My 30 Before 30 List

On July 11, I celebrated my 29th birthday with my husband in Chicago. A few days prior, I completed my “30 before 30” bucket list. In other words, 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. Some of these items are small and manageable. Others are stretch goals. Some may be downright impossible. But I wanted a good mix of all three on my list. Below is my list, with a few items redacted for personal reasons:
  1. Run a 10k: Training in progress!
  2. Run a half marathon
  3. Run a marathon (I know it’s unlikely I’ll run all 3 of these in the span of a year, but I’d at least like to start my marathon training before I turn 30 next year)
  4. *redacted*
  5. Read 30 books: In progress!
  6. Take a solo trip
  7. Go for a hike
  8. Learn another language: In progress!
  9. Begin yoga teacher training
  10. Visit my cousin Jen
  11. Take a spontaneous road trip
  12. Visit a national park
  13. Go camping
  14. Ride a bike
  15. Have a “yes” day
  16. Have a “treat yo’self” day
  17. Take a cooking or knife skills class
  18. *redacted*
  19. Create a Sunday ritual/tradition
  20. Get an essay or article published (DONE! But I hope I can get more than one published)
  21. Travel to a new city
  22. Run in Bellefountaine Cemetery
  23. Start writing my memoir
  24. Write poetry again
  25. Learn a new instrument
  26. Attend a yoga retreat
  27. Learn to make Mom’s chicken and dumplings
  28. Do a handstand
  29. Start a garden
  30. Reduce single-use plastics in my home
I am happy with my list and I think most of the items on here are doable. Some are stretch goals for sure, but hopefully I can make them happen. You only turn 30 once!
Have you ever created a “30 before 30” or similar list? How did you do? Let me know!

Mindset Shift

I’ve been working on shifting my mindset a lot lately. I spend a lot of time worrying about horrible what-ifs and areas where things are lacking (ie I don’t have enough; I don’t make enough; etc.). To maintain a more positive mindset, I’ve been repeating a few mantras to myself lately:

  • Believe good things will happen and they will. 
  • I am enough. I have enough. 
  • Keep going. 

It’s an awful thing to believe you’re not good enough, and I’ve spent so much time believing that about myself. I’m choosing to focus on the good that could happen and I’m choosing to believe that I am enough.

Last week, thanks to this Instagram post, I added a new one to the rotation:

  • What do I have to lose? What’s the worst that could happen? 

It’s been a great reminder to take risks, particularly when I have nothing to lose and the worst that could happen is someone says “no”.

I’ve been looking for full-time jobs lately (and regular freelance work in the meantime). After applying for a full-time job with a company I was excited about working for, they unexpectedly asked if I’d be willing to start in a contract (ie freelance) position first. I immediately said yes because I’m excited about the company and position.

I didn’t negotiate rates at all. I just accepted the range they gave me. The last time I did that, things didn’t turn out well, and I’ve always regretted not negotiating for higher pay. So when they sent over the contract for this freelance position, there were a few concerning items, in addition to the low pay I had initially agreed to.

I felt a little strange negotiating rates after already verbally agreeing to what they offered. But I thought to myself, I have nothing to lose here. The worst that can happen is they say they can’t go any higher and won’t make changes to the contract, at which point I walk away. Sure, I’d be missing out on the possibility of it turning into a full-time position, but I wouldn’t be any worse off. I still have some steady freelance work and I’m still looking for other full-time jobs. 

So I went for it and asked for a higher hourly rate that better reflected my experience and what my target salary would be for a full-time position, in addition to the other changes I wanted to see in the contract. I didn’t hear back for over a week, so I assumed the “worst” had happened. I let it go and refocused my energy into looking for other jobs. Yesterday I finally got a response from them and they agreed to the higher rate and the other changes I had proposed.

Now I’m just waiting to see the final draft of the contract so I can sign it and get to work. I feel so great for “leaning in” and asking for what I wanted and needed. This time last year (heck even just a few months ago), I might not have had the guts to do that. I’ve been working really hard to have a more positive attitude about life in general and I’ve been taking more risks, both personally and professionally. Hopefully this is the start of all that hard work paying off!

Have you taken any risks lately? Did they pay off? How do you maintain a positive attitude—or is that something you struggle with like me?

How I’m Managing Stress These Days

The one thing I did to better manage my stress.

Stress management has never been a strength of mine. I get overwhelmed and frustrated easily. Throw in a Whole30 where I have to cook nearly every day plus the chaos of being a freelancer and that’s a recipe for disaster.

A while back (I’m not even sure how long it’s been now) I turned off all social media notifications on my phone. I don’t get the little red dot letting me know someone liked a picture I posted anymore. My phone doesn’t buzz and light up when someone comments on a post. It’s nice.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. As a freelancer, all my projects come through email. I felt like I needed to be notified of every email as they came through because of this. In reality, all that did was distract me from whatever I was working on. And sometimes, depending on who the email was from and what it said, it caused a great deal of stress and frustration.

