The Importance of Lifelong Learning

The term “Girl Boss” is fairly new. From what I can tell, there are mixed feelings about the term. On one hand, female entrepreneurs use it to empower themselves and each other to hustle harder and reach tough goals. There’s a Girl Boss hashtag on Instagram and Twitter if you want to check out some of the things young women share and accomplish. The other view is that the term is degrading to women because instead of being a “Girl Boss,” you could just be a boss. For example, you wouldn’t call a female doctor a “Girl Doctor” or a female lawyer a “Girl Lawyer,” because it doesn’t portray the same amount of respect. If you’d like to learn more about this point of view, check out this post by Rachel Hollis.

Knowing that this term was slightly controversial, I decided to pick a podcast this week that gave us an idea of what a Girl Boss was, without necessarily using that term.  I ended up choosing the Being Boss podcast by Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon. These two are good friends that come from different online businesses. They started this podcast together to help young women form a mindset and lifestyle that fits their entrepreneurial spirit. Their website is an excellent place to find helpful information as well.

There were quite a few things I enjoyed about this podcast, but what I enjoyed the most is how knowledgeable Emily and Kathleen are. They encourage young women to go after their goals and work hard to reach them. And make good decisions. Just because they found success one way, that doesn’t mean we all need to do the exact same things they did. Everyone has their own path to success and their own story to share.

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The Importance of Lifelong Learning

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Lifelong Learning

After listening to fifteen episodes of this podcast, there was one theme in particular I wanted to focus on. As a gerontology student, the importance of lifelong learning is constantly taught. Lifelong learning is essentially voluntarily seeking opportunities to learn throughout your life. This is a deliberate act and does not have to be a formal class or setting. It can be researching how to design a website on Google or learning to swim by practicing skills you learn from YouTube videos. I would definitely consider the hosts of Being Boss lifelong learners, because they spend their time learning from books.

These two women read so many books. So many. In the first few episodes, they recommended a bunch of really great books for us to read. I’ve complied a list of a few of them below:

#Girlboss

This book is written by Sophia Amorus, a #Girlboss who gets what she wants. Her book tells her own unique story that focuses on learning from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others. When writing this post, I came across quite a few quotes from Amorus that were hilarious and blunt.

Yes Please

I personally love the TV show Parks and Recreation. Amy Poehler is hilarious and quirky in the best way possible. Her book is a mix of advice (some helpful and some not to helpful, from that I can tell) about a bunch of different topic, spanning from personal stories to parenthood.

The Four Agreements

The author Don Miguel Ruiz uses this book to offer a way for us to transform our lives to experience freedom, true happiness, and love. The book is based on ancient Toltec wisdom. Another focus of the book is revealing the source of self-limiting beliefs. Beliefs that destroy happiness and lead to suffering. 

Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me?

Along with Parks and Recreation, The Office is AMAZING. Did you know that Mindy Kaling actually helped write material for The Office episodes? If her book is even half as funny as that show, I’m buying it right now. Mindy has worn many hats, and has a lot of life experience for being so young. And in this book she shares all her wisdom.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

This is a different kind of book than the other books mentioned so far. I would recommend this book to bloggers and other online professionals. It’s all about how to tell your unique story on social media. You want social media success with killer content and a cohesive brand? This book is for you.

Daring Greatly

This book is all about gaining confidence from your vulnerability. By learning to share your weaknesses, they actually become strengths. That can be hard to do in this world that respects perfection, especially since that’s what we see on social media daily. This book can teach us how to own our imperfections. 

Rework

This is another great book for creative entrepreneurs. How many of you think, “If only I had more money, I’d start my business.” Jason Fried, the author of Rework, makes us think about that differently through his book that uses tactics that aren’t often used. For example, throwing planning out the window and getting rid of schedules.

Lifelong learning is incredibly important. Books are a really great alternative to expensive classes or courses if you want to learn about really anything! I also love podcasts and TED Talks. How do you all continue learning even after your years at university are long gone?

MAKAYLA

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Mindfulness Tips for Millennials

Mindfulness Tips for Millennials

As millennials, we are at an age where our lives are constantly disrupted. Our plans and ideas are ever-changing. We have very little control over outside circumstances (at least it often seems that way). And that is stressful and often infuriating! There seems to be no time to focus on our inner voices because everything else seems more urgent and begs for our attention.

