I never liked running. I would beg my mom to let me stay home from school whenever gym class required a mile run. Running seemed boring and tiring. There was no way you were getting me on that track. Continue reading
This May marked 10 years since I graduated from the University of Hartford. I remember it well. It was a beautiful day in Connecticut and my dad was there, proud as ever. I was excited for a lot of things that day. I was excited to wear my graduation gown, and to throw my cap. I was excited to see my friends and share the day together. I was excited to start the next chapter in my life and get a job in New York City. That was my dream.
That day was bittersweet. While all of this excitement surrounded me, I was also scared and sad. I was leaving my home of four years. I was leaving my friends of four years. I was going out into the big, unknown world where no one knew anything about me. It was a day to celebrate, but it was also a day to say goodbye.
Back in 2004, it wasn’t about if you’d find a job, but when, and how fast. Jobs were prevalent then, even for recent, wide-eyed grads. I remember my friend Shawn already had a job lined up and I wanted that so badly. But I would land a job two weeks later in New York City, and it would be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
A lot has happened in the last 10 years. Both life and career changes have shaped me into the working mom I am today. So what lessons did I learn in the past 10 years that I’d want my 21-year-old self to remember?
- Don’t be sad. The future is bright and shiny.
- Be optimistic. Unknowns are not scary, they’re exciting.
- It’s all about what you make of it. Your mindset sets the playing field.
- Have confidence. You can do it. You have to believe in yourself if you want anyone else to believe in you.
- Don’t stress so much. You’ll find that job and make that next move in life. Worrying won’t solve problems.
- Know you’re not alone. Many, many, many, many people graduate. They find jobs. They begin their lives. You can do it, too.
- Work hard. Things don’t fall in your lap. You have to earn them. Wake up every day ready to kick butt.
- Life is hard. Embrace this and it will be an easier pill to swallow. Nothing good comes easily.
What other life lessons would you share?
When my coworkers found out I was leaving my job at an ad agency to go work from home at Radian6, I remember them clearly saying, “You’re going to get fat.” To them, working from home likely meant balancing your laptop from your pajama-covered knees at 3pm. Working from home meant literally rolling out of bed to work, or working at all hours, eating potato chips at midnight. In other words, working from home meant I wouldn’t be productive or healthy.
Three years after that initial conversation with my coworkers, I am still working from home. And guess what? I am more productive than ever before. I also weigh ten pounds less than I did while working at the ad agency. My bad back is hardly an issue, and I’m stronger and can run farther and faster.
Not only is working from home a conducive work environment for my job (I write, edit and produce content), but it’s made me a healthier person. Here’s how I did it.
A Regular Running Schedule
On my first day at Radian6, at 7:30am, I started running. It was the first time I ran since the mile run in high school gym class. I hated running, but I figured it was a quick, free way to burn calories and jump start my day. I haven’t stopped this routine. This gets me energized for the day ahead and puts me on a schedule.
Mentally Separating Home from Work
Running in the morning gets me out of the house so that when I return, I can shower, eat breakfast and start working. It removes me from the “rolling out of bed to work” mentality. I also have a dedicated work space. This helps me focus, and when I need breaks, I can leave the room and mentally separate myself from my workload.
Walking During Conference Calls
Unless I need to be in front of the computer, I walk during all my conference calls. I pace the hallways, walk outside or do laps around my living room. This burn calories (it’s also how I achieve my FitBit goals), but it also helps me really pay attention to the call. Without a computer, there’s no temptation to multitask.
Moving My Workspace
Even though I have a dedicated work space, I like to move around. This small change gives me a fresh state of mind. Whether it’s Starbucks, sitting outside or at the dining room table, I like to change the scenery. At the same time, I don’t work in or near the kitchen, because I’d be too tempted to snack.
Food Shopping the Healthy Way
Since I work from home, I eat what’s in my kitchen. Therefore, I make sure to shop for healthy snacks and meals. I think this is a big reason for losing the weight. At the agency, there would be tempting homemade goodies everywhere. I can’t eat what I don’t have, so I make sure not to have those foods available.
Small Meals Throughout the Day
Because I have access to an entire kitchen, I eat many small meals during the day versus three big meals. I start my day with an egg and coffee, a granola bar around 11am, a salad or small sandwich for lunch and then yogurt or veggies in the afternoon. At the end of the day, I eat a small portion dinner with my family. I also don’t go out to lunch more than once a month or so.
Whether you work from home or not, you need a good work/life, healthy balance. If your only kickboxing class is at 10am, make it happen. You can come into work earlier or work later, or find other ways to make up the time. Take the time to prepare a healthy lunch and take breaks for snacks. Go out for lunch or coffee less often. Without a healthy body, you can’t take care of your family, yourself or do your job. All employers should recognize this, so no excuses!
Do you work from home? If so, how do you stay healthy?
I have some big news coming up (which I’ll share later this week) and this news relates to taking chances. I took chances non-stop in my teens and 20s. Fear was not in my vocabulary.
Today, however, I am more settled. But I still have that burning fire inside me that encourages me to take another leap. I love to constantly be challenged, learn new things and explore.
I recently read an inspiring post by Jason Goldberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Fab. called 90 Things I’ve Learned From Founding 4 Technology Companies. Now, I may not have founded four companies (the closest thing I’ve done is start a dog park), but there are great inspirational moments here to encourage me to keep pushing myself personally and professionally.
Here are some of my favorites from his list.
Are you doing everything in your power to inspire everyone around you? Whether it’s at work or at home, push others to move forward, do their best and work toward something great.
61. Spend every dollar like it is your last. But, don’t be afraid to spend.
There’s a balance between saving and spending money, but part of taking chances is finding the right moments to spend, and then spending it. My husband and I finally took that cruise we always wanted and it was one of the best vacations of our lives. It’s about quality of life today as much as it is about saving for retirement.
65. If you’re on a rocket-ship, strap on on your seatbelt and aim for another planet.
If you’re on to something big and exciting, go for it. Then, don’t take a break but instead, soar toward that next exciting moment or goal. I remember when I ran my first 5k. I was excited and proud but then I thought, what if I can run further? That’s when I started running five miles.
77. Wear funny socks or colorful shoes.
This is great for company culture, but it’s also a perfect reminder to have fun in your day-to-day life. As a mom, I can easily find myself in jeans and sweat shirt, but I don’t feel excited or empowered. I push myself to wear something that makes me feel good, even if it’s on a Saturday morning.
80. Laugh at yourself, and let others do so too.
Whether it’s burning toast or making a typo, I try not to sweat it. I learn from my mistakes and quickly move on.
83. Find inspiration in the people around you.
Always be open-minded and ready to learn new things. You can learn something from everyone you meet, so take that chance.
84. Have fun every single day.
It’s as simple as Jason puts it, “If it’s not fun, stop doing it. No one is making you. ”
87. Mature, but don’t grow up.
I love playing with my two-year-old as if I’m a kid, too. We dig in the dirt, ride the slide together and make a giant mess in the kitchen. Some of these moments are the best ones I’ve ever had.
90. Smile, you’re designed to.
Thanks Jason for the amazing post. What other inspirational learnings have you gained? Feel free to share your thoughts here. And stay tuned for my news in my next post.