Taking a break

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve had to deal with various real life events that required more energy than I had anticipated, so unfortunately my writing has taken a back seat. As with most things in life, we often will have similar occurrences of interjecting goals and events that will sprout up without any notice.

A cousin of mine has been in the hospital, she had a double brain aneurysm and had slipped into a coma for almost a week. She’s doing much better now and on the slow road to recovery, but at the same time my Grandfather went into the hospital as well for complications with pneumonia. Pretty crazy stuff, but he’s doing much better as well. Around the same time, I had an influx of freelance work come in that I needed to finish. It was all very overwhelming, and I found myself having the most stressful two months to date. I stopped writing, stopped working out, and found myself getting run down and sick from the anxiety.

Now that everything is over and more settled, I can feel my routines falling back into place. Getting back to the gym, trying to de-stress properly after work – all while managing my emotions and keeping my head clear.

Keeping my mind in control

If I had stopped for a second and thought about my writing; I’d feel bad that I wasn’t staying committed. I had gotten to the point that I wouldn’t even login to WordPress.  I was afraid of facing it, there was nothing scary about it only that I was letting myself down.

If you ever catch yourself in a similar position, DON’T FEEL BAD. We all do this, we all take breaks from time to time on whatever we’re working on and thats okay. The main point of it is to eventually (sooner rather than later) get back on track. We are human, we lead complex busy lives full of emails, jobs, long hours, short weekends, bills and loan payments, screaming kids – all slammed between trying to have some kind of social life. It’s okay to take breaks, but just make sure you can control the break. Don’t let the break take control over you.

The main thing to always take with you upon your life’s journey is: keep your reality in control. Be mindful of your situations and your emotions. You’re not a slave to the way you feel and to our situations and realities. Be above the drama and be above the feelings of inadequacy and dread. You’ll come out okay, even if there are a few breaks in-between. :]

Thanks for reading-

Steve

“A broom is drearily sweeping
Up the broken pieces of yesterday’s life
Somewhere a queen is weeping
Somewhere a king has no wife”

-Jimi Hendrix – The Wind Cries Mary

The Grass is Always Greener

No matter what your story is, and no matter what level or success you do or do not have, I’m a firm believer in the fact that the grass is always greener. Sure, it’s probably better to have more money than less, it’s probably better to be able to have the resources to travel and do exciting adventurous things than not, but over all if someone lacks in an area that they are attuned to, they will inevitably long for that thing. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we can be happy with whatever we’re dealt in life, but some people are a lot less mindful of that than others. Most of the time this topic arises with friends or clients, I always notice a similar trend where people often wish they had more of what they lack in. Money, career stability, romance, fitness etc. theres always something ya know? I think the key thing to practice is to be more aware of how balanced your life is. Life is by nature an unbalanced equation, and never will be 100%, but it’s our responsibility to find a middle ground.

Maybe today instead of sitting there in your office desk job wishing you could get that break as a writer, or hoping that you’ll finally get that promotion, lets just take a few minutes to forget all of it. Just sit there and try to not have any wishes, dreams, goals or lofty thoughts about the future. Sit grounded in your body and be completely aware of what you have right now in this moment and smile (in the most non-creepy way possible).  As Garth would say “Live in the now.” Smile at the fact that you can even read this and that you’re sitting (hopefully) in a comfy chair somewhere breathing air on your own. This week, try to be more aware of what you have and not so much what you don’t.

Try to remember that the grass is always greener  and no matter what, there will always be something in your life that you won’t have or be the best at. And thats okay, as long as you find that middle ground and are true to yourself. It’s better to move forward with an attitude of gratitude, than always comparing your weaknesses to another persons’ strengths. Only by focusing on what you have and what you’re power and passion is will you succeed.

