Oh careers. you pestering thing, you.

When I graduated college I was never really sure what I wanted to do with my career. I knew I wanted to work hard, be creative, and love what I did everyday. I knew I wanted to be independent and have great clothes. I knew I wanted to have a dog to run with and a car that would work. But beside that, I was clueless. I don’t think I knew what options were out there for a Marketing major. And the truth is, 3 years later (omg how has it been three years?), I’m still figuring it out.

I find it frustrating, though. I like the idea of having a life plan. Something to think on and know where I wanted to go and then figuring out the steps to get there. I want that so badly. But I don’t.

Over a month ago I made a big career jump and left my agency job for in-house marketing. I worked at a tight knit agency that felt like home and was surrounded by people that felt like family. I left for a big corporate job with longer hours, a pay bump, more responsibility and the ability to work more on the things that I’ve so far enjoyed. I’m still deciding if it was a good choice.

Man, it’s hard. It’s hard navigating your career. It’s so hard to know if the steps you are making are the right ones to get somewhere where you’ll be happy. I feel like it’s easy if you’re someone who is just looking for a job to pay the bills and for vacations. You look at each new job opportunity at face value. Do you like the responsibilities, company and coworkers? Then you’re golden. But for those of us tortured by the importance of our career to our happiness, even what seems like a great job might not be the right step on our career paths. There’s fears of being pigeon holed, being stifled, missing out and whatever else keeps us up at night tossing and turning over career decisions.

All we want is to be making the right career steps to get us to a place that we want to be – even if we don’t know what that is yet.  I don’t have the answer for this yet. But all I can do is follow my gut, listen to my mentors and maybe try not putting so much pressure on my career (easier said that done). Change can be good (although I tend to try to avoid it). I’m happy with a lot of things about my new job and I miss a lot of things about my old job. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed this all works out in the end?

A writer’s insecurities

levo league

This morning as I was absentmindedly scrolling though Facebook and sipping on my new favorite tea in an effort to pull myself out of the Monday morning haze, I was greeted with a new article from Levo League. Despite acknowledging the now bordering on cliche title about how someone figured out their twenties, I couldn’t help but think “Twenty-something? That’s me, an article about me, I wonder if this applies to me! Figuring out, I’m figuring things out, maybe this will help me figure things out!” in between more cynical judgments of my own sucker-ism that “These words are an over-used ploy for clicks and ‘figured out’ seems a little presumptuous don’t you think”…I clicked anyways and told cynical Sarah to go back to sleep. Or so I thought.

Because after clicking I found misplaced commas. Misspelled words. Misused tenses. Missing apostrophes completely changing meaning from possessive to plural. More misplaced commas.

It is hardly the standard of quality I’ve come to expect from Levo League, and even though I think the content was pretty good, the fact that it came with one glaring grammar fault after another completely distracted me from that value and shattered all assumed credibility. So I kept judging. I judged her age. I judged her alma mater.

I continued clicking through to her blog, reading a recent post that included a well-written anecdote about her public humiliation from a misspelling due to lifetime struggles with dyslexia…

Oh.

Whoops. I don’t think I’m the only one so quick to judge others, and I’m certainly not free of my own misplaced commas or worse, misspellings (ha…too soon?). It made me think about why I had such a strong reaction of snowballed judging. She seems like a perfectly nice, driven girl with whom, upon further blog investigation, I have an awful lot of shared interests.

And then this thought happened. “Is it because she’s published? Because you’ve wanted to submit writings for almost 2 years and haven’t tried even once? Because…you’re…jealous?”

Well there’s an uncomfortable thought.

So it’s time. I’ve been gathering online publications that accept submissions for so long, it’s time to actually send something to some of them. I’m not sure what this something will be or when, but I’m putting this goal out there so I have to do it. So there it is. On the screen. Being real.

For the record, my morning wake-up efforts didn’t work. I’m practically sleep-walking in heels, which is not an easy feat for someone just a little lacking in coordination. My high school choir teacher always said, as someone tripped up a riser or a fell off the top one for the umpteenth time, “Someday you’ll be graceful.” …Someday is not today, folks.

Fanning the flame

work life balance

Hello again, loverly readers! It’s quite convenient how Lydia and I seem to take turns being inspired, regular posters..completely unplanned, I assure you, but it’s nice to know that while I was over here being a combination of busy, unmotivated and just plain exhausted, you had plenty of witty anecdotes at your fingertips.

Don’t get too excited, I’m still busy, unmotivated and exhausted, but I felt I should share a little bit of where I’ve been (mentally) lately…at work.

