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    Not Feeling Like “You”? You’re Not Alone

    2020 has not been for the faint of heart. It’s been challenging in every sense of the word with new fears, anxieties, and insecurities surfacing at every turn. If no one has told you that you’re an incredibly strong and resilient person for making it here, let me be the first.At the start of the pandemic, it was kind of exciting to work from home for a few weeks. I mean, who doesn’t love wearing sweatpants all day!? We baked banana bread, watched Tiger King, and crossed things off our to-do lists that we hadn’t had time to get to for years. But with each passing day, our fears intensified and we began to feel the collective energy of a world on pins and needles, watching a virus wage war across the globe. Weeks turned into months, and now we have no idea when our new normal will look anything like the old.
    Personally, the pandemic left me feeling exhausted and unmotivated. I ran out of shows to watch on Netflix, found it difficult to get any work done, and activities I typically loved (like cooking, reading, and listening to podcasts) became uninteresting. Like most people going through the pandemic, I missed my friends and my freedom. Anxiety and depression started to seep in, but I also felt guilty that I was so fortunate to be safe and healthy, and still felt so awful.
    I just didn’t feel like me.
    The truth is that no matter how much banana bread we bake and how much we try to utilize our time with cleaning out closets and starting new hobbies, we’re all missing normalcy during this time: a crowded subway, afterwork drinks at a bar, nights out and laughs with friends, the ability to dream up a summer vacation. Especially if you’re physically alone, you’re likely feeling emotionally alone too.
    Although there may be differences in how we’re impacted by the pandemic, we’ve all been affected by it. The good news through this all is that no matter how isolated you are, it’s one of the rare instances where we’re all impacted and affected by the same thing. This means that if you’re not feeling like yourself either, it’s normal to feel this way; humans desire connection, so isolation and loneliness can fuel anxiety. Personally, it made me feel better to remind myself that I am not alone; other people are experiencing the same thing I am. This reminder helped me normalize my emotions and stop having guilt for what I was feeling.
    If pandemic anxiety and isolation is feeling like too much for you, here are five things that helped me, and may help for you too:

    Let the bad feelings in.
    Trust me, I spent a lot of time pretending like things were fine when they weren’t. But the problem with that is if you don’t address or acknowledge negative emotions, they will always resurface. While anxiety, loneliness, and stress are uncomfortable to experience in the moment, it’s OK to not feel OK. In fact, it’s human nature to go through ups and downs in life. Acknowledging a “down” and letting yourself feel it fully is just as important as acknowledging and feeling when you’re in an “up.” Judging or suppressing negative emotions will accentuate them, rather than stop them, so let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling, and know that other people are feeling that way too. When all you want to do is cry, scream, and yell, do it.

    If you don’t address or acknowledge negative emotions, they will always resurface.

    Appreciate what you do have, even if it’s not the most ideal.
    I get it: I’m totally over Zoom too. Internet glitches, forgetting I’m on “mute,” and delayed responses aren’t exactly the ideal formula for human connection. But the truth is that Zoom or Facetime truly are the next best things to in-person brainstorms at work or happy hour with friends at the bar. While I originally resented these limitations and hated how social interactions are determined by how good the internet connection is, I’ve learned to love conversations with friends over FaceTime and Zoom. Of course, video chats and phone calls can never replace the feeling we get being in-person, but I try to remind myself that even with internet glitches it is still a form of connection. Practice gratitude for the social interactions you do have (whether it’s your roommate or with loved ones virtually), and remind yourself that any amount of connection, no matter how small, should still be prioritized and celebrated.

    Find humor.
    No matter what’s going on in the world, we can still find joy and humor in the little things. Laughter makes us feel joy even when it’s hard to find anything to feel good about, and looking for humor will remind us to not take things so seriously. After all, the point of life is to enjoy it, and life doesn’t just stop when a stay-at-home order hits. Try to find humor in even difficult situations; look at using coffee filters when you run out of toilet paper or the appalling number of frozen pizzas you’ve eaten this week alone as hilarious anecdotes you’ll be telling sometime in the future. If you’re struggling to find any humor in what’s going on right now, turn off the news and watch a movie or show that always makes you LOL, or call up the friend who never ceases to make you belly laugh. Whatever works for you, remember that humor and laughter is not only possible when times are tough, but necessary.

