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?

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.

You have cat to be kitten me right meow

Several things have happened since I last blogged, but probably the biggest thing is that I have a new addition to my family. Yep, it’s true, I adopted a cat. A two-month tabby kitten to be exact.

And he is the best.

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I was expecting a playful kitten who would also like cuddling. I wasn’t expecting the caring and protective feeling I got once I brought him home. When people say they are fur parents, they aren’t kidding. I understand it’s different than having a child, but I also feel like I’m a fur mom.

I had pets growing up, but this is my first time adopting an animal on my own. After months of stalking the humane society’s webpage, I finally decided to visit the shelter and see if I found the right fit. I was convinced I wanted a female kitten, but after holding 6 cats – all of which were female except one – I fell in love with a male kitten named Baloo. It really was love at first sight. I renamed him Hank and two hours later he was home with me.

He has now been with me almost two months and I couldn’t be happier. He is already growing and by the looks of his ears and paws, he is going to be a big cat. If anyone is thinking about adopting but doesn’t know if it’s a good idea, I can personally say that it was a great decision and I can’t imagine not having Hank.

We watch TV together (while he leans against my head).

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We take selfies.
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We play a lot, which usually results in a nap on his part.

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Basically, I could go on and on about how great adopting a pet is. He has a big personality for such a small animal. He likes hair ties, playing fetch with small toys and attempting to drink water out of sink. He dislikes when my neighbor plays Shania Twain loudly, tinsel and spiders (like fur mother, like kitten).

I’m sure I’ll post more about Hank later, but for right meow that is it.

Until next time,

#catpunsforthewin

Hiatus interrupted

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It has been several months since I logged in to my blog and my last post was almost a year ago. I realized that I needed to take a little bit of a break. I almost deleted my blog, but something kept me from doing that. I played around with the idea of starting a different blog and tested it out, but that lasted about week. Instead of starting completely over, I realized I just needed to add more of what I want to add to this existing blog.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written a few posts about being a journalist and how sometimes it is challenging for me to write all day for work and then come home and write for fun.

I forgot the key word in that sentence is fun. I like writing. It’s something I’m passionate about and have been for over a decade. No really, I can remember writing short stories as a young child on wide-lined paper used to teach children how to write alphabet letters.

I like being able to write down my thoughts, even if I’m the only one to see it. In fact, as I write this I have another story to write for work, but I wanted to write a post on here first.  I just needed to be reminded that yes, writing is something I do for work, but it’s also something I enjoy.

So, in the spirit of getting back in the writing game, I am going to attempt to write a post each week from here on out. I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

I suppose I’ll get back to that story for work now.

Until next time.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I think this is something people think about (I know I do) well after they have “grown up” in the traditional sense.

By now I’m sure you all have seen the clip of Jim Carey giving a commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management. If by chance you haven’t, Carey tells a story of his father who could have been a comedian, but instead chose a conservative route and become an accountant. He then goes on to say that his father lost his job and the family fell on hard times.

Carey said he learned from his father that you can fail at what you don’t want to do so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

So on this Thursday, I hope these words inspire you to keep in mind that yes, taking chances can be difficult/overwhelming/scary, but so is the thought of not being successful at something we don’t want to do. I know I needed the reminder.

xoxo,

A

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.

Facing your fears in small ways

They say that you should do something everyday that scares you. And I think a lot of times we think this has to be a big gesture. We think it has to be quitting our jobs and backpacking in Europe, skydiving, road tripping to the Grand Canyon when we only have $50 to our name or eating oysters or octopus at some upscale restaurant.

The truth is, it it doesn’t have to be huge. It can be as small as going for a jog or visiting the top floor of the John Hancock building. Read on to find how I’m facing my fears.

I don’t know when I became leery of heights. It could have been when I was in grade school and was climbing the fire tower at the state park. A group of girls feeling the same way as I decided to turn around and climb back down when we got to the top of the trees.

Or it could have been when I was a teenager at camp climbing the rock wall, walking across a cat walk and then zip lining down the hill.

Or maybe it was a few months ago when I took an elevator with my friend  to the top of a very large open-spaced tower and told her on the way up (after we bought tickets), “I should have probably told you I dislike heights.” I said laughing. She laughed and said “it’s okay, me too.” It didn’t help that it was VERY windy that day. We stepped on the rocking platform, looked at each other, and then turned back to the elevator to return to solid ground.

