Finding Your Dream Career

I’m a sucker for worksheets and books that help to identify your dreams and passions. It’s part of the “keep it simple stupid” mind set that we so often overlook in a complicated world full of choices. 

I found this great post on The Daily Muse: 9 Questions That’ll Help You Find Your Dream Career. Breaking the big question of “what do you want to do with your life?” into smaller questions is a productive way to start identifying where to start planning for a change. 

Fill in the blanks in the sentences:

  1. If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.
  2. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do ____________. It’s interesting to me because ____________.
  3. If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try ____________, because ____________.
  4. If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in ____________, because ____________.
  5. My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at ____________, because ____________.
  6. The thing I love most about my current job is ____________, because ____________.
  7. If my boss would let me, I’d do more of ____________, because ____________.
  8. If I had a free Saturday that had to be spent “working” on something, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.
  9. When I retire, I want to be known for ____________, because ____________.

Here are my answers

  1. If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose Andrew, because he works in a creative environment at a cool company.
  2. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do fashion blogging. It’s interesting to me because it’s fast paced, always new and exciting, glamorous.
  3. If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try event planning, because it looks like an exciting creative job (and I not-so-secretly LOVE weddings).
  4. If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in business, because I want to have my own company/brand.
  5. My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at finding new tools/shortcuts, because I like to work efficiently.
  6. The thing I love most about my current job is the people and travel, because I love to meet new people and to travel to new cities.
  7. If my boss would let me, I’d do more to automate our processes, because we could be more efficient/helpful to our volunteers.
  8. If I had a free Saturday that had to be spent “working” on something, I’d choose networking, because learning what other people do it a great way to learn more about what you’re interested in.
  9. When I retire, I want to be known for making people happy, because that’s my greatest source of happiness.

I’ll admit that filling out the answers took me a while. I might even go back and change some of them in a few weeks. The important thing to notice when you’re all done is the themes in your answers. What do you value, what do you enjoy, and what do you want your legacy to look like.

Let me know what your answers look like! Did the questions help you?

Must Love Cats

Dogs vs. Cats; the age old argument and a dividing factor among mankind.

OK, so maybe it’s not that serious, but it sounded that serious when I told my friends I might get a kitten. The mere mention of getting a cat sparked a fury of anti-cat responses. When I sent pictures of cute kittens, they responded with videos of cat attacks. When I said they’ll be cute and cuddly, my friends told cats eat dead people. Yeah, it got a little ugly.

While their resistance was meant with love, I realized a couple of things.

  1. I live a perfectly reasonable lifestyle to have a cat
  2. A cat in no way, shape, or form would affect the lives of my friends
  3. I have too many friends to actually become a cat lady (Honestly, this was my biggest concern)

So, on the last day of my summer term class I drove home, caught 2 kittens in my parent’s barn, and brought them home. It was totally impulsive, which is really the only way I’m able to make decisions, and it was totally worth it.

I’m in LOVE with Mia and Mario. They are just as adorable and cuddly as I predicted.  And yes, I got two…now they have company.

Mia - Short for missing in action

Mia – Short for missing in action

Mario (aka Don Draper)

Mario (aka Don Draper)

However there are a couple things that I didn’t predict about cats.

My apartment is not big and there is no good place to keep the kitty litter….I HATE kitty litter. I also hate wet cat food. These two things are probably somewhere on my top 10 lists of grosses things ever. I’m also kind of terrified of being used at a scratching post. I don’t mind get scratched here or there…it’s going to happen, I just like knowing when it’s going to happen. The other morning Mario stretched without me noticing and scratched down the whole back of my calf. Yes it hurts, but the fear of getting scratched actually hurts more.

It’s unreasonably hard to not talk about them, and when I do, it’s with one of those weird, high-pitched baby voices. I impulsively reach for my phone, the way proud parents reach for their wallet sized pictures of their kids from every year of school ever.  I won’t lie – it has taken real effort and a solid foundation of awesome friends to keep me from becoming “the cat girl” at the bar.

