Motivation vs. Discipline

One question that I get all the time is “How do you stay motivated?”. I get this question in all contexts —  when I was at school:  “How are you motivated to get your homework done early?” When it comes to fitness: “How do you stay motivated to workout in the mornings?” Working from home: “How do you stay motivated to stay on schedule?”. The answer to these questions is simple: I don’t stay motivated. I stay disciplined.

The thing about motivation is that it is short lived. It doesn’t last long in anyone’s mind no matter how productive you are. You might be feeling inspired and energetic for a few hours at best, and then that energy wanes and you return to feeling just as you did before your burst of enthusiasm.

Discipline, on the other hand, requires consistency. It’s not that I’m motivated to workout every morning, it’s that the activity has become a habit. There are plenty of days where I don’t particularly want to go to the gym, complete my work to-do list, or really do anything remotely productive. It’s not motivation that keeps me going, it’s sheer willpower.

Willpower, however, is arguably finite. When we wake up in the morning, we have a certain amount of willpower to make healthy decisions for our selves, and as we tire throughout the day it gets more difficult to choose the options that aren’t the easiest. This is why I workout in the morning. I know internally, how great I feel after a workout, and I ALSO know that when I reach the end of my workday, I really don’t feel like going to the gym. Because I know this about myself, I can plan around my own willpower.

The same thing goes for my work. I know myself, and I know that if I wake up without a plan for the day, I will get next to nothing done. However, I religiously make a to-do list for myself the night before, and I also keep a planner with all my work-related tasks up to date. The satisfaction of forcing myself to complete a task so I can check it off my list is so rewarding for me and that is how I stay on track during the day. I even make checklists for myself on weekends so I can make sure I run certain errands or get extra work done.

Working out in the morning, making lists, and a number of other things I do to stay productive are all habits borne out of discipline. Even though they started out as strategies to work with my brand of willpower, they require almost no willpower at all anymore since I’m so used to them. The important thing to remember is that the hardest part of any task or new endeavour is the beginning. Once something becomes a habit, it becomes an after-thought, like brushing your teeth every day.

While motivation can be a powerful tool to get you started on a new undertaking or push you to completion on certain projects, it’s not dependable enough as a way to keep you productive all the time. Use motivation when it comes, but when it goes, remember that it is more important to be consistent. Recognize when you’re naturally the most productive and utilize that time to bang out your most important goals. And if nothing else, do at least one little thing every day to get you closer to where you want to be. Pretty soon, all that consistency will form a habit and motivation will be like the cherry on top of a productivity sundae (wow that sounds like the most boring ice cream creation ever but we could all use some of that, right?).

Let me know what strategies you use to stay on track with your goals!

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Moving to Canada, Take 3: High High’s, and Low Low’s

November was a very strange month for me. However, this was the first WHOLE month I spent in Calgary so I finally got an accurate picture of what living here is actually like.

First off let’s talk about the high’s. Since I got my routine figured out in October, in November I was able to break out of my shell a little bit. I would go on walks around the city by myself, I would take breaks to go work in different cafe’s, and I signed up for ClassPass to try and find some fitness classes that I liked where I might be able to meet people. I’ve even been skiing every weekend in an effort to improve my deplorable skills before a group ski trip in a couple weeks.

My social calendar was also surprisingly full. There were dinners with my boyfriend’s family, one of my boyfriend’s friends came to stay with us for a week, there was a banquet at the flying club where my boyfriend won an award for most proficient private pilot (yes he flies planes, it’s nbd), there was a fondue night with friends,  I cooked my very own Thanksgiving dinner, and we hosted a game night which of course, got very heated (Monopoly will do that to a person).

However, even though November was super busy and a lot of the activities I described above made me smile, there was also the feeling of soul-crushing loneliness brewing beneath the surface. Ok, ok, I know. There’s no need to be so dramatic, BUT, this month was the definitely hardest thus far. My poor boyfriend doesn’t know what to do with himself because he’ll see me happy at an event on one day, and the next day I’m crying in the bathtub all evening.