I ended up spending more time trying to calm myself down and refocus on the task at hand than I actually spent writing the article I was working on. Which meant I had to work later to ensure I got all my assignments for the day turned in on time. It was a frustrating cycle, and it was affecting my sleep and making me insufferably cranky.

I’m not sure why it took me so long or what exactly flipped the switch in my mind, but the light bulb went on late last week. I realized I don’t need those notifications. I don’t have to read and respond to every email as soon as it comes in. I don’t need those distractions.

So I turned them all off. Now I check my email after I finish one assignment and before I move on to the next to make sure I’m not missing anything important, particularly if I’m waiting for a response to a question about an assignment.

In fact, I turned off nearly every type of notification I could possibly get on my phone. No social media, no email, no random apps. The only notifications I get are text messages (still working on how to keep those from being a distraction), phone calls, and score updates for the Blues and Cardinals (which are primarily night games and therefore not a work distraction anyway).

I even forgot to check my email over the weekend until pretty late last Saturday. Fortunately, I hadn’t missed anything important and it was so incredibly nice to essentially forget my email existed.

Now that I’ve done this, I realize I need to set an email schedule for myself. Mostly so I can set client expectations and avoid missing any urgent emails because they didn’t know I wouldn’t be checking it after a certain time of day.

Of course, email is just one source of stress in my life. There’s a lot of other areas that still need work. But turning off those notifications has made a huge difference in less than a week’s time.

How do you manage your email? Do you check it immediately or do you have a set schedule for yourself?

Happier, Healthier, & More Successful In 2018

My plan for a happier, healthier, & more successful 2018.

The past couple years I’ve made a list of goals I wanted to achieve in the new year. Although I made progress on those goals, I rarely achieved them. This year, I want to try something different.

You may have heard a lot of people choose a word for the year, rather than making a list of resolutions. I’ve wanted to do that the last 2 years, but couldn’t decide on just one word, so I went with the long and overwhelming list instead.

For 2018, I have a word. It started out as adventure. But a few weeks after I had settled on that word, I couldn’t remember exactly why I picked that word. As December wore on, I realized what I really want in 2018 is health, happiness, and success.

Of course, that’s 3 words, so I needed to narrow it down, or come up with a word that embodies all of them. Essentially, I want to be my best self in 2018. I want to flourish. (Which means to grow, prosper, thrive, succeed.)

So that’s my word for 2018: FLOURISH

Ironically, I’m still making a list of how I plan to succeed, er, flourish, in the new year. But the list is much more fluid and flexible than goals would be. And there’s a lot more focus on self-love and self-care, because I know I need to take care of myself to be my best self.

I won’t make a long list like I have in the past, but here’s a few things I want to incorporate into my daily routine so I can flourish in 2018:

  • Eat nutritious foods. I really got careless with what I was putting in my body by the end of 2017, and I have paid for it with unhappy skin and upset stomach. I’m starting 2018 by doing the January Whole30 (which you can find more information about in a separate post here). After that round of Whole30, I hope to carry Whole30/paleo eating throughout most of the year.
  • Continue my run streak. I forgot how happy running makes me. And maintaining my run streak makes me feel accomplished and strong. Essentially, it makes me healthy and happy. I also want to run a 10k and a half marathon in 2018!
  • Keep journaling. In 2017, I started a new morning routine. After I let the dogs out and feed them breakfast, I sit on the couch and journal for about a half hour. I start off by writing down one thing I need to let go of (a grudge, anger, resentment, etc.), one thing I’m grateful for, and then 3 things I need to focus on that day. Then I simply journal about whatever’s on my mind. Some days I vent about something that pissed me off. Other days I come up with plans to achieve a goal. Some days I have more to write than others. I really enjoy starting my day this way, so I want to keep it up.
  • Start reading everyday. A former boss once asked me why I don’t read books that would be good for professional development. The honest answer is I should, but I also know that you can get a lot of benefits from reading fiction, too. While I do need to make professional development more of a priority this year, what I really want is to start reading for the sheer pleasure of it again. I’m trying to start reading at least a chapter in whatever book I’m currently reading each night before bed.
  • Meditate everyday. I’ve meditated on and off for a year or two now, but I’ve really struggled to make it a consistent habit. So for 2018, I want to start small. Just a few minutes a day, morning or night (or maybe in the middle of the day to take a break from work) to clear my mind.

There’s a few other things I’ll probably add to this eventually. But I think those are the essentials I need to flourish this year. I just want to focus on doing things that will make me happy, healthy, and successful.

Really, that simply means I need to do more to take care of myself this year. In 2018, I’m going to flourish. What will you do this year? Are you picking a word or theme for the year? Or did you make a list of goals or resolutions?