I Have a Work Problem: When You Can’t Stop Pushing Yourself

Work in a “Busy kitchen” by VV Nincic is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Work has been a problem. For me and my family. We have no idea when to stop pushing ourselves past what’s healthy. Or how to set boundaries around who owns what feelings. What has been true for us is, that we feel responsible for the emotional states of others and this pushes us to work ourselves past the point of what we’re capable of handling in order to rectify or cover over our feelings of guilt and shame. In short, no bueno.

The Root

This became clear to me not too long ago when a few things happened that coincided with a perspective shift. I have been working in the restaurant industry for most of my working career, the same as my family has been doing for decades. In the restaurant industry, we work long days, through rushes and under difficult conditions. It was tough, but we had a lot of fun too.

Recently, I’ve switched to a new position that is office based work. I went into the job expecting the same type of environment. High stress and high energy. After all, the people I worked with seemed to be constantly busy and stressed in the same ways we were in the restaurant biz. So I jumped in with both feet, ready to wade through the human services industry. Things did not go as planned.

Change of Perspective

As I said, I started the position with the same tenacity that I was used to from the restaurants I’ve worked in. I was reaching out to people, making plans to meet with them, to find new resources. I was going hard and expecting that everybody else was on board. This however was not the case.

It seemed that the more I was doing, the more I was making others uncomfortable. I hadn’t realized it at first, but I was definitely stepping on some toes. When the situation finally came to a head, my supervisor and my boss’s supervisor called me into a meeting. We spoke for a few minutes when I realized that we were talking about how my attitude had become a problem.

At first this made no sense to me. I was doing my job and doing it well. My instinct was to think, “everybody else needs to step up their game.” But reflecting on this situation now, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in this situation.

Difficult to Manage

One of my old jobs was as a bread baker in a popular, local bakery. I was good at the job, worked hard and not afraid to jump in where they needed a hand. Unfortunately, I was arrogant, mean and not afraid to let my opinions be known. And I had a lot of opinions.

It was in this bakery that I had experienced some major life changes. One being ending my marriage with my then wife. I was in a bad place and hostile. More so than was the norm for that environment, which was pretty hostile to begin with. I was baking with the owner one holiday when I made a big mistake. We got into an argument and he ended up letting me go.

What was so memorable about the experience was, he told me I was a good baker, as he told me to leave in frustration. But difficult manage. And this was essentially what I was being told again. Good at my job, difficult to relate to. Only this time, by the grace of God, I didn’t get fired. So I decided somethings needed to shift.

Impossibly High Standards

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why was I putting myself in these strange and confusing situations. I was good at my job. It was my personality that was the problem. I do this because I feel as though my self worth and value hinges on how hard I work. As a family member of mine would say, “how serious I take myself”. That was confusing too, translating “serious” to “works hard”.

But what happens if you take yourself too seriously? What happens when you take your responsibilities to the extreme, work too hard? Placing your productivity over the relationships you have with those you work with? As I’ve found, you put yourself in situations where you get talked to. Not for your job performance, but for your interpersonal skills. Something I need to work on.

Relaxing Your Standards

Upon further reflection, this too was a learned behavior. I was taught to have a good work ethic. I was also consistently being told I was lazy by my parents in my youth. Their standards were what I would call unreasonably high for a child to add up to. But I tried. And in so doing, I inherited their impossibly high standards. Something I’m now in the process of unlearning.

And it’s no easy. I find myself picking apart every job I see done. Whether it’s by myself or another. Nothing is ever up to my standard of how I would like it to be. My motto was, “if it’s not done perfectly, it’s not done right”. This is also an unhealthy stance to take. The perfectionist in me is something that took a long time to come to terms with. Something I’m still coming to terms with.

What has helped me is, to sit in the uncomfortable feelings, the dis-ease of my standard not being met. Reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be done well, or that good enough is sometimes good enough. Also, reminding myself that I’m not perfect. Which is something I definitely thought I was when I was younger. And another reminder, that even if I feel as though I’m coming up short, I still care for and love myself.

You Are Loved Regardless

And ultimately, this is the message that we send ourselves when we tear ourselves down for not being perfect. Or are being criticized for not adding up to an impossible standard: that we are not loved unless we are perfect. Anything short of an impossibly high standard and you are forced to sit outside of the feelings of love and acceptance. This is a cold place to be.

It’s also a place that needs a lot of inwardly turned attention and affection. Because when the affection of those who were supposed to love me, was withheld, I learned to withhold it from myself. Not knowing why I “wasn’t loveable”. But if others didn’t love me, there must be something wrong with me. This was how I saw myself until somewhat recently.

This changed for me around the time I started practicing self-care Sundays. I realized that I had been living under the harsh and brutal régime of my family for far too long. Beating myself up in ways such as skipping meals, while also upping my workouts. This resulted in me passing out after a shower one night. This is a dangerous mindset to occupy.

Loving Another Starts With Loving Yourself

I was so used to the critical side of me, that that’s all I listened to. I realized, after practicing self-care Sundays, that I didn’t really know what self-acceptance and love felt like. It had been so long since I’ve been able to accept where I am, or even who I am, that I had completely forgot what those states felt like.

This was quite the discovery. And further more, I had no healthy role models to show me how it worked! So I started practicing self-care on faith, really, hoping something would change.

Wading Through Old Emotions

And slowly but surely, new ways of being began to raise to the surface. Patience was one of the more important ones for me. Because without patience, I wasn’t able to sit with the uncomfortable emotions that I was feeling and had run from in the past. The emotions of feeling inadequate and unlovable were two big ones. With the patience to sit with them, I was able to recognize them for what they were. Old messages that had nothing to do with who I actually am.

Patience for me came in treating my self-care dinners as the opposite of working in the food industry. I chose a recipe I knew I would like. Then I would go out and gather the ingredients at my local grocery store. When it came time to prepare the meal, I would slowly and mindfully, gather and prepare all the ingredients. Usually while a candle was burning with a favorite scent of mine in low, ambient light and with soft, gentle music playing and a cup of herbal tea. I took my time and enjoyed the process instead of rushing through it.

I also realized, during these dinners that these were ways my family had felt neglected as well. They were also withholding love and acceptance from themselves by rushing through their emotions. But if we can learn to withhold love and acceptance, we can learn to reengage with them as well.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The key to why my self-care dinners worked so well for me was, because I kept doing them. It was something I dedicated my time to and did regularly and consistently. Showing myself that, “I’m here, I care”, is important.

