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The Uneven Nature of Life: An Update

bourke nsw new south wales

Hello there blog reading people, I’ve been away for too long, although I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it as much as I have. Life has been coasting on uneven territory lately, so I wanted to write an update post. Here goes!

First off, I’ve been feeling down about this website since I haven’t made a solid focused effort to work on it for the past two months. Wow. Even writing that out hurts. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been on the move a lot. Going here, going there, and having to live out of a suitcase. Contrary to what some fancy travel blogger says, it isn’t fun to have to stuff everything into a backpack and duffel bag.

That is exactly what I’ve had to do. At the start of April, I went to Italy with my mom to visit one of her friends. I didn’t get to go to Rome or Venice or any of the main attractions. The week long trip consisted of staying inside my mom’s friends house in the small town of La Maddalena on a small island.

Being a small island, there wasn’t much to do. The trip consisted of sitting in a house all day for over a week. It was still good though. I got to have dinner with an Italian family and see a talent show.

After leaving Italy, I had returned to America for two days then boarded a plane to Australia. I had gone from America to Italy to Australia in a time span of two weeks and my body didn’t know when to sleep. It felt like I had some weird kind of extended jet lag. My first week in Australia consisted of falling asleep at random times, then feeling perpetually tired the rest of the time.

bourke nsw australia working holiday visa

I got Australia in mid-April. The past two months here have been interesting, to say the least. I came here like most working holiday backpackers do: no job and ready to hit the ground running. Not too long after I arrived, I started a work for accommodation job at the hostel I was staying at in Sydney.

Work for accommodation jobs are a popular thing backpackers do to save money on accommodation costs. The way they usually work is you do around 10-20 hours per week doing housekeeping, cleaning or light maintenance duties. The job I had involved doing housekeeping: making beds and cleaning rooms. You guys…I’m shocked at some of the stuff I see in rooms, haha.

I stayed at the hostel for seven weeks, doing the work for accommodation and job searching and working additional jobs. The job scene for backpackers here in Australia is strange. There are some odd hiring practices like requiring a photo on a resume for “identification purposes”.  I mean…what?!

A lot of the employers in hospitality/restaurant work seem to want a certain type of person for their waitstaff. I was talking with an Indian/Malaysian friend of mine. She talked about the difficulty she had finding a job in her industry and she has 8+ years of experience in the finance industry! It’s crazy and I plan on talking about it when I write up a guide on the Australian Work Holiday Visa.

australia working holiday visa guide

As of right now, I’m in a little town called Bourke, NSW. It’s dubbed the “gateway to the outback”. With a population of just 2,000 people, the town is very small. There is just a grocery store, a gas station on the edge of town, and a desolate town center half-filled with vacant buildings. The town entertainment is a bowling alley. There are a few mom and pop restaurants, no big franchise places.

It’s small and without a lot but I think I kind of like it. I started my job at a supermarket a few days ago. The guesthouse I live at is located just across the street. Since there are very little restaurant options to be tempted by, I think my cooking skills will improve!

A cool thing I like about Australia is their superannuation fund. A superannuation fund is similar to an American 401(k) or Canadian RRSP. Get this, lots of people get them! Office jobs, retail jobs, waitstaff jobs, admin jobs, and so on. Many employers in many industries offer to contribute to your superannuation (similar to an American employer 401(k) match). The typical amount an employer contributes is 9% of your pay.

It’s so crazy to me that even people like waiters and waitresses have access to an employer-matching retirement account! Wow.

So far, Australian life is going good. I plan to be here for four more months or so, give or take. Hopefully I can master an Australian accent while I’m here 🙂

What have you been up to? 

How To Get Through A Quarter-Life Crisis

overcoming a millennial quarter life crisis

There comes a point during your early to late twenties when you feel stuck. Not stuck in a traffic jam or being behind an apocalypse prep person at the grocery store. You’re in a rut where your sense of identity is thrown out the window and you don’t know what to do. The millennial quarter-life crisis is alive and real for lots of people.

