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: smartprettyandawkward.com
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
AlexandraSilber.net

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:
Bear
InfusionSoft
Deep Work by Cal Newport
WeEditPodcasts.com
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: 

DamonBrown.net
joindamon.me
twitter.com/browndamon

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 denaadriance.com, or check out her podcast, Everyday Creative People

6 Habits Every Telecommuter Should Implement to Build Rapport With Coworkers

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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.

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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!

Here's what I've been up to lately...

Have you heard of a "Ta Da" List? Instead of a "To Do" List, you write what you've accomplished, after the fact. (I must be honest--I've been known to make both lists!) Well this week, I wanted to share with you a list that is somewhere between "To Do" and "Ta Da." It's a "What I'm Up To" List, but that doesn't quite have the same ring to it. 

I want to start by sharing this gorgeous illustration that Abby Hogle created to publish in our #notetoself✒️ collaboration series on Instagram. I've been partnering up with artists who've put their own unique interpretation on quotations from my writing. The illustration below originates from this blog post. I absolutely love what Abby and the other incredibly talented artists have created! Check out the whole series and connect with me on Instagram

 Illustration by Abby Hogle

Illustration by Abby Hogle

  • I'm finishing up my first 90 days as content marketing consultant at McKinley Marketing Partners. I’ve gotten to do a ton of research and writing on all things careers and I'm having a blast. A few of my favorite pieces I've worked on are 6 Habits Every Telecommuter Should Implement to Build Rapport, 5 Best Kept Secrets to Get a Recruiter's Attention on LinkedIn, and 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing to Generation Z.
     
  • I'm in the homestretch of my fourth year teaching social media and communication classes at SNHU and it's been the best year yet. SNHU was recently named most innovative university in the north for the third time!
     
  • I’ve got a brand new book proposal that is undergoing the finishing touches and will soon be going out to publishers. 
     
  • This month we published the Social Media Audit Checklist! (You can download that bad boy right now!)
     
  • Nikki and I have been prepping for the first epic Favorite Things-esque Giveaway on my blog. We’ve aggregated items from several different shops that I'm very excited about. I wish I could enter the contest! The list of the goodies and the giveaway will go live in mid-November! Keep an eye out for it.
     
  • I'm preparing for my talk on actor side hustles at the Virginia Theatre Conference next week. I took a trip down memory lane as I was working on the talk and found this photo from when I went to VTA back in college. I think this was taken on a disposable camera!
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On a personal note my husband and I are celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary this weekend and I cannot believe how time truly flies. It's been the best, best, best five years. 

Hilary's Tuesday Tip 014: How to Shave 3 Hours Off Your Work Week

In this week's Tuesday Tip, I'm sharing two strategies that I use every single week to maximize my time. Whether you have one full-time job and are balancing work and home life, or are a multi-hat wearing multi-gig-er, or an entrepreneur who is selling, managing, and innovating--these two strategies will help you get more done in less time

Have you downloaded the free Social Media Audit Checklist yet? If you want to make sure your social media strategy is effective and efficient, download it today.

New Free Resource: Social Media Audit Checklist

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I’m thrilled to share a brand new resource free to download: the Social Media Audit Checklist.

If you know you should be on social media and you’re consistently posting but you’re not really sure how you’re progressing or which platform holds the most potential, this printable is for you. 

While I’ll be the first to raise my hand as a loyal member of the “Data and Analytics Make My Eyes Glaze Over” Club, I am a big fan of knowing how to best use my most finite resource: time.

By walking through the social media audit checklist you’ll do some reflecting on why your business is on social media in the first place, how you’ve been doing thus far, and what you need to do differently to move in the direction of your goals. It's just one way to do More in Less

Grab the social media audit checklist free here

5 Personal Finance Tips Every Freelancer Needs to Know

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Going freelance is awesome. You can work from anywhere in the world. You don’t have office drama. You can clock in as frequently or as infrequently as you want. And you can shape your business in whatever way lines up with your values.

