. I’m happy to say that has changed since resuming writing. 

Yes, some days can be longer than others. Yes, sources can be hard to reach. Yes, it involves multi-tasking and yes it can be stressful. But none of that matters because I love it.  

Even more than that, I love talking to people and getting to know their stories; asking questions I don’t know the answer to and then writing about it. 

Here’s  to getting my [writing] groove back. 

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Three(ish) ways to survive Monday

Monday is the day of the week with the worst reputation and I understand why. Here are a few things to make your day better and drag you out of your “Monday blues.”

1.)   Caffeine

For me it’s coffee. My daily coffee sometimes feels like the only reason I am able to stay awake when 3 p.m. hits. Obviously coffee is an acquired taste – try something else to jump start your morning. Exercising and breakfast are another way to get going on a Monday.

2.)    Conversation

Talk to your coworkers. Chances are they are just as unhappy to be working Monday morning as you are. Ask about their weekend and talk about yours. Talking with others will make your day less Monday-ish.

And if that fails….

3.)    Read this

25 things that will make you smile

or this

Moments that restored our faith in humanity this year 

or this

30 happiest facts of all time

(All from Buzzfeed.com).

Make your work week better

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Yes we all love the weekend; a time to do anything we want, even if what we want is to not do anything. But weeks can drag on and become dull if you’re constantly looking at Friday as the light at the end of the tunnel.

So take a breath, relax and try to view the week in a positive light (not as a soul-sucking time gap before the weekend.)

1.) Make plans
Making plans during the week can help make your work week more exciting. Grab dinner with a friend or visit a community event after work.

2.) Exercise
Although it’s hard to want to go to the gym after working all day, it really is a good stress reliever. It’s easy to dread and talk yourself out of it, but it will make you feel better after.

3.) Avoid daily naps

I love naps and sometimes they are necessary after a long day or a night of little sleep.  But it’s easy to get in a routine during the week of waking up, working, and napping before going back to sleep . Try not to let the days blur in to one another.

4.) Go outside

No really, go outside right now. We sleep inside, work inside (most of us) and usually it’s dark when we get home. Getting outside for a little bit can be an easy way to unwind. Take a walk, read a book or do something less cliche-sounding.

5.) Call family, friends

Give family members and friends a ring when you aren’t able to visit them on a weekday. It makes the ordinary day better; so vent, catch up and talk to others. Who else will listen to you complain about an annoying coworker?  You’ll catch yourself smiling through the phone.

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