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In Real Life, Shine, Work on
November 12, 2017

Slowing Down in a Fast-Paced Career

Working in PR, life moves pretty fast. Much like my friends and colleagues who work in PR, my life also revolves around deadlines, email and mental checklists.

From the moment I wake up to just before I go to sleep, projects, ideas, deadlines and all the things are swirling around in my mind. And when I do give myself five minutes to pause, I often wonder “Where the heck did the last month go?” or “How is it already Thanksgiving?!” It’s crazy how fast life moves. 

I first learned the importance of slowing down when I was in college.

It was a couple of weeks before finals my sophomore year of college. I was taking 18 credits (per usual), involved in three student organizations, volunteering, working 40 hours per week between two part-time jobs and aiming to get straight A’s on top of that. I remember it was a Thursday night at about 8 p.m. or so and I just broke down. I was in my car, had just pulled into my dorm’s parking lot from running errands and just started sobbing and breathing quickly. I couldn’t catch my breath. So I called my mom and cried hysterically because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get it all done (you know, multiple papers and exams). It was at that time when I realized I just had too much on my plate and I needed to learn how to set priorities.

Since then, I made sure to be intentional about what I say “yes” to and how I spend my time. I’ve also had to let go of comparison, realize that I can’t do it all (or at least do it all well) and learn how to forgive myself (that’s still a work in progress). Oh, and not feel guilty for zoning out and watching TV after a busy day or taking a few hours to read a good book on the weekend. 

I have a fairly high tolerance for stress, but there were moments in my life where I internalized it and struggled with it behind closed doors. It was about three months into my first agency job when I walked into my boss’ office to tell him that I just had too much on my plate and of course, being an emotional blob, I couldn’t hold back the tears. That’s when I learned the valuable lesson about speaking up, ASKING FOR HELP, and telling people I’m stressed BEFORE it snowballed into something bigger.

But see, I used to view “feeling stressed” as a weakness. I equated stress with failure. But man, was I wrong.

I soon learned the difference between “good stress” and “bad stress.” The majority of stress in our lives is often “good stress” like having prioritize deadlines, shopping for a new car, saving for the future, etc. While these aren’t always fun things in the moment, they are ultimately all good things.

Since learning to embrace the good stress in my life – I like to call stress “excitement” – it’s completely changed how I work and approach stressful situations. It’s helped me know that there will always be work to be done. It’s also helped me let go of being perfect and to just get the work done.

I’ve also learned the importance of creating time for myself and to work on my own personal growth. That means reading more books and writing for myself. 

I’ve also been more intentional about how I use social media, which has even allowed me to strengthen my online presence. Instead of scrolling mindlessly throughout the day, I give myself my 30 minutes in the morning, a couple social media breaks throughout the day and then 30 minutes in the evening to get caught up on my personal accounts. That means I’m not scrolling while I’m waiting in line for my coffee or waiting for the bus. I’m present in the moment and allowing myself it sit with my thoughts or reflect on what I’m grateful for.

All of this said, I’ve been working on slowing down in a fast-paced career. I know that I will always be busy, but I have stopped using “busy” as an excuse. Thriving in this fast-paced world is all about time management and making priorities. I have picked a career where work is a BIG part of my life. It’s not something I can completely shut off when I leave the office. That’s why it’s important to embrace it while also creating time to slow down. 

It’s been one of my goals to grow this conversation about slowing down in a fast-paced career, especially with those who work in PR and marketing. I’m always surprised by the number of people I’ve talked to who work in PR and marketing and hear about their stories of burn out. I want to find a way to change the conversation. I believe it is possible to work hard and thrive in a PR career without putting yourself in the hospital because of it. However, it’s going to take slowing down. We owe it to ourselves to slow down so we can thrive in all aspects of our lives. 

In Shine on
November 7, 2017

7 Habits That Bring Me Joy

They say humans are creatures of habit. Habits get us through the day. From waking up at the same time, to eating breakfast, to walking the dog, habits offer a sense of routine and are often effortless once they are part of our daily routine. 

Yet creating a new habit is hard work. It takes determination and focus. Whether it’s flossing your teeth every day or making time for the gym, habits take time to develop and are even easier to break.

As someone who thrives on structure and routine, habits are a big part of my life. While I am still spontaneous and can totally adjust when the plan changes, there’s some comfort knowing that in the morning I will wake up, drink a cup of coffee and have breakfast and then come home after work and get ready for the gym. These habits bring focus and consistency into my life, just like back in the day when I was a teenager and my life ran like a well oiled machine (thanks, mom!).

While some of these habits are still a work in progress, here’s a few that fill my heart with joy:

Listening to music while cooking

Lately I have been turning up the music or listening to NPR when I’m cooking at home. One of my favorite rituals is waking up on a Sunday morning, brewing a pot of coffee, turning on NPR and making breakfast. It’s such a relaxing way to start the day while also getting caught up on what’s happening in the world or learning something new. 

Gratitude

I am constantly practicing gratitude. When I first wake up and have that first sip of coffee (thank you, caffeine!), when I’m waiting at the bus stop, when I’m walking the dog, when I’m at the gym or when I head to bed, I’m always feeling thankful. Practicing gratitude has reminded me how precious life is, and has gotten me through some really stressful days. Gratitude is my saving grace and it’s how I stay sane!

Making my bed

Two months ago, my boyfriend shared with me this video of a Navy Seal who makes his bed every day. The Navy Seal explains that if he can at least make his bed in the morning, he knows he has already accomplished something for the day. He also says that you make the bed you sleep in, so even if you come home after a stressful day at work, you can rest easy knowing your bed is a safe haven that’s waiting for you.

Working out

In 2016, I joined a CrossFit gym and haven’t looked back. I’ve been going to bootcamp at least 2-3 times a week since last fall. Sometimes I make it to four classes if I’m lucky (aka diligent). Going to bootcamp has completely changed the way I feel about myself and has given me so much confidence and has created routine in my life. This journey has also taught me that it’s not about how I look, but how I feel and what my body can do. This is a habit that gives me the energy I need to stay on top of other aspects of my life, like work!

Writing letters to loved ones

Ever since I was a little girl, I was taught to write letters. My mom always made me write thank you notes after receiving a gift. My grandpa also wrote me letters almost every week. Letter writing makes you slow down and take time to write a thoughtful message. While I’m not perfect, I do my best to keep the art of letter writing alive. I also love stationery, so it helps me justify spending money on pretty paper.

Creating to-do lists

My heart sings whenever I make a to-do list. As someone who has a million thoughts buzzing at any moment and I am a professional multi-tasker (#PRLife), to-do lists help me clear my mind and prioritize. There’s also nothing more satisfying than opening to a new page in my Simplified Planner, which keeps everything in one place.

Reading and writing

2017 has been a year of self care for me. A big part of that practice is reading and writing. Every night before I go to bed, I try to spend 15-20 minutes reading or journaling so I can unwind before bed. I usually journal about my day and write my gratitude list, or will pick up a book on business, self help or a good memoir. The best part of these activities is that they make me super sleepy, which means a great night’s rest!

What are some habits that bring you joy?

Image credit: Twigy Post