Reflections

Coping

I’ve been having a tough time. 

Sadly, it’s easy to brush off a statement like that right now because (a) I’ve had many tough times throughout this pandemic and (b) we’re all having a tough time.

But it doesn’t make it any less true nor any less potent. So, once more, with feeling: I’ve been having a tough time.

So instead of give you an update on my career exploration and search, I’m instead going to share coping techniques from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Pay attention to your feelings. Name what you’ve lost due to the pandemic. It might help to write this down in a journal. Allow yourself to feel sadness or cry.
  • Think about your strengths and coping skills. How can they help you move forward? Consider other tough transitions you’ve been through, such as a previous job change or divorce. What did you do that helped you recover?
  • Stay connected. Don’t let social distancing prevent you from getting the support you need. Use phone calls, text messages, video chats and social media to stay in touch with family and friends who are positive and supportive. Reach out to those in similar situations. Pets also can provide emotional support.
  • Create an adapted routine. This can help preserve a sense of order and purpose, despite how much things may have changed. In addition to work or online learning, include activities that might help you cope, such as exercise, worship or hobbies. Keep a regular sleep schedule and try to maintain a healthy diet.
  • Limit your news diet. Spending too much time reading or listening to news about the COVID-19 pandemic can cause you to focus heavily on what you’ve lost, as well as increase anxiety.
  • Remember the journey. If you’ve lost your job, you don’t have to let the way it ended define the whole experience. Consider some of your good memories and the big picture.
  • Take comfort in creativity. Cooking, gardening, making art or being creative in other ways might help you feel better.
Reflections

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.

Reflections

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.

Reflections

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.

Reflections

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.

Reflections

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.

Reflections

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.

Reflections

Knowing When to Transition

I started this sabbatical with a broad plan — explore a list of different careers that I had long been interested in. 

But how I tackled this exploration was a little looser. I purposely did not create a detailed plan of attack, with strict timelines. With most of the fields being pretty unknown to me, I knew that would be a near impossible task.

Instead, I relied on my gut.

I started with whatever career path was pulling my interest at any given time; explored that field through whichever resources were accessible and seemed the right fit — from online classes to one-on-one training to hands-on experience; and when I felt like I was no longer energized by the pursuit, I moved on.

But the ‘moving on’ has always been the difficult part. How do you know the difference between discovering something’s not the right fit for you and just plain giving up?

Of course, the simple answer is — often, you won’t know for sure. You just need to follow that instinct.

And sometimes, you will change your mind.

After working as an interior design assistant for those few months before Artie was born, I started doubting my interest in interior design. There was a lot of headache around demanding or indecisive clients that gave me bad flashbacks to my time in sales. I feared that the drain of managing clients would overshadow any energy I got from the creative design process.

I used my maternity leave to reflect on my future in interior design, and ultimately decided it was time for me to transition away from the field. 

But then, a few months later, a friend posted on Facebook asking for some interior design advice. I commented with a few suggestions, and before I knew it, I was actually getting paid to put together a couple of design proposals.

It re-sparked my interest in interior design, but made me realize I needed to find the best way for it to fit my working style. Maybe that’s only pursuing it as supplemental income, so that I can be super picky about the clients I work with. Maybe it’s focusing more on the content creation side of design.

And then, there’s knowing when to transition within a given career path. This has happened a lot with my exploration of video production and content creation.

As I documented in my past blogs, I tried to dive in a little too deep when it came to video content. I attempted a complicated video format that requires a lot of time, different shots, synching video and audio and editing. It got so overwhelming that the work was no longer energizing.

But video as a medium still piqued my interest.

So, when I revisited video content creation a few months ago with the launch of my YouTube channel, Ke Aloha no Hawai‘i, I knew the key would be to make the filming and editing process much simpler.

And I’ve successfully produced 17 videos!

But even with this channel, I got to the point when I knew I needed to transition my work. While working on the core content — my grammar videos — vastly improved my planning, filming, and editing skills, it also required a lot of time. So much so that I didn’t have much time to actually continue my own Hawaiian learning.

So, I decided I would wrap up the grammar videos (for now) and transition to less time-intensive vocabulary-focused videos.

And I’ve also decided to attempt to launch a new YouTube channel, on a topic that would attract a wider audience. More details to come!

What I’ve learned through all of this is that you won’t always know for sure if you’re making the right decision. Because here’s the big secret: most of the time, there is no “right” decision. There is just the best decision for you at that one point in time. And most decisions aren’t permanent; you can always change your mind.

So, when you get to that fork in the road, just go with your gut. Choose the path that looks like the best fit for you at the time. It’s ok, if you end up turning back and following the other path instead. Your journey on that new path will likely be richer and more fruitful because of what you saw and experienced on the first one.

Reflections

Focusing on the Things You Can Control

It goes without saying that these are very tough times that we are living in. The whole situation seems so overwhelming that it can be extremely difficult to cope. I, like many others, have been riddled with anxiety and depression. 

“Why won’t people just wear damn masks?!”

“When will I be able to hug my friends and family again?”

“What if I get sick?”

It’s hard not fall into that bottomless pit of hopelessness and despair.

But I’ve been desperately seeking out resources to help calm my mind and bolster my mental state.

One of the biggest tips I found: focus on the things you can control.

I set out to find some project that I could throw myself into and completely control. And so for the last five weeks, I’ve focused on healthy eating and fitness.

I’ve made almost all of my meals from scratch. I’ve avoided added sugar. I’ve cut out sweets and alcohol altogether, I completed a 28-day strength-training challenge and just started a new one. I started hiking again and taking Artie on regular walks.

Not only do I feel the physical benefits of these changes, but from a mental standpoint it feels comforting to have something in my life that I have complete control over. I control whether or not I stay within my daily calorie limit. I control whether or not I get that workout done.

And moreover, I actually get to see the positive results of this hard work, as I witness the numbers on the scale and measuring tape go down.

I realized I can use this same mentality for my career exploration, where I’ve been plagued with worries: 

“Success in a lot of these fields I’m considering is so out of my control.”

“Is anybody actually hiring right now?”

“You can’t guarantee you’ll make money from that.”

So I have to focus on what I can control.

Can I completely control any monetary success from YouTubing? No. But I can still move forward with developing and maintaining a channel. And along the way, I’ll develop useful skills in video production, editing, and community management.

Can I guarantee that I’ll become a working actor? Of course not. But I can continue to find opportunities to improve my craft. I can build my website, create my reel and get new headshots to improve my professional presence.

So instead of obsessing over the end goal that may or may not be attainable — securing that dream job — I’ll focus on those stepping stones that I can control.