Weekly Check-In: The Rooms of Your Life

Photo credit

Ever heard of The Nine Rooms of Happiness: Loving Yourself, Finding Your Purpose, and Getting Over Life’s Little Imperfections? The premise of the book is that each room in the house correlates to a different area of your life:

The bedroom for love and intimacy, the family room for grown siblings and parents, the bathroom for body image, health, and vanity, the living room for friends, the office for bills, career and so on.”

I always think of this analogy when I assess my life because it helps ensure that you don’t leave out one critical area!

Whenever I feel overwhelmed {or to prevent feeling overwhelmed} I do a check-in of each “room” of my life.

Financials: Are all my bills paid? Did I stick to my budget this week? Could I cut out any expenses next week?

Health: Do I feel like I exercised enough? Did I infuse exercise into my daily actions? Did I eat healthy, fresh foods? What do I regret eating {usually gluten!} that I can work on next week? Did I get enough sleep?

Relationships: Have I maintained a good balance of my relationships? Have I made an effort to keep in touch with friends and family in other cities? Have I done so even if things are going well for me {I find it’s easier to remember to contact friends when you need support!}? Do I have any interpersonal issues I need to address? Did I apologized when I needed to? Did I make an effort to make new friends or strengthen current friendships? Did I do kind things for friends and family?

Career: Did I put in the necessary hours this week? What did I excel at? What could I have done better? What advice, tips, and feedback can I take in to improve my performance? Did I ask for or take feedback?

Mental health: How do I feel emotionally? How can I maintain or improve my mood? Are things at home organized and clean? Have I pampered myself {painted nails, hair cut, etc}?

Intellectual health: Did I challenge myself intellectually through absorbing new information? Did I stay up-to-date on current events? Did I pursue interests outside of work?

Community: Was I proud of who I was this week? Did I make an effort to brighten the days of people around me with small gestures? Did I make the community better {by volunteering or otherwise?}? Did I take advantage of the city?

P.S. My blog posts have been a bit heavy lately. I’m doing great and having plenty of fun, but thinking a lot about self-improvement and personal growth. I’m not sure the exact catalyst for this, but hopefully these posts help you if you’re experiencing similar sentiments!

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My Morning Internet Routine

  • Catch up on blogs on Google Reader {just the ones in my “Favorites” folder}
  • Go over my agenda for the day on my Google Calendar
  • Browse Twitter for interesting news and any mentions
  • Write/finish/schedule blog posts
  • Check my blog stats; see where traffic is coming from
  • Check LinkedIn; respond to invitations
  • Check my Google Alerts for my name, The Raleigh Forum, LivingSocial careers, and social recruiting news

What is your regular morning internet routine? 

The Fine Line Between Sharing and Gossiping

Have you ever said something negative to a friend or significant other about someone else under the guise of “venting” or “sharing”? I obviously never have, but here are my thoughts 😉

There’s a fine line between sharing and gossiping, but let’s address gossip first: some people will tell you it’s a wholly negative thing but I don’t completely agree. We actually derive some benefits from sharing and gossiping:

1) It makes us feel closer to the person we’re speaking with. Like it or not, gossiping is a form of bonding and provides us with shared experiences.

2) It provides us with an outlet for venting and can validate our feelings by allowing us to see that others feel the same way.

3) It can provide an escape from a situation or relationship. For example, say you and a friend hang out with a third person regularly because you both think the other enjoys the third person’s company. Sharing might make you both discover that neither of you enjoys this person’s company, so you can both cut ties.

None of this is to say that gossip is all good. It can hurt the person you’re discussing; it can harm your other relationships if people consider you a gossip; and it can make you feel guilty.

So where’s the line between sharing and gossip? Clearly, I love finding the fine lines between things. When does it move from being a productive, meaningful activity to being careless or even mean-spirited?

My lifelong difficulty is that I have no filter. I say what I think around people I’m comfortable because I don’t believe in boundaries {which is a topic for another blog post though here’s one on blogging boundaries}. But every so often, I cringe a little inside after I carelessly let a snippet of gossip emerge in front of someone I’m close to…self-improvement time 🙂

Where is the line between sharing and gossiping? What are other benefits and consequences of the two? Which is more important: your motive or the outcome? 

P.S. Apparently a study showed that volunteers’ heartbeats increased when the people witnessed negative behaviors by others but leveled out when the person was able to tell someone about the incident. Psychosocial benefits of gossip, y’all!

P.P.S. There is some validity in this:

photo credit i, photo credit ii

on improving relationships

Since adding Tiny Buddha to my Google Reader, I think I’ve starred about 75% of the posts so that I could remember to come back to them! I always find their daily reminders relevant, insightful, and memorable.

