Receiving Feedback

Last week, I spoke about mistakes — failures, really — and learning how to embrace them as learning experiences and tests of our ability to overcome obstacles. I also reflected on how a big component of this positive perspective on mistakes was resilience — a trait that I, admittedly, was sorely lacking throughout my career.

It’s amazing that it wasn’t until my sabbatical that I finally developed this skill in resiliency. In fact, I’ve realized that there are quite a number of “areas of improvement” that plagued me throughout my career and finally clicked during this sabbatical.

For example, a while back, I wrote about the MVP — minimum viable product — and how my perfectionism was a huge roadblock in allowing me to embrace this idea of pushing out a first version and then iterating on that. It wasn’t until this sabbatical and my work launching the podcast and my YouTube channel that I understood the benefits of just getting a product out there and then slowly improving on it.

I thought it would be interesting to continue this look on those career “weaknesses” that I was slow to improve on while I was working full-time, but finally overcame during the sabbatical.

So, in this post, I want to talk about receiving feedback.

Feedback is a gift 

Anybody who has worked at Facebook will be well familiar with the phrase “feedback is a gift”. Giving and receiving feedback is so ingrained in the company culture. But for someone coming from companies that didn’t really focus on feedback, it can be a difficult thing to adjust to.

For me, personally, it was hard not to feel like feedback was just someone cutting me down, by focusing on the things I’m doing wrong. On the one hand, I was a perfectionist, so any mention of things I could improve on or do differently was an attack on that persona. And on the other hand, I was already suffering from major imposter syndrome (as many do when they move from small companies to a large corporation), so negative feedback seemed like ammunition I needed to protect myself from, lest they find me out for the fraud that I was!

And, of course, logically, I knew this wasn’t the case. The point of feedback — much like mistakes — is to give you opportunities to grow by showing you what you can work on. But it was hard for me to get over the negative emotional response that I had to the feedback process.

And so, as you can imagine, I got really defensive. Coworkers, managers, cross-functional partners would give me feedback, and I would jump in with my rebuttal with why they were wrong.

And here’s the thing — sometimes, you really will disagree with feedback and ultimately decide it’s not something you want to follow. However, you still need to know how to graciously receive it. 

My manager at Facebook tried to give me advice on how to better receive feedback, even if you don’t agree with it. The key is that right after getting the feedback, you need to show that you understand what was said to you and accept that the person has that option. A helpful way to begin that response is “I hear you saying that …”

After that, it’s good to thank people for their feedback. And then, of course, you can ask questions, if you need more information to fully understand the feedback. However, you should not use questions in an attempt to change the person’s mind about their feedback.

But, I was just never able to really embrace this feedback process. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was already burnt out and so I didn’t see the benefit of improving in my work. Maybe I wasn’t getting the reassurance I needed that feedback wasn’t a threat. Perhaps, it was a combination of both. Whatever the reason, ultimately, this inability to receive feedback well had a huge negative effect on my working experience.

Counseling to the rescue

Well, no spoilers here — I did finally get over the feedback hurdle during my sabbatical. However, it wasn’t through my career exploration, it was actually something from my personal life — marriage counseling.

As I wrote about in a past blog post on core emotional needs, last year Ryan and I did a few months of couple’s counseling. In one session, we were talking about how to create an environment where we both felt safe to have serious conversations with each other. Our therapist taught us a validation exercise that would help build this foundation of safety through the following 3-step response process:

  1. I see what’s going on: you reiterate what your partner is telling you to verify you’re hearing the statement correctly.
  2. You make sense: you validate your partner’s feelings by showing that you understand why they would have that emotional response, even if you don’t feel the same way.
  3. I’m here if you need it: you reassure your partner that you are there to support.

For example: “What I’m hearing is that you were upset when I left the laundry spread out on the bed before going out to lunch and that you took that as I message that I expected you to clean it up. I can see how that would make you feel disrespected and unappreciated. I’m here if you want to find ways together to work through those hurt feelings.”

In the above example, it doesn’t matter if the partner was mis-reading the intent of the action. The hurt feelings were still very much real. So, that initial response needs to simply show that you understand what your partner is saying and why they might feel that way.

It’s been an exercise that has really improved the way Ryan and I communicate. And by now, I’ve had a lot of practice with it, even using it when I have arguments with my family or friends.

