5 Ways to Make a Fresh Start

Photo by  Markus Spiske  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

The shift from one calendar year to another can bring up lots of feelings – some useful, others less so. Regardless of how you feel about the beginning of a new year, we can all use this time as an opportunity to reset, rejuvenate, and redefine ourselves with some fresh starts.

Below are 5 areas in which we can give ourselves a clean slate and/or a boost in the new year. What’s important about these is that they’re all foundational to any kind of big change you might be working on in terms of your career (career change, negotiating something big). If you’ve got your foundational pillars in place and standing strong, then you’ll be in a much better position to weather any work-related adversity that might come your way. 

Photo by  JJ Ying  on  Unsplash .

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash.

5 tips to energize your January
(I do NOT recommend trying to do all of these at once!)

1. Time. Revisit your commitments. It’s a new year: a great time to make sure the things you’ve been doing – the activities and commitments you give your time and energy to – continue to serve you. Use my Time Charter worksheet to help you with this!

2. Time Off. Make sure your next vacation is on the books. I just learned that more frequent, shorter vacations do more for our relaxation and fight against burnout than big, long vacations. Check out this 60-second video post by Adam Grant, organizational psychologist for more on this. So pick the date for your next getaway – preferably something before 3/31! And block off 30 minutes to an hour in the next week to do some vacation research and planning.

Photo by  Dino Reichmuth  on  Unsplash .

3. Environment. Rearrange your space. Whether it’s at work or at home, get some new energy from a new arrangement of your existing furniture and/or replace some worn items with upgrades (which don’t have to be anything expensive or fancy or even cost a cent!). Maybe you can change the direction that your desk or work station faces. Or swap out curtains from one room to another. Or change up the lighting. There are tons of ways to resourcefully create a new feel to your living or work space!

4. Finances. Deepen your understanding of your financials. If you haven’t done a deep-dive into your finances (in the last six months or ever), schedule an afternoon on a day off to devote to this. If you’re already on top of your finances and budgeting, spend a few hours strategizing around how you can put your money to better and more meaningful use – whether it’s changing how you invest, making sure you’re investing in ethical causes, or finding ways to channel that money into worthy causes.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash .

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

5. Personal Growth. Learn a new skill. The key is to choose one thing to learn and actually make plans to learn it. Maybe it’s a new physical activity, like dance or rock climbing or mixed martial arts. Maybe it’s a creative activity, like taking a pottery class or joining a writing group or signing up for some painting classes. Whatever you’re called to learn – whether it’s been on your wish list for years or is a new addition – what’s one thing you can do today to establish the accountability you need to follow through with it?

Photo by  Kinga Cichewicz  on  Unsplash .

That’s all for this month – let me know which fresh start you choose!
Happy new year!

It’s That Time of Year…!

Photo by  Nicolai Berntsen  on  Unsplash .

Oh, December. The most wonderful, er, chaotic, time of year! End-of-year deadlines, impending holidays, the barrage of events – both desired and dreaded. This special time of year can make me feel burnt out and longing for calmer months…

And then I remember that I’m a part of my problem.

Who set so many ambitious goals for the end of the year? Who said yes to all the family events? Who forgot to block out time for exercise, deep work projects, and unstructured free time?

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash .

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Um, I did.

If this sounds like you at all – overworked, over-scheduled, overwhelmed! – here are 3 quick tips for a calmer, happier, and more relaxed month:

1. Life Hack

Pick one weekend and cancel all your plans for it. Block it out as Recuperation Time. Be sure not to add any plans back to in! Activities like sleeping, tidying up, reading, watching TV or movies, making art, journaling, doing laundry, grocery shopping, are highly encouraged.

2. Work Hack

One person can only do so much. If you feel like you’re drowning in work tasks, take your to do list and eliminate one work item from it each day. When you feel less overwhelmed by what’s in front of you, you actually stand a better chance at accomplishing what you really need to do, and it’ll probably be higher quality too. Remember: show yourself the same level of compassion that you’d show someone else.

3. Gifting Hack

If you do gifts this time of year, pick one gift and give it to multiple, if not all, of the people for whom you buy gifts. Bonus points if it’s something you made (see activities you can do for tip #1)! I’ve done this in some form or another the last few years – one year, I gave everyone in my family a copy of Between the World and Me and a card that I made. Here are a few starting points if you need some inspiration:

Alysia Mazzella
Jacque Dubose
Black Snapper Design by Lisa Slocum
Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria

Good luck and happy holidays!

The Utility of Marking Time (Even Cheesy Anniversaries)

I’m not generally into anniversaries and birthdays. I’m pretty bad at celebrating my own; they always felt over-indulgent or kind of meaningless to me (I know this isn’t totally rational and maybe a little weird).

Photo by  Adi Goldstein  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash.

But, in the past few years, I’ve become a big proponent of marking time in terms of our accomplishments. To me, it’s a way of resisting the temptation or tendency for us to always focus on what more we want, what more we wish we’d have accomplished by now – the never-ending, insatiable wish for MORE. NEXT. FASTER.

