Facing Financial Fears

Facing Financial Fears

I’ve talked about my career change and the positive aspects of working with preschoolers, but I have yet to dive into the most challenging part of making the shift away from a steady 9-5 job: the financial side. Though I’ve covered plenty of personal topics on this blog, something about money feels even more personal. It seems as though money is quite a taboo topic, something we don’t often chat about with friends. We’ll talk about relationships without hesitation, but somehow bringing up money seems too difficult. There’s an element of embarrassment or fear of failure that goes along with finances that is similar, but still distinctly unique, from our feelings about dating or other common topics. I feel scared writing this blog post, but I know it’s a topic I need to talk about more. So here I go!

When I made the leap from working at a large, corporate company, to working at a small, fairly new preschool, I knew the risk I was taking financially. But I don’t think I understood, or wanted to understand, the full extent of what my choice meant. It’s no secret teachers don’t earn as much money as other fields, and I soon learned “childcare workers”, as I’m defined in the preschool world, earn even less than “school-age” educators (kindergarten through high school teachers). To put it candidly — and this makes me so scared to write for some reason, I think I’m afraid of looking weak but I’m saying it anyway— it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a preschool teacher. All of the teachers I work with have multiple side-jobs.

All that is to say, I took a huge financial risk to become a preschool teacher. For the past few months as I adjusted to my new job, I adapted an attitude of avoidance, thinking “it will all work out” in regard to my finances, without developing any sort of plan. My monthly income was cut drastically, and I was scared to confront that reality. I felt intense anxiety whenever I thought about my finances, and my coping mechanism was to just ignore, ignore, ignore. Like a monster under the bed, I was afraid of what I’d find hidden in the dark if I took the time to really examine my newfound financial situation. I knew deep down I’d need to put in a lot of work to figure out how to earn more money and put together a budget, and it made me feel exhausted thinking about it. So I chose a route of avoidance.

With the exception of a few small changes, I continued spending in the same manner I had when I was at my previous job. I saw the number in my checking account decreasing steadily, but I didn’t want to deal with what that meant. I was stubbornly hoping I could continue living the same way I had before, that nothing needed to change, and magically things would all work out. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

Finally, slowly, I came to terms with the fact that I needed to stop this denial and start being real with myself. I needed to find alternative forms of income, and I needed to cut back on my expenses each month. Nothing was going to magically work out if I didn’t put in the work myself. I knew I needed a wake-up call, so I made a to-do list and started crossing things off:

  • I found a freelance job writing resumes and cover letters for clients.
  • I started putting feelers out and working more irregular gigs like babysitting, petsitting, and social media management.
  • I took a look at exactly how much I’m earning versus how much I’m spending each month, identifying how much extra money I need per month and areas I can cut back on spending.
  • I started opening up to friends and family about this topic.

The funny thing about avoidance is we know deep down it’s not going to help. Ignoring my finances didn’t magically give me more money, or assuage my anxieties. I still had a nagging voice in my head saying “You need to confront this. You can’t keep this up forever, Shelly!” My savings were still depleting. Those months I spent not paying attention to my spending, blindly hoping I was making enough money to support for my spending habits, I was just prolonging the inevitable. I eventually had to come back to reality and put in the work to get on the right track.

I was right that the work I needed to put in would be tiring. I don’t have everything figured out yet. I still have more work to do to feel confident in my financial situation. I still have the same anxiety about money, and the same embarrassment around talking about it. I don’t know if any of that will ever change, but I know one thing has changed: I’m facing my fears rather than avoiding. I’m taking action rather than remaining passive. I’m talking about this topic rather than bottling it all up. Leaving the world of avoidance and entering the world of action may still bring its fair share of exhaustion and anxiety, but it has also made me feel empowered and given me hope. It may take a while, but I know everything will work out, because I’m finally doing the work.

Do you have fears around money? Do you feel embarrassed or scared or anxious to talk about it? Have you ever made a career change and had to reevaluate your income? Let’s talk about it! I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

I’m not behind, my timeline is just different than yours

I’m not behind, my timeline is just different than yours

I’ve never done things at the same time as other people. My life has always seemed to march to the beat of its own drum. When I was a teenager and my friends were getting their first boyfriends, I still hadn’t even had my first kiss. I remember feeling embarrassed and confused. “Is there something wrong with me? Why am I so behind?”