*Light bulb moment!*

This is exactly what my manager was trying to teach me about receiving feedback at work.

By starting with this validation response, you:

  • Give yourself more time to process feedback. When your initial response simply needs to just show understanding, there is no need to automatically retort with what you’ll change (or why you think you don’t need to change). 
  • Create a safe space for feedback. When the feedback giver is shown validation, even if you don’t ultimately follow their suggestion, they will have a positive experience and feel welcome to give feedback in the future. They will also probably be more open to receiving feedback themselves!

Now that I’ve built up this skill in my personal life, I’m excited to use it in professional environments, when I finally return to work.


It’s OK to Fall

When I was really little, my mom was teaching me how to write my letters: she would write the letter on the paper, and I would try to copy her.

Now, my mom has really nice, neat handwriting. And I remember quickly getting frustrated that my letters didn’t look exactly like hers. I got so upset, I threw down my pencil and refused to practice any more. If it couldn’t be perfect right away, I didn’t want to do it!

This trait was pretty core to my personality and approach to life growing up, and it persisted long into adulthood.

And even though he is less than a year old, I’m seeing some of the same tendencies in my son.

Artie’s at that age when he’s learning to walk. He can now easily pull himself to standing and can walk around, just as long as he’s holding on to something with both hands — the coffee table, the couch, even the wall.

But I’m trying to build up his confidence in finding his balance without holding onto something. I’m starting by getting him to practice walking while only holding on to something with one hand. 

At first, he downright refused to try and burst into tears at any suggestion that we should attempt a one-handed walk. Finally, this morning, I got him to take several steps while just holding on to me with one hand.

I applauded and congratulated him with every step. But, of course, he eventually lost his balance and fell on his butt. And then came the tears and the refusal to try again.

So, I picked him up, wiped the tears from his face, and told him: “It’s ok to fall. You’re going to fall. That’s part of learning. You just need to get up and try again.”

And in that moment, I realized: a lot of us adults need to take that advice, too.

We’re all so afraid of falling — of failing, really — as if it’s going to be some black mark on our record and bring us shame that we’ll never be able to live down.

We don’t appreciate falls for what they are:

Learning Experiences

For many of us, when we fall, unfortunately, the message we tend to get from that experience is: “Well, I guess this is proof that I’m not good enough to do this.”

But that’s not what we should be taking away from those falls! 

There’s so much more information we could be gleaning from a fall:

  • What caused the fall?
  • What could I do differently to prevent a fall next time?
  • What should I work on so I don’t fall again?

One of the best ways to know how to do something right is to experience doing something wrong.

Proof We’re Trying Something Hard

We can’t attempt difficult things — feats that really challenge us — and expect to do it perfectly the first time.

We need to work up to it! Train ourselves. Do the hard work to improve.

In this way, falls should be seen as badges of honor. They are proof that what we are pursuing is truly ambitious. They are the necessary stepping stones that take us to great heights. 

When we avoid falls, we resign ourselves to mediocre achievements.

A Test of Resiliency

You know that saying: “It’s not how many times you fall that matter, but how many times you get back up that counts.” It’s been quoted and re-phrased by so many people.

Really, it speaks to resiliency.

Ah, resiliency. It’s a term I heard a lot throughout my career. It was the subject of a lot of the feedback I received during my reviews.

And rightly so. Admittedly, I was the person that got overly upset when projects didn’t go perfectly to plan. It affected my attitude. It affected my relationships with my coworkers. And, ultimately, it affected my work.

But, it wasn’t until this sabbatical that I was able to truly understand and appreciate what it takes to be resilient.

It takes practice and a shift of perspective.

It takes falling enough times to know you can always get back up again. And appreciating everything you learn and gain from each fall.


Not Much to Update

This past week, I didn’t do much.

Ok, that’s not true. My husband, son, and I just got back from a couple of nights out of town, and the week preceding that trip was spent preparing for the getaway. 

From recreating my wedding cake from scratch (a multi-day project!) to cleaning the apartment, getting a mountain full of laundry done to packing the car to its limits, it was a pretty hectic week!

But I guess since none of it was in service of any of my larger, long-term goals (career exploration, weight loss, etc.), I didn’t feel like I was very productive.

