Help! Is it okay to ask for help? (yes)

No one likes to ask for help.

 

In college I was doing very badly in a course (I cannot stress how bad I was doing, let’s just say I’m glad there’s no letter worse than F) and my teacher came to me and told me I needed to get a tutor. My ego was bruised, my pride hurt. I didn’t want to admit defeat and admit that I wasn’t doing well. I was an honors student in high school, but this department-specific course was kicking my butt.

 

I asked for help. My tutor ended up being another freshman (who was advanced a year worth of pre-req’s which, let’s be real, hurt my ego a little more) and he helped me improve my homework grades. I still struggled in that class, but I managed to escape it with a C.

 

No one likes to ask for help. But I learned through my college experience that sometimes you need it. Sometimes you have to admit that you’re in a little over your head. And it’s ok. Everyone has had to ask for help.

 

Do you think CEOs get to where they are without assistants? Without delegating work? Do you think the top bloggers get to where they are without hiring a virtual assistant?

 

No. They get to where they are by working with people who excel in the areas they may not. They have the big ideas but need help executing? They’ll hire a manager. A blogger has great ideas and experiences but struggles with grammar and spelling? They hire an editor or proofreader.

 

Are you a court reporter struggling to find time to get your proofreading done once your work comes back from your scopist? Hire a proofreader. By hiring a proofreader to go over your work to do that final polish, you give yourself time to take another deposition and cover the cost. You’ll be able to spend more time out in the field. Even if you don’t usually use a proofreader but you’re stressed with the number of depositions you’ve committed to, you can hire a proofreader for a one-time job. There’s a large field of proofreaders available to help.

 

Are you a creative entrepreneur looking to expand your business but bogged down with the mundane tasks? Let me do them! There’s nothing I love more than a clean inbox. As your virtual assistant it’s my job to act as your administrative assistant, just at a distance. I’ll handle the tasks that bore you so you can focus on growing your business.

 

It’s ok to ask for help. It can grow your business. It can reduce your stress. You’re worth it.

 

If you’re looking for a proofreader or a virtual assistant, feel free to click the links for more information.

7 College Textbook Hacks

 

There’s nothing more fun than going to your first semester of college, bright-eyed and naïve, ready to start your education.

And getting slapped with a huge bill at the school book store.

I had very little support when transitioning from high school to college and had no idea how much textbooks would cost me going in. The sticker shock was enough for me to figure out how to save money on my textbooks. Here are the ways I figured out how to save money and not go further into debt.

No matter which option you go with, always price check it all. Always look. There is no rhyme or reason to which option will be the cheapest, so always look at all your options to find the best one.

  1. Renting – Now most people know that you can rent textbooks online from various websites and even some school stores do. Rentals don’t cost as much as purchasing the book outright, but unless it’s a rare book, it will not likely be the cheapest option. CD’s and online content codes may not be available.
  2. Secondhand Websites – Used copies can be in great condition from places like eBay, Amazon third party sellers, Half.com (run by eBay) and Thrift Books. I got really lucky with some used copies in college; one had page numbers next to all the questions so I always knew where to find the answers! Again, CDs and online content codes may not be available with this option.
  3. Facebook Groups – Find out if your major or potential career has a Facebook group where you can buy and sell items. My major had a club page where students could sell their books to one another, with no shipping costs!
  4. Buy One Edition Back – General Education courses have textbooks that always appear to have a new edition out every year or two, jacking up the price. Most of the time these editions update minor statistics and shift some information to put some money in the author’s bank account. While I can’t fault them, it makes it frustrating for the rest of us. If you find you have a book with tons of back editions, buying one edition back will give you the same general textbook. Make friends with someone in the class with the current edition to see if you can photocopy whatever information you need. I did this with a few different courses, it worked well.
  5. Online Editions – Online editions of books will cost less, but restricts you to using them on a computer or tablet. Personally, I don’t focus as well reading on a digital screen as I do on paper, so I resorted to this option rarely. But if you function well using your iPad or computer as a textbook, it’s a great option.
  6. Library – Sometimes you will get lucky and find the textbook at a local library or at your college’s library for use. Downsides are the book may get checked out and you don’t get to see it, or the library will require it stay in the building for student use.
  7. Don’t Buy It. Deep breaths, it’s ok. Sometimes your teacher assigns a book and then never actually assigns any work from it.

