Shaking off the Boredom Blues

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Ever since college, the “B” word has been banned from my vocabulary. “B” as in bored. Nothing pushes you to use your time more wisely than being a waitress working afternoons in a slow restaurant. As you’re frequently reminded, they’re not paying you to stand in a corner on your phone.

Finding things to do has become my trademark at work – there’s never a time when I allow myself to twiddle my thumbs and not be proactive about finding ways to stay busy.

However, there comes a point when the motivation just isn’t there and the mundanity seems to set in.

That’s a good time to reassess what motivates you, what gives you meaning to your work and your play. There are internal motivations, such as when you’re focusing on being more physically active. It can do a brain and body good to remember why you’re trying to be healthier in the first place. Weight loss? Training for a marathon? If you’re trying to finish a project, think about why you want to finish this task. When I was working on my project draft last month, I actually wrote down my motivations on sticky notes above my desk, where I would see them everyday.

If that’s not quite doing it for you, then maybe it’s time to think about planning a little something that will break up the monotony of the month. Make plans to meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Take a class in something you’ve never tried before (hello, acroyoga!). Treat yourself to a massage/manicure/hike in the woods. Give yourself something – no matter how small – to look forward to and brighten your week.

Me? I think I’ve got my eyes on a concert in San Francisco I’d like to go to this summer 🙂

 

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Looking at the {Wo}Man in the Mirror

6:30 AM. My alarm is shrieking on my nightstand. I can barely open my eyes, but I don’t have any time left to sleep – I was supposed to already be up, dressed, and working on my novella. I was supposed to have my gym bag packed and my tea brewing and be a functioning human being.

With all of this weighing on me, I moved to get out of bed. Just then, a little voice in my head yelled Stop! Wait! Hold on for a second. Are you happy with this arrangement?

I listened. I stopped. And I reflected.

Currently, I’m on a quest to instill some good habits into my life. I’ve lovingly named it the BLOB program (better life or bust!). BLOB basically has involved me trying to live healthier- I go to the gym more, eat better, and sleep more, and at the end of a certain period of time of doing well, I earn a “prize”. Cue images of sticker charts for children.

On the other hand, I’ve become more serious about finishing the first draft of my novella. The goal is to have the draft finished by the end of March. This has meant at least six written pages a day, plus research and outlining.

Unfortunately, these two little projects of mine have begun to clash.

Where BLOB states clearly that I should be in bed by 10 PM, my novella demands 3,000 words to be written after work. BLOB requires a stretch session before the day starts. The novella needs an outline before that night’s pages can be written. It goes on.FullSizeRender

It’s only been three (count ‘em – three) days of this back and forth, and I’m already exhausted and disappointed. Where I gain with one, I fail with the other. And it doesn’t help that my roommate has recently gotten me into Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

Reflecting this morning gave me the moment’s pause I needed to say something has to give. In college I remember seeing a Venn Diagram of three circles arranged in a triangle. One is sleep, one is your social life, and one is your grades. The caption underneath read “pick two”, meaning that something always has to give.

In life, we cannot be great at everything, always. I can’t be staying up until 1AM every night and expecting to run a full day on only four hours sleep for a month. And I can’t expect to finish my draft if I am spending more time working on other projects.

It’s ok to compromise and to adjust in order to prevent this kind of burn out. I’ve decided to lessen my BLOB duties for the remainder of draft writing, but in return I’m going to focus on achieving a more reasonable bedtime by prepping for my writing the night before. It’s not perfect, but I’m hoping it will be a major improvement.

May you also seek the answers to your problems with a little reflection in your life 🙂

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Organization Never Looked Hotter

It started innocently enough.

I wanted to buy a new planner for 2016. And I don’t mean a run-down-to-CVS-and-grab-whatever’s-on-the-shelf kind of planner. I wanted to invest in something pretty and high-functioning. Something that was going to help me get that much closer to achieving all of the goals I’d set for the new year.