The reason I’m thinking about this now is because November 10 marks the third anniversary of Embrace Change🎉 Previously, my natural tendency would’ve been to say, “Wow, three years, I should’ve accomplished so much more by this point.” 

Pretty negative, huh? 

But, current me is going to say this instead: “Wow, look at everything I’ve done in the past three years!”

I’m not lying when I say that choosing the second option…feels better inside!

Photo by  Marion Michele  on  Unsplash .

And you can do this for yourself, too! Take your work, a passion project, being a member of a particular community, a hobby or side interest, your relationships, your relationship with yourself. Think about how long you have been investing your time and energy into that. It doesn’t have to be a round number of years or months. Of course, you can make this a regular practice to mark round anniversaries, but I also want you to just try this out now – regardless of the amount of time that’s passed.

Make a list of what you have accomplished in that area of your life since you started investing your time and energy into it. Don’t worry too much about making it chronological. It’s more of a brain dump. But memorializing this on paper or electronically is critical. And don’t worry, this should only take you 5 to 10 minutes :)

Photo by  Aron  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Aron on Unsplash.

Here’s my selected list as a guide:

  1. I started a business.

  2. I figured out what my mission and services would be. 

  3. I made a website. 

  4. I put myself out there and pounded the pavement looking for work and potential clients I could help. 

  5. I pivoted my business. 

  6. I got more traction in each successive iteration. 

  7. I pivoted and narrowed my services even more, refining everything about the work that I was doing.

  8. I started to feel a lot more comfortable, “at home,” with – and proud of – the whole Embrace Change thing ;-)

Having lists like these makes it so that now, at the three-year mark, I can look back and recognize that, you know what, I have done a f^&*ing lot in the last three years! In the last year alone, I’ve worked with well over a dozen clients individually, I’ve group coached about 100 women, I created my first online workshop (learning video and audio editing myself as I went) and debuted my third in-person workshop. I’ve hired 3 women of color to help me with various pieces of my business at various times.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash .

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

And metrics are all well and good, but there are also the intangible accomplishments. Like #8, above. And feeling excited to tell people about what I offer, what I can do for people, and why it’s important. And liking, or even loving, my work. Those are accomplishments too.

They might actually be the most important accomplishments.

If you decide to start marking time in this way, you might just find that it’s easier to motivate yourself on those days when it feels like you’re spinning your wheels and you want to quit.

Happy anniversary, everyone! You are doing GREAT.

What Keeps Us From Asking For More?

I know so many strong, powerful, and accomplished women. I feel lucky to have met so many who are total badasses. It keeps me inspired and motivated. And I like knowing I’m in good company :)

What surprises me, though, is how many of these women – who are often fierce advocates for others – don’t advocate on their own behalf. Sometimes it’s not wanting to negotiate a job offer or increase in pay; other times, it’s not negotiating a conflict or boundary.

I hear all sorts of reasons why. “I don’t want to be seen as a problem or selfish or ungrateful for pushing too hard.” “I don’t want to lose the job because someone would do it for less.” “I don’t trust myself to negotiate ‘right’ and I don’t want to fail.” “I’m afraid of how it will feel to hear no.” “I don’t think I have a lot of power or leverage.” “I want to be liked and I don’t like conflict.”

What’s at the bottom of all of this?

Yep, you guessed it: FEAR.

Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of retaliation, fear of loss. Because, it’s true, when we negotiate, we are taking a risk.

But, there are also risks – sometimes grave ones – to not negotiating, to not asking, to not advocating for ourselves.

We have to weigh these against each other in each situation that comes up. But fairly. What do I mean by that? I mean that before we choose to forego (forfeit) a negotiation, we have to have done our due diligence to identify and address our fears. Only once we’ve made some progress in this area can we clearly see what the risks are on both sides and how they square with each other.

Photo by  Mohammad Gh  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Mohammad Gh on Unsplash.

I’m willing to bet that most of us are plenty familiar with the risks to negotiating (rejection, embarrassment, loss, etc.), and find it much more challenging to name the risks to not negotiating (e.g., a different kind of loss, defeat, surrender, settling, disappointment, stagnation, regression, maintaining the status quo).

So what can we do about this?

Here’s one thing you can try: first, identify what’s holding you back from negotiating for more. Write down all the fears present for you. Is it fear of failure? Is it fear of losing something?

Once you’ve identified them, journal about the worst case scenario that’s playing in your head or lurking in the back of your mind. Don’t be afraid to dig deep.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash .

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Then, zoom out and try to take a more objective view. Ask yourself how realistic that worst case scenario is. What, really, are the chances of it happening in real life? 20%? 40%? 5%?

Next, do a similar process for the risks associated with not negotiating. What will you lose if you choose not to negotiate? What’s the worst case scenario of not negotiating? And how likely is that to become your reality if you pass on negotiating?

Hopefully, this introspective process helps bring you some clarity. And don’t forget to be compassionate with yourself throughout. This is heavy stuff that takes a lot of time and work to unpack.