Ten plus years later and I still feel that way at times. Now my friends are getting married, getting promotions, going to grad school, buying houses. Meanwhile I’m single, starting over in a completely new career, unsure what the future holds. I often wonder if I’m doing something wrong. Those same fears from my teenage years creep back into my mind. “Why am I so behind?”

I have to constantly remind myself there’s no “right” time to do things, no “correct” timeline for my life. Just because other people are doing things sooner than I am, doesn’t mean I’m behind. When I did finally get my first kiss and my first boyfriend, I remember thinking in hindsight that the timing was perfect. It may not have happened the same way, or at the same time, as my friends, but it happened the way it was supposed to for me and my life. Just like my first kiss and first boyfriend, I know all of the things I want to happen in my life will happen for me in due time. I just have to be patient.

Everyone’s timeline is different, and that’s what makes life so unpredictable and beautiful at the same time. Imagine how boring life would be if you knew exactly what was going to happen to you, and when? Where’s the fun in being able to predict, or control, the timeline of your life? Part of what makes life interesting and exciting is how impossible it is to plan what will happen next!

A year ago, or even six months ago, I never would have guessed where I would be today. I had no idea I would make a huge career change to become a preschool teacher. I didn’t know I would be moving into a condo by myself in an area of town I’ve never lived in before (blog post about my move coming soon!) I may not be getting married or buying a house this year, but I’m sure I will have other big milestones happen that I never would have imagined a few months ago. I’m ready for whatever life wants to throw at me! I’m just along for the ride.

Do you ever feel behind? What do you do to help yourself feel better? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. I’d love to hear how you relate to this topic!

A Career Change From the Heart

A Career Change From the Heart

For the first time in my career, I made a decision with my heart instead of my head. I took a chance. My intention for this year was to have more courage, and this definitely took a hell of a lot of courage. It’s not easy to make a big change, and I’m so proud of myself! I feel as if a weight has lifted off my shoulders, and I want to shout from the rooftops, “I DID IT!”

A little background

I have always been an over-thinker, preoccupied with wondering if I’m doing the “right” thing. I like to feel like I have everything figured out when in reality I rarely do (nobody does). When I was in college I spent every summer interning at a different company because I thought that was what a good college kid did. All of my internships ended up focusing on social media marketing, so I decided that was what I would do when I graduated.

I still remember my last semester of college as if it were yesterday, frantically applying and interviewing for jobs I felt completely qualified for, only to be rejected or “ghosted” by all of them. In hindsight I wonder if that was the universe trying to send me a signal. “Do you really want to go down this career path or do you just think it’s your only choice?” 

I finally got a job about five months after graduating, worked there for a little over a year, decided I hated it, moved on to another job a few months later, decided I hated it and got fired…I see now it was a vicious cycle I needed to break, but it just took me a while to come to terms with that fact. I think deep down I’ve known for years that social media and marketing wasn’t fulfilling me. I didn’t feel challenged or satisfied, and I felt a sense of dread every Sunday when I thought about going back to work the next day.

A discovery period

I knew I was ready for a change and was optimistic that there was a better career fit out there for me, so when I was fired a few months ago, I took the time to do some soul searching. I applied and interviewed for a lot of different types of jobs, from event planning to recruiting. I was waiting for an epiphany to happen, where I would suddenly realize what I was wanted to do. It felt as if it would never come, but then, when I was least expecting it…

BOOM! Suddenly it all became clear. I want to work with kids! Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved children. Starting around age 10 I worked as a “Mother’s Helper”, then a Babysitter, then a camp counselor. I’m the type of person who will stop and stare at a cute baby on the street before I notice the cute puppy. Being around children brings me a certain joy, similar to how I feel when I’m outside on a beautiful sunny day. When I thought about working with young children, I felt happy. It felt right.

But I was still scared. Am I crazy? Should I really make this big of a change in my career? CAN I really make this big of a change? Will anyone hire me? What if I don’t like it after all? All of these questions ran through my head over and over again, but I knew I had to give it a try.

And boy did giving it a try pay off! I applied and landed an interview, and then a position as a sub, at a preschool here in Austin. They let me try out subbing for a couple weeks to get a feel for the school and see how I liked it, and to see if they thought I’d be a good fit.

The preschool is unique because it was created with a yoga-type philosophy, focusing on social & emotional development, play, and mindfulness. I really resonated with the mission of the school, having gone to the Austin Waldorf School when I was young, which has very similar values.