Society loves to focus on formulaic and simple progression. You go to high school, get good grades, participate in extracurriculars, then go to university, do some internships, then start a job and climb the corporate ladder. We like to see a clear path to follow. When the clear path becomes blurry and full of uncertainty, anxiousness and doubt sets in.

Quarter-life crises don’t arise in the typical way people might expect: divorce, job loss, health issues, or death of a loved one. Most of them arise through a feeling of not being content. You don’t like the job you’re in but don’t know what new type of job you want. You don’t know what your values are in life. Staying in one place is unappealing, yet you still crave stability.

Understanding your purpose in life, the big sweeping thing that guides you constantly shifts. Maybe you’re underemployed, working a few part-time jobs to make ends meet, seeking the all-encompassing lustrous full-time job. Or maybe you work a full-time job you are disengaged with.

Regardless of the exact circumstances, you don’t think you fully know yourself and what it is you want.

Transitions are awkward. There isn’t a nicely laid out guidebook for you to fill out to be on your way. Some vague Google searches are usually the starting point.

It’s easy to stay stuck in the pit of uncertainty. If you watch any movie depicting twenty-somethings, the characters are usually working in jobs they don’t like and figuring out how to navigate the world.

Social media and mainstream media often make a note of the world conditions millennials face. There’s stagnant wages, low salaries, an ever rising unaffordable housing market, and student debt. It can be easy to drop into the mindset of always feeling like a victim unable to do anything.

Now, obviously, the system needs some changing. There is no doubt about that. I’m not going to preach about “work harder” as the be all end all. However, mindset really does have a huge role in your personal and professional development. It would be beneficial to cultivate a positive abundant mindset rather than a constant negative one.

When you feel lost and uncertain about your life and career, start by making a “not” list: a list of things you for sure do not want to do. Transitioning into a more fulfilling job and understanding your unique values is usually the main thing people want more clarity on in their millennial quarter-life crisis.

Write down things you don’t like about your job, things you do like, and so forth. Research different career paths you may be interested in. Start a blog about a topic you feel passionate about. Take some personality quizzes, some of which can be found here and here.

A great resource I used was a work personality assessment, by Disc Profile, which examined my areas of strength and weakness in the workplace. The assessment comes at a hefty price of $59, but I found the assessment to be valuable in helping me learn more about how I function in the workplace. [Include link to my assessment so people can take a peak?]

Start talking with other people about this period of confusion. Often times you find other people are going through the same thing. Reach out past your immediate friend group.

On the different token, spent more time alone. Haha, yeah, I know, you’re probably like “Whaa? You said start talking with other people? Yes, that’s important. Do that, but don’t forget about giving yourself some time to yourself. Think about it, how okay are you with being with yourself and processing your thoughts? Most of us crave interaction. When we are alone, we fill up the time with things like watching TV or scrolling social media. Two things that won’t exactly help you to understand yourself better.

TV and social media aren’t bad by themselves. However, when you’re using them out of boredom or avoidance of other things, they become an issue. Spent some time journaling or doing a hobby. It’s beneficial for your own good.

Small actions lead to big results 

As you start to spend more time alone, figuring out the things you don’t want and talking with others, begin to contemplate what sort of things you want to really have consistent in your life. Things that get you out of bed in the morning when you would rather sleep in. Stuff that excites you. This could be in the form of bettering relationships with those around you. A hobby you could do in your downtime. Setting aside time for writing every day. Reading. Almost anything. Keep a little checklist to make sure you’re working on those things consistently. It doesn’t have to be every day, just consistently.

Live Simple 

When you’re figuring things out with your life, money shouldn’t be a constant sort of stress, it’s important to live as simple as possible. When I graduated university, I started working at a job. After getting the job, everyone kept asking me when I would “upgrade” my crappy car with a new car. A lot of recent graduates get their first big person paycheck and spend it: they buy nice cars, nice apartments, new clothes, the whole shebang. I resisted doing this as I worked that first post-grad job because I found I didn’t really enjoy the job all that much.

