Thoughts On Motherhood and Baby's First Birthday


This week we are celebrating Eloise’s first birthday and our first anniversary of becoming parents, so I wanted to share some thoughts from the motherhood perspective. Milestones are mile markers for reflection. I love these special days when we can take time to reflect and look forward with the unusual feeling of a change brewing. This weekend brought the first bit of chill in the air here in Northern Virginia and the timing couldn’t have been more appropriate. A season is changing. We’re beginning Eloise’s second year of life.

This first year was full of paradoxes. Becoming a mom is the craziest, most drastic change. And yet, the way I care for Eloise feels so natural, I never even noticed the change creep up on me. This kind of care for another and fierce protectiveness is like nothing I’ve ever felt. I’m a youngest sibling, you see. I don’t have much of a “protective” “sacrificial” gene. And yet it feels the most normal and natural. ⁣

In retrospect, those first twelve weeks were in.sane. Giving birth, learning to breastfeed, healing from physical trauma, dealing with crying, and complete lack of sleep is a ridiculous weight to carry. I know people go through difficulties like that (and much graver), but it was certainly the most difficult experience I’ve ever had. It felt like being a non-swimmer who was forced to jump off the high dive. Just flailing and shouting and hoping for the best. 😂 Everything post month three was MUCH easier. It was like being forced to dive off the side of the pool—not quite as crazy and unrealistically difficult as the first three months, but the need for grit and focus is still very present—especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Then post month six was like doggy paddling in the deep end. It’s still relentless work, but the more you do it, the more you get the hang of it. And you may even get moments to float on your back.

Another paradox—this year has been crazy fast and wildly long. Time truly perplexes me. How is it JUST NOW October & ALREADY October. I don’t get it. ⁣I thought baby’s first year was going to last forever. I was shocked to see pumpkins outside Wegmans in September. Could fall really be coming around again? The truth is, I had such a mental hurdle to get over to fully realize I was having a baby that I never gave much mental energy to the fact that I wasn’t only having a baby. I was also going to have a toddler, and a preschooler, and a little girl. I’m just now beginning to think about what life will be like with a toddler around. “Babies don’t keep” as they say…

This year with our dear girl has been the hardest and the best. The most delightful and the most sleepless. The most stressful and the most laugh-filled. ⁣

Each day focusing in on her, putting the screen down, being present, watching her discoveries, putting on my one woman children’s theatre show 😂, putting the time in, has truly felt like a spiritual discipline. Each moment of putting her before myself makes me feel more connected to God. Every day being her mother is teaching me what it means to love someone else more than myself. I don’t always “feel” like changing a diaper or picking up a sippy cup that was thrown off a high chair (again), but love is action. Love is a deliberate choice. ⁣

This year has been so rich. Life and love and fear and care are all in such vivid technicolor. And it’s been a wonderful year because Eloise is wonderful. But it’s also been wonderful because I have an incredible partner who has been in the trenches with me. Growing in my career and raising a delightful, healthy human simply wouldn’t be possible without JC. What a teammate. What a guy. Best of husbands and best of men (to lift from LMM). ⁣

I also have to mention that community is essential. My parents have been an incredible lifeline and support. My close friends who collectively have decades of experience parenting have been there to answer questions and give opinions. And my close friends who don’t have kids, but are so present on this life-altering journey with me, holding space for conversation about Eloise’s sleep patterns, my confusion about my sadness of her getting older, and even my unusual work schedule, listening in as a sounding board for the details that make up the fabric of our lives.

All these elements have been transformative, but nothing more than meeting our Eloise and learning about who she is. It’s crazy to watch with my own two eyes this little 8 lb 7 oz alien transform into a funny, happy, curious, little delight of a human. I’m so grateful to be here to witness Eloise meeting the world, and the world meeting her. What a beautiful, beautiful year it has been. What adventures await us in year two, E? Let’s find out. Love you to the moon.

13 Things I Learned from Taking a Social Media Break

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Last month I took a break from social media—the first substantial one I’ve taken in like 9 years.

(Full disclosure: the last time I did this I was avoiding the temptation of spying on an ex I was trying to shake. Who among us hasn’t stalked an ex but also didn’t want to have anything to do with them?) 

Now my life is wildly different: I use social media to connect with my podcast community, readers, clients, potential clients, and to occasionally share pictures of my ca-ute baby. 

I didn’t have one big reason for logging off social media. I just had this feeling that I was on it too much. I didn’t feel like I had a “problem.” But as soon as I logged off for a few days, I realized I did. Over the course of 31 days I had realization after realization of the way that social media—when unchecked—can steal joy, time, autonomy, creativity, and peace. 

Throughout my break I had lots and lots of thoughts and epiphanies about my experience. I jotted them all down and will unpack them over the course of a few blog posts. (I started in a recent post detailing how to nail a social media break without losing your mind.) 

Here are 13 things I learned during my social media sabbatical. I split them up into four main categories as these were the areas I saw were most affected: health (mental and otherwise), relationships, work, and autonomy.  I wonder if you can relate.

On Relationships

  • I have a more accurate picture of my relationships when I don’t use social media as a crutch to feel connected. I became keenly aware of who I was intentionally reaching out to and who I heard from without the crutch of social media keeping us connected. When I’m seeing my close friends’ Instagram stories every day, days and weeks can go by without an intentional check in with them. Without that crutch I realized when I was both connected and disconnected from my friends.

  • I used social media to stave off the pain of isolation. I became much more aware of my aloneness (not always ‘loneliness’) when I quieted the constant chatter of social media. I’m a work from home mom and an Enneagram 7. So while unplugging from social media reminded me of how I wanted more social interaction, it felt healthy and good to sit in the reality of my life (even if it’s painful) more often. After all, more interaction on social media doesn’t really meet the need for community that I have.

  • During my break I was blissfully unaware of the daily details of the people I’m connected to on social media but not in real life. It’s so easy to become passive observers of people’s online lives who we don’t ever interact with. This doesn’t feel in line with my values.

On Work 

  • My work became more productive and focused when I was not distracted by social media. When I was in need of a distraction after a hard think during my social media sabbatical, I would switch to some kind of simple task but it was never a black hole of distraction where I blinked and 20 minutes had disappeared. This led to more productivity and less frustration with myself.

  • I’m more intentional with my personal and work connections when I’m not distracted by social media. I’ve been sending notes via snail mail!

On Autonomy

  • On social media we are relinquishing our privacy, and we don’t even care. Companies know about our purchasing habits, political leanings, whether we’re married, a parent, religious affiliations… They have a disturbing amount of information that they can sell to third parties or use to their advantage to sell products to us.

  • These apps are designed to be addictive. Those who use them are not autonomous; we are being manipulated by tech companies. Did you know that the notification button on Facebook was changed from blue to red because humans are drawn to red? “A lifetime of looking at stop signs, flags and warnings has taught us that we usually have to pay attention to the color red…Seeing them can release a small dose of cortisol, the stress hormone, which makes them want to click the app to get rid of them. This stress is followed by a small release of dopamine…when we read the message, creating an addictive cycle which can be hard to escape,” writes George Harrison of The Sun.

