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What is a Modern Woman?

Yesterday, I had the unfortunate experience of having my work edited by an editor who has less experience as a writer/editor than I do. As a professional technical writer, I can be more critical than the average writer. This editor, much to my dismay, added grammatical errors instead of correcting them.

But her lack of attention to detail is not the purpose of this post. (She’s probably a nice person who has many friends.) I’m asking about the definition of a modern woman because, as this incident with my editor was unraveling, I felt guilty. Yes, I FELT GUILTY.

Why did I feel guilty? Obviously, I started questioning my self-worth and wondering if I really am a terrible writer. This is a typical spiral for me, as it is for many people – it’s a downward spiral that I no longer have time to indulge in, so I stopped myself and thought about what I really felt underneath all these self-doubting questions. The answer came quickly: Guilt. Then, I began to wonder why I would feel guilty for someone else’s mistakes. In this particular situation, the editor was chosen by another individual, so I can’t even take the blame for selecting this person to edit my work.

This morning, as I started journaling at my kitchen table, hot coffee nearby, I realized that I don’t have the answer as to why I feel guilty about the situation. It also occurred to me that it was ludicrous to think I had enough control in the universe to take the blame for everything that happens in my life. Then I thought about some of the women I aspire to be like. Would they feel guilty for something outside of their control? Of course not.

From this point, I began to think about the definition of a modern woman. Was I acting like a modern woman when I was wallowing in my guilt? No. Have I really defined the phrase “modern woman” so that I know how to behave like one?… sort of, but not really.

The easiest way for me to define something is by using examples, so I have thought of some good examples:

First, I am obsessed with Kelly Rutherford’s character, Lily van der Woodsen, in Gossip Girl (the 2007 version). I used to feel annoyed with myself for watching this show because it doesn’t feel very “modern woman,” and it is slightly off brand for me. When I started thinking about why I watched this show, it occurred to me that I was always hoping to see more of Lily van der Woodsen. Why? Lily van der Woodsen never defended herself and never cared about what other people thought about her. She took care of herself and her family and focused on her own life.

Of course, this character had many flaws, such as the means of obtaining her independence, but I love that she always moved through her world with effortless grace and calm. She always made decisions that aligned with her values and never let anyone’s opinion of her influence her actions.

Second, Lorelai Gilmore, played by Lauren Graham, embodies a modern woman. Similarly to Lily van der Woodsen, she doesn’t spend time thinking about what others think about her. Lorelai focused on her own life, her own career, and her own family. Another characteristic that I love about Lauren’s character is that she blooms where she is planted. She loves her small town and her home and her job. She was never concerned with being famous or changing careers because she felt insignificant.

From these two examples, I can compile a list of characteristics a modern woman should embody:

  1. A modern woman focuses on what she can control. She focuses her time and energy on her own life as opposed to being overly concerned with what other people say and do.
  2. A modern woman is independent. She makes her own money (or at least manages it appropriately) and she builds her life using her own skill.
  3. A modern woman betters herself, but always maintains patience and kindness towards herself. She does not beat herself up for her mistakes. She accepts her mistakes and keeps moving forward.
  4. A modern woman finds happiness, peace, and contentment exactly where she is. She does not feel the need to be like someone else in order to be happy.
  5. A modern woman does not spend time trying to shape the perspective other people have of her. She focuses her attention on the individual interactions that take place in her day to day life.
  6. A modern woman is proud of herself. She thinks highly of herself and takes pride in her accomplishments without being arrogant or considering herself better than others.
  7. A modern woman enjoys her life, taking the time to appreciate what she has instead of focusing on what she does not have.
  8. A modern woman strives to make her life and the lives of her loved ones better. She is not self-centered. She takes care of the people in her life while maintaining healthy boundaries.
  9. A modern woman is confident. She moves through her life with self-assuredness that comes from giving herself the freedom to experience life.
  10. A modern woman is not fearful. She is open to new ideas and experiences and does not feel threatened when something upsets the current course of her life.

For more information about what it means to be a modern woman, read this post by Keishel Williams:

https://notesbykw.com/2021/07/07/traits-of-a-modern-classic-woman/

Keishel beautifully describes qualities of a modern woman who embraces her whole self, her femininity and her more “masculine” characteristics, such as ambition.

After thinking about these qualities of a modern woman, I am allowing myself not to worry about the outcome of my disastrous editing experience. Instead, I will focus on embodying these characteristics. As a modern woman, this bad experience does not define me, and it is not my job to monitor what people think of me.

Thankfully, this frame of mind allows me to refocus my attention to the activities that add value to my life and the lives of those around me.

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Abundance vs. Scarcity Mindset

What is an abundance mindset vs. a scarcity mindset?

An abundance mindset is a mindset in which you feel as though you have enough and you are enough. You’re not afraid of not being able to pay your bills. You’re not afraid of bankruptcy. You don’t worry if what you have is as much as someone else has.

I don’t know for a fact, but I’m willing to bet that most people do not live in an abundance mindset. I struggle most days live in abundance. It is easy for us to dwell on negativity and what we don’t have as opposed to thankfulness and what we do have in our lives.

In Lewis Howe’s The School of Greatness podcast episode 1145 “How to Use the Law of Attraction to Achieve Success,” he explains that we will attract what we devote most of our energy towards. If we constantly think about what we don’t have, we will attract more scarcity into our lives. On the flip side, if we focus on what we do have and the choices we can make, we will attract more abundance and opportunity.

Shawna Compton-Game recently described the scarcity mindset (I’d be willing to bet) most of us live in: she described it as “Scared-City.”

A scarcity mindset is one in which you are afraid of not having enough – or at least you worry about not having enough. You compare your situation to others’ and feel as though you don’t measure up. You’re not as successful as your peers, and you live in a constant state of thinking about what you don’t have as opposed to what you do have.

For most of my life, I’ve lived in Scared-City! In fact, most days, I still live there; however, you’ve most likely heard the saying, “when you know better, you do better.” I’m currently in the transition phase between Scared-City and Abundance City.

The most helpful advice I’ve ever received about how to build abundance is by practicing gratitude. When I feel defeated, negative, and demotivated, I can shift my mindset by thinking:

  • Thank you for my laptop
  • Thank you for my beautiful dog
  • Thank you for my coffee this morning
  • Thank you that I am never hungry
  • Thank you for my able body

As you can see, these things that I start saying thank you for are not earth-shattering. When I start trying to shift my mindset, it does not happen immediately. Usually, I am focused on beating myself up over something. For example, if I am not happy with the way I communicated with someone or I am unhappy about a decision I made, it can take hours for me to get over it.