Even though I’ve been extremely busy, I can’t help but feel that I’m losing myself in this new place, and allowing myself to be absorbed by my boyfriend’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hanging out with his family and friend’s and am enjoying (mostly) learning new skills like skiing, but I don’t have anything yet that’s my own. Back in L.A., even on my loneliest days, I had things that would make me feel peaceful and grounded. I would go to the beach alone for hours, and I had restaurants and cafe’s near my apartment that I could rely on for comfort food or green juice, as it is in SoCal. And of course, most importantly, I had friends nearby that I could reach out to who could help me through any negative feelings or just to discuss life with. I realized the other day that I hadn’t had a deep or open conversation with anyone here besides my boyfriend. Those types of dialogues are how I build friendships and not having them has really been taking its toll on my emotions.

Overall, this month still had more high’s than low’s, but the lows were just super low. I’m trying new things all the time, but I’m just at a loss with how to create my own life here. I know building a new social life takes time, but in the interim, I would at least love to find a few things here that make me feel independent and in control. Honestly, the mission for December is to just do as much as possible before I leave for Chicago to celebrate the holidays (AND my 23rd birthday, wow). I know that trip will perk me up a bit, so right now it’s my light at the end of the 2017 tunnel.

 

 

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If I look like a deer in the headlights, it’s because that’s how I feel about my life right now. jk, it’s because my skis can smell my fear. PC: Michael Lankester

 

Sister Sister

On Saturday, my little sister left for a study abroad stint in Mumbai India. Even though we haven’t lived in the same city for years now, somehow her being across the globe makes me miss her way more, and in the wake of her painful absence, I thought I’d do a piece on why she means so much to me.

If you’ve ever talked to me for at least an hour, you know at least one thing about my little sister. She comes up in conversation inevitably for me because she’s literally my favorite person and I’m so freaking proud of everything she does.

Mushiness aside, my sister is three and a half years younger than me, and for years we had a typical sibling relationship where we would get along fine one minute and then we’d be at each other’s throats the next. However, I do admit that most of these fights were probably my fault, I was a rather unpleasant child…and some would argue a still unpleasant adult. BUT, somewhere along the line, right around when I started high school, something clicked and we became super close.

If you’ve met us both, you know that from the outside we almost couldn’t be more different. She has short hair, I prefer long. She likes color, I like black. She is as gay as they come, and I am straight as an arrow. She likes art, drawing, creating, and I prefer numbers, lists, and executing (plans, not people). She’s a socialist, and I’m a capitalist. This obviously boils us down to a bit of an extreme but for most people who aren’t close to us, they really can’t see how we could ever be related.

But when you scratch the surface just a little bit, you find that we have an uncommonly close relationship.

The fact of the matter is, when people are around us, they’ve said our interactions are like watching a tennis match. Kiki and are able to converse so fast, using references, shared experiences, and our intense familiarity with the other’s personality to have conversations and make jokes at such sharp speed it can be jarring for others who haven’t experienced it. There’s much less of that ‘how is life?’ small talk that I see from so many other families. We always jump into dissecting some ultra-specific topic, from big ideas to small, right away.

She is the only person who I can call when I am absolutely sobbing and end a 10-minute call with a smile on my face. She is the only one who will sing along with me to any and every Disney/DreamWorks song. She is the only one who’s opinion I crave but also don’t feel the pressure to take her advice. She’s the only person I tell pretty much everything to, and she’s the only person I’d bury a body for, or call to help me bury a body.

It’s tough to describe, but what I’m trying to say is that there is no level of formality between us. When I’ve watched other siblings interact, there is sometimes a wall there. They don’t talk about certain topics, or they find too many aspects of their sibling annoying, or whatever. But with me and Kiki, it is completely transparent. Of course, we rag on each other incessantly, but when it comes down to it, we are each other’s best friends and I know not everyone feels that way about their sibling.