And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. If it was the consistent disapproval from my family members that brought me to a place where I wouldn’t approve of myself, no matter how much work I did, then it would be the consistent, positive reinforcement of caring for myself that would show me that I was worth the while. I am lovable. I am worth the time and caring affection I was seldom shown in the past.

But again, this is no easy. For this to take hold, you have to make it a part of your routine. I scheduled mine on Sundays, because that was the first day of my weekend. I knew I would have this day to myself, and seeing how I’m still paying down student loan debt, I don’t take many days off. So scheduling is important.

Find a Routine That Works for You & Stick to It

For me, my routine is my self-care Sunday meal. But I do this this because I enjoy cooking for myself, as long as I can take my time doing it. Because if I’m rushed, it feels like work to me. I enjoy slowly bringing the meal together while burning a candle and listening to some of my favorite tunes. The low-lighting and the aromas from what I’m cooking and my tea are soothing to me. Plus, the meals I make are pretty good. Thanks in large part to Minimalist Baker. But this is my routine and not everybody finds peace in the kitchen.

For your routine, find what brings you joy. This isn’t always an easy task. Before I was more attuned to myself, I would find relaxation at the bottom of 4-5 beers or mixed drinks while vegging out in-front of a screen. Either playing videogames or watching T.V.. None of those are inherently bad, but I was using them as an escape from my emotions. I enjoy having a beer or two while I’m out, or with my self-care dinners. But I no longer drink to excess. I’ve stopped playing videogames only because I haven’t found something I like and I still enjoy T.V., just a few episodes here and there.

When finding what brings you peace, ask yourself, “what are the things I do that I enjoy, that I’m good at.” Having a sense of mastery in a hobby brings with it a feeling of satisfaction. Knowing that you are good at something, like my cooking ability, can bring more overall joy to the experience. Or maybe start a new hobby or pick up a new interest. You never know where it could lead to.

Schedule Time For Yourself

And finally, if you’re busy as most of us are, find some time to carve out for yourself. I know what’s true for me is that responsibilities tend to multiply, not decrees. So finding a dedicated time for you to come back to again and again is important for consistency. Because it’s that consistency, that practice that shows us that we love ourselves by giving ourselves our time.

And it’s not selfish to take time to take care of yourself. This is something a younger me would scoff at. My opinion used to be that self-sacrifice was a given, and if you took the time to treat yourself then you were the worst kind of selfish. Self centered and arrogant were adjectives I would have used in my youth to describe who I’ve become today.

But we change. And healthy change can be a good thing. So long as we don’t over indulge. And finding the balance is key. Not going to extremes in either work, or relaxing too much. Take it from someone who’s seen both sides of the equation. Find your balance and you’ll find peace. Peace & thanks for reading : )

Image Credits: “Busy kitchen” by VV Nincic is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Living Space: How Our Built Environment Affects Our Emotional State

I’m currently searching for an apartment. I also work part-time for a family shelter. Anyone who’s in the middle of an apartment hunt right now has probably felt the sting of pricing going up. Way up. It’s estimated that the median cost of rent for housing in our current housing environment has gone up between 12-17% since 2020. That’s a huge increase, considering that the previous increases were roughly .6% a year.

From my experience working at the shelter, the environment you’re steeped in has a great affect on a persons emotional state. For families experiencing homelessness, the term itself brings up images of destitute individuals in unwashed clothes living in tents in the woods. So if you add unkempt surroundings to an already loaded label of being homeless, this makes for a sad way of feeling about who you are and your circumstances.

I’ve lived in a variety of houses and apartments. Though none of them ever really felt like a true home. I’d like to explore in this post what it is that makes a house, a home for me. And maybe it’ll resonate with a few other folks out there, too.

First Living Experiences & Environments

The places I grew up in, in my childhood were first an apartment, and second a single family house. The apartment was on the top floor of our building. And I have some fond memories of that apartment. I was also very young, so my memories aren’t that crisp. The house I later moved to was the one where many of my childhood memories were made, and therefore remember with more clarity.

There were good memories, such as family gatherings and being taken to soccer games as a child. But there were also difficult ones, like the time we spent nursing a family member while she lay dying in our living room. Or the void I was left in, not seeing my caregivers for what felt like weeks at a time. This was a cold place and one filled with traumatic memories that nobody would want to revisit.

The environment in both were clean, only in first apartment was much more cozy, the environment felt warmer. The house however, was a cold place, sterile feeling. Clean, but without the warmth of the connection and love that makes a house, feel like a home.

The Difference Between Clean and Sterile

I was made to clean as a child, do chores. This was something I hated doing at the time, but what kid doesn’t. Though I’m glad I had the experience of keeping up with and living in a cared for environment. And it felt as though the house was always in the process of being cleaned in some form or another.

Laundry was constantly being done. There was a fair amount of cooking happening as well. But there were also times where this felt like a little too much. As though we were cleaning to cover something up. Everything had to be in its right place, no exceptions. In recent years, I’ve been in one of my childhood caregiver’s home and the kitchen was so clean that it felt as though you could preform surgery in it.

This was mildly unsettling and reminded me of a sterile environment, a place that can’t sustain life. And I feel like this is the difference between a house and a home. A home is a place where mistakes are made, people come together in their difference and accept one another as we are. Imperfect, messy. Because it’s about the people. And incase you haven’t learned this yet, people are messy creatures. Hence the phrase, “life happens”.

So if we’re constantly rejecting the messy aspects of our lives, then we’re also rejecting the parts of ourselves that are equally as messy. This is no bueno. And that’s what it felt like while I was living in my caregiver’s home. Until I got kicked out at 19.

On My Own, Now What?

When I was 19, I was kicked out of my childhood house. A little background on my situation, I had stopped going to school when I was fifteen. I had no life goals or direction, all the role models in my life had abused and neglected me and I was roaming the streets in my town looking to get messed up in some way. Thinking back now, this brings up feelings of fear and terror in me. But then I was just surviving. And on top of that, I had no one to show me how to take care of myself. I was pretty much already on my own.

So when I got the boot from my caregivers, this was only the official decree stating that I was definitely now, on my own. Not wanted. In recent years, when I asked my caregiver why they kicked me out at such a young age, they said, “it happened to me.” This is what I mean when I say we were handing down a legacy of trauma and abuse to one another. And I was scared. So, I talked to two friends and a few weeks later we were living together in our first apartment. And for three nineteen year-olds, we kept the apartment pretty clean.

