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 prioritize.
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 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 to 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.
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.
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.
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
As I was pushing myself through my last round of kettlebell swings and running out of gas, a favorite quote came to mind:
“The world is tough and so are you.”
“You are tough” I repeated to myself as I pushed through the last three minutes of my workout that felt like 10. As much as I wanted to give up and give into the pain, I had set a goal in mind and I know I had to accomplish it.
And I did.
Then it got me thinking. Life always throws hard things at you. Whether it’s pushing yourself during a workout, facing a fear or opening up about your feelings, life can be really scary and uncomfortable. But if life didn’t push us outside of our comfort zones, how would we grow?
Science tells us that the brain naturally wants to do what’s comfortable. That’s why it’s so easy to binge on Netflix instead of go for a run or munch on a package of Oreos instead of a handful of carrots.
If we want to get stronger, healthier and grow our minds, we have to push ourselves and get outside of our comfort zones. Whether that means doing one more rep at the gym or reading a book instead of watching TV, it’s good for us to do the hard things.
So I thought it was only appropriate to make a list of really tough things in life. Hard things. Scary things. Things that make us emotional and uncomfortable. But they are also necessary things we must go through if we want to grow and become the person we know in our hearts we’re meant to be.
Life is tough and so are you. You can do the hard things and you will rise above. Here’s a list of things tough things I have either faced, things I have seen friends and loved ones face, or things I know that may eventually come into life down the road.
- Unloading the dishwasher and folding laundry after a really stressful day at work.
- Waking up in the morning without hitting snooze.
- Going to work on Monday.
- Making yourself go to the gym after work.
- Going the extra mile during your workout.
- Going the extra mile at work.
- Giving your all at work.
- Standing up for yourself and being your own advocate.
- Advocating for a friend.
- Speaking up during a meeting.
- Speaking up during a meeting when you’re the youngest in the room.
- Sharing an idea when you’re the only woman in the room.
- Challenging a person’s ideas.
- Challenging your own ideas.
- Challenging your faith.
- Believing in yourself after you’ve fallen down.
- Trying not to beat yourself up after making a mistake.
- Admitting you’re wrong.
- Asking for what you want at work.
- Giving feedback to a coworker.
- Offering a friend some honest advice.
- Telling a friend how you really feel.
- Telling your significant other how you really feel.
- Being excited for your friend who landed their dream job before you did.
- Calling your parents.
- Making time for family.
- Calling a relative you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
- Asking for help.
- Following your heart.
- Accepting criticism.
- Staying true to yourself.
- Creating your own path.
- Wandering from your path and finding your way back.
- Sacrificing what you love for someone you love.
- Taking care of an ill loved one.
- Putting your dreams on hold.
- Saying no.
- Saying yes.
- Following through with commitments.
- Trying something new.
- Going to that networking event you’ve been dreading all month.
- Making small talk at a networking event.
- Asking someone you admire out for coffee.
- Publishing a blog post.
- Pitching an idea to your boss.
- Seeking feedback on a personal creative project.
- Putting your creativity in the spotlight.
- Being vulnerable on social media.
- Taking the road less traveled.
- Opening a savings account.
- Giving up Starbucks to put money in a savings account.
- Making time for a new hobby.
- Letting go of the past.
- Living in the moment.
- Loving yourself.
- Loving others.
- Quitting a job.
- Giving your all when you have nothing left to give.
- Being grateful when everything seems to go wrong.
- Having faith in the unknown.
- Moving to a new place.
- Trusting yourself.
Doing the hard things are part of life. In fact, each of us have probably done at least a handful of these hard things today. (If you did, give yourself a high five or a big hug!). While it seems like some of these things are simple or easy parts of life, for others they are really hard. They challenge us to be better people. They challenge us to be honest with ourselves and the people we love. The hard things make us step outside of our comfort zones and explore the unknown.
The best part about doing the hard things is the growth that happens during the process. When you do something big and scary – when you face your fears – that’s when life happens. It’s not always easy to do the hard things. But the hard things are necessary. Some may see the hard things as opportunities while others may see them as a continuous uphill battle. It’s all about how you choose to see challenges that come your way and how you’re going to face them.
For me, I much rather grow from the obstacles in my life than let them become roadblocks. It isn’t always easy to overcome or rise above. But when you do, it serves as a powerful reminder that anything is possible and that you can do anything you set your mind to.
Wherever you’re at in your journey, remember that you are tougher than the world. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Image credit: Unsplash
It’s Sunday morning and I’m currently snuggled up on the couch with coffee in hand, candles lit and Twilight playing in the background (yes, I am a closet Twilight fan although Harry Potter will always be my #1). It’s also Halloween weekend, so I’m soaking up every bit of “fall vibes” I can before the holidays kick in.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about Sundays. Weekends are often a sacred time where we try to pack everything we didn’t get to do during the week into 48 hours while also making time for fun, hobbies and catching up on sleep (aka self care). Talk about high expectations for an epic weekend!
For a couple of years, weekends used to stress me out a lot. I mean a lot. I would celebrate on Friday, run errands or catch up on work I didn’t get to during the week on Saturdays and then arrive to Sunday feeling like the weekend slipped through my fingers (and often cry about it or go into full flown anxiety attack mode). What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that I was actually having amazing weekends; I was just hard on myself for not getting to everything on my weekend to-do list.
And then I soon discovered I was approaching weekends the wrong way. It’s the weekend – why do I need to pressure myself to do all of the things?
Once I stopped watching the clock and started letting go of my insane weekend to-do list, I won my weekends back. While I still create weekend to-do lists (because there is so much satisfaction in making lists), I’ve learned to give myself more grace if I don’t get to everything. After all, it is the weekend – a time for rest and relaxation. What’s most important to me now is that I completed my #1 to-do list item (whether that was meal prepping or finishing a work project) and completed something for myself (like reading a book, doing something fun or watching a movie).