I’m probably just super sad she’s left North America for the next couple weeks, and bitter she finally made it to a country I haven’t been to, but my relationship with my sister is something I’m super proud of. I love that we’re close, and I love talking about her, and I hope if you’re not close with your own siblings, there is a hell of a good reason because you are missing out.

 

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Kiki has always been more photogenic

 

 

How to Create Your Own Workout Plan

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve recently started posting my workouts on Instagram Stories. I know, I know, I’m not a fitness blogger, what right do I have to post cringe-worthy workout videos on Instagram? Well TOO BAD. One of my friends requested that I post my workouts and once I did, a bunch of people have reached out to me to tell me to keep doing them, or that they’ve used my exercises as inspiration for their own gym routines.

However, one question I keep getting from people is “How do I create my own workout?”

I confess, I have never thought about this too hard because I spent most of my childhood involved in fitness and consequently I am comfortable training myself. But when I looked at it from the perspective of someone who hasn’t had these experiences, I realized putting together a workout plan can seem ridiculously overwhelming.

First of all, there are about a million activities you can do as a workout, and within each activity, there are a million different ways to do it. There are different sets in cycling, swimming, or running, and there are so many weight and bodyweight exercises you could do in the gym, so how do you choose which ones? How do you choose how hard to go in the gym? And how do you structure a workout plan?

Keep in mind, I am not an authority on these subjects and if you want professional input, send me a message and I can put you in touch with personal trainers I trust on the subject. However, what I CAN do is provide a place to start.

Step 1: Decide what your goals are. Do you want to get stronger? Do you want to have more energy? Do you want to be able to do an activity without feeling out of breath? It’s fine to have more than one goal, but just make sure you know what you’re working towards.

Step 2: Decide how many times a week you can commit. I recommend 4-6 times a week but for those just starting out, try to aim for at least 3 sessions.

Step 3: Decide where you want to train. If you prefer workout classes, then look up what is offered in your area. Almost all studios offer first timer promotions and have classes that suit all skill levels. If you want extra help, then ask the instructor for extra advice to improve your experience. However, if you prefer to workout alone, or in a gym, then keep reading.

Step 4: Structure your week. Once you know your goals and how many days you can commit, you can start to structure a week. If you want to be able to run five miles, spend more days running. If you want to be able to do a push-up, spend more time with the weights. Many people break up their workouts by muscle group and some people do a whole body workout each time. If you choose a different muscle group each day, you should be sure to not train the same muscle group two days in a row.  Personally, I split my weeks as follows: Sunday-rest, Monday-Cardio/Abs, Tuesday-Legs, Wednesday-Upper body, Thursday-Cardio/Abs, Friday-Full Body, Saturday-Yoga or other activity.

Step 5: Structure each workout. This is arguably the hardest part. You’ve decided to go to the gym, you’re gonna do a leg workout and you get there and have no idea what exercises to do. This is the part that will require the most work for you. Once you know how you want to train, you should look up different exercises you can do and pick a few that you like. It takes awhile to feel comfortable with all the different kinds of movements, but to start, make sure you know at least 6 exercises per muscle group/activity that you can fall back on. And remember, if you don’t have a gym, search for body weight exercises to do without weights. Some of them are even harder than weighted exercises.  In a typical workout, I recommend doing 4 sets of 8 exercises for 12 reps each, and then you can build from there.

This logic goes for cardio too. It can be boring (and ineffective) to just run at the same pace for an hour so look for different running (cycling, dancing, whatever!) sets that you can do in a certain time frame to mix it up!