Once while on our way to a client meeting, my boss talked to me about how to avoid getting burned out and shared a story about a time she realized she was. At the time, I was firmly in the denial phase about my stress load, so I mentally filed her guidance under “Truly helpful for the distant future” and stacked “Reasons I’m completely fine” on top despite my overwhelming to do list, weekly chest tightening spasms and most-likely-related health issues/sudden onset of allergies.

See, I’ve always been super self-motivated – working hard, getting (over) involved and looking for leadership positions are activities I actually do enjoy just for me, not for a resume or to fulfill someone else’s idea of ‘success’. But I’m realizing what helped all those commitments and responsibilities seem more manageable was the fact that they all had a definitive end date: assignment deadline, event date, summer, graduation…the exhausting thing about ‘real life’ work (and life) commitments and responsibilities is the recent revelation that there really is no set end date. I will one day hopefully, finally complete fall planning only to realize I’m already woefully behind on 2014’s marketing strategy.

I’ve read this relearning of stress management is normal for us young professionals. In the grand scheme of things, we’re still relatively new at navigating this whole career, work-life balance thing. We’re figuring out what we’re good at and where we fit in the working world, whether that is finding a career path, company or something to pay the monthly car payment.

Sometimes I toy with the idea of taking off for world travels/volunteering or even just up and moving somewhere new…but I can’t help but value my career, job security and financial stability a little bit more when I reach the “Complete Purchase” button on my itinerary. Even though it looks like I won’t be taking off for a foreign country for an extended amount of time or having a spare day until mid-September to even think about taking a vacation, I clearly need to find some way to dial-back a notch in my day-to-day.

A Huffington Post article shared tips from thought leaders for maximizing your twenties, including this one: “Burnout is not a badge of honor. Don’t try to do it all, focus on the 5% you’re great at and delegate the rest!”

So this week I’m embracing delegation along with some old-fashioned hard work in the hopes that my typed, two-page to do list (unfortunately not a exaggeration) can make its way down to a much more manageable one.

…In the meantime, you can also find me surfing ZapTravel.com in the hopes of landing an affordable getaway.

Geeking out on Business Cards

Today I finally got business cards at work. I’m SO excited!

As I’ve hinted at several times before, when I graduated college I took a job in Arizona and was absolutely miserable in the position. Six months later, I packed up and moved back to Dallas to redirect my career to advertising. After a stint at Starbucks, I was able to secure an unpaid internship and convinced them to hire me full time a few months later. I’ve changed titles and responsibilities a lot since starting (we’re a small agency and all wear many hats), so the investment in ordering me business cards seemed fruitless.

A year later, I’m a full on Marketing Specialist – a title that’s going to be sticking around. And a full on business card holder! Hell to the yes. I assume I have to lavish in this excitement now for I fear the excitement of having my name all professional looking will diminish with age…

So now, in my typical over excitement for the small things, I just have to find the perfect business card holder ASAP. Because where am I supposed to keep these little lovelies? I’ve been stalking Etsy for a little bit this morning and I’m so torn. I want something handsome and classy that I’ll still like in 5 years. When I want to invest in something long term I almost always buy something that’s as neutral as possible. Hence, my addiction to leather goods and the color white. But maybe I should go for something with a little color? These are the trials and tribulations of my Friday.. tough right? 😉

What do you guys think? Which should I get!

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Different versions of living

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So I was going to write today on how I’ve been such a terrible blogger this last week and completely unmotivated. I simply couldn’t think of anything to write about. And about how having a clean car and a freshly organized closet makes me feel more put together and like an adult. But then I read Sarah’s post.

We write a lot about careers here at Finding Tiffanys so it’s no secret that Sarah and I are very career focused people. I found her article from Forbes “Why we need to take 20-somethings seriously” to be so comforting, albeit very intimidating [and encouraged my continued focus on the age old question, what’s the next step in my career?]. But again, comforting. Here’s why. When I graduated college I had no yearning to explore the world. I wanted to start my career. Although I made a big misstep post college, I was still looking to get on track. The prospect of starting out on a career in advertising was so exciting to me, and it still is. However free spirited friends caused me to have this feeling that something was wrong with me. And that I would wake up one day when I’m 35 (this is the age I assume I’ll have it together by) and regret not living.

But I’ve since learned that this whimsical “living” doesn’t have to have an exact definition.  My version of living might not be the same as yours. There’s nothing wrong with geting a high from working hard in front of a computer 9-5. And that you can’t plan your life or make rules of “I’ll never do…” Life simply doesn’t happen that way. Did I imagine that I would have to live at home working at Starbucks for a few months to restart my career track? Hell to the no. But now I look back at that time as a great experience. One where I met some amazing people, made good friends, got to know my parents again and started drinking my coffee black (one hipster point for me, yeah!).  The stories I hear of people at the ripe of age of 30 who quit their job and started traveling the world instead, sound amazing. And sometimes I think that I wish I had that kind of yearning to explore. But I don’t. At least not right now.