  • I was not on my phone as much overall but I still found ways to passively use it to combat boredom (not necessarily a good thing). Social media can be a big time suck but mobile devices, whether on social media or not, are really a big piece of not letting ourselves get bored.

On Health (Mental and Otherwise) 

  • My mind needs to be bored more often. When I have unrestricted access to social media I am always entertained. But my mind needs the refresh of being alone to wander.

  • It’s important to take stock of what feels compulsive or toxic to you. For me: keeping social apps on my phone (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Messenger.) I eventually opted to respond to messages on LinkedIn if they were time-sensitive (and obviously, work-related). Things like podcasts, email, streaming video, text messaging do not land in the “compulsive/toxic” category for me, so I did not put limitations on them.

  • Being on vacation and not having the option of giving a live play-by-play of my vacation on social media was freeing. I spent the last week of my break on vacation with my family. I could just be present. And I knew I wasn’t giving other people a reason to be jealous or feel bad about their own lives. It made me want to always pair social media breaks with vacation! It was so renewing.

Overall Conclusions 

It is very difficult to find the discipline to have a healthy relationship with social media. I don’t often have the energy for it. I don’t want to be a passive social media addict. But also, not being one is HARD. It takes thoughtfulness and discipline. And sometimes other aspects of my life use up my thoughtfulness and discipline reserves, so I don’t have much to give to living out my ideals on social media. The easiest thing is to just disconnect altogether.

I also want to figure out how to use social media and create content that helps people feel good and not bad. I know I can’t control how other people feel. But sometimes social media can really be used to help, inspire, and encourage. And somehow, I want to be in that camp—not the camp that leaves people living in the land of comparison and FOMO. This is difficult to measure, but a good goal.

Now that I took a month off from social media I think this will be something that I do on a regular basis. It felt great to unplug and free myself from the need to keep up (in so many ways). Social media is an incredible tool, but it can easily become toxic. In some seasons the best thing to do is to step away completely. 

Hey while you’re here—want 10 seasoned freelancers’ best career advice? Grab the Freelancer Cheatsheet here.

Advice from 10 Seasoned Freelancers and Entrepreneurs

Riddle: What do a choreographer, fundraiser, playwright, screenwriter, photographer, interior designer, paper goods designer, calligrapher, actress, writer, coach, composer, and marketer all have in common?

They are all freelancers. 

A couple of years ago I was writing the curriculum for Going Freelance and I reached out to some seasoned freelancers to ask them what their #1 piece of advice would be to succeed as a freelancer. Their answers were brilliant. So I included all of them as a handout to the students in my workshop. Now, I’m excited to make it available to anyone for free. Curious? Get it here.

10 Tips for Taking a Social Media Sabbatical

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This is the first in a series of posts on taking a break from social media, my decision to become a digital minimalist, and my approach to social media moving forward. 

Last month I took a break from social media. In advance of my break, I crowdsourced advice on how to prepare for it to make sure it was a success. This is a mix of the advice I received and observations I made after I completed it. If you want to do a social media detox, implementing these ten ideas will definitely help you execute it successfully.

10 Tips for Taking a Social Media Sabbatical

  1. Choose when you will take your break thoughtfully. I chose July because I was in between seasons of my podcast and my focus was not on promoting content. It was on being head down working and spending time with my family. Determine a time that makes sense for you based on when you can step away from social media and achieve your goal most easily.

  2. Delete the apps off your phone. Reset your browser cache. The fewer reminders you have about social media, the easier it is to resist the temptation of mindlessly tapping a button.

  3. Let people know you’re taking a break. Add contact info into your social bios. If you have an audience or community you serve, don’t just disappear.

  4. Have a plan to replace your social media time. Elizabeth Barnes Bober gave me this advice: “have a book handy, a nail file, friends you want to text, whatever. Some activity to distract your brain and fingers when you get a craving.” This was perhaps the most helpful advice I received. Be prepared to fill the time you used to devote to social media with something else. If you know you’re going to want to scroll Instagram while you’re in line at the store, figure out in advance, something else to replace that activity to lessen temptation when it comes.

  5. If you have content that needs to be promoted or you need to keep some form of content flowing, consider alternatives such as: scheduling content before you take your break or asking someone else to be a ‘guest poster’ for you for certain days or a week at a time. This second approach is a tactic that Lin Manuel Miranda uses from time to time on Twitter.

  6. Have a plan for responding to any comments while you’re gone. Hire a virtual assistant to respond to comments one or two times per week. Give a trusted friend or family member your login info and have them check in on it from time to time.

  7. Take it up a notch--have designated times and spaces for your phone. Ie no phone after 8pm, no phone in bedroom, etc. Cal Newport, author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism recommends leaving your phone in your entryway each night. This is a great way to move your phone from “constant companion” to strategically used tool.

  8. Choose a time where at least part of the time your routine is out of the norm. For example, a family member is visiting or you’re going on vacation.

  9. Have a plan for capturing moments and photos. I loved creating an album on my phone of the highlights of the month. Instead of losing them forever to the album of thousands of photos on my phone or the disappearing photos on Instastories, I now have an album of 30 or 40 photos that encapsulate some of my best memories from the month. I’ve already started making one for August because I enjoyed this so month. And if you feel like you will really miss sharing photos on social media, you can even make an album on your phone of “to share later” photos and video. You can choose to share later, or not.

  10. Jot down the observations you make about your break. The goal of any break isn’t just to go back to the way things were before, once it’s over. Writing down your observations will give you insights as you move forward after the break.

Like any discipline, there are things you can do to help your detox be less tempting and less uncomfortable. Applying these ten tips was so helpful to me, I really wasn’t sure if I was ready to come back to social media at the end of my month. I’m looking forward to my next break! Have you taken a break from social media? What were your takeaways?

The Hack That Helps Me Sleep Better and Combat Anxiety


About two months ago, I returned to work full time after becoming a parent. Even though I work from home, the transition has been challenging. Getting back into a rhythm of work plus finding the right childcare, continuing to physically heal and get my strength back, navigating the world of baby development, maintaining friendships, investing in my marriage, continuing to work to find community in our new city, and growing my freelance business can leave me in a spiral of anxiety.  

It’s a lot and I sometimes feel like there’s more for me to manage than can fit in my brain at any given time. Sound familiar?

For a few weeks I had a hard time going back to sleep after feeding my daughter in the middle of the night. It was like my mind thought it needed to stay awake to process life changes and solve problems when I really just needed to sleep. 

The Hack That Helps Me Sleep Better and Combat Anxiety

Recently I got back into a habit that has really helped me reset my mind before going to bed. This helps me all through the night. I take about three minutes before turning the lights out to jot down the highlights of my day in a little notebook I’ve oh so originally dubbed my “highlights journal.” This does a few things:

  1. It forces me to identify a win from the day. Some days are just hard. Or tiring. Or both! Rather than letting my final thoughts before bed be about how I failed or what frustrated me, I consciously choose to find and focus on a positive moment from the day. 

  2. It improves my mood. Thinking about my two to three favorite moments of the day—whether it’s my baby’s new trick, a delicious meal, or a great conversation with a client— is an automatic mood booster. 

  3. It keeps me present. As a futuristic thinker, I’m prone to think 6 steps ahead but taking a moment to reflect on the day and write down the highlights reminds me how good this moment is and to to savor it.

