What Am I Doing Here? Am I Doing the “RIGHT” Thing?

For as long as I have been alive – yes 25 years now, don’t rub it in ūüė¶ I saw so many different career paths for myself ballerina, actress, veterinarian, dolphin trainer, animal sanctuary owner, lawyer, dentist, teacher, psychiatrist/psychologist, doctor, surgeon, accountant, consultant, yogi, translator, wedding planner, environmental org. worker – you name it and at some point it was at minimum a consideration. I have never known 100% what I wanted to accomplish in this lifetime or what my legacy would be, I just have always known that it is important that I am on the track to success.

The one thing that I always knew from day one or (the day one of my memory) is that I wanted to be a mom. At some point a young mom, but up until I was BLESSED and SURPRISED with my pregnancy – just being a mom in the future was enough for me. Now, I have a month until I meet the love of my life and I am constantly asking myself what I need to do to be the best mom that I can be to her?

Do I work? Do I stay home? Will we have enough if I stay home? What kind of job can I do while being with her? What can I do that is meaningful? Most of my time is spent thinking about these questions and researching what other people are doing in my situation. But what works for some does not necessarily work for all.

I can’t explain exactly how most of the last 7 years of my life passed by but they did and a lot of them passed without a definite feel on where I am going. I changed my major four times – psychology, biology, education and then history finally and managed to graduate in 3 years. Where does a history major get you? I don’t know. I ended up working for a string of non-profits and sort of created a little niche for myself. I have no desire however to get further education in the field that I am working in and have never been sure that this is what I want to do. I work hard because I want to be successful and because I morally feel that if you are getting paid to do something you should put in hard work and effort to get it done. My work ethic and natural abilities have allowed me to shine in my current work place and have even pushed me up the promotion ladder.

Now I am faced with a serious challenge about what to do for my family. Do I stay home? I have student loans and credit cards and life expenses that I was not planning on having when I started a family. I also feel somewhat responsible to contribute financially to my household. Additionally, I want to be able to buy a house and eventually have more children. What about healthcare? If we get married, I lose my dad’s healthcare which is phenomenal. My healthcare at my job is great but if I’m working it goes poof!

It was my birthday on Saturday and B was asking me what I wanted for my birthday. I told him that I want answers. I want to stay home and I want to work but I know the value of a work life balance and I want to be able to work on my terms – not any one else’s so this is where I have gotten myself:

  1. I need a job that I can manage by myself, something that is flexible and can work on a mom schedule. I need to create/provide a service that others will find valuable.
  2. Health and healthcare are very important to me. If we are not healthy, we are not doing our children a service. I want to be in the best shape for my baby and I want her to benefit from the foods I eat. I realize that this wasn’t as much of a concern to me as it should be and I know that my pregnancy would have been even more smooth sailing if I had been doing yoga and eating organic more.
  3. I like to help people/animals (as you can see through my running list of potential jobs).
  4. I want my blog and social media efforts to be part of my future job.

Here is what I have come to the conclusion of doing. For the next few months I am going to do a lot of research and put a lot of effort into making my health and the health of my family a serious priority. Going all organic and removing toxins (as much as I can – we live in NYC), as well as encouraging fitness and yoga in our lives. If I can commit and can see a difference and obviously, I will be blogging along the way. I am going to save and start a plan to become a Nutritionist/Dietitian. A job that I can blog with, I can manage on my own by scheduling my own appointments, a job where I can help other people and a job that helps me focus on my priority of living healthy for my family.

Sorry this was so long. Questions? Comments? Feedback?

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Gossip Cop and “Friends” at Work

At work it can sometimes make things seem more bearable to talk about what’s going on in your coworker’s personal lives or personnel issues in the office rather than work or fluff conversations about the weather or what you did this weekend. We have all fallen into this trip whether it was intentional or not. Although, it may seem nice to know everything that’s going on around you: if so and so received a warning or blah blah is having issues with another coworker. It may make you feel good to know that you’re not the only one with issues in this work environment. It may make you feel somewhat empowered to know that you are not in this bad situation.

Whatever feelings it makes you feel, positive or negative know that there is absolutely no benefit to participating in office gossip and more than like, it can get you in trouble. If you know something you are not supposed to and make the mistake of mentioning it to the wrong person, it can make things seriously worse. If you have a connection with an Executive but are working for his/her direct report it may cause them to worry about their position and change their attitude towards you. They may feel threatened or uncomfortable which will trickle down to you. Or they may treat you differently in order to look good to their boss, only to have your coworkers resent you for it.

Any personal relationships you maintain at work can eventually even be a risk and in general, it’s better to not talk about work at work or home at work with your coworker/friend. It is very important to keep things professional in the office because you never know when your “friend” will become your boss or when you will become your friend’s boss. You don’t want to have to fire someone who is your friend, because that will hurt your relationship.

