I’ll take care of it, thanks.

I spent much of the day looking into what Millennials want (I know. Welcome to marketing.) I was surprised about how by-the-book Millennial I am. Pretty much every bullet described me.

While it wasn’t groundbreaking research I did, I combined it with my working knowledge of psychology and human behavior and found it all fascinating.

Most notably, Millennials are distrustful of institutions and want to take care of it themselves. Millennials trust the opinions of people they know personally. I guess this explains why our Facebook friends are always crowd sourcing (can you recommend a florist? What brand of diapers did you use?)

I completely agree with this. The recession took a toll on us (and I’m on the old side of the Millennial spectrum). We don’t trust our employers to give a shit about us. Why would we? Many Millennials struggle or struggled to find a first job and moved home after college. Those of us who were employed before the markets tanked either were laid off ourselves or watched our parents, friends and co-workers struggle with long periods of unemployment or underemployment.

We learned to fend for ourselves. Any period of time in which I’m receiving a steady paycheck, I consider it a blessing or a bonus. I keep freelancing because I need to count on me therefore I need to be versatile. Keep all possible fires burning because I know no retirement fairy is coming to hide money in my mattress at night. (Full disclosure, I do work with two teams of financial advisers, but I’m involved.)

Similarly, I know it’s up to me to take care of my health. I don’t necessarily believe doctors know my body better than I do. My doctors, trainers and advisers are part of my team, but ultimately it’s up to me to take care of me.

And pretty much everything else. I don’t want a travel agent planning my vacation, a politician deciding what I’m allowed to do or an executive deciding what I watch on TV or when. I didn’t even like send-out laundry when I was in New York!

How do you feel? Do you trust people to do the job for you or would you rather take care of it yourself?

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Bring back that excited feeling

“Are you feeling excited about anything?” Navani asked me the other night when we were texting. As I mentioned, I was feeling blue about a number of things, capping the night off with learning that my Papa had died.

At that moment, no, I couldn’t think of one thing I was excited about. Thankfully, as tends to happen, I felt more positive in the morning. Those anxious feelings gave way to more reasonable thoughts. Yes, things aren’t exactly as I’d like them to be today, but was I any closer in New York? No, that’s why I made a huge move to get me closer to my dreams. I knew it would be uncomfortable for a while. Now I’m in the uncomfortable. Here’s what I’m excited about:

  1. Writing a book! How cool is it to leave my job to write a book? Eveyone I’ve told has been so excited about the project. It’s huge! I’m really doing it.
  2. Magazine writing. I am taking a class now with an executive editor at Redbook. She’s helped me hone my ideas and write pieces to sell. She taught me the ins and outs of this market and what to expect. Let’s do this!
  3. Severance + unemployment. OK, it’s tough to work full time plus write a book and pitch story ideas to magazines, but when your life is subsidized with severance and unemployment, it’s a little easier (even if there’s an end date circled on your calendar.)
  4. Being surrounded by friends again. Have I mentioned how many awesome people I know in Western Washington? I don’t have a number to tell you exactly, but my tribe (to borrow Pam’s word) here is big.
  5. I’m excited to live in a space bigger than the shoebox I lived in in NYC. I’m all about living a minimal life, but man, it’s nice to have a bedroom with a door that can close. What a tiny luxury.
  6. I drove 1,696 miles by myself! I did it. 24 hours just me and Gatito. We’re a good team.

Brain time

As I’m prone to do, I once again jam-packed my commitments for the month. In addition to working full time, taking a class my meeting my fitness goals and living life, I took on a couple freelance projects and just for fun, decided to move far, far from New York.

So, I feel like I really need to maximize every hour of my day. But I recently learned a trick that’s leaving me feeling content and capable of finishing all I need to do.

Napping.

For real! I had been coming home from work, forcing myself to start on some writing until time for whatever gym class I scheduled or meet whichever friend I made plans with. That was no good. I wasn’t giving anything my all, or I was feeling burnt out, so I didn’t want to do anything.

I read this article all about sleep and how it restores our brain. (If I can find the article, I’ll post a link to it. No such luck yet.) The most interesting fact I pulled out was that the brain prioritizes whatever we were doing last. If you’re in school and are cramming for a midterm, take a quick rest after studying but before your test to perform at your maximum.

I’ve really found this working for my noggin. Today after work, I laid down I could feel my brain sorting out boxes of content from the AP, Reuters, HuffPo and others. I woke up about 20 minutes later (I’m really good at the power nap timing), and I felt like I let all that work stuff go. I was ready to focus on the next thing.

Prior to my discovery, I was forcing myself to work on the next thing, then getting frustrated because it just wasn’t coming together.

Adios, frustration!

My ass is going where my heart wants to be

In my daily search of job listings yesterday, I found one that looked interesting, challenging, paid really well, but was not for me. I sent it to a friend/co-worker. This morning I had an email from him, saying it looked interesting, but why wasn’t I going for it.

My answer was simple: It’s not something I’m passionate about. In my 11 years since college graduation, I’ve done some jobs for the paycheck. I’ve also worked for free because it was something I was passionate about. Now I’m in a place where I want to feel fulfilled at the end of every day.

I mentioned reading Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.” A friend gave me a heads-up that he was on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday last week (How much do you want to be on Maui with them right now?).  I just watched the video over Saturday morning coffee and waffles. The interview confirmed my decision not to go for that job. It confirmed my decision to “turn pro.” To overcome resistance and “put my ass where my heart wants to be.”

We all know that the hardest thing is starting. Whether we’re getting out of bed, going for a run or writing the next “Great Gatsby.”

I am taking a couple days off my paycheck job next week. But I am committed to using at least one day of it to put in a full 8 hours writing. Not working on freelance jobs or homework for class. Writing my passion project.

After all, as Pressfield says, “The pain is worse not doing it than doing it.” It’s time to “move from a petty, narrow, ego-based point of view to something grander.”

Look for me on the bestseller list next year. Quyn, will you shoot the cover photo?

Another great article/video:

Award-winning author shares personal struggle to write

Stress relief

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Cousins stress-free at a DC sculpture park

This weekend, my cousin, sister and I talked about stress management. Big topic for the three little girls whose biggest concern was once whether to play school or house together.

I’m trying to get my own business off the ground, which means working toward that in addition to my full-time-pays-the-bills-provides-the-benefits job right now. That’s stressful! I made a list of things I need to do to get to the point where I can give my day job my two-weeks’ notice. But for now, I’m extremely grateful for that day job. It’s a bit of a stress release in itself. I can go there. I know exactly what to do and how to do it. I can do it well. Once I leave, though, I check the to-do list on my phone. It includes the freelance business stuff as well as personal to-dos, like grocery shopping and laundry. Whenever I have a free hour, I try to knock something off that list.

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All fun, no stress

But, I know a stressed-out Candace is not a good Candace, which is why I prioritize things like a weekend with my cousins or a yoga class or an hour of hanging out at home with the music up and nothing on the agenda.

The happy thing is that the freelance work has me totally energized and loving my life, even though parts of it are anxiety-inducing.