Full Steam Ahead

I, like many consumers, sometimes suffer from buyer’s remorse after making purchases. Maybe I didn’t really need that new shirt, and I certainly could have saved $4 on that afternoon iced coffee.

Similarly, I play the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve game when making decisions. It’s almost like a buyer’s remorse for life choices. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself busy worrying about bigger life decisions I’ve made, and what could have happened if I’d only picked something else. Did I attend the right college? Was moving to Los Angeles a smart move?

More recently, I’ve been close to worrying about another big decision: my new job change.

Yes, I finally made the leap and accepted a new position in commercial production. It’s not fancy or high-paying; in fact, it was generally a lateral move in regards to both salary and title. However, after thinking through the pros and cons, I decided this would be an excellent experience and could open many new future doors.

But to state the obvious, change is difficult. I left a job I loved with a company I loved, and knowing that it was time to move on didn’t ease the transition. As I traversed my new, 1-hour commute this past week, I found myself daydreaming about my other options. What if I had gone freelance? Would I have been good at it? What if I hadn’t left my old job? Would something better have come along, if only I’d just waited?

Then, like manna falling from the sky, I listened to an episode of the TED Radio Hour podcast about decision-making. In it, professor of philosophy Ruth Chang discussed how making choices can be difficult, but committing to a choice can ease that difficulty. As in, if you make a decision and wholeheartedly throw yourself behind it. You convince yourself this was right for you, and will work out in the long run – and you will feel better about it.

In my heart, I know that I am a sentimental fool who probably would still be working her first job (at a daycare center) if life hadn’t propelled her along to bigger and better things. In my head, I recognize that there were a myriad of reasons for choosing the career direction I did. My job now is to forge full steam ahead, to banish any shadow of a doubt about why I am where I am, and to brush aside those could’ve, would’ve, should’ves.

There’s a reason they call them “growing pains” (and I should know, I’m 5’11”). Change is daunting, especially when you feel like every move you make is weighted with expectation. Nonetheless, we must press onward, faking it until we really feel confident that our choices were right.

You can find a link to the TED Radio Hour podcast episode I listened to here.

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Fashion in a Capsule

The road to happiness is littered with old clothing.

The other day, I was nearly out the door to work when I stopped myself. Thanks to that LA winter heatwave (hello, 91 degrees), I was dressed in a sundress I’d bought in college from a Goodwill in Boston. Cute, but in the back of my mind it was stressing me out majorly. Is this too short for work? Does the top look a little faded? How well does this actually pair with this sweater?

I knew that if I went to work in that dress, I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything important. Rather than brainstorming projects for my interns or making strides on my paperwork, my headspace would be consumed with second thoughts about my choice of workwear. Plus, what does an old, slightly short sundress say about me to new freelancers coming by the office? Nothing good.

I have decided that it is time to give my wardrobe a complete makeover, a little bit at a time. It’s time to graduate to a slightly better level of dressing, one that 1) flatters me, 2) is comfortable, and 3) projects a positive image to others.

Since I’m a complete beginner when it comes to anything fashionable, I turned yet again to Pinterest to help me get started. That’s where I discovered a piece about capsule wardrobes by Caroline Rector on the site The Everygirl.

Capsule wardrobes are defined as “a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion…which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces” (source). Basically, it’s a miniature wardrobe (usually for a season) that is specifically designed to go together, taking the thinking out of getting dressed in the morning.

Caroline’s version of the capsule wardrobe consists of 37 pieces total – but there are many, many versions that exist. I decided that I liked Caroline’s method enough to follow along, and this past weekend I started my journey with a tour of my current collection of clothing.

First stop? Goodwill.

Caroline’s method says the first thing you should do is go through the clothing you have. You must literally take everything out of your closet and drawers; I dumped everything on my bed.

Next, you sort your clothes into four groups: love it and would wear it right now, maybe, no, and seasonal (as in, it’s winter now but you’ll definitely wear that maxi dress come summer).