Thanks for reading-

Steve

Monday Motivation #2

A new week, a new you. Well, sorta. You’re a little wiser this week, (hopefully) than you were last, a little older, and a if things are on track; a lot better. I wanted to make a post about a money-saving hack I’ve been implementing lately into my budget. My good friend Pat is notoriously known for his thrifty ways. He is a master of frugality, and has an eye for savings. Wherever he goes in life, he upholds the honor of making smart purchases, and thus showcases his mastery of self-control. Something that I think all of us can strive to work towards.

A good trick that has stemmed from my money-saving Jedi apprenticeship with Pat is something that I like to call “Don’t fucking spend money on coffee every morning.”  Good name right? I used to go to Dunkin’ Donuts every single morning on my way to work. I’d buy a medium iced Caramel Swirl with one cream, at a whopping $2.53. I did this faithfully for about 6-8months. Now, here’s some math that will really bake your noodle: that comes out to $12.65 a week, $50.06 a month, and a whopping $607.20 a year. Thats a lot of casheesh bro. Hell, I only get mediums too. I know many people that typically get larges or whatever the hell the next one up from that is. For the past several months I’ve been following a rule of thumb as to drive right past Dunkin’, and deflect it’s whispering temptations. I try not to make a single coffee purchase between Monday-Thursday and instead reserve Friday mornings for my Caramel Swirl mouth-orgy. At first it doesn’t seem like much right? Well, it starts to add up if you take the $40.48 a month that you’re saving from only buying your coffee on Fridays, and throwing it into your savings account. All of a sudden it’s December 2013 and Daddy wants a new Xbox 720, well good thing you read this blog post because when your other friends are complaining about the price of their new gaming mistress, you’ll be sitting pretty thinking, “Glad I made that tiny adjustment to my budget and now had the money saved for this potentially relationship threatening purchase.” You get my point.

So it’s a new week, let’s try to be more mindful of purchases this month. Even doing something as little as waiting until Friday’s to buy your morning coffee and sucking up and drinking the toxic sludge coffee at work thats free, will seriously start to add up over time. It’s just a tiny adjustment, but one that is significant towards conserving your money towards things that you otherwise have no room for in your already tight budget. Ya know…like Xbox’s and an iPad. Shh shut up just pay your student loans.

Thanks for reading,

-Steve

Tired of Being Stuck

Sometimes during your experience, you’ll come to a point when you feel “stuck.” Everything seems stale and you start to sense that there is a little rain cloud following you everywhere. You have goals and things you want to accomplish when you get home from work or class, but you have no motivation at all to do them. Instead maybe you procrastinate, make excuses and distract yourself from sitting down and actually doing what you said you wanted to do. Hey listen; it’s going to be okay.

We all get “stuck” sometimes, whether its in class, our professions, or just in general. The world we live in is one giant cacophony of ideas, text messages, notifications and emails. It’s easy to want to do something, to have an idea or a goal and then it gets lost in the day-to-day. Thats totally okay, and it happens to everyone. The main thing to do though, is move on. Okay, so you didn’t do that portfolio piece you wanted, you missed the gym the last week, or two+, you never got around to starting that thesis, or designing that website. It’s okay, just move on. Take a step back and re-evaluate what happened. Was it that you got too busy with work? Did you go out too much that week? How many hours of sleep have you been getting, maybe you’re just exhausted and needed to unwind. Or, maybe you really truly don’t want to do whatever it is you said you were going to.

Whatever the case is, try to figure it out. The only way to have time, is to take time. Make the adjustments in your lifestyle and see how next week feels. A trick I like to use is, whenever I think I haven’t been as productive, or have lost sight of my goals, I restart everything on the weekend in hopes that Monday will be the start of a fresh new week. I’m a firm believer that if you really want to accomplish something, you’ll do it. You’ll find a way and make the changes and sacrifices that are necessary. If it’s not something you really want to do, It’s okay to change your goals, and honestly I think that is a noble thing: knowing when to stop, and fessing up to it with solutions. Take responsibility and be an adult about it. But take that next step after the fact and become unstuck by moving forward. Use this weekend to ask yourself some questions and re-align yourself with what you truly want. How can I become unstuck? What changes do I need to make to do this thing I want to do, and am I willing to make those changes? Is this what I really want to do?

