Category Archives: Career

Actually, I get to make my life decisions. Not you.

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

**Note: religious references included**

My church has an email list where ladies can ask for help, look for things they need, sell things they don’t need, etc…. I use it frequently because I’m a single mom trying to do the work of two people and I usually need some help. So a while back, when I wasn’t getting enough hours at work, I posted a notice that I was looking for odd jobs to make some extra money. A woman on the list contacted me and encouraged me to apply where she works. She was very pushy and adamant. (She totally ignores me at church, and has been distant the few times I’ve tried to start a conversation with her.) She insisted I should apply at her employer because the hours are kid friendly, and I’d be working while the kids were at school. She wanted me to be a school lunch lady. Now I don’t look down on that position or anybody who works it, but I really need to earn more money to get by. The pay was minimum wage, and the hours were only 2-4 hours a day. No way I’m going to support a family on that! So I put in an application for substitute work, but kept looking for something better.

On a whim, I ended up finding a job that I loved. It is completely different from anything I’ve done before, but it’s taught me a lot about what I’m good at and which direction I want to go next. I loved the job and got a lot of compliments from clients. I soon became a company favorite! However, the company itself was not stable, so I started looking for the same position in a better company about six months later. I again posted on the church list asking for ideas, and the same woman again suggested I go where she worked. This time she was a bit angry sounding and basically told me I “should have” gone where she told me to go. I hate “should haves!”

Within days, I found a new job in my new field with a far better company and slightly higher pay. I was very happy! Unfortunately, unlike the previous company, this one required I work Sundays, which is a no-no in my church. I made my availability as short as possible on Sunday, but I still have to work it from time to time. I feel okay about this, but I have trouble finding childcare since my church is against working on Sunday and most of my friends who baby-sit for me go to my church. So, I posted on the list asking if anyone had any advice or knew anyone who could baby-sit on a Sunday.

Oh. My. Goodness. That woman replied again and basically told me off. She didn’t just reply to me, but she replied to the entire list berating me for not taking the job she kept trying to get me to take. She even specifically noted in the message that she was telling the whole list so others could know. She was telling me off saying if I’d done what she said, I wouldn’t have this problem. It was so darned rude, that I didn’t bother to reply. Good grief!

I wasn’t about to engage with that inappropriate email from her, but in my head I was thinking everything I wanted to say! Here’s the deal, lady: I make the decisions for my life. Not you. I made the decision that worked best for my family, my income needs, and my conscience. I found a job in a helping profession, and I feel like this is the way God is leading me. I am so happy serving people and helping to take care of them, and I’m proud that I can do good work. I’m also realizing that I want to follow this lead because it’s a talent I never knew I had and it gives me more life satisfaction than the demoralizing office jobs I’ve been working. So basically, bossy pants, I’m going to go the way God is directing me–not some woman I barely know. I’m pretty sure He has more sense ;)

Oh it irritated me that she sent that message. I don’t think she’s an abuser or anything, but definitely a bit controlling. Some people just latch on to the idea that they know how to run your life better than you do. I think she’s living in some kind of la la land, too, because she is married to someone who supports the home and her work is just for extras. Maybe it’s just fine for her to work a few hours a week at minimum wage, but I have a mortgage to cover, and no one else to help pay it!

Like I said, I didn’t engage her, or reply with as nasty a message as she sent me, nor did I bother to defend myself. Frankly, it’s none of her business why I didn’t choose to obey her wishes. It’s just so bizarre that someone I’ve attempted to talk to twice in two years, (only to get a cold shoulder,) thinks she gets to control my life.

Nope. I am perfectly capable of doing that myself, thank you.

A new idea to help you stay cheerful about your goals

Life doesn't happen to me. I make life happen. I'm learning to look out for myself at lifeasyoumakeit.com I recently gave up a great job because it wasn’t a good fit for my family’s needs. I am a single mom to two little ones, and every time they got sick, I couldn’t take them to daycare. I had nowhere to turn and no one to help me out on short notice. Plus, I struggled to make various doctors appointments and other events. Most importantly, I felt like I was missing life! So, I took the plunge to quit my job and be completely self-employed. I had been working from home quite a bit on multiple business ideas, and they were slowly growing, but I decided now was the time! I haven’t had a job in two months, but my business goals are sustaining us and growing quickly now that I’ve made my part-time dream a full-time reality.