Step 6: How hard do you push? You have your workout plan in front of you, but how much do you lift, how far or how fast should you run? This is ultimately up to you, but I feel that more often than not, people are usually guilty of not pushing themselves hard enough rather than pushing too hard. You don’t want to get injured, but just remember that it is normal to sweat, or shake, or be tired and sore. With weights, you’re probably going too hard if you can’t do 6 reps of an exercise *, and with cardio, you’re probably going too hard if you feel like you’re about to throw up**. Don’t be afraid to test your limits, that is how you IMPROVE!

Last but not least, if all else fails, there are lots of trainers and fitness personalities that sell workout guides. These will cost you a bit of money but can be AMAZINGLY helpful to get started. I’ve gone through two of them myself and loved them. They will show you how to do each exercise and structure a workout for you. Once you’re done with the program, you’ll probably be able to put your own fitness plan together no problem!

Ultimately, putting together a workout plan will require some initial research up front. Everyone is different and it is worth your while to figure out what is best for your body and goals. I know the gym can be intimidating, but if you walk in with a plan, it becomes a lot easier. Also remember that being uncomfortable is part of the process, and each time you feel that way is also when you’re doing the most good for yourself. What’s that quote again? “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” 

So DO MORE, and GET MORE.

Recommendations:

Personalities for Inspiration and/or workout guides: Kayla Itsines, Kelsey Wells, Cristina Capron, Katie Crewe, Sophie Gray, Michelle Lewin, Gilles Souteyrand

Resources: muscleandfitness.com, bodybuilding.com (don’t be intimidated by the name, they have great workouts for all levels).

*If you’re trying to gain a lot of muscle or strength than doing fewer reps makes sense, but for those who are just starting out, you need to be able to do at least 6-12 reps with that weight. When you can do 12 reps almost easily, then increase the difficulty with more weight or less stability.

**Feelings of nausea are common when doing high-intensity cardio, but sometimes it can be from having an empty stomach or a too full stomach rather than going too hard. Listen to your body and try something new if you’re feeling nauseous each time.

 

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I don’t have any real pictures of me working out because I look like a sweaty mess, so enjoy this perfectly staged pic by Clara Yu

 

Fake it Until You Make it

Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance. However, the thing about confidence is that you don’t have to be the smartest, prettiest, strongest, or most experienced person to have that feeling. In fact, you could be filled with complete bullshit, but as long as you seem sure about your bullshit? Then you’re confident.

Although the shy and introverted definitely make a huge impact on the world, the confident and the extroverted, are the ones we hear about. The dynamic CEO’s, the articulate politicians, or even that asshat at work who everyone listens to because he talks the loudest. Even though confidence is mostly excellent bullshit skills, the great thing is that those skills can be learned.

The best way to pick up a little confidence super-fast? Force it. Throw yourself into an uncomfortable situation so that you HAVE to be decisive and confident to figure it out, or perish.

The best personal example I can give is when I travel alone. First off, when I travel alone, even to the supermarket, if anything goes wrong, I’m the one that has to stand up for myself to figure it out. If my card doesn’t work at the store, I figure out how to pay. If the taxi driver wants to argue over the fare, I’ve got to argue back. If the airline messes up my booking, I have to make sure I get what I paid for.

Secondly, when I travel alone, I am completely responsible for all the social interaction I have. When I traveled alone for weeks at a time, I had to make a commitment to myself to talk to people. It was HARD. I am naturally not the most social and I definitely have a tough time making friends with absolute strangers.

The beginning of the trip went something like this: The first day I spent entirely alone. I had a good time but by the end, I had no idea how I would make it seven weeks completely solitary. The second day, I got up early and began exploring. I went to the first attraction on my list and saw a group speaking English. I actually tried to stay in their vicinity (i.e. stalked them) as I worked up the courage to say something, but I never did. I moved on to the next attraction and saw another group. I was alone and didn’t know what to say so I literally asked them for directions. I was literally so nervous my voice cracked (real smooth, I know). Thankfully, they invited me to explore with them (maybe they took pity on me), but either way, I ended up having a great time meeting new people and spending the whole day with them. After that, I realized the worst thing that could happen is that I didn’t get along with the people I talk to and had to find new ones.