A bonus option here to save money is to allocate funds for your textbooks and then once that semester is over, you can turn around and sell the book. I am a huge fan of selling on Amazon. They take a small commission but give you a 3.99 shipping allowance which can leave you with the majority of your money back. Only once has the option to trade the book in for Amazon credit been more than what I could sell it for. Even if you sell the book for $5.00, you get the $3.99 shipping cost for a grand total of $8.99. Amazon will take a 8-15% commission giving you $5.90. Shipping by USPS Media Mail costs between $3-$5. You won’t make much selling a book for $5, but those $200 textbooks can give you money back into your pocket.

 

No matter which option you choose, always wait until after you get your course syllabus before you buy the book. You will not likely need the book on the first day of class. The syllabus will be able to show you how much you’ll use the book or at all. Depending on the subject you’ll know if you can buy an older edition or digital copy.

 

Textbook cost panic aside, remember it’s just a part of the experience. Best of luck with your semesters!

5 Ways to Deal with Anxiety and Change

Change is exciting. Change is terrifying. But no matter how you feel about it, change is anxiety inducing.

 

For the average person, anxiety is the warning your body sends to your brain to notify it of change. Anxiety isn’t always bad. It’s the butterflies in your stomach before a first date; the excitement and nervousness you feel on your first day of a new job. All too often we experience the anxiety that comes from negative experiences. Anxiety that this first date is a horrible person. The pit of stress you fall into when you walk into work at a job you hate. What new problems are going to arise? What changes are going to happen?

 

I think one of the major hindrances of people achieving their goals is the fear of change. Change is anxiety inducing. It’s scary. The idea of quitting a hated job or leaving a city you’re not comfortable in to explore new options is terrifying. Especially if you’re taking a leap and moving forward on faith.

 

In February I “rage quit” my job after months of being treated poorly and trying so hard to work for my clients. I got to the point where I couldn’t take the stress anymore and when a co-worker was fired for almost no reason, I walked out after her. I had no job prospects in sight. Within a few months it became evident my husband’s job was failing to meet the standards he’s set for himself. With a crappy rental that was literally collapsing under us, we decided to leave town, take a leap of faith and move on.

 

We’ve been back in his hometown for nearly two months and been trying to get our footing. I’ve got a part-time job and a freelance gig I’m setting up through this website. He’s struggling to find his way. The house we agreed to rent is being renovated and we’re living with my in-laws. This is not where I wanted to be at this stage in my life.

 

But you know what? It’s where we are. We are a young couple with no kids (only a spoiled rotten kitty) and we’re working toward goals. Sure the goals aren’t specific, but they’re our goals. My goal is to get my freelance proofreading business going so I can work from home, so I can eliminate the need for daycare once we have kids. His goal is to find a job he doesn’t hate that can turn into a career. How sad is it that he’s hated all the full-time jobs he’s held? It breaks my heart for him. So we’re moving on, looking into options, and supporting each other.

 

We’re technically homeless and unemployed right now. Talk about stress and anxiety, right?

 

So what do we do that can help relieve our anxiety while going through so many changes?

 

  1. Communicate. I can’t stress this enough. My husband is not a talker, I am. I have to ask questions of him to get what he’s thinking. It’s ok, because he still communicates with me that way. I know where he’s at and I try very hard not to inundate him with questions. If you aren’t married, vent to a friend, write in a journal, scream it all out to God. Believer or not, it’ll make you feel better. You have to communicate your stresses, bottling it up only prolongs the suffering.
  2. Take time for “carefree timelessness”. In his book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, Matthew Kelly discusses “carefree timelessness” which is the ability to spend time with your spouse without an agenda. It’s the difference between spending a Saturday accomplishing chores or errands and carving out a few hours to get together and say “what do you want to do?” and end up getting ice cream. It’s something a lot of couples don’t make sure to do, and struggle to have time for. With neither of us working right now, we are absolutely spending this time together with the understanding that we won’t have so much time like this in the future. If you don’t currently have a significant other, make time for a close friend, even if that time is on the phone, it can be an extremely comforting destresser.
  3. Fight the demons. There is always going to be that awful voice of doubt in your mind telling you that you won’t succeed, that you won’t get out of a difficult place. That voice is self-doubt, it’s the devil, it’s a demon hiding in your mind. No matter what your beliefs are, it’s an evil voice you need to silence. How? If it’s a career related voice, read a book on career success, confidence, or something specific to your field. Boost your confidence. Take action. Do something to silence that voice.
  4. Do something spiritual. Don’t let me lose you here! I’m personally a Christian, and I know not everyone is, but we all have some form of spirituality in our lives. Meditation, writing, reading, running,yoga, any of these things can be considered spiritual. It’s individual. For me, it’s prayer. I get peace from just spouting off to God about my stress and anxiety. It helps. A good cup of coffee and a good book helps.
  5. Remind yourself it’s going to be ok. Life gets hard, I’m not denying that. Things can get far worse before they get better, but remember the sunshine is coming. The days after the storm are coming. There will be joy and light in your life again. I like the way this comic says it:Life won’t always be easy, but there’s a finish line. There are goals. And you’ll make it.