There’s Not Enough Time: . . . and other lies we tell ourselves.

I love that I can stay home with my kids when they get sick without worrying about losing my job or losing pay. I love that I can live my life during the day time and work on my own terms at night. I have so much more freedom! But…I also have stress. Starting a business takes devotion and I have three great ideas in the fire right now. Plus, I’m still the only parent and breadwinner. I’m the housekeeper, the pet caretaker, the driver, the cook and more. So, I’m super busy, and it’s important that I get things done without procrastinating. It’s a struggle to balance my time and make the most of it.

Lately, I’ve been trying new ways to work everything in each day and still have time to relax at the end. It’s working well! I usually have a long to-do list, and I check off the things I get done. But, the to-do list is always growing with new things to replace what I get done.

So…I have a new idea to help stay encouraged! At the end of the day, I am taking the time to list what I DID get done. No more stressing about only what didn’t get done, but also taking the time to appreciate what did. As I look at my list, I think “wow,” I really did well today, and it inspires me for the next day. It is a good way to keep a clear view of what I’m accomplishing and how I’m getting ahead. It keeps me from getting down in the dumps thinking about how I “failed” for the day.


The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

This sort of reminds me of one of financial adviser Dave Ramsey’s tools. He recommends that people pay off their smaller bills first, so they can gain a feeling of accomplishment at being able to see their progress. A lot of financial advisers say to pay off your bills in order of highest interest rate, so you save money on interest, but Ramsey claims it’s more important to get the joy of watching your progress as you cut out the bills. I think there’s something to that. It’s easy to lose hope and give up a bit when you aren’t seeing clear rewards.

Much in the same way, you can give yourself a pat on the back by reminding yourself what good things you’ve accomplished each day…which motivates you to keep going the next day. At least it’s working for me! It’s always more positive and inspirational to focus on the pros instead of the cons. Even if you don’t actually write down what you did, just take a moment to think it over in your head. For example, I did some major house cleaning this weekend–not just the regular things, but little details as well. At the end of the day, I looked around, thought about everything I did, and felt really good about my progress. It reminded me that, even though I am super busy, I CAN do this! I can do all of my “work” work and all of my house work and all of my mom work. And, I can end my day with a sense of achievement.

Feeling inspired to find success and be anything you want to be

Dreaming big and living well!

Dreaming big and living well!

As a former co-dependent people-pleasing doormat, I was always afraid to take risks and apply for better jobs. Even though I knew there were things I was really good at, I always felt like I wasn’t good enough. At the same time, I saw other people advancing quickly in their careers, and I’d realize that I was just as educated, smart, or talented as they were. The only difference was, they had faith in their abilities and they were not afraid to think they could be more. I never had that level of self-esteem. But since I escaped an abuser, I’ve decided that lots of things are going to change! So while I’m working on my boundaries and self-esteem to find better relationships, I’m also looking at the big picture to find success in my career as well. No longer am I going to feel like I’m not good enough–in love or life!


Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version, Restored and Revised (TM)
I’ve posted quite a bit about Napoleon Hill’s books and advice for finding success and promoting our abilities. His books have been well-loved for years, and I can see why! One of his chapters is about building our image so people see us as successful…which gives them more faith in our ability to do the job. I’ve been working on that in my own career, but tonight, I see it in “real life.”

I’m doing some research on companies for a friend. All kinds of companies–from health care to massage to interior design to water pumps. And one thing that stands out to me is this: when I go through their websites, they all seem very successful and elite–almost intimidating. They make me feel pretty unsuccessful in comparison…but then I got to thinking. I have no idea how much money these companies and their employees make. I have no idea how well their business is growing. All I know is that the way they portray themselves, the photos they have, their descriptions of their business, etc…make them seem very professional and pretty impressive. They seem like they know what they are doing, and they are good at it. They make the business seem desirable. They SELL themselves. The faith they have in their abilities gives me faith in them as well. (To be clear, Napoleon Hill does not endorse lying, or putting on a false front. This is more about giving a good impression of yourself as someone who can do a good job.)