It helps me to say thank you for things surrounding the incident. If I fight with someone, I start saying things like thank you for second chances or thank you for this data point – I don’t like when I speak that way to anyone, so in future, I will remember how it made me feel, and I will do it less and less often.

Kumiko (Miko) Love, The Budget Mom, posted an excellent article about the power of living in either a mind of abundance or a mind of scarcity:

As far as finances go, Miko shares results form a study using an MRI:

“Those with the scarcity mindset had a measurable decrease of activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that plays a role in goal-directed behavior and decision-making.”

Essentially, if you want to make decisions that align with your goals, avoid living in a scarcity mindset. You are more likely to make decisions that do not align with your goals if you are constantly focused on what you do not have.

There are numerous reasons why we shouldn’t live in Scared-City. A scarcity mindset breeds more and more negativity which can impact our health, our relationships, our jobs, and every other area of our lives.

On the contrary, living in abundance, practicing gratitude, and cultivating positivity does the opposite. There are numerous studies demonstrating that our brains, bodies, and lives suffer from negative thoughts.

Dr. Caroline Leaf has performed much of this research. If you are not a person of faith, these principles still apply! Check out her sermon here:

She has proven, through her research and clinical trials, that our thoughts really do control the outcomes we experience in our lives.

To get started, start slow! Do not try to change your entire life and be a different person within a week. Positive and sustainable change takes time, sometimes even years. I struggled with an eating disorder for over a decade.

People used to say to me that, once you have an eating disorder, you will always have an eating disorder. Really? No! I healed 100% from my eating disorder. Negative comments about my body and appearance do not even bother me at all anymore. I am fully confident in who I am, and I love my body. Of course, there are some things I would still like to work on, such as developing more lean muscle in my thighs, but it is not something I obsess over.

I still love to learn to love the way I look, and it is always a work in progress because there is always room for improvement. I still have days when I beat myself up over something I said or did. There are some days I feel bad about who I am. The difference is that I never stay in those dark places for very long because I have learned the tools to help me overcome my negativity.

I look thin in this photo, right? I was still struggling from an eating disorder at this time. My disorder had everything to do with my thoughts, not the physical world around me.

You can do this too. When I struggled with my eating disorder, my situation felt hopeless, and I certainly couldn’t imagine myself healed. But I never stopped trying. I never gave up. I would write in my journal, “I will overcome my eating disorder.” I didn’t write this one time though. I wrote it every single day until it became a reality. It took years, but I took small steps and kept going. That’s what every journey requires.

To start slow, watch this video in which Rowena Tsai shares these easy tips for financial well-being:

Rowena said something that stood out to me:

The most important thing to remember when trying to adopt an abundance mindset is that you need to be forgiving and gentle with yourself. As with any habit, building an abundance mindset takes time and practice!

One of the best ways to adopt an abundance mindset is through practicing gratitude, just as Miko and Lewis and many other experts will tell you. Practicing gratitude will help shift your mindset from focusing on all the negatives to the positives. This small practice helps you recognize the good things you have and the choices available to you.

Take small steps, and whatever you do, NEVER give up.

The Importance of Self-Care

If I’m being honest with myself, self-care has never really been a priority in my life. But, according to Daniel E Joan, Yoko Ibuka, and Louise Russel, my lack of self-care is not uncommon. The results of their study showed that just 6.6% of adults aged 25 and older engage in health-related self-care each day.

You can read the full article here: https://www.jabfm.org/content/24/4/380

For someone like myself and many other people, chronic illness is something we deal with daily. But it’s not just important to manage physical illness. Self-care includes mental health, which can impact physical health.

What is self-care?

 Moira Lawler explains self-care as a “means [of] taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day.”

You can read the full article here: https://www.everydayhealth.com/self-care/

Self-care is about helping yourself live your life to the fullest. For example, I practice yoga to help myself move through my life with a better attitude and less stiffness. Yoga, for me and many others, is a form of self-care.

Self-care isn’t just something that has to do with your body. We often think of self-care as getting a manicure, spending the day at the spa, or working out at the gym, but self-care takes on other forms too. For example, I cannot work in a dirty and cluttered space. Part of my self-care routine is keeping my space clean and tidy.

What does self-care have to do with finance?

The connection between self-care and finance may not be obvious at first glance, but something I’ve learned through my own personal finance journey is that financial well-being is a form of self-care. Getting your financial house in order is a form of ensuring your safety and your future self’s stability.

Oddly enough, my self-improvement journey began with decluttering. I realized that my life was filled to the brim with people, objects, and pursuits that I didn’t love. These relationships, things, and activities wore me out because they did not align with my values and the goals I had for my life.

Financial well-being is very similar in that we often spend money on things that do not align with our values. The world will tell you that you need to dress in designer brands, you need to drive a sports car, you need to live in a huge house, and you need to eat at the fanciest restaurants. But do you really need those things? As I’ve become clear on my values, I’ve found that I can shop for clothes at Goodwill because brand new clothes are not important to me. My diet is important to me, so I will spend more money purchasing healthier foods at the grocery store. I don’t love eating out, so I spend most of my time with friends at my apartment or at one of my friend’s houses.

When you get clear on what’s important to you, you free up mental space to focus on those things. Some people will criticize you or call you insane for pursuing only the things that make you happy. For example, my friends and family think I am crazy for selling my car to purchase a $1,000 beater instead—but I never even wanted my current car. My family talked me into purchasing a nice car (that came with a hefty car loan), but they are not the ones who have to live with my decisions—I have to live with my decisions, and let me tell you, I regret buying my nice car. It’s not something that’s important to me. This is not to say that a nice car should not be important to you. If you want a nice car, by all means, buy a nice car. The point is to spend time and money on what matters to you the most and ditching the rest.

Self-care is not selfish

One of the reasons we may avoid self-care has to do with our tendency to be selfless or try to be selfless. We may also avoid self-care because it slows us down and makes us take a look at ourselves in the mirror. This can be hard if you don’t like yourself. Truth be told, I often treat myself like someone I hate. This sounds harsh, but how many times have you said something to yourself that you would never dream of saying to someone else? Self-care can be really difficult because it does require us to pause and take a look at ourselves.

The more you do this, though, the easier it will become.

So, next time, when you feel run down or stressed, listen to your body. Listen to yourself. The world is constantly telling us we need to hurry – to rush from one thing to the next, but that simply is not true.

Lewis Howes interviews Grant Cardone, an extremely successful author and speaker, on podcast #1077 5 things poor people do that rich people don’t – Grant says that making money didn’t come from working himself into the ground. He also says that he gets more sleep than the average person, and he spends more time with his family than the average person. Success and financial well-being does not come from over-working yourself. In fact, most highly successful people will tell you that working harder rarely moves the needle. You need to work smarter and more strategically. Have you ever wondered how wealthy people can afford time to take vacations in nice places? They take time for themselves to recover and take breaks.