This is why I am so grateful that I found The Mindful Kind podcast, hosted by Rachael Kable. As the About Page on her blog explains, she is “passionate about empowering people around the world to live more mindfully in fun, simple and meaningful ways.” This certainly shows in her podcast episodes, which she prepares for wonderfully!

All of her episodes are under fifteen minutes, and she shares a new mindfulness exercise every time. I would honestly suggest listening to one episode a day in a quiet place where you can really focus. She gives so much valuable information and gives you the opportunity to practice exercises with her. I listened to the podcast at work where I wasn’t able to do some of the exercises, and I am planning to re-listen to those episodes on the train!

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Mindfulness Tips for Millennials

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a mindset. It involves experiencing thoughts and feelings for what they are. Rachael points out that mindfulness is not about feeling happy all the time, it’s about letting yourself feel everything and being okay with your feelings in that moment.

One of the reasons I continued listening to this podcast is because of how relatable Rachael is, especially when she explained her own mindfulness journey. She talked about going to university and feeling so overwhelmed and stressed because she was thinking about so many things at once. She focused on planning for the future so much and was disappointed when things didn’t go exactly the way she expected. I feel that way all the time.

Mindfulness is about living in the present. It may take some work to change your natural thought processes and not worry so much about what’s coming. This does not mean you should be negligent and not prepare, but mindfulness gives you permission to feel that stress and let it go.

What can mindfulness help with?

  1. Reduce Stress. Practicing mindfulness won’t take all of your stress away, but it’s a useful tool to manage stress because you’re living in the moment and not thinking about so many things at once.
  2. Less Frantic. Part of being mindful is understanding what makes you calm and happy. An example Rachael gave was having a routine. Having a routine allows you to know what your morning is going to look like and gives you some control.
  3. Flexibility. Mindfulness allows you to take each new development as it comes. If you’re in tune with how you’re feeling and not worrying about future implications, you will have better problem solving skills.

Exercises

The Mindful Kind podcast was full of exercises for practicing mindfulness. One of the first exercises Rachael teaches is a breathing exercise. I honestly thought stuff like this was useless. But I did the exercise with her as she talked through it and it actually did have an effect. It made me think about things I’d never thought about before, such as how your breath feels as it goes through your nose and down your throat. It immediately brings you into the moment without much effort at all.

In a world where everything fight for our attention, it is so important to listen to our minds and bodies. It is absolutely necessary to take time to be mindful of our inner and outer circumstances. There were a few ways to practice mindfulness in this post, but I want to hear from you. How do you bring mindfulness into your life?

MAKAYLA

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How to Live the Laptop Lifestyle Successfully

How to Live the Laptop Lifestyle Successfully

Over the years, there have been emails and phone calls I’ve been scared to make. I’m held back by the fear that I’m not good enough, the recipient won’t care about what I have to say, or “They’re just going to say no!” I used to avoid these simple tasks even if I knew they would help me in the long run!

This is one reason I think the anonymity of the internet can be good. Obviously there are downsides to this as well (we’ve all seen movies and TV shows about cyber-bullying and catfishing). But, I think having a screen between you and someone else can allow you to focus your thoughts, make you bolder, and allow you to get over some of your initial fears.

This is why the podcast The Laptop Lifestyle resonated so well with me. The host, Alexis Teichmiller, is a 23-year-old entrepreneur who knows what it takes to succeed online. Her podcast is designed to inspire, educate, and challenge you to live the life you want everyday. Through her interview-style podcast, you can discover how to live the laptop lifestyle to the fullest.

What Is the Laptop Lifestyle?

The Laptop Lifestyle is generally talking about people who work from home and run their own business. Their revenue and income generally comes from online endeavors. I would like to broaden the definition for this post, because I think everyone lives some sort of variation of this lifestyle. For example, I don’t make any money from my blog, but I spend a significant amount of time on my laptop working on creative projects. I also spend 10 hours a day on the computer for work. I think a lot of creative people fall into this category, and learning to live the Laptop Lifestyle successfully can be useful and liberating.