Every city I went, it got easier and easier to talk to people and make friends. But see what I mean? If I hadn’t gone alone, and forced myself to either talk to people or be miserable, I might have never developed that skill. Even now, whenever it is still difficult for me, I can just think back to that instance and draw confidence from it.

Pushing yourself doesn’t have to be done through something as drastic as traveling alone though, it can be done through far more mild instances. Force yourself to make eye contact with your teachers so you get called on and have to answer more frequently. Go to a store you normally wouldn’t go into and ask the sales people lots of questions.

The most important tip I have for developing confidence? Do things ALONE as much as possible. Although our friends can hype us up and support us, we can also use them as a crutch. If you travel with a friend, you don’t have to meet anyone new. If you go to a new store with a friend, you don’t have to talk to the salesperson. It will be so much easier to talk yourself out of being uncomfortable when you’ve got a friend right there to use as a scapegoat.

Additionally, and maybe this is just me, when I try new things with friends, I am far more self-conscious. Even if it’s a trusted family member or best friend, I always feel a weird pressure to do this new thing (whatever it might be) the ‘right’ way. This is hard to explain but what I’m trying to say is, it feels far less embarrassing for me to look like a fool in front of people I don’t know. As soon as I bring a friend into the picture I become so much more careful and aware of looking ridiculous and therefore push myself less.

At the end of the day, confidence won’t just appear one day. It is cultivated over time. Developing confidence is a constant effort to keep pushing yourself to resolve situations that make you uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s gonna suck, and sometimes you’ll get embarrassed, but each time, you’ll feel stronger and more confident in yourself. You will find out what really is the ‘worst that can happen’ and once you deal with it, you’ll forget why you were ever scared in the first place.

 

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Candid Photos by: Clara Yu

 

Moving to Canada: Take 2

Alright guys. At the beginning of last month, I detailed how the first few days of living in Canada had gone for me, and in case you forgot, I was not in a good place (see the first article here, if you need a refresher on my misery).

But because I know this move is going to be a period of tons of changes and phases, I figured I’d start a series on my blog chronicling how it goes. So here it is: my first full month in my new country.

October was a little strange because I really only spent 20 days out of 31 actually in Canada. For one week, I had a business trip to Seattle and for another week, I was visiting my family in Chicago. However, most weekends and other days were all spent in Calgary.

Even though I spent some time away, I will admit that I definitely enjoyed my time in Calgary a little bit more than I did in the first few days. I realized that Amazon and can still be useful and Canadian Netflix is actually BETTER than American Netflix. (Although my HBO doesn’t work here so I have to figure something out before the final season of GOT. YES I’M ALREADY WORRIED ABOUT THIS). I got into my normal routine of working from home, working out, and tried two boxing gyms. I also hung out a couple times with some of my boyfriend’s friends and family. Even though I know I need my own friends, it was obviously nice to talk to someone other than my boyfriend every once in a while.

Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I can recognize that Calgary, for the most part, is like any other major city in the U.S. It has a vibrant downtown where everything is walking distance and it has bars, shops, and restaurants, as well as skyscrapers to form the skyline, so getting used to the city won’t take long. I’ve begun walking around by myself to run errands and familiarize myself with how to get around.

The hardest part of moving, and I suspect it will be the hardest part for awhile, will be developing a social life of my own. Working from home really works against me in this respect, since I have to find other ways to meet people. My first thought is to join a boxing gym or maybe a cycling class and go regularly to start to see the same people. But unlike making friends in college or at work, I would still only see these people for one or two hours a week, so building up a repartee with them will still take a while even once I commit to one.

My next thought was to join a couple groups online for people of similar interests, as well as an expat group, but so far I haven’t found any events that I have been able to attend. November might be a little bit better for this since I don’t have any travel planned but we’ll see. Luckily, I feel a bit more settled after this past month and I can mostly focus on trying to meet people and cultivate new hobbies for a new city. Wish me luck!