    The point of life is to enjoy it, and life doesn’t just stop when a stay-at-home order hits.

    Embrace what makes you feel normal.
    What are some of the things you loved doing pre-pandemic? What are the things that make you feel like the best version of yourself? Perhaps it’s painting or working out every day. Make a list of the activities that you love like reading, cooking, or playing an instrument, and then the things that make you feel like your best self, whether that’s eating certain foods, having a specific morning routine, or putting on lipstick and your fancy work blazer. Once you identify a few things that you love and make you feel like your best self, do them even more often, even when it feels hard (especially when it feels hard). Personally, going on a long walk to clear my head helps me feel like my best self, so I make sure to do it every single day. I also make a point to talk to friends consistently. Even if it’s just over text, it helps me feel more normal and connected to the world, outside of the news. No matter what it looks like for you, prioritize and emphasize the rituals and routines you love and that make you feel like yourself.

    Look for the lessons and silver linings.
    It’s a killer Kelly Clarkson song and a cliche, but it’s also so true: what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. And the toughest moments are key opportunities to not only get stronger, but to get better. Of course we miss our normal lives, but a lack of normalcy gives us the chance to learn lessons that will change us for the better. We’ve learned ways to spend and enjoy our time that isn’t work, watching TV, or going out with friends. We will always feel grateful for the little things like smiling at the barista or hugging our parents. What we once complained about, like overbooked social schedules and crowded subways, we will forever appreciate.

    What we once complained about, like overbooked social schedules and crowded subways, we will forever appreciate.

    Plus, there are a lot of silver linings we can look for (yes, really!). While scary and terrifying and different, this time in human evolution is also restorative. We’re staying at home and spending more time with our families, or Facetiming friends we haven’t caught up with in years. We’re getting more sleep, prioritizing mental health, and actually have time to stop, reflect, and rest. No matter what, we can find silver linings in anything. For example, do I miss my yearly vacation? 100 percent. But when I think about it, it’s also kind of nice to stay at home and not stress about packing, catching flights, or being a tourist. The truth is that the events we miss and negative emotions we feel does not have to negate the silver linings and the lessons we learn. We can feel lonely, anxious, and stressed, and also appreciate where we’re growing as people and becoming better. Plus, when we do, it might just help us feel a little less lonely, anxious, and stressed to begin with. More

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    I’m a Health Coach and This Is the #1 Goal I’m Focused on This Month

    I love health goals: the only type of books on my nightstand are self-improvement, my step tracker is my best friend, and I even built a career out of helping other people reach them. But as we near the end of the worst year, I don’t know, ever, there’s only one health goal I’m focusing on. You see, no matter what New Year’s resolutions you make or even what feels best for you throughout the year, health is not supposed to be restrictive or definitive. In fact, you’re supposed to change how you take care of your body based on the seasons, years, and what’s going on in your life.Most of us are wrapping up the year with pressure at work, pandemic anxiety, and even stressors about the little, normal things like finding a budget for all the gifts you need to buy or scheduling every social gathering (even if those social gatherings are over Zoom). Add in the sad moments like not being able to hug your grandma, foregoing your favorite yearly traditions, or making a Christmas Eve dinner for one, and it’s easy to start letting stress take over your life. So my only health goal this month? Restoration, relaxation, and stress reduction. After all, I believe the only point of physical health is for mental health; eating nourishing foods and moving our bodies are simply tools to help us live the happiest lives possible. Here’s how I’m rethinking all of my healthy habits in every area of my life to focus on reducing stress:

    Source: @jesskeys_

    With exercise: trying stress-relieving yoga challenges
    Listen, I love a good HIIT class or sculpt session as much as the next girl. But “health” does not mean working out hard every single day; it means finding balance, depending on what your body needs. My body needs stress relief and relaxation this month, and exercise is no exception. Since I still love a good “challenge,” I’m embarking on Obé Fitness’s Yoga Deep Dive as my form of movement. This 15-day program explores yoga’s most foundational practices while helping you gain new tools to improve your flow. It will basically be like taking a mini retreat in between work meetings, so sign me up! Yoga based on stress reduction will help me find balance and grounding through an extremely stressful month, while the “challenge” aspect will keep me focused and motivated to prioritize myself.
    Use promo code “TEG50” to get 50% off your first month of Obé Fitness.