Many successful people, such as the podcaster and financial expert, Shannah Compton Game will tell you that success comes from mastering your mindset, mastering your thought life, and mastering the art of strategic moves.

Self-care can help you move from a place of hurriedness and unpreparedness and stress to a place of thoughtfulness and readiness and calm, which will help you achieve well-being in other areas of your life.

Self-care is about gratitude

My mindset is usually one of scarcity. One of my biggest fears is becoming homeless because no one wants anything to do with me, including my place of employment, my friends, and my family. I realize this is an extremely irrational fear. My employer likes me and appreciates my work. My friends and family love me and would house me if I ever encountered difficult times. What I can learn from this fear is that I have an issue with scarcity. I feel as though I am not enough and I do not have enough.

This way of thinking makes me panicky and restless. It harms my thought processes and makes me feel like I have no options. In fact, there are numerous options available to me—always. Self-care makes me slow down and appreciate what I have—my body, my space, my loved ones. Self-care may look different to you, but I can guarantee that, when you engage in self-care, you will find something that makes you grateful.

Teach People How to Treat You

You have probably heard this or some version of this statement prior to reading this, but have you implemented it? Have you taught someone how to treat you?

Until very recently, I had not implemented this rule into my life. Do you know what happened when I started teaching people how to treat me? All those things they say about what happens when a woman stands up for herself are true. People saw me as a bitch, as aggressive, even though I never yelled. Despite the fact that I communicated respectfully, even when conversations became heated, those I was “teaching how to treat me” did not respond well.

Image by Mick Haupt

Some individuals chose to ignore me, so I left those people alone. Some individuals lashed out at me. To be honest, it has been unpleasant and scary at times. People react differently to change, and some don’t take it well at all; however, the people who truly care about me didn’t bat an eye.

Because I had not previously taught people how to treat me, I didn’t handle every situation perfectly, and I didn’t always take it well when people responded poorly to my decision not to be a doormat. For anyone who has not stood up for themselves though, please know that none of these interactions were really that bad. One person cried, and that was really the worst reaction.

It is important to note that—sometimes—when we course-correct, we often over correct, meaning we swing too drastically the other way. For example, I have had some experience with workplace bullying. When I encountered a very rude coworker, I addressed the behavior. She completely ignored my attempts to resolve the matter. I reached out to management. They also refused to address the matter. The company did not have an HR department, so I did not elevate the situation. I instead chose to end the working relationship, and some people were upset about it, but I was teaching them that I don’t tolerate bullying. …this was a strong reaction… Other people might not care as much if someone treats them badly, but I am not going to tolerate it.

Image by Shruti Vohra

As I think back on the incident, I wonder if I overreacted. As women, we are socialized to please others and to be agreeable, as Jordan Peterson would say. When I reflected on this incident, I wondered to myself if I would evaluate the situation differently if I were the CEO of a company—I am the CEO of my own life, after all—and I realized that, as a CEO, I would not have tolerated the behavior, so my reaction was very appropriate. Some people think it is okay to treat others who are ‘lower’ on the status scale badly or not as well as they would treat someone ‘above’ them. This thinking is highly flawed. No one should treat another person badly. Period.

Is it arrogant to treat myself like a CEO? I don’t think so. My current CEO recently said she would not subject her employees to working conditions that she herself would be uncomfortable working in. My CEO recognizes that all people should be treated fairly. We still need to follow lines of authority, but we should not allow ourselves to be treated less than what a CEO would tolerate.

Albert Einstein said, “The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.” Evil begets evil the same way success begets success and incompetence begets incompetence. It is our job to pursue excellence in ever endeavor. If someone treats you poorly, you have an obligation to stand up to it, to disallow people from treating you badly; otherwise, you are putting the world in greater peril by tolerating bad behavior.

Note: Some people are forced into to situations or cannot easily get out of certain situations. A person in this situation is not putting the world in danger or allowing themselves to be treated poorly. This pertains to people who have a choice.

I am not saying that all bullying or incompetence in general are evil. What I am saying is that the same principle holds true. Your company is in greater danger when you allow incompetence to thrive than it is when any external source actively attempts to take business away from your company.

Think about it. If you allow incompetence to thrive in your company, you create a culture that will be very difficult to change, more difficult than overcoming external roadblocks.

To be clear, I am not proposing that anyone should yell or commit violence in any way. When I confronted my coworker, I never told her that she was incompetent or rude. I called to her attention that she used blunt language that was inappropriate in the workplace. Additionally, the errors she had introduced to my work and given to the client were unacceptable. We are professionals and wanted both of us to be held to a high standard.

Image by SHVETS

In recent years, women have been exposed to the idea that men often apply and get jobs they do not fully qualify for. This messaging can be misleading. Just because men have created a certain discernable pattern that has worked well for them in the past, does not make the behavior leading to this pattern acceptable or appropriate. Women do undersell themselves and believe they are less qualified, so my statement does not negate the fact that women need to cultivate more confidence in their abilities (myself included); however, women should not lower standards to apply the same behavior men have applied. This is also not to say that men have lower standards. It is to say that our society has let some bad behavior thrive unchecked.

I know of several situations where men received jobs for which they were underqualified. These situations often lead to poor performance. The institutionalized structures around these men and perceived confidence of these men are what keep them in these undeserved positions. Women may not have these institutionalized structures that help us succeed—and this may hinder women’s success—but it is also an opportunity for us to raise the bar.

What does this have to do with teaching people how to treat you? First of all, you determine what you will and won’t tolerate. In previous posts, such as this one – Why I Left My Corporate Job, I discussed why I left my job. This is an example of standing up for myself, communicating to the world what I will not tolerate. Again, I never yelled or behaved disrespectfully. I simply called attention to certain things that were said and done that were inappropriate. If every person decided to quit working for a bully, guess what? No one would work for a bully. We underestimate the power we have, especially when we partner with other people to pursue a common goal.

Evy Poumpouras, ex-secret service agent, gave examples of how she behaved in a way that taught others how to treat her. You can watch the interview here:

What I like about Evy’s approach is that she always communicates very respectfully. She never yells or calls someone out in front of other people. She also demonstrates how one person can own their own power. As women, we are not taught to view ourselves as powerful, but we are.

You can stick up for yourself and teach people how to treat you respectfully. This doesn’t mean people will react well. In my case, they reacted very poorly—which certainly had something to do with my execution because I have little practice standing up for myself—but that doesn’t mean I failed or should stop teaching people how to treat me.

