What do you mean, plan for “the Future?”

I am at a crossroad, a place I think most 20-somethings find themselves at some point, or at several points as the case may be.

Currently, I am working for a small non-profit in York Region. While typically the problem with non-profits is there’s never enough money, my organization currently finds itself with an abundance of funding. This is wonderful, but it means that I have to make a decision about where I want my career within this organization to go and really start thinking about that elicit place called “The Future.” BOO.

I work in two different programs right now, and while it makes for a very detailed business card, at times it is a bit overwhelming. I often feel like if I’m doing one well I’m ignoring the other. This crossroad gives me the chance to choose sides, “Pick a parent” as my Executive Director puts it. The problem is I like parts of both… so which do I choose?

I have been tossing this one over in my brain for a couple weeks now, when it struck me… I should talk to the boy, you know since we’re supposed to be “in it to win it” together, maybe he would have some insight.We talked it over, and turns out it was actually helpful. So I thought I’d share the insight we came to. I broke down both positions into skills sets, and I have proposed to my ED the skills that I would like to develop in the coming year (since both positions are based on funding – the non-profit world tends not to think too much further ahead than annually).

Since I have started thinking about, thinking about starting a business in e-learning one of the things I am nervous about is my ability to sell myself, and the confidence I have in my skills and abilities. Basically, I need to build confidence around sales, and cold-calling… and stop thinking of myself as just a kid, and start thinking of myself as a well-educated Education expert, that people can’t live without. This is what I am hoping I get to work on in my new position.

I’ve been told that the most popular blogs offer tips and tricks to their readers so that reading your blog is not only entertaining (as I’ve been told I am doing through my accounts of living with the boy) but also educational, and helpful to the reader in their own life. So these are my job related tips for today, not just for those who may find themselves in a similar situation to mine, but to everyone young and old thinking about their next job, or the next steps in their current job…

1. Write down your long term goal

For me it helped when I wrote down what I want in “The Future.” I didn’t get too carried away with all the things I want for my life, but kept it to a simple career goal which were – Rule the World/Change the World.

2. Think backwards about what steps you will need to take in order to get to that point.

For me the position “Ruler of the World” isn’t often published in a paper or on Workopolis, but for you, your dream position might be. Take a look at it and see what skills they are advertising for. Are they looking for someone with a certain education background? What are you going to do to get the education you need, or the skills that they are looking for? For me, I decided that in order to change the world, or rule it, I would probably need to be an expert in my field. Since my field is going to be education, and I already have a Master’s Degree in that field, I’m feeling a little ahead of the game, but I think I need more specific education – so I’m looking into that.

3. Think about what job you might look for that would develop one or two of the skills that you need for the long-term goal position.

For me, I have decided that if I do become an expert in my field it won’t matter unless I develop the confidence to tell people how great I am, and why their business will soar with my help, and plummet without it. And I decided that talking to people I don’t know is a skill I am going to need to develop in order to do that. This is why I have told my E.D. that in which ever job I have next year, I want more contact with businesses, and more contact with people I don’t know.

4. Go out and get that position.

Now that you have thought about “The Future” when you are applying to that new position, you will likely come across as a forward thinker, someone who knows what they want and what they have to do to get there. Your interviewer will be wonderfully impressed and you’re sure to get the position that will help you on your way.

Alternately, these steps will only stress you out more as you rack your brain about “The Future” as it has for me in the last year since I finished school. So if this is the case, all I can say is take a deep breath and remember, if you’re in your twenties – you’ll look back and think “What an exciting time that was” and if you’re not in your twenties – what do I know I’m just in my twenties and still trying to figure it all out!

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1 Month Down…

The boy and I have officially been living together for one month. It’s been a little messy, quite stressful but overall a good decision. I have learned quite a bit in the last month though, so I thought I’d share it here and give all of you other 20-somethings and new live-ins a heads up on living with a boy.

The coles notes version – it appears we need to compromise…

The TV:

Did you know that October and November are the best months for television? I can hear your doubts… “but the premeires are over?” Turns out for sports fanatic boys, October and November are the best months because baseball playoffs are on, the hockey season is starting and both NFL and CFL are in the thick of things. While this might present a scheduling nightmare, for the sportsfan it’s a challenge worth facing, because the result is sports nirvana.
The problem: I’m not even a little bit sporty. I don’t play, I don’t follow, I only watch when forced, and I can’t even pretend to know what’s going on… I find it all a bit silly to be honest.
The compromise: A girl could be overrun by sports if she’s not careful, so we have created “compromise shows” – these are shows we both like (or I like and I am making him like too) they are gender neutral, mostly sitcoms and we have at least one each night. This way, even if it is the bottom of the 9th the compromise show is what we watch, and sports gets put on commercial status. For the first month, this seems to be working – but the World Series isn’t on yet… so month 2 could be more challenging.
The Food:
Did you know that boys must eat a full size meal every 2 hours, or it is quite possible they will die? It’s true. I don’t know where they keep it, but every 2 hours, like clockwork my boy seems to be positively FAMISHED! Currently he does not eat breakfast… a habbit I am determined to break, perhaps in month 3. But once he starts eating, it seems he can’t stop. I enjoy cooking, but it seems whenever I think I have made enough for both of us for dinner, and leftovers for lunch the next day… he tells me he’s starving 2 hours later!
The Problem: I’m a little worried we are going to be eaten out of house and home! And I am quickly learning why it is that women, mom’s in particular often say they go with less to feed their families – I refuse… I need to eat too!
The Compromise: For this one it seems it’s every girl for herself. We eat together, but I pack my lunch with leftovers before him. I tried being accommodating and letting him take what he wanted first, but that plan left me with very minimal Thanksgiving pie leftovers, and that’s just not cool. When what I thought was at least 2 days of pie for lunch leftovers had vanished the next day, I had to put my foot down.