Buddha…with shades!

A recent article really caught my eye though: The Relationships We Wish We Could Improve. I’m willing to wager that most of you have felt like you wanted to improve a current relationship but felt at a loss for how to do it.

This is one of those articles where I want to copy and paste the whole thing, but I’ll just provide you with a few of the points and quotes that stood out to me :

“Years ago, a therapist told me we can’t ever change other people; we can only change how we respond to them.” 

“But what do we do when we respond more calmly, or try to see things differently, but we still find ourselves getting hurt?”

“I’ve learned that changing our response to people means changing how we engage with them.”

“… it’s our job to recognize that so we don’t continually cause ourselves stress by trying to smash a square peg into a round hole.”

“…we change when we realize what we might lose if we don’t, and recognize that the discomfort of doing things differently is better than the pain of that loss.”

“We can’t make someone else make an effort. But we can make smart decisions for our own well-being. This may inspire someone else to change; it might not. Either way, we’ve honored the most important relationship in our lives: the one we have with ourselves.”

But the quote that stood out to me the most:

“It might mean refusing to feel guilty or defensive, taking things less personally, or modeling the type of behavior we’d like to see in them.”

I have a really hard time not feeling guilty even if I know or feel that I’m in the right. This guilt often prevents me from making rational decisions or standing my ground, so this point really spoke to me. I also often take things personally, even if I know it’s not about me. Lastly, I love the suggestion of modeling behavior that we would like to see- reminds me of the Golden Rule. I think it’s important to find the fine line between being kind and having a backbone, though.

Did this article speak to anyone else? What other techniques do you use for managing and improving relationships? 

how to efficiently monitor content on the web

1) Google Reader: I use Google Reader as both as professional and personal (read: blog) resource. I subscribe to interesting blogs and websites, then check in 1-2 times per day to read up on my new content. High on my list: Lifehacker, The Kitchn, The Everygirl, and a billion lifestyle/cooking blogs (including all the blog girls!). I love that you can star posts to refer back to at a later time. You can also create folders to group subscriptions by topic (e.g. design, fashion, cooking, work, etc).

2) Google Alerts: I mentioned awhile back how important it is to monitor the internet for references to yourself. But you can also use Google Alerts to search for miscellaneous content across the web- I have an alert set up for “social recruiting” and one for “Boolean AND recruiting” so I can stay up-to-date on the recruiting field. The best part? You can have all Google Alert content sent directly to your Google Reader (see above!).

3) Twitter: I’m obsessed with Twitter and everyone knows it! Without harping on all the benefits, I’ll leave you with two tips: use lists to filter content by user (I have a ton set up but don’t actually use them often). In addition, save searches and check them regularly (I have “The Raleigh Forum, “Raleigh coworking,” and “#socialrecruiting,” among others).

4) LinkedIn: LinkedIn Today is daily news based on your profile details and interests- I always find one or two interesting articles when I browse! Yet another incentive to keep your profile up-to-date…

Staying on top of news and content in my fields (yes, that’s plural!), in addition to browsing interesting content just for the heck of it, is an important part of my daily routine. I love having a little system in place to do it effectively.

How do you efficiently and effectively monitor for interesting content on the internet?

Source: weheartit.com via Debbie on Pinterest

keepin’ it accountable

Yesterday I ate lunch at Sitti with a coworker from The Raleigh Forum and one of our Raleigh friends. The food was delicious (albeit more than I normally pay for lunch) and we had fantastic service. I tweeted the restaurant as we were crossing the street and by the time we had sat down, the manager came over and mentioned that he saw my tweet and recognized my face. He then brought us some extra little treats (Feta Cheese Dip and an interesting marinated hard cheese thing, which I couldn’t find on the menu!). I will definitely go back as soon as possible. Follow them on Twitter to help them reach their goal of 1000 followers!

Anyway, my lunchmates and I got to talking about some of our personal flaws and bad habits and ended up deciding to give each other week-long self-improvement challenges. $10 is on the line, and we’re adhering to the Honor System.

Me: Write up 3 things every day that I’m grateful for (Though I love and appreciate my life, I have a tendency to take things for granted sometimes). I also have to ride my bike to work at least 2 times during the week (it currently sits in the bike rack at my apartment. I want to ride it more often for health and environmental reasons, not to mention as a way to save money on gas!)

Friend #1: He’s the reason we started this challenge. He mentioned in passing that he doesn’t wear his seat belt, which prompted shocked looks and a barrage of questions from me and Friend #2. For the whole week, he has to wear his seat belt every time that he’s in a moving car.