During this time, I am also learning the difference between teaching people how to treat you and defending yourself. There are many instances where people will attack you—verbally—and while your first reaction might be to defend yourself, the more appropriate action is to walk away or say nothing. (If someone is attacking you physically, please try to get out of the situation as fast as possible and certainly defend yourself. I am not giving advice for what to do if someone attacks you physically.)

In most cases, when someone verbally attacks you, your best course of action is to ignore what was said. Act as though it had no impact on you. Of course, what others say to or about us does have an impact, so in future, you may want to avoid spending time around this person. If you work with this person, you may have to work with HR or wear earbuds at work. Find a way to ignore someone who treats you badly first; then move to more drastic measures.

Image by Armin Rimoldi

But defending and explaining yourself is something a guilty person does to try to convince others of their innocence. Do not do this! If people ask you about your experience, tell them calmly and stick to the point. Do not elaborate and explain why you performed each little action. You are not guilty when someone verbally bullies, attacks, or slanders you. Stay calm and set boundaries.

Why I Left My Corporate Job

Julie Roberts said, “Life is like a movie to me. Everybody has their own movie that’s playing out every day, and you’re writing it.”

I love this quote because it reminds me that my life is the most interesting movie I will ever watch—partly because I know the finer details of my own life. The story of my life, when I reminisce, can either seem dull or exciting, depending on how I frame it. I imagine the same goes for every person.

Image by Samuel Regan-Asante

Framing one’s own life is so important because life rarely goes the way you think it will. I thought to myself, just the other day, my life has not gone the way I expected it go once, and it’s true. I never would have imagined myself living this life, doing the things I’m doing now.

For example, I am divorced. I thought I would never get a divorce, let alone a year into the marriage, but that is what happened. The divorce is where this story begins—the story of why I quit my corporate job.

Once I had decided to leave my then husband—or rather my husband told me he preferred to maintain his current lifestyle instead of our marriage—I moved back home. The employer I worked for prior to moving to my husband’s home state requested I come back to work for him. I needed a job, and since I had worked for this employer before, it felt like an easy choice.

It was arranged, before I even fully moved back home, that this company would hire me, immediately upon my return. The job title discussed was Professional Technical Writer because my degree is in English with an emphasis in Professional and Technical Writing.

On my first day back at work, just four days after moving back in with my parents, an offer letter was set down on the table in front of me. There was just one problem: The job being offered to me was not the one we had discussed. The job title on this offer letter said, “Test Engineer.” This raised a small red flag in my mind, but I was so preoccupied with my divorce and the fact that I needed to soldier on—I needed to make money to support myself—I said nothing and signed the offer letter anyway.

This is arguably where the issues with this job began. Note to readers: Never take a job with a title that makes you uncomfortable. The second problem occurred during the first project I was tasked with. The first project I had as a test engineer was acquired not long before my hire date. This project was in support of an external company, and it was continually sabotaged. For example, I scheduled a meeting with this client and my boss to discuss the status of the project. My boss knew about the meeting, but missed it entirely because he was taking a flying lesson instead.

To put it lightly, the project was poorly managed. To make my situation worse, it was requested of me that I refrain from sharing my true credentials with anyone, meaning, my employers did not want the external company to know that they hired an induvial with an English degree to manage an engineering project better suited to a senior engineer. This probably came down to not wanting to spend additional money to hire the appropriate person to fulfill this role, but that is only my assumption.

At the close of this project, I began another project. This time, thankfully, the project involved work related to my professional background—writing. Prior to the kickoff of this project, however, my employers sat me down and explained that they would be hiring a proposal manager. Guess who this person was? My employer’s current flight instructor and girlfriend.

The pair always denied the rumors that they were dating, but they were caught multiple times going out to dinner together. They took a romantic trip to South Dakota, going so far as showing me and my other coworkers the photos from this trip. It was additionally confirmed that this woman spent the night at my employer’s house. Maybe none of these things would be problematic if this individual had any prior experience with proposal management—or any type of management—of which she had none.

Very quickly, this individual became the office bully, recognizing her power as the girlfriend of the CEO. No one could complain to management because she was dating the management. Crazy.

Image by David Taffet

This image literally describes what I endured…

Relationships throughout the office deteriorated quickly due to the presence of this individual for numerous reasons. She bullied me severely to the point at which I developed a slight case of PTSD, later documented by the company’s HR director. She made enemies with everyone.

Eventually, the company struggled to function with her presence. The CEO had unofficially—or maybe officially—broken up with this individual. She was slowly pushed and controlled further to prevent her from causing any more damage until she finally decided to leave the company and return to flying.

She wasn’t the first person to leave the company. Several other people had begun to leave, perhaps due in part to the company’s deteriorating culture. One individual left because she had overheard a conversation about herself. This conversation was held in the room attached to her office, allowing her to hear most of the conversation. The conversation was between an executive and her direct supervisor, and they were discussing how to let her go. Professional—I know.

The company’s culture declined steadily, beginning with the hiring of the CEO’s girlfriend, but certain other incidents further solidified the shift in culture.

Shortly after the girlfriend quit—maybe about two weeks after she left—my boss began tightening his control on the workplace. Was he bored? A camera was installed pointed directly at my desk, and it quickly became clear that my boss had recruited one of my coworkers to begin collecting information about me and passing it along to my boss. The day I caught my coworker passing information to my boss, I drafted my resignation letter. The next day, I handed in my resignation.

You may be wondering why I am telling this story. It sounds like gossip. I’m sharing this story because we often think bad things only happen to other people—in movies.

While I was still in college, one of my professors showed a film from the ‘80s. In this film, women reported the way they were treated in the workplace. One of these women explained how she found out her boss was spying on her: He had installed hidden cameras in her office. I remember thinking to myself that no one would ever do that to me. I always worked for good people. Even if those people sometimes disliked me, I always worked for good people.

Well, it did happen to me. It can happen to anyone. I never thought I would get divorced, I never thought I would live on the East Coast, I never thought my boss would spy on me, and yet, all these things came to pass.

We live in an uncertain world. It’s important to keep your resume current; it’s important to have a sizeable emergency savings fund; it’s important to have more than one stream of income.

Image by Jon Tyson

Never assume, after reading my story, or watching a film, that these bizarre and unlikely events will not happen to you. In fact, if you think about it, I’m sure you can list several events of equal or greater impact that happened to you.

This truly is the principle behind an emergency savings fund. When I quit my job, I had three months of living expenses saved. While many experts will tell you to have six months—and now that I have relied on my emergency savings account, I strongly agree—building in safety measures for your life will help you weather the inevitable storms life will throw your way.

Be prepared. You are the director of your own movie, so be intentional about what you write.