The Mess:

Now the boy is going to say “you’ve made it sound like a chore to live with me, like all I do is steal your pie!” So I’ll end off with the mess. For this I’ll admit, I am the problem. The thing is I try really hard to be an organized person, but I’m not. I’m late for everything, usually because I start late, leave late and hit traffic. And while my life and my stuff may be organized to me… I’ll admit to an outsider I’m a disaster.

The Problem: I share my room with someone now. I’ve always been a disaster, but for the most part I’ve been pretty contained to my room… turns out he wants to live there too! He has a place for EVERYTHING – it drives me crazy and it drives him crazy that I do not.

The Compromise: I’m trying. I’m reading all about how to be on time for things, and more organized. MSN Today has helped me to this end with yesterday’s article Never Be Late Again.

And as for the stuff and it’s place… well I keep things clean, pick up his socks in the morning, make the bed and I’m limiting myself to compromise television shows, so I think he could do a lot worse!

So one month down, a lifetime to go. There have been other compromises along the way, and I’m sure many to come… I’m thinking specifically of when American Idol comes on in January! But that’s a whole other post… maybe even a whole other blog!

But that’s all part of the fun! The past month has been a big reason why I started my blog, I want to remember all of the compromises. I’m already looking back at the last month and loving every minute of it!

Pay Day!

I’m not sure if there is a better day of the week than pay day. It offers you a fresh start, and a new promise of fiscal responsibility. And yet, no matter how often I re-jig how I’m going to save more in the next two weeks, I seem to find myself making new promises next pay day.

I’ll share my first secret… I’m terrible with money.

It’s not that I spend what I don’t have… well I do, but not too often. And it’s not that I don’t pay my bills… I’m only late when I’ve completely forgotten about them, which in my defence is not that often. It’s just that I have no idea what to do with money.

I was raised by a strong and beautiful woman I call Mom; and if I had to pick a few things she drilled into me over the years, they would be the following:

  1. You can do anything you want to do
  2. Get through all of the formal education you want before you have children, but never stop learning
  3. NEVER be dependent on anyone, even your spouse… since you can’t control their actions, you just never know
  4. NEVER sign your pay cheque over to anyone

I am deeply grateful for all of these lessons, and I try and live them daily. There’s just one problem, Mom never told me what to do with that pay cheque I’m not handing over. The only lesson I got there was – “don’t do what we’ve done.” Thanks Mom that’s really helpful…

Like many twenty-somethings who have had the wonderful experience of post secondary education I have debt. A lot of debt. The number isn’t important, but let’s just say I told the boy recently and I thought he was going to drive us off the road!

Where I work we offer financial planning workshops for women on occasion, unfortunately another isn’t scheduled until February, and that’s a lot of pay cheques from now. The good news is after sharing my money worries with my colleague and friend, I was sent Credit Canada’s website. Step #1… figure out what you are spending money on, and track your spending for an entire month.

This may sound easy, and perhaps for some it is, maybe even for the majority, for me it’s a daunting task that I am not in the least looking forward to. I already know what it’s going to tell me… you don’t make enough to meet your financial goals, and you are a victim of “the incidentals.”

I have a love/hate relationship with my debt. I appreciate what it got me, and I have faith that it will pay off eventually. But deep down I hate it and I want it gone, in full, tomorrow! To this end I have taken the “save your money” tips to heart and I have a certain amount of money that is directly withdrawn from my account the day after pay day. Then I take 1/2 of my rent and put it in a rent account, GONE. Last, I pay any bills that need to be paid. The problem is, this ends up being a substantial part of my pay cheque, and as Cliff told Theo – “You haven’t EATEN yet!

The two weeks creep by and I end up with “incidentals” – things I forgot I need to spend money on, like bus tickets, food, small things for my apartment, and BINGO at the end of those two weeks I’m really looking forward to Pay Day!

But today marks a new dawn on my road to being debt free, while still planning for far away things like “the future” and “retirement.” And to that end I am going to take Credit Canada at it’s word and track what I spend in the next two weeks. And I’ll spend the next two weeks preparing myself for the inevitable shock… I don’t think that debt is going to disappear tomorrow!

I’m here!

Before my plunge into adulthood this fall, (moving in with my boyfriend of 7 years) I spent one last summer at home with my parents and my sister. Blogs were the topic of conversation all summer. My sister Lisa is a teacher, and she is committed to finding creative ways to engage her students in learning and in their future. This summer she read Will Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, so we talked blogs… all summer long.

So that’s how I got here. Lisa told me to do it, so I did. I’ve been putting it off for months though, asking myself the question, “What should I blog about?” I don’t think of myself as complicated, but when it came to what part of my life should I blog about, I couldn’t decide.

Should I write a green blog? I started container gardening this summer, it was a “solid first effort.” But there seems to be a million, and though sustainability is important can I write a whole blog about it?

Should I write a blog about the shenanigans of living with a boy? Blog about the bright Steamwhistle green fridge that moved in with him? Hilarious to those that know me I’m sure… but not terribly deep, and more of a journal than a blog – as my blog guru Lisa informed me.

Then it hit me. I’m all over the map. And do you know why? Because I’m in my twenties. I hear, “It’s so exciting.” “You’ll look back and love this time.” “So much is changing.” But do you know what, it’s messy and that’s stressful.

So this is it, I’m going to sort out the messes on my blog. I’ll let you know how it goes as I start to make my mark on the world and the parts of the world that are making their marks on me.

I guess all I needed to get started was a head cold and a sick day!