A new chapter

As of last week, I am officially an Assistant Teacher at the preschool, working with the youngest group, ages 18 months to 2 years! I’ll be completing trainings over the next few months, and will get the opportunity to do yoga teacher training this summer. I love everyone I work with (kids and other adults) and I’m so glad I took this leap!

I feel happy at work. HAPPY. This weekend I actually felt excited to go back to work on Monday. EXCITED. No more of that familiar Sunday Dread. I feel challenged every day, and no day has been the same. I’m constantly learning and growing and observing. I can already tell the kids are going to teach me just as much as I teach them. I’m just feeling genuinely content with where I am, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds!

If you’re feeling unhappy at your job, maybe it’s time for a change. Don’t feel stuck just because you have a certain college degree, or you’ve been doing one kind of job for years. It’s never too late to change course. What do you love to do? What skills do you have? When you close your eyes, what job can you imagine yourself truly enjoying? I promise you have more possibilities than you might think. You just have to be brave!

Job Satisfaction and Fear of Failure

Job Satisfaction and Fear of Failure

For a little over a year, I had a great job. Or rather, the kind of job that looks great on a resume. When I got the job offer in September of 2017, I thought “I would be stupid not to take this offer!” I was making more money than I ever had before. The job came with more vacation days than I could use in a year, and extra perks like free lunches twice a week. It was the kind of job my friends were jealous of. The catch? I wasn’t happy.

“Nobody likes their job!” That was the most common response people gave me over the past few months when I expressed I had grown unhappy at work. I knew in my gut I wanted to leave, but that response made me feel like I should just suck it up. Like maybe I was overreacting and needed to just grow a thicker skin, because everyone else was in the same boat.

“If everyone is right and nobody likes their job, then I guess it’s just something I need to get used to and stop complaining about. Maybe seeking happiness at work is unrealistic. Will I be any happier at a new job? Maybe I’m the problem, and I’m just not fit to be in a 9 to 5 job! Maybe things will get better if I just try harder and stick it out…”

My inner thoughts over the past few months

I let other people’s opinions and comments about how “nobody likes their job” get to me. I decided that if I worked harder, and tried on a “fake it till you make it” attitude, maybe things would magically get better at work. The problem was, I didn’t feel passionate or satisfied with anything I was doing. I was burning myself out on a job I didn’t love. Before too long this started to reflect in my work. I wasn’t performing as well as I could have. Which only made my satisfaction at work plummet even more.

I’ve always been a perfectionist. I seek approval from others, as well as from myself. I so badly wanted to make this job work, to prove I was competent and capable and good enough. I was terrified of failure, of being judged, of what people would think of me if I didn’t succeed. It took me back to the feeling of being a teenager, scared of making anything less than an A in school. Or a 20-something avoiding sharing the news that my relationship had failed.

This blog provides an outlet for me to be vulnerable and talk about things that are difficult to admit. It forces me to share the less-than-perfect parts of my life. Little by little, I’m ridding myself of the notion that I need to appear perfect to everyone in my life. It’s so freeing to let go of that and just be open and honest. So here goes: I lost my job. I tried to make it work, and I failed.

It was a surreal experience because, like I said above, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t actually want to be there. But my fear of failure and of other people’s judgements was stronger than my desire to leave. The silver lining is that I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and changed my perspective on job satisfaction. My opinion is, if you truly are unhappy in your job, don’t ignore that! It’s okay to walk away. Don’t let fear of failure overpower your own happiness. Trying to force yourself to be happy never works. Ignoring those feelings will only backfire, and it will all catch up to you eventually. 

So where am I now? I’m what I like to call “happily unemployed.” I’m taking some time to really think about what I want and need out of my next job. Do I want to continue working in the social media field, or do I want to make a career change? This is the main question I’m asking myself as I assess my options and look for a new job. The main thing I’m feeling right now is excitement for the future. I don’t know where I’ll be a month from now, but I’m ready for a new beginning!

Have you ever felt stuck in a job you didn’t love? Do you agree with the idea that “nobody likes their job”? Let me know in the comments!

Table Talk Tuesday With Imelda Green

Table Talk Tuesday With Imelda Green

I can’t believe this is already my fourth Table Talk Tuesday interview. I’ve been having so much fun getting to know other bloggers through this blog series! Hopefully you all are enjoying reading these conversations so far.