How to Become Confident

Hustling to Nowhere

After several years of non-stop hustling (going to school and working full time), it started to occur to me that I could spend the rest of my life hustling, but still never accomplish what I want to accomplish in life.

It took me over ten years to come to this realization. I used to think that, if I hustled and worked as hard as I possibly could, all my dreams would come true. As the daughter of an immigrant and first-generation American, I watched my parents work themselves into the ground multiple times. I thought the harder I worked, the more successful I would be. This might have been the case many years ago, but it is certainly not the case today.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

In recent years, I started to feel defeated because I worked harder than anyone I knew, but I wasn’t even close to outperforming everyone I knew. So what did I do? I worked harder. What this led to was me saying no to social functions, saying no to any extracurricular activities, saying no to spending time with people all for the simple goal of spending more time on my homework and more time working my job.

I wanted to be at the top. It didn’t have anything to do with wanting to be better than anyone. I just wanted to feel worthy of having a seat at the table. I wanted to feel as good as all the other people around me who were living their best lives.

After accomplishing a 4.0 GPA and graduating with as many honors as possible, I fell into a period of depression. At first, I had no idea why I felt so bad when I had done everything “right.” Then it began to become clear to me that I certainly had not done everything right–and to make matters worse, I wasn’t proud of what I had accomplished.

There were some school projects that I felt proud of, but the majority of work I submitted in school felt so forced, and, believe me, it showed in the end result. This, of course, made me feel sadder about the poor decisions I had made.

However, it wasn’t until I spent two years working professionally that it really hit me: I was never going to feel satisfied climbing the corporate ladder. The only way I was ever going to feel proud of my life was by making decisions that made me proud. It only took a few weeks after this realization for me to quit my job.

To many spectators, it looked like a rash and quick decision, but in reality, it had been in the making for over a decade. I didn’t care that I didn’t have another job lined up because I was so fed up with feeling the need to have a fancy corporate job with an enviable title. For all I cared, I would get a job as a grocery clerk if necessary, and I probably would have enjoyed it more than my current job.

To be clear, I had saved several months’ worth of living expenses in case I had trouble finding another job. Thankfully, I did not have a hard time finding another job because I have literally spent months of my life perfecting my resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, professional portfolio… etc. If you are in a similar position in that you want to leave your current job, please make sure you are fully prepared to do so. This post does not promote anyone making reckless decisions.

If you want to quit your job and do not have another job lined up, check out my post on side hustles: https://modernwomanmodernmoney.com/2021/01/24/side-hustles-that-work-for-you/

Learning the Real Importance of Minimalism

Minimalism is not just about reducing the number of things you have. It is not just about decluttering your basement and organizing your pantry. It has so much more to do with living your best life. I wish I had understood this years ago–but better late than never.

I mentioned that I quit my job without having another job lined up. I reached a point in my life where I felt completely at ease selling some possessions and moving into a cheaper living situation because I realized that, while possessions and money can help you in your journey to happiness, they certainly do not define it.

Minimalism to me is cutting out the fluff–anything that doesn’t make me happy, anything that makes me feel bad about myself, or anything that takes me away from my life’s work. I think what happens when some people pursue minimalism for a variety of reasons, is that they start to let go of possessions they can live without, and this triggers something in the brain. It sends a loud and clear message to the person that they can thrive off only the things they need.

This information is internalized and applied to all areas of your life. I am speculating, of course, but there is a link between decluttering and significant life changes. Marie Kondo mentions this in her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She says that, when people declutter their lives, often significant life changes follow. This has definitely been the case for me.

I could not have guessed that it would lead me to quit the best job I’ve ever had to pursue doing what I love full-time. For me, it did start as decluttering physical spaces and then it quickly turned into decluttering my mental space. I became more mindful about my decisions and started to recognize that some of the people in my life were a negative influence.

Cultivating Pride

A lot of my journey had to do with the pursuit of happiness. As a child, the very first thing I wanted to be was a doctor so that I could help other people. I could not tell you about the origins of my motivation to help others, and while I no longer necessarily want to be a doctor, I still–just as badly–want to help others.

But, as we all know by now, you can’t help others before you help yourself. For most of my life, for numerous reasons, I was very self-centered. Everything was about me. It was exhausting. But I had to go through that period to learn how to care for myself. Some of us have an easier time learning this when we have parents who know how to care for themselves, but remember that I am the daughter of immigrants. They put making money to provide for their family before everything!

Thankfully, we can all learn how to take good care of ourselves (including my parents who are quite good at it now). Part of taking care of yourself is monitoring your mental and emotional life. Most of the time, physical, mental, and emotional health are interlinked. For example, I know that when I see someone who is overweight, nine times out of ten, they are overweight due to mental and emotional baggage or serious trauma.

Of course, there are exceptions because some people do have medical conditions that greatly impact their body weight. I also hope that one day we will all be more accepting of different body shapes because trying to be skinny is a complete waste of time. Caroline Heldman often talks about how we can waste our time and mental space worrying about how we look.

This aside, you can usually look at someone and tell right away if they are proud of themselves. They walk with shoulders back, head up, and speak clearly. I used to think confident people were born confident or they were born to parents who raised them to be confident. That might be true for some people, but it certainly was not true for me. I had to learn that, in order for me to be proud of myself, I have to be proud of what I do. I have to be proud of the decisions I make, and I have to be proud of how I choose to show up in the world.

Choosing to Be Yourself

Honestly, I really wish I had learned this as a child because it would have saved me so much time and money! I grew up in the era when marketers started targeting children. I thought confidence was synonymous with the latest and greatest things. I certainly spent a lot of money trying to fit in, but clothing wasn’t the only thing being sold. I was also told growing up that being an introvert was a great way to never have any success. If I wanted to be successful, I had to walk, talk, and act like an extrovert.

What made this total nonsense worse: People often told me that I needed to fake it until I made it. Just pretend to be an extrovert and eventually, you’ll be one. Wow. I really wish I could go back in time and share some choice words with the people who said that to me. Please know that if you are an introvert, if you have social anxiety, if you are not great at striking up a conversation with someone you don’t know, there is NOTHING wrong with you.  

When people say, “Be yourself,” most of the time, they mean, “be yourself within the confines of whatever social structure that makes me feel comfortable and good about myself.” What I have learned is that being yourself often makes other people very uncomfortable. Embrace that. We need get out of the little bubbles we live in that give us a false sense of security.

For example, I love sending people letters, gifts, and notes of encouragement. I cannot tell you how many people react poorly to receiving these things. First, some people think I’m insecure and need to latch on to other people for safety, so they think I go out of my way to buy my friendships with the currency of niceness. This could not be more incorrect. I go out of my way for every person in my life while still maintaining my own life, feeling totally secure in who I am. For example, I spent three months making a birthday gift for my mother. To me, this did not feel like a big deal.