I’ll be the first to admit that every now and again I get a case of the “Sunday Scaries.” But fortunately, they are now a rare occurance. That’s why today I thought I’d share a few things I do every Sunday to help me prepare for the upcoming week, and head into Monday feeling refreshed and excited.
Take stock of my to-do list for the week.
Every Sunday, I crack open my trusty Simplified Planner to write my Monday to-do list and write in meetings, conference calls, deadlines and appointments for the new work week. Even though every week changes on the fly (e.g. calls getting canceled or a new project to added to the to-do list, basically #PRLife), mapping out my week gives me peace of mind knowing that I can head into Monday with an idea of what’s in store and as few surprises as possible.
Refresh my weekly priorities.
Working with a handful of different and diverse clients, I’m constantly on the move and having to stay on top of my to do list. I keep a running list of every project I have for each client (I used to keep it in a Word document but now I use a trusty notepad) so I know what I have in the pipeline for each client. This master list allows me to prioritize projects for each client, and then at the end of the week I can cross off what I accomplished (talk about some awesome satisfaction!).
Grocery shopping and meal prep.
I always end my weekend with a trip to the grocery store and an afternoon of meal prep. This is probably one of my biggest saving graces as it gives me one less thing to worry about Monday-Friday. After shopping, I prep lunches and dinners for the week, since I spend most evenings at the gym and don’t get home until 8:30 p.m. Having meals prepared in advance makes it easier to plan and gives me more time so I don’t have to think about cooking when I get home every night.
Something fun is always a priority for Sundays. I mean, it is Sunday Funday after all. Sunday Funday usually looks like either a movie date with my boyfriend, checking out new breweries or going to brunch, meeting up with friends for trivia night, or having a lazy Sunday at home watching football or TV. Lately I’ve been trying to incorporate more of my hobbies like reading, blogging and handlettering into my “something fun” category so I can also feel like I did something rewarding for myself.
Relax and unwind.
At the end of my Sunday (anywhere between 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.) is when I build in time for additional relaxation. Although meal prep or “something fun” sometimes bleeds into this special time of the day, I try to build in 30 minutes for unwinding before bed. Unfortunately, this has been the hardest thing for me to do lately because life has been really busy and I’m often finding myself going to bed without unwinding first. When I get to unwind, however, this usually consists of doing a facial, painting my nails, reading a book, journaling or watching a movie or TV show.
Weekends are still a work in progress for me, and there are some where I wish I had more minutes in the day. However, slowing down and giving myself time to relax and do things for me have helped me fill my cup. Hopefully these rituals I follow give you some inspiration for a slower and happier weekend.
I’m always curious to hear how others spend their Sundays. What are some of your favorite ways to prepare for the week ahead?
Photo credit: Twigy Posts
Growth has been on my mind a lot lately.
Do you ever take a second to pause and reflect on how much things have changed from where you were a year ago and how much you have grown? Do you think about all the new experiences you’ve gained and the new ways you’ve built resilience?
All the times you’ve fallen and got back up? All the times you celebrated?
People say a lot can happen in a year. And they’re right.
This year has been the first year in a long time where I have finally felt closer to being myself. Instead of fighting with myself, I’ve gotten more comfortable with who I am. And that’s one of the best feelings in the world.
Every now and again, I like to look back over the last six months, year or even two years to take stock of the experiences I gained, new things I’ve learned and different ways I’ve grown. When I look back, it reminds me of how much stronger I’ve become and the new ways I see the world.
They say that as you get older, you get wiser. Not that I feel much wiser, but I have discovered that I now have a lot more experiences to draw on when I’m faced with a big decision or a challenge. And that I can look back on times where I had to push myself outside of my comfort zone or face a fear, and how I overcame those challenges. (Like today, hitting publish on this post.)
It’s kind of that feeling when the training wheels come off, but you still need mom or dad there to run behind you in case you fall. It’s learning to believe in yourself and know that you will eventually fall, but you will get back up and have people around you that love you and support you and will continue to cheer you on. That’s what growing up has kind of felt like for me. Learning to lean on people when I need help and knowing that I can pull myself up, too.
Another thing I’ve learned about growing up is that life comes in seasons. There are those big seasons like college, your early 20s, getting married, having kids, losing a parent or loved one, starting a business or going back to college. Then there are seasons where you’re trying figure out what’s most important to you and making those things a priority in your life.
It’s accepting the weeks or months in your life where you’re going to miss the gym more than you’d like because life happens. It’s getting down and dirty in work and powering through because you know that the more focused you are, the more you can accomplish. It’s taken some time for me to recognize these seasons, but now that I know they exist, it has made it easier to get through the tough ones and to savor the special ones.
I’m currently coming out of a season where life and work is go, go, go and I’ve had to put “me” on the back burner for a couple of weeks. But that’s OK. Because I know that I’ll soon enter a season where I can go back to square one and spend more time filling my cup. Being able to recognize that there will be crazy times of your life and slow times of your life is what makes it easier to get through the moments that are messy, fast and at times, stressful.
Growing up is weird. There are days where I feel like I’m just a kid (especially when I’m in a room full of important people and I need to think on my feet) and other days I feel like I’ve got it together. I guess that’s the beauty of life is that almost everyone feels this way, regardless of if they’re 25 or 45. It’s all about gaining new experiences that shape you and mold you into the person that you are today.
Thank you for sticking with me through this rambling post. Growth is something I’m passionate about and I am thinking about incorporating more posts like this one into the blog. I welcome your questions or ideas, and would love to hear your thoughts on growth, too.
What are your thoughts on growth? Have you experienced any growth lately?
Photo credit: Unsplash