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How to Live the Laptop Lifestyle Successfully

After listening to fifteen episodes of The Laptop Lifestyle, here are three themes I found that can easily be applied to our lives, no matter what our personal or professional goals are:

Be an Expert

One of my favorite quotes from this podcast was, “I’m an expert at nothing, but I’m an expert at living my own life.” Let’s be real, we aren’t better than anyone else… at anything. There’s always someone who’s going to be better than you at everything you do. Now, you can take that as a personal attack on your abilities and give up. Or, you can realize that there is actually one thing that no one else has that you do. And that’s being you.

I think this concept is exceptionally important for young people living the laptop lifestyle. We spend so much time looking at other blogs, Instagram stories, and Facebook statuses. We see the perfectly polished efforts of others and don’t feel like we add up. If you’re going to live the laptop lifestyle, it’s important to know that you are unique and have something to offer even if everyone else seems “better.”

Through this podcast, I noticed that all of the women that were interviewed were comfortable with their stories. They knew where they came from, where they were going, and had a plan in place to get there. All of these women had different paths and different stories. It’s so important for you to know your own story and let it guide you, because it’s what makes you YOU.

Keep Trying

The Laptop Lifestyle can be discouraging for creatives. Especially if your goal is to make money from your online endeavors. You have to pay attention to analytics and numbers; how many visitors and views you get, what social media platforms are performing well for you, etc. Reaching out to others is often high on your priority list, because opportunities don’t just fall in your lap! But those things can often be discouraging, because you’re at the mercy of the choices of others.

But there is good news! The more you try, the more likely you are to succeed. One of the guests on the podcasts explained that she was in a huge rut with her blog and felt stuck. To get out of her rut, she started sending 30-50 emails a day until she found opportunities that got her to the next level. Even though you’re lightly dependent on others to make the choice and purchase your service or product, there are still things you can do to keep trying and get your name out there.

Make Daily Goals

On some level, we all know that we need daily goals. They’re like little stepping stones that get us where we need to go. Think about it this way, if we break down every large task into small ones and are consistent in completing those small tasks over time, we’ll reach that bigger goal. I know a lot of people, myself included, that get a grand idea in their heads and want to complete the whole goal in one sitting! There’s nothing wrong with working a bunch when you have the motivation, that’s actually really great. The problem comes when that motivation inevitably vanishes and you’re left with good, old-fashioned, diligence and discipline.

There are so many ways to set goals for yourself and everyone needs to figure out what methods work best for them. I received a comment on one of my previous posts from Meredith that I would like to share here:

“A trick I use (because ultimately I am all about gratification lol) is I will choose anywhere from 6-10 things to accomplish in a day, but I have equal amounts of things I completely enjoy. Then, I start with the one I least desire to do. That gives me great satisfaction once it is done and just gives me a boost. Then, I do one of the more pleasurable activities (that is my reward).”

Meredith’s method is just one way of going about completing your daily tasks, but I thought it was an excellent example. I think daily goals are great, because they stop you from looking ten steps ahead and getting overwhelmed. They also help you stay in the moment and stay focused. But, that takes diligence. If you’d like to learn more about staying diligent, check out this post: Why Diligence is Important to Your Success.

MAKAYLA

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How Understanding Gender Differences Aids Communication

How Understanding Gender Differences Aids Communication

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the personal development book I chose for February is Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Barbara and Allan Pease. One giant obstacle to communication is relating to one another and understanding someone else’s point of view. That can be magnified because of gender differences that aren’t often talked about or understood.

This subject can be controversial because our society wants to paint men and women as the same, even though there are unique differences. Men are not better than women; women are not better than men. But there are differences. And although this book wasn’t my style, it still had good information that can help us understand each other better.

We Are Unique

I would like to point out that every single person on this planet is different. The things I talk about below may seem limiting, but they talk about the majority of people in each gender. I completely understand that some women will not fit every female trait and some men will not fit every male trait, because we’re all individuals! Some people do not feel as if they fall into a male or female category, and there are people all over the spectrum. However, I think this post can still be applicable to anyone that doesn’t fall into these categories. It will still allow you to learn about the way people think, and maybe help you understand your own thought processes a little better.