First Apartments

I remember sleeping on the couch, in the living room of my first apartment, the first night we moved in. With one of my new roommates sleeping on the floor next to me. I was feeling excited and terrified about my circumstances all at once in our new environment. Uncertainty was pervasive, and I had no idea what to do next. Unfortunately for me, this was the theme of most of my living situations throughout my life.

I moved from that apartment, and in with another childhood caregiver of mine briefly, then to an apartment with one of my previous roommates. Only this time, I just moved into their entry way and didn’t ask if I could stay there. I cringe a little thinking about this now, but I felt one step away from being homeless. And again, survival took precedence. And that apartment was so dirty that it should have been condemned. How we felt about ourselves was definitely reflected in our surroundings.

Even when I was married, my feelings of drifting were still pervasive. The apartment we lived in felt comfortable, felt a good expression of our personalities. And thankfully cleaner than the others I had lived in. But it didn’t feel like home. I was still reliving the patterns of my past, while avoiding the responsibility of being my own man. My now ex-wife was looking for someone who was just along for the ride. I was looking for some guidance in the form of someone making all the decisions I needed made for me. And she was looking to tell someone what to do.

So with all of these past experiences of what feels like drifting through life, what’s changed? How have I taken the reigns of my life, and as my boss says, “get behind the wheel and drive my own life bus”? It starts with recognizing where you are and where you’d like to be. Also, what you want out of life.

Lessons On Life Some Of Us Never Get

There were quite a few lessons I never received before I was kicked out of my house. One being how to budget. Another being how to care for my nutritional needs… The list goes on. But I feel the most important lesson I missed out on was, where I’d like to be and who I wanted to be as I matured.

Self Acceptance

My caregivers were too concerned with how others saw them, to be their own person. This left me with almost no role models to show me how to be confident in who I am. But more importantly, foster me as I was cultivating and exploring my interests, likes and dislikes. I was hustling for my caregivers approval, only they never felt approved of. So in-turn, they didn’t know how to approve of others, or nurture my budding interests.

These basic feelings of not measuring up were pervasive in my family, and ones that were handed down through the generations. We just didn’t know how to break the cycle of looking for approval from others instead of looking for acceptance of ourselves. For my caregivers, this manifested in cleaning to the point of being sterile, but also in buying things we didn’t need.

Shopping to Fill the Void

We were constantly shopping in our family. I remember vividly in one of my apartments, looking through the Pottery Barn catalogue, at my Pottery Barn desk, circling the things that I wanted in my dwelling, while I was sleeping on a futon mattress without a bed frame. Another thing I never learned how to do was to prioritize my need. I got caught up in the same trap of trying to curate a personality by the things I bought and surrounded myself with in my home environment. It was a sad and lonely place to be. But it was also all I knew and had modeled for me growing up.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that no matter what I bought, it wasn’t going to bring me a sense of a sustained happiness. I could look how I wanted to look, play the right part, but that’s not what would bring me a deep sense of joy or satisfaction. In fact, I’m still looking for that sense of joy and happiness. I know that I’m much less anxious now that I’ve let the ideas that my environment has to fit the image portrayed in the pages of a catalogue. And I think a big part of the puzzle is spending time with those who support and love me.

Cleaning Cabinets Even When They’re Going To Be Torn Down

As I’ve said above, I work at a family shelter part-time as direct care. This means I help the guests with their daily needs, such as doing laundry for them or getting them food items they may need. But between fulfilling my duties, there is a lot of down time. So it wasn’t too long ago that I decided to take on some projects that needed some love and attention around the house.

I started in the kitchen and for good reason, it was a mess. The cabinets had what looked like years of grease and grime rubbed into every crevasse across their surfaces. And if you opened them, they weren’t in much better shape.

The only way I can describe them is that it looked as though an animal had been nesting in them. There were packages torn open with their contents strewn about the shelves. There were piles of things in no particular order or reason. It was a mess. So I started by scraping and scrubbing the cabinet exteriors.

Attending to the Neglected Attending to Our Sense of Self

There was so much caked on grease that I was using a butter knife to clean it off the way you would use a putty knife to scrape off excess plaster from a wall. It reminded me of one of my first apartments, the one I moved into without asking. But the more I cleaned, the more the guests began to take notice.

They made comments about how hard I was working and how good the cabinets looked. It was nice to receive the compliments, but what I’m sure felt better was that someone was taking the time to care for the place where they cooked their meals. Later on, while I was cleaning the cabinets, my boss came over and told me we were going to tear down the cabinets in a few weeks due to a kitchen renovation. So I didn’t need to put so much effort into something that was going to be torn down anyway. But I continued cleaning all the same.

Mostly because I was almost done, and the cabinet really started to look good. But also because, and more importantly, the guests were taking pride in their newly cleaned environment. The place they came to live because they were homeless, started to take on a new feeling. A feeling of being cared for, paid attention to. And later, when I stocked the cabinets with the food from our pantry the way you would see the shelves stocked in a grocery, they started cooking and using the resources that were there for them to use in the first place. Only in a cleaner environment.

Pride of Place

And these are the differences that a clean, inviting environment can imbue in a person living in them. A sense of pride in the place they call home. It really is amazing what a little love and attention can do for our environment. And if you think about it, it’s happening all around us. This is the reason why shows like “Fixer Upper” were so popular. They show what’s possible by simply taking care of the things that have been neglected.

Turning Inward to Our Own Fixer Upper

Where is this true in your life? Instead of going out and buying something new to fill a need for change, is there something that is maybe right in front of you that could use a little TLC? I’ve almost stopped buying new things completely, and have thrifted most of my major purchases in recent years. I still have the desk from Pottery Barn, but it’s now probably 15 years old. And I’ll be keeping it for years to come. And most importantly, it doesn’t define my personality anymore. I am more than the desk I own, but rather now it’s an extension of my personality.

So take some time and take stock of the things you bring into your life. Ask yourself, “why do I like this so much?” Is it because it’s pleasing to you and adds comfort to your life? Or is it something you’re trying to build a lifestyle or self image around? Because that maybe the difference between you finding things that fit your personality and finding personality by buying things. Peace & thanks for reading : )

Image Credits: “Dirty kitchen sink from a condo in Palm Springs” by Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Co. is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Updated: 1/20/23

I’m 40, In Debt & Haven’t Saved for Retirement: What to do When It Feels too Late

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been paying off debt that I accrued in my early to late twenties. My debt was divided between credit cards and student loans. I’ve recently paid off my credit cards and have been going hard on my student loans. The next step for me is to invest in retirement. I’ve been following the Dave Ramsey “Baby Steps” to pay off my debt. And I’ve been excited with the results. Also, as a side note, these are only my experiences in researching what I need to do to retire. I am in no way an expert in the financial field. So this should only be taken as a rough guide to start asking questions. Speaking with a qualified financial advisor is the best way to get sound financial advise. So don’t take this article as the final word on investing.

