Oh hey, I quit.

Guess what? I’ve been unemployed for over a week. Wow. It feels really surreal saying that out loud (or typing it for that matter!). It’s still sinking in. I remember before I got sick, when my alarm went off it was such a struggle to get up and I’d lie in bed starring blankly at my ceiling wondering if I really needed the job. I’d daydream about the unemployed life and it’d leave me with a smile on my face… until I realise the reality is I have bills and responsibilities and I’m an adult (more like a bad-ult). Then I’d roll my eyes, grunt loudly and get out of bed. It was never easy and to be honest, it still isn’t easy.

But since being unemployed, I never thought that I’d actually miss my job and making money. Like seriously. I feel kind of like I have no purpose and that sort of makes me sad because I think as humans we need to have a purpose to feel somewhat complete.

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So why did I quit my job? There were a number of factors that came into play and the decision wasn’t an easy one at all.  In fact, the thought never crossed my mind until my sister suggested I quit my job and move back home to focus on my health and getting better. So as you can see, health played a major part in my decision.

I loved my job. I loved what I was doing. But I found myself loving it less and less and feeling more and more unmotivated and that was because I was too busy thinking about the implications my health was having on my life. I couldn’t come to work so I was letting my team down and I wasn’t there for my stakeholders. I couldn’t design and deliver communications plans if I wasn’t there to understand a project and think of radical ways to market and engage with the audience. It also felt like there were some radical changes coming up in the organisation that could have a negative impact on my role and I. I also felt lost 99% of the time.

My mental health started deteriorating because my brain was on overdrive thinking about pain, letting the side down, not feeling inspired, wondering how I was going to pay my bills because I was on unpaid leave and wanting to literally give up because being optimistic felt 150% harder when you’re unwell. If you’ve read my ‘They’re definitely two of the hardest things’ blog, you’ll also know that I was trying to keep my emotions at bay (and failing miserably).

So yeah, I took the plunge and handed in my resignation. I left my flat and moved back to a small city to live with my parents. Yes, I’m 27 and I’m currently living with my parents.

I have days where I feel like it was possibly the worst decision ever particularly because it felt like I’d given up on my career. BUT deep down I know that’s not the case at all and I’m doing it because I’m focusing on getting number one (me!) better and ready for my next big adventure.

It’s hard when you’re an ambitious workaholic like me to go from spending ten hour days in the office to spending no days in the office (unless blogging counts as a day in the office?). But I know that this is possibly the best decision for me and when I’m doing better, I’ll return to the workforce, guns blazing and ready to conquer the world. Plus this gives me time to focus on the things I enjoy… like reading and writing (yay more blogs!).

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Oh! You wanna know something funny? I was completing a food/stress diary for my nutritionist and it’s incredible to think that I haven’t been stressed out in the last week. It’s such a strange feeling to not be stressed, worried or upset about something. Methinks I could get used to this life.

Tell me, have you had to take the plunge and take some time off to focus on you?

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Today, I’m choosing myself

Today’s blog is a creative piece that I felt I needed to write. It’s almost like a letter saying hello to myself and goodbye to the old. I hope you like it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

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There have been plenty of days where I’ve thought about you and wondered how you were doing, what you were doing, if you’re thinking about me, if you’re thinking about us and if you’re counting the hours, minutes and seconds until we see each other again.

Today is not one of those days. Today is the day where I’m going to think about how I’m doing, what I’m doing, what I’m going to accomplish and who I need to be. Today is the day that I’m going to stop wasting my time looking at my phone, waiting for your message or worst yet, waiting for you.

Today I’m going to scroll through memes and enjoy them without thinking of sharing them with you; I’m going to lie in the spot that you used to sleep in and enjoy the space instead of wishing you were in it. I’m going to text my friends and get excited when they reply without wishing it was you I was texting. I’m going to walk through the park in the rain with a smile on my face without wishing you were there with me. Today, I’m going to do everything for me without you having any power or influence over any of my decisions and my happiness.

I know it’s not going to be an easy ride but it starts with one day; a day to acknowledge that you’ve had plenty of chances and opportunities, that I’ve given you so much more than you’ve given back, that I’ve lost myself with you and that I’m better off without you. Today I’m choosing myself; I’m going to let go of all the thoughts in my head and the heaviness in my heart and I’m going to heal and come out stronger.

It’s easy for us to choose others’ happiness and thoughts over our own; it’s harder to focus on living and enjoying life when we’re too busy thinking about what we’ve done to push someone away. It’s not easy loving yourself when you’re busy loving someone else and blaming yourself when they don’t return the feelings because you feel like it’s your fault. Of course it’s your fault; why aren’t you perfect? You need to be more perfect. You hate yourself for not being their idea of perfection.