But when I hear the piddle paddle of the kittens racing down the hall way at 1AM, or the twinkle of their little mouse toy, or Mia cries because Mario is beating the crap out of her, I smile and the fact that I just made a 20 year commitment to another life doesn’t terrify me as much.

They're tired of studying too.

They’re tired of studying too.

As far as being a cat or dog person, I don’t think you have to choose a side. That’s right, I said it – I am a dog AND a cat person!  And the next guy I’m with….must love cats.

A Whole Lot of ‘Less’

This is the story of my first first date in 2 years.

I met this guy – let’s call him Paul – at a bus station. We were both on our way back from NYC and started chatting in line while waiting for our bags to come off the bus. He was pretty good looking in the bus station flood lights. Paul told me that he was moving back to the area from Long Island. He asked for my number and on a whim I gave it to him.

The next day he called and asked if I wanted to meet him for drinks that night. I picked one of my favorite bars and a time when it was still sunny outside for us to meet up. Since this date was with a total stranger (defined as not knowing his last name) I took all the necessary precautions of picking a safe, public place to meet, having a friend ready to down to the bar in an hour, parking in front, etc.

This is more like it!

I got there first, picked a high top near the bar, and got a beer. Paul got there on time in a crisp new white tee (I knew it was new because the folding creases from the packaging were visible), khaki shorts, and boat-ish shoes with no socks. He was about as good looking as I remember. Paul comes over and gives me the Long Island cheek kiss hello. He seems a bit frazzled and wants to start talking but I tell him to get his beer (after giving some recommendations) before we talk.

Some highlights of the conversation that follows:

“Sorry I’m sweaty; I had to walk from the bus stop under the bridge. Some guy had to help me find the bar.” OK so he’s car-less – no big deal. He just got into town, it’s better for the environment, I’m not that shallow.

“I’m staying at the City Mission right now, unless I can find a couch to crash on, like yours?” Hmm…. homeless? Everyone has a rough patch or two. I promptly lie and tell him that I have a lot of roommates that would not like a stranger sleeping on the couch. He asks where I live (because he’s looking for an apartment obviously) and I wave my arm in the general “up the hill” direction and change the subject.

“Oh yeah, I’m waiting to hear back about the job tomorrow. I know a guy who needs someone to deliver tires. He’s going to get me a job.” Jobless too? At this point I’m thinking three strikes you’re out, but my beer is only 1/2 way gone so I hold out for more of the story.

Apparently Paul had just escaped an almost drug bust on Long Island. He is also a writer who is waiting to hear if Seth Macfarlane is going to buy his script for a cartoon – and I forget the rest of the story.

Paul and I order soft pretzels (because he is drunk off his one beer) and he asks the waitress if they are hiring. She brings him back an application and – this is my favorite part- he starts to fill it out! On the table, during our date – after asking me for a pen! He fills out a couple lines and says “this isn’t cool huh?” I shake my head and reply “Not cool”.

Paul: folding up the application “I bet you really don’t want to make out with me now. Or maybe you do?”

Me: “Just eat your pretzel Paul”

At this point he realizes I’m only 23 (he’s 32), he also realizes that I’m not going to give him a place to stay, a ride to the mission, or pay for the whole pretzel (we split it, $4 each). I’m thinking about how ridiculous this whole situation is and praying that he doesn’t get the job at one of my favorite bars.

We end with a hug and Paul promised to keep me posted on his job hunt. I wish him luck, start to drive off. I watch him go into the bar across the street to get another application. *Face palm

I called my mom to let her know that I was home safe. She asked if he followed me home, I said that unless he was running after my car I was safe. I never heard back from Paul.

My friends still get a kick out of the time that Chelsey went out with a homeless guy.  I’m convinced that kind of stuff only happens to me! On the bright side, I will forever win the “worst first date” game!

The Next 6 Months….Goals

As I mentioned in my last post, in the next 6 – 12 months I want to really focus on me and shaping my life to my vision of happy and success. Here are my (slightly) more specific goals.