The Basics

Along with paying down my credit card debt, I’ve learned how to write and follow a budget. This is how I’m learning to care for my financial needs. I have a small sum of money in savings for the first time ever and am making serious progress on my student loan debt. I’ve been so excited about the progress I’m making on paying off my debt, that I completely overlooked that I’ll be paying into retirement later than most people usually start. This has me a little worried about what my future is going to look like. So I started doing some research on the subject. But before I jump into saving for the future, I first had to look at what got me here in the first place.

Planning for the Future by Looking at the Past

When I first got into debt, I had no idea what I was doing when it came to finances. Much in the same ways I didn’t know how to care for and tend to my nutritional needs, finance was another area in which I was illiterate. I was living paycheck to paycheck for most of my adult life. And as soon as I was able to borrow money, I jumped at the chance. Looking back now, I’m not sure what the draw was. I was constantly in debt, all my credit cards were maxed out and I was missing payments and paying hefty fees for it.

But there was something about it that had me hooked. I was buying things I didn’t need, and using somebody else’s money to do it. And when it came time to pay for college, I treated student loans much in the same way I was treating my credit cards. They offered me the maximum payout amount and I took it each time. I didn’t know that I could accept ONLY what I needed from the loans. Not the entire sum. But the way I was living, I don’t think I would have chosen differently had I known.

I was accumulating so much debt, that I could have bought a small house in Western Massachusetts with the amount of loans and credit card debt I had. But I kept spending. And I hadn’t even thought about what I was going to do when it came time to retire. So when I finally took financial responsibility for my life for the first time in my early thirties, the outlook for my future was sobering.

I’m Paying Off My Debt, But What do I do About My Future?

I’m a little less than halfway through my debt currently. And the idea of being forty and just beginning to think about retirement, almost had me in panic mode. But here is where it is important to stay in control of your emotional world. And also know that just because you’re starting late, doesn’t mean that you are destined to be poor in your old age. You have options.

Make a Plan & Stay Fluid

The first thing I did was to come up with a date that I would be debt free. I’ve done this a few times already. It’s important to stay fluid while you go over your numbers, because Surprises will come up. And you will be met with setbacks. But finding your debt free date not only gives you a tangible goal to achieve, but also helps to keep yourself accountable for your progress. I had a few setbacks along the way. I had to buy a new, used car and my pay fluctuated a few times when I changed jobs.

But each time a new challenge arose, I met it by reassessing where I was, what my new circumstances were, and adjusted from this new place. One thing that kept me on track was, staying persistent. The closer I came to paying off my high interest debt, the closer I come to saving for my retirement. This is one of the main takeaways of Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. The less high interest debt you have, the more prepared you will be for saving for your retirement.

So when you’re finished paying interest on top of the money you owe, you’ll be able to save more money. And invest the money you’re saving later on. That’s why it’s so important to pay off your high interest debt first. To free up your capital for your future. So paying off debt is investing in your future. In that you will be the beneficiary of your hard work. Not a credit card company or bank.

I’ve Paid Off My Debt, What Next?

After you’ve paid off your debt, take a deep breath, and appreciate what you’ve just achieved for yourself and your future. This is a huge step in reaching financial independence. The next step, according to Dave Ramsey, is to set up an emergency fund. This is usually 3 to 6 months pay.

Emergency Fund

Being in debt for so long, I’m opting for the 6 month fund. Feeling financial secure is important to me. Especially since I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck for most of my life. It’s also part of the Ramsey baby steps to have a thousand dollar emergency fund while you’re paying down your debt. Just in case something comes up that you haven’t planned for. It’s not much, but when you’re 95k in debt as I was and you suddenly get hit with a five hundred dollar medical bill and you’re living paycheck to paycheck… That emergency fund is the difference between talking the hit in your budget somewhere else, and feeling secure in knowing you can take care of the small problems that come up along the way. Life happens. It’s best to be prepared when it does.

After your emergency fund is set up, now is the time to start looking towards investing for your retirement. The usual routes for this is through either a 401k, traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. The difference between the two accounts are, traditional IRAs are taxed when you take your money out, as opposed to Roth IRAs. With Roths, you are taxed when you put your money in.

401k

A 401k is a retirement account that is usually offered by your employer, and has a relatively low investment risk. You can add up to $20,500 dollars into your 401k annually in 2022 and an extra $6,500 if you’re over the age of 50. Which makes this a good overall option. And if your employer matches your contributions, meaning they put in a percentage of what you pay into your account each year, this is a no-brainer. That’s literally free money! This is a great entry level option.

Roths vs Traditional IRAs

Roths

From what research I’ve done, an important aspect of saving for retirement is the tax advantage you get when you decide to take your money out. If you know you are going to be in a higher tax bracket in retirement. For example, say you will have a lot of passive income such as rental properties, something I’ll be going over later in this article. You may want to be taxed when you put your money into the account. Using a Roth IRA, you will be taxed when you’re rate was lower. Saving you money by paying less in taxes.

Traditional

But if you plan on being in a lower income bracket when you retire, a traditional IRA may be the way to go. This way you’re contribution is taxed when you receive your payments. This also has the advantage of letting your money grow tax free and with compounded interest. So you’ll earn more with your investments. Whichever path you choose, it’s best to have a plan for what your life may look like when you start pulling money out in retirement.

Savings Vehicles

How much should we contribute to our funds once we set them up? Conventional wisdom suggests that we sock away between 15 and 20 percent of our income a year. So depending on what you are making and your savings vehicle, you may have to spread your savings out. Because you are only able to contribute so much to traditional or Roth IRAs.

As of 2021, the limits are 6,000$ for each fund and 7,000$ for those over 50 years of age. And with 6,000$ a year, if you start at age 40, that could translate to a little less that 475,000$ by age 65. That is a huge improvement over receiving social security alone. For a more in-depth look at how IRAs work, check out this article on Investopedia.

But if 6,000$ is less than 20% of your income, your going to need to find ways to diversify your retirement savings. Other vehicles include, mutual funds, money market funds, real-estate or physicals. These are only a few options available. But ones worth looking into.