Obviously, you know my bias here, which is that we, women, should be negotiating and asking for a helluva lot more than we currently are. Because I think it’s really important.

I want all women and non-binary folks to understand and really internalize that everything is negotiable. It’s past time for us to start demanding our due (and then some).

***By the way, if you, like me, are into this kind of thing, check out We Deserve More. I’d love for you to join us for a half-day workshop and circle on negotiation on Saturday, October 20!***

What Getting Stitches Taught Me About Goals and Deadlines

Photo by  Alexander Lam  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Alexander Lam on Unsplash.

This summer I had to get 10 stitches in my left hand. For those who want the gory details, click here and I’m happy to tell you everything. If you get queasy about stuff like this, click here and you won’t have to see any of it ;-)

All things considered, I was lucky and the situation (stitch-uation??) was not serious. But, of course, there was pain – both in getting the stitches and in the healing that came after.

As you know (especially those of you who follow me on Instagram), I had grand plans this summer – my whole #SummerGoals thing. Like many people, I tend to procrastinate. That was partly why I wanted to set these public goals for myself – so that I’d have that external, social pressure to actually do many of these things by the end of summer.

But, sometimes unexpected shit happens. Like injuring myself, which jeopardized my ability to achieve some of my goals.

In any event, my kickass doctor at urgent care, Dr. Pehr, told me the stitches would have to come out after 10 to 14 days. I thought, “Great! That’s not too long. I’ll be back to my normal self, able to fully use both hands, in no time!”

But, of course, Day 10 rolls around and the stitches don’t look ready to come out yet – at least about half of them. Day 13 rolls around and it’s clear the stitches need to come out, but one of my wounds wasn’t really healed back together yet.

On Day 14, the stitches were removed (so that other complications wouldn’t arise), but one of the cuts needed to be held together, still. Luckily, on Day 13, I was having brunch with not one, but THREE doctors, who all looked at it and told me that it was fine, the stitches should come out, but I could use crazy glue or liquid bandage to hold it together after that.

Long story short, I’m now on my third method of trying to hold the cut together (liquid bandage, then off-brand butterfly bandages, now off-brand Steristrips) and it’s clear that this thing isn’t going to heal on my timeline.

So what can I do? Nothing, but let my body continue to heal itself and try not to make things worse, while still doing what I’m able to do. I can’t rush this. I can’t order my hand to be back to normal simply because there are things I want to do by a certain date. Life doesn’t work that way.

And this happens a lot with the goals we set in our career and in our lives. We have an idea, a dream. We set a goal to make it a reality. Maybe we even make a SMART goal and create systems to support getting to that goal by our deadline. Go us!

And sometimes things work out perfectly!

But other times, wrenches get thrown, unanticipated delays happen, and our timeline is set back. We need clear goals in order to drive us forward, to keep us growing and reaching. But we can’t have a death grip on them either.

Life demands that we allow for room to breathe, a little leeway and flexibility in the dance between pushing forward and going with the flow. 

I mean, we can still try to fight it.

But, at least in my current situation, what’s going to happen if I resist? More pain, a longer healing time, a bigger scar, and possibly even more stitches.



If you want the gory details…



Summer Goal #6 was to make another cork bulletin board. I had made one a few years ago and enjoyed the process and it looks great! It’s hanging in my living room with lots of happy mementoes pinned to it.

When I made the first one, friends and family who knew about it started giving me their used corks. It was great! And even after I finished the first one, people still gave me corks. As a result, I had a TON of leftover corks and I figured I would simply make a second cork board and give it to a friend!

So that was one of my goals for the summer.

Now, in making a cork board like this, the corks have to be cut length-wise so that the flat side can be glued to the back of the frame. So most of the process of making one of these things is the cutting of the corks.

I normally cut corks in small batches because it’s tiring and can be kind of boring. But my deadline for finishing the cork board was looming, as my friend was coming over for dinner that next week. So I wanted to push through and do the last batch so I could start doing the design and gluing them down.

Unfortunately, I got to one very tough cork, I was a little tired, and my attention was waning. And my very sharp knife slipped from the cork and went right into my left hand, cutting it in 3 places (one was super shallow and didn’t even need stitches).

The finished product.

The finished product.

Luckily, as the amazing Dr. Pehr later said, I only “filleted” myself and didn’t cut myself deep in either place (no tendons, muscles, nerves hit – only fat). But there was a good amount of blood initially.

As soon as I realized what I had done, I jumped up put pressure on the cut on my palm (the bigger one) and ran to the bathroom. It took maybe 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. Then, with a bunch of gauze taped to my hand and while still applying pressure, my spouse got me to the urgent care.

And Dr. Pehr took it from there! There was a lot of pain until the anesthetic really starting doing its job. But I knew I was in good hands (ha!). And I had just listened to an episode of Radiolab that talked about working through massive amounts of pain, so I had new techniques to put into practice!

So that’s basically it. I got 6 stitches in my palm and 4 in my thumb. I got really grateful for being able-bodied and having the use of both hands normally.

And I feel fine knowing I might never cut a cork again! At least not lengthwise and not with a super sharp knife :)