Archives for the month of: April, 2016

Last week, I had a meeting with my manager to set my job objective for the year ahead. Each year, all employees in my company create a two to three sentence objective stating which specific skill(s) they would like to work on and how they will do that in the coming months. When I read the e-mail letting everyone know that we would be meeting with our managers shortly to discuss this, I became a bit nervous. Though, after going through the process of creating my own personal objective, I felt that the whole procedure was really worth it in the end.

First, I read through the Objectives for my specific position at my company and decided which ones I wanted to improve upon first. This was easy since I have already been here for about 9 months and have become familiar with the areas I need to improve upon. After that, I considered what is coming in the year ahead: I know that I am going to be assigned a second journal soon and I thought about how that meshes with the skills that I would like to improve. I finally melded the two together to come up with a comprehensive statement that listed my goals for the year and how I am going to achieve them.

I have never worked for a company that required their employees to work on objectives or meet with their managers to discuss their professional development, and I appreciate that I have this opportunity now. Previously, though I did give some abstract thought to my career trajectory and what I want to be doing in the future, this made me think about it more concretely. What do I want to continue to accomplish in my field? Where can I go with my career? Will I want to continue doing this for the next 5 years? 10 years?

Even if you are in school, in the beginning of your career, or a seasoned pro at your job, it doesn’t hurt to sit down and consider what you want to do and how you plan to do it. I’m the type of person who, once I have a set “list” of things I need to accomplish, can do them with more ease than if I had a vague notion of what I want to do. Hold yourself accountable in your career!

 smart goal setting concept

Source.

I was recently preparing an interview for the latest Epic Careering newsletter and a common thread stuck out to me. The people who obtained the careers they loved were the ones who pursued what they really wanted from a job. For example, many of the interviewees had well-paying jobs that enabled them to live the lifestyle they wanted. For many of them, this wasn’t enough and they felt the longing to follow their hearts. This meant leaving well-paying jobs and going through some setbacks with the ultimate goal of obtaining a career that made them whole. For one guest, he had his heart set on music from a young age and never thought of pursuing anything else. For many, it was the hero’s call to adventure which could not be ignored.

 

Another common thread that grabbed me was following what makes you happy because tomorrow is not guaranteed. This is a powerful message that Karen writes about on a regular basis and it is absolutely true. Seeing it reinforced in the latest interview brought it home for me. In short, persuading job seekers on why obtaining a fulfilling career is one thing; it is another to hear directly from those who have obtained those careers. Yes, you can take a job that pays well, but it may be pointless in the end if you are unhappy your career.

Are you in a place that fulfills you professionally? If not, perhaps it is time to consider chasing that happiness.

I know I’ve written about money several times before on this blog (see here, for example), but it is so important to have your money issues under control that I feel compelled to write more about it! I thought I’d give some examples of how I save money on a day to day basis, especially when it comes to doing things I enjoy or buying necessities (and not-so-necessities…).

  1. I love to read. I always have a book with me (and sometimes even my Kindle, too!) but they are expensive to buy. So, now, I almost never purchase hardcopies of books unless I absolutely loved the novel and cannot exist without it (which is rare). So, in my case, I use my library constantly. I’m lucky enough to work within walking distance to a gigantic library that has an excellent selection. Also, since inter-library loan became a thing, I never have to worry about my specific library not carrying a book I want. Sometimes the wait for a book can be long, but it is so worth it in the end to not shell out cash for books. I can check out some pretty great novels on my Kindle through my library as well!
  2. I hate shopping. Hate it. This goes for clothes as well as food–I hate having to battle my way through stores, trying things on (in the case of clothes), and figuring out which item to buy for my dinner this week (in the case of food). Whenever I can, I try to shop online for clothes, food, toiletries and other items. Usually, this means that I get discounts (especially on sites like Amazon) and I also get peace of mind :). For clothes, I’ve been shopping more recently at thrift shops (so amazing!). The clothes are beautiful and so very affordable–it’s a dream.
  3. Eat at home as much as possible. I can’t stress this one enough. I enjoy eating out very much, but now I save that for special occasions or a night out with friends. My waistline and my budget have thanked me profusely for this. I once heard someone say, “The quickest way to get rid of your money is to eat out.” Or something to that effect, but you get my drift.
  4. Put away whatever you can from each check and don’t even think about it again. I have a 401k through work but I also have a savings account of my own. Whenever I get paid, I pay my bills and set aside spending money for myself, then whatever I have left that I think I can spare I put into that account. Sometimes it’s $100, sometimes $20 (or even less…), but I do this for every single check and I can’t describe that feeling of security. It is so comforting to have an account set aside for emergencies, such as car repairs.

Okay, I’m done lecturing, I promise :). Honestly, though, I just want to share some friendly information about what I do to put a little money away each month.

What about you? What do you do to save each month?

saving

I thoroughly enjoyed my vacation in Boston! I had the opportunity to see a new city, meet friends, and to relax for a few days.

I have been endlessly busy since my vacation ended. My home is a duplex and I rent out the second floor. March has been a period of transition as one tenant moved out and we prepared for next tenant. The entire apartment needed a rehab which included painting every room, redoing the kitchen, redoing part of the bathroom, replacing all of the carpet, and making lots of small electrical fixes. The process was supposed to be completed by the end of March, since I only had a month’s buffer to pay the mortgage. It is now April and we’re still putting the final touches on the apartment.

The search for a tenant has been extensive between placing ads and interviewing prospects. Based on my experiences, I would liken the process to a job search. Both parties involved have a pain point that needs to be solved. In my case, I need income and I have an empty second floor unit. In their case, they need a place to live that meets their budget and is comfortable. The process of meeting in the middle means each party has to make a sale. For us, we demonstrate why our apartment is a great choice and that we will be good landlords. (No one wants a slumlord!) For prospective tenants, they show us they are responsible and can afford the rent. Garnering attention for our rental has not been difficult, but we definitely had to turn some people away based on their background checks. (One person never mentioned a previous eviction and judgment that totaled well over $7000.)

Going back to the job comparison, an employer can fire a bad employee especially if it is an at-will employment position. For a landlord, it is difficult to remove a bad tenant who refuses to leave—even if they are clearly not paying their rent. A lot rides on selecting the right tenant the first time. Fortunately, we seem to have found our prospective tenant. Hopefully, all will go well during the final inspection on Thursday. Think of it as the “job offer” stage. The deal isn’t sealed yet and something could happen, but these are the last steps.

The last month has been quite a project for me.  Like any project, planning before you start is crucial. I’ve learned along the way through research and failure such as:

  • Dreaming big is fine, but do not neglect the smaller details. The details may seem small until they lead to a big problem.
  • Have your expenses and budget in place before you start anything.
  • Surround yourself with a team that is competent and reliable. Research them and obtain good references before you move forward.
  • The adage of cheap, fast, and good will ALWAYS apply. You can pick two, but you can’t have all three. Stay away from the fast and cheap combination, the end result is rarely pretty.
  • There will be setbacks and frustrations. Don’t let them keep you up at night or those frustrations will discourage you.
  • If you are overseeing a project, check in from time to time. Do not be afraid to voice your concerns.
  • Always perform a final inspection before you declare the project finished.

 

Have you ever tackled any huge work-related projects? How did they turn out?

(Now if you excuse me, I have spare apartment cleaning to do before Thursday afternoon.)

funny-fail-meme-obstructed-window

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