As for the weekend — it was blissfully uneventful (well, by my standards). We went wine tasting in Sonoma. Made it out to our vacation rental in Bodega Bay. Cooked a couple of good meals. Drank more wine. Enjoyed time on the deck. Did crossword puzzles. Took relaxing hot baths. Ate a lot of the aforementioned cake. And generally, took it easy.

It was nice.

So, here I am, a week from my last blog post, with not much to update.

And I think sometimes we need that. We need periods in our life (even if it’s a simple weekend getaway) when we don’t have much to update.


Shifting Goals

It can take a lot of work to create and achieve goals. Larger pursuits often require thoughtful planning and incorporating new habits. Getting started can be particularly tough — that period of adjustment, where nothing comes easy and almost everything feels unnatural.

But then you get into the groove. The new habits and routine feel second nature. You see steady, predictable progress. Every check-in is a celebration of reaching the next milestone and getting closer and closer to your goal.

But eventually — things have to change.

Whether it’s hitting a major roadblock and realizing you need to shift strategies or reaching your goal and moving on to the next pursuit, sooner or later we come to the point where we need to learn different habits or take on a new routine.

And the frustrating part is that you have to deal with that awkward adjustment period all over again.

That’s what I’m currently going through with my weight loss journey. From the start, I built my plan around reaching a certain goal weight. I got into a new workout routine. I started new eating (and tracking) habits. It took a little while to adjust my lifestyle, but eventually I found myself looking forward to my daily workouts and delighting in the challenge of creating healthy, yet delicious recipes.

And, of course, monitoring my progress was a huge motivating factor. Aside, from the one week I hit a plateau, it was exhilarating seeing the numbers go down week over week — proof that my hard work was paying off.

Well before I hit my goal weight, I knew that my next health and fitness pursuit would be maintaining my weight for about six months. I had plenty of time to research and plan this next phase, so when I achieved that goal weight, I wasted no time in moving on to my next goal.

However, even though I was prepared, it doesn’t mean that adjusting my routine has been simple. For example, part of the plan includes increasing my daily calorie intake little by little each week until I hit my maintenance level. However, after eating at a certain level of calories for so long, I sometimes find it challenging to eat this increased daily amount.

But even more difficult has been adapting my expectations and mentality around checking progress and measuring success. For so long, success was defined by those numbers going down on the scale. So, even though now I know that success should be measured by those numbers staying flat, it’s hard to not have that gut-reaction disappointment when I don’t see a loss.

For me, changing the routine can be hard, and changing the mentality can be even harder.

I think that I’m experiencing this adjustment (or hard-to-adjust) period with my sabbatical and career exploration. 

Actually, the fact that I use sabbatical interchangeably with career exploration may be part of the problem. ‘Exploration’ insinuates traveling far and wide, seeing many things. And I feel like that’s been my approach. Cast the net wide. Try out a lot of different things. See what energizes me and what doesn’t.

And, oh, have I gone wide. I explored web development through online courses. Video production through training and projects. Content creation of many forms, including podcasting, video, social media, creative writing, and, of course, blogging. “Professional” acting (which, at this point, is any project that at least pays more than the expenses required to do them). Interior design and home staging through classes and internships/jobs.

But eventually, I need to change tactics and go deep. That means focusing on one, maybe two, areas and really developing my skills and expertise. It also means getting a better understanding of what it really means to build a career around that field of work.

I realized I’ve avoided committing to this next phase, though. I’m not sure if I think I’ll go too deep and get stuck or if I’m afraid I’ll miss out on something better that I haven’t yet explored. Whatever it is, I find myself still flitting from one area of interest to another. Insisting on keeping my hands in many pots … or fingers in many pies … or whatever the phrase is!

It feels like I’m waiting for some external factor to pop up and give me a sign that one field or the other is the “one for me”. It’s as if I’m waiting for some amazing opportunity to just drop in my laptop, giving me the definitive proof that that is the direction I should go in.

But, of course, opportunities don’t often just appear out of thin air. We make them happen with hard work and perseverance.

So, that needs to be my next goal: choose an area (or two) and dedicate the time to go deep. Expand my expertise, refine my skills. I’ve already identified areas where I consistently feel energized, so now I just need to commit. I need to change my routine. Stop stretching myself thin. Narrow my focus.

I’ve scratched the surface long enough. It’s time to dig in.

Content Creator, Video Producer

Before You Know It

When it comes to personal development, there are some things you work on where progress is slow. Day-to-day, it’s hard to notice any significant changes or improvements. It usually takes a sudden reality check to realize just how far you’ve come:

Fitting in that dress you haven’t worn since college after a slow weight loss journey.