Mutual and Money Market Funds

These types of funds are considered low risk investments. Mutual funds are a group of securities that are managed by investor professionals. They consist of things such as, stocks, bonds and securities. This vehicle is made possible for the individual by pooling together funds from many investors. As I said above, they are considered low risk. So they are a great way to pad your retirement if you have more than the maximum IRA contribution to squirrel away.

Money market funds are investments in low risk security funds. So they don’t have the highest percent interest payout. But they are solid supplements to your retirement fund. They are however not backed by the FDIC. So it’s best to research funds with a history of promising returns. Slow and steady is the end goal for mutual funds.

Real-Estate

There are a few ways to invest in real-estate. One way is by flipping homes as seen by Chip and Joanna Gains on “Fixer Upper”. But another way, and the one I’ll be talking about, is buying rental properties. With rental properties, you’re able to purchase a home or apartment building and rent out the units. The idea is to use the rent, paid by your tenants, to pay off the house’s mortgage. Then once you’ve paid for you property in full, the rent becomes income. If you’re able to pay off the mortgage before you collect your IRA, you’ll have a consistent stream of income coming in after you finish with your career.

There is a lot to consider though, when taking on a rental property. You’re responsible for the general maintenance and upkeep of the property. For finding tenants to occupying the building and taking care of any issues that may arise. It can be a large responsibility. So it’s worth considering how much time you have to invest if choosing this strategy. But if planned well, it could definitely be beneficial during your retirement years.

Physicals

What I mean by physicals is, gold, silver, copper or platinum. My father was in the jewelry and coin industry. So this is something I’ve heard a lot about growing up. It can be daunting. Looking into investing in something like gold. The average price per ounce of gold, as of this article’s publishing is, around 1,900$ an ounce. With bullion being sold most commonly in ten ounce bars, according to Forbes Adviser, this can end up becoming a costly investment.

Luckily, there are some more accessible ways to invest in gold. Gold coins are one way to squirrel some money away for retirement. The American gold eagle is sold in a half ounce to single ounce coins. And is sold at market value. This is a great way to put up 1,000$ at a time, while also getting you closer to your retirement goals. It’s also worth noting that if you spend over a thousand in physicals, the purchase is tax exempt. So an ounce of gold is the cheapest way to buy into this market.

Start Planning

Here are only a few options if you’re looking into retirement a little late in the game. It may take some time and planning, but it will literally pay off in and for your future. So don’t panic! And don’t give up hope. The way to retirement may seem difficult now. But with some persistence, your efforts will carry you comfortably into your golden years. Peace, and thanks for reading : )

Image Credits: “Retirement Jar” by aag_photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Updated: 10/28/22

Knowing When to Walk Away: What to do When Your Boundaries are Being Violated

This is a difficult topic, especially for those who have little understanding of what boundaries are. This is a place I know well. And time after time, I would find myself in situations where I, or somebody else, was taking advantage of somebody’s boundaries. If you’ve read my last post on “Do I Know What My Boundaries Are?“, you’ll know I’ve been steeped in an environment void of boundaries.

This post and my last post, were inspired by a place I was recently employed with. The ways in which the employer has been treating his employees is something that, well, inspired this post on self-care in regards to personal boundaries. In this post, I’ll be going over some red flags to look for if you feel your boundaries are being taken advantage of. Also I’ll be talking about what you can do if your boundaries are being encroached upon. I’ll be focusing mostly on the workplace. But these examples can be applied to other contexts as well. So let’s jump in with what to look for.

Red Flags

If you’re not used to being in relationships with healthy boundaries, it can be tricky to see the red flags that pop up when they’re being violated. That said, some are fairly obvious. However, it can be insidious in how subtly some take advantage of others’ boundaries. Some examples of red flags are, emotional blackmail, criticism without constructive feedback, being unwilling to give clear and concise direction while communicating needs and using misinformation to misdirect from the issues that are in question. These tactics aren’t new. But they make for unhealthy relationships and boundary violations. So let’s start by taking a look at emotional blackmail.

Emotional Blackmail

Let me start out by saying that lying, in and of itself, is a clear indication that your boundaries are being taken advantage of. If you, or somebody you work with or for, is in the habit of lying, then attention needs to be given as to why it’s happening. This happened to me most recently at a job I left not too long ago.

I was talked to by the owner of a small bakery I worked in and written up for not mixing the starter on the scheduled time. I had brought this issue to the owners attention. My concern was for the quality of the product, so I was willing to take full responsibility for my mistakes. But where the violation of boundaries took place was, the owner said he was writing me up for the second time I had forgotten to do this task. I don’t remember the first incident and when I asked for the date of the original infraction, he was unable to remember the time.

He was unable to give me any detail as to when the first time it happened was. Though made reference to my mistake often after he claimed I had. He said that I had made more mistakes without documentation and was using it to make me feel that I should be worried for my job security. These are the mechanics of how emotional blackmail works. His goal in lying to me was, to make me feel as though I was on thin ice in regards to my job security. By making reference to it often, he was attempting to capitalize on my feeling as though I’m not worthy of my job title. Or that I should feel lucky to have the job.

Asides from this being a stressful environment to work in, it also is a way to manipulate those who work for you. In order to make you feel as though you are worth less than you actually are. The result? This environment may lead to people working harder, to feel as though they have to make up for feeling deficient. Or in not asking for pay increases for inflation. Or for increased responsibilities. But also, and maybe most importantly, it also leads to resentment.

Resentment in the Work Place

What made this so uncomfortable was, everybody I worked with had something bad to say about the owner. There were an awful lot of hurt and abused feelings among his employees. Nobody was happy where they were and everybody made it plainly clear how they felt. Yet, nobody would sit down and have the tough conversations around why they felt the ways they did. I attempted to, but was met with arrogance. Actually, much in the same ways I used to be when I was younger. It wasn’t unfamiliar, but that didn’t make it any less difficult to bear.

In these situations and from my experience, it’s best to take the high road. Ask a lot of clarifying questions and try not to lose focus on what is at the heart of the situation. In my case, I wasn’t a bad person for making the mistake. It was only a mistake. The mistake, which at worst was an inconvenience. Because in a bakery, you always have a backup starter for this reason. Also, keep focus on the present and leave the past in the past. Unless it is a string of related events. And most importantly, don’t let someone else attempt to define you by the mistakes you’ve made. We’re all only human. And humans make mistakes.

