3 Steps You Can Take to Achieve Financial Freedom

I knew financial freedom was the goal when I grew frustrated with having only one source of income last year. I had a decent-paying job, but it wasn’t enough for me to live the life I envisioned. I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck so I knew something had to change.

I started reading personal finance blogs and listening to podcasts to teach myself how to make money work for me. Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The 4-Hour Workweek was a pivotal moment. Here are some key takeaways from each book:

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

by Robert Kiyosaki

a. You’ll never become financially independent from a 9 to 5.

b. The way to wealth is through diversifying your income

c. Invest. Invest. Invest.

The 4-Hour Workweek

by Tim Ferriss

a. You can do more in less time (working remotely, outsourcing, delegating etc.)

b. Time is the ultimate money-making machine

Tim and Robert helped me figure out what to do to change my situation. In short, I had to become efficient at work and I had to diversify my income. Following these authors’ advice, I made a plan.

Most people say they want to be financially free, but they aren’t willing to commit to making it happen. Financial freedom isn’t something that just happens. It starts with a plan and requires determination.

Disclaimer: I haven’t arrived at complete financial freedom YET, but in the past few months, I followed a course of action that’s progressively taking me there. So I know a thing or two about what it takes. To help you get started or keep going, here are the steps you can take. We can group them within broad categories.

Living within your means

If you’re earning less than you’re spending, you’re bound to be living paycheck to paycheck. Take a close look at your bank statements. Are you always stuck with credit card debt? Do you spend a check before you actually get it? Do you make exceptions for stuff because the discount was so good you couldn’t pass?

Track your spending. Have a budget. Stick to it. You’ve heard it all before and it’s not rocket science, but it’s hard. The ideal would be to not even look at the price tag before we get something! But until we get there, we will have to adjust our spending.

If you’re really struggling with this, take these baby steps every day:

Go 2-3 months without Netflix

Can you do that? Use a friend’s account info.

Pay more than the minimum on your credit card each month

Trade a week’s worth of coffee for that extra $10 if you have to. You minimize your interest fee that way.

Put $5-10 aside every week

Make some of your disposable income disappear (in a piggybank never to be found).

To live within your means is to make sacrifices when you can’t yet afford everything you want. This means saying no to using your credit card when you don’t have that sum on your debit card. Forget that extra pair of shoes or eating out when there’s food at home. It’s skipping Uber and taking the train. It’s buying groceries for the whole week and bringing lunch to work instead of dropping $12 on a salad or a sandwich + soda combo. It’s…you get the idea!

Diversifying your income

And well, if you’re not willing to make sacrifices, but can’t afford to live the life you want, you just need to make more money. It starts with diversifying your income – which basically means making money from different sources.

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you know I’ll encourage you to develop a few income streams. I’m a huge side hustle advocate and I’ve been able to acquire the most skills from having them.

When you make money from just a 9 to 5, you’re putting your eggs in one basket – which is risky. You can lose your job at any moment (because business is business and life happens). Even a generous compensation can’t always cover your random splurges or unexpected bills. Instead of waiting to increase your salary by a percentage every six months or so, find other ways to make money. It’s easier and it’ll make you less dependent on your primary gig.

Where to start, you ask? I detailed the first steps to diversify your income here. Next, use these ideas to make a plan.

Get a part-time job

Bartend on weekends. Teach a class. Become a lifeguard in the summer. There are many part-time jobs that can work with your full-time schedule. Having a second steady gig might throw off your work-life balance, but it is another way to make money.

Sell a product

If you have a knack for making things (jewelry, furniture, illustrations etc.), you can earn a few extra bucks from them each month. If not, you can resell thrifted items on Amazon or buy things in bulk and offer a higher price per unit. The possibilities are endless.

Start a side business

Become an Uber or Lyft driver. Rent your apartment through Craiglist or AirBnB. Create an app that helps parents find local tutors or babysitters. Take people’s engagement photos. Start an Etsy store. Sell thrift finds on Amazon or eBay. Promote brands on Instagram. Walk dogs or house sit.

When people think about starting a business, they tend to picture themselves building the next Facebook or Tesla. It’s cool if you have an idea that can change the world, but entrepreneurship doesn’t stop there if you don’t.

Related: 75+ Ways to Make Extra Money

Freelance

Become really good at something then get people to pay you to do it for them. Whether you write for magazines, shoot weddings, direct editorial photoshoots, build people’s websites or design company’s logos, freelancing is a great way to monetize a skill. It’s more flexible than a regular job as it gives you control over your schedule.