Discovering you’re more fluent than you thought when a foreign tourist asks for directions.

I had one of those “aha!’ moments recently for one of my career exploration areas: video production.

Now, I’ve talked about video a lot on this blog. From getting a crash course on the medium to working on some film sets. And even the many times I’ve attempted (and failed) to put together my own videos.

A few months ago, I was finally successful in seeing a video production project through to the end when I put together some Hawaiian language lesson videos and launched my own YouTube channel, Ke Aloha no Hawai‘i. It felt great to have an actual finished product. And as of the date I’m posting this blog, I have successfully produced and published close to twenty videos for that channel!

Now, I’ve kept the videos relatively simple — that was the key to actually completing them. And in fact, over the weeks, I have simplified my videos more and more to make the process more efficient.

So, while it feels like an accomplishment just to get something done, it was hard to feel like my video production skills were improving in any significant way.

That was, until last week.

Last Wednesday, my son turned 9 ¾ months old. A while back, someone in my mom’s group on Facebook had posted a video of her baby doing a Harry Potter sorting ceremony when they turned 9 ¾ months old. The mom had gotten pajamas for each Hogwarts house and then filmed her baby crawling to one of the sets to choose their house. 

Such a cute idea!

Of course, me being the overachiever that I am, I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with just a simple home movie. I wanted close-up shots and b-roll. Titles cards and music.

So, using the skills I’ve learned along the way, I started with planning. In the weeks leading up to the day, I slowly obtained any props and set decor I needed. I also started brainstorming what shots I’d need.

The night before, I dressed the set — Harry Potter themed backdrop, Hogwarts banners and, of course, the house onesies. I also wrote out my shot list and made the Keynote presentation for my title cards. I did a brief storyboard in my head, so I knew exactly what I wanted to capture the next day.

The morning of filming, I started with all the b-roll footage, knowing that I’d have limited time to shoot Artie before he got impatient. I was even quick on my feet and captured unplanned shots, like when our black cat perfectly walked around the set.

Filming my son was the most difficult part, but that was to be expected, given he is a baby. And actually toward the end, he did great, and I was able to get shots in one take!

All in all, filming went smoothly and didn’t take that much time because with my shot list, I knew exactly what I wanted to capture and what order it made sense to film.

Then came editing. This was the part I thought would take quite a few hours, as I had over 30 clips plus the title cards to sort through. However, because I had already done a basic storyboard and have had some experience putting together different clips for my Hawaiian lesson videos, editing actually only took me less than an hour!

And I even gained a few new skills with this project. This was the first time I had adjusted the speed on parts of the video. And it was also the first time working with music for the entire video, adjusting the clips so that they lined up with key moments in the soundtrack.

In much less time than I anticipated, I had a video that was more polished, dynamic and complex than I thought I had the skills for. I pulled from my experience and learnings from that last two years and made a video I’m really proud of.

Check it out:

The moral of the story? I guess, sometimes you’ve come further than you realize. And maybe you just need to challenge yourself to do something you think pushes the limits of your skills, in order to really see how much you’ve achieved.


Learnings from Interviewing

Last week, I had a couple of initial interviews for digital marketing/social media/content marketing roles. It’s been quite a few months since I’ve interviewed for work, so regardless of how successful I was in actually securing a job, I knew the interviews would be good practice.

And indeed they were! Not only did they help get me get back into that interview mindset, but they also allowed me to refine my narrative: what was my career path before, why did I take time off & what I’ve done for the last two years, and what I am looking to do now, as I return to the workforce.

But a pleasant surprise from the interviews: they have also provided even more clarity around what I’m looking for in my next opportunity.

My first interview was for a wearables start-up about to launch their first product. In the role, I would create branding content across social media, emails, and blogs. And, of course, being at a start-up, the position would obviously grow and change (and likely pretty quickly) as the company expands.

It seemed like a role with a ton of opportunity to be creative and try new things. My interest has been piqued, and I’d definitely move forward with the next round of interviews, if they ask me to.

