A Life-Changing Activity

This past fall, I took a class called "LifeKeys" with my friends Jen and Monica. I originally signed up for the class because part of it helped bridge life plans with Myers Briggs, but what I got out of the class was so much more.

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The 6-week class was divided up into sections, and each evening we discussed a new topic. Oddly enough, the evening that I was least excited about ended up being my favorite (and the most applicable!) of them all.

The evening dedicated to the topic of "Values" put SO much into perspective for me. When I used to think of values, I immediately associated it with a way of living / what is important to you. Things like "honesty" came to mind -- but I never really realized how much influence our values have on our lives.

In preparation for that particular evening, we completed an activity where we chose our top 8 values out of a huge stack of cards. Below are mine, in order of importance.

1. Authenticity - Ongoing desire to honestly express who one is

2. Happiness - Finding satisfaction, joy, or pleasure

3. Achievement - Enjoying a sense of accomplishment or success

4. Learning - Lifelong commitment to growing in understanding

5. Challenge - Attracted to new problems, difficult tasks

6. Personal Development - Wanting to use one's potential and grow to the fullest

7. Self-Respect - Having pride or a sense of personal identity

8. Efficiency - Working to accomplish tasks in comparatively little time

Numbers 3-8 weren't really a surprise for me, as they directly align with my top strengths; however, numbers 1 and 2 shocked me! Looking back at my life, suddenly so many things made so much sense -- why I thrived in certain relationships and situations, while others were a struggle.

Authenticity is important when I choose jobs, friendships, and opportunities. Small talk makes me uncomfortable because it feels fake and superficial -- I prefer a smaller group of close friends than a lot of acquaintances any day. I'm an oversharer, and prefer to be "real" with people verses putting on appearances. I like the grit and raw of real life (both the good and the bad) and feel like that is what ultimately unites us in relationships. I'd also loop "honesty" into this overarching theme of authenticity, as that is important to me as well.

As far as happiness goes, this is one that also surprised me, but it's taken me a couple of unhealthy friendships and ill-fitting jobs to make me realize how important happiness is to me. Early on in my career, I chased opportunities and money instead of happiness and now it feels so good to realize that happiness is so much more important than an admirable line on a resume or an extra grand or two each year. I've also reached a point where I refuse to stay in situations that compromise my health -- no job or situation is worth it if it is stressing your body and your mind.

If you're interested in taking this assessment for yourself, you may purchase the workbook and corresponding book here.

What's a value that important to you?
Are you more private or an oversharer like me?

Goalsetting

Setting goals has always been a part of me that I attribute coming naturally to me thanks to my top strengths. I like getting things done and making progress -- therefore, I can't envision my life without having some sort of goals that I'm always working towards.

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Even though goalsetting comes very naturally to me, there are still actions that I need to take to work towards and accomplish the goals that I set.

1. Write It Down
I blog about my goals every month, and doing so not only helps me to be intentional about choosing and accomplishing them, but it also holds me accountable since I check in on the previous month's goals at the beginning of the next month.

2. Break Larger Goals Down
Some of my goals take longer than just a day to finish, so I like to break those down throughout the month (or year, depending on the size of them) to make them more manageable. For example, when I set the goal of renewing and changing my name on my passport, one week I stopped by the DMV for the application and to have my photo taken. The next week I sat down with a cup of coffee and filled out the application. It felt a lot more manageable to break it down since it was a goal that wasn't too enjoyable.

3. Have Grace with Yourself
Some months I nail all of my goals, while others slip away from me. Other times, I realize I've set too lofty of a goal for myself in too short of a period of time (I'm looking at you, Christmas cards), so I like to look at the bigger picture. Does this absolutely have to be done this month while I'm feeling spread too thin? If not, I'll often bump that goal to the next month and carry on.

PS I'm linking up with Shay today!

What's one goal you'd like to accomplish this year?
What's the hardest thing for you about setting / accomplishing goals?

Make Every Day Luxurious

Growing up, I remember my mom used to always have us save old t-shirts and shorts "for working out." I remember wearing freebie tees (like the ones we received each year for volunteering at Operation Christmas Child) to our local YMCA. Later on, we joined Life Time Fitness and I remember feeling a little out of place in my cheap tees and Soffe shorts.

Once I was out on my own, I bought a few gym outfits -- just some simple workout tanks and a pair of capris and wore them for my next workout at the club. I remember feeling so much more confident about myself while out on the fitness floor. That was a defining moment that made me realize that every day can have little luxuries -- even if it's something as simple as wearing a cute outfit to the gym, using your good dishes to eat takeout food, or going out of your way to enjoy the scenic route home.

Below, I've listed some little ways to make each day more luxurious, or feel a little more fancy! I know I definitely have more of a pep in my step when I'm headed out the door in the morning while wearing my favorite shoes or accessories! 

On that note, today is my half birthday and I'm most definitely going to do something small to celebrate! :)

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Take a real lunch break away from your desk

Savor a favorite glass of wine

Curl up with a new magazine

Fill your home with classical music as you cook, clean, or relax

Wear bright colored statement earrings with jeans and a tee

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Wake up early and savor your morning coffee while reading a good book

Schedule an appointment to have your vehicle detailed. (I do this at least once a year and it is life-changing).