If you have any suggestions on how to make friends in a new city, please comment! I need all the help I can get!

 

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If nothing else, Canada is gorgeous.

 

 

 

Am I a REAL Adult?

I’ve been a legal adult for almost five years now, but I’ve only really felt like an adult for about two years. I define an adult as someone who can truly take care of themselves, and own the responsibility for themselves and their actions. It can be pretty hard to make the transition because it feels like one day you don’t have a job and your parents handle all the important stuff, and the next day you’re dealing with four different insurance companies, your rent, the dentist, and your retirement plans (yay).

My friend Rachal writes a great blog (link here!), that details more of the trials and tribulations of being an adult, but today all I want to cover are the less glamorous aspects of adulting and where to start on handling them.

  1. Getting a job. I’ve written a whole post on getting jobs here, but basically being financially stable is going to be the crux of your adult life for a while. Having some sort of steady income to work with will be the first step in striking out on your own. Money can’t buy happiness but it CAN make you feel secure when moving away from your parent’s jurisdiction.
  2. Shelter. Assuming you don’t want to live under your parent’s roof anymore, the second step is, of course, finding someplace of your own. Most young adults I know opt for some sort of apartment or shared living situation. There can be a lot of things to consider here. First is rent, then you might have to get renter’s insurance. Then there are also all your utilities which may or may not be included (think water, gas, electric, sewage & trash bills), and your internet bill because of course none of us operate without wifi anymore. Luckily, if you choose apartment living, the apartment recommends companies for all of these, and if you opt for shared living, you have someone to help you research!
  3. The insurances. Hopefully, your job offers you some sort of health insurance package (see if it includes dental, vision, and mental), otherwise, you can probably stay on your parent’s plan until you’re 26 so don’t worry too much about that now. On the other hand, if you’ve got a car, you’ve got a car insurance payment. One trick you could use, is to buy your car under your parent’s name and pay your portion of the insurance to keep costs low. But if you’re on your own, just know that your premium will be a lot higher.
  4. The little things. All those little things your parents do that you take for granted? Yeah, now you’re responsible for those. You’re the one that is gonna buy your groceries, cook your food, clean your place, book your travel, schedule doctor’s appointments, take your car for oil changes, and stay on hold with the internet people when they are clearly overcharging you. I don’t know about you guys, but most of those I took completely for granted before moving out and becoming financially independent, but hey, if you’ve got these down, then you are in PRIME adulting condition.
  5. Retirement. I know, I know, you just started, how can you possibly think about retiring? Well, you MUST. I don’t want to preach at you but if you start saving now, even as little as 1% of your income, you will be much better off in the long run. And while you’re at it, make sure you get a Roth IRA plan. I prefer this one to other 401k plans because you will be taxed on the income you allocate to it today, which means when you withdraw it for retirement, you won’t be taxed on it! Pay now, relax later. That’s the idea.
  6. Emergencies. Unfortunately, the saying is true, shit does happen. And it WILL happen to you. When you are on your own, you will have to handle it. Someone will rear end you, or you will break your arm, or your debit card will get stolen, or an airline will lose all your luggage, or you’ll get stuck in a storm. Something terrible and unplanned will happen and it is important that you learn how to manage a crisis. Obviously, there are different ways to approach each one of the situations I described but the best advice I can offer is to KEEP CALM. This one is SO tough for me too, but crying, yelling, or freaking out in any way, will not help you. Breathe and promise yourself you can vent later, but now you gotta get it together (ProTip: always make sure you have a file containing your passwords for your important accounts, and identity information. Just create one, keep it someplace easily accessible, and you’ll thank me later)

Even though I just talked about all the things that kind of suck about being an adult, I do want to mention that being an adult is WAY better than being a kid. There were obviously some perks to the whole ignorance is bliss thing, but something I’ve learned since moving out and being financially independent is the sense of accomplishment I get from completing the mundane tasks I described above and from being completely responsible for myself…despite all the stress and hard work it takes. Maybe someday this feeling will go away because I’ll be too used to it, but for now, being an adult is actually pretty freaking great.