A simple Google search led me to a website (much like this one) run by a woman who owns many different types of day planners for different aspects of her life – and reviews them! Suddenly I was staring at spiral bound Erin Condrens, Simplified Planners, Day Designers, Kikki K’s – the list was endless. Each planner more beautifully styled and more well organized than the next!

Stay with me. It gets better.

Finding the day planners meant finding blogs dedicated not only to the planners themselves, but their decoration.

As in, totally decked out daily, weekly, and monthly layouts, created by so-called “planner addicts”. It’s scrapbooking to a whole new level.

As a wannabe planner addict myself, I’ve now spent many, many hours drooling over these beautifully inspired layouts. It’s a beautiful marriage of creativity, DIY, stickers, and goal planning.

As any #bosslady #careerwoman knows, organization is a major key to success, both personally and professionally. I had no idea that it could be so beautiful.

Don’t believe me? Below I’ve included some of my favorite Instagram accounts from both planner addicts and individuals/companies that design the accoutrements.

Take a look, but be careful! You might fall in love ❤

p.s. Curious as to what I ended up with? Stay tuned for next time!

NEW Week! NEW Month! Let's start February off with a bang!💕 📷: @plannerhappiness

A post shared by Day Designer® (@thedaydesigner) on

My planners are now complete with @paperprincess beautiful tassels and paper clips!! 😍😍😍

A post shared by Wenda | 📒 Planner Addict (@wendafuldesigns) on

Last half of the week! 😍💙💜💚 • all shops are tagged •

A post shared by Jessica (@jkruuu_plans) on

 

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Day 33: Seeing the City Anew

Do you ever feel like home seems a little lackluster after being away? Mind you, I’m grateful for the warm California sunshine as opposed to the gray skies that followed me across Europe, but after my vacation I missed that feeling of waking up every day and thinking, what new things will I discover?

It can be difficult to see past the everyday thrum of daily life and routines. Yet, there are always new things to be discovered in seemingly old, familiar places. When I visited home over the holidays, my aunt and uncle took me antiquing in a downtown area I’d never frequented before. We shopped in immaculately curated stores, grabbed cocoa in a cafe with the locals, and found a shabby-chic thrift store in the basement of an old brick building. I’d lived in NH for twenty-some-odd years before then, and yet there were so many nooks and crannies I had yet to see.

Luckily for me, Los Angeles is still a mystery in many ways. An enormous mystery, filled with historical sights, museums, art, music – you name it. It’s a metropolis brimming with scenic gardens and urban sprawl and beaches – or so I’ve heard.

Coming home to LA made me more determined to be as open-minded and wide-eyed as I can. In this instance, I say the more touristy you are, the better! When I lived in Boston, I thought I’d seen it all. Then, on a whim, I took a Segway tour (yes, dorky helmet and all) of the city and suddenly there was the spot where the Great Molasses Flood happened! I don’t want to live in LA and never see more than one or two neighborhoods.

The other night I pulled out my LA tour-book that I first bought before moving out here, and generated a list of everything I want to see. Then, I randomly assigned each place to a weekend. My first stop was to The Last Bookstore, a brick-and-mortar privately owned local bookstore in Downtown LA renowned for being incredibly cool.

My theme this year was to be more adventurous, in every sense of the word. The byline of that theme, though, was that I would really really make these adventures come to fruition, rather than dreaming the days away. Putting them on my calendar seemed like the logical next step in seeing my visits accomplished.
Until next time, stay touristy my friends!

 

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What day is it? ….Day 31

It has been a week since I returned home from Hawaii! It is time to pull it back from the relaxing, sun filled sky vacation mind set and get back into the flow of reality. I hope you all were not thinking of my absense as falling off the band wagon…again.