That being said, welcome to the third month of personal and professional book discussions! In case you missed them, here are links to December and January‘s posts. December’s post was about 5 Ways to Ensure Success, and January’s post was about How to Take Advantage of Your Twenties.

How Understanding gender differences aids communication

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There were eleven headings in this book. The headings cover a broad variety of topics including communication, sex, biology, the workplace, etc. For our purposes, I would like to focus on the aspects that help us understand how to communicate effectively with the people around us.

Compartmentalizing VS Multitasking

Have you ever seen those graphics where the inside of a man’s brain is a bunch of boxes neatly labeled, and a woman’s brain is a tangled ball of yarn? According to research done by Barbara and Allan Pease, that graphic is incredibly accurate.

Men are more likely to be able to compartmentalize their thoughts, meaning that they can separate their thoughts into categories that don’t often mix. For example, if something goes wrong at work, a man can either go to the “angry box” or the “problem-solving box.” If they choose the problem-solving box they may feel anger about the situation later, but probably not at the same time.

Women, on the other hand, are quite different. Think back to that tangled ball of yarn. Women’s thoughts and feelings are all connected. Is something goes wrong at work, we are likely to feel man, annoyed, pressure to solve the problem, a little sad that the system isn’t working the way it should, which would remind us that the dishwasher at home is broken… You get the idea.

Since our brains are wired differently, it’s easier for men to perform a single task at a time and really focus on it. For women, we are masters at multitasking and get bored if we are told to focus on one thing. Understanding this difference is important, because it gets to the root of some persistent problems in many relationships and professional settings.

Indexing VS Talking

It’s common knowledge that most women talk more than men. But did you know there is actually science to back that up? Talking about problems, thoughts, and feelings is the best way for women to get them out of our heads. I think this is one of the reasons writing in a journal is so effective as well. It physically gets the thoughts out of your mind and allows you to think about other things!

Men are the opposite. They keep their thoughts, feelings, and problems in their mind and file them away. They are more likely to take time to sit on an issue and put them on hold to think clearly about them later. I’ve found this to be true in my marriage, and it drives me crazy (even though it’s probably a good thing)! I make decisions much faster than my husband does. The good thing about this is that it allows me to think more clearly about situations too by giving it time and making sure it’s not powered by the emotions of the moment.

There methods of dealing with problems causes tension between the genders, because they are essentially opposites. When women talk about all of their problems at the end of the day, they simply want to discharge, but men think the women are giving them a list of problems to solve. The best way to handle this situation is for the woman to say, “Hey, I would love to talk to you about my day. Don’t feel like I’m bombarding you with problems to solve, I just want you to know what’s going on in my head.”

Turn-Taking VS Engaged Interrupting

One thing I’ve learned from this book that I actively try to utilize in my life is how interrupting comes off to different genders. For women, we love to talk together and nod along with what someone is saying, and “Mhm!” and “Oh, right!” while they’re talking. It shows engagement, camaraderie, and builds rapport. Which I personally love!

The problem is when women try to apply this to talking to men. Men rarely interrupt each other and only do so when they perceive another man as being aggressive or competitive. So when women try to apply the way they speak to other women, it comes off as aggressive. And when men try to speak to women the way they speak to other men, they come off as disinterested and not engaged.

Finding a middle ground and understanding that there are key differences can help us learn to communicate better. It can also help us understand why people act the way they do. Try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, no matter what situation you’re in.

Although these categories may seem limiting, they fit the majority of people! I encourage you to put them to the test. See if adopting these tactics help you communicate better with the people around you. AND, If you’re looking for more interesting personal and professional development books, here’s a list of books to read in 2018. I hope you’ll join me in reading one every month!

Have you found any helpful, effective ways to communicate with others? Share them in the comments. We would definitely benefit from your thoughts and experiences.

Makayla

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Minimalism for Millennials

Practicing Minimalism for Millennials

I frequently feel overwhelmed. The majority of my day is spent staring at a computer screen, either for work, school, blogging, or leisure (i.e. watching Netflix while doing one of the previously mentioned activities). There is very little time to just sit and think. If I find myself doing nothing, it’s incredibly uncomfortable and boring to sit with my own thoughts. Which is sad, but true. And I know I’m not alone in this.