But some aspects of freelancing can get a little complicated. How do you find clients? How can you make sure you work enough to pay your bills? What do you do about taxes?

One area that may seem daunting if you’re just starting out in freelancing or if you’re considering making the leap to the freelance world is personal finances.

I’ve been freelancing for about ten years and doing these five things helps me make sure not only that I don’t go into debt, but also that I’m living within my means and making more than I spend.

Money does not have to be a point of stress for freelancers. Here are five habits to employ to make sure you stay on top of your finances. 

5 Personal Finance Tips for Freelancers

1. Track every dollar you’re earning each month. I keep a spreadsheet that includes the date I received payment, the name of the client, and how much I earned. At the end of each month I tally up my earnings. This gives me a ball park view of my earnings (which is helpful to know) and preps me for #2. 

2. Create a budget based on how much you earned last month. About 5 years ago I started making a monthly budget the Dave Ramsey way. Every month I do Step #1. Then the following month I make a budget based on how much I made the month before. This is called a Zero-Based Budget. I allocate every dollar earned to a portion of my budget. I never have anything “left over.” If I have allocated money to every spending category and I still have some left over then I add it to the “savings” category. Here's a template. Because I make sure I allocate every dollar I’ve earned, I don’t live beyond my means and I’ve been able to invest, put money away for retirement, and save. I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of expense due dates. 

3. Have a separate credit card for business expenses. Whether you have a LLC or work as an independent       contractor, if you ever make any work-related purchases, it’s much easier to keep track of them and write them off on your taxes if you make those payments on a separate card than you use for your personal expenses. You will have to itemize those expenses for next year’s taxes so rather than having to go through every single transaction in your monthly statement each year, use a separate card and then you’ll know that every purchase made on that card is work-related. I also keep a document of any work-related expenses that I did not use my card for. Future me is already saying “thank you!”

4. Keep track of all work-related expenses. You’ve got a ton of deductions that you can make from your taxes. You just need to make sure you’re keeping track of them and that you’re aware of them. This includes deductions that you can make for a home office, mileage to and from meetings with clients, and professional development. For example, actors--you can write-off the cost of headshots, tap shoes, and the mileage to go to that callback 200 miles away! This is money back in your pocket. So keep track of it.

5. Figure out a system for tracking your invoices. Whether you use Freshbooks, Square invoicing, or just do it the old(er)-fashioned way and manually send invoices, figure out a system that works for you, number your invoices and make sure that when you send an invoice you jot it down and then check it off the list when you get paid. There’s nothing sadder than a freelancer who is convinced she hasn’t gotten paid yet but has no way to prove it because she never invoiced her client.

Bonus: hire an accountant to do your taxes. You’ve got W2s and I-9s and invoices and donations and work expenses and mileage. It’s a lot. Do yourself a favor and use a CPA to file your taxes. He or she can get you set up with quarterly payments so you do not owe at the end of the year. It’s a great feeling to stay on top of it and know that your relationship with Uncle Sam is in good hands.

Going into the freelance world is exciting and the nitty gritty business side of things can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re ready to move to the next level of your freelance career, I’d love to spend some time one-on-one with you coaching you through this season so you can achieve the bigger and better that you’re meant for. Learn more about freelance coaching here.

(Reminder: opinions are my own. I am not a financial services professional.) 

Announcing An August Giveaway!

Andy Warhol said this: "When I think about what sort of person I would most like to have on a retainer, I think it would be a boss. A boss who could tell me what to do, because that makes everything easy when you're working."

Now, I don't think a boss makes everything easy but sometimes I would just love an outside perspective from someone I trust and respect to give me feedback on the direction of my business and career. And maybe even give me some new ideas and insights I hadn't yet considered. Maybe you feel the same way.  

Of all the things that I do, the work that perhaps energizes me most is consulting and coaching. There’s nothing like the energy that manifests in a situation where we’re brainstorming together to work on creating a new and better future. 

Today I shared an announcement on Facebook Live that has to do with just that.