Build some momentum and take some action this weekend. Sunday is coming up soon, and that means Monday is right around the corner. Start the week with a powerful mindset, a positive attitude and a clean slate. You’ll get to where you want to be, you just have to keep working towards it. I hope this helps someone become unstuck :]

Thanks for reading,

-Steve

Simplify the work days

I try to avoid dwelling on what day of the week it is. When you think to yourself “Shit, it’s only Tuesday” or “I wish it was Friday” it just makes you feel horrible. You look at all of that time that is left before you can get to the weekend and it just puts you in a funk. Instead, what I like to do is; I try to subconsciously think of my work week as 3 big days, instead of 5 little ones. I lump together Monday and Tuesday as “the beginning of the week,” Wednesday as “halfway to the weekend” and Thursday and Friday as “The end of the week.”

This way Tuesday doesn’t feel so bad, you’re a third of the way done and once I’m driving home that night I think, holy crap, it’s now officially the middle of the week! Then in a blink of an eye Friday comes and BAM before I know it’s 4am on a Saturday and I’m 2hours into trying to get my 5th blood thirsty on Yemen with my M-27.

I digress, anyway; try to deconstruct your week days into a more simple line up as 3 big days, or 3 solid sections at a time. It’s much more relaxing instead of always looking at it as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I find that it makes the week go by more quickly, and sort of gives me a little piece of mind that I have the weekend coming up. The more simple you can break things down mentally, even the way you view how many days of the week are left, the more at ease you’ll find yourself when up against those type of thought patterns.

Thanks for reading,

-Steve

Monday Motivation #1
It’s Monday. You’re at work, and the haze of the weekend is still lingering. Perhaps your hang over from Saturday is still hung over today, and the last thing you want to think about are the spreadsheets and bloated emails pouring into your inbox. Well, turn the frown upside down sweet heart, the work week is almost 1/5th over and you’re not getting any younger. The fading beauty of your once young college-self is crying somewhere between memories of Keystone Shotguns in your dorm shower and 3AM drunken Taco Bell adventures. The more time that goes by, the more professional you’re going to be expected to come off as, and having a case of the “Mondays” is amateur shit bro. Throw that phrase out of your vocabulary and leave it to the nOObs so they have something to chat about during one of their 30min long coffee breaks. We’re not here to be amateurs, we’re here to be pro’s and to run this shit. So lets start acting like it.

You’re not in College anymore, and it sucks trust me I know. Sometimes when its Sunday afternoon the only thing worth getting out of your robe and putting underwear on (other than having to pass your old man watching Judge Judy re-runs to get to the fridge) is getting a call from your best bro saying the game is on and it’s 2-for-1 pitchers at the local sports bar. Four dozen hot wings, and 5pitchers later, you’re nestled gently in bed as the impending doom of your office desk job is spinning into view.

It’s a new week, so that means you’ve got a fresh start. This weekend instead of risking a case of the “Mondays” (stfu I told you, throw that shit out) try spending the entire day Sunday prepping yourself mentally for a productive week ahead. If you could only have one goal this week, make it to ensure that come next Monday, you’re going to kick ass. Don’t let your friends drag you from your commando robe sanctuary and get boozed up like a pirate knee deep in a 3cent hooker. When they call you up, you say “NE GOOD SIRS, I WILL STAY HERE AND RID MYSELF OF THESE POTENTIALLY IRRESPONSIBLE FEATS.” Instead of going out with your friends and coming home late, thus throwing off your entire Monday morning, just stay in. Relax, read a book or get caught up on The Walking Dead. You’ll get to sleep at a reasonable time, you’ll have a nice morning waking up to drive to your cube-of-doom, and you’ll be able to greet those spreadsheets with a smile. Sort of.