 

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Photography by the inimitable Clara Yu

 

The Foundation

It seems like appearances are becoming more and more relevant every day.  And even though not all of this focus is purely superficial, seeing as we have things like body positive movements, it is still thrusting looks into the spotlight of people’s minds and increasing awareness of how we might treat people based on what they look like.

HOWEVER, despite all of the positivity in body image outlook, it is still a priority for a lot of people to look and feel polished. I am not talking about looking like a model, or spending thousands of dollars on expensive treatments, but I am talking about having the ability to feel put together no matter what. There are a couple things you can do to sustain that feeling, even if you aren’t trying to do anything drastic.

  1. Stretch. Not workout or do any yoga necessarily, but just by stretching a little bit every day, you open up your body to having better posture and eliminating tightness or soreness in your muscles. Pretty basic.
  2. Get a great haircut at least twice a year.  For guys or those with shorter styles they’re looking to maintain, this should be more often, but too many times, I see people with long hair who just let it grow OR who don’t get a proper haircut. If you splurge and get your hair cut twice a year by a professional, that has lasting benefits. It will stay healthier longer, grow out better, and overall require less styling and maintenance.
  3. Moisturize your body. EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU SHOWER. This is especially true for those in dry climates, but applies to everyone. Moisturizing takes a couple extra minutes and keeps the skin supple. It keeps skin from getting ashy, scaly, or developing redness.
  4. Take care of your face. Wash it, apply sunscreen, and moisturize. You don’t need a bunch of fancy creams for this (although my personal skincare routine costs me a fortune). These are the basics. Keep your face clean, prevent sun damage, and keep the skin flexible with some moisturizer. You can, of course, add on top of this with treatments and other products., but if you start with basics, your skin will cause much less stress.
  5. Drink Water. No need to go overboard on this last one, but staying hydrated is important. Too often, I feel hungry, or tired and it’s really because I’m dehydrated. Keep a water bottle close by and just chug it everytime you feel your energy flagging. It is a good way to up your water intake and as a litmus test as to what your body really needs.

Basically, all of this boils down to stretch, moisturize, hydrate, and have a professional take a look at everything once in awhile. By creating this foundation for yourself, putting yourself together every day won’t be as much of a task. Consistent small efforts will reduce your overall effort, and I don’t know about you guys, but I am all about little things that will make my life A LOT easier.

What tips do you guys have for making yourself look good with minimal effort? Comment below!

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Get Your Own Clique

Did you know that laziness is contagious? What about success? Of course these are not actual biological diseases but sometimes, they spread like they are.

Think about your friends for a moment. How would you describe them? I would describe mine as ambitious, effective, generous, and open-minded. That might sound boring to you, but it is completely by design. I’ve surrounded myself with people who are similarly minded to me and who also possess characteristics I aspire to.

However, sometimes people surround themselves with friends and acquaintances that hold them back. Behaviors are contagious. If all your friends stay out late every night, how long do you think it will be until you start staying out? If all your friends hate on your ideas for self-improvement, you might not stick with it… And so on and so forth.

This is something important to note about ‘successful’ people. They surround themselves with people who are experiencing or actually striving for similar success. Whether you define success as having a family, a happy relationship, or a billion-dollar company, their friends possess similar mindsets and they actually feed off of each other’s energy and improve in their respective goals.

This isn’t to say that all of your friends must be exactly like you, nor that you should carefully select them based on how successful they might make you. What you MIGHT want to consider, however, is being truer to yourself.