I'm thrilled to launch the Consulting and Coaching Giveaway today! If you’d like to rent my brain for an hour (for FREE) just head over here, enter your name, email address and the problem you could use help solving.

 

 

HSL Creative Retreat Week Reflections

Last week I got that rare opportunity to take time off from work without traveling. My family laughed because my “week off” still consisted of about 20 hours of side-gig work but in comparison to the 55-60 I’ve been averaging, this week was incredibly quiet. 

The refreshment and peace I've experienced from taking a week off and not filling it to the brim with busyness is astounding to me. I’m so passionate about life and the things in it that I love: writing, connecting with people, helping others reach their goals, acting, performing, creativity, strategizing, pursuing goals. It’s difficult to slow down when I feel like there is more that I want to do than I ever have time for. 

This year has consisted of a lot of change for me in my work and life after experiencing a couple of years of consistency. I launched the eCourse, Get Your Dream Off the Ground. I sunsetted Enchanting Entertainment. Left SpotCo. Joined RPM. Left Lynchburg. Moved to Washington D.C. Left Pursuant. And just this week joined McKinley Marketing Partners. My life had been solidly consistent the past three years and incredibly consistent for the past two and I just jumbled it up and changed my ‘normal’ a whole lot. 

I’m finally beginning to feel a sense of “normalcy” in DC. Getting a bit of a rhythm and reprogramming my brain to think of it as “home.” But I haven’t really come up for air yet. So when my husband suggested I take time off between Pursuant and McKinley, while it was the furthest idea from my mind, when I sat with it a bit, I knew it was exactly what I needed to do.

In recent years I have given myself periodic #HSLCreativeRetreatDays where once every quarter or so I power down and set aside a day to reflect, set goals, think and write. I first started it when I was building up to turning the big 3-0. I knew I needed regular check-ins to make sure I was on track to reach the goals I had set by the time I turned 30. This was easier to accomplish before I started the 60 hours a week thing (I think that came into play in 2015 or 16—all a blur TBH). And somehow, in the past year I haven’t done a #HSLCreativeRetreatDay at all. That song ‘he writes like he’s running out of time’ has felt like it’s been on loop in my mind for far too long. I am dangerously close to being Jessie Spano. “There’s never enough time to study. I’m not going to get into Stanford….”

I needed a reality check. Would life go on if I wasn’t putting in a 60 hour work week? Would we be able to pay rent? 

Yes and yes. 

Then that settles that. I need to take the dang week off. Over the weekend I punched out a laundry list of things I wanted to accomplish during my “time off.” I needed to give some love to my company, HSL Enterprises. I needed to do some reflecting on my priorities and what life realistically needs to look like in this new season. And I wanted to do some intentional resting. Something that I, well…I don’t do. 

Here’s a little recap of my week that I bullet journaled over on Twitter each day. 

Moving into a totally new routine that included about 4-5 hours of commute each week meant that I had to reorganize my days in order to make sure my personal priorities weren't going out the window. So in my 'ideal week' I figured out where workouts would fit in, new evening and morning routines, and how to best use that commute time to where it was refreshing (not just a huge time waste). I definitely recommend using the Ideal Week method to allot your time like you would a financial budget. You won't always be able to honor it perfectly but at least you have goals. 

 This is an example of an Ideal Week from Michael Hyatt.&nbsp;

This is an example of an Ideal Week from Michael Hyatt. 

I've learned a lot from my time working inside marketing teams, not least of which is how to marry an editorial calendar and overall goals of a company. In years past my goals for this website have been mainly around consistency of producing. This week I've been able to map out a plan for the content with more clear and strategic goals. Now I can measure progress. 

I could've easily just kept hustling this week but I knew that a big piece of the purpose of the week was to actually chill out. So on Wednesday I got a massage and spent time in the afternoon reading a magazine by the pool. No agenda. Nothing in the magazine I could learn and apply to my work. Just intentional de-stress time. My shoulders haven't felt this loose in months. 