My second interview had me pretty excited. It was a digital marketing role in the wine industry; and those who know me well, know how much I love wine! Taking a look at the company’s websites and social media accounts, there seemed to be a lot of potential to take them to the next level and really try some new, fun content ideas, especially given the wineries’ needs to shift how they do business in the wake of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, I ended the interview less than enthused. It started out like any other interview: I gave my spiel about my career trajectory and what I’m looking to do now; the interviewer explained more about the business and what the role entailed, asking for more details about my experience doing the specific duties required of the position.

And then came my turn to ask questions. Excitedly, I inquired about what new things were on the horizon for the business and any upcoming growth initiatives. The interviewer didn’t really have much to say on that — it didn’t sound like the business had any big (or at least specific) growth plans.

A little confused, I realized I needed to get some clarification: was this a new role or were they just looking to replace someone? I assumed this was a brand new role because when I was reviewing their social media accounts, the posts were … well, okay, but to me, they looked like the work of someone who was just doing it as an add-on task, because the business didn’t have a dedicated person to run the social media. 

Replace someone, the interviewer responded — the person who previously did the job was moving out of town. 

Oh. Huh. 

I immediately added, “So, in filling this position, are you looking to do something new with your social media and digital marketing? With pandemic-related restrictions, I imagine digital is going to become an even more significant way you engage with your customers.”

As the interviewer struggled to find her words, the answer was clear: there were no plans to do anything new and exciting. They were simply looking to have someone come in and take over the role as it has always been done.

Now, to be fair, this initial interview was with the HR person. Perhaps if I had spoken to someone on the marketing team, I would have been regaled with grand plans of revamping their digital presence, exploring virtual events, and infusing their social media with video and more interesting storytelling. 

But what I at least got out of that interview was a better understanding of myself and what I’m looking for in my next career opportunity. Two big priorities surfaced for me:

  • I want to be able to try new, creative ideas and make an immediate impact in growing and/or improving the business.
  • I want to work for a company that has clear and ambitious goals and plans.

These learnings will not only help me ultimately choose my next role, but in the more immediate future, they will give me more clarity around which positions to even pursue. Much like this second interview, things don’t always (or even often) go to plan — but what you can hopefully gain is a new perspective, interesting revelations, and important learnings for yourself.

Content Creator, Planning

Continuing My Search

As I wrote about several months ago, my plan had been (and continues to be) to return to work on a more full time basis at some point this year. At the beginning of the year, I was thinking late April or May would be a reasonable time to wrap up my maternity leave as it were and go back to work.

And then, the pandemic hit. Businesses and whole industries in peril; companies instituting hiring freezes; and droves of people — now furloughed or unemployed — now flooding the job market.

The outlook seemed dire, but I continued with my plan; and in fact, I started my search a little earlier than originally planned, anticipating that the hunt may take a little longer than it has in the past.

And in short — it has. I still haven’t returned to work.

Now, granted, my job hunting during shelter-in-place has gone in waves. Sometimes, I see jobs that I’m motivated to apply to, and sometimes it’s a desert. And then there are times that I’m just not feeling confident in myself or my direction.

I am being extremely selective in what I apply to. As tempting as it is to just return to a position that I’ve done in the past because I know I could probably get it, I am determined to only pursue opportunities that I honestly think will energize me.

When I first started my search, I talked about really having two general options when it came to find a new job that aligned with my sabbatical goals:

  • Finding something new in my old field: for example, a marketing role that involved a lot more creativity.
  • Pursuing opportunities in a brand new field: for example, podcasting, livestreaming, design — work I have not done professionally, but have gained skills in during my sabbatical.

And I’ve applied to both types of opportunities during this period. However, five months in, I’m facing a little bit of a reality check. Given the state of the job market — few jobs and tons of candidates — I will likely be more competitive when it comes to pursuing roles in my old field. 

And even then — it’ll be a challenge. For some positions, hiring managers probably have the luxury of considering hundreds of candidates who have done that exact position for years. And seeing as how I’m trying to branch out from roles I’ve done in the past, I’ll have to work really hard to make my case.

So, where does that leave me?

Well, right now, I have been looking at social media or digital marketing roles that include a lot of hands-on content creation. And I’m focusing on companies and brands that seem like the content could have a lot of personality and fun. In general, that seems to be B2C (consumer marketing) over B2B (business marketing) and organic/engagement marketing over content for paid advertising.

And bonus points, if the role allows me to gain some experience in influencer marketing and/or community management  — areas that have really piqued my interest.

So, that’s the game plan for now. And we’ll just have to see where this path takes me.