Check out Women of Impact’s video about learning to like yourself:

Just because other people don’t understand who you are is not an excuse to stop being yourself. In fact, I have learned to like people’s reactions to my generosity and my love of other people. I think it’s funny that being nice (or overly nice) makes people uncomfortable. I also want to be the change I want to see, so I’m certainly not going to stop doing the good things I do. Of course, I am very flawed and do things every day that upset me and other people. (I pray for your sake and mine that we never cross paths while driving in our vehicles.)

It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about making other people happy. It’s certainly not doing things that make you proud 100% of the time. It’s about making decisions with intentionality, making decisions that are true to your real self, not the ‘self’ other people want you to be. It is only when you can begin to make decisions you’re proud of and put work into the world that makes you proud that you will begin to feel confident.

3 Ways to Make Money Blogging

I recently read something online that made me feel instantly annoyed. Someone said that the only reason people start blogs is for attention, clout, and making money.

I happen to believe this assumption is 100% false, and, if you ask other bloggers, most of them would probably agree. While blogs can be great side hustles, very few bloggers I’ve encountered blog solely for attention, clout, or money. From what I’ve heard, most bloggers wanted things like freedom from their 9 to 5, or they wanted to be able to stay home with their kids, or they were so passionate about something that all the people in their life became tired of hearing about it, so they started a blog! I started my blog for the following reasons:

  • I wanted to start blogging because it was a way for me to be creative and to build something lasting.
  • Blogging was also a way for me to organize my professional portfolio and display writing samples to future clients.
  • Blogging can be an excellent way to connect with like-minded people.
  • I love to write, and I love talking about all things modern women and modern money. A blog provides an outlet so that I can “talk” with others who are excited about the same things.
  • For my entire life, I’ve wanted to help others. To this day, the desire to help others remains one of my strongest drives. Creating a blog that contains useful information to help others achieve their goals and dreams seems like a great way I can help others.
  • My previous job took up all of my time to the point that I felt like I had no energy left to be creative and to pursue the activities that bring me joy. I wanted a way to live out my life’s purpose, serve others, and to have a flexible work schedule!
  • Blogging is also a way to build new skills in a digital age.

There are probably more reasons I could come up with as to why I started a blog, but the point is that blogging for me isn’t about money. I imagine many other bloggers would agree that blogging isn’t simply a way to create revenue. That said, we live in a world where we have to make money in order to survive. I’m not about to feel guilty for trying to make money to survive, and what better way to make money than to help others in the process?

To get started, start small. I recommend reading Ling’s introductory blog post detailing how to get started. She even offers a free 7-day course to help you get started.

For another great introduction to monetizing your blog, I highly recommend Sofia Lee’s YouTube video, “How I Make $30,000+ A Month Blogging,” explaining how she makes money blogging:

I love this video because Sofia hits on something that I’ve heard repeatedly in the world of blogging: you have to stick with it. This concept applies to most things in life. You cannot start something and expect to be amazing at it within a month. It takes time to build a career. It takes time to learn a new skill. It takes time to change habits. Blogging is no different.

There are several ways to monetize your blog. In this post, I list three simple ways to start earning income through your blog.

  1. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs provide users with links that are website URLs. These affiliate programs basically allow you to generate leads for these businesses. For example, Amazon will provide you with a link to a product. You can then use the link in your blog to direct readers to the product. If the reader purchases the item, you receive a percentage of the sale.

I like this method because it allows you to choose the products your readers will see. This means that you have control over which products you endorse.

https://www.techradar.com/best/best-affiliate-marketing-programs

In their words: “you sign up for a program for a particular product or service, and if accepted for it, you can then use existing marketing materials and/or links with a unique URL. In the event that someone signs up for that product or service using that URL, you earn a commission.”

This article is definitely worth the read because it goes into great detail about the pros and cons of several affiliate marketing programs. I recommend starting with Amazon Associates program because it is the easiest and most straightforward to use.

To learn how to use affiliate links in much better detail, read Dana Sitar’s guide to using affiliate links in her post “How I Make Money Blogging: The Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing.”

2. Adds

According to WordPress, if you have a paid plan of any type, you can use the collect payments block. If you have a premium account, you can add the PayPal block or a Word Ads.co block.

Note: I didn’t have much luck adding ads prior to upgrading to a business plan which costs about $300 (as of 2021).

I highly recommend this video, courtesy of Dale, to get started:

This video walks you through how to sign up for and use Google AdSense. Note: WP Quads looks a little different now:

And, that’s what I typed into the search bar – “WP Quads.”

Note: Your WordPress site will look different than Dale’s if you do not have a business account. You may also encounter difficulty using ads in your site without a business account.

After I followed Dale’s steps, I chose to connect my website to Google AdSense:

I’m not going to lie – it was a little complicated setting all of this up, and like Dale says, Google AdSense takes at least an hour to integrate with your site. Also, be aware that Google AdSense may reject your website if they feel as though it’s not a good fit.

If you have trouble adding widgets to your site, check out this article: https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-add-and-use-widgets-in-wordpress/

Be patient and enjoy the learning process!

3. Leads

According to WordPress, the following three ways help increase your likelihood of making money:

  • Blogging regularly
  • Connecting with your community
  • Reading, commenting, and following other blogs

These methods increase your connectivity with readers. Without readers, you won’t have anyone coming to your blog and making purchases or viewing affiliate links.

Here is another helpful resource to help you get started if you’d like to learn more about how to generate leads to your site:

Again, the most important thing to remember: don’t give up. Stick with it, and maintain a growth mindset because learning to monetize your blog requires you to learn new skills and how to use new tools.

My Biggest Money Obstacle

(We all get stuck in different places…)

The hardest part of getting out of debt, for me, was not stopping going out to eat or treating myself with manicures and pedicures. I used to think everyone had the same problem: you spend too much money – more than you make – but everyone has a different financial journey. Along my financial journey, I learned something about myself that honestly shocked me:

I’m a saver, not a spender.

As it turns out, some of us naturally like to save our money, but “savers,” as the financial industry likes to call us, can be in debt too. Savers can make huge money mistakes too and have difficulty overcoming large financial obstacles, such as debt.

When I started my financial journey, I did have to cut my spending. I thought cutting my spending would feel like going on a cauliflower diet sprinkled with beans and rice.

(…although many a-cheerio was consumed…)

On the contrary, it felt so easy to cut my spending that my friends questioned my sanity because I no longer paid for “necessities” like internet (“Guys – the library has internet”).