By Thursday I had really wanted to make some progress in completing some goals: a fully fleshed out editorial calendar for the site, a book proposal that was nearly ready to go, clear set of goals for the rest of the year, but my brain was still marinating on a lot of that. So I gave myself a bit of a break to just think and let my brain work these things out. Related: we've got to put our phones down and let our brains get bored enough to be creative. Now that I'm no longer 'on call' for one of my jobs 24/7, I'm putting my phone in a drawer on Saturdays. #PhoneFreeSaturdays. Who's with me?!

 This space gives me a magical level of focus and inspiration. It's my secret weapon.

This space gives me a magical level of focus and inspiration. It's my secret weapon.

Over the past 9 months I worked my way through 8 seasons of Gilmore Girls and now there is a Lorelai Gilmore shaped hole in my heart. So what do I do? Check out Lauren Graham's memoir from the library, of course. Didn't know I would get an incredible writing productivity hack mid-book. Used it on Friday afternoon and really made some progress on my new proposal. #GIlmoreGiftThatKeepsOnGiving

One thing that became apparent as I was planning out my new "Ideal Week" is that I couldn't cook on week nights like I had grown accustomed to doing. I'd need to partner with JC some, cook simpler meals, and cook more on the weekends, unless we wanted to get used to eating at bedtime. (No thanks.) So on Saturday I got ingredients to make a few different meals that were freezable and similar enough in ingredients to merit batching together. Over the course of about an hour I prepped two Sour Cream Noodle Bakes (via the Pioneer Woman who never lets me down), my mom's lasagna, and spaghetti sauce. We ate the lasagna over the next few days. The other three went into the freezer. Now I can thaw out the spaghetti sauce one night when all I'll have to do is make pasta. And the sour cream noodle bakes can go straight from freezer to oven. That's two more meals ready to go this month and one for September. Future Hil is definitely thanking me. Also, this felt wildly efficient and satisfying. It was harder than making one meal alone but considering the planning, shopping, cooking and clean up, it was much easier than cooking on 4 separate occasions. I will be doing this more often. It made total sense. Plus I got to get into the vibe and pretend I was Julia Child or something. 

Sunday was a little sad as it felt too soon to say goodbye to #HSLCreativeRetreatWeek. I hadn't completed every single thing on my to do wish list and I just knew I could if I took one more week. ;-) But also the anticipation of the new routine and new job was killing me so I was ready to get going. 

Reflections overall: 

With increased work stress and overall stress that comes from big life change and adulting, I've experienced a lot of anxiety over the past six months. There's different ways to handle it. I recommend counseling, exercise, eating healthy, getting sleep, and journaling. For me, taking a week off and really minimizing commitments for a week in between gigs made a big dent in my anxiety. I'm an optimistic person and sometimes optimism leads to overcommitment which can lead to anxiety and burnout. I encourage you to do periodic gut checks and invest in self-care in whatever ways you can. And also, give yourself a break. Some seasons are harder than others. If you need to simplify during a hard season or cry a lot or call your mom every day or whatever, DO IT. Not every season will be so challenging. So give yourself a break during the ones that are tough.

If you'd like to create your own HSL Creative Retreat Week, here are 7 elements I recommend:

1. Make a list of all the things you've been wanting or needing to do but haven't had time.

2. Make a list of all the things you'd like to do if you had time.

3. Create a list of 3-5 "Big Rocks" that mean success for the week. If you accomplish only these 3-5 things, your week will be a success. Plug these into your schedule.

4. Flesh out themes for each day using words that inspire you. Think "relaxaton, rejuvenation, inspiration, exploration." 

5. Don't overload each day!! Be realistic about what you can accomplish

6. Make sure anything you schedule contributes to your well-being. Yes, for me, a trip to the dentist was included because it made me feel more calm knowing I was getting it done. 

7. Journal as you go. Pay attention to how you feel mentally and physically each day. Look for insights.

If you are able to do your own Retreat Week, I would LOVE to hear about it. Drop me a line via the comments here or email! 

Want other tips from creatives on the rise in their careers? Download my latest eBook, 5-Minute Mentor for free!