Criticism Without Constructive Feedback

This is difficult for a lot of people. And rightly so. Without constructive feedback, criticism, especially if given often, is just another way to bully someone. It also creates an unclear or unachievable standard. This was also the case with my last employer. The owner was constantly finding fault with the tasks that were being done. And he was very vocal about his opinion.

An example being, there was one woman who had been baking for him for the better part of two decades. Before she worked there, she owned her own bakery in Viet Nam. She was a good baker, actually one of the best bakers I’ve known. And she did her job well. But regardless of her baking prowess, the owner would often criticize her by calling her the “queen of steam”. If you you’re not familiar, you use steam in the baking process by injecting the oven with water to create steam, right before you put the loaves in to bake. The steam gives the crust a shiny look to it, while the crust develops. So the owner was constantly implying that she was too heavy on the steam.

Later when he criticized my bake, I asked him some clarifying questions around what the standard should look like. He gave reference to the woman’s bake I mentioned above. Saying it should look, just like hers. This was confusing. Because the most common comment I heard from him about her bakes, was how they weren’t good enough. Too much steam. So I was left with no direction on what he wanted from me and the feeling of not doing an adequate job. Regardless of how good my bakes looked. And everybody that baked there, was an excellent baker. Including myself. So there was no clear standard of what he expected from us. Only criticism.

Lack of Clear, Concise Direction

This was at the root of a lot of the miscommunication and confusion. Not only with my last place of employment, but many places have communication issues. Information that is important for employees to do their jobs, is sometimes not provided in a timely manner. In these situations, I find it best to pursuing the information. For example, in my last place of employment there was no established line of communication from what the owner wanted, to what was expected of us.

This left us in the uncertain place of not knowing whether or not we were doing right by his vision of what he wanted from us. Or if we were meeting his expectations. We were left in an uncertain purgatory. This led the employees to distrust those in charge. Because without clearly communicating needs, those who need to know are left feeling unsupported. An example of this type of miscommunication was, there would be changes made to the bake last minute. And if the changes weren’t reflected in the bake, do to the changes not being communicated in a timely manner, than the employees would be reprimanded for not implementing the changes.

These unreasonable expectation and lack of support led directly to feelings of resentment on the parts of his employees. There was a high rate of turnover and there was a steady rotation of managers before I took the position. The lack of communication directly led to a lack of feeling supported, which in turn impacted the turnover rate of the owner’s employees. Not to mention the amount of hurt emotions along the way. All of which could have been avoided if there had been clear direction and support.

So the lack of clear communication is an indicator that your boundaries are being infringed on to some degree. It’s best to address these issues when they arise, as well as to set reasonable expectations for what is expected of you from my experience. This way, you’re not left wondering what you’re supposed to be doing. Or feeling unsupported.

Misinformation and Misdirection

This can be an especially difficult boundary violation to navigate. While I was at my last place of employment, as I’ve said above, I was written up for forgetting the starters and then mislead about forgetting it for the second time. In the same write up for mixing the starters late, it was also mentioned that my bakes didn’t meet their standard.

This came as a surprise. I had no prior warning about the quality of my bakes. No one had ever brought this to my attention. There were also only two supervisors present while I was being spoken with, but there were three supervisors on my write-up. One of which I wasn’t aware was my supervisor.

All of these extra additions, to what was a matter of mixing a starter late, had the effect of misdirecting focus from what the actual issue was. I was being written up for mixing the starter late, which turned into being spoken to by three supervisors, as well as the quality of my performance. This is a good example of misdirecting from what the issue is and an encroachment of boundaries.

Ideally, these should have been brought to my attention in separate conversations, as they arose. So when we discuss the matter, it wouldn’t be a surprise. The experience left me uncertain as to what was expected of me. But also wondering, if it was that important, why was it only now being brought to my attention? Especially since I, like most people I believe, want to do the best job they’re able to.

Using fear and misdirection to manipulate a person to work harder because they fear for their job security, leads to feelings of resentment and confusion. Resentment for the feeling of being in an environment where it’s unacceptable to make mistakes. And confusion because the standards are constantly changing. There was no clear way to discuss what the issues actually were. And another example of boundaries being violated. Anytime there are unclear expectations and you are being told that you are not achieving them, this is a violation of boundaries.

What Can We do About It?

With all of these abuses of boundaries taking place, it may be difficult to know what to do or how to act. With your attention being pulled in so many different directions, it can be difficult to know first, how you feel about it while it’s happening. Secondly what you can do about it. For me, it helped to take it slowly. As I said above, I asked a lot of clarifying questions. I gave them the benefit of my doubt and made sure to follow up with those who were the decision makers. I also gave support to those I was able to, who were looking for direction. Some of the following suggestions are easier to do than others, but with some perseverance, it can be done.

Clarifying Questions

As I said above, asking clarifying questions goes a long way into finding out what specific expectations are being asked of you. The more specific, direct and often your questions and communications, the less likely it will be that there are grey areas. Or feelings of uncertainty.

This may be difficult for a few reasons. First, if your supervisor is being evasive, than it can be tough to get a clear and direct answer from them. Second, if you’re shy or don’t like making waves, than asking questions can make you feel as though you are being a burden on those you need clarifying from. And nobody wants to burden the boss.

But this is where it is so important to be persistent. Asking the right questions and knowing precisely what’s expected of you will only help to improve things for everybody. It will also make you stronger in the end. So try to calm your fears and advocate for yourself. Who knows, maybe you’ll receive the guidance you need.

Give the Benefit of the Doubt

This one can be difficult. Mostly because it involves a lot of trust where trust may have been abused. But going into a situation thinking you are going to be taken advantage of, leads to being guarded and unreceptive to change. And the situation may be that the person who is showing the red flags, may be under a fair amount of stress. Life happens. And it’s best to be able to help out those who need it. Instead of being quick to judge them as being neglectful or malicious in their actions.

I’ve also found that it helps to stay positive in these situations. Bringing an attitude of resentment to the issue won’t help to resolve the issue. It also takes a toll on your own well being. And in situations where your boundaries may be being violated, it’s important to take care of your needs and well being.

Following Up

Following up with your concerns and questions are important aspects of getting your needs met. Especially if the issue has been avoided. This shows that you are invested in finding a resolution. But also as important, sending the message that you are going to advocate for yourself and your teams needs.

This also helps to keep those who are in charge accountable. This way, you’re taking care of your own needs by respecting yourself by advocating for your needs, while also sending the message that your needs deserve respect and acknowledgement.