Save

Saving as an extra income stream? Who would’ve thought?! Put your savings in a high yield savings account and watch your money grow passively!

Investing

Buy stocks. Purchase properties and rent them out. Collect antiques. Fund a company. It doesn’t matter how you invest, but that you do. You’re basically saying “See you later” to your money. These investments will generate more cash for you in the future. A lot of people don’t invest because they don’t think long-term and they’re afraid to lose their money. Investing is risky, but money comes and goes. To learn more about it, visit Investopedia.

Your turn! What have you done/are you doing to achieve financial freedom? Let me know in the comments!

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3 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Graduated College

College was fun! I got good grades, did a few internships and had a social life outside of studying. You probably heard that your experience is what you make of it and let me tell you – it’s true. I wasn’t the “come to class then go home” kind of student, so learned a lot beyond the classroom. I attended career workshops, networking events and pretty much did my best to make the most out of it.

Still, college didn’t prepare me for the real world. My introduction to the real world was brutal. I was scrambling to land a job after the company I thought I’d work for withdrew their offer. And I had to figure out ways to make money while waiting to hear from employers. I vividly remember this stage. It was a rough rite of passage.

Eventually, I realized what made this transition so stressful. There are things I know now that would have made it easier, had I known that then. I wish someone would have pulled me aside and told me everything I needed to know before graduating. Since that’s not how life works, I can only reflect on these lessons and share them with you.

There’s no better time to start something

Especially at the beginning, when things aren’t too intense yet. Most people spend their freshman and sophomore years figuring out what they want and taking general ed classes. It’s the best time to pursue a passion alongside doing schoolwork!

Some students have to juggle homework, internships and odd jobs throughout their undergrad years, which gives them less time to pursue other interests. If you happen to not NEED to work when you’re in college, you’re in the best position to start something – anything. A business, a side hustle; any outlet to express your curiosity. Chances are, you don’t have a lot of responsibilities (mortgage, children, student loans) to worry about then, so you can take risks and not face dire consequences. It’s a unique opportunity to test some ideas and see how that pans out. If it’s successful, it will also create a job for you when you graduate.

I wish I started my freelance writing business in college. I regret not launching my blog sooner or offering to do pro bono work until I built a portfolio. So if you have time (actually, make time), invest in the pursuit of a passion and you’d be surprised where it can take you.

Grades aren’t everything

I used to stress every exam because I didn’t want anything less than an A. I put so much pressure on myself to achieve the very best that I became very familiar with sleepless nights and coffee-fueled cramming sessions. It’s not a bad attitude, but it can take a toll on your health if you don’t watch out for that. I’m not saying you should get by with minimal effort and procrastinate until the last minute, but remember not to kill yourself over an imperfect GPA. You should always strive for excellence, but only when it doesn’t come to the expense of your health (physical, mental and emotional).

In reality, grades only matter if you plan on going to grad school and have to live up to your target university’s standard. Otherwise, you just need to do your best! Had I known this, I wouldn’t have stressed so much like I did over a B in organic chem and even a C+ in microeconomics (yeah, not my forte). Your GPA doesn’t in any way indicate the levels of success you’ll achieve. There’s a growing trend of not including it in resumes because employers don’t care so much about it anymore. So just remember that next time you feel like the world is falling apart because of an exam.

You don’t need to have it all figured out

A lot of us dread the, “What’s next?” question that comes with the prospect of graduation. It’s probably because we feel like we need to have an answer. If you have a plan and things are going your way, more power to ya! But if like most recent grads you don’t have a clear idea, don’t you worry. I can tell you for a fact that you’ll learn the most from not over-planning and being open to detours. I didn’t know what I would do after the company withdrew their offer. I figured I’d just find another job and work. Had that not happened, I wouldn’t have learned how to brand myself professionally and hustle. These are skills that will serve me throughout the rest of my life.

Post-grad life can be intimidating. You have all this free time and you might feel overwhelmed at times. But you will figure it out. Embrace the changes and welcome the lessons! It won’t be easy, but you will look back and want to do it all over again. It’s a worthy part of the growth process.

Your turn! What do you wish you knew before graduating college? Share them with me in the comments!