For today’s interview, I’m very excited to introduce Imelda. I was immediately enchanted by her blog, which features her creative handmade products, as well as step-by-step guides to creating your own masterpieces. She is definitely an inspiration to me, and I’m sure many others, when it comes to following your passions.

Without further adieu, let’s jump into the interview so you can see what I mean:

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Can you tell me the story of how you decided to start your blog, and what your blogging journey has been like so far?

I was nearing the end of my engineering studies when it finally dawned on me that this was not my path in life and that if I wanted to pursue a creative career. Without disrespect for theoretical knowledge, I think that art and design is a profession that you master mainly by doing instead of pouring over books. So I decided that starting a blog about my creative journey would motivate me to do regular work. And so it has, for over a year.

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog?

Know your passion. Blogging takes a lot of time and hard work but that all feels like a game when you write about something you are really fascinated with. If you blog about a topic you only choose for market (or whatever other) reasons, you will lose interest in the end.

You mention on the About section of your blog that blogging helped you not fall into the trap of laziness, because it pushed you to keep creating things. What are some other ways you stay productive and motivated?

The beauty of the creative field is that there are many different aspects of the work I do, so I don’t have to be productive in the same field all the time. Fed up with writing blog posts? No problem, time to illustrate! Been painting for days on end? It’s okay, I can spend my energy on building a community around my blog. But I also allow myself to be unproductive at times, those are the moments when I re-charge my batteries, which is crucial when you are a creative. 

You also talked how you realized during your time at university that you didn’t want to spend all of your life doing architecture/engineering, when your true passions were in design and beauty. What made you finally decide to pursue your passions? 

I think that creativity is something that bursts out of you; it finds its way to the surface, unless you repress it. For the moment I am doing engineering as well as designing, which is demanding but I find I’m really lucky because I have a comfortable job, which I am choosing to do as well as a designing career, which comes naturally, and which I will eventually do full-time. So I guess I never made a very conscious decision to pursue my passion, I just acted on the natural impulse. 

“I think that creativity is something that bursts out of you; it finds its way to the surface, unless you repress it.”

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

That is definitely a hard one, as I have a very long gratitude list and I don’t normally rank them, but here it goes: I am incredibly grateful to my grandmother for introducing art to me from a very early age, to my blogger friends who keep encouraging me even when blogging seems pointless and to Mr Mozart for his genius music, which cheers me up in every situation.

What is one of your favorite inspirational quotes?

There is a quote above my desk that I learned from Thomas Frank’s youtube channel: “’I don’t feel like it’ is a matter of choice”. It is very tempting – especially in the creative field – to only do work when you ‘feel inspired’. But inspiration is something you can actually control and the difference between amateur and professional artists is that professionals don’t wait for the perfect moment, they do it anyway. It might not be perfect, but a first draft is always better than an empty piece of paper.

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

Uh, that’s another difficult one, I have so many. I’m really thankful for all the things I learned about running an online business from Melyssa Griffin, she is amazing, and I always find artistic motivation when I watch the youtube channel of Holly Exley.   

What is the best advice you have ever received from someone?

Better done than perfect. I have seen/heard this advice so many times and I honestly think that perfectionism sabotages our actions just too many times. It won’t be perfect, but it will get better with time. And better and better…

What is your greatest achievement so far in life, and what is one thing you still hope to accomplish?

I’m really proud of getting over the world constantly telling me I am not good enough and following my own path in the artistic field. I am hoping to continue this journey until I can run my business full time.    

“I’m really proud of getting over the world constantly telling me I am not good enough and following my own path in the artistic field.”

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could have one super power, which would you choose?

Well, I would definitely be grateful for the ability to teleport. Travelling can sometimes be stressful in a big city, especially when it’s cold and dark outside (hello February :). I also have some good friends abroad whom I’d love to see more often at slightly less expense.

imelda2

I just loved everything Imelda had t0 say about creativity and how she got to where she is today. My favorite part about these interviews is hearing everyone’s stories. Please be sure to check out Imelda’s blog and follow her on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/imeldagreens

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/imeldagreens/

Pinterest: https://hu.pinterest.com/imeldagreens/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/imeldagreens

Tumblr: http://imeldagreens.tumblr.com

New Job: Tips for Success

Hey everyone! If you saw my Exciting Life Update post you’ll know that I just started my first ever full-time job! I have been working there for three weeks now and I am loving it so far. Going into it I was a little nervous just because I had never worked 40 hours a week before and I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. But now that I have three weeks under my belt I feel a lot more comfortable, and I figured some of you might benefit from hearing my advice about making the first few weeks of a new job the best they can be! So here are my three tips for success at a new job.

