Tag Archives: fears

2013 Goals: It’s All About Career Focus

Last year, I tried to address my fears, from dancing in front of strangers to trying the crock pot.  That was a fun resolution but nothing that I would worry about if I forgot about it by the mid-year mark.  In 2013,  however, I’ve decided to seriously focus on my career.  I’ve noticed not-too-subtle signs that my reputation at work has fallen.  I don’t get the big, showy projects.  I am loaded with more repetitive “grunt” work.  Someone thought I had the time to join the party planning committee.   Unless I re-invest in my career capital (read Cloud’s great post about career capital), I think I’m in danger of phasing myself out of a job.

So here are my 2013 Goals:

Read Career-related articles at least once a week or more!: As Cloud suggested, it’s a good idea to use your lunch hour or at least half of it, to read up on career-related articles.  Although this sounds easy, it’s much easier for me to spend that time reading glossy magazines or books!

Attend 1 career-related event or seminar: There are many conferences related to my field and I don’t really think they can help my career.  However, it doesn’t hurt to attend one or two.  You never know who you’ll connect with!

Learn A New Skill, or Improve Current Skills: I hope to do this at work.  Taking Revanche’s advice, I’m going to take the initiative to ask my boss for more challenges.

Start A Side Business! This is a big one as well as a tricky one because it involves family.  A side project is a perfect opportunity to stretch my skill set and test out the effectiveness of my ideas.  However, it’s also likely that this will go nowhere unless I act more like a hands-on business partner than a consultant.

Update C.V. and Linked In: It’s time to dust off that old C.V. and make sure all my current skills and accomplishments are there.  I also need to look at job listings and see what’s out there.  It may simply be time to move on and start fresh.

Do What You Love?: I would also like to take a moment or two to think about what really makes me happy at work, and to think about my next career move.  Part of me thinks I can stay in my field until retirement age,  but another part of me thinks that I probably would need to re-invent myself later in life.

I also want to take this time to thank Revanche, Cloud, Nicole&Maggie, Hush and many others who have chimed in with career-related advice from time to time.  I realized that I only have one real-life friend who I can discuss this topic with, and when we meet in person, we have so many other things to talk about that career isn’t top of the mind. I can’t really talk about this with my freelancing husband because he doesn’t quite have the understanding of long-time office politics, AND any talk of job insecurity will freak him out.  So, thanks all!  If not for you guys, I probably would have remained too complacent about my career.

Are you thinking about your 2013 resolutions/goals yet? Any ideas that I could add to my list above? 

BTW, I need to print out this post or I’ll probably forget my own resolution by mid-year!

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Dancing Fool, or 13 Going on 40

“13 Going on 30” is an old Jennifer Garner romantic comedy that’s probably best remembered as a female version of “Big”.  There’s a scene where the Garner character revives a boring party by getting everyone to do the Michael Jackson Thriller dance.  If you don’t know what this is, click here or go to YouTube.

Anyway, it’s a silly, fun scene.  Garner is having so much fun that she convinces the “too cool” crowd to act silly for one evening.  One of things I remember thinking was “I would never do it” or I would have to be drunk.  I’ve done my share of goofy things but I’m generally reserved and have some of that “too cool” attitude.   Fear of making a fool of myself comes into play too!

However, this weekend, I got an unexpected chance to cross this off of my “fear” list.  I stumbled into a dance class at my gym, thinking it would be simple faux dance class, not a class where you actually have to memorize steps and do a routine.  I prefer not having to think while I exercise!  Still once I was in there, I wanted to exercise.

As with any class, I could tell that many of the students were regulars.  A few were even dressed like real dancers with ballet-inspired outfits and shoes noticeably less chunky than my aerobic sneakers.  Luckily for me, the teacher that day was a substitute.  Instructors oftentimes go through routines quickly, assuming that the regulars know many of the basic steps.  With a sub, however, all steps are new so we were all on the same level.

The sub was a cheerful British woman with an enthusiasm for Michael Jackson music.  Not only did we dance to Thriller, we were treated to an hour’s worth of music from the King of Pop.  The main “routine” plus the warm-up was definitely inspired by the Thriller video, which meant somewhat awkward jerky movements if you didn’t do it well.  The fear quickly fell away as I sweated and concentrated on just keeping up.   I think I did fairly well as long as I shadowed a very fit regular in front of me.   By the end, I was actually enjoying it!

Now I think I’m a closeted Michael Jackson fan.  The 80s were an awesome decade!

Wait, I Do Have Dreams…

When I was reading Chapter 4 of Your Money Or Your Life, I could not come up with good answers related to questions about goals/dreams.  What kind of life did I imagine for myself and my family?  What did I still want to achieve? I had no answers.  Although it was a sad realization, I didn’t really think much more about it until recently.