It reminds that we can be who we want to be and do what we want to do…but we have to have faith in ourselves and show our confidence. I don’t want to be the meek mousy girl who is too shy or too humble or too afraid to let others know that I can do a great job. I don’t want to hide my abilities anymore. I want to share them with confidence and feel good about my talents! And that’s what these companies I’m researching are doing. It’s a good example for the rest of us.

Splurging a little lifts your mood and gives you confidence!

Let your confidence shine!

Let your confidence shine!

A while back, I was reading some articles and information about the importance of what we wear and showing off a little to impress others. I’ve always been frugal and avoided name brands, because I thought that was the smart thing to do, and that what I wore didn’t matter. It turns out, sometimes what we wear does matter because wearing or owning items of value gives others the image that we are confident and successful, as well as able to do great work. What we wear to an interview can influence whether or not we get a job or make a sale. For example, if you are a real estate broker, and you drive around in an old junker car, your clients are going to think that you must not make much money, you must not sell houses very well, and you must not do a very good job if that’s all you can afford. But, if you pick them up in a nice new Mercedes, they are going to think, “wow, that Realtor must really be good to have such a nice car!” Let’s hire her to sell our house too!

It’s not necessarily fair that life works this way, but sometimes it does. Our first impressions matter, and people judge us based on appearance even if we don’t think they should. I had read this in multiple self-help books, so I decided to invest in some nicer clothing and accessories.

I decided to buy myself a Coach purse. I’ve never owned one, but I know they are a status symbol, so I started looking for deals and learning about their value. I knew I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, so I went to their outlet store on a sale day. Immediately, a very pretty, robins-egg-blue purse caught my eye. It was a sunny spring day, and that beautiful blue was so pleasant and calming! It fit in with all the good feelings of a fresh spring after a cold winter, and it inspired me. I made myself look around the store and see everything, but I went back to that purse, and I bought it.

Once I got home, I put it on my dresser, and every time I walked by, I smiled about how much I liked that color. It lifted my spirits every time. Then, when I needed to go out, I decided to put on a prettier outfit and carry my new purse. Usually I go to the store in jeans and a t-shirt, but that day I put on a pretty spring dress for no reason other than I felt like being pretty! Usually I let my pretty clothes wait in my closet until I have a special event, but it was really fun just getting prettied up to go to the store.

Now I carry my blue Coach purse everywhere I go. It perks me up and makes me feel special. I carried it to a job interview last week and the person interviewing me complimented me on it. I got the job, too! I don’t think it was the purse that got me the job, but instead the confidence I felt when I carried it and felt good about myself.

Yes, that purse was a splurge, (for me,) but it was totally worth it! The color brightens my day, carrying it makes me feel good, and it makes me stand out. That investment in my wardrobe was also an investment in ME, and I’m glad I made it. I can’t spend that kind of money every day, but it’s important to remember the principle behind it. Be good to yourself and remember you have value, and you do deserve little splurges. When you pamper yourself, you feel better, and you look happier to the world around you. Your improved mood will inspire others to have confidence in you as well.

Don’t be afraid to say what you are thinking

The old me was afraid to speak up about my wants and needs, but the new me looks out for myself. I posted earlier about reading Real Simple magazine and getting some great ideas and inspiration. One particular expert was especially meaningful for me–so much so that I wanted to give it a post of its own! This is a section from their new book The Real Simple Guide to Real Life: Adulthood made easy. This is a quote from Madeleine Albright–the first female Secretary of State in the U.S.

Early in my career, I went to numerous meetings where I was the only woman present. I would want to contribute to the conversation but would think, If I say that, everybody will think it’s really stupid. And then a man would say exactly what I had in mind, and the other participants would find it brilliant. I learned that you shouldn’t wait to speak. I started listening actively, knowing that I was going to comment on something and having it in my mind that I would interrupt at the right moment.