But that’s no longer going to be case. I am perfect; they’re just not perfect for me. Today I choose to accept myself and my shortcomings and I’m going to listen to myself. I’m going to learn to love myself and work through my flaws and I’m going to grow and become stronger. It’s the beginning of a decision that will last forever. It’s the beginning of me choosing to no longer put you ahead of me. It’s the beginning of me forgetting you and choosing me.

Today, I’m choosing myself.

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You do you boo

I’m back. I realised that I lied in my last post about spamming you guys with blog posts after being sick. I didn’t lie on purpose; I had every intention of spamming you guys with blog posts but unfortunately, the sickness took over and I was left bedridden and unhappy.

Now, after two months, I finally feel well enough to get my life back on track. And part of that is getting back to blogging.

Let me tell you, when you’re sick, particularly bedridden, you’re left with a lot of time to yourself to think, worry and stress about things. I chose to view it as an opportunity to reprioritise my life and think about what’s actually important to me. I thought I’d share with you the top three things I learnt and am vowing to keep in my top three priorities.

Work is not important

I repeat, work is not important. Sure having money is lovely but at the end of the day, you need to think about you and make sure you’re well and happy before you commit to your career.

I know this seems like quite an obvious point but I’ve always been a high achiever so I ended up working long hours just to try and please and get results that are beyond 100%. A recurring theme from feedback I’d get from my managers is that sometimes 80% is perfect and I should accept that. Weeeeell, took me getting sick to learn that lesson.

Last week was my first week at work and I’ve been taking it easy. I’m slowly learning that I don’t need to stress myself out in order to get brilliant results. And I don’t need to break my back on overtime that’s basically unjustified. Like my last manager used to say to me, sometimes 80% is good enough so learn to accept that when you’ve given it your all and done your best, that’s all you can do and that’s all someone should expect of you.

You should be your number one priority

Another obvious one, but I think sometimes we need to be reminded that we should be looking after ourselves and making sure we’re our number one priority. Because let’s be honest, it’s unlikely that we’re anyone else’s number one priority. Sometimes life gets a bit crazy and we forget. And I know I’m not the only one that forgets!

Remember this is the only life you’ve got to live and it’s hard to live it to the fullest when you’re unwell. Trust me, I know.

Go home early, have that bath, buy that scarf you’ve been eyeballing for a thousand years, ask that girl that makes your coffee every morning out… (okay getting carried away). My point is, make sure you do you boo.

Life is short

A recurring theme in all these points but it’s true. Life is so damn short. Remember when you were younger and you thought life was moving so slowly and you just wanted to grow up and make your own rules and do all these awesome things? And then you finally grow up and you’re like “oh shivers, now I’m running out of time to do all those awesome things cause time is moving so fast”.

Yeah well my friend, time is moving pretty quickly but it’s never too late to do all those awesome things you wanna do.

Live your life man. Look after yourself. After all, it’s the only one you’ll get so make the most of it.

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Listen while you work

I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I need to get shit done at work, I listen to podcasts. I never understood the whole rage with podcasts; I used to think they were like audible books which I’ve tried once and just couldn’t concentrate so decided not to do it again. Plus, nothing beats the satisfaction of reading the words and holding an actual book… or e-book.

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My last manager listened to podcasts whenever she worked and I thought it was very fascinating. One day I decided to give it a go and surprisingly, I found it quite enjoyable. I know what you’re thinking; how the hell do you concentrate on your work if you’re listening to someone talk in your ear? To be honest, I have no idea! But it works! It’s less distracting than listening to music as well because with music, I always find myself tapping my feet and humming along and creating music video scenarios in my head (I know you do it too!). And if I don’t listen to anything I get sucked into the hustle and bustle of everyday conversations going on around me and I’d rather not listen in on other people’s convos. It makes me really uncomfortable. I’ve never been good at multitasking but surprisingly, I’m really good at listening to the podcast AND doing work.

I thought I’d share with you my top five favourite podcasts. So if you’re a podcast-listener-worker like me and are looking for some new recommendations, or if you’re a podcast virgin looking to pop that cherry, you’ve come to the right place.

On your marks, set, GO…

Casefile 

This is my absolute favourite podcast. I listen to it while cooking, cleaning, commuting and well, working. Each week, the podcast covers well-known murders and what I like the most about it is the fact that they go into great detail; from the background of the murderers, to their crimes right through to their death or sentencing. I’m a fan of murder mysteries and crime and like watching documentaries and tv shows on murders (my Netflix recommendations list is looking pretty damn gory) so that’s why I enjoy this podcast. It may not be the podcast for everyone, just because it can be quite grisly, but if you enjoy a good history lesson on well-known murders, I highly recommend it.

