Find your calling. Recognizing it’s not easy, but worth it.

Ask a person about his or her calling, and I have a hunch he or she will look at you like you’re crazy, or smile and start talking. For most people, hopefully it’s the latter. Unfortunately, we don’t ask that question often, and I want to explore why. Is it because a calling is so personal and undefined? Maybe fear and uncertainty prevent hefty topics. “What do you do?” is much easier to answer than “What’s important to you?” or “What’s your passion?” What a shame. Let’s challenge ourselves to ask (and answer) difficult questions.

To pursue my calling, I ask myself what feels right. In college, I sought opportunities because they seemed meaningful, important, and fun. Each experience shaped my future, but at the time, I had no expectation of how. Can one frown upon a decision to chase fun in life, while being successful? Isn’t that what we all want?

A few years ago, I told my boss that I was unsure what I sought career-wise. Not in an “I’m young, naive, and unprepared” way, but in an honest, “that’s a loaded question and I’m unsure of my life’s purpose at 23 years old” way. But, I shared what I knew. I loved marketing, and was good at it. Writing and brands proved passions of mine as well. Combining creativity, business strategy, marketing, branding, and developing a plan and course of action from the ground up – that’s what I wanted to do. No job description came from that conversation, but those honest words got me to where I am today.

Have I found my calling? To be determined. But I keep trying by spending time considering what’s important. At some point, it’s impossible to avoid these questions. What should I be doing? What do I love? What can I create and bring to the table? Maybe more people would reflect on and discover their callings if we encouraged open discussion on the topic.

Feeling overwhelmed at finding and pursuing one’s calling can be paralyzing. It sounds so ambiguous, so unattainable. But we all know it exists. It feels like something special, a treasure. Personal reflection and honesty defined my path thus far. Hopefully, these take me all the way to an answer.

 

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Tackling Unpleasant Conversations: The Band-Aid Method

Earlier this week, I had a tricky conversation with a family member. I talk to my family regularly, but this particular conversation related to money, which is always an interesting subject. I found out about a misunderstanding, of which I was completely unaware, by an uninvolved third party. Already, it felt awkward and gossipy. The news threw me off-guard, and I reacted strongly. One thing was certain: I needed to face the situation head-on to avoid further miscommunication or he-said she-said.

Feeling guilty, I questioned my previous words and actions. How did this mix-up happen? The issue couldn’t be avoided. Delaying the conversation would only make it worse, so I vowed to make the call the next day. Feeling anxious, I went for it. I dialed the number before I could think twice. Less than 10 minutes later, all was out in the open and we could move forward with a plan rather than hard feelings. After the conversation I reflected on what went well. Below are a few takeaways that might help with future, less pleasant, conversations.

When dealing with uncomfortable situations:

  1. Don’t avoid the problem. It’s not going away, and you’ll only cause unnecessary anxiety and worry by pushing off confrontation.
  2. Go to the source. Rather than wonder, guess, speculate, or debate, just ask. Talk to the person directly.
  3. Act quickly. Putting off difficult conversations means more build up and longer periods of unsettled feelings. Have the conversation; emotions will only fester if you wait.
  4. Start problem solving. Rather than act passively with uncertainty, take control once feelings are in the open and move forward.
  5. Focus on the positive. Tough conversations are never fun, but they can lead to positive relationship building. Connecting with another person, facing a challenge together, being honest and communicating openly – all of these are great takeaways from an otherwise unpleasant interaction.

Rip off the band-aid (figuratively). Make the call. Say your piece. Smile – you can now move on with your life.

A Personal Tale of Copywriting & Career Path

Writing a personal blog takes time and energy that could be spent elsewhere. Before starting Spending It Wisely, I considered why it was valuable for me to write in my free time. This led me to think about my personal history with writing, and how I’ve been drawn to write at various times in different capacities – and why I’m here now sharing my thoughts.

As a child, writing was easy and exciting. On a trip home earlier this summer, I found some of my old works-of-art. In those days, I really went for it. I wrote books about giant glue sticks who saved the world. I also wrote about parrots who magically turned into people. Where these ideas came from, I’ll likely never remember. But I do remember I enjoyed being silly, creative, and having a final product.

In school, I wrote for good grades. Writing was a chore that I completed at an okay level, but I would never have said I loved it. In college, I took a new strategic business writing class as one of the first twenty students. Reigniting the passion once again, that class and professor turned my relationship with writing on its head. I worked hard on my writing, and it was the first time I recall truly wanting to improve. I became a writing tutor, and helped other business students refine their arguments, improve their structure, and ultimately receive better grades.