So if you’re like me and you find yourself awake at night trying to mentally spin half a dozen plates, give the highlights journal hack a try. 

Back to Work After Maternity Leave

Photo by hannah foster

Photo by hannah foster

If you’re a blog reader but don’t follow along with my journey on social media or my podcast, you may be surprised to know that I’ve been rather silent on the blog the past five months because I had a baby in October. It has been a wonderful whirlwind and slowly but surely I’m picking back up the outlets and commitments that I had prior to becoming a mom.

I’m excited to share that very shortly the Hustle & Grace podcast will be back with all new episodes. I’ve already recorded several episodes including one with an enneagram expert. The conversations I’ve gotten to have thus far have been fascinating.

Becoming a mother—and a working, writing, entrepreneur mom at that—has given me much more to write about than I’ve had time but I have tried to jot down my observations over on Instagram when I’ve been able to. You can catch up a bit on my motherhood journey there.

Here’s my first post after Eloise was born.

Here are reflections on the first month of parenthood.

This is my word for 2019.

These are some thoughts on getting back into the groove of work.

This is a short poem I wrote on growing up.

And this is a few observations I made after being back at work 6 weeks.

I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Catching Up on Hustle & Grace Episodes 7-13

Catching Up On Hustle & Grace Episodes 7-13

I kind of can’t believe it but we’re already up to 13 episodes on Hustle & Grace!

(You can find quick recaps of 1-6 here). 

Have I mentioned what joy this podcast is giving me?

Now, honestly, as awesome as that is, it's not really the point of the podcast. It’s about bringing you value, takeaways, and inspiration, but an awesome bonus has been how totally delightful it is to dream up each episode, talk with fascinating people, learn a TON, and then share it with the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening!

If you've taken a little summer vacay from your podcast listening routine, here's the dish on what you'll want to catch up on ASAP: 

Episode 7: Caitlin Pyle began her work-at-home journey after getting brutally fired from her $16-per-hour corporate job in 2011. She quickly replaced her lost income by freelancing as a proofreader. Then she transitioned to helping others build their own work-at-home incomes through her blog, and later through Through plenty of hustle and grace, Caitlin's freelance business evolved into the multimillion-dollar media company it is today.

In this episode, Caitlin shares tips she swears by in running her own business and creating the life of her dreams. We discuss the exciting project that brought us together:

More About Caitlin:

Caitlin’s podcast: Work-At-Home Heroes 

Episode 8: Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and on-air analyst at The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites in America. She also cohosts Pop Fashion, a top-rated weekly podcast about the business of fashion and culture. A former full-time freelance writer and vintage shop owner, she is well versed in the gig economy and the small-business landscape. Her financial advice has been featured in Women’s Health, Family Circle, Refinery29, Real Simple, The New York Times, and NBC News.

In this episode Hilary brings Lisa, millennial finance expert, all her burning questions about budgeting on multiple income streams, what millennials need to know about saving, and the finance trends everyone under 40 should be paying attention to.  

Recommendations from Lisa:
Get Money by Kristin Wong
Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry
Planet Money

Connect with Lisa on Twitter and Instagram @LisaTella.

Episode 9: Susan Shain is a freelance writer and digital nomad who's been traveling around the world since 2008. She's written about personal finance, travel, and food for outlets like The New York Times and CNN, and does content marketing writing for businesses of all sizes. She's also the founder of, a website for freelance writers, and author of a pay-what-you-want eBook called "The Ultimate Guide to Seasonal Jobs: How to Have Fun, Make Money, and Travel the World."

In this episode, Susan shares how she has made a living living working in locations all over the world. She shares her tips for breaking into seasonal work and freelance writing and why community is a critical component of self-care for digital nomads and seasonal workers alike. 

Recommendations from Susan:
The Art of Nonconformity by Chris Guillebeau

Connect with Susan at and on Twitter at Susan_Shain.

Episode 10: Austin Graff leads talent marketing, brand, and social media for The Washington Post and is a contributor to On Parenting, news, advice, and essays for parents from The Washington Post. Prior to joining The Washington Post, Austin led digital, social, and influencer marketing for Coca-Cola’s Honest Tea brand, America’s #1 organic iced tea company. He started out his career leading social media and celebrity relationships for International Justice Mission, the largest human rights organization in the world. After growing up in Russia and Kazakhstan and attending boarding school in Germany, Austin came to the USA for university. He now proudly lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, baby daughter, and two roommates.

In this episode, Austin talks about his career at The Washington Post, Honest Tea, and International Justice Mission. He also unpacks his unique philosophy of living with roommates while parenting, his time management hacks, and how he cultivates boundaries and balance in his life. 

Connect with Austin on Instagram and Twitter.

Episode 11: The Truth About FreelancingIn this episode, I unpack the state of freelancing in the U.S., the drawbacks of freelancing, the benefits, and 10 characteristics of people who thrive as freelancers. If you want to know more about my story and experience as a freelancer, go here

Connect with me on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Episode 12: Ashley Gorley has written 37 #1 singles and has had more than 300 songs recorded by artists such as Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and Darius Rucker.  He was named the ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year in 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, Billboard Country Songwriter of the Year in 2013, 2016, and 2017, and the NSAI Songwriter of the Year in 2013, 2016 and 2017.  Gorley has been nominated for multiple Grammy and CMA and ACM Awards, and has received the CMA’s Triple Play Award eleven times in his career, which recognizes songwriters with three or more #1 songs in one year. In 2016, he became the first songwriter to be honored with three CMA Triple Play Awards in a single year, for earning nine chart-topping songs in a 12-month period. In 2011, Gorley formed Tape Room Music, a publishing company with a focus on artist development. Writers for Tape Room Music have already celebrated twelve #1 songs and eight top ten singles by artists such as Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Keith Urban, and Dustin Lynch.

At just 41, Nashville songwriter Ashley Gorley has written a mind-boggling 37 #1 hits. He has writing credits on over 300 recorded songs. Hilary got to sit down with the prolific songwriter, publisher, and producer to learn more about the hitmaker, what his day-to-day life is like, and why he prefers for Carrie Underwood to not do the singing in a writing session. 

Learn more about Ashley's publishing company, Tape Room Music.
Listen to the Spotify playlist of Ashley's #1 songs.

Episode 13: Melissa Guller, is the Head of Special Projects at Teachable - an online tool that allows anyone to create and sell their own online courses - and ever since she launched her first side hustle in 2015, Melissa has been hooked on online entrepreneurship and empowering people to go for their big, awesome dreams. A bit of a side hustle queen herself, Melissa has been a top-rated instructor at General Assembly NYC for 2+ years, and she has 1300+ students currently enrolled in her Skillshare course, “What Great Managers Do Differently.” Most recently, Melissa founded The Kindling, a community for millennial women building online businesses, blogs, and podcasts they love. 

Melissa Guller has made a career out of helping people monetize their expertise online. In this episode, Melissa and Hilary discuss tools to create online courses, Melissa's side hustle ventures, and why she swears by a "relaxed" list to avoid burnout.

Connect with Melissa on Instagram.