Success Insider 

This was one of the first podcasts I listened to and I actually quite enjoy it. It’s part of SUCCESS magazine and is hosted by Shelby Skrhak and Josh Ellis. Each week, they discuss the latest trends in personal empowerment and career development and give you lots of tips and tricks on how to be more productive and move up that career ladder. I think what I like most about this podcast is the conversations the two hosts have. Usually I find podcasts like these to be kind of stale with lots of really pretentious music but for a ‘self-help’ podcast, I’ve really enjoyed this one. Plus, each episode is nice and short too.

The Inquiry

If you’ve got an interest in current affairs without wanting to spend too much time on it, I highly recommend this podcast by the BBC World Service. They cover topical issues and ask the hard-hitting questions, and best of all, they do it in half an hour or less. When it comes to world issues or politics, I’m not going to lie I like getting the facts and I don’t like listening to long, overly drawn commentary and opinion. I just want an intro to the issue and if I’m really interested, I would go and do some research. This one is great for getting the who, what, when, where and how.

TEDTalks

I have a funny feeling that everyone who listens to podcasts will have TEDTalks on their subscribed list. TEDTalks have made such a name of themselves and what I love about listening to it is it’s inspiring (and short!) and covers a range of topics from business, technology, world issues to emotions, relationships, mental health and creativity. So if you feel like listening to something motivating, check it out because I guarantee you’ll find a topic of interest and learn and thing or two.

BTW, the hyperlink will take you to their website where you can also access videos. I listen to podcasts on the Apple Podcast app.  

Myths and Legends

I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to fairy tales, legends, folklores and myths. There’s so many out there and I can’t keep up with them. What I love about this podcast is that I get to be transported to a different era with host Jason Weiser covering what the legend/myth/folklore is about and its origins. It’s so fascinating and is a great one to listen to when you’re stuck in the office doing mundane things and just want to be transported to a different world.

Yes I’m a fantasist and can easily transport myself to a different world but sometimes, you need a little help and that’s where this podcast comes in. Also, if you’re a history buff like me, you get a bit of a history lesson too which makes it extra awesome!

So here’s my top five list. Some other recommendations I’d love to share are:

Have you got a favourite podcast that you think I should check out? Please comment below and share because I’m always on the hunt for new podcasts to listen to!

Full-time study and work: just stick to it

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for the last month, I’m sure you’ve picked up that I’m working full-time as well as studying full-time. I’ve been doing this for over a month now and I thought I’d share my experience and some tips that might come in handy if you’re thinking of embarking on formal study without having to quit your job.

Just a bit of background on what I do and why I chose to study and not quit my job: I’m a Communications and Engagement Advisor for a government department. My highest qualification to date is a National Diploma in Journalism. I never finished my degree and thought I’d take three papers this semester to fill in some ‘free-time’ gaps since it’s not like I’m doing anything productive. I’m completing a Bachelor of Professional Communications and I know it seems strange that I’m studying towards a job that I’m already in but I thought it’d be a good way to help me understand my role better from an academic perspective.

So getting into it…

Firstly, there’s no sugar coating it: balancing work and study is challenging. On top of that, there’s life and its many attractions and disruptions. The key to success is planning and discipline. You’d be surprised at how much you can achieve if you take time to set out a schedule and (here’s the real challenging part!) STICK TO IT.

I’m not going to lie: I still find it super challenging but I’ve never been good at balancing, multitasking or general discipline. For those of you who are good at all of that, then it’s a piece of cake and you’re probably reading this and having a bit of a chuckle. For those of you who are like me, fret not because I’m telling you it’s doable.

I set my study schedule in my bullet journal – I plan out what I’m going to study and which activities I’m going to complete and when, what assignments are due and when I should start them. I also set a time to start studying, allocate the hours of study and try my complete best to STICK TO IT. I know it seems like a lot of effort goes into planning this out in writing, but it’s what works for me so find what works for you. It could be as simple as putting your assignment and reading schedule into your phone’s calendar.

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If you know that a social gathering is coming up, plan around that. Perhaps allocate two hours of study that day and then treat the social gathering as a ‘reward’. If you find you really can’t bring yourself to stick to your planned study hours, that’s okay – shift it and study in an hour or two after you’ve relaxed and done what you need to. If you’re like me and have set TV shows you just simply can’t miss, plan around it so you don’t feel guilty about not studying when you’re supposed to.

Just because planning is one of the keys to success, doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. It’s going to be a hard time so it’s important to be kind to yourself. There are times when I want to gauge my eyeballs out and cry from the stress but I have to remind myself that I’m only human and sometimes life gets challenging and despite it all, I can do it.

So again I reiterate – planning and discipline is going to be your best friend during this challenging time. When the going gets tough, please don’t give up. STICK TO IT. After all, when you get your assignments in, get that exam done and get that passing grade, you realise it was all worth it. Well I do anyways.

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Hopefully you found this post somewhat helpful. If you’re in the same boat as me, please share your secret to fulltime study/fulltime work success!