If you start at work with no connections, its best to make sure that throughout your time at this organization/office you keep your friendships to a certain level of closeness. When one of you moves on, you can develop the relationship without all of the added risks.

My advice, keep your lips sealed when the gossip starts and keep a distance from your work friends (until you or they move on of course!). If they are good enough to keep around, they will understand this mentality and it will help you keep things professional in the office. It’s a tough decision to make but ultimately, it’s for the best.

Advice? Questions? Comments? Leave Below.

standing up for yourself

Hello Everyone,

Today is #BossLadyWednesday and initially I struggled about what to post. Yes, I am new to blogging and my editorial calendar is still very much in the works. What I have promised myself is that at minimum I will post my Boss Lady Wednesday posts every week. So as I was sinking about what to write to you on my weekly post about how to be a boss lady, I realized that there was an issue in my professional role that I needed to address recently.

After the issue was mentioned to me РI immediately reacted but it did not express my true sentiments about the situation to the person who brought it up. I got on the train, read my book and on the walk home I realized how much this issue upset me. It served as a reminder to me that even though we have no formal rules against X, because you are one to bend when we ask, we are asking you to limit doing X.

I was pissed. I spoke to B about it and decided that I would write an email – which he attempted to convince me not to do. Then, I spoke to my mother about it. Finally, I sent an email that I would not regret. The response I received lacked heart but addressed that the issue should have never been brought up in the first place, as it was not an issue with our organization.

There was no negative backlash, no dramatic results, just an admission that “hey this should not have been brought up to you when there is no formal policy about it”.

It is hard to stand up for yourself, especially when it means standing up to a supervisor or even a higher entity, but it is so important to address something that makes you uncomfortable, or is inappropriate as long as you handle it in the appropriate manner. If you have an issue with your boss and it’s the first time this has happened, I think it is important for you to talk to them about how you are feeling. If it’s the second time, I would bring it up to them again in an email where you reference that this is the second time the issue has happened. Email trails can help you if anything goes sour one way or the other but we are hoping that this issue is minor. If it comes to this, three strikes and you are out. I find it would be most appropriate to speak to your HR department and if you don’t have one, I imagine that their boss would be the next place to go.

Standing up for yourself is not easy but it will help you appreciate yourself, be appreciated by others, and most importantly keep you happy. Stewing over an issue without addressing it will cause you extra stress and is bad for your overall well being. So if you are reading this and realizing that there is something that you need to take care of, use this as a source of inspiration to make things better in your life. If you have any questions about how to handle a situation, please feel free to comment below or email me.

Thanks for reading!

Organizing 101: Home and Office

Last week, on Boss Lady Wednesday, I posted about some introductory Management Lessons that I felt were very relevant to the multiple jobs I have held.

This week, I would like to post about some organizational tips/tools that have helped me to manage not only my 9-5 but my home in a much better way. Keep in mind these tips are very simple, but if you had not used them previously, it will make a huge difference in your keeping things together.

  1. Lists! If you want to get anything done, whether it’s chores around the house, grocery shopping, etc. Making a list helps you in one of two ways. Just writing down what you need to do will help you recall it later on – even if the list is unavailable to you. If you leave a list for your husband (or children, I guess) it is easier for them to see what you want rather than having to remember it before you come home. What makes this even more worth your time is making the list as soon as it comes into your head – I need to do blank tomorrow. Write it down and then tomorrow you know you can reference your list to get everything done.
  2. Calendars. I used to be terrible about this but honestly, I will not make any plans or appointments without checking my iCal (on my phone) which is automatically populated with my work calendar. Say goodbye to missing dates with friends or doctor’s appointments. Note: If you do not have a smart phone, using a date planner or mini calendar that is easy to carry around will also work. I personally use my cell phone – and I back it up on my iCloud in case anything happens to it.¬†
  3. Doodle.com. This website is a great way to schedule events, lunches, dinners, meetings, etc. with a group of friends or clients who have various email clients (i.e. – they are not all on your blank.com exchange server). Doodle allows the host of the event to choose a few dates to meet up and then each person can vote on which day works for them. This tool has really helped to make last minute meetings and dinners work swimmingly.
  4. Filtering your emails. If you only use one email or you use one email for multiple purposes, it makes your life so much more efficient to filter out your emails by a specified category. This way you can check the ones you know you need to look at and save the other emails for another time, if they are not so important for you.
  5. Pinterest. Forget your favorites bar -it’s a thing of the past, pinterest is one of the most incredible websites you can use. Find a recipe online that you want to try? Pin It. Find a decor piece that you like? Pin It. Personally, I even have the Pin It button right on my browser so I can pin any website whenever I want. It’s great for more than just lifestyle/home websites, you can pin anything so reading tips online about how to run your business or a great tool that you can use to make your life more efficient really helps and it’s all in one place and easily accessible with internet access.
  6. For my hoarders/collectors:¬†Keeping your life organized is much easier when you don’t have things you don’t need in the way. My advice is to start looking at things from the point of view – “is this functional? how often do I use it? do I use it at all?” This step is much more complicated than the other 5, but if you can get yourself to a point where you are only keeping this around that are beneficial and removing clutter from your home it is much easier to keep things looking nice.