It was a whole heck of a lot easier to leave that job because all I had were my student loans. Granted, I did still have thousands in student loan debt at the time, but I didn’t have a car payment or credit card debt or lots of expenses. Navigating the transition was a lot easier because I intentionally kept my expenses low.

Consistent smallness

Even though there is no magic blueprint for navigating the transition, not all is lost. Find things to work on. Things that can be a constant amidst a sea of change. Work on them consistently. Be small. Don’t balloon your expenses. Keep your “not-list” handy.

Together, they will pull you through each day. Ready to move forward.   

overcoming a quarter-life crisis

Overcoming A Quarter-Life Crisis

An 8-page goal-setting workbook to help you get through a quarter-life crisis. Put in your email and get a download link to the fillable PDF workbook!

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The Quarter-Life Crisis

millennial quarter life crisis

Is this it? Is this what they were talking about over and over?

You sit up from your bed, hair coming out in all directions of your head. Nausea pulls you over. It lingers on a strange limbo between morning grogginess and sickness.

The plain white walls of your room stare back at you. Waiting. It’s time to get up. An inch of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Brushed hair. And? You look around for your shirt. The nice one. The one you got on the clearance rack at H&M. The one you bought with money you didn’t have once you got your real job. Your big person, adult job, as people liked to joke about.

It’s nowhere to be found.

Crap. You only have 10 minutes before you need to be out the door. A piece of white fabric makes an appearance in the corner. That’s it. The shirt.

You grab it and dash out the door. The next nine hours are spent staring at a computer screen. Emails, meetings, the usual. Home awaits you after your hour-long commute home.

The evening awaits. A few hours of pure and clear free time. Everything comes to a standstill. A low burning ache reaches from your legs and works it way up to your back. Thoughts should in and out. Your brain lately has felt like a churning pile of slush, moving gradually from one day to the next with no real progress. You feel stuck.

Is this it? Is this the millennial quarter life crisis?

No words come out. Your lips are dried, cracked, and unable to articulate. Things are not the way they were supposed to be. The thought of your job sends elicits pangs of unsettlement. You want more. You want different. Spending an hour getting ready, an hour driving, nine hours working at a place you dislike confuses you.

You’re supposed to like it. You spent years getting a degree, studying, testing, but it doesn’t feel right anymore. The direction is wrong and a solution appears deserted.

You don’t like your job. The words swirl around in circles in your head. They get written down on paper but never said. Transitions are confusing.

Wanting something different feels taboo. Vague. Nights are filled with 10 pm couch contemplations over a tub of ice cream.

Bolts of inspiration make you come alive. Options feel endless. Traveling the world, pursuing a different career, moving through a transition, it all feels possible until it doesn’t. Student loans, car insurance, and rent. Your entry-level pay can only handle so much, savings being dropped to the bottom

So your legs stay planted on the couch. Moving doesn’t feel like an option. Minutes drift by and you sink further and further down into the fabric.

It’s a turbulent period you’re in, full of shoulds and wants that just won’t away. You don’t want to be alone with them. It hurts to listen to them too much. A smartphone is the seemingly the perfect escape. Your hands reach for it faster than you imagine. A dim blue fills the room. Then the scrolling starts. People with new cars, perfect jobs, a great life. Concentrated eyes don’t notice the lingering thoughts. The thoughts that grow bigger with each scroll. The feeling of inadequacy.

Keeping up the mindset becomes commonplace. It greets you every day and you slip into it. Doubt starts to feel like an old friend, greeting you at every turn. If feeds you the ‘shoulds’ that you contemplate. It tells you it’s okay to feel down. Initiative isn’t part of its agenda.