Career Exploration, Content Creator, Writer

I Want

As I’ve talked about before, I have a long, complicated history with writing. There have been many times throughout my life when I have been made to feel that writing just ‘wasn’t for me’.

But ones of the best things about this sabbatical — and particularly keeping up this blog — has been reclaiming my identity as a writer.

In addition to this blog, I’ve been playing around with some creative writing, so I want to share a little of that in this post, with my piece I Want.

I Want

I want to go to a cabin. In the middle of nowhere. By myself. Basking in the silence. And cry. And scream into the ether. And cry some more.

I want someone to hug me. Tight. Without saying a word. One of those hugs that lasts just a little longer than ‘normal’, where before you know it, you are no longer being hugged but being held. And there we are, in silent embrace, remembering what it’s like to be touched again.

I want to make plans. Remember making plans?

I want to be able to dream about the future again.

I want to go to Paris and sit at one of those sidewalk cafe tables, with my coffee and croissant, and just watch people.

I want to believe in human beings again.

I want to believe in humanity.

I want to hope again.

I want to not be so tired anymore.

Sometimes I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.

Sometimes I think I must already be sleeping, stuck in an endless dream, and I need to wake up.

I need to wake up.

I want to take in deep breaths of cool, fresh air. Big gulps of it. I want to fill my lungs with the coolest, freshest air and feel it spread throughout my body.

I want to feel free.

I want to stop waiting for someone — or something — to save me. I want to find the resilience and confidence to save myself.

I want to trust myself again.

I want to stop being afraid.

I want to have clarity.

I want to know what I’m doing is right. If for no one else, at least right for me.

I want to not hurt anymore. To be hurt. To cause hurt. I’ve hurt for so long and inflicted hurt so profoundly, I’m not sure I remember how to live without hurting.

I want to find stillness. In my head. In my heart.

I want to find peace.

I want to believe I deserve peace.

And then I want to discover that peace belongs to anyone who opens their arms to it.

I want … to know how to finish this.

How do I finish this?

When is it finished?

Is it finished?

This piece is can also be found on my Medium account, where I will be publishing more of my creative writing. If you liked what you read, please give me a follow on Medium.


Hitting a Plateau

As I’ve written about in several of my recent blog posts, one of my biggest projects these days has been improving my diet and increasing my fitness, all in an effort to lose weight. 

Of course, there are other motivations — generally feeling healthier & stronger and, from a mental standpoint, giving me something that I can focus on and feel control over. But the weight loss aspect — seeing those numbers go down on the scale — has given me an objective, concrete way to measure and track my progress.

Unfortunately, this past week, I experienced something that almost everyone on a weight loss journey does — I hit a plateau. Absolutely no weight loss; in fact, I gained .2 lbs! And it’s not like I wavered from my routine — I kept within my daily calorie limits and followed my exercise schedule.

It’s just so frustrating when you do everything “right”, but you stop seeing results!

I feel like this happens with more than just weight loss. Career. Relationships. Hobbies. You’ll have a goal in mind. You create a plan to get to that goal. You execute that plan and see yourself getting closer and closer to your goal. But then, suddenly, you stop seeing progress.

At this point, there seems to be three options:

1) Give up

It can be easy to throw your hands up in the air and exclaim, “I wasted all that time following a plan that’s not even going to get me to my goal! It’s no use doing that anymore!”

When it comes to weight loss, this is when you give up on exercise and start binging on that fast food and desserts. And faster than you lost it, those pounds return … and then some.

Of course, this mentality is so illogical. A plan that gets you part-way to your goal is not a waste of time at all. It allowed you to make progress. It delivered results. So it didn’t get you all the way. At least it got you closer.

I definitely had this little voice in the back of my head, but luckily I haven’t acted on it.

2) Keep going as-is

With this option, there is a hope that the plateau is just a fluke; that you’ll get over the bump and start seeing results again.

And I think sometimes this is true. When it comes to weight loss, there are factors outside of diet and exercise that can affect weight loss. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep this past week and it messed with my hormones. Maybe I had more salt than usual and it’s causing water retention.

There can be a benefit to sticking with a plan for a little while after first experiencing a plateau. And this is essentially what I’ve done for the last couple of days after seeing my lack of progress on the scale.