These tips are designed to help you manage your time and your life. What helps you keep your life organized? Are any of these tips helpful for you? Other questions or comments? Leave below.

Management Lessons 101

Although I have only been a “Manager” for a couple of months now and most of my job doesn’t involve direct managing of employees, I have definitely experienced “managing” enough to know what works and what doesn’t. Here are some quick tips for managers who need a refresh.

  1. If you make a mistake, own up to it. It is disheartening to watch your manager blame or use a “we” when everyone in the room knows whose fault it is (not that your m.o. should be the blame game). If you are honest about your mistakes, your employees are more likely to feel comfortable being honest about theirs and they are more likely to respect you – we are all human here.
  2. Be an active participant in what your employees are doing. You should know all of their jobs inside and out, so when a problem arises you can be the most knowledgeable on the subject, not the other way around. Also, when an employee leaves you will know the work and the kind of person you want to be their replacement. The more you need your employees for every little thing, the less valuable you are as an employee.
  3. Keep your direct reports in the loop. When you can share some information about upcoming company-wide issues or successes, let your team know so they can distribute the information downward. Letting your employees know about wins and losses lets them feel like they are part of a team not just a stiff company.
  4. Offer to help. If you see an employee that looks like they are overly stressed offer to help them but actually provide assistance. Maybe you know a better way to help solve a problem they are having or can take something off their plate to help them meet a deadline. Even if you don’t, they will feel like you are concerned about them, in a positive way.
  5. Acknowledge their wins. If someone on your team is promoted, announce it. If an employee receives a letter of thanks from a client, share it. This will help to create a culture where your teams wants wins. Appreciating your employees will go a long way.

These 5 tips will definitely help you encourage a positive team environment with growth for both you as a manager and for them as your employees.

Putting yourself out there

Hello Everyone,

In the midst of trying to figure out my life, this blog has been on the back burner for the last few days because I was working to create my website for my Virtual Assistant business. Because I am trying to be savvy, I started with GoDaddy domain purchasing and hosting. I built my professional website using website builder from GoDaddy. Any suggestions? (Especially from those in the Virtual Assistance world?)

From everything I have read about this career choice, it is so important to put yourself out there and network. Part of the reasoning behind this blog is it being another way for me to get out there and network on the web. As part of my journey, I have also joined several Facebook groups and purchased a book called The Bootstrap VA.

Click here to visit The Bootstrap VA. This book has  been extremely helpful to me in starting out in the Virtual Assistant world. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested! I will talk more about this book in a later entry.

The Bootstrap VA - 728x90

Moving along, I have had a very lovely holiday weekend!

We went out on Saturday for a friend’s birthday brunch at Neely’s Barbeque Parlor. Excellent food and service. I definitely recommend taking a group there!

On Saturday evening in celebration of Valentine’s Day, my fianc√© and I made surf and turf for dinner.

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How did you spend your Valentine’s Day? How was your Holiday Weekend (for those of us in the U.S.)?

Thanks for reading!

questioning my existence (in my current work environment)

There isn’t much worse than working your ass off and feeling like no one noticed or appreciated it. I fell into the non-profit industry mostly by accident. I have asked myself over the last year and a half, why am I still here?

rest assured

Making a difference? Sure. Helping those less fortunate? Yes. But I realize that I don’t have to work here to do those things. I could always do them on my own. and I have done them in the past in variety of ways before I was even in the working world.

Now I am in the position of thinking about how I will take care of my child in the future and the way I have been treated at work combined with my overwhelming desire to stay at home with him or her makes me question my future at this current job or at any job where I can’t work from home most days.

I need to find a way where I can be in charge of my own work flow, feel appreciated, and take care of what is and will be number 1 to me, my baby. Thus, I have discovered the world of Virtual Assistance-ship.

My experience working in a very small non-profit, if you haven’t done so yourself generally makes you a jack of all trades. I do everything from entering gifts, writing sending acknowledgement letters, soliciting donors, planning events, editing, writing, e-mail client use, social media, mailing, stewardship, vendor relations, researching prospects, public relations, confidential filing, working with wills, trusts, estates, stock gifts, etc.

I think this could translate well into a VA career. What do you think? Thoughts? Advice? Comments? Please leave below.