There is so much more to come in upcoming episodes I'm thrilled to share with you! Make sure you don't miss an episode by subscribing:  Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

5 Lessons I Learned After Making a Massive Mistake in My First Marketing Job

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Years ago I made a bad calculation in my first marketing position. That mistake cost a struggling nonprofit thousands of dollars that it really didn’t have.

I couldn’t get over my error for a long time. In the moment I scrambled to find a “fix” but there really was none.

This is the first time I’ve spoken about this mistake in public because it rocked me so much. I was so embarrassed. I felt so guilty. And I also felt like there was very little I could do to fix my mistake. What’s done was done.

I’m sharing it today because I think it’s important that you know that even though I’ve moved forward building a career I really, really love, I haven’t always had a perfect, error-free go of it. Far from it. So today I’m sharing what I learned from one of my lowest career points.

  1. Everyone makes mistakes at one point or another. You are not exempt--even if you try really hard. So go ahead and mentally prepare in advance for the time in the future when you will mess up. If you have a perfect record thus far, you probably have not been entrusted with much. So remember, that person that you admire so much for his or her career? They’ve definitely made mistakes. They’ve been embarrassed. They’ve cost someone else money or value. But it’s important to recognize that they moved forward. They moved on, learned from their mistakes, and added value for their clients and team in jobs after that one.

  2. When it comes to making a big decision with a vendor or client on behalf of your company, if you are at all doubtful about your decision, double-check with leadership. You’ve been entrusted with tasks that your supervisor believes you can handle. Some leaders like to have a finger on the pulse of everything happening in the department they manage, and others would rather empower their people to make decisions. And still others have so much to manage, they have to entrust some decision-making to subordinates. If you are tasked with a decision that you don’t feel full confidence about, take the time to “bother” your busy supervisor. You may not want to. You may feel like it makes you look less competent or less confident. But the truth is, the discomfort you feel double-checking with leadership will be way less than the discomfort you will feel when you have to report a mistake you’ve made.

  3. Don’t let mistakes define you. You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s easy to feel like making a big mistake on the job is a career-defining moment. Remember, there is a big difference between saying “I failed” and saying “I’m a failure.” Yes, you can swim in your sorrow about said mistake for a little while. That’s understandable. But you have to decide at some point to get back up, recognize that everyone has made a mistake at some point, and move forward. I remember getting congratulated on a job well done for my work in that marketing job by people who didn't know about my mistake. I felt like a fraud. But the truth is, what they appreciated about the work I did was true. I did do good work. The mistake I made didn't cancel out the good work I did. And it took me a long time to realize that. Your mistake does not define you. How you respond and learn and grow does.

  4. When you make a mistake, own it. Passing blame will just amplify your error. Often times it’s much more comfortable to blame a mistake on someone else. “My superior should have given me more information.” “The vendor should have flagged it when they saw the order was unusual.” “My colleague should have…” None of these responses are helpful after the error has been made. And none of them help you avoid making similar errors in the future. Blaming others shows weakness--not courage. So when you realize you’ve made a mistake, own it. Apologize. And offer solutions to rectify the situation. Passing blame just makes an embarrassing situation more shameful.

  5. After you make a mistake, learn from it. A mistake’s only value is teaching you something that you can implement in the future. So ask yourself, “What could I have done differently?” Review the entire scenario from start to finish. Journal about it. You may even write a full After Action Report like a military general. How will you choose to let this lesson impact your future decisions? Find the value in the bad situation by identifying your takeaways moving into the future.

Making mistakes on the job hurts. You can’t go back and change the past once the experience occurs. But you can take stock in what happened, learn from it, and move forward with courage. In my situation, I had trouble shaking it off. But over time as I learned lessons and experienced more wins, the pain of failing became more removed and now I can use it as a way to connect with others and encourage them. How can you move forward after failing and help someone else?

Want inspiration for creative and career fulfillment in your earbuds? Subscribe to Hustle & Grace with Hilary Sutton today! 

Catching Up On the First 6 Episodes of the Hustle & Grace Podcast

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The first six episodes of Hustle & Grace with Hilary Sutton are now available! If you haven't tuned in yet, here's what you're missing:

Episode 1: Molly Beck was a millennial blogger whose career was shaken during the Great Recession. She pivoted and went on to work with organizations like Hearst, Forbes, and Venmo. Her networking guidebook, Reach Out, was published last year. She recently launched a podcasting startup, Messy.FM that makes podcasting easy. In our conversation we unpacked her career story, networking tips, and strategies for getting a dream off the ground--whether it's a podcast, book, or business idea. 

Links from the Episode:

Molly’s book: Reach Out
Molly’s blog:
Molly’s Podcasting Startup: Messy.FM

Episode 2: Alexandra Silber is a Grammy-nominated Broadway actress, singer, educator and author. She has performing credits from the West End and Broadway and recently published her second book--a memoir called White Hot Grief Parade. Alexandra and I discussed diverging career paths and her strategies for avoiding burnout. 

Quotes from the Episode: 

“Dear listener, you have what it takes for exactly your life path and whether that matches up with the artistic job of your teenage dreams is neither here nor there.”
”I want my life to feel like a rich meal with many courses.”
”I have enough diversification [in my career] that I feel stimulated and satisfied but not so much diversification that I don’t have focus and drive.”

Links from the Episode:

After Anatevka by Alexandra Silber
White Hot Grief Parade by Alexandra Silber

Episode 3: Jeff Goins moved to Nashville to pursue a career as a musician but then changed his tune to nonprofit marketing. He eventually quit his day job and pursued his life's work: writing. He's the author of the Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Jeff's thoughts on getting paid for your art and when and how jealousy befalls creatives resonated deeply with me. I think it will with you too. 

Quotes from the Episode: 

"It is the pursuit of great things not greatness itself that makes life meaningful.”
“Practice in public.”
“It’s not about how much we work it’s about how well we work.”
“Wherever you are be all there.” -Jim Elliot

Jeff’s book: Real Artists Don’t Starve

Links from this Episode:
Deep Work by Cal Newport
The 3-Bucket System

Episode 4: Laura Vanderkam is an author, time management expert, speaker, podcast host, and mother of four. I've been a long time fan of her writing--most notably 168 Hours and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. She recently wrote a new book, Off the Clock, about feeling less busy while getting more done. My conversation with Laura was powerful. I was reminded that planning and thoughtful time keeping can make you feel like you have all the time in the world. I LOVE this book. 

Quotes from the Episode: 

  • “We pamper the present like a spoiled child.”
  • “We often spend a lot of time on thing that are urgent but not important and the things that are important but not urgent tend to get crowded out.”

More on Laura’s Time Tracking Method and sample log.

Episode 5: Damon Brown is an app creator, Inc. contributor, consultant, and journalist who changed his work strategy when he became a stay at home parent--packing in more productivity to 15 hours of work per week than he had previously accomplished in 60-hour work weeks. We took a deep dive into examining Damon's recent social media sabbatical and how it impacted his business. Damon also talked about the impact becoming a parent had on his approach to work. 

Links from the Episode:

Episode 6: In this special episode I shared my 4 big goals for the third quarter of the year. My goals this quarter are unique as it's the final 3 months of life before becoming a parent. I also shared 4 hacks for staying on track with goals and avoiding burnout and the summer slump. 