Oh how I can relate! I’ve mentioned before that I am painfully shy and introverted, and I freeze up in groups even though I can speak just fine in one-on-one conversations. I have had what Albright mentions happen to me hundreds of times! For me, it’s not necessarily about men and women, but about me being afraid to give my ideas in general. It was worst when I was in college and I knew that many professors included class participation as part of my grade. I knew I wanted a good grade, so I had to fight my inner fear and try to speak up more. A lot of times, I would think of something, but decide it was too simple or obvious, so I’d skip over it. Then someone else would say it and the class would think they were really smart. Uggh! Other times, I’d be so afraid to jump in, that I’d miss my chance.

While most people were just having a conversation, for me it was a nerve-wracking nightmare! It makes me feel better to know that a powerful politician has had the same feelings, and it inspires me to take her advice and speak up more.

Looking around and learning about coping and life improvement skills

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
In my previous post, I wrote about how opening my mind to self-help books and trusting a therapist was a huge help for me to start overcoming the legacy of secrets and denial I learned in my dysfunctional family. I started learning how to live in a functional manner and how to set boundaries about how I wanted to be treated. Not only did I become eager to learn from books, but I started looking everywhere for life tips.

O’s Big Book of Happiness: The Best of O, The Oprah Magazine: Wisdom, Wit, Advice, Interviews, and Inspiration

For many years, I stopped reading magazines because I felt like they were a waste of money, space and paper. Then a couple years ago, I got a really good bargain on O magazine. Now, I have never really been a fan of Oprah Winfrey, or of talk shows in general, but it hit me that, even if I wasn’t a fan, I had to admit that she was a huge success and obviously knew how to do something right. I realized I could learn something from her and what her company promoted. There’s definitely something about her that attracts people and I wanted to evolve into one of those women who really had good things going for her. Who better to learn from than women who can demonstrate the way I want to be? I found that Oprah’s magazine promotes really great life skills, positivity, success, self-esteem, and more–all things that I was lacking, and all things I wanted to learn more about. There’s even an interesting series of books related to her magazine.

Part of living a good life is also learning to manage time, prioritize, and reduce stress, so I started looking at more magazines for ideas in these areas. As much as I love reading books, one benefit to magazines is they are colorful, cheerful, and have short articles. They are good when you only have a few minutes to relax between appointments, for a break on my front porch, for a while before work…. It sounds silly, but I have found that reading them again, is a good “investment,” because I pick up quick and fun ideas that inspire me or help me with life. One of my current favorites is Real Simple. In every issue, I end up bookmarking a few spots with good ideas, or quotes that make me think. I find they are a good inspiration for learning valuable life lessons, and they often inspire me to think about things for this blog. One of their recent issues is a 15th anniversary issue called “The Ultimate Life Handbook,” and it has a a lot of excerpts from their new book called The Real Simple Guide to Real Life: Adulthood made easy. There are a whole variety of good ideas in here for living a smart, functional life, and I’m really enjoying them.

I’m sure many of us look at the magazine racks at the grocery store, but I’ve started looking at them in a new light. They aren’t just there to help me kill some time, they are full of smart ideas from empowered women, as well as inspiration. More and more as I open my heart to healing, I realize I can learn something from nearly every resource and situation. There’s good stuff all around us!

J.K. Rowling and the benefits of failure

I have a subscription to Reader’s Digest which is full of funny anecdotes but also meaningful articles. The story that really got my attention today was an excerpt from the book
Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling, (of Harry Potter fame.) She made some good points that I have also heard from my therapist, (who is really wise!) I’ve actually had them on my list of ideas for this blog, so seeing this article today prompted me to write.

If you are familiar with Rowling’s background, you may know that she struggled as a single mother in poverty before she hit it HUGE with her books. Wouldn’t we all love to have that kind of rags to riches story? I know I would! (Although I’d stick with just rags to comfortable….)

There were three big points that stood out to me today in this excerpt from her book. One: She says that she was already living her greatest fear–poverty–so she had nothing else to fear when she took her risk to work on her books. This so true. Sometimes we have to be in a really bad place before we get desperate enough to take the risks and make the changes that will give us our best lives. If we didn’t have anything else to fear, I wonder how many huge leaps we would make towards success?