Get Healthy

  • Get more sleep – this is by far my biggest health weakness. There are millions of reasons why sleep is good for you. I average 6 hours of sleep my whole life and if I get more than 9 I feel crappy the rest of the day, but lately I’ve barely been sleeping 5 hours a night. To meet this goal I’m going to develop a bed time routine and leave my iPad/laptop/iPhone in another room. Instead I will bring a good book and a notepad to capture all the thoughts that prevent me from going to sleep.
  • Make an exercise plan (and back up plan) – I don’t like going to the gym and I really don’t like running. I do like gym classes like Zumba, cardio/weight training classes, and non-conventional (read – non coordination requiring) sports.  I want to continue rock climbing and start boxing/kick boxing. I need to make exercising a priority and get some buddies to hold me accountable.

    Image

    Oh, did I mention the importance of relaxing?

  • Cook more – this hasn’t been a problem until very recently when I realized that I couldn’t really remember what I had been eating the past 2 weeks. I didn’t eat out a lot, and I don’t have junk food in my house – but I couldn’t remember if/what I cooked or ate. My goal is to cook more meals ahead of time and to buy ingredients that are fast, healthy, and easy to prepare.

Get Social

  • Make a social media plan – I want to learn more about social media tools so I can better apply them to my job, the volunteer work I do, and my personal brand. There are smart ways to use Facebook, twitter, and Google+. They can be used to promote the things I like and care about as well as my personal brand.

Get Smart

  • Do my best in Grad School– This one is pretty self-explanatory. I want to get good grades and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.
  • Spend time wisely – I have a confession: I’m better at making a schedule than committing to a schedule. (Shhh…. don’t tell anyone). With 3 jobs, working out, volunteering, and being a good friend/family member, I can’t afford to not stick to a schedule. There’s no reason I can’t do fun things and hang out/relax, I just need to make sure that I’m also getting everything else done as well and that’s where having a schedule comes in handy.

Get Thrifty

  • Stick to my budget  – I have a pretty good handle on my bills and my income. For some reason it seems that I either go months without spending a penny or I spend a ton of money in a single weekend. I need to pull the purse strings again and stick to my budget as far as eating out and shopping goes.
  • Create a separate savings account – Being thrifty will lead to my ultimate goal of creating a separate savings account for big ticket items that I really want.
  1. Zumba certification class
  2. Jenny Blake’s Make Sh*t happen course
  3. A ticket to World Domination Summit 2014
  4. Travel to Italy and Spain for a week each.

Get Creative

  • Write more -This blog needs some TLC for sure. I think all those 1/2 started stories in random notebooks could also use some love.
  • Find an artistic outlet – I’ve never been super crafty but I used paint-by-numbers (I’m cool – I know) and scrap-booking as a well to relax in high school. I see no reason to not start up again.
  • Redecorate my apartment – I spend an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest and reading blogs by really creative and awesome people. I always feel inspired, but I never know where to start. In order to get more creative I’m going to redecorate my apartment. This also ties back to being thrifty since I need to redecorate on an almost non-existent budget. Thank goodness that the DIY gods founded pinterest and other cool sites like Brit and Co. and Olioboard to help get inspired and creative.
  • Read more – I have a bookshelf full of books I have not read. The end.

Get Giving

  • Make Friends – I think the biggest oversight for recent grads is how hard it is to make friends after college. I worked in a tech company for a while so I have a lot of amazing guy friends, but not a lot of girlfriends. It’s a little awkward to make friends, but I’m embracing it and trying to be creative with ways to meet people.
  • Be a good friend – My mom always reminds me that sometimes people don’t need advice. I should know this since sometimes I just want to rant and I get mad when people try to ‘fix’ my problem – yet, to my friends I’m often that person. I’m going to work on being a better listener instead of always trying to give advice.
  • Re-commit to ACS – volunteering for the American Cancer Society has been a HUGE part of my life for 5 years now. I joined a new event this year which is being held in Sept and it’s throwing off my usual level of involvement. I miss it. I miss the community and the creative process that comes along with planning a Relay For Life. I already scheduled a meeting with my ACS rep so I’ll be back on track soon. (Amazing article on why giving is the secret of getting ahead – this guy is one of my heroes! I love this)

Wow, that seems like a lot. To sum it up, right now I feel like an octopus with each leg spazzing out in a different direction. These goals are intended to get each leg under control and all the legs moving and working together to swim along to a happier, healthier Chelsey. Does that make sense? (Why do these metaphors always sound better in my head?).