Upon graduating, I didn’t think much about writing or where it could take me. Out of college I received a coveted internship as an Event Coordinator, which was not super related to writing (at all). Five years later, I’m with the same company, and writing has made its way back into my day-to-day. As a Brand Manager, writing is a huge part of my role. From developing social media campaigns, to curating and editing web content, to collaborating on the company mission statement – I write a lot. Not only is writing a large part of my career success, but I’ve also become the go-to for others. If a friend needs a resume reviewed, it’s sent to me. If a coworker wants second eyes on a big email, it hits my inbox first. I take a lot of pride in knowing that others feel confident in the written product I produce.

Brand management and marketing cannot be done well without good copywriting. If you’re trying to tell a story, sell a product, or evoke an emotion, you do it with words at some point in the process. In today’s world, you need strong, concise words that stand out from the massive clutter. I take this challenge seriously, and it’s fun. It’s not only writing – it’s problem solving. It’s completing a puzzle with pieces that fit perfectly.

Using the right words, at the right time, to get strong results, is what I love to do. Why should it stop at the end of the workday? I want to refine my skill that’s continued to challenge me in the best way.

 

A Foolproof Method for Answering Tough Questions

Over the past few months, I’ve said “yes” more than usual. I love a great adventure, but I’m also a proud home body. My idea of a perfect Friday night is more often than not staying in with friends and family. It’s easy to be safe and choose the obvious, more routine, route. But that hasn’t served me much lately.

When visiting Europe, I had a three days on my own. I’d never traveled solo internationally before, so I was anxious. My best friend told me I’d really love Prague, and I should see it. I had a free day, but Prague was a five hour bus ride each way, and I’d only be in the city a few hours. Sitting on my bed alone in a Munich hotel, my logical brain was weighing the pros and cons. It’s supposedly beautiful. Lots of history. A long, but easy, bus ride. I’d have to leave before sunrise tomorrow. Ten hours on a bus in one day?! By myself? And then, “how could I not?” I bought the ticket.

A few years ago, I invested in a racing bike. I’ve ridden it some, but biking in Chicago gets busy and intimidating. I hadn’t ridden my bike all summer, until today. It’s a gorgeous day in the city, and my rest day from running. The Chicago lakefront is not something to waste as it gets colder outside. So I headed out and hit the lakefront path, where I sit writing this, next to my bike.

An amazing tool I’ve learned for life’s questions – both minor and major – is to understand the alternative. Had I stayed in Munich, so close to Prague, I would have regretted not taking the (relatively) short journey. I was cozy on the couch this morning, but the temperate days in Chicago are quickly disappearing. Considering how I’d feel if my bike sat rusting all year got me up in minutes.

Try it – ask yourself about the alternative.

  • Where am I in a year if I stay in the job I hate?
  • If I spend hours a day on social media, does that lead me to a life I love?
  • How can I not take a new, exciting opportunity, despite being happy with my current situation?

Answering questions backwards sheds more light than “am I better off just staying put?” One of the most telling answers for me as of late comes from that question: what is the alternative? What happens if I say no? Where does failure to act get me?

If you don’t use this method to get you answers, I highly encourage testing it for yourself. It’s pretty incredible, and usually clear, how easy the answer makes a decision.

Dive in.

Sometimes, you just need to start writing. I’ve considered starting a blog for over a year and always found a reason to put it off. The direction was unclear, people wouldn’t read what I have to say… and the list goes on. I was scared and unwilling to act, which held me back. I’m not entirely sure why that changed today, but it did, and for now I’m thankful.

Few events have taught me more about myself, or led to more personal growth moments, than traveling. I recently returned from a long trip in Europe, which may have pushed me to finally go for it. When you take a month off, away from responsibility, emails, meetings – there’s a lot of free time and free space in your brain to think about what matters. Which led me to consider: I need more of what I want. Nothing is more important than time and how it’s spent, so I want to be more careful with such a valuable resource. What better day than today to make a move and share something positive?

Over the past few months, I’ve been inspired by lots of influencers who I consider role models. People who share how they take risks, show vulnerability, and aren’t afraid to be themselves. When you seek out those messages and surround yourself with positivity on a daily basis, it becomes easier and easier to see what’s good in the world. The petty stuff does not matter. Will someone dislike my writing? Yes. Is that important? Not really. I like to write. It’s fun, and it makes me happy. At work I jump at any opportunity to be part of writing projects. Is my time better spent scrolling through Instagram, rather than trying something new that pushes my boundaries? I don’t think so.

This blog will likely change overtime. For now, I’m hoping to challenge myself to spend my time in a meaningful way on something I love, which is writing. Spending it wisely reminds me there’s only so much time to keep moving forward, push the boundaries, welcome the new, and do it with a smile.