Further Reading:
4 Non-negotiables of a Quarterly Zoom Out (QZO)
10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults (World Sleep Society)
More In Less: 21 Productivity Hacks for Creatives

Links from the Episode:
Library of Congress Reader Registration
Burning Man Exhibit at the Renwick Gallery 

There is so much more to come in upcoming episodes I'm thrilled to share with you! Make sure you don't miss an episode by subscribing: Subscribe on: iTunes | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Hustle & Grace with Hilary Sutton is live! Let's celebrate.

I'm so thrilled to share that my new podcast, Hustle & Grace with Hilary Sutton has officially made its way into the world.

Whether you're an iPhone, desktop, or Android kind of listener, it's available on a platform you can use.

Subscribe on: iTunes | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

We've started off with three episodes for you and I'll be releasing one each week moving forward on Wednesdays. So be sure and subscribe so you don't miss an episode!

In the meantime, we're celebrating the launch of Hustle & Grace by doing FOUR giveaways! 

  1. Launch Apple's Podcast app.
  2. Tap the Search tab.
  3. Enter the name of the podcast "Hustle & Grace with Hilary Sutton."
  4. Tap the blue Search key at the bottom right.
  5. Tap the album art for the podcast.
  6. Tap "Subscribe."
  7. Scroll down to "Ratings & Reviews."
  8. Tap Write a Review.
  9. Enter your iTunes password if you're not already logged in.
  10. Tap the Stars to leave a rating.
  11. Enter title text and content to leave a review.
  12. Tap Send.

When you've completed the review, fill out this short form to complete your entry! 


Announcing My Brand New Podcast: Hustle & Grace with Hilary Sutton

I am so thrilled to announce that in June I will be launching a brand new podcast, Hustle & Grace with Hilary Sutton. While I can't give eeeeverything away right now, I did want to give you a sneak peak at the artwork and give you a little behind the scenes look at how the podcast is shaping up and what it's about! 

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To settle on the design my team went through over 25 different mockup designs. We finally landed on this one because it both reflects my existing branding and is easy to read on a teeny tiny iPhone podcast app. :) 

Next steps included finding music for the intro and outro, recording interviews, and getting the podcast episodes in the editing phase. I'll be launching three episodes right away when the podcast launches, because users can't subscribe to a podcast until there are at least three episodes already published. (Who knew?) Subscribing is critical because subscribers, reviews, and downloads are monitored. If a podcast gets good traction in the first eight weeks then it may get the coveted opportunity to be highlighted on the "New and Noteworthy" page. This can make a huge difference in terms of exposure and success for the podcast. 

And that's why I'm putting together a launch team for Hustle & Grace! The launch team will be providing support to the podcast launch. They'll be among the first to listen, subscribe, rate and review, and share the podcast on social media. Without an intentional launch team, a podcast (or any other kind of big launch) can fall through the cracks. Are you willing to join the launch team? It's a low time commitment and would be a huge help to me! Just fill out this form here to get on board.

I'm so excited about this podcast and I can't wait to hear what you think about it. Stay tuned for the official launch in just a few weeks! 

This Japanese framework can help you determine your life's work.

I am so excited to share a guest post by Dena Adriance today. Dena is a transformational coach and consultant, supporting both individuals and teams to discover their zone of genius and harness creative potential. I got the pleasure of being a guest on her podcast recently.

What’s your life’s purpose? 

I know, I know. I can hear your cries of pain at this question. In today’s world, many people are seeking more than just a paycheck from their jobs – we want fulfillment. But this is a mighty big thing to ask for, and I know a lot of people (self included) who spent our twenties (and maybe thirties, or even forties) moving from job to job to job in a never-ending, Goldilocks-style quest to find just the right fit. 

So I imagine, for many of you, this is a pretty daunting question. The idea that we have a singular “life purpose” – and the accompanying implication that we will be unfulfilled, or at least unhappy, until we find it – is kind of overwhelming to those of us who have a wide variety of interests and have been struggling to choose a career that we can really be happy with for a lifetime. 

Yet, as a coach who helps multi-passionate people to build happier, healthier, more productive work lives, I know that it doesn’t have to be this complicated, or this daunting. 

I recently came across a helpful diagram illustrating the Japanese concept of Ikigai (pronounced ick-ee-guy). This roughly translates as “reason for being” – in other words, your life’s purpose. As illustrated in the diagram, your Ikigai can be found at the intersection of where your talents and passions meet with what the world needs and is willing to pay for. 

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In examining this chart, you’ll notice that when you don’t have one of the four core components of Ikigai, there is a sense that something is lacking. For example, if you are doing work that you’re good at, that the world needs, and which you can get paid for – but NOT work that you love – you may feel comfortable, but empty. Or if you’re doing work that the world needs and that you can be paid for, but you’re not particularly great at it and it’s not what you love, you may feel both empty and uncertain, and probably pretty stressed. That’s certainly how I have felt in some past jobs. 

So, finding your Ikigai should be the ultimate goal, right? 

This model can be enormously helpful as a framework to structure your career search: you start by identifying the things that you’re really good at and the things that you love, and then use a mixture of research and experimentation to figure out how those things can earn you an income in a way that is meaningful. 

Yet, I must make two big caveats: 

  1. It is not necessary to seek all four of these things through one single pursuit, and 
  2. This also doesn’t preclude the possibility that there might be something you love and feel a strong urge to do, but that you DON’T want or need to get paid for. In these cases, you might want to pursue a career that will support you to feed this craving.

For those of us who thrive on variety (particularly those of us who have creative urges), it’s important to keep these two points in mind as we pursue the search for our Ikigai.  

Looking at the first caveat, for some it may be more desirable to create a portfolio career rather than a single source of income. Those who have portfolio careers piece together a variety of different activities which – all taken together – make you happy, and pay the bills. This is particularly common among professionals in the arts, for whom one single source of income may not be sufficient to pay the bills in and of itself, but which might be complemented by related pursuits. 

As an example, I’ll give my friend Miriam Castillo, who I interviewed recently for the Everyday Creative People podcast. Miriam started off in graphic design but soon realized that illustration was what she really wanted to do. Along the way she got really into yoga and decided to also become a yoga teacher. In the past year she has brought these two interests together to design a line of yoga clothing printed with her illustrations, as well as creating a meditation workshop based around coloring. 

Each of these activities satisfies a different need for Miriam. What’s more, she has discovered an overarching “reason for being” that brings all of these activities together under one umbrella: to inspire others through creativity. This overarching focus satisfies the “what the world needs” portion of the Ikigai equation, and each specific activity is a different way in which people are willing to pay for the thing that they need.  

As for the second caveat – that you may have something you love which you don’t need or want to make a living off of – I’ll use myself as an example. I spent much of my twenties trying to figure out what role I wanted (or rather, needed) the arts to play in my life. 

Straight out of college, having already decided to not pursue a performing career, I ended up working for a series of social justice-focused nonprofits. On a surface level, this work fulfilled all four points on the Ikigai: there were many things I loved about the work and was good at, and it certainly fulfilled my desire to make a positive impact on the world and paid the bills (sort of). But after a few years of this work I realized there was something missing in my life. I felt this giant hole where the arts used to be for me – and I wasn’t sure where to begin bringing them back into my life. 