But if a plateau lasts for a few weeks, it’s definitely time to change something. Which brings us to …

3) Find a new plan

I feel like those “glass-half-full” types of people automatically have this instinct. They see a plateau as an opportunity to shift gears and try something new. What an exciting new adventure!

For those of us who don’t naturally have this response, it may take us a little longer to get to this option. It can just be overwhelming to think of where to start. Usually, we put a lot of thought in creating our original plan, assuming that it would get us to our goal. So what went wrong?

Sometimes, it’s near impossible to figure out what went wrong, so you just have to test out different plans to find what is right. This trial and error, of course, can be frustrating. But I think it’s key to keep in mind that you might try a new plan and it won’t work either.

This is the stage I want to get to. Figure out a new plan and test it out for a while.

And this is coming at a good time because I think I’ve also hit a plateau with my career exploration. As I wrote about just last week, I have been completely unproductive in that arena.

There are definitely times when I feel like giving up. I find myself peeking at job openings in my old field just because I know I’m qualified and could probably get hired. But how is that going to help anything if I’m just back to being miserable???

And, of course, I’m currently in that stage of just sticking it out. But it’s been weeks since I’ve made any progress on my career exploration.

So, it’s time to think of a new plan. Try it out. And accept that it may not work and I may have to try something different all over again.

Content Creator, Reflections, Video Producer

What We Do When We’re Doing Nothing

It feels like lately my career exploration has been sparse and unorganized. I don’t know if it’s because my fitness and diet goals have been taking up so much of my time. Or maybe it was my focus on the recent play I filmed. Or likely, it’s just the messed up state of the world.

Whatever, it is, I feel like I haven’t done much.

But it’s not like I’ve done nothing. I don’t think there’s ever a time when I do nothing. It seems like I don’t know how to not be busy.

So, I thought it’d be interesting to reflect on the things that filled my time when I wasn’t actively and purposefully exploring career paths:

I watched a lot of YouTube

Of all the subscription services we have — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, etc. — I actually consume most of my video media on the one free service — YouTube. 

Maybe it’s because most of the videos I watch are relatively short and, therefore, easily digestible. Or maybe it’s because of the endless variety of content you can find on the platform. Whatever it is, some days, I’ll put on an interesting video and the next thing I know, I’ve been watching videos for hours.

It has definitely reinforced how much I enjoy consuming video and particularly on the YouTube platform.

I’ve been cooking … and start filming it

As part of my work to lose weight and improve my health, I’ve done an overhaul of my diet, cutting out almost all processed foods and focusing on eating well-balanced meals. This, of course, requires me to make nearly everything I eat from scratch, which means I’ve been doing a lot of cooking.

And remember when I talked about watching a lot of YouTube … I mean, literally two paragraphs ago? Well, some of those videos have been around healthy food recipes.

So, I thought: “Well, I’m making these healthy meals anyway. Why don’t I just film myself doing it?” 

It obviously added a little time to my food prep, but not too much. Learning from my past video projects, I kept things simple with minimal camera set-ups. And I plan to just do voiceover rather than narrating as I film, so I didn’t need to worry about optimizing sound as I filmed.

I haven’t started editing yet, but I’m thinking this could be a potential new YouTube channel for me, with a wider audience.

I’ve done a little job hunting

I have hopped on LinkedIn about once a week to see what type of jobs are available. Since I’m not set on which direction I want to pursue, I cast my net wide when it comes to looking for opportunities, searching keywords that cover some of the areas that I’ve enjoyed:

  • Podcast
  • Video producer
  • Interior design
  • Content creator

I’ll say that the well is pretty dry.

There aren’t really many professional podcast opportunities here in the Bay Area — I mostly see things pop up in L.A. 

For video production openings, companies seemed to be looking for people who have a lot more experience than I do, specifically on large-scale shoots with all the professional equipment (understandable!). They also often are looking for candidates with a full portfolio and list of freelance production contacts.

The interior design opportunities haven’t been that interesting to me or they are looking for experienced interior designers.

The only area that has both piqued my interest and lined up with my qualifications has been writing opportunities — whether that be social media or website content. 

Moving forward

Looking at how I’ve spent my time these past several weeks, I want to continue my work on video, understanding that it may always just be a hobby. I’d like to do an initial edit of the food footage I’ve shot in the next couple of weeks.

And I’m also going to work on putting together some resumes tailored toward the various writing opportunities I’m seeing.