    With diet: eating intuitively 
    Even if you think diet rules like “no sugar” or “no processed food” is healthy for you, restrictions are stressful. Period. While I like to think I’ve ditched outdated food rules years ago, I still stick to a plant-based diet and prefer to feed my body with whole foods from the Earth that make me feel good. The problem with this is that when it’s time for holiday dinners and festive goodies, believing that you need to stick to any one diet or way of eating can cause guilt, and guilt will cause stress.
    Instead of sticking to my plant-based way of eating 24/7, I know that since I nourish my body with fruits and vegetables most of the time, sugar cookies or Christmas Eve fettuccine alfredo won’t do any harm to my body. There’s plenty of room for mindful indulgences, even in a healthy diet. I will consistently check in to identify what my body truly needs: am I feeling sluggish and need some more veggies to nourish, or will I enjoy this slice of pumpkin pie? Forget eating for perfection; I’ll be eating with the #1 priority of self-compassion.

    Source: @gabbywhiten

    With morning and evening routines: making extra time for myself (whatever that means)
    I live for a morning and evening routine. I love a warm cup of lemon water and gratitude journaling in the a.m., and I look forward to evening stretches, skincare, and meditation all day long. However, routines feel more difficult to fit in during the holidays (or any other busy time). My clients often come to me around this time of year, frustrated that they didn’t make time for a morning meditation or that they binged Netflix instead of taking a bath. My answer? The goal of a routine (or any self-care practice) is not to check items that you’re “supposed” to do off of a list. Instead, the goal is to do something that makes you feel good, whatever that looks like to you, and for however long you can.
    Sure, I love an entire hour for a wind-down routine, but some nights, it looks more like five minutes of sitting alone and reading my favorite book before bed without even washing my face. And guess what: that’s OK. In other words, morning and evening routines should not feel like something else to check off your to-do list or another chore on the calendar. Instead, it should feel easy and something to look forward to. Make time for yourself every morning and night, but be OK if what that time looks like changes.

    With work: prioritizing self-compassion and enjoyment
    At this time of year, we’re having end-of-year reviews and setting goals for next year. You probably have a long to-do list of what needs to get done before holiday break or are working long hours to set your business up for success in 2021. I find that I put the most pressure on myself during this season: I want to make myself proud of how the year went, but also want to feel ahead in the new year. While ambition and hard work are great, putting pressure on yourself makes you forget to prioritize yourself. I actually can be more productive and successful overall in my work life if I allow myself to take breaks, am strict with cut-off times, and remember that the point of life is to enjoy it (that means in your career too!). This month, I’m responding to what I can’t accomplish with self-compassion and spending more time on the jobs that don’t even feel like work (like client sessions or writing articles like this one). 

    Source: @kayla_seah

    With holiday activities: finding balance between alone time and time with loved ones
    Through seasons of Christmas past, I tried to fit in everything: holiday parties, gift exchanges, happy hours, limitless shopping trips. “Balance” was the last thing on my mind, and “alone time” felt more like a far-off memory than a priority. This year, of course, I am indulging in and enjoying the family traditions (although they look a little different in 2020). However, instead of doing it all, my goal is to find a balance between family time and making time for myself to decompress and relax.
    If you are spending the holidays with family, make sure you’re still fitting in alone time to prioritize yourself. Go on a jog in the morning, take a bath at night, or find any time you can to recharge. If you’re spending the holidays alone, try to schedule a socially-distanced gathering outdoors or a virtual holiday party with your closest friends. Having social events on the calendar will give you something to look forward to, but scheduling it will also ensure you’re spending time with people you love, even if it is virtual or socially distanced. Alone time to prioritize ourselves and time with loved ones to laugh and connect are equally important, so focus on finding the balance of both, depending on what you need more of.

    This post includes a sponsored inclusion of obé, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    18 Things That Have Made Our Winter Work-From-Home Days Better

    When we first entered quarantine last spring, I’d have bet a large sum of money and lost that there was no way we’d still be working from home come December. But here we are, and I’ll be honest, I feel like we’re all making the most of it. Being stuck at home in the winter is an entire different ballpark than the killjoy of being stuck inside when it’s sunny and 80 degrees out.But we’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the couple of items making it way better. Because a cozy day at home *while* you’re working is possible—as long as you have these essentials. 