Career is Not My Priority

I have no idea what I’m doing with my career.

As a young child, when my peers were dreaming of becoming doctors, police officers, and teachers, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Sure I was biased because I had one, but I wanted to be a mom. My dramatic play was always based off of getting married and having babies with my favorite TV characters. As I got older it turned into fanfiction writing about those favorite characters (new ones!) and their lives.

At school, I thought about being a librarian. I loved reading and was grade levels ahead every year. Then I wanted to be a teacher. In high school I was lost again. I didn’t like school, so I didn’t want to continue on in school for the rest of my life. I loved music and singing and I have a talent so I was looking into different music careers. I wanted to produce for a while, but looking into the college requirements it had a lot of physics and math, subjects I struggled in (at best!). I didn’t want to teach, and then I found Music Therapy.

It sounded great. You use music to deliver therapy to anyone, children, adults, people with disabilities, mothers in labor, infants in the NICU, people in hospice and so many more. I was accepted to school and I graduated four years later with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy. I dealt with a lot of anxiety about the career. I don’t think it was imposter syndrome, I think it was discomfort being in a career path I wasn’t passionate about.

I graduated and did what I was supposed to, I completed my internship and got a job halfway across the country. I wasn’t happy with it. I didn’t feel like there was enough of a passion. I didn’t love what I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was doing my best. So when my fiance got a job two hours away, I followed him and tried something else.

I started working as a pre-school teacher a year ago. I do not like it. The kids are great, they’re the best part of the job. My co-workers and the parents are generally the worst part of the job and I do not want to stay there.

So with the jobs I’ve done in my life (I’ve also worked at a restaurant but I don’t consider that ‘career’) a few things are clear and I need a change. I want to find a career I can do that I will enjoy.

I need a job that will provide for my desired lifestyle.

I want to be a mother. Having children is something I’ve always wanted. My husband and I both work in jobs that don’t make a lot. So I want to find a career that will provide enough on part-time work, or build skills now to have a job that will continue to provide when I want to have children.

The options I’ve considered and will be exploring are the following:

  1. Blogging – this has been the highest recommended “work-at-home” option. It can make a lot of money if done in the right niche in the right way. Downside, I’m unsure of a niche and I don’t know if my life is interesting enough.
  2. Creating Passive Income – this one is more vague, but the best option I can do with my current skill-set, is to write and self-publish a book. Downside, do I have a topic to write about? Chandler Bolt seems to think so.
  3. Grad School – I’m considering going back to school to obtain an MSW. I’m good with organization and I believe working in an administrative team for a non-profit or any other service company, I could be valuable. Downside, it’s expensive.
  4. Proofreading – the one skill I am developing is proofreading for court reporters. I really like this option as what I’ve discovered is there is a demand for this service and growth in the industry is possible. I’m in the middle of taking Caitlin Pyle’s Proofread Anywhere course and I’m feeling successful. Downside, it costs a bit up-front and it does take loads of work to master the skill.
  5. Virtual Assisting – This one I just started researching. I’m going to explore doing some assisting. I have the skills, I’d just need to learn how to apply them, and market myself to bloggers or professionals who could utilize them.

My main goal is to be able to work from home. I want to be a stay-at-home mom someday, so having a business I can develop now while my husband and I are childless, is so valuable. My main goal in life isn’t career (if yours is, that’s ok! Everyone is different) it’s family. I want to have a family life. But to have it, I need a stable income.

I’ll say it here, my goal for 2017 is to leave my day job and begin earning income from home. I will continue to update on this as the year progresses. Ups and downs, anything is possible.