But cutting my spending wasn’t enough. In fact, it was so far from enough that I racked up an additional $14,000 in debt! Yikes. This happened because my focus wasn’t staying out of debt, it was getting out of debt. The difference between the two finally dawned on me when The Budget Mom put out an Instagram post where she asked viewers:

“What is more important? Getting out of debt or staying out of debt?”

“Staying out of debt!” (paraphrased)

Finally, I decided to take the advice from the hosts of the How to Money podcast. They suggested the order of operations:

  1. If your company offers a 401k match, take advantage of it (my company offers a 4% match which is standard)
  2. Build an emergency fund of about $2,500 (my emergency fund is $5,000 because that number makes me feel comfortable)
  3. Pay off high interest debt (anything above 7%)
  4. Save 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses
  5. Invest in one of your big money goals, such as saving for a home

Before implementing this advice, I had devoted all of my cash towards paying off debt. This turned out to be detrimental because, inevitably, something would come up – I had to replace carpet in my apartment, my dog needed a trip to the vet, something on the car broke – you get the idea. Life happens. When life happened for me, because I didn’t have an emergency fund, I went into debt. My credit card saved the day instead of using an emergency fund for – you guessed it – emergencies …because I didn’t have an emergency fund.

Once I came to my senses and created an emergency fund of $5,000 (because $5,000 made me feel safer than the recommended $2,500), whenever something came up, such as travel expenses for my grandmother’s funeral, I simply transferred the required amount to my checking account and used the funds I already had available.

This saved me from building additional debt. It even cured me from worrying incessantly about paying interest (I pay very little interest due to refinancing debt, but interest is still a source of anxiety). I still have money concerns, and I would still like to pay off my debt, but I truly learned the lesson that Mindy from Bigger Pockets Money podcast tries relentlessly to convey to listeners:

Personal finance is personal!

(You’re allowed to be unique – even when those around you can’t relate.)

Your journey will look different from everyone else’s journey, so don’t let setbacks stop you in your tracks. Learn to realize that you, as an individual, will have money obstacles unique to you.

Don’t give up!

3 Ways Women Can Modernize Behavior

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what Daisy said. Scott Fitzgerald’s Daisy in The Great Gatsby. It’s been a few years since I’ve read the book, and I read it in college, a time during which information was stuffed so quickly into my brain that I didn’t have time to commit it to long term memory.

Basically, this means I don’t remember as much as I’d like to about The Great Gatsby, but one part of the book has stayed with me over the years: the part when Daisy says to Nick,

“…I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

I’ve been out of college for a few years, and I’m not going to lie – being a woman in the workforce, especially an unmarried woman in a male-dominated field, is not easy. Ideally, I’d like to forgive and forget, but I tend remember the wrongs committed against me and other women. Some of these wrongdoings include the following:

  • My sanity has been held in question because I’m dating a high-energy, borderline eccentric person, especially in comparison to my last boyfriend who was very quiet and considered a “Southern Gentleman.”
  • My coworkers have made it clear that my stature as a small woman works against me because I don’t take up as much physical space as a man … or the other larger women in my office (who are not large, but simply taller and thicker than I am).
  • One of my coworkers, who has worked at the company for less time than I have, informed me that he would be taking an executive role in the office as soon as the position became available. He informed me that he had already been selected for the position.
  • A male coworker informed me that the only reason I’m pulled over is because I’m an attractive woman. (I guess I’m incapable of committing a crime…)
  • An executive also said, in my presence and in the presence of another female coworker, we could “slap some lipstick” on a potential candidate so that he would cost less to hire. Apparently, he pays women who work for him less than the men who work for him. This was a mistake to say in front of two of his female employees, but I guess he’s not worried about facing consequences.

These are only a few of the sexist things that have been said about me or to me. Sometimes, I fantasize about leaving this position to move to a different company, but I already know this type of behavior is prevalent in more companies than not. In fact, women are probably treated much better at my place of work than many other places.

It still feels odd to me that it’s the 21st century and women are still called “crazy” or borderline crazy or always on the precipice of crazy just waiting for any small event to push us over the edge.

Even the respectable men in my life are free to say things like, “Unfortunately I was too old for the f’ing gorgeous girls … and married.” Yikes. In those moments I genuinely feel sorry for men who are don’t understand that 1. Young women will still go for older men with money because they believe that the world will never work in their favor, so why work? 2. Marriage is voluntary – especially for men.

I understand that this is all a very surface-level complaint of these injustices. I also understand that we all play a role in the socioeconomic composition of our country, so I can’t be angry at one single man – except for the one who rests his hard private parts on my leg while cutting my bangs – I cut my own hair these days.

So, lately, aside from being angry (Why yes, women do have that emotion – fancy that), I’ve been contemplating what women should do if they aren’t beautiful little fools. I’ve compiled a short list of strategies I’ve used to change the perception of women in the workplace:

1. This is obvious, but don’t lose your cool.

Recently, I experienced severe bullying from another female coworker (wow, I guess women can commit crime… ). As the situation deteriorated, I felt the need to remove myself from the situation and work from home for a week. Upon my return, my coworkers, who by this point knew about the bullying because HR had interviewed every single one of them, were shocked that I was able to treat the bully respectfully. Even more shocking, apparently, was my ability to have productive meetings with her in the room. If you’re reading this and you’re a woman, I know you’re not shocked. But, the point is many people don’t believe we’re capable of handling situations like an adult.

2. Treat men respectfully – this means creating and sticking to some healthy boundaries.

People do unintentionally carry on the flaws of their ancestors, and I don’t believe they should be burned at the stake for carrying over some of these flawed ways of thinking; however, I do believe in setting boundaries. My coworkers know that, if they say something inappropriate, I will call them out – in front of whoever they said it in front of. Your situation may be different from mine, so please take this point with caution. You may have a very different relationship with your coworkers, so please don’t do anything that will get you fired. You should set healthy boundaries in all your relationships, including the ones you have with your family. Setting healthy boundaries (in a respectful and calm way) demonstrates to those around you that you, as a human being, have power. You have the power to say no, and you have the power to stand up against injustice.

Please note: if you are in any sort of abusive relationship, you should be seeking professional advice – not mine. This advice should always be taken with caution because, if you have not set boundaries with someone before, there certainly is a chance the person will react badly. For example, I set a boundary with my parents once – I told them, very calmly, that I would no longer participate in yelling matches. …they kicked me out of the house. Be careful when setting boundaries and start small with people you trust.

3. Focus on you, not other people.

One of the best things you can do as a woman is to not give a flip what other people think about you. This might also be the hardest thing to do because we’re hardwired to please others, especially the men in our lives. When you stop caring what others think of you, you’re freeing up mental space. To see just how much mental space, watch Dr. Caroline Heldman’s Tedx talk below:

Save that mental space for something useful. If nothing else, save that space to for your own enjoyment.