Get a mani / pedi or do it yourself while watching your favorite show

Wake up early and hit the grocery store before the rest of the world is awake

Wear your favorite scarf on a cold day

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Text a girlfriend to meet you for an impromptu catch-up session at a cute little wine cafe

Watch an eye makeup tutorial on YouTube and give yourself a smokey eye for your work day

Wear heels and a statement necklace with your jeans

Install a remote start on your vehicle to enjoy jumping into an already warm car on a cold night at the end of your work day

Block out an hour in your calendar to read at your local bookstore

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Take a bubble bath, complete with candles and a bath bomb

Make dinner reservations -- it feels fancier than just waltzing up to the restaurant to see if there's a table open

Step out of the office to pick up your favorite takeout meal for lunch

Book a massage at your favorite spa

Light a favorite candle -- these ones instantly make a room super cozy

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Enjoy an afternoon at the pool or beach

Create a peaceful yet energizing morning routine

Develop a relaxing yet productive evening routine

Clean out your wallet and purse -- you'll feel less frazzled when you're shopping

Wear cozy socks

What's something you like to do to add a little pep to your day?
What's one thing that you always look forward to? 

Real Life: Bad Days

I typically like to keep a happy and optimistic mindset, but it's normal (and okay!) to have a bad day every once in awhile. Yesterday, I woke up and started my day as usual but felt like everything kept going wrong -- you know, dumb little things like we were out of coffee, my hair wasn't working out, it was pouring rain, and I had a dental appointment on the calendar. I also realized halfway through my day that my leggings were on inside out, so there's that.

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Normally these things wouldn't be a huge deal, but for some reason I was just in a funk -- causing me to feel more frustrated with each little thing that went wrong. I could have easily called it a "bad day" and used that as an excuse to wallow in my misery, but instead I decided to turn it around. It was a glorious 56 degrees outside (aka my fall-aholic self was in heaven), so I dressed up in my favorite rain boots, showed up, and got on with my day.

I texted my sister to see if I could swing by for a quick brow reshaping session (my sister is the BEST with all things beauty), and after spending time with her and my nieces, I felt a million times better. Heck, I even arrived to my dental appointment with a smile on my face -- which was quite the turnaround from how I felt about going to the dentist earlier that day.

Here's what helps me turn a bad attitude or situation from turning into a bad day:

1. Remove Myself from the Situation
Even if it's just for 15 minutes, this helps me so much! Leaving for a "real" lunch break, taking a walk around the block, or running an errand helps me refocus my outlook for the day.

2. Make Plans
Sometimes alone time is great, but whenever I'm in a funk, spending too much time by myself results in overthinking things -- which makes me even more frustrated. An impromptu coffee date with a friend, scheduling a pedicure, or even just scheduling 30 minutes of your day for a workout helps so much!

3. Listen to Something
If I notice my thoughts going crazy, something that helps me is to either listen to my meditation app or to listen to music / a podcast to get my mind focused on something else.

4. Journal
There's just something about getting thoughts / feelings OUT of your head that helps so much! My mind feels clearer and it can often feel like a "fresh start." I don't typically carry my journal with me, so I like to utilize the "notes" app on my iPhone to jot down whatever is bothering me.

5. Dress Up
You guys know that I'm a huge advocate of dressing for success! Whenever I don't put effort into my appearance, I don't feel my best -- pair that with an already grumpy mindset and it's a recipe for disaster. Dressing in something where I feel confident and put together helps me to focus on being the best version of myself and immediately helps me to feel better!

P.S. I'm linking up for Tuesday Talk today! 

What's something that helps you turn your day around?
How do you handle bad days?

Personality Types

When I was in my late teens, my aunt introduced me to Myers Briggs personality assessment, which indicates how you perceive the world and make decisions. I was so intrigued by this and immediately took the online assessment. 

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My result was INTJ, which I felt like fit me perfectly at that time! I remember reading the description and being amazed at how accurate the results were in comparison to how I viewed myself. 

I've always had a passion for psychology and enjoy reading up on it for fun. It is because of this that I take retake the Myers Briggs assessment every so often just to see how my percentages of each letter change. As we grow and experience different circumstances, it is normal for our letters to change slightly -- usually just the percentages adjust, but sometimes your whole "type" can change. Imagine my surprise when I took it fall of 2015 and saw ENTP instead of my usual INTJ! 

My drastic change can be chalked up to the fact that I had gone through a lot of life changes that past year, done a lot of personal development work, and felt a lot more confident / outgoing than I was before. 

In case you're not familiar with this personality assessment, here's a quick breakdown of it. The theory behind Myers Briggs is that there are 16 different personality types -- each consisting of 4 letter combinations. The different pairs of personality traits are:

Where your energy comes from: Introversion (I) or Extraversion (E) 
How you take in information: Intuition (N) or Sensing (S)
How you make decisions: Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
Your preferred way of living: Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

So, for me -- my energy comes from being around people, I take in information via patterns and possibilities I make decisions based on logic, and I like to see possibilities unfold. Depending on where I'm at in life, my I/E (introvert / extrovert) and J/P (judger / perceiver) will oscillate, but I'm almost positive that I'll always be an "N" (intuition) and "T" (thinker) and I don't see those ever changing.

It should be noted that this is just a guideline and should be taken with a grain of salt. We all ebb and flow in our day to day lives and no one description can describe us perfectly.

Have you ever heard of the Myers Briggs assessment? 
What personality type are you? Take the free assessment here!