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Goodbye forever!

I can be pretty decisive sometimes, so I skipped the maybe pile completely and went with what my gut was telling me. Things that I had hesitations on went straight into a garbage bag headed for donation.

For anyone not as impulsive as I am, Caroline recommends putting your no’s and maybe’s into storage for the time being. That way, if you miss anything, you have a chance to reclaim it.

My first thought after the cleanout was wow, I have so many hangers now. The entire process was cathartic and invigorating, and suddenly my room was filled only with clothes that I love to wear.

The next step for me is taking a hiatus from buying any new clothing for the next three months or so. This will allow me to learn more about my styling preferences and give me time to plan the additions I’ll need to complete my capsule.

Interested in planning your own? Check out Un-Fancy’s free wardrobe planner workbook.

Happy capsuling!

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Bookmarked: 10 Books to Kick Off Your Week

Call me crazy, but I am obsessed with the public library. Whenever I have free time, I’m either reading or planning what I’m going to read next.

Are you looking to refresh your bookshelf & dive into something new? Below I’ve curated a list of ten titles you should ask your neighborhood librarian to pull off the shelves for you.

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  1. All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven. A love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die. Perfect for fans of John Green or YA titles in general.
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  2. Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life” by Glennon Doyle Melton. A laugh-out-loud read of Melton’s poignant reflections on our universal experiences, it’s the story of one woman trying to love herself and others.
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  3. Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng. The emotionally involving debut novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small town Ohio.
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  4. #Girlboss” by Sophia Amoruso. A manifesto for ambitious young women by the founder of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer known for its leading edge fashion and provocative online persona.
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  5. The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi,the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West” by Michelle Goldberg. Traces the life of the incredibly woman who brought yoga to the West.
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  6. In the Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume. A moving story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are changed by unexpected events.
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  7. The Magicians” by Lev Grossman. A NYT bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world.
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  8. Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari. From one of our generation’s funniest comedic voices comes this hilarious in-depth exploration of the pleasures and pitfalls of modern romance.
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  9. Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker” by Lauren Kessler. Follow one woman’s journey to join a professional company to perform in The Nutcracker, proving you are not “supposed” to act any age.
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  10. Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. A novel set in a dystopian future that centers around Kirsten Raymonde, a woman traveling with a group dedicated to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive in this newly altered world.

    Happy reading!

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Day 15, or ‘I’m So Over This’

Try to think back to an unpleasant day you had at work.

Maybe it’s not a difficult task. Maybe it is. Depends on how you would describe unpleasant.

I’ve had unpleasant days where co-workers have flat out yelled at me for minor discretions. I’ve had days where I’ve dropped IKEA furniture pieces on my feet. And then there are those days I’ve been called in to plunge the toilets in the men’s restroom.

Yet, nothing is coming quite near to the feeling I’ve had this past week, having returned from spending the holidays at home with my family.

I haven’t had one of those typically terrible days at work where all I’ve wanted to do is crawl home and lick my wounds. Instead, my days have become…mundane. I’ve come to the realization that I am ready to move on from my current job.

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Somebody needs to update her resume…

Immediately after concluding this I felt dread, anxiety, and guilt. I think in America we’re conditioned to firstly, work constantly, and secondly, have an undying gratitude to our employers. I remember as a kid going in to work with my mom on occasional Saturdays, just so she could make sure she was ahead of the game come the following week. She was incredibly passionate about being a dedicated and productive employee.

I feel guilty for wanting to trade up my position and for wanting new challenges. It’s almost like a betrayal to the company that has taken such good care of me for the last year. I don’t think these feelings will ever go away completely; I’m a people pleaser and I do very much adore my current workplace. However, I don’t want to be someone who stays where they are because they’re too afraid of hurting others or of new opportunities.

In times like these, I find it helpful to go straight to the worst-case scenario. If I found a new job this year, what would realistically happen?

What if my boss gets upset? Ultimately, she should not have final say over my life choices. She’ll have to deal.