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How to Leverage Your Side Hustles and Advance in Your Career

Your side hustles – At best, they give you the chance to explore an interest, develop a skill and earn some additional income. At best (that’s right, I can’t think of a single downside to having one), they make you more marketable and help you score more gigs.
You’ll hear that nowadays everyone has a blog or some sort of passion project. Someone once told me it doesn’t make you competitive anymore since everyone else does it. While it’s true that most millennials have some sort of side project, that doesn’t mean they can’t set you apart from others. The question is, how can you use them to get ahead?
 
Most people tend to keep their side hustles secret. They’ll never make it on their resume or LinkedIn profile. It’s a mistake. Your personal projects are just as relevant to your career as your primary job. Here’s how you can leverage them to achieve your professional goals:

If you want to land more gigs

Perfect your craft then sell your services
 
Consider your existing skill set and think about ways to upgrade it. You can monetize everything you know these days. You just need to make yourself an expert first. If you write poems, maybe you can learn how to write copy for websites and products as well? If you play guitar, perhaps you can learn how to write songs and perform your pieces at open mics? Perfect your already existing talents then figure out how to take them to the next step. Tackle a new area of knowledge and apply yourself to learning. Wouldn’t a marketer be more competitive if they knew how to design websites too?
Once you turn yourself into an expert, create something. Build an app or a website if you learned how to code. Launch a blog to showcase your writing, YouTube channel for your shooting and editing skills. Let your online portfolio speak for itself. Once you reach a certain level of success, you can make more money from your project itself or by selling your services (usually the easiest way to go). Include our side hustles on your resume, post ads on Craigslist, promote your work to your network and send cold emails.

If you want to get a promotion and/or a raise

Prove your value with numbers
If your side hustle aligns with your job, it makes sense to documents the milestones you reach from doing it. I once worked for a food brand doing community management. After reaching the goals my boss and I had set when I was first hired, I tried to position myself to ask for a promotion. Since I have a side hustle (fashion storytelling) that was directly related to my job, I documented the growth of my personal pages and put down the numbers in paper. I turned them into an easy-to-read file and presented them to my boss when I was making my case. It not only helped that I had exceeded the goals and delivered a great performance, but my boss was also impressed that I was able to do the same thing on my own. Doing this won’t necessarily guaranteed you’ll get a raise (as that depends on many factors that are sometimes outside of our control), but it will definitely put you on their radar when the opportunity arises.
Make a new proposal
As part of my argument to get the raise, I drafted a proposal detailing the things I could accomplish for the brand within a time frame. Since I had increased my Instagram engagement in a few weeks for my personal brand, I suggested doing the same thing for the company. One of the bullet points read, “Gain over 100 followers per week and double the engagement in a month”. I was confident in my ability to deliver and since that matched their expectations, I was given the benefit of the doubt.

To continue your education and move up the ladder 

Seek every opportunity to learn 
“I’m done learning now” – said no one ever (or should no one ever say). No matter where you are in life, your education should never end. It’s part of what keeps you competitive and helps you make better decisions. If you’re employed, try to get your company to sponsor some classes or provide tuition reimbursement. Even if you can’t get these benefits, make that investment in yourself. It can be the difference between you becoming a manager in a short amount of time as opposed to 4-5 years.
If you’re still hesitant to start a side hustle, ask yourself What is there to lose? Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to pursue a passion, make money, advance in your career and become more fulfilled.
Your turn! Do you already have side hustles? What are they and how have they helped you in your life and career?

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5 Important Career Lessons Most People Learn Too Late In Life

Study hard and get good grades. Everything else will fall into place. That’s what we were taught to believe about our professional life. A lot of us have internalized this advice and probably realized that that’s not really how things work.

You can achieve a stellar GPA and graduate from one the best universities and still find yourself unprepared for the real world. That’s because some lessons aren’t taught in classrooms and knowing them early on can make a huge difference in our careers.

If you’re reading this, it’s not too late. Here are some important career lessons you can benefit from now.

a. Success is not linear. Most of us have an idea of the path to follow in order to reach our career goals. The traditional view of success looks like this:

1. Go to a good school

2. Graduate with a stellar GPA

3. Get a good job and do well

4. Get promoted

5. Go back to school

6. Climb up the ladder

7. Live happily ever after

Sounds simple right? In reality, we don’t arrive at our goals by following a straight path. More often than not, we take detours (in the form of breaks, setbacks, moments of regression etc.) and figure out how to get back on track.