Doubt feels strong but it isn’t as strong as you think. Ever so often your inner voice tells you to go. Get up. Take the small step of starting. Show up to that downtown gathering. Register that domain name. Take that class. Most of all, that little inner voice tells you that you are capable. It gives you examples of it.

With every step, doubt treads backward. It grows smaller. Maybe it never vanishes, but tenacity takes over and becomes your new friend. It shows you that with every step you take action, you feel more committed. More hungry. Bolder.

Your quarter-life crisis is real, but it’s neither final nor fatal. Take the first small step.

A little different kind of post since my 23rd birthday is right around the corner (#junebirthdaysrock). I think this is the age I realize I’m just getting older, haha :). Next week I’ll be posting a post on steps to take to get through a quarter-life crisis. I wiped up a nice little workbook to go along with it. Stay tuned for that!

How To Get In The Debt Payoff Mindset

how to get in the debt payoff mindset. Some tips I personally used to help me stay motivated in paying off my debt and gaining more freedom in my life. Click through to read.

One of the best accounts I follow on Instagram is Humans of New York. The creator of the project, Brandon Stanton, posts updates several times a week. Each photo comes with a story.

One of my favorite stories he shared was a story about focusing on the work. Even when times get uneasy and tough. The person in the picture, the one telling the story, was then-U.S. President Barack Obama.

Obama talked about his career progress and times he felt defeated. He ran for Congress and got beat, or “whooped” in his words. He had put so much time and effort into running and to lose felt devastating. He felt behind and unsure.

Paying off debt feels like this. Unsure thoughts sweep through you constantly. You think you’re not making enough progress. The pace isn’t fast enough.

I would be making a far-reaching claim if I told you paying off my $21,000 of debt in 18 months was easy. It wasn’t. Although I’m thinking I probably could have whipped it up to seem like it.

I’m not a copywriting headline whiz but I can think of what they probably would have looked like.

See this guy’s one simple trick to vanish $21,000 of debt in 18 months!

I was bored so I decided to pay off my thousands of dollars of debt super fast! Here’s how!

You get the message. When I was paying off my debt, I thought I had to do it within a short timeline. I would make several extra payments and then…my debt would still be there. A little smaller, yeah, but still there, looking like it was never going to go away. For some reason though, while I was in the throws of paying off debt, I thought it was, in fact, a simple linear progress.

My mind thought the debt payoff process worked like this:

Wanting to get rid of debt. Start and do a debt payoff plan. Finish paying off debt and celebrate. YAAA

If only. A debt repayment journey usually takes several years of fighting, hustling, and keeping your head up. Reading other debt payoff journeys, making extra income, all of it can feel good and motivating. However, they don’t stop the ruts from happening. The ruts where you feel uninspired and trapped with your debt, unable to move forward.

Paying off my debt was hard. Really hard and really exhausting. The journey was tedious but I reached the finish line. There are some things I learned about getting into the debt free mindset while paying off debt.

How to get in the debt payoff mindset

Understand your spending triggers

I’ve never been one of those people who has to leave their cards at home in order to not overspend. My spending trigger was more subtle. And you know what people say about subtle, sometimes it can be the most dangerous.

Case in point, one afternoon when I was cleaning and I had to come face to face with the big stack of Amazon boxes I had. I had Amazon Prime at the time, which if you don’t know, offers free two-day shipping. Having Prime caused me to spend a little too much on things I really didn’t need.

Figure out what your spending triggers are. Whether it be eating out, spending a lot on entertainment or whatever. Hone in on it, and prioritize on fixing it as much as possible.

Write down your negative thoughts and why they’re not true

Don’t let your negative thoughts continue to beat you up. You don’t have to pay off your debt in x amount of months or do it like so and so. You don’t have to make goliath payments all the time. And it’s okay to feel down sometimes.

Whenever I thoughts about how I wasn’t doing enough towards debt, I would write down the negative thought and a few examples of why it wasn’t true.