At a certain age, you know that you won’t achieve “bigger” goals and dreams.  Hell, there’s a high probability that you won’t achieve any big dreams!  To be fair, dreams also change once you reach the real world.  For a while I thought I wanted to work in the movie business but once I found out more about it, I  knew it wasn’t for me.  While I’ve come to terms with abandoning certain dreams, I couldn’t go forward in life without any hopes and dreams.   That’s when I realized that two of my biggest goals/dreams are still within reach and that I already talked about one of these on this very blog.

Here are the Big Two:

Moving Abroad:  I’ve dreamed of moving abroad since my college days.   I don’t remember if I pinpointed a location but Europe was definitely the target. I blame Hemingway or Scott Fitzgerald for this obsession.  Of course now that I’m older, wiser and with a family, I know that the unencumbered starving artist lifestyle is not at all glamorous and not for me at all.  I’ve seen the struggles of immigrants (I won’t glamorize the move by using the term “expat”…) and it’s tough to transplant yourself to another culture, no matter how much you think you’ll love it. 

Speaking Italian (or a romance language) like a native:  I read a very helpful magazine article about how to define your 5 year plan.  A five-year plan is a daunting prospect for  most, so rather than just asking yourself the question and drawing a blank, the article writer took you through steps to get there, starting with listing five past achievements that make you most proud and why.  I came up with more than five but noticed one common thread: I was most proud of challenging projects especially if it involved overcoming fears.  Learning new languages has always been a challenge for me.  While this is a newer life goal, I would love to be as fluent as possible in Italian and I know that I would be very proud of this achievement. 

Now that we’re contemplating a move to Italy, those dreams could become reality (although not without hard work).  So in a nutshell: Two of my biggest dreams are also two of my biggest fears. 

Do you have a five-year plan? 

Ultimate Fear: The Bag Lady Cat-Food Eating Old Woman

When I started jotting down my fears, I somehow forgot about one of the main fears in my life and one that holds me back: My fear of poverty, specifically of poverty in old age.  I know it’s not an unusual fear. After all, women tend to live longer and work less, earning less.  It’s easy to see how many women end up poor and alone.  Their spouse passes away and they may have used up most of their savings for the end of his life.  If she had kids, they are trying to make ends meet and start their own families, or they may just not be willing to support an aging parent.  Even if not starving on the street, the quality of life can go down quite drastically; the image of an old woman (me) eating cat food in a dimly lit, cold room comes to mind. 

All of this has made me less of a risk taker than many.  However, I am not allowing this fear to push aside my adolescent/current dream of living abroad and my current dream of spending more time with my kids.   I can’t let this fear make me stay at a job that I’ve outgrown or in a town that I no longer find that appealing.  I can’t let this fear keep me tied to a commute that is increasingly intolerable.  I just won’t.

As I read Your Money or Your Life, I am beginning to think that we can live on less and spend less.  However, I still can’t imagine cutting our income in half or even less and still be able to save for two retirements.  We could easily outlive our savings and the odds are that I will be the one left “holding the bag” so to speak.

Do you have a fear of old age and poverty? 

How Quickly We (I) Forget…

This was or is my 2012 resolution: Don’t let my fears hold me back.

Of course I’ve been coasting merrily along with life and have forgotten about actively tackling any fears.  I have crossed off little “fears” like crock pot cooking and learning to do eye make-up (well, at least trying..) but I haven’t actively addressed any meaningful fears.  I sometimes wonder why I even bother making life improvement resolutions when life is so damn busy as is that it’s enough to keep up!

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?  If yes, are you succeeding or have you given up?

No Fear

Another Every Wednesday Post…

Since I’m addressing fears in 2012, I thought I would also note that I don’t fear some things that are fearful for many others.

For example, so far, I haven’t been fearful about aging.  While I use sunblock and try to take care of my skin and hair, I am not fighting the aging process tooth and nail, as so many women seem to do beginning in their 30s and 40s.  I may not embrace gray hairs though. 

I’m not fearful of being alone. I’ve done many things solo from watching movies to eating dinner alone to traveling.  While I think those experiences are usually better with good company, there are times that I really want to do or see something and not having a good companion didn’t stop me from enjoying things. 

I’m not afraid of traveling abroad.  I know many people who hate the idea of being in a foreign country where they don’t know the language.  I always find ways to communicate and enjoy that newness and excitement.

I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of pain and illness but I have a morbid streak that thinks that when your time is up, it’s okay as long as you had lived a full, long life.  Not sure how I will feel about this as I really approach the end of life though!

I’m not afraid of trying strange foods. I’m Chinese. I’ll eat almost anything. It strikes me as odd and a bit sad when I meet people who can’t even try things like chicken feet or smelly REAL cheese!

Do you not fear things that many others are afraid of — like bungee jumping or public speaking?

Do You Really Want To Read About Crock Pots?

Another Every Wednesday Post…

Okay, so I addressed my “fear” of using crockpots and made my first dish which can only be described as a soupy, tomato-y mess that my toddler refuses to eat.  I can only say that it included carrots, onion, chicken breast and tomatoes. I cannot say that it turned out to be any recognizable dish.  My husband did “save” it by re-cooking it for hours with mushrooms. 

Back to the drawing board…