That began a long process that ultimately landed me where I am today. I’ve come to realize that there are things I can do for a profession which meet every point of the Ikigai, yet don’t meet my need for creative fulfillment. As for my creative pursuits, I don’t care if I ever make any income off of them – I just know that I need to make time for them. This means that my career needs to support my creative interests: I can’t be so exhausted at the end of the day that I don’t have the energy to do my creative work, and I need to have an income that enables me to take classes and invest in supplies. 

I think one of the biggest mistakes that people tend to make is assuming that there’s only one thing that can fulfill their Ikigai, and if they don’t find that one thing they’re doomed. But as you can see from the examples above, there are a variety of ways to find your Ikigai. 

You can learn more about Dena and her work at, or check out her podcast, Everyday Creative People

6 Habits Every Telecommuter Should Implement to Build Rapport With Coworkers


Congratulations! You’ve landed a job that has a benefit you’ve wanted for a long time: working from home. Say hello to a road rage free day, yoga pants, and slippers (or no shoes, if you prefer.)

While working from home definitely has its perks, it also comes with a unique set of challenges. Without regular face time, you may struggle to feel like you’re truly a part of the team or you might have trouble deciphering your boss’ tone in emails. Whether you’re new to remote work or you’ve been at it a while, adopt these six habits to build a deeper connection with your manager and team.

 1. When you’re in the office, maximize your time with team members. Be intentional about making both one-on-one appointments and group meetings. Never eat alone. Maximize the windows of time that you are with your coworkers in person to build relationships.

2. Remember birthdays and special dates. Put important dates on your calendar and make sure to send a gift or a note in celebration. This is a great way to build rapport with your team and show them that you care.

3. At least once a week, check in on life outside of work. Send your colleague a two-line email asking about her daughter’s school play. Start a meeting asking what everyone did over the weekend. Visit your colleagues’ social media profiles and comment on a photo. A great way to build rapport is to inquire about life outside of work.

4. Use video conferencing whenever possible. Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom are all great options for turning conference calls into video calls. Utilizing video increases feelings of familiarity and gives people the opportunity to remember that you’re not just a voice on the other end of the call.

5. Initiate optional opportunities for team members to connect. Most likely, leadership at your company is open to groups forming, they just don’t have the bandwidth to initiate them. So go ahead and take that initiative and start affinity groups like a book club, movie club, or fantasy football league.

6. Overcommunicate. Remember that folks in the office might assume you already know office news. So check in regularly. Ask if there is any news around the office that you should know.  

Building connection and camaraderie with your team as a telecommuter undoubtedly takes a little bit of extra effort. But the payoff is worth it. Implement these six habits and you will begin to build rapport with your team.

More Tips on Working From Home: 

Top 10 Tips Traits of People Who Thrive In Work at Home Careers 
How to Get Stuff Done From a Home Office
3 Tips to Kickstart Your Day If You Work From Home

A version of this article was first published on the McKinley Marketing Partners Blog.

Answer These 3 Questions Before Putting Anything On Your To Do List.


I get asked with some frequency about how I manage my time.

And the truth is, while I've always had a knack for packing a lot in, I haven't always made decisions about time based on what's truly most important to me. It's easy to get swept up into what "feels" most urgent or what is happening right in front of you or what is being demanded of you by someone else. But the truth is, none of these are good indicators of how you should really spend your time. 

This week I want to share three questions to ask yourself before you ever dive into how to do more with less time. You have to start by getting clarity on what is most important before you ever figure out what needs to fit into your schedule.

Time management is directly tied to having clarity about your priorities. 

So before you put something on your to do list, make sure you know the answer to these three questions.  

  1. What do you want to accomplish?
  2. What is most important?
  3. What are your big goals? 

Getting clarity around these three questions will illuminate your highest priorities. These become your “big rocks” that go in your schedule before less important tasks. If you know what you ultimately want to accomplish and what is most important, you can make choices today that will help you make those dreams a reality. Living by your values is a critical component of effective time management. 

Get my best time management hacks in my eBook, More in Less: 21 Productivity Hacks for Creatives

Top 10 Traits of People Who Thrive in Work At Home Careers

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I have never gone into an office full-time during my career. 

I recently started consulting with a company in their offices two days a week. One thing I've learned since I started working in an office setting on a part-time basis, is how much most people do not remotely desire to work from home. Wow, am I different from those who prefer to commute into an office. 

This got me thinking: why do I love working from home so much? In my experience, it's a mix of reasons: I love doing my own thing. I love working in spurts and then taking short breaks and totally switching gears. I love having the flexibility to totally rearrange my schedule if something special comes up (flipflopping night and day, starting my work 2 hours later, etc). I love the two+ hours it gives me back in my day that would have been eaten up by getting ready to go to work and driving in. 

Maybe you feel drawn to the work at home lifestyle too. I'm thrilled to share that I'm one of 45+ speakers who have joined together for the Work-At-Home Summit. This free event starts Monday January 29 and for six straight days super smart, successful people will be demystifying their work at home journeys.

This free summit covers it all: goal setting, business plans, tons of work at home careers, advertising on Facebook--the whole nine yards.

Check out the complete schedule and pencil in the sessions that you don't want to miss. Seriously, I've never seen such a high quality virtual conference offered for free. My session on content marketing and personal brand will be on January 31 at 11 am. There will also be a recording available later. 

Maybe you're interested in working from home but you're not totally sure if it's a good fit for you. I put together a top 10 list of characteristics for work at home types. Do any of these resonate with you? 

10 Traits of People Who Would Thriving Working at Home 

1. You value autonomy. You are energized by making your own schedule. The idea of being your own boss feels right to you. When people say "I want to work in-house because I want to be a part of a team" it's kind of difficult for you to understand. 

2. You like non-traditional hours. You don't hold a grudge if you need to work early in the morning or late at night. You actually prefer not to track hours but rather to just work until the work gets done.

3. You're highly organized. You are highly skilled at keeping track of deadlines and workflow. Project management may not be your favorite thing, but you can do it. You're great at keeping up with details whether or not you feel like that's your highest and best use. 

4. You're cool with alone time. If you're a head down "work hard/play hard" kind of person, working at home may make sense for you. 

5. You don't need outer accountability. You can stay on task and check off your to do list even without a boss checking in on you. You are intrinsically motivated. 

6. Freelancing appeals to you. You like the idea of multiple projects for multiple clients. You're not intimidated by invoicing or negotiating contracts. You actually feel like freelancing is beating the system a little bit.  

7. You're fine with sacrificing earning potential or benefits. It's worth it to you to sacrifice promotions or typical benefits like a company matching 401K in order to have the benefits of working at home. 

8. You're very good at connecting with people. If you're a part of a remote team, you know how to connect with people and build rapport. You have to have this special skill because it is more difficult to do without the connection of regular face time. 

9. You have an entrepreneurial spirit. If you've been told you have this--or you just know you do--a work at home gig might make it more possible for you to lean into your entrepreneurial side. 

10. You pursue diverging goals. Working at home may be a good option for you if you want to pursue multiple career paths at once. Want to be a blogger and a caterer? A jewelry designer and a graphic designer? Working at home gives you the opportunity to split up your day however you like. 