    Mid-Rise Cozy Faux-Fur Jogger Sweatpants

    I ordered these a couple of weeks ago realizing that I needed to give up the dream that I’ll get dressed every single day for work, especially when it gets freezing. These are a cool fabric and style that make me feel kinda dressed up, but they are also the freaking most comfortable thing I’ve ever put on in my life. I’ve worn them like four days the last week with sweaters, T-shirts, and everything in between. I run very hot, but I moved into an apartment that has minimal heat and poor windows, and I am freezing 24/7, so these have

    Water Sleeping Mask

    On the days I don’t put makeup on, I give my skin some extra TLC—one of the many benefits of being at home all day! The winter weather has taken a toll on my skin, as it has most of us I’m sure, so I’m loading up on moisturizing ingredients to heal my moisture barrier and hydrate as much as possible. It’s an extra self-care step that feels fun to break up the monotony of my days and makes me look forward to something. This mask is meant to be worn while you sleep, but staring at a screen all day writing words over and over is similar enough, and I’ve experienced the same moisture at the end of the day as I do when I sleep with it on. Plus, it’s clear, so I’ve worn on it more than a few Zoom call occasions than I care to admit. Hehe, coworkers! 🙂

    Daily Drops

    At around 3 p.m. every single day, my anxiety sets in. How on Earth am I supposed to get the 10 tasks still on my list done all before the end of the day? I know I work best in the crunch time, but it doesnt stop my stress from creeping in. Lately as this is starting to really affect my day-to-day health, Ive tried putting my Equilibria Daily Drops in an afternoon glass of decaf tea. It really helps calm me down and has become quite ritualistic. I look forward to it every day!
    Use code THEEVERYGIRL for 20% off your first order at Equilibria!

    Glass Water Bottle with Protective Silicone Sleeve

    I’m not a water person. There have been more than a few days where 9 p.m. rolls around and I realize I haven’t had a sip of H2O literally all day. But ever since I got this Porter water bottle, I’m getting through multiple refills. There’s just something so fun about drinking from it: I love the rolled glass opening that fits my mouth perfectly and the silicone sleeve that is grippy-y and easy to pick up. It’s also dishwasher-safe, so it’s super easy to clean. Honestly, 10/10 would marry Porter.

    Fireside Candle

    I find I work best from home when I cultivate a mood. I make sure my work area is tidy. I plug in my Christmas tree. I cue up the fireplace channel on my TV. I throw on a coffee shop sounds video on Youtube. And I light this truly excellent hand-poured soy candle that smells like all your holiday dreams coming true. And it does make the work day feel a bit more fun and festive.

    Simple Modern
    Insulated Tumbler with Straw

    If you’ve been on TikTok even one single time, you’ve likely seen this tumbler that basically went viral this year—and I’m here to tell you the hype is real. I love drinking my water out of this all day long and have it with me no matter which corner of my apartment I’m working in. I got the largest size and it’s upped my water intake by at least double. I can’t wait to drink homemade iced coffee out of this when we go back to the office.

    Barefoot Dreams
    Bouclé Knit Hooded Cardigan

    I am known as being a very cold-running person, and so when I knew that we’d be working from home throughout winter, I wanted to make sure I could maximize my coziness (and warmth) as much as humanly possible. I bought the leopard version of this during the Nordstrom sale, so it was slightly cheaper, but I swear I have gotten my money’s worth already. No matter what I’m wearing (even if it’s a sweatshirt), I throw this on top and lounge in it every single day. It’s so warm without being as bulky as a robe, and truly sparks joy every single time I wrap up in it. It’s definitely a splurge, but if something happened to mine, I’d buy it again.

    Hamilton Beach
    Personal Blender

    I purchased this 14 ounce personal blender years ago, and haven’t used it as much as I have this year working from home. This blender is perfect for a quick smoothie or shake before logging into work. It blends quickly and its compact style allows me to take it to my workspace and drink from there without having to transfer it to another cup. This blender lets me get a quick breakfast in before the day picks up!

    Hydrating Shea Body Butter

    Between working from home during the dry fall and winter season and washing my hands multiple times a day, I have been neglecting my hands and feet, which have been drier than usual. To make sure I infuse some moisture on my skin during the workday, I keep this body butter close to me. It’s thick enough to lock in moisture, especially during the harsh, dry weather, which is a necessity even more now, since it’s easy to neglect skincare while working from home.