Take Chris Sacca, American venture investor for example. He turned down the opportunity to invest in Airbnb and Dropbox, thinking they wouldn’t be successful in the long run. Seeing how these companies went big, many would consider these moves to be a failure. Yet, Chris is now a billionaire with investments in Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Kickstarter etc. He’s the perfect reminder that you shouldn’t let your mistakes define you. You don’t need to have it all figured out from the start. There are external forces that will often interfere with your trajectory. Fret not. You can always recover from a setback. What is important is developing an attitude that embraced change and knows how to turn “failures” into learning opportunities.

b. Your career is what you make of it. No one is going to give you anything unless you earn it. As an intern, you may get hired if you show you’re a team player and hard worker. Want that promotion or raise? Make sure you’ve exceeded your supervisor’s expectations and continue to align yourself with the company’s goals. Some things may be outside your control, but you have a say over your performance and the amount of work you do – which ultimately will bring you closer to your goals.

It’s important to remember not to get comfortable and let your growth become stagnant. If you hit a wall at your job, find a better opportunity (only after attempting to fix that, though). Want to make a  career transition? Start doing your research and network with industry insiders. Hate the thought of working for someone and dream of starting a business? Do it while you don’t have a mortgage or a family to feed. Or, spend all your free time on executing your idea until you make enough money to be able to quit.

c. You can create your own opportunities. When it comes to making moves in our career, we tend to wait for permission. We wait for a job to get experience instead of acquiring that experience on our own. We wait to get a raise instead of diversifying our income and becoming less dependent on that in the first place. We wait until “the universe gives us a sign” to  after the very things that make our heart beat.

It’s a trap we so easily fall into when in reality, we are the only ones who can give ourselves permission to do something. You can go make videos on your own and hone your editing skills. You can take a photography class and start shooting your friend’s engagement. You can enroll in a coding course to move to the next phase of your career. Be proactive when it comes to your personal and professional development. You can accomplish much more in a team than by yourself of course, but do not let the absence of help handicap you.

d. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. I was at an event a few weeks ago and wrote down a very powerful piece of advice. One of the panelists said, “The answer to the questions you never ask is always no.”

A lot of us don’t get what we want because we don’t know how to ask. Or rather, we’re too afraid of rejection. It’s cliche, but the worst case-scenario is hearing no, then you just find someone else to say yes. Allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to go to people and express what you need help with. Together is better than alone. Of course don’t be one of those people who only know how to take. Make sure you’re contributing to them just as much as they are contributing to you. But do not let your pride get in the way of your progress. You’d be surprised how people are open to sharing their experience and giving advice.

e. You should always update your skills. Whether you’re an intern or a senior executive, your education never stops. Your dedication to learning will be the difference between you staying stagnant and you moving up the corporate ladder.Think of yourself like a smartphone. Upgrades maximize your performance. Don’t get comfortable with a job that you forget to make yourself marketable. Nowadays, job security is obsolete. Technology is disrupting the workplace, replacing jobs and creating careers. I wouldn’t be surprised if robots eventually replace bank tellers just like self-driving cars will replace bus or taxi drivers. You can’t afford to be left behind. Always think about learning new skills and adapting to current times. Like Robert Kiyosaki from Rich Dad Poor Dad would advise, invest in yourself so that you stay ahead of the market.

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4 Brilliant Ways to Brand Yourself Online

As a consumer, I prefer buying from brands I personally feel connected to. Even if their products or services cost more, I’d rather invest in them. This is also true for the majority of millennials. In fact, a study by Elite Daily showed that we are the most brand-loyal generation.

Whether you’re a business owner, freelancer or regular employee, your personal brand is what sets you apart from others. It is what keeps people engaged and consuming from you. It is then crucial that it speaks for itself.

Over the past few months, I’ve worked on growing my personal brand and it’s led to major opportunities such as speaking engagements, consulting gigs, freelance work etc.

Here’s how to build a strong digital presence:

Be clear about what you do – This is especially hard when you’re a multipotentialite. By nature, we love to do many things. Be ready to articulate each one of them. Better yet, find what connects all your passions and speak to that. Are you a writer who can also produce videos and take great photos? Then you are a content creator who can effectively amplify voices. Figure out all the things you can do really well, but be specific about the core of your personal brand. What do you want people to know you as? What should they come to you for?

Pick a niche market – In a world where almost every market is saturated, choosing a niche is recommended. This doesn’t mean you will reach less people. Au contrary, you will reach more of the people you’re targeting. For example, a freelancer doesn’t need to do work for everyone. They would be spreading themselves too thin. They don’t need to have thirty clients either. They only have so much time! Choosing a subset of the market will help them effectively market themselves and score gigs.