Friend #2: He finds himself eating out most days of the week, so his challenge is to bring his lunch to work all week. I offered to help by setting up a menu plan and sending him recipes! We also decided to have a mini-pot luck one day next week!

Wish me luck!

entrenched in the field

I realized recently how much I value individuals that don’t just work within a field; they are entrenched in a field. Sara Rose isn’t just a therapist for one child with autism; she is up to date on theories of what causes autism and possible solutions. Sarah isn’t just a Fulbright in Egypt addressing food issues; she constantly reads columns in the New York Times about food sustainability. Kathleen doesn’t just work for a women’s development organization in Rwanda; she is always posting fascinating articles about genocide reparations to her Facebook account. Daniela isn’t just interested in water issues; she can debate general Middle Eastern policies with the best of them. Grant doesn’t just work as an associate at Oglivy Earth; he is always at the epicenter of the social enterprise world.

As a constant self-improver, I seek to surround myself with inspiring individuals that I want to emulate. Along the same vein, I want to be a resource for coworking, cooking, social enterprise, career development, and recruiting. I want to be entrenched in these worlds instead of having the narrow mentality that my work should be my only concern.

When I sit down to screen resumes for four hours, I don’t think that the only important thing is getting through them. Instead, I think: how can I glean information from these 1000 resumes (yes, I recently read 1000 resumes for the same position) so that I can formulate hypotheses and theories to pass on to job seekers?

Within the recruiting realm, here’s one great example of a recruiter who applies his learnings to the larger field: Recruiting in 3D by Pete Radloff, my coworker.

**As always, these views represent my own, not the views of my employer. 

They’re going to find out anyway.

As my sister was editing a column that I wrote on behalf on The Raleigh Forum for Business Leader magazine, she worried about striking a balance between a professional tone that still showed our personalities. The conclusion we came to was this: the article should be well-written and articulate but still playful- just like we are. After all, we don’t want to alienate potential members by putting on an overly professional front. Or worse, we don’t want to attract tightly-wound individuals who won’t mesh with our laid-back but productive and collaborative environment.

This got me thinking about dating. As a side note, I find that a lot of sage business advice can apply equally to one’s personal life.

When I go on dates, I’m myself. I say a cringe-worthy “That’s what she said!” if it’s fitting. I glow sweat profusely while playing tennis. Because if someone’s with me long enough, they’re going to see this side of me. Why not ease them in from the beginning? No sense in wasting both of our times frontin’. Oh, I also occasionally showcase my splendidly gangster rap skills.

I think it takes a lot of maturity, self-confidence, and perhaps even some letdowns to realize this seemingly painfully easy life lesson: attract people to who you are, not who you pretend to be. They’re going to find out anyway.

challenge: the catchphrase of the week

Another thing I love about my friend Sarah is her constant desire to learn more about the world. She always browses the New York Times online (something I need to be better about doing) and sends me interesting articles and editorials. We have a lot of shared interests, since we were both Human Services (non-profit management) majors; one of these shared interests is sustainable food systems and the consequences that it has on health, the economy, poverty, etc. She sent me this article about a ban on using food stamps to buy soda, which was a topic we often debated back in school.

In relation to this specific article, I can see the merits of both sides. Well I agree that the poor should not be stigmatized, we do have to keep in mind that the resources (i.e. food stamps) that we provide should be put to the best use possible to ensure that more of  our resources (i.e. healthcare) are not required. One statement in the article that irked me was the implication that those who agree with Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal are not “advocates of the poor and underfed,” when in fact supporting his proposal may make you even stronger an advocate for their well-being.

Joel Berg said “city officials should reconsider how to increase the purchasing power of low-income residents so that they can buy food that is more nutritious.” I absolutely agree with that, as I’m sure most people would. The Double Dollars Program in DC, which doubles the value of food stamps at farmers’ markets, is a great incentive-based program that could be replicated throughout the country. Speaking of farmers’ markets, check out this interesting article (also sent to me by Sarah).

But aside from this particular article, I realized how much I value friendships that challenge me intellectually, politically, and socially. I love being able to transition from silly techno dancing to serious political debates…and back.

10 day you challenge

I just came across this image on From Raleighwood to Hollywood, the blog of Fanny, a girl who spontaneously made up a song for me at a bar on my 21st birthday, even though we had never met. She picked up her whole life and moved from Raleigh to Hollywood at the age of 25, which I think is very admirable and courageous. Follow her adventures!

Anyway, I figured since I was doing a limited gluten challenge, I’d add another on top of it! And last night, my friend challenged me to go one week without apologizing (I have a tendency to overapologize), so maybe that’s my next feat to tackle 🙂