My island seista was not a result of months of planning and anxiety. It was merely the product, more like passion, of my partner. He has been itching to back to the islands where he has family. And month ago, I merely had to hit submit and our tickets were bought. This was a little out of character for me.  What was I thinking?! Jess doesn’t take vacations during the busiest part of her work year. To be honest, Jess doesn’t really like taking vacations. Period. Sad right?

I have been programed. I have been set to see taking time for myself as selfish and secondary to everything and every person in my life.

I share the same feelings as Aubrey from one of her recent posts. I am ready to move onto a new step in my career. I am ready to take it a next step with my partner. And ready to make BIG changes, but how could I put that all on pause for a 15 hrs journey to spend 10 days on a beach?

I had spent exactly one full week back at work. I knew this was all worth it when a colleague of mine shared his reaction to a phone call I had with a client. “That is how you come back and crush it.” He is my biggest cheerleader, but he made a great point. I did crush it. That was one of the best conversations I have had and the best part was: it was authentic.

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Take me back! 

This break has created a moment of pause. It allowed me to really take time amongst all of these aspirational changes to really think the all through. Sure, this pause allowed me to see volcanos and sea turtles. It more importantly made me realize why and how to make these changes. It has renergized my pursuit to be the most authentic version of myself. It has alowed me to finally be ok with taking time for myself. Because in the end, we all won. We all benefited from me watching the sunset while New England watched the snow.

Take a day off! Better yet, take 10!

XXOO Jess

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!

Back To Business

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There’s a photo on my inspiration board I made that simply reads, “It’s time to work a little harder.” Over the summer, my board sat tucked behind another piece of art in the corner of my room, amidst my unpacked boxes and bags from my August move.

Recently, I unearthed my board, and took a good look at that photo. This summer seems like a blur, but I’ve walked out of it not feeling like my best self. I’ve wanted to blame the heat, and work, and my move, but these things all boil down to excuses for not putting in the extra effort to achieve what I want.

For instance, I stopped writing for the blog because I was “too tired” or “didn’t feel in the mood”. Every day, I’d say tomorrow. The point of writing these posts was to motivate me to accomplish my dreams and pursue new interests alongside my cousin. It feels like when I stopped writing, I stopped thinking that I could do better.

In high school and college, I used to wonder what adults did in their free time. They didn’t have essays to write, practices to attend, plays to rehearse for, tests to study for. Now, as a graduate and semi-adult, I’ve forgotten what it was like to really give every day your all. I achieved so much with 24 hours, even while being a full time student with three part time jobs.

It’s still hotter than hell outside (fall doesn’t exist here), but I’m embracing the metaphorical season change with a new mindset. It’s alright to take a vacation and ease up on the throttle every now and then. What’s important is that you get back on the saddle and continue on your journey. The year isn’t quite over yet, and I want to spend the next few months refocusing my attention on my goals. It’s time to work a little harder, and I could not be more excited to do so!

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Half-Assing All the Way

Last week at work, I had a revelation of sorts. That afternoon, we had just wrapped up feeding forty or so people Indian food and were in the process of cleaning it all up. In a nutshell, it’s a super sloppy job to do. I kept bouncing back between wrapping up leftovers, wiping down the table, organizing the dishwasher, etc. Eventually I noticed how frustrated I was getting with my lack of progress. The place had remained messy, despite my efforts.

That’s when the eureka moment hit.

I have never before known Indian food to be a stand in for my life, but there it was. In cleaning as in life, I had been putting myself into too many tasks and not been seeing results. I had been half-assing everything from my DIY projects to my coupon cutting to my writing and fitness goals. The intentions were there, but my many and varied plans had fallen by the wayside.

My word for 2015 was ‘follow-through’, as I’ve been known to flit from idea to idea without ever finishing it. My closet at home is full of dead craft projects and unfinished story ideas; when the going got tough, I quit and started something new.

Thanks to my goal setting workbook that I completed last month, I have narrowed down my official goal “categories” to writing, getting in shape, being financially responsible, expanding my resume, and traveling. Having this list taped to the inside of my planner has been instrumental in keeping my ambitions focused, but now is the time to revisit them and re-plan for them afresh.