Giving Support

This one is important. Giving Support to those you are able to helps to provide a sense of working to achieve a shared goal. Teamwork. This is especially important when there isn’t support coming from the person in charge of making their vision a reality. As I’ve said above, a lack of support can lead to resentment. And if we don’t support those we work with, we end up resenting one another. In this case, nobody feels supported. And if we can take care of each other along the way, it helps to make everyone feel a little better.

Conclusion

It’s not easy, but if you’ve found yourself in a situation where your boundaries are being violated, these steps may help you to navigate them with some confidence. And if you do everything you’re able to, for example finding appropriate help for mediation, and you still find that you are being taken advantage of, your best bet may be too leave the situation entirely. But give it some serious thought and try not to let your emotions rule your actions.

My motto in my teen and early twenties was, “bridges are for burning”. This was due to feeling hurt by those closest to me. But it was an attitude that left me alone and without any support. Just because someone has taken advantage of you, doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person. Who knows what their history holds. If it is anything like mine and they’ve been hurt in the past, I can relate. But also be open to the idea that people can change. This helps to soften the blow of your boundaries being violated.

That doesn’t mean that you should allow them to be violated, but to take care of your needs by maybe walking away from the situation. And try not to hold anger or resentment towards those who hurt you, while you’re taking care of yourself. If you’re looking for some more information on healthy boundaries, this article from positive psychology goes into more detail with exercises to help build and maintain healthy boundaries. I hope this has helped in some way. As always, peace : ) & thanks for reading.

Image Credits: Walking Away by Matt Henry photos is licensed under

Updated: 10/27/22

      CC BY 2.0

Living Your Life: School and Career Focused

School and career. These are two subjects I knew absolutely nothing about. This area of my life was in complete disarray, and with zero guidance due to my complete lack of positive role models, any kind, I had quickly made the transition from cute kid in grade school developing normally, to almost a middle school dropout. And there was no shortage of people helping me along the way to achieve as little as possible.

In this post I’ll be going over the experience I had with my education and how I never learned how to find out what my passions are. How I dealt with the lack of role models and stumbled along the way, to me finally coming to an understanding of what career means to me. Also what I’m doing about it now that I’m behind the wheel and steering my life in a direction that works for me. Hopefully if you have similar experiences, you’ll at least know you’re not alone. And hopefully get some helpful pointers along the way. Let’s start at the beginning with my schooling.

School, the Early Years

I hadn’t realized at the time, but my disinterest in school started soon after my trauma I experienced as an eight year-old, around second and third grades. I was doing well until third grade. It was then that I started showing signs of having difficulty learning to read. I had mild dyslexia. Confusing bs for ds, and my overall progress slowed. I overcame the mild learning issues in elementary school, but by the time I got to middle school, I had completely checked out.

I was in a constant state of fear. Everything I had known about feeling safety and belonging with and around other people had flown completely out the window. I was nervous and anxious around other people almost constantly. I hadn’t developed any social skills in my early teen years, so when I hit high school I was modeling myself after Jim Morrison for lack of positive role models.

Wanting to be Liked

I was overcompensating for my fear of connection by being arrogant and aloof like Jim. This was also when I started drinking and smoking cigarettes. My ambition in life was to be seen by others as someone who was cool. That was it. There was no substance or desire for something more. I had no idea that there were greater things to aspire to. My sole focus was to be liked.

This makes me sad now to think about it. I was a cliché in thinking that if I acted a certain way, I would be accepted and liked by others. What I was going through was the awkward social change into adolescence and I had no idea that I was even going through it. But if you don’t feel accepted by your caregivers, then who is there to tell you that you belong? For me it was just doing whatever felt good at the time, with whomever was around me probably making the same poor choices.

I felt a sense of homelessness. And I felt no sense of belonging or what it means to belong in a healthy sense of the term anyway. I spent most of my time with friends, drinking too much and wandering around aimlessly from one good time to the next. I’m surprised I made it out of adolescence relatively unscathed. But in spite of my difficult upbringing, I managed to pull a life together.

Salvaging What I Could

I pulled a life together, but that was in the loose sense of the term. I may have had a place to live, was in a stable relationship and had plans for the future, but I was really just winging it. But I was still trying to avoid feeling the uncomfortable and sometimes traumatic emotions of my past. I also had little to no drive or ambition. And I spent most of my time avoiding living my life by either drinking or playing video games. My future plans felt more like stabs in the dark without anyone to support my efforts. I still had no healthy role models or direction, or even goals to strive towards. I was just drifting. The way I had through my teen years. Only older now and with almost nothing to show for the life I had been avoiding living.

Shifting Emotions

But then something shifted for me. My comfortable and somewhat stagnant life was turned upside-down when I thought I had fallen in love with another woman. Looking back now, I realize I had finally felt heard. But I was only recognizing that the woman who I thought I fell in love with was really a reflection of how I felt. Like Justin Timberlake’s song, “Mirror”. She was my “mirror”, allowing myself to finally see what I was feeling. What I was covering over for so long with alcohol and anger. The small, vulnerable child that was still waiting to be heard.

I ended up quitting drinking while I was with her and that helped a great deal towards bringing some order to my chaotic emotional world. But this is also where I made some poor choices. Leaving the life I had and could have worked on, for the life I would eventually realized I was outgrowing.

Shifting Focus

I split up with the woman who had helped me wake up emotionally shortly after we got together. This was for the best and helped me to find the trajectory of, and focus in, my life. During the time I was adrift, I had started school for social work. I eventually switched to architecture, then to journalism. I had no idea what to do with any of my schooling, but felt as though I needed to go regardless of my aimless amblings.

While I was getting my life back together, I finished my degree. This time as an English major and the only take away from my college education was how to write a blog : ) But even after I finished my undergrad degree, I was still adrift. With no direction for how my future was going to unfold. Still unsatisfied with my employment prospects and jobs, I decided that something needed to change. But again, with no direction or role models, I was in the same place as I was when I was just winging it. So, I did what I knew. For me this was baking, running, yoga, writing this blog and journaling. Also building up and nurturing my relationships while paying off my debt.

Finding Focus

This may seem like a mish-mash of areas all jumbled together, but what I came to realize was that while I was cobbling together the pieces of my life that had been adrift, I began to find greater focus in all areas of my life. I’ve been baking professionally for about 15 years, off and on throughout my career. I’ve come to enjoy the process of baking. I’m good at it and it’s something that’s been a constant in my life. But I know now that I don’t want baking to be my career.