Our minds and lives are cluttered. That’s why I loved The Minimalists Podcast, hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. In the past, my definition of minimalism was simply owning as few possessions as possible. Which, I thought was a little strange. After listening to this podcast and learning the “why” behind a minimalist’s thought processes, I realized that minimalism is a lifestyle. It can be applied to many areas of your life, and everyone can have their own definition of minimalism.

For Josh and Ryan, minimalism is living a meaningful life with less. Now, “less” is going to look different for everyone. After applying minimalist concepts, one person might own 30,000 items, while someone who has never applied the concepts only owns 1,000 items. The number doesn’t matter. At all. It’s all about how the things you do and the things you own add value to your life.

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That being said, here are the themes I noticed after listening to 15 episodes of The Minimalists Podcast:

Know What’s Important

One main reason for integrating minimalism into your life is to figure out the things that are really important to you. By downsizing the distractions and junk that are constantly in our way, it makes it easier to focus on things that truly matter. For example, by owning fewer items your home will be less cluttered and you’ll spend less time cleaning. With that extra time, you’ll be able to spend more time other things. This could include spending time with family and friends or cultivating your passion.

In the process of figuring out what’s most important, you have to choose where your time and energy is best spent. This requires the understand that you will always be missing out on something. If you choose one thing, such as cultivating your passion, you will be missing out on something else. And that’s okay! This prevents over-scheduling and unnecessary stress (which I am personally prone to!). The Minimalists encourage us to make decisions that will bring us the most joy while growing and living simply. Don’t be afraid to experiment with taking things in and out of your life. Nothing needs to be permanent, you can change your mind if things aren’t working for you.

Technology

Before listening to this podcast, I didn’t realize how deeply technology is ingrained in my daily life. I subconsciously reach for my cell phone at work when I’m bored and log on to my computer right when I get home from work. I read scriptures online before I go to bed. And my phone alarm is the first thing I hear in the mornings. If someone reached for a cigarette as often as I reach for the various technologies in my life, they would be called an addict.

Now, technology is not inherently bad! Technology can be used for some really awesome things, like connecting with others, communicating information from around the world, meeting new people, increasing sales for business, etc. The problem comes when we mindlessly scroll through apps that do not add true value to our lives.

Before writing this post, I went through my phone. I got rid of any app that wasn’t adding value to my life. This included an old email address that collected junk mail, three mind-numbing game apps (that were really fun), and two social media apps. To be honest, this was more difficult than I’d like to admit. However, this weekend has been much more productive! I encourage you to think about how you spend your time on the computer and your phone. Are the apps or websites you’re visiting adding value to your life, or are they simply distractions from the important things in your life?

Drudge Through It

Josh and Ryan constantly use the saying, “drudging through the drudgery.” I feel like this concept has come up in almost every podcast I’ve listened to. Successful people do not give up easily. When things get hard, they push through. So how does this fit into minimalism? Minimalism is about changing your mindset and lifestyle to revolve around the things that matter most to you. So, if your goal is to write a successful book, you will need to drudge through the times when writing is difficult.

One thing The Minimalists brought up is the idea of cultivating only one passion at a time. This idea was mentioned in Emma Gannon’s podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete, as well. The general idea is that you should stick to one idea. This allows you to buckle down and really focus on it. When a new idea comes long, it might be easy to chase it down because it would be “easier” than what you’re doing right now. The Minimalists and Emma Gannon would suggest that you stick to what you’re doing and “drudge through the drudgery!”

However, what about the people who have a bunch of great ideas and want to pursue all of them? I received a comment from Maryanne (thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my previous post, Maryanne!), who has a different point of view from the one I mentioned. She said, “Doing several things is called “branding” and it has been great for my career as a writer and public speaker. One of my mentors advised me ‘Keep shooting those arrows.’ She was right.”

I think that both points are valid and correct. Depending on the type of person, focusing on one project or pursuing multiple at a time could be the right decision. If you are a person that gets distracted easily (I fall into this category), then taking things one project at a time may be more productive. If you’re like Maryanne, pursuing more than one avenue at once can keep you motivated.

MAKAYLA

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