Two: she points out that if she had “really succeeded at anything else, [she] might never have found the determination to succeed” at writing. What a great way to think of “failure” in other jobs or careers. As I’ve written a couple times before, sometimes we waste time in the wrong places and they keep us away from the right places. We are taught that failure is a terrible thing, but maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. I know that if I hadn’t lost my “real” job last year, I’d still be wallowing in a dead-end job instead of feeling excited about chasing my real dreams.

And finally three: This is a big one that I learned first from my therapist and then from life. Rowling says “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.” So true! I’ve been through some very rough times in the past couple years, but when I look back and realize all I survived and just how strong I was, it lets me face the future with less fear. I’ve made it before and that means I can make it again.

This Reader’s Digest clip is only one page long, yet so full of wisdom and inspiration. I just ordered the whole book because I want to learn from Rowling’s success story! There is so much we can learn by listening to people who have survived and succeeded–especially if their lives and/or goals are similar to ours. I will report back after I read it!

Feeling inspired to reach my life/career goals!

Dreaming big and living well! I’ve mentioned before that I follow a very helpful career website and page on Facebook. It’s called Classy Career Girl and I find it incredibly inspiring! As I’ve noted, not only do I have a history of attracting unpleasant dates thanks to being non-assertive, but I’ve also been a slacker about finding a good career path for myself. I have not been good about speaking up for myself or showing my bosses my true worth. I have been too shy to apply for BIG jobs and I have settled for jobs I know I can easily get. I get scared about finalizing plans or making decisions. I get nervous about committing to a goal because I feel like it means that I’m, (at least at that time,) closing the door on another career goal that interests me.

As part of my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I’m improving my life all over. So, even though “meeting” strangers and talking on the phone leaves me anxious, I decided to take advantage of the complimentary coaching phone call Classy Career Girl’s Anna Runyan is offering. Just talking about my plans and my dreams for my business ideas got me really excited, and after my call with her, I’ve been working for hours on my ideas. I plan to sign up for her coaching course because I think it would be a great resource to push me towards my goals before I wimp out!

I have a long list of ideas I want to work on, but I almost fear starting them as though maybe I won’t be good enough, or maybe I’ll fail. That’s just silly. If even half of the ideas on my list did what I hoped, I’d be so delighted and successful. So many famous entrepreneurs will tell you that they failed many times before they hit the right idea. So tonight, I started taking charge of that list. For the past few months, I’ve planned to do many of the things on it, but I’ve been a bit leisurely about it. Tonight, that stops. I am going to take these ideas seriously and see what happens!

I’m sure these types of choices come naturally to many women, but they are learning steps for me. I truly believe that very good things are coming my way, and that I am going to make it happen. I’ve felt helpless for years–like a victim of my circumstances and a victim of the unstable behavior of first two addict parents, then later an abusive ex-spouse. When someone is acting crazy in your life, and you are powerless to “fix” them, you often feel like you cannot control what happens to you. Well, it is true that I can’t stop people from acting crazy and I can’t make them act responsibly, but I can proactively take control of my own life.

Learning to look out for myself

Life doesn't happen to me. I make life happen. I'm learning to look out for myself at lifeasyoumakeit.com When I first started writing this blog, I decided I was going to review the self-help books that were helping me. I realized that I was too passive, too fearful, lacked boundaries and just wasn’t getting as much out of life as I should. So, I started reading and learning about a whole bunch of topics that were helping me become the person I wanted to be–happy, fulfilled, successful, productive and a good mom. I picked the title “Life As You Make It,” because I wanted to focus on how we can all MAKE our lives the way WE want them to be instead of just letting life happen to us, because, as I go through life, I’m realizing how true that is, and how many opportunities I’ve missed by being passive.

I have learned so much, not just from reading the books, but by processing my thoughts, considering my life patterns and writing about what I learn. It’s therapeutic, it opens my mind to change, and it makes me feel like I’m really finding my path in life.

The old me was afraid to speak up about my wants and needs, but the new me looks out for myself.I came at this blog as a survivor of a bad childhood and an incredibly abusive relationship. My mousy ways made me a magnet for predatory people. But, they also kept me from meeting good healthy people, finding and advancing in the right career, and looking out for my own best interests in every day life. I don’t mean looking out for myself in a selfish way, but in an assertive way, where I speak up for my rights and voice my needs and wants. The very qualities that were attracting abusers were also keeping me from being fulfilled.