So that’s the plan and I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

A Mid-Year Review

Today was a good day! I was busy at work planning events and strategizing for the rest of the year (I love to strategize!). I went for a 1.5 mile run and worked-out during lunch, and rocked the quiz in class. Not too bad.

Following yesterday’s post I want to stay on track for being motivated (or at least pretending to be) and complete a mid-year review. We are half-way through 2013 and there have been some pretty significant changes in my life so far. I’m using a 3 step method from Nicole Antionette at A Life Less Bullshit. The steps were part of her email newsletter but her blog has some amazing resources for setting (and sticking) to goals.

Step One – Create a January – June “Eff Yeah” list 

This is a list of everything (big and little) that I’ve accomplished so far this year, everything I’m proud of, and ‘everything you need to remind yourself to feel good about when you’re all, “I’m not doing anything with my life oh my goddddd.”‘

I had to revert to my Google Calendar, but here is what I came up with:

February

  • Started a new Job at Union College
  • Kept my old job on a part-time basis

March

  • Watched my little brother march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in NYC. Bonded with my family over the miserable weather.
Keeping Busy!

Keeping Busy!

April

  • Got a job as a freelance writer
  • Started classes for my MBA
  • Started work-out classes (aka working out regularly)
  • Visited with sister and old friends

May

  • Hosted Sip Into Summer Fundraiser for the American Cancer Society HopeClub, as co-chair of the event. Most successful year of the event!
  • Volunteered at Gala of Hope ACS event
  • Watched my sister graduate from college
  • Worked at ReUnion weekend and met the amazing volunteers and alumni.

June

  • Finished my first term of grad school with a 3.85
  • Almost mastered a new morning routine that includes making a to-go breakfast sandwich, smoothie, and latte!
  • Started summer classes
  • Visited my sister in DC at her awesome new job!
  • Started planning a kick-ass year at work with new responsibilities and new programs.
  • Continued working out during lunch

Not too bad. It looks like the beginning of the year was a bit slow but the changes that I made were big ones. And I think overall I’m happier now than where I was six months ago.

Step 2 – Identify your top 3 pride moments

My big pride moments were: getting a new job(s), starting grad school, and visiting my sister in DC.

I’m so much happier now. I’m so lucky to have two remote part-time jobs. I LOVE the freedom (and extra money). I am very proud of myself for proving my worth at my old job so that I could stay on part-time, and for having my writing earn me a freelance gig. Changing careers was a risky move for many reasons but now I’m in a field I enjoy, working with amazing people everyday, and I’m only starting to see the true potential of what I could do there.

Starting grad school was also scary. I’d been out of college for a little while and didn’t know anyone else in the program. I was afraid that it was going to be too hard or I wouldn’t have time for all the work. I was able to take 2 classes while maintaining my usual work load, did really well in both classes, and made some pretty cool friends. Now, to be honest – I’m technically non-matriculated. But I signed up today to take the GRE at the end of August!

My sister is one of the most amazing people I know. She is such a hard-working, dedicated, funny, passionate, and beautiful person on the inside and out. We are sooo different, but we balance each other out in a really cool way. Colby graduated at the top of her class, got her dream job as a reporter on technology in the federal government at a crazy cool start up in DC. She left the nest to follow her dreams and she is kicking ass and taking names. Visiting her in DC showed me how resourceful and smart she is (even though it’s not always obvious to her family). Keep your eye out for her because I know she’s going to be famous someday! Go Colby!

Step 3 – Pick your upcoming priority

Nicole suggests you put one thing as your number one priority and that thing shouldn’t be “life balance”, it should be specific. I think I’m going to rebel here for a minute because my upcoming number one priority is going to be ME.

I know that’s general, but I need to focus on my health, dreams, and goals. I need to spend time soul searching about what I really want for my life without asking for tips from everyone else. What do I want my life to look like? Where do I want to be? Who do I want to be with?

Have you done your mid-year review?