But who am I to say, if you want to go out and get freaky on a Sunday, go for it. Just know that the older you get, the more shitty you’re going to feel and the chances that you are not on top of your life and job is going to increase. Theres a time and a place, and maybe making sure you’re Monday’s are full-proof against any speed bumps is a good thing in the long run. I mean, the whole idea is to be more mindful of this sort of thing, less impulsive and more intentful. If you want to succeed and get your shit together, especially being fresh in the work force, I think the first place to start are those Monday mornings.

Change your thoughts, change your life.

Most of our anxieties throughout life stem from the way we feel about a particular subject or situation. The way we feel ultimately rides on the thoughts we think and take into account. The thoughts we think partly come from our experiences and conditioning which has shaped our outlook.

So, why does any of that matter? Well, it matters because the way we feel about something, will affect the outcome of how we experience it. For example; say you wake up one morning and as you’re getting out of bed you stub your toe. The pain shoots through your leg and you instantly radiate a feeling of anger and frustration. You stumble into your bathroom and still flooded with discontent, you grab the toothpaste tube too hard and it shoots out and gets on your shirt. (that’s what she said) You’re on your way to the airport this morning to fly to Chicago for that big meeting, but because of all these speed bumps, you end up just barely making the flight. The stewardess gives you an attitude and the people around you are flustered as you barrage into the aisle in an attempt to settle in and get comfortable. You can sense everyones frustration. In a last minute attempt to save yourself from becoming too stressed, you put your headphones on and retreat into your iPod’s playlist. Later, waking to hearing the tires screeching on the runway as the plane lands in Chicago.

The point in this ramble is that this person lived that morning experience in default mode. They took it as it came, and ultimately was a slave to their inability to change their mindset and pivot their thoughts and feelings. Let’s change the example and see the potential in any given situation by just changing your thoughts to a better feeling point of view.

You wake up one morning and as you’re getting out of bed you stub your toe. The pain shoots through your leg and you instantly radiate a feeling of anger and frustration. You become aware of the anger and rub your toe noticing the pain slowly subsiding. You think to yourself “Holy shit that hurt, good thing it didn’t break the nail.” Then your imagination runs wild and you momentarily fantasize about how cool it would be to have robot toes and legs and walk around clunking like the Terminator. The pain remains with you as you stumble into your bathroom, but the anger is no longer present. You made light of the issue and by doing so dismissed the negativity. You no longer are concerned with it and the remainder of your morning routine is filled with the intention of making that flight to Chicago. You get to the airport on time, and even get an upgrade on your seat because of the friendly compliment you paid the receptionist as you had the time to notice her freshly cut hair. You’re sitting confident in first class now, as you watch a few stragglers stream into coach. You put your iPod away and decide that you’d rather read up on some notes regarding the business management conference you’re on your way to attend. Unbeknownst to you, you’re sitting next to one of the well-known and successful partners of the organization managing the conference. An hour into the trip he leans over and happens to notice what your’e reading and strikes up a conversation with you. You and him spend the remainder of the trip exchanging ideas and stories, and through some friendly networking; guess who you’re having dinner with that very night in Chicago.

Now, this is a bit of a stretch, and honestly this sort of thing doesn’t happen often. But it does happen. Whether it was just getting to the airport on time, and feeling more confident in your coach seat OR maybe by chance your seat does get upgraded and maybe by chance you sit next to someone who you might not have sat next to otherwise. Regardless of the spectrum of outcomes, you will and can have a better life experience simply by changing the way you think about your situation. Mindset is everything, your thoughts and feelings are first, actions and situations will follow. This week try to be mindful of your feelings, when something happens that is unpleasant, (which is inevitable) try to step back and look at the bright side. I promise you that your week will turn out alright, or even great.

Thanks for reading,

-Steve

So you’ve graduated college. Or, perhaps you’re about to graduate college. Or maybe you never went to college and you’ve just lost your job and you want to do that “thing” you always thought about doing. Whatever the situation, you are on the hunt for some opportunity, something to get you up and going and something to get you out of whatever slump you may or may not be in.