Tip #1: Go above and beyond

I think that when you are new at a job it’s good to always be thinking of extra things you can do to help out. Don’t just settle for doing the bare minimum, think about how you could add to what you’ve been assigned to do in order to make your supervisor’s job easier. Doing this will show your coworkers that you are serious about your job, and prove to them that hiring you was a great decision.

Tip #2: Share your opinions

It’s easy to think that because you’re the newbie you shouldn’t share your thoughts or opinions on things yet, but that is definitely not true. They hired you for a reason, and it’s never too early to share ideas that you have or to be honest about an idea someone else has that maybe you don’t quite agree with. It shows that you’re capable of bringing new perspectives to the table, which is very valuable for any organization.

Tip #3: Stay organized

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed or to forget to do little things when you’re first starting out in a new environment, but overlooking tasks is a big don’t, especially in your first few weeks. To stay on top of everything I like to hand write to-do lists and cross off items when they are complete. Not only does it help me to visualize everything that needs to be done, it also feels oddly rewarding to physically cross something off of a list when you have accomplished it. If you work on a Mac I would also suggest typing in “reminders” on your computer that will send a notification when you need to do something. This is helpful if there are time-sensitive projects you need to finish, or if you are afraid you will forget something a few weeks from now.

 

I hope these tips were helpful to you, whether you are starting out in a new job like me, or just wondering what you should be thinking about when the time comes to start  job. Comment below to let me know your tips for success at a new job!

Book Review: Yes Please

Book Review: Yes Please

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“I think we should stop asking people in their 20s what they ‘want to do’ and start asking them what they don’t want to do. Instead of asking students to ‘declare their major’ we should ask students to ‘list what they will do anything to avoid.’ It just makes a lot more sense.”

Hey everyone! Today’s blog post is a book review of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. If I wasn’t already, I can now say in full confidence that I am a huge fan of Amy. And by huge fan I mean I want to become her best friend and am plotting a way to make that happen ASAP. (Please leave suggestions for how to make this happen in the comments). In order to avoid writing an entire book of my own, I have chosen three specific parts or passages to tell you all about. Hope you enjoy!

Amy begins the book by explaining how difficult it is to write a book. The first sentence of the book is: “I like hard work and I don’t like pretending things are perfect.” I loved this quote because I thought it captured the essence of what a lot of celebrities seem to lack: authenticity. Many celebrity authors make it look easy, as if they just sat down one day and hammered out the entire book while sipping on a cocktail and staring at the sunset rising over a beach. But not Amy. She flat out tells us it was hard, she wanted to give up many times, and she frequently hit road blocks. I think this first chapter really sets the scene for the book and tells the reader that what they are about to read contains 0% B.S.

One of my favorite parts is when Amy explains the difference between career and creativity, using the metaphors of a bad boyfriend and a good boyfriend, respectively. She says that you should practice the art of ambivalence when it comes to your career, and let go of wanting it so bad. “Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you’re around.” In contrast, she says that creativity is: “…connected to your passions, that light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love.” I really liked this analogy because, as you may have seen in my last blog post, I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to find the “perfect job.” And thanks to Amy, I have come to realize that your career is not the most important thing in life, and it will never make you truly happy the way creativity will.

The final part that I want to talk about is towards the end of the book, when Amy describes her theory about time travel. And no, it has nothing to do with Back to the Future. She believes that you can travel in time with people, places and things. You can achieve this by living in the moment and paying attention to the little things in life. She goes on to tell three stories, each one corresponding to one of the three types of time travel. She writes about a piano that was at her grandparent’s house growing up, and how it now sits in her home and is played by her two boys, reminding her of her grandparents and allowing her to travel back to the times that she played it in her grandparent’s house as a child. I loved this concept and I think that it is something we should all take the time to think about. Slow down and appreciate each moment of each day, because you never know what could end up being a precious memory when you’re older.

I know that wasn’t exactly a clear recounting of what the book was about or what to expect from it, but I hope you enjoyed hearing about some of my favorite parts. And who knows, maybe I sparked your interest enough to get you to go out and buy the book! I promise you won’t be disappointed.