Do you want to help small business owners build authority with blogging? Can you provide training and professional development for corporations? Narrowing down the audience who could use your expertise will give you a better sense of direction as you’ll know exactly where to look and who to approach.

Add value – Before you share anything online, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is it aligned with what I stand for? Will it strengthen my brand?
  2. Is it valuable? Can someone use it to learn something and make a decision?
  3. Does it demonstrate my expertise?

The more you provide value, the more people are likely to engage with you. It will show a genuine commitment to helping others. You can add value in different ways (status updates, live webinars, courses, ebooks etc.) Be creative with the way you share your content and stay abreast of the platforms your audience will likely adopt.

Document your wins – Use social media to showcase your expertise and highlight your accomplishments. You need to show people what you can do. It’s the only way they will buy into it! Recorded one of your speaking engagements? Post the video everywhere! Have something interesting to say about a recent trend in your industry? Whether it’s on LinkedIn or Medium, blog away! Offer to guest post for publications to expand your audience!

A common misconception is that personal branding only matters when you plan to be or already are in the spotlight. You don’t need to achieve stardom to have a personal brand. We’re all in the business of managing ourselves and as such, we could leverage a strong personal brand to reach our goals.

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10 Motivational Quotes to Conquer Fear and Do What You Love

Like me, you’ve probably stayed at a job you hated for too long or put off doing something you cared about because of fear. Like Robert Kiyosaki said, “Fear is the biggest detractor to human genius.” It literally paralyzes us into inaction.

How many times have you delayed something you really wanted to do because you were scared? I used to waste time reading a bunch of blogging-related articles because I was just too afraid to launch my blog. I’d let my lack of coding knowledge intimidate me instead of building the courage to just figure things out. And when I finally did it, the world didn’t fall apart like I imagined.

If you often hesitate to take action because of fear, these inspirational career quotes will push you to take the leap.

“There are funerals held every day for the opportunities we allow to die out.” – Shirazi

“The tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.” – Seth Godin

“What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Lewis Howes

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.” – Tim Ferriss

 

“To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around.” ― Richie Norton

“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.” – Tony Robbins 

“When it comes down to it, nothing trumps execution.” Gary Vaynerchuk

“You will find there are times you must grasp your life with both hands and forcefully steer it in a new direction and then strain to hold your course until the storms of fear, weakness, and doubt abate.” – Richelle E. Goodrich

“Don’t count the days. Make the days count.” – Muhammad Ali

Your turn to share! Do you have any favorite quotes? Please let me know in the comments.

Related: 10 Quotes that Will Inspire You to Do What You Love

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Help! My Parents Don’t Understand What I do

Parents. At their best, they’re supportive; at their worst, they keep nagging you about getting a “real” job. Because I currently freelance and mostly work from home, my parents think I’m not really doing anything. They imagine I spend my days applying to 100 jobs online until I hear from someone. This, of course, is not true, but I don’t blame them for thinking that way.

To this day, many employers struggle with trusting their team to work from home. We are living through changes in the workplace and a shift in career perception, but the older generations aren’t catching up fast enough – if they ever will.

Related: Your Dreams Don’t Have to Make Sense to Anyone

If like me, you’ve had to explain what you do to your parents a million times and they still don’t get it, you know how frustrating that can be. You probably had these reactions on many occasions:

Me

Also me

After a while you wonder how many interrogations you can endure before giving up on them completely. What you need to understand first and foremost is this: It’s not their fault. They want to be there for you, but they don’t know how. Even then, the nagging can become downright unbearable. You want to keep doing your thing without shutting them out, but at the same time, you can’t let their expectations distract you.

I hear ya. I’m still going through it, and here’s how I’m dealing with it so far:

Explain your end goal

Any experience can bring you closer to your dreams if you can recognize their value. It’s easier to understand the hustle from this perspective. When it comes to creative fields (or any other fields really), there isn’t a linear path to success. Some people know what they’re meant to do straight out of their mother’s womb while others find their calling later in life. Most millennials experiment with a few gigs before finding what they love. There is no right or wrong way, long as you stay true to yourself. If you can make your parents understand that, they’ll be less likely to question your moves.

Document your wins

I know my parents worry that I’ll end up broke if I don’t have a traditional job, so it’s really important for me to show them that having a 9 to 5 isn’t the only way to make money or be successful. You’ll eventually find out that their biggest concern when it comes to career matters is your financial health. Meaning, it doesn’t matter how you make your money, as long as you can support yourself. Obviously, if you earn an honest living within legal norms.