    Vertuo Next Light

    There’s just nothing that gets me out of bed like knowing that the cup of coffee (or tea, but in this case coffee) that I’ll drink once I make my way to the kitchen is going to be really good. After tiring of my trusty old affordable machine from years ago, I finally sprung for a Nespresso machine. My morning coffee routine is the best it’s been all year.

    Crate & Barrel
    Long Stem Wine Glass

    So I initially bought these wine glasses for, you know, wine—and while I do use them for that in the evening, I also use them during the day to make my sparkling water, kombucha, or green juice feel more like an ~event~. I miss sipping wine with my friends while out to dinner, so at least I can get the joy of a cute glass while drinking a healthier daytime beverage.

    Mini North Bondi Eau De Parfum

    If you’ve ever smelled any of Ouai’s hair products, you know that they smell AMAZING. I have always loved the scent of their Leave-In Conditioner and wished they would make it in a perfume. BOOM, wishes come true! This year, Ouai launched the most perfect desk-sized fragrances (and the one I love is North Bondi, which is floral and a bit musky). They’re incredibly budget-friendly, so I feel comfortable spraying it on myself every single day. It’s a simple luxury that makes me feel a bit more like my non-pandemic self!

    Capri Blue
    Glam Mini Tin Kit

    I love seasonal fragrances, but sometimes I get tired of burning the same one for too long. I bought this four-pack of Capri Blue scents when they were on super sale a few weeks ago, but the non-sale price isn’t bad either. The set includes the iconic Volcano candle, plus one pumpkin scent and two winter fragrances. My favorite so far has been the pumpkin (the Alpine Juniper is definitely a sweeter greenery scent), but I haven’t even cracked the Frosted Fireside open yet. This is perfect for anyone who likes different rooms to have different scents, or who just wants to mix things up!

    Nomad Noé
    Poet in Hangzhou Candle

    Candles have become one of my work from home must-haves—the more fragrant, the better. This hand-poured candle doesn’t have a winter scent, and that’s what I love most about it. It’s bright and refreshing, and it has notes of my favorite flower: gardenia. Once I light this, the scent fills my entire apartment and acts as a pick me up for my senses.

    Brother Vellies
    Cloud Sock

    Before I hit the purchase button on these socks, they took up a lot of space in my head. I went back and forth on whether I really needed a $30-something pair of socks, and my answer after weeks of questioning was yes. Since we’re in the house 99.9 percent of the time these days, a pair of lavender socks that give back—proceeds from the purchase of the lavender socks fund Brother Vellies’ mask making and food distribution initiative in Kenya—and keep my feet warm while I work is the ultimate win for me.

    Brazil 8 Cup / 34oz French Press Coffee Maker

    At the start of the pandemic, I was using a Moka pot to make an americano each morning until I realized that caffeine might be making my anxiety worse. I have since given up coffee (inserts crying emoji) for herbal tea. Instead of going the tea bag route, I found Aesthete Tea, a QBIPOC-owned tea company that makes an assortment of herbal teas. After trying a couple of teapots that didn’t work well, I saw a YouTube video that showed how to use a french press for loose teas and bought this one. I use it every morning, and I love that making tea has become a part of my morning self-care.

    Hydro Flask
    Water Bottle – Wide Mouth Straw Lid

    Ever since I was a small, red-haired child, I’ve had water on my nightstand, in my backpack, on the table, on the desk, you name it–absolutely everywhere. It drove my mom crazy, but even now I still can’t seem to leave the house, or my couch for that matter, without it. To cut down my use of plastic and the dishwasher, however, I started using my hydro flask as my primary water source while I’m working. It not only holds a lot more H2O than my regular glass, but it also helps me keep track of how much or how little I’ve been drinking during the day.

    New Balance
    Fresh Foam Vongo v4

    Despite what my Netflix account may tell you, the activity that got me through this year the most was walking. I’ve barely missed a day since the pandemic started (while wearing a mask of course!). It’s helped me think, destress, and get my heartrate up a bit, and having a great pair of sneakers has made going for long, daily walks so much easier. These never give me blisters, are always comfortable, and have held up so well!