Opportunity: the juxtaposition of favorable circumstances.

Most of the time we don’t realize it, but when things are going poorly for us; that is when the most crucial time for opportunity is. When failure presents itself, we often times tend to focus on the negative side of the situation. It grows with us, we dwell on all of the things we wish weren’t and it just gets worse and worse. When you notice that this is happening, you can tell that you feel bad about things, and that right there is the key. There is a hidden treasure in being aware of the negative situation, the prestige of the process is turning that negative energy around and channeling it into a more positive outlook.

In any situation good or bad, you can do one of two things.

1. Start to feel better about it

2. Start to feel worse about it

That’s all there is to it folks. Better or worse. (or death do us part) “Opportunity” is just a mindset. A simple layering of the given set of circumstances and how you look at it. The real secret of it all, is how you can channel those feelings into an eventual positive oversight.

When a deer jumped out in front of me and caused almost $2,000 dollars of damage to my car yeah, you bet I was pissed. I was mad at myself for going so fast and not paying attention, and I was mad at that deer for deciding to walk aimlessly infront of me. Then… I let it go… and thought to myself “well this sucks a lot, but it happened, I can’t change anything , my insurance will cover it, dinner is waiting at home.” – I know it sounds kind of lame, but trust me there is NO value in holding onto that anger. It happened, lesson learned, move on with your life.

When I had a horrible month at work, I didn’t hold onto the feelings of failure and anger, instead I asked my boss for a review of my performance and made a plan up with him to help me excel at the things I needed work on. Now I have a better work relationship with him than I did prior and I’ve had more clarity in my profession than I have in a long time.

When I graduated college and was unemployed for three months, I saw it as a time for reinvention. I became organized and used that time to start networking with professionals who I still keep in touch with. I researched all I could on how to interview properly and used the time as a learning point in presenting myself as a professional.

When I had start paying back my student loans, I saw it as an opportunity to learn all about the finances in the world. I read everything I could about the types of repayment options, the time it will take to get myself out of debt, and instead of gritting my teeth at the amount of money I owe, I made a 10-year plan to wipe my slate clean.

No matter the situation, the secret to finding the “opportunity” is just change your mind set about it. Stop blaming other people, stop blaming yourself, start looking at the bright side. It’s that simple.
Remember, the only two things you can do in any given situation is to start feeling better about it, or start feeling worse. Opportunity is always present, you just have to be in the right mood to notice it.

Thanks for reading,

-Steve

Getting the worm

My guide to waking up early.

Since I have been out of college for about two and a half years now, I’ve grown increasingly interested in trying to construct my lifestyle around benefiting my goals and interests, rather than living by default and wasting time. The idea has boiled down to waking up earlier, and jump starting my day. Through many months of reading and researching time management programs and trying to mold the perfect construct (for myself) on how to do this, I finally settled into a somewhat structured routine for getting up early. Currently I’ve been waking up at 5:30am Sunday-Friday for the past 5months, never groggy, and usually 100% rested. Now, there are those restless nights when I decide to draw or work on a project later than I needed to, or when that last game of Call of Duty just whispers sweet nothings into my ears, and those mornings following are regretful… BUT, the point is that you’re striving to start your day before everyone else in your house, you’re going to be at work an hour earlier than you need to be, and you have that extra amount of time to get a jump on things when your peers are still making their coffee and cereal.