So, be sure to share every milestone. You got a mention on a major magazine or landed a high-paying client? Let them know! Secured a deal with the very company they’d want you to work for? Even better! Include them in the process as much as possible so that they can see your progress. It will make them trust you more.

Keep calm and carry on

So what you have to tell them a few times before they get it? A mentality is like a habit of thinking and old habits die hard. Be patient enough to explain the generational gap and the new career discourse. If that doesn’t work, show rather than tell them what you’re doing. Maybe a logo you designed or a piece you wrote will do? No job is so abstract that you won’t have anything concrete to present. Even a virtual assistant can point to a project they’ve worked on.

At the end of the day, your parents just want the best for you! They might not agree with your choices, but you don’t have to exclude them from your growth process. The pursuit of your dreams can be a learning experience for all of you.

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What I Learned From Doing a One-Month Rejection Challenge

Whether it’s in our professional (for a job or for a promotion) or personal life (by our significant other or a prospect), being rejected sucks. It’s hard not to take it personally because it puts our ego on the line. My, mine’s been bruised so many times I’ve lost count! Hate it or love it, it’s an inevitable part of growing up.

I used to get frustrated when someone would tell me no, especially when their reason didn’t make sense to me. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to know why, and other times, you just have to carry on without closure. People say no for different reasons and it’s healthier to focus on the only thing we can control – our reaction.

Rejection challenge

So, I’ve learned how to deal with the word no through a one-month rejection challenge. Basically, I intentionally put myself in situations where people were likely to reject me. For four weeks, I did something outside of my comfort zone that forced me to go talk to people.

Week 1 – I invited strangers out for coffee.

Week 2 – I volunteered to speak at a workshop in front of a big crowd

Week 3- I asked my network for help

and

Week 4 – I competed in a poetry slam.

The outcome? 2-3 people accepted my invite. The audience at the workshop was really supportive and gave me some great feedback. Most people in my network didn’t end up helping me, but a few of them did, and I didn’t win first place in the poetry slam but made some great friends that night.

Here are 3 important lessons I learned from doing this one-month rejection challenge:

There is ALWAYS a silver lining

I wanted to win first place at the poetry slam, but that night, I gained something much more valuable – public speaking skills and a few more people in my network. You’ve heard the cliche, “When a door closes, another one opens” and probably rolled your eyes at it, but it’s true. Sometimes, you work hard for something only to find out it’s not what you really want. Your dream company might not end up being the right cultural fit after all and that’s okay. The important thing is to learn to look on the bright side because there is always a silver lining. ALWAYS. Even when it doesn’t immediately manifest, it’s still there. Also, just because it’s not something tangible (say a job, an opportunity etc.) doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable. Self-awareness is key and every experience – at the very least – serves the purpose of providing more of that.

Help is always within reach – an email or call away

After doing the rejection challenge, I realized that I used to underestimate how much people were willing top help. Truth is, receiving help is simply a matter of asking. You might feel weird about it like you’re bothering them, but it can be worth the interruption. You might find that you’re not alone in a particular situation. At any point in time, there’s always a community of people experiencing the same difficulties as you and coming together usually just takes one person reaching out. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If someone says no, chances are, four other people will say yes. You just have to find them.

Take it from me, I used to waste time thinking of multiple ways to solve a problem – when teaming up with someone would’ve been more efficient. Be willing to contribute to other people’s growth too. Just remember, together is always stronger than alone.

Rejection is rarely personal

You might kill yourself trying to figure out why you didn’t get a job – thinking maybe you shouldn’t have worn that blazer to the interview or shouldn’t have asked that question – when the company could have just not had the budget for it anymore. People are weird. They harbor biases and fears that influence the way they interact with others. And this is why you shouldn’t assume every rejection is your fault. This attitude can not only damage your self-esteem, but it can make it harder to deal with the many instances of rejection.

Sure, you can think about what you’ll do better next time, but just know that rejection often has to do with factors outside of your control. So it’s best to focus on your circle of influence (as Stephen Covey from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People would say) – your thoughts, attitudes and actions.

Doing the rejection challenge was an incredible learning experience. Truth is, it was more about me building up the confidence to put myself out there than it was about these people’s reactions. It desensitized me to the effect of the word no. I used to hate it, but now it’s my motivation.

So, are you up for a challenge?