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    A Socially Distanced Trip to the Mountains Showed Me Resting and Resetting Takes More Than Getting Away

    Whenever I feel overworked, overwhelmed, and burnt out, the first thing I do is plan a trip. Traveling has long been my escape, but as we all know, changing scenery has been tricky during the pandemic. After seeing a friend post photos of her trip to Getaway House—a community of socially-distanced cabins 80 miles from Atlanta in Suches, Georgia—I wanted in. I had reached my breaking point, and my anxiety was on at its peak. I just knew escaping for three days was what I needed to reset, especially since the cabin was WiFi-free and the website hinted that cell service could be spotty. To me, that translated to that even if I wanted to work or obsessively check my email, I couldn’t.I packed a few bare necessities and items to induce relaxation like books, a puzzle, sheet masks, a journal, wine, and loads of snacks from Trader Joe’s. If you notice, I didn’t mention my computer. My freelance career has helped me create an unhealthy obsession with work and deadlines, because when I’m not working, I’m not earning an income. Some would call this the scarcity mindset—and they’re right. This mindset has made me a workaholic without any boundaries. Leaving behind my laptop felt like leaving my phone at home. I thought that no WiFi and a boatload of items proven to calm the mind would make relaxing easy.
    Boy, was I wrong.

    On the first day of my trip, I woke up and went for a walk. Truthfully, because it was so quiet, I was afraid that the boogie man or a bear would get me. But since I have lived to tell this tale, you can see I proved my anxiety wrong and made it back to civilization just fine. After my walk, I committed to spending the day reading a book I’d been carrying in my purse for months. But as I read the words on the page, my mind kept wandering. All I could think about were the emails I must be missing, not to mention that I was having social media withdrawals. My need to check-in felt so urgent that I walked for about 20 minutes and held my phone in the air until I got enough service to check my email.

    My relaxing trip was starting to feel like torture. I couldn’t understand why relaxing was so difficult. I mean, shouldn’t it be enough that I took a break? I quickly realized that escaping to new scenery didn’t guarantee relaxation because I don’t make caring for myself in everyday life a priority. Self-care is hard and something to work at daily. A trip can’t change our habits or how we treat ourselves, even if we’re in a space curated for the very reset we so crave.
    By day three, I was finally starting to shake the work and social media FOMO. I didn’t worry about capturing the moments for Instagram, and I felt less anxious about not having access to emails and started to get used to the silence. I recently spoke with my therapist about my daily bad habits of checking emails the moment I open my eyes, and she said something so simple but profound: “This means you’re putting the needs of others above your own and not caring for yourself.” I felt that. For the first time, someone had put into words that my habits were indeed unhealthy and in need of tweaking.

    Do I still sometimes wake up and check my emails? Yup. Do I let the last-minute requests stress me out at times? Yup. However, there is something that has changed. I recognize that my emotional reactions to these things are mine to change, and that I don’t have to say yes to everything that comes my way if it means busting my boundaries. Self-care and relaxation aren’t just about doing something nice for yourself—like a bubble bath, face mask, or a nice meal—it’s about setting boundaries and creating good habits in your day-to-day life so that when you do have an opportunity to take a well-deserved break and change your scenery, you can actually enjoy it without guilt.
    What I’m about to say might be a hot take, but it was an important takeaway from my trip: I don’t have to share every trip I go on—well, at least in real-time. Take photos because you want to, not for likes. I understand what I’m saying could be perceived as coming from a judgmental place, but it’s not. I am learning to adopt this mindset because my work intertwines with social media. I sometimes find it challenging to turn that creative part of me off, but it’s essential.

    Find a way to shift how you relax that works for your lifestyle.

    It’s the little changes to your life that can make a big impact. When I want to relax and notice myself multitasking or mindlessly scrolling social media, I put my phone in another room and allow myself to be in the moment with limited distractions. Find a way to shift how you relax that works for your lifestyle. I promise you, it makes a difference. More

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    10 Career Connections You Need to Make By the Time You’re 30

    There’s a reason the word “networking” has “work” in it—it takes effort, initiative, and drive to network purposefully and effectively. It’s not easy, and can be really terrifying when you’re just starting out. Effective networking starts with being purposeful about what you’re doing; putting time into building career connections that can diversify and offer you a fresh perspective is essential.Make the whole process more fun with a go-to ice breaker to get the conversation going—we love a good virtual happy hour to celebrate that week’s wins with a La Marca Prosecco mini in hand. Remember that networking and building connections don’t have to be ultra serious or devoid of fun. Make them meaningful conversations that spark thoughtful ideas and help you release a bit of tension from a challenging week or toast a win, big or small.