Example: I have so much debt. It’s going to take forever to pay off
Counter-points: I’ve put $1,000 towards my debt 

Debt progress charts were my favorite thing for this. Whenever I would pay off $500. I would color in red on this debt-thermometer chart. It was a great way to physically see my progress.

Surround yourself with people who have a debt-free mindset

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to “just pay the minimums because debt was normal” I would probably have had enough to have paid off my debt. People don’t see the freedom that comes from being debt free.

Surround yourself with debt destroyers. People who realize the clarity that comes from being debt-free.

It’s about the work

This is where the Obama speech about his 1999 Congress run comes in. A debt payoff journey is exhausting. You fell behind and defeated. In spite of it all, you can’t lose hope. Losing hope is the real tragedy.

Remember that it’s about the work. If you let your mind constantly wonder about whether you’re making enough progress or succeeding, then you will get frustrated. Keep it about the work.

What keeps you motivated in your debt payoff journey?

How To Carve Out Time For Personal Development

Making a point to carve out time for personal development can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself. Consistently setting aside time to work on yourself can be rewarding both in the present moment and in the long run.

Making a point to carve out time for personal development can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself. Consistently setting aside time to work on yourself can be rewarding both in the present moment and in the long run. Click through to read!

I’ve been making a point over the past year to invest time into bettering myself and doing stuff I enjoy. I do enjoy binge watching episodes of Parks and Recreation and Superstore, but I try to find ways to be more active in growing myself. TV isn’t bad but gotta keep that stuff in check. This blog post is about ways to actively help yourself out and do more rewarding things.

I’ve most likely spent lots of money of the past few years on personal development. Some of it was good and some it not so much. Sometimes I buy things…and then never really get around to using them. Either I’m too busy with work or “life gets in the way” as I would like to tell myself. 

Whenever I found myself not intentionally setting aside time every week to work on my personal development, I would start to feel empty. My days feel more meaningful and full when I have personal projects outside of work I get to do.

What I’ve learned is many people want to work on themselves but never feel they are able to carve out time for personal development. They may work long hours, have a long commute, or have lots of life responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be impossible or take a huge chunk of time every day to work on your personal development. You can do it through small simple recurring habits. Practice intentionally setting aside time.

Here are some different ways to carve out time for personal development.

Start small

I’ve found I do best at building habits when I start small. I make a point to do 15 minutes of something that helps me grow every day. Something that “helps me grow” is a pretty broad definition. For me, it usually means watching one or two Skillshare videos.

Skillshare is an online learning platform. They have classes in a lot of different subjects but the most popular ones are calligraphy, business, photography, and creative classes. The site’s goal is to offer bite-sized classes on demand for people. There are lots of great 30 minute to 1.5 hour classes with individual lessons that are only 5-10 minutes each.

Practice the Pomodoro Technique

The pomodoro technique is a time management method where you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. The intervals are called “pomodoros” which is the Italian word for tomato (which is why the timers are tomato-shaped/themed). Test it out and see if it works for you.

Stay accountable

If you’re really committed to doing something for your personal development, whether it be writing a novel, making videos, building a website, or whatever, it’s important to tell others so they can hold you accountable.

Don’t go blasting your announcement to your entire Facebook. There is a better way. Find people who you really trust or who are already doing what you want to do. They’re often better at keeping you accountable and providing insights. Niche Facebook groups are good for this. 

Reward yourself

It’s always fun to reward yourself after some consistent hard work. But, make sure you do yourself in a way that is relatable to your goal. For example, if your goal is to eat a paleo diet consistently for three months, don’t reward yourself by buying a new Macbook. Buy some cookbooks or exercise equipment instead. Make it something that is in line with your goal.

As with many things, you just have to make an effort to intentionally set aside time and focus, even if for only 10 or 15 minutes a day. Start small and work from there. How do you carve out time for personal development?

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