How to get the worm:

  • When you get into bed at night, try using a self affirming declaration. Simply try saying “You’re allowed to go to sleep now, everything is okay and we’re going to doze off soon. Just relax.” Most of my process for getting things done – even getting to sleep starts with a declaration to myself, not out loud but in my mind. It’s almost like I’m giving myself permission to fall asleep.
  • Once you get into bed, relax and try to sense your feet, the act of calming your thoughts down and tuning your anxiety away will make it more easy to fall to sleep. Simple meditation works a long way.
  • Download and try using the popular iOS app called “Sleep Cycle.” Through the motion detection on your phone, it can gauge when you are coming out of a deep sleep cycle and will wake you during this time. By waking you as you’re coming out of an REM cycle, you’re less groggy and more awake. I use it as my primary alarm and it works great.
  • Don’t be too aggressive when you are trying to get into an early rise routine. Try setting your alarm for 15minutes earlier than you usually get up. Slowly work your way backwards and eventually you can turn that 15minutes into an hour.
  • SET MULTIPLE ALARMS. I have 3 alarms set, 2 on my phone and the last on a regular digital clock on my nightstand. I have them set in 15minute increments, one for 5:30AM, one for 5:45AM, the third for 6AM. The key is to be mindful enough when you’re waking up so that you don’t fall into the habit of pushing snooze, or turning the alarms off and falling back to sleep. GET UP ON THE FIRST ALARM.
  • Avoid any computer time 30minutes prior to getting into bed. At first I thought this was lame, but once I worked it into a habit, turning off my computer and silencing my phone (except my alarms using “Do Not Disturb Mode”) I found that I relaxed more quickly as I got into bed. The blue light in your screens stimulates your eyes and your brain. Getting a down time of that before getting into bed will allow your mind to cool off from that stimulation.
  • I have found that reading once I get into bed, even if only for 10minutes helps a great deal. With each page I can feel my attention slipping, and just the act of focusing on something other than your heart beating or what you have to do tomorrow morning allows you to get into the mentality that you are going to sleep soon.
  • Remember, when you’re getting into bed you’re getting into bed to fall asleep, NOT to lay awake on your iPad or laptop in the dark, doing exactly what you were doing 10minutes prior at your desk. You’re not supposed to be straining your eyes watching Netflix, or checking your emails/calendars for tomorrow morning. Do all of that at your desk 30minutes before hand, then turn it OFF. All of it.
  • Most importantly, give yourself at least one day during the week, (for me it is Saturday) where you sleep in. You need a day when you can allow your body to just sleep through the morning, and awake naturally without an alarm. Everyone is different, but for me I tend to get about 7-9hours of sleep on a slept in morning. During the week when I’m rising early, I only need about 6hours of sleep. This seems to be the happy medium for myself, I can function at 90-100% productivity at around 6-6.5 hours of sleep, as long as I get that Saturday where I can fully recharge.

Remember, mentality is everything. At first you will be tired, groggy and probably a little pissed at yourself for cutting a whole hour off your sleep. But stick with it, after the first week of diligently getting up early, you will start to naturally feel more tired at night and in turn, will go to bed at a more suitable time. By starting your day earlier,  you’ll be on the path towards getting ahead of things, and you’ve taken the most important step towards bettering yourself and your life. I hope this helps anyone who has been trying to get a jump start on their day, if you have any suggestions or advice of your own on getting up early, please feel free to comment or email me!

Thanks for reading,

-Steve

Everything After College is about finding stability in life after our college days have passed us by.

It’s about simplifying the stress and anxieties brought on by our day-to-day existence.  It’s about deconstructing the uncertainties of career choice, and discovering positive ways to deal with the burden of high student loan debt. It’s about being 20 something (or whatever age you may be) and having the best years of your life ahead of you. It’s about focusing on whats important, creating amazing things, and most of all; it’s about being happy.

The idea to start a blog has been with me for several years now. I am, by no means a “writer” in the professional sense, but on the topics that I do consider myself somewhat skilled in, I wish to explore these and share my experiences with anyone who is interested. This blog is intended to be a collection of my life philosophies, and experiences. I will share my advice on being a recent college graduate; who has a lot of student loan debt, and what I do to get by and succeed. If any poop jokes or obscure movie references confuse or offend you, I apologize ahead of time.

Thanks for reading.

-Steve

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