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3 Ways to Channel Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

The internet is flooded with stories of people who quit their 9 to 5 to follow their dreams. You remember Tiffany who left her day job as a lawyer to explore the world and become a travel planner or Myles, the director of sales who gave guitar lessons on the side until he made enough money to do that full-time. There isn’t a shortage of guides that show you the steps to take towards becoming your own boss. Entrepreneurship is in vogue these days. The influence is so ubiquitous that you might start to feel like you’re doing something wrong if that’s not your goal.

When most people think about it though, they picture the end result before they even consider the journey. They imagine a CEO laying on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean and making money while she sleeps, but not the long nights she spent couch surfing and testing prototypes. No one can deny the perks of owning a business – unlimited income potential, freedom to travel and decide how to spend your days etc. The strongest appeal is the control it gives someone over their own time, but that all comes with a fair share of sacrifices and hard work.

One thing is clear: entrepreneurship is not for everyone. The constant hustle and bustle is a challenge only few are willing to take on. Maybe you prefer having more structure in your days or you’re more of an enabler. That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work for someone – though mainstream media might make you feel differently.Self-awareness is key to figuring out what works for you. And this is why this article will also speak to my multipotentialites with regular jobs and who don’t necessarily want to start their own company.

Deep down, I believe everyone is an entrepreneur. It doesn’t necessarily take running a business to manifest that. As Doug McCormack once said, “No matter what your profession, you are a business owner. Your business sells labor and manages assets to support the spending needs of your family. Labor is likely your largest asset and must be actively managed just like your finances.” If we think of ourselves as startups, we are all in the business of developing our abilities. And in the words of Bertie Forbes, “If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business.”

Channeling your entrepreneurial spirit

More than anything, entrepreneurship is a growth mindset, a proactive attitude that anticipates change before it happens and always looks for ways to innovate. As FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton Fell puts it, “an entrepreneurial spirit is a way of approaching situations where you feel empowered, motivated, and capable of taking things into your own hands.”

Most importantly, having an entrepreneurial spirit can help one realize their full potential. It’s a driving force that pushes you to think like an owner and continuously learn.

How do you develop that mindset?

At work

Use your expertise to streamline a process or creatively solve problems

Few companies give you the opportunity to take initiative as often as startups do. At my old job, one of the interns stood out by creating a database that kept all our records in one place. It was much needed, but no one had the bandwidth to do. He used his knowledge of Excel and coding to build the tool. It was all within his area of expertise. By championing the idea, he demonstrated leadership that eventually got him promoted.

If you’re sitting at work frustrated with the speed of the internet, maybe you can work with the IT guy to find a solution? Or if your boss always makes you manually look for contacts at a specific company, you can probably create a spreadsheet that stores all their info in one place? Whenever you take the initiative to fix a problem at work, you are acting as an intrapreneur and making yourself more indispensable to the company.

Look for opportunities to train or manage a team

Being in a leadership position can help you flex your entrepreneurial muscles. If your role doesn’t allow you to do so, volunteer to train the new hires or supervise their day to day. You might take some load off your boss’ shoulders and stand out as an employee. Most importantly, you will learn how to deal with (or prevent) crises, roll with the punches, improvise solutions and develop your interpersonal skills. You will feel overwhelmed at times and ask yourself why you signed up for it in the first place, but the lessons will be invaluable in helping you better work with people.

In life

Tap Into Your Creativity

You probably never thought you could make art on a canva until you went to that paint & sip event or write a poem until you attended that workshop. Within all of us exists the infinite potential to create. It’s just a matter of experimenting with things until some of them stick. And once they do, focus on honing what you already know. When was the last time you did something for the first time? Take a chance on yourself!

Did you notice that more people are coming to you for fashion advice? Maybe it’s time offer styling services or start a YouTube channel! Do you know more about something than the average person? Think about how you can share that information with others and maybe monetize it! It could be as simple as a blog or an event series. An entrepreneurially minded person is essentially always looking to start something. They’re always observing, noticing problems, questioning what already is and figuring out how to make it better.

Related: How to embrace your entrepreneurial spirit

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5 Ways You Waste Time that You Might Not Realize || From The 4-Hour Workweek

If you’re in the career/entrepreneurship world, you’ve probably heard of The 4-Hour Workweek. In short, this book explores the theme of becoming more effective within one’s unique situation. It’s hard to believe but the author, Tim Ferriss, went from making 40K per year on 80 hours per week to 40K per month on 4-hour work weeks.