Just yesterday, I finally realized what Daisy meant: she meant that foolish women have the luxury of not noticing (or maybe just not caring) that women are often at the mercy of men’s choices, and often “beautiful little fools” are treated better than intelligent women with opinions. While I’m not sure it’s better to be beautiful and foolish, yesterday, it occurred to me that I do not have the power to determine my own value. Men who don’t know me currently determine my value as a human being. They determine my value by keeping me out of the male dominated circles where decisions that impact my life are made without my input.

But, I wouldn’t be writing this if I thought I couldn’t do anything to change these sad facts. Women do have power, and collectively, I think we can stop allowing men to determine our worth. Maybe it’s as simple as recognizing we give up our power every time we allow a man to cross a boundary.

…maybe I should have gotten up out of that chair in the middle of having my bangs cut…

7 Ways to Capitalize on Your Wealth

This post contains affiliate links

The first step to building wealth is accepting that you have wealth. It may sound counter-intuitive because if you’re trying to build wealth, you might feel like you have little to no wealth.

This simply isn’t true. Recently, on The School of Greatness podcast [episode 1067], Priyanka Chopra Jonas challenged listeners to think about it this way: You can always find someone worse off than yourself. Always. If you find it difficult to think of things to be grateful for, start with that. I know it’s a little dark and depressing, but the truth is you’ll always have the ability to think of someone else in a worse situation than yourself. Think of this person, whether real or imaginary, and list what you have that this person does not have. List the reasons you should be thankful.

https://lewishowes.com/podcast/priyanka-chopra-jonas-create-self-worth-find-happiness-choose-yourself/

This brings us to step 1.

Step 1. Learn to live in abundance by practicing gratitude.

The first step to capitalizing on your wealth is by recognizing it when you see it. I fully admit, this is where I struggle the most! It feels easy to slip into a routine of working 24/7 or trying to use up every second of every day focusing on what task you must complete next.

But when we are always in a hurry, too busy to clear your kitchen table or fold the laundry on the couch, we miss the little things we can count as blessings. For example, if you have a couch, you are wealthy – you have a place to sleep if nothing else! Hopefully, you have many more things to be grateful for than a couch to sleep on, but there may be times in your life when you don’t. During a debt-payoff journey or really anytime in life, it’s important to practice gratitude for what you have. Practicing gratitude changes your mindset from a negative mindset to a positive mindset, and having a positive mindset opens you up to greater opportunity.

For example, my first apartment was in a terrible part of town. A person was murdered in the building next to mine, and I routinely reported gunshots to the police. The parking lot across from my apartment complex was a meetup location for the biggest gangs in the city. During that time in my life, it felt like I didn’t have much to be thankful for, but that wasn’t the case. I had a place to sleep, I had a good job, and I was going to school. Going to school allowed me to find a better job and a better apartment!

Step 2. Take care of what you already have.

This includes you! You’ve heard it before: if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. It may sound obvious, but one of the best ways to capitalize on your wealth is to simply avoid buying something new. Recently, I learned this lesson (again) the hard way: my car started making a strange noise and had difficulty starting. What did I do? … I ignored it. Several hundred dollars later, it was decided that the car was a lost cause, and I ended up having to purchase a new (used) vehicle.

Part of the issue was the fact that the vehicle I owned is frequently referred to as a “mechanical nightmare.” This couldn’t be helped; however, if I hadn’t ignored the issue, I likely could have kept that vehicle for longer than I did.

Step 3. Let go of the excess.

Letting go of the excess allows you to more clearly see what you have. If you haven’t already read Marie Kondo’s The Magic of Tidying Up, I highly recommend you do. Clearing out the clutter can help you make significant and unexpected changes in your life. I’ve included a link to her book below. If you would rather save some cash, you can most likely find this gem of a book at your public library. I bought this book when it first came out. After I’d finished reading it, I sent it to my sister – who never returned it – because it’s a really good book. It’s a fun and easy read, and decluttering strangely does have the power to impact your life in surprising ways.

Step 4. Find a home and a use for your belongings.

Finding a specific place and use for every item in your home allows you to accomplish several goals:

  1. Giving each item a home forces you to be intentional about where you place things which can help you declutter and also remember where to put the item if it gets moved.
  2. Giving every item a use will allow you to determine whether or not you need to keep the item. If you don’t have a use for an item, either give it a purpose or give it away.

This is one of my favorite decluttering tutorials:

Step 5. Turn your free time into passive income time.

Whether you like to invest or prefer something closer to blogging, it’s important to have passive income of some sort. My passive income currently consists of my 401(k), but, according to Todd Miller, author of ENRICH: Create Wealth in Time, Money, and Meaning, you should have multiple streams of passive income.

I highly recommend listening to the Millennial Money podcast, episode 228, to hear Todd Miller give advice on how to set yourself up for an “enriched life.”

https://www.mmoneypodcast.com/blog/

Click the image below to check out Todd Miller’s book:

Step 6. Thrive off of helping others.

How can helping others help you capitalize on your wealth? In my experience, helping others does three things:

  1. It takes the focus off of yourself which can help you open your mind to different possibilities. This is useful because it’s easy to feel consumed by your financial journey, or school, or work. Taking some of the focus of off yourself and placing it on people who are important to you can help you remember why you’re striving towards your goals.
  2. It helps you realize the value you bring to the table. For example, I recently started helping people with their resumes. It’s something I enjoy doing, and it’s something I’m good at. In fact, every person I’ve helped has interviewed with a potential employer shortly after I worked with them to revamp their resume. It’s a way that I can see value in myself, and it helps me shift my focus from my own problems to finding solutions to those problems. It makes me feel productive and capable of solving problems, and I genuinely enjoy helping other people achieve their goals – even if I can only help in small ways.
  3. Finally, helping others helps you recognize your skillsets. In college, I was given the gift of a full-ride scholarship for the last two years of my education. Along with the scholarship, we were expected to complete a certain number of volunteer hours. During those volunteer hours, I was allowed to try different things, from picking up trash to making hummus in an industrial kitchen. It helped me learn about myself. For example, I’m not skilled at manual labor (an underrated and valuable skill I wish I had), but I’m good at finding creative solutions. I’m good at solving problems by thinking and coming up with a variety of solutions.

Step 7. Stop and smell the roses.

This is another area where I struggle. I can work and work and work until I finally run out of energy. By the time that happens, I’ve forgotten all of the reasons why I was working so hard in the first place. The whole reason you should be working towards financial independence or getting out of debt is to enjoy your life more. Living life should be joyful and fun. You should love what you do, and if you don’t, I firmly believe that you need to find something you do love. Life is too short to give up so much of your time to something you don’t love.