I’m not afraid of heights in the sense that I can’t function, cry or cling to the ground. I mean, I have been in tree houses (I was a kid, okay?) and I’ve been on several flights as well as to the top of many touristy buildings and I have survived them all, it just makes me uneasy sometimes.

Enter in my second illogical fear: chickens. One of my family members has raised chickens for years. They are so cute, and huggable when they are babies with soft feathers. When they grow up they are not cute. They are ugly (sorry, chickens). They sense fear. And they will chase you (trust me, I know).

So when I was visiting a high school for work last week to see the intercity agriculture program, I was not stoked to find out they had chickens. One of the high school students very kindly pulled out a “teenager” chicken for me to hold.

I gritted my teeth and held the chicken as I told the group of my dislike for the said chicken and they all had a good laugh.

My third, and probably most stupid fear, is of treadmills. Okay, it’s not like I start sweating at the sight of a treadmill and, no, I don’t start quivering when I think of them. And I’m not even embarrassed of looking less than glamorous while running on them.

I just really, really, really don’t like them.

I’m not the most coordinated of people. To run on a treadmill you have to run at the correct speed on a moving band – not too fast or you’ll step up on the non-moving part of the treadmill and trip and fall and not too slow or you’ll fall behind and slide off the moving band.

This illogical dislike of treadmills isn’t enough to keep me off of them. My “running” on a treadmill is really combination of walking and running for 30 minutes. I am trying to get over this dislike and I’m trying to get this “runner’s high” everyone talks so fondly of.

Until I master this art form I am so badly wanting to be good at I will continue to step on a treadmill all while being worried I might fall off.

Perhaps I’ll just forfeit the treadmill all together and move to running outside. That way the only thing I can trip over is my feet.

So, whoopty do, what does it all mean, Basil? What’s the point of this long post (thank you for reading this long post, by the way) about my dislikes? The point is although I don’t like these things, it doesn’t stop me from continuing to experience them.

I’m not saying that I’m the poster child of success, but I’m just saying it’s possible to deal with things you’re afraid of or things you dislike in small doses.

However, small or large, your fear is, don’t be afraid to try it again and again.

xoxo,

A

Things are happening

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Taking a chance is all the rage. Wait, do people say “all the rage,” anymore? Almost everywhere you look you can find a quote, phrase or fortune cookie with words of motivation meant to inspire action.

You don’t have to look very hard to find twenty-something lists urging you to take advantage of life, to not think, but to act and just go for it.

There are the common phrases go a little something like In the end you only regret the chances you didn’t take and take a chance, life’s too short and take a chance, you never know what will happen. All of which are valid advice.

Well, I took a chance. I thought about it, but I didn’t really think about it. I mean I did, but I didn’t. Like, I did in theory, but I didn’t think what it would actually be like? Am I confusing you yet?

Part of the reason I have been lacking in blog posts lately is due to this said chance I took. About three weeks ago I was offered a field editor position at a new newspaper in a new city. Before I knew it, I gave notice at my job, found an apartment, packed all of my things and moved.

Four days after I found the apartment I wanted, I packed all of my things in to my vehicle and on the fifth day (my last day at work) I drove to the new city, picked up my keys and moved what I could before returning home. The next day, six days after I first viewed the apartment, I drove back to the new city with a caravan of family members who graciously helped me move and by that evening I was alone, unpacking in my new apartment.

Three days later I started my new job. To say things are happening is an UNDERSTATEMENT.

It is all so very new to me. I moved out of my parent’s house and in to my own place in a city.

I’m learning my about my new job, which is a writing position at an agricultural newspaper and a lot of that is researching the subject matter. I went from covering local news to specifically covering agriculture state-wide.

I’m learning how to live by myself. I know I’ve talked before about it being different to live in your home town and back with your family, but it’s also different to live by yourself in a new city.

I’m learning how to meet people. I forgot how easy it was to meet people in college, when you have 60 friends instantly because you live on a crowded dorm floor together. It’s not as easy post college.

Although I’m learning all of these things I am SO very excited. Don’t be fooled, I’m also terrified, but mostly excited and optimistic.

A specific quote by Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, comes to mind: “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.

I plan to hustle aka work my ass off to succeed at all of these and more. I’m sure I’ll have some posts about the hilarity of failures, successes, “firsts” and more.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride, friends. xoxo

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