I’ve just been writing about things that inspire me, good books I read, chapters that are exciting, research that makes me think and tips that help me. There isn’t one single topic because it’s about getting the best from life in all areas that matter to me. And I’ve finally realized what I am doing:

I am learning to look out for myself!

 Through life, I have not done a good job of looking out for myself or standing up for myself. I didn’t know the life skills that come naturally to some people. I’ve just drifted around settling for relationships or jobs that didn’t make me feel good and didn’t make my life better. I was not looking out for myself at all! I would be extra considerate of others, but never myself. That is now changing!

I don’t want to be vulnerable to predators anymore.

I don’t want to be the woman who is looked over for promotions anymore.

I don’t want to be the person who is afraid to speak up anymore.

I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on the good stuff anymore.

And I am ready to take charge and re-invent my life the way I want it to be!

I am excited about learning from others, learning from my own mistakes, and sharing my journey with others. It’s a great feeling to know that I am in charge of my life and to know that, even when bad things happen to me, I am gaining the knowledge to bounce back and take care of myself better than ever before. Especially for other abuse survivors, I want you to know, it does get better. I didn’t enjoy the trials I experienced, but I realize now that they happened to give me the epiphany I needed to snap out of my passive lifestyle, and change my life for the better. I am a doormat no more, and I want others to know that you can recover and thrive. It all starts with the decision to learn.

Do you really know yourself? The power of being self-aware

I wonder how well we know ourselves? Do we really think about what we are good at, what we believe and how we feel? Or do we go along with what others tell us and not really think much. When I was a kid, I thought I didn’t like math or science. I never really thought about it, but I just “knew” in my mind that I didn’t like those classes. Then, when I was in 8th grade, a math teacher pointed out that I had the highest grade in her class, and told me I seemed like I was gifted. I was surprised. I had no idea I might be good at math. But, then I started thinking about it and realized I really was good at it and…I enjoyed it. I later began realizing the same thing with my science classes. I had just gone along with some stereotype that I didn’t like them, but in reality, I thought they were really interesting. That math teacher, whose name was Mrs. Wilson, really changed my thinking about myself.

Over the years, people have complimented me on parts of my personality that really surprised me. I’ve been told that I’m very strong and that I’m a good leader. I had never, ever considered that about myself. I thought I was a shy, wallflower wimp! But, when someone pointed out the reality to me, I started thinking about it and realized that I was better at some things than I’d known. And that really opens up doors for me, in addition to increasing my confidence to try new things. It reminds me of the time I thought I was a terrible public speaker, then gave a great presentation and uncovered a new talent.

If we really get to thinking about our true selves, would we find that we have talents we’ve been discounting? Types of intelligence we have never thought about? Are we feeling unfulfilled in some areas of our lives because we are trying to fit into the wrong places just because we are doing what we automatically think we should do?

Relationship experts say that self-awareness is a major key to happiness. And this includes, not just knowing your true self, but also recognizing your effect on others. Leadership experts say that all leaders need to be self-aware for success, as well. The writer of the leadership article states, “…the most effective executives I knew had, I believe, realistic assessments of their own abilities – their strengths and weaknesses, their effect on others, the gaps that needed to be filled.”

I think this is right on. How can we maximize our best qualities and take advantage of them if we haven’t even recognized them yet? Or how can we work on our bad habits that turn people off if we aren’t paying attention? Success isn’t based in intelligence alone, or even education, but it is based on our personalities and our personal qualities in many ways. Emotional intelligence–including self-awareness is essential!

One way to start becoming aware of your strong points and your weak points, is to consider Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He theorized that there are seven types of intelligence, and everyone has different strengths. We need to discover our own strong areas and consider the meaning of our weak areas. When I took a quiz to see what types of intelligence I had, I was a bit surprised by my highest score. Again, I learned there are parts of my personality that I haven’t been recognizing.

As I continue on my journey to expand my life, grow my career and find peace with my relationships, I find that self-reflection and being open to learning from others is life-changing. I really like the idea of becoming more self-aware to improve my life and my connections with the world!

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