Baking

I have however, learned how to hone a craft through baking. As I’ve said above, I’m pretty good at it. Which is no surprise considering how long I’ve been doing it for. But I also have been able to recognize how I’ve build my craft and how it’s progressed over the years. I can tell things about dough just by looking at it or touching it. And have a wealth of knowledge to work from, in my personal and professional experiences. But I’ve also come to realize that baking is not my end goal. It’s something I’m grateful I’ve learned, but also something I’ll be able to part with when the time comes.

Workout

Running and yoga have helped me to manage my physical being. I’ve gone through some considerable changes regarding my weight, physical appearance and overall health thanks to these healthy habits. They’ve also taught me something about dedication. About getting out on the road and pounding out those three miles. Even when the temperature is in the low nineties and the humidity is 90%. Or finding your balance when you flow through your vinyasa from forward fold to down dog and bring your right foot up to high lunge. When you do them consistently, you build more than just physical strength. You’re building resilience. This can translate to all areas of your life. You have that extra surge of energy that helps you to get up and do the dishes. Or to get moving at 5am before you’ve had your first cup of tea or coffee.

Writing

Writing has been essential in finding and maintaining focus for me as well. First with bullet journaling. Something I’ve mentioned before on this blog. Journaling has been a way for me to map out and organize what I have in my head and put it on paper or a screen. This way I can give myself some distance from my thoughts. Then find out what the steps are that need to be done to curate some order for the tasks and make a plan to do them.

And the same is true for this blog. Through this blog, I’ve come to understand where my interests lie and how they come together to give me a sense of who I’ve become and of who I want to be. The parts of my life, the personal experiences and how they’ve come to shape the ways I see things and who I’m becoming. These have all given me some focus and direction as to where I want to put my efforts and energies. Environmental issues and helping those that have been in similar situations as myself being two of my passions that I’d like to turn into a career.

Relationships

Building and nurturing my close relationships has given me a great deal of perspective on how I want to be living my life. Before, relationships were something to be feared. I was unaware of where I stood in my relationships with others. Always keeping them at a distance or numbing my feelings so I wouldn’t feel the pain of being rejected by them. Rejection being something I was all too familiar with growing up.

Now, relationships are sources of comfort, strength and happiness for me. I feel more secure in relationship now. And now that I know that it’s possible to make the shift from numb and alone, to supported and loved, I want to help others find their path to their connectedness. When I was going to school for social work, I also worked at a residential program for at risk adolescence. This was difficult work. But it also gave me the opportunity to help others whom were in a similar situation as I was.

I’ve recently picked up a second job at a family shelter. The shelter has elements that reminds me of the adolescence residential. Though with much less unchecked emotions. This has given me a chance to help pay down my student loans, but also to realign myself with the types of work I want to be doing in my career. Helping people bring their lives back together after what seems like such a hopeless situation, being homeless. It’s in these moments, of not being the change as the saying goes, but being a part of the support that helps them to change their situation, that makes me feel like I’m helping. By being a part of the solution.

Other Types of Inspiration

Paying down student loans has been a huge source of inspiration for me in finding my focus as well. While paying off debt, I started out with my credit cards and moved on to my largest debt, student loans. I took out loans during the height of the lending frenzy. I was taking out loans for cash to buy things I really didn’t need. Finance was an area I had no role modeling for, to show me how to manage my money. Or to show me how to responsibly take out loans to pay for my education. I was racking up credit card debt at the same time I was taking out student loans. Looking back, it’s crazy to think of the financial mess I was creating in my life! About 130K worth of mess.

Paying Back Loans to Bring Financial Stability to My Life

But once I was on the trajectory to change my life for the better, debt also became an area of focus for me. Paying off my debt has shown me, first and most importantly, how to budget. And secondly, also how to live inside of my means. When I was living on borrowed money I had no restraint. I bought and did whatever I felt like, when the mood struck.

Now that I’m learning how to put my financial house in order, I’m understanding the importance of planning for my future. In planning for retirement, planning for vacations or hobbies, and how caring for my financial situation is a way of caring for my needs.

I’ve also learned how NOT to take out debt. So when the time comes around for me to pursue a master’s in social work, I’ll be aware of how I budget and manage my money, and make a plan that won’t end up with me being tens of thousands of dollars in debt. My time is now more valuable to me than picking up a second job to pay back the money I was borrowing unsustainably in my youth. I know I won’t be going blindly down that road again.

Bringing Them All Together

These are the areas of my life that helped to give me the direction I needed to learn how to move forward with and in my career focus. Each element had its own piece of wisdom to impart. With baking, it was how to recognize when I’m growing in something, or what it looks like to be good at something while still learning from others along the way. With running and yoga, I was learning how to stay dedicated to a practice, but also enjoy that practice in the process. Enjoy the work. With writing, I was learning how to organize my time and thoughts, and also how to convey them in a way that makes sense to myself and others. And also my love for the natural world and my growing concern for the environment. Also to help process and put a structure to my story. In my relationships in that I want to grow along with and nurture these places and people in my life. But also in recognizing that you can make the switch from feeling hurt and alone to loved and supported. And with paying back my student loans in showing me how to budget for the future in a practical sense of the term.

It was when all these areas came together, that I was able to see how the different aspects of my personality made sense to me in the bigger picture. And it wasn’t easy. But what I found out was, that I care about those neglected areas. I like seeing things be brought back to life after struggle, abuse and neglect. We all go through it to some extent. Some of us more so than others. But hopefully, we all come to our own understanding of the different aspects of our life and how they’ve been neglected. Sometimes what we need to do is take a step back and look at the different aspects in your life. From there we can make a plan by putting together the different facets of our personalities and in so doing, give our selves some much needed direction. And that’s where my career is headed. By helping others find their path.

Because I see this play out all too often. So many of those close to me have been neglected to the point of not even knowing where to begin. I feel that everybody deserves the right to feel their passion. To do and be connected to work that is greater than them. It doesn’t have to be larger than life. Just enough to feel like you’re making a difference. That’s what this blog is about for me. And with any luck, this will be the focus of my career.

Final Thoughts

In case you haven’t been told, I’m here to tell you that if you’ve found yourself in a place where you are lacking in direction, don’t give up hope! Take a look at the things you’ve been doing, listening to, or watching. What have you been interested in lately. If you’re lucky, you may realize that you’ve been leaving yourself clues all along that will lead you in the direction of your passions. Peace : ) and thanks for reading.

Image Credits: “Commute” by JanneM is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Updated: 10/21/22

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