Motivation…or lack of

So I write these posts in my head all day, even though I sit at a computer and could very quickly and very easily type them up and post them. I can’t figure out what’s stopping me. I have lists of ideas that I want to write about, even a content schedule of sorts, but I still can’t find the motivation to post on a regular basis.

I’ve never had good stick-to-it-tivness. I would never use the word determined to describe myself and that bothers me. Don’t get me wrong – I can commit. I commit to every relationship I’m in, getting through (and doing well in) school, and my job(s). All those commitments have someone else at stake. Someone else that holds me accountable for getting things done and doing them the best I can. But when it comes to the commitments I make to myself, I can’t stick to it.

The past week or two I’ve been trying to figure out what motivates me. I’ve tried a few different things, but I find that the only thing that really forces me to buckle down and do work are social commitments and relationships. I love hanging out with my friends, meeting new people, and taking advantage of all the fun events going on in my area (especially during the summer). I will work with pure focus to get my homework, or a freelance assignment done if I know that I get to hang out with people afterwards.

But when it’s just me, or what I’m working only affects me (like working out, eating well, blogging, writing, any type of athletic hobby, sleeping, etc.) I can’t seem to stick to it.

happy

I watched lots of videos and read lots of blog posts about how to get motivated. You can use money, you can tell everyone to hold you accountable,  you can tell one person to hold you accountable, you can promise yourself a reward for reaching a milestone… there are many ways to self-motivate.

As usual Marie Forleo (first link) read my mind and had the perfect video that talked about not waiting for motivation to do the thing you want to do. I’m going to try my best to just start doing the things I want to do. I know it’s a little late but I think I’m due for a mid-year review.

Uncover Your Passions

I recently listened to a one-hour long webinar called Live Your Dream: How to Uncover Your Passions & Create a Career That You LoveIt was done by Christine Mims and hosted on The Muse. Christine is a career coach and this webinar was a mini career coaching session where she asked a couple of questions that she goes over with her clients to help them discover their passions. I love these kinds of exercises because the responses are supposed to be from the gut and the first things that pops into your head, which can be very different from the answers that you get when you think through the questions logically.

Below are the questions and my answers.

1. What do people ask for your help with?

Relationships, organization, making plans

2. What makes you smile?

Feeling challenged and accomplished, making people happy.

3. If you could write a book that would help the world in a big or small way and is guaranteed to be a best seller, what would it be about?

A funny book about feeling lost in life and love. To make people feel like they’re not alone.

4. What do you want to be remembered for when someone tells the story of your life?

Making people laugh, always smiling and giving back to my friends and the community.

5. What would you do if you could do anything (career wise)?

Own a winery that holds weddings that I plan and blog about. Eventually being a consultant and helping people with their blogs, jobs, or business. This would involve a little glamour, travel, and a lot of freedom.

The Christine also asks us to identify three people who you trust (but not all family) and then ask them, “What is it do you find most inspiring about me?”… I’m still working up the courage to do this.

The next stop is to identify you greatest strength. Don’t hold back, brag, and be bold and cocky!

My greatest strengths are: Organized, logical, funny, people person, customer orientated, big/small picture, thinking outside the box, multi-tasking,

What is uniquely yours? Multi-tasking, finding the silver lining.

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What are your top 5 work values? What makes you happy, be specific.

1. Flexibility – The ability to work on my own time or remotely. Being able to travel with work and make my own schedule. Independence in managing my own projects.

2. Financial Security – Have a (slightly better than) comfortable, steady income. Establish a passive source of income (blog, product sales, etc.).

3. Success – Acknowledged as a leader in my industry, being my own boss, having people seek my help/advice.

4. Generosity – Have the ability (time) and means (money) to give back to organizations and causes that are important to me.

5. Creating – Creating beauty, content, products. Creating something for others to enjoy.

I thought this was a great exercise. I always feel a little scattered after taking these because there are some many things that I’m interested and I’m passionate about. One of the questions at the end of the webinar was about this. Her solution was to do a little research, pick the one that you’re most interested in, and give it a try! So much easier said than done – but I’m optimistic and I think with a little dedication I’ll be able to identity that passion.