Basically what I am trying to get at is that this article reminded me that no life plan is right for everyone nor will your plan remain static. So when I also read articles like  “How I Became a 21-Year-Old Business Executive,” my instant reaction is to deem myself lazy and undeserving of the position I so dearly want. But then I remind myself to pause and think about it. This girl graduated college early, but hey, I loved college. I mean really loved it. Even now I wouldn’t have given that up to graduate early and to load up on the business courses. I wouldn’t trade that experience, the friendships, or meeting Sam Bradford for anything.

With all that said, I am currently undergoing a panic of “what am I doing next and where am I doing it,” as I enjoy doing every so often. Because by “currently” we’re talking about everyday since I walked across that graduation stage. So I am reminding myself to take a deep breathe. Nothing needs to be laid out or planned. As a person who changed their major like Lindsay Lohan changes rehab clinics, I can say that I’ve made dozens upon dozens of plans for my life. And have stuck to none of them. Yet, here I am. Living in a great apartment, with a boyfriend I love, a dog who has the face to get away with anything and a career that I look forward to building (oh, and did I mention the clean car and organized closet?). All you can do is work your ass off, impress your coworkers and keep striving for better. To me, this is livingAt least until I change my mind that is. 😉

A job or ‘the’ job?

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This is a kinda a big week for me professionally, so I’ve spent a lot of time pinpointing work-related hopes and frustrations lately. While attempting to do so I stumbled across a Forbes article. Titled “Why we need to take 20-somethings seriously,” I was initially excited to find another semi-rare article listing the pros we could offer the work world rather than the cons. So imagine my surprise when I clicked through to read how 20-somethings are supposedly falling behind in the career world because we’re falling prey to the idea that now is our time of life for exploration and experimenting.

From the article: “The biggest myth is that the 20s are a time to think about what you want to do,” notes Jay. “That doesn’t work. You basically know what you want. Just start, and get the best job you can get.”

Between this and the suggested article, “How I Became a 21-Year-Old Business Executive,” all I have to say is, thanks for helping lower my already increasing stress levels, Forbes. On the bright side, at least these articles are saying we can and should have a place professionally rather than make our age out to be a hindrance, which is what I sometimes feel.

Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me or a product from our culture, but part of what stresses me out is I can’t get away from the idea that there’s a perfect job for me somewhere…if only I could somehow find it. The thing is, I’m quite happy where I am. But there’s always a part of me wondering, but could I be happier?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any real solutions for anyone else in the same boat. While I’ll be acknowledging these “grass is always greener” scenarios with some research and deep-thinking, I’ve decided I also need to devote less of my thought life to these ambitions and more time being the best I can right here.

So there you have it…my weekly (and probably lifelong) professional goal for finding Tiffany’s. I’d love to know what you think about the articles, too!

On the path

My roommate and I, over homemade cappuccinos and freshly baked muffins on Saturday morning, had a brief discussion on our conflicted feelings about our career paths. Depending on our mood, time of the month and amount of caffeine we’ve had, our perspective about our place on our career path changes. There are two basic attitudes we have. The first is the good days. When we are like, I love being young! Being in your early 20’s is aw-some because we can really direct our career path wherever we choose and finding this path is exhilarating and exactly what we daydreamed about in our boring university courses. We are putting one foot in front of another, excited to see where we land.

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The other is when we aren’t eating desserts to shed some pounds, had an exhausting day and the dog is acting up. It’s when we feel so stressed and tired just thinking about the next years in our career. We have a desire to move around and work hard, yet we are still working to prove to everyone that we are capable. We get frustrated and ask, “Why am I not there yet?” Keep in mind we are both 23, a fresh 2 years out of college and both realized our career passions later in our college life. Our mentors, parents and bosses all say that we will have an enticing path ahead of us, but on these particular days we don’t buy it. We get frustrated not knowing exactly what it is we want to do. We’ve narrowed it down to an industry, shouldn’t that be enough? What if we take a wrong job, in the wrong city for the wrong company and completely ruin our chance to be something great and realize our full potential. What if…we fail.

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On this particular, caffeinated morning at Ascension Coffee I am feeling the first. Despite my dog being mauled by a pit bull on an early run, the depressing look at my bank account after purchasing my ticket to Europe (can I even really complain about that?) and the grotesque burn on my chin from my curling iron, I am feeling optimistic. Tomorrow might be another story (it will be a Monday after all), so I thought I should take note of this optimism and positive energy so that maybe when I’m feeling a little down I can look back. And hopefully think to myself, “I was so right yesterday.” I can choose to revel in the uncertainty of my future, take a nice long sip of my coffee and continue to daydream, work hard and set goals.

First and second image  both found on Pinterest.