I must say it’s the best self-help book I’ve come across after The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What I love about it is that Tim doesn’t give the oh so common advice to quit your job and follow your passions full-time (which, let’s be honest, only a few privileged people get to do) or to pursue entrepreneurship even if you don’t care for it. He speaks to entrepreneurs and employees alike in showing them exactly how to align their actions with their goals. You won’t hear the theoretical cliches like, “Keep your vision in mind.” or “Write a to-do list”. No, it’s packed with actionable strategies. Tim goes into details. He shows numbers. It doesn’t get any realer!

It’s no coincidence that my friend recommended this book to me. I’ve been experimenting with ways to be more effective and use my time more efficiently, and it’s already changing the way I work. It made me realize how I’ve unconsciously been giving away my time and tampering with my own productivity during moments of intense focus. Maybe you’ll relate to them. I’ve summed them up and made a list of the 4 most common ways we waste our time.

On being effective vs. being efficient

Being effective is knowing how to do the things that bring you closer to your goals. Being efficient is performing tasks in the most economical (from both money and time perspective) way. You can be efficient without being effective. That’s the trap most of us tend to fall into. We do things and we do them well just for the sake of staying busy (which is really just a way to avoid doing things we should be doing).

For example, an employee might invent stuff to fill those 8 hours in the office when that won’t help them advance in their career. I’ve been there. I’d take more bathroom or water breaks and go on short walks more often instead of watching a tutorial on how to edit videos with Premiere Pro. Or I’d spend more time organizing my desk when it wasn’t necessary. I was efficient, but not effective. In the example Tim used, same goes for the person who “checks e-mail 30 times a day and develops an elaborate system of folder rules and sophistication techniques for ensuring that each of those 30 brain farts moves as quickly as possible. As Tim says,

It’s good to be efficient at something, but it doesn’t add value if it doesn’t move you closer to your dreams. Being efficient with regard to effectiveness is the key! Of course it’s easier said than done, but it begins with identifying your goals and figuring out the most efficient ways to spend your time. And this involves eliminating unnecessary distractions.

Related: 4 Ways to Accomplish Your Goals in 2017

How to Maximize Your Time and Be More Productive

Time wasters 

Those things that can be ignored with little or no consequence. These include:

Constantly checking e-mail

We all do it. While we wait on a bus or train or use the computer to write a blog post. We try to distract ourselves with our inbox. Two things are always true: 1. They never stop coming and 2. They pressure us into opening them and add to our to-do list. With emails, it’s hard to distinguish tasks that are not urgent or important from tasks that are important but not urgent. A common scenario is having a to-do list and then forgetting what you had to do because an email came up. We not only waste time entertaining all of them, but also become less effective by doing things that could really be ignored.

Mindlessly surfing the web

When you do anything on the computer, the temptation to open a new window and do something else is strong. You decide to take a quick 5-minute break and go on Facebook to watch a video then find yourself watching a bunch because one automatically plays after the other. Or you get the notification that an old friend liked your picture and in no time, you’re on this person’s profile going down memory lane.

Answering phone calls or text messages

You hear your phone ring and you immediately stop what you’re doing to attend to it. Nothing makes you lose focus faster. More often than not, these can wait and it’s not worth interrupting what you’re doing.

Attending meetings that are unimportant

Meetings are the easiest ways to waste time. Back when I worked at a startup, I would go to our weekly Friday meeting just to avoid work and not do anything. The snacks were also great incentives. You can probably relate to having to attend meetings that will not help you do your job better in any way.

Another thing is going to meet someone to do work when it can be done remotely. For example, I once signed up for this job on Craigslist and the person suggested we met in person. I asked if we could have a Skype call instead and they agreed. It saved time and cost.

Consuming content with no useful applications in your life

I used to delay the launch of my blog by reading articles on Medium. I had convinced myself that they were motivating me when really they were just a way to procrastinate. Sometimes, you have something important to accomplish and that’s when you should beware of what you consume and the people you surround yourself with. It’s trendy to be on top of celebrity news, but what real, practical value does it add if it’s not something that interests you? As Tim recommends, “cultivate selective ignorance” and read what will only help you take action.

10 minutes every hour of checking and responding to e-mail. 30 minutes of scrolling down social media feeds. 45 minute phone calls with your best friend. You may not realize it, but these unnecessary distractions add up. You could use these 2-3 hours for leisure once you successfully complete your most important tasks.

Like this post? Be on the lookout for the next one where I’ll share how to eliminate these distractions from The 4-Hour Workweek. Also, get my FREE time management guide here.

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