What if the new place ends up being a terrible fit? Hopefully interviewing with the company will weed out any major warning signs, but in the end it’s a gamble. I know that I can handle whatever obstacles that are thrown at me, and if I need to move on then I will.

What if I can’t actually find a new job? Sometimes our imagined timelines don’t always pan out, but it’s important to never let the goal fade. I would keep searching in earnest, reimagining a new deadline or plan if the first couldn’t be reached.

I have learned so much in the year plus that I’ve spent in Los Angeles, and especially with my current employer. I plan on staying on a little longer in 2016, but I’ve got a lot of career ahead of me that I think I’m ready to take the next step on, despite how nerve wracking it already feels. In the mean time, I want to dedicate myself to learning as much as I can from my mentors, as well as developing relevant skills on the side (hello web design!).

Have a great weekend everyone 🙂

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Day 7

You guys…this is it.

This is the moment. The moment where I realized that I have no excuses left. For anything.

Let me explain.

This morning, as I was opening the office with my co-worker, we starting chatting about our goals. And if you’ve read this blog with any sort of regularity, you’d know I’m a huge sucker for goals and anything goal-related.

My co-worker is a fresh faced lad who graduated college only last summer. He told me he was anxious to get going on his goals, which mainly revolved around getting back into doing standup comedy, practicing his swing dancing (he’s a classy guy), and figuring out where he wants to take his career.

I applauded his effort, but reminded him not to be too hard on himself. He did, after all, just graduate college.

And suddenly, I realized that I did not just graduate college. I graduated

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Me as a fresh faced grad! Alas, it’s time to get moving on my life’s to-do list.

college going on two years ago. Until this point, I had always let that be just one of my reasons to let my own goals slide.

I just graduated college, I have plennnnnnty of time to do [insert task].

I’m new to Los Angeles! I just need to get familiar with the city, that’s all.

Nobody ever gains success until they’re at least 25 anyways….

I’ll start [insert creative project] as soon as I’m settled into adulthood.

The list goes on.

I have been my own worst enemy from day one by not holding myself accountable. I based this on the reasoning that as a new grad, I needed to get some sort of “footing”, both mentally and physically in the city.

The truth is, time is ticking, and I have too much to do to let it slide by. If I want to turn my dreams into plans, I need to use every day to its fullest. No excuses.

Happy goal planning!

Climb to the top

Everyday, I am thinking about my next move. Whether it be my daily to-do lists or my lifetime goals. I am constantly thinking of what is next or what is to come. More recently, what is next in my career has been on the forefront. I think of what my next job prospect will be, but also how I will get such prospect. The hardest part about applying for the job is getting the employer to be able to see yourself in the position the way that you do.
On the way home from work, I listened to a very inspiring Ted Talk. Susan Colantuono spoke about three essential components that women need to climb up the leadership ladder. Yes, I am not in that place yet, but I believe this understanding should be built into all job searches and professional development opportunities regardless of what position or management level you are looking to enter.
 In a nutshell, she spoke about how we can harness our skills, ability to work with others and what she calls “ability to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes” to be able to land that next step in our careers. The main point of this talk was to highlight the ability to achieve these “outcomes” and how this piece of advice has been omitted from any of the advice given to us, especially women. Colantuono even emphasized how being able to showcase this understanding of outcomes will break the glass ceiling and increase the odds of us landing those positions.
 It is time to get to work. My resumes, cover letter, LinkedIn have all focused on 2 of the Colantuono  points I essentially need to rework my professional brand. I couldn’t tell you how long I slaved over my resume and cover letters only to hear nothing back. My biggest flaw is that missing component. I can talk about my skills and personality all day but I don’t talk at all about how I can be a positive beacon for  financial or business success for the company.
So before you hit send and relinquish control of your application, check to be sure you covered all of your bases. Make sure you can say ” Hey, I am amazing and I will be the best business and financial decision you will make all year.”
Check out Susan Colantuono’s TedTalk here.

Jess (2)