Words to live by!

Words to live by!

It can be overwhelming to take on such a task – especially if you are revisiting your goals only because you were getting overwhelmed by them in the first place. I recommend that you:

1) Take a deep breath, grab a refreshment (may I suggest a giant cup of caffeine) and find a quiet place to settle in for a while.

2) If you haven’t already, I recommend you figure out your top five goals like I did using this workbook. Once you have them, take the goals and break them into smaller chunks by category.

3) One by one, focus on each chunk and come up with a plan to see it actualize into something that’s achievable. Under my category of “getting in shape”, I wrote that I wanted to be able to run two miles without stopping. To achieve this, I’ve created a workout calendar that’s devoted solely to my exercise routines.

4) Implement those plans, but one at a time! Instead of trying to run two miles and learn how to dead squat, I’m going to focus on them one at a time, at least until I feel comfortable enough to move on or add more to my goal.

This slower pace can seem incredibly frustrating. After all, we live in a world where the McDonald’s drive thru can have a delicious McFlurry awaiting you in a second’s notice (I don’t recommend those if your goals include fitness…or living past 25). We – myself included – want things and we want them now!

But taking it one goal at a time can ensure a success that half-assing everything can never do for you. The wisdom you can find in Indian food!

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Work{Book} Your Life Away

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If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. Chances are it will be the worst thing you have to do all day. – Mark Twain

Today was not the first day I noticed my to-do list remained untouched.

In fact, I actually had to go find my to-do list, which was buried in a paper bag in my apartment. Also missing seems to be my motivation. Maybe it’s just that time of year – fresh faced graduates are posting their smiling faces in caps and gowns all over social media, proclaiming how excited they are about the bright futures that await them!

Their Instagrams and Facebook posts seem to fuel my current discontent, but they’re not the source. In many ways, I feel stuck. What was once new and exciting has become more routine, and my motivation is flagging, dragging, and burning. I’m sure you’ve noticed, what with my inconsistent blog posts.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one going through these post-graduate blues. My roommates are also experiencing some ruts. Now, I’m ready to take action on them.

In researching for this post, I’ve come across several different methods to making an achievable goals list. Some use money as an incentive, others stress the steps of picking a goal, then breaking it down into quantifiable pieces.

As I stare at my planner, I realize that I’ve been doing just fine in breaking things down, assigning little chunks to different days to ensure I would never feel overwhelmed. It’s the follow through that is nowhere to be found. The pieces are all there, I just have refused to take action on any of them.

Oy.

Skip ahead. I’ve found a goals workbook that promises to help guide you through revamping your to do lists, and helps you look ahead at the future. I sign up via the blog Living Well Spending Less, which automatically enrolls me to their video mailing list. In exchange, I am able to Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 3.43.30 PMdownload the workbook, and in little breaks at work I begin to fill out the pages.

I find my problem at step one. The workbook has you list what activities you think are most important, as well as the ones you think take up the most of your time; whatever overlaps especially takes priority. I had very little overlap between my items, from which I concluded that I’m hardly spending any time on what I think is actually important in my life (health and wellness, friends and family, serving my community, writing), and wasting time (I actually wrote ‘surfing the Internet’ as something that eats up my time – yikes!).

Obviously, I spend a good chunk of my life at work, which is a necessity rather than a favored activity. There will obviously be days where I have to do things I don’t want to do (I’ve been needing to switch my car insurance for a while, I’m not looking forward to that). Overall, though, my free time has been drizzled away wasting time when I could be chasing dreams and making things happen.

Additionally, the workbook has had me imagine my dream future in five years (hello adorable apartment in San Fran!), plan short term goals, and much much more. I feel re-energized and more focused having completed it.

Feeling like you’re in a rut? Find the workbook sign up page here: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2015/01/05/effective-goal-setter/

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