How will this help, you might ask? When you are honest with yourself and what you want, and consistently act in a way that is aligned with your goals, you will automatically attract similar people. For example, I have a really good friend from my freshman year of college. We got along pretty well from the start but where we really got close was at the gym. We both loved working out and put a priority on being fit and that provided the platform to solidify our friendship.

In a similar vein, I LOVE TV and movies, and I will talk about them with anyone who will listen. Lo and behold, I told an acquaintance about the show ‘Suits’ and when we watched the first few seasons together, we became best friends!

The point is, it can be silly or small, but don’t be afraid to own up to all aspects of your personality. Because once you realize and pursue your interests and goals, other people will recognize bits of their own aspirations in you and you will start to draw people that have similar mindsets. And the best part? No one is exactly the same! So even though you will attract people with familiar goals, they will be just different enough to make the friendship interesting.

 

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I love you guys, don’t hate me for using this heinous picture 🙂

 

 

The Truth about Self-Help Books

You know those books on how to be more productive, make more money, be smarter, be more successful? I devour those books. They’re everywhere, and I’ve probably read a lot more of them than the average twenty-two-year-old (honestly I’ve probably read more than the average person of any age), and I’m here to let you all know that apart from a few key books that I’ve read in this genre, the rest are a load of bullshit.

Obviously, I can’t speak for every single book in the genre but I’ve started noticing a trend in my own reading each time I pick up a new one. I also want to be clear that I’m not necessarily talking about psychology books, books that discuss scientific studies, or other nonfiction books, we are strictly speaking about books whose supposed purpose is to inspire you to improve your own life.

First of all, most of these books contain very little actual concrete advice. What they DO contain is a lot of motivational fluff about punching up your own life, and supposed success tidbits that could just as easily be found in a BuzzFeed listicle on how to be more productive — Get up earlier, stay disciplined, don’t let the haters distract you — sound familiar? And although this advice might have merit, they provide very little information on how to actually accomplish these tasks.

Secondly, a large portion of these books are written by ‘successful’ people. This is fantastic marketing. Who doesn’t want to know what such and such billionaire has to say about how to become a billionaire? However, the issue with this is that many of these ‘successful’ people are writing their books retrospectively. They’ve already achieved so much and know they can make even more money by dishing out their so-called ‘secrets of success’. But, as we all know, hindsight is 20/20. It is highly unlikely most of these people had their own advice in mind the whole time they were pursuing their success. Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult to actually distill the secret of success but we, as the masses, clamor for these books because we desperately want to know if there is something these ‘successful’ people know that we don’t.

And in the cases where these books weren’t written by people you’ve heard of, who are they? What makes their advice worth taking? Too often, we have no idea where these authors come from, their credentials being flimsy at best, and we believe their advice because it is given in a compelling format with great marketing.

Last but not least, the entire self-help industry preys on feelings of inadequacy. Everyone who reads these books, (including myself) feels that something is currently lacking in their own life, or that they could improve somehow. While this isn’t always a problem (it can be GREAT to seek inspiration from others), it can quickly turn into a spiral of always believing there is something more to seek  and one can quickly become absorbed in trying to discover how other people have gotten ahead, rather than trying to apply some things they have learned and search for their own secrets to success.

Alright, now that I’ve hopefully made sufficient skeptics out of all of you, I do want to give a shoutout to a few of these books that I feel actually provide real, credible, HELPFUL advice. Many of these are well-known and have been bestsellers, and I’m happy to say that they actually deserve it. This list is purely for the self-help genre, there are a wealth of other nonfiction books that have also contributed to my personal growth and development but would come in the way of biographies, and scientific studies.

  1. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
  2. Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazi
  3. The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferris
  4. Money: Master the Game – Tony Robbins
  5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tyding Up – Marie Kondo
  6. Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
  7. How to Fail at Everything And Still Win Big – Scott Adams

Let me know if you have read any or what you think of these books!

 

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Most of my books are on a kindle so I borrowed my boyfriend’s hard copies 🙂