Working at home is not for everybody. But for those of us who are drawn to it, man, it really increases our quality of life when we can find an opportunity that is in our sweet spot and also gives us the ability to work from anywhere. Whether you already work at home or are interested in learning about how you can get your work at home gig off the ground, don't miss the free virtual Work-At-Home Summit January 29-February 3. Grab your free ticket here

2018 Goals + 10-Year Plan + My Word for the Year

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Happy January!! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! A natural blank slate. A fresh start. An opportunity to put life on “pause,” reflect, and adjust our sails. 

Some people begrudge January and “resolutions” because it seems to be an arbitrary time to change. But I think when the calendar gives us a good opportunity to designate a starting point, it’s great to take stock in our lives and our choices and adjust so we can have more alignment between our values and our reality. 

This year I’m setting goals in a new way. I’ve been reading Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans and in the book he asks a question: “What might you do to accomplish your 10-year goals in the next 6 months, if you had a gun against your head?” 

While my 10-year goals are not possible to achieve in the next six months (due to the nature of them building on things over time), it did make me ask the question:

What do I want my life to look like in 10 years? 

What do I want to have accomplished when I look back on this decade? Where do I want my career to be? Family to be? Finances to be? Health to be? Where do I want to have spent my time?

As a result I made a bulleted list of what I want to have achieved in 10 years. Then I decided to work backward.

What do I need to accomplish THIS year to get me to where I want to be in 10 years?

Then I worked backward again.

What do I need to accomplish in the next three months to get me to where I want to be in 1 year to get me to where I want to be in 10 years? (Get it?)

Then I worked backward again. What do I need to do in January that leads me to three-month goals > one-year goals > 10-year goals?

And thus I have a list of items to plug into my calendar this month that align with my values and will help move the needle toward where I want to be 10 years from now. 

And let me make a seemingly obvious point: what I want to accomplish over the next 10 years WILL change. And some of it will change as a direct result of the growth I’m experiencing in pursuing my “10-year goals.” So it’s never all for naught. Pursuing something, even if it will change, is the way to find your new goals and to grow. 

So as I was thinking through this 10>1>Q1>Jan process, a word hit me that truly encompasses what I want to do: steward.

I want to make choices that reflect being a good steward of what God has given me: my time, my talents, my health, my money, my relationships. 

So that’s my word for the year and it helps inform every decision I make. 

If I am being a good steward of this aspect of the life God has given me, what choice am I making? The answer is almost always clear.

I’d love to hear—what is YOUR word and why did you choose it? What does it mean to you?  

PS- Enrollment for my eCourse Get Your Dream Off the Ground is open now! And if you register by Friday January 5 you'll get all the 21-day eCourse materials plus a one-on-one coaching session with me! Click here to register. 

Feeling "cuddly as a cactus?" Here are 6 ways to avoid being the Grinch this Christmas.


Harsh reality: the holiday season can be a pressure-filled time where there’s more to do than time to do it.

You have some serious expectations for your holiday experience. You want the mantle just right, the lights on the tree to glow, and to see your loved one's face totally light up when she says "How did you know that this is what I've always wanted?" But the truth is sometimes the holidays leave us feeling more stressed and frazzled than joyous and peaceful. Here are six tips to avoid becoming the Grinch this Christmas and finding your joy:

1. Release yourself from doing things you’re “supposed to do.” I have friends who have a blow up Christmas tree. It was meant to be a giant cartoonish Christmas tree on someone’s lawn but it’s in their living room and they love it. They never got excited about having a real tree, decorating it, taking it back down, etc. They decided that at their house, this is their preference. There are no hard and fast rules about the holiday season. Discover the traditions that you love. Implement those and don’t worry about the rest. Release yourself from what you’re “supposed” to love about the holidays and do it your way.

"There are no hard and fast rules about the holiday season."

2. Set a budget. We can all get carried away with spending this time of year. Oh that plastic just doesn’t feel like it’s real money sometimes! Before getting in the heat of the moment at T.J. Maxx, decide what your maximum amount to spend is based on what your family can afford. Then work backwards. Who needs gifts? How much should be spent on your child’s teacher or your nephew? Stick to your budget so when you get that bill in January you won’t be doubly depressed that the holidays are over and reality has hit.

3. Jot down a “if I could do the holidays over” list ahead of time. Imagine yourself in January. What will you wish you had done differently over the holidays? More baking? Spent less money? Watched more classic movies? Gone caroling around the neighborhood? This ‘imagine being in the future and looking back technique’ can help you get perspective on how you really want to spend your time. 

4. Join in with your loved ones' favorite holiday activities. Do your kids love driving around looking at the Christmas lights? Does your husband get misty watching It’s A Wonderful Life each year? Pay attention to those things that symbolize the holidays to your nearest and dearest. Make sure to include those to make really special memories. Be intentional with your time during this season.

5. Take some “you” time. When you’re the one doing the cooking, the shopping, the wrapping and the planning, you can run out of holiday cheer pretty fast. So delegate some of your to-do's to kids big enough to help or your spouse or other family members. Now make a list of ten activities you would enjoy but tell yourself you don't have time for. Then pick one of those self-nurturing activities and do it.  

6. Remember that there’s no such thing as perfect even if Instagram tells you otherwise. Perfect is a myth. There’s no way to live up to the image that Pinterest, Food Network, Martha Stewart or that girl you went to high school with create. The most important aspect of the holidays is to remember why we are celebrating in the first place and to spend time with the ones we love.

Bottom line: the joy of the holidays can quickly evaporate if we set expectations too high for the things that don't ultimately matter. Slow down and savor time with family and don't sacrifice your sanity just to make sure everyone gets 2 dozen toys on Christmas morning. Pay attention to your happiness meter. If you’re not getting your needs met it’s much harder for you to give to the ones in your life that you love.

Still searching for the perfect gift for someone on your list? Registration for my 21-day goal setting course, Get Your Dream Off the Ground, opens January 1. Contact me to learn how you can gift the course

How to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2018

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I have a confession: my favorite month is not December. It's not even October or April or July...

It's January. I know, potentially the most depressing month of the year as it is cold and dark and no longer filled with all things merry and bright but go with me-- it's the fresh-start-of-it-all. The blank slate. The new beginning. The infinite possibility.

I love the beginning of the year and I love starting it after having done some reflection and planning. If you want to enter 2018 with intention, I invite you to download my brand new free resource:  the Get Your Dream Off the Ground New Year's Goal Setting Workbook. In this workbook you'll walk through questions that will give you clarity on exactly what needs to happen in your life in order to achieve your goals in the new year. And if you're curious about my eCourse, Get Your Dream Off the Ground, this is the ideal appetizer to that main course.

If you're ready for this to be the year that your aspirations become a part of your real life, start by downloading the workbook. 

And don't forget to enter Hilary's Holiday Giveaway! The contest closes Thursday December 14! There are six ways to earn entries and you can earn a new entry every day! Enter here.

How the Enneagram Helped Me Battle Anxiety


I think we all know at this point that what you see on the Internet is not the whole story.

Here’s what you’ve seen from me this year: a big move, commitment to get out of my comfort zone, a lovely trip to Europe, and resources to help you maximize your time and reach your goals. 

But there’s a lot more to my life than what you see on social media or here on my blog. I want to pull back the curtain a little bit today.

This has been one of the most challenging years of my life. My typically plucky, optimistic self was anxious, worried, maybe even depressed.

(Caveat: I don't typically want to share this side of things in part because it's just not as fun, and also in part because I know you may deal with much bigger demons than I do. Today I just want to share a bit of where I am and I hope it encourages you, no matter where you are on your journey.)

This year I experienced some big life transitions, some disappointments, and a lot of uncertainty. For months at a time I didn’t go a whole week without crying at some point. (Not at all normal for me.) I felt fragile and worried. The fog has begun to lift, but I haven’t felt solidly like myself for longer than the past four weeks or so. So while I’m doing pretty good now, I can’t say for certain how long this “feeling normal” will last. It still feels new.

Today I want to share what I think has been particularly instrumental in helping that fog to lift. Earlier this year I was introduced to something that has been nothing short of transformative for me: the Enneagram. And while I must admit that I’m a sucker for just about any personality explanation (Please let’s figure me out and everyone else!!), this one in particular has been helpful to me more than any other. Not only because it has helped me identify my strengths, but because it has also helped me see my weaknesses and how both my strengths and weaknesses stem from the same thing in me: a focus on rich experiences and the future. 

I’m an Enneagram 7: the Enthusiast. Here’s the gist, stolen from Eclectic Energies:

“People of this personality type are essentially concerned that their lives be an exciting adventure. Sevens are future oriented, restless people who are generally convinced that something better is just around the corner. They are quick thinkers who have a great deal of energy and who make lots of plans. They tend to be extroverted, multi-talented, creative and open minded. They are enthusiasts who enjoy the pleasures of the senses and who don't believe in any form of self-denial.” 

Prior to reading about my type in the Enneagram books that I’ve read (this one and this one), I didn’t realize that the primary thing that I try to avoid at all costs is pain. Well, I actually did know that, but I didn’t realize that it was a unique quality to my type. Not everyone avoids it quite like Sevens. We don’t like confrontation. And we’re quick to look on the bright side of any situation. That sunny disposition is good until it’s time to deal with some real life stuff—in which case, well, we hate that and avoid it like the plague. Not only is every type not quite avoiding pain like Sevens, but not everyone is constantly striving toward excitement, fulfillment, and the best experiences in life quite like Sevens either. 

Through studying the Enneagram, I’ve learned that the Sevens’ biggest challenge as well as our biggest driver is that we are constantly looking toward creating a new and better future. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It can be a wonderful thing. It can help change the world. But at the same time, if we are only looking toward the future and expecting fulfillment there, in short, we are missing our one precious life today. 

So how do you decide to change your ways? To not miss today? Well, lucky for me, the books I read gave me advice on the matter and it’s that advice that seems so obvious but is so transformative: gratitude. 

(And yes, if you’re reading this in November then we’ve got a beautiful Thanksgiving tie-in, don’t we? ;-))

Implementing an intentional gratitude practice has transformed my life.

And the research on gratitude is truly stunning. Studies have shown that people who implement a practice of gratitude in their lives are more optimistic, sleep better, and those that are sick have fewer symptoms

If you’re like me and you struggle with the fear of missing out, need to have something exciting to look forward to, and are constantly planning exciting adventures, I have to tell you—satisfaction is not in the future. A life focused solely on the future will leave you constantly wanting something new or something more.

Here are a few ideas you can implement today to build your Gratitude Practice:

  • Get a journal that is meant solely for gratitude. Before bed each evening, jot down three things you’re thankful for.
  • Start the day with a prayer of thanksgiving
  • Throughout the day, look for sights, smells, and sounds that you can include in your gratitude journal at the end of the day.
  • Write a note to someone who has helped you in your life. Maybe it’s a quick Facebook message or maybe it’s a handwritten letter. Take the time to express your gratitude to him or her. 
  • Every other month, choose one close friend or family member in your life to express gratitude to. Try to do this on an unsuspecting month—not a birthday month. Devise something special that you can do for them to show appreciation. 

Satisfaction and fulfillment are in today. And the best way to renew your mind is to stop, look around, and express gratitude for what is in your life right now. It’s great to have something to look forward to, but it’s incredibly powerful to express thanks for what is already here. Don’t miss it.

Giveaway: Win Everything In Hilary's Holiday Gift Guide!

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It feels like Christmas morning. 

And it's not just because we're talking about perfect holiday gifts and stocking stuffers, but it's because I am ecstatic to finally be launching my first Holiday Giveaway!

Nikki and I have been dreaming, scheming, and working on this giveaway for months and now the day is finally here! We are giving away a collection of some of my favorite gifts. I've done gift guides before (you can see the one for multi-hyphenates here and the one for entrepreneurs here) but this is my first time to actually give items away! I am WAY here for this. 

(If you're in a rush and want to skip to entering the contest, I get it. You can do that here.)

While each item here is adorable and/or amazing in and of itself, my favorite part about this list is that you can pick up each item at a local small business or small online startup. Let me do a run-through for you.

Hilary's Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway 

1. Art Print from the Honeysuckle Shop. Shelby Goodman is a designer, Mama to two, and a blogger. I love her inspiring, heartfelt designs. I have this one hanging in my home and I gave another to my sister. Our winner will get to choose between this one and this one

2. 1 lb of Ethiopian Blend from Blackwater Coffee CoIf you ever make your way through Lynchburg, Virginia, a city staple is the Whitehart Cafe on Main Street. They roast their own beans and sell them in a few shops around town and online. I dare say I've had more rich, ethereal conversations at this coffee shop than any other in the world. This coffee is perfect for sipping (which is exactly how I drink it.) 

3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had to add this book to the giveaway because I absolutely loved it. Every creative needs to read this book! I'm so into it, I wrote a summary and discussion guide your book club can use when you read it. Enjoy.

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4. Cozy Plaid Scarf from 3just3. The temperature has officially dropped over here on the east coast so that means I'm wearing scarves every. day. This one is a perfect statement. 3just3 is an adorable family-owned online shop. If you're stumped for a gift for a woman in your life--when in doubt, an accessory does the trick. And the prices at 3just3 are just right! 

5. "Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti" pencils, desk pad, and notebook from the Conscious Mercantile. The products in this Lynchburg, VA shop ooze with personality. You'll see what I mean if you check out their Instagram. The cards are hilarious, the knickknacks adorable, and the paper products will make your desk the envy of all in the office. My favorite part is that the Conscious Mercantile gives a home to local makers. 

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6. "I <2 Typos" Tee from Radish Apparel. This is for my writer friends, english nerds, everyone who wants to throw a shoe at the Internet when someone incorrectly writes "there" instead of "their." As those closest to me know I have too many coffee mugs, Playbills, and graphic tees. But I LOVE them, so let me live! If you need a chuckle, head over to Radish Apparel's site and peruse their tees. They are hilarious (especially if there's anything inside you that is even a tiny bit nerdy). And bonus: 5% of every purchase is donated to a charity of your choice. 

Details: The giveaway runs until December 14. There are multiple ways to enter and you can improve your chances by entering all six ways (and you can even tweet a message every day between now and 12/14 for an extra entry each day! If you're really serious about winning those pencils, that's a good strategy.) May the odds be ever in your favor!