    To get you started, we’ve put together a list of connections (or reconnections) to make over the course of your career: 

    1. A Lifetime Mentor
    Many of our mentors or sponsors come and go as we change jobs, but one of your best network additions will be a mentor who sees you through the course of your career. A “lifetime” mentor can provide you that long-term perspective and help you reflect on how you’ve grown over time. 
    Look for your lifetime mentor among an immediate manager that may have assisted you developmentally. And remember, to keep someone in your network over the long haul, it takes effort. Schedule periodic check-ins over coffee and always offer to pay it forward.

    2. A Thought Leader
    We’re increasingly in an ideas economy. Staying on the cutting edge of your field means that you need to know what big ideas are brewing, where the industry is headed, and how your sector may transform. What do you read? What conferences do you go to? Find a person or “thought leader” whose future vision of your work feels meaningful to you, then track their work and keep in touch.
    How do you find a thought leader in your world? You probably have a lot in your purview that you might not recognize! Again, look to what you read or events in your industry you’ve enjoyed. Identify speakers or authors that speak to you.

    3. An Academic in Your Field
    Similarly, being excellent at your work often means understanding some of the emerging views coming out of academia. Often times academic colleagues are also closely connected to firms’ talent pipelines. You might also be able to find unique opportunities to bring students into your company for short-term intern programs or special task forces that can be useful for the school and your company.
    Universities often keep blogs for each respective area of expertise. This more informal publication can be a great way to identify an expert who is working on a topic of interest to you. 

    4. A Teacher from Your Youth
    Giving back to your alma mater (or even your high school) is an important piece of networking. It can help you source new talent for your industry. Schools are also a great place to ensure you stay plugged in with events, alumni offerings, and to leverage the built in network from your previous academic experience. 
    Checking in with your alma mater should be super straightforward! Alumni networks are in place just for that purpose. And, even reaching out to the registrars office is a great way to keep in touch. School connections can also be a great place to look for speaking or panel opportunities as you continue to build your public profile and brand in your field.

    5. The Incumbent in Your Dream Job
    Cold pitches may seem a little intimidating. However, a thoughtfully crafted pitch to the person who is currently in your dream job can pay all kinds of dividends. Remember, you’re not explicitly on the hunt for this seat in your ask, but want to learn about the path that got them to where they are today.
    Be incredibly thoughtful and tactical in this outreach. If this is someone who works inside your current organization, see if your current manager or a mentor can help broker an introduction. You want to use this person’s time really effectively. Ask them if they may have time for a brief call (15 minutes) and send along an agenda of three direct questions. What are the things they could answer for you about career development that no one else could? Use that time wisely!

    6. The Most Junior Person Doing Your Job
    A well-structured network is purposefully built to pay it forward. That means it’s important for you to connect with people at all levels of seniority. There is always something to be learned from those who are coming up in the organization who are more junior than you are. And, more importantly, think how amazing it feels to have someone senior in the organization take an interest in your work. You’ll be encouraging, supporting, and helping the next generation of leaders in your field.
    Think of the skills you currently have that a newer generation could benefit from. You may consider setting up some informal roundtables, “lunch and learn” sessions, or a panel of your mid-level peers.

    7. A Skills Coach
    Part of career success is identifying our flat spots. Whether it is around the technical aspects of your job or around softer skills like building emotional intelligence, a skills coach is an important network addition. Through your annual review process or your own self-assessments, figure out the two or three skills you really want to refine. Ask around and recognize among your contacts who excels there, and get them on the books for a coaching coffee.
    Who can play the role of skills coach? Often our own immediate peer set is a great place to look. If you saw a colleague rock a public speaking gig, be sure to pay her that compliment. Then, ask if you can put a coffee date on the books for her best tips, or, if she’d be willing to be the audience for your own future prep sessions.

    8. An Interviewing Expert
    Interview skills are tricky. It’s one of those capabilities that we may not practice often if we stay in a job we love for years, or have promotion opportunities. That means that when it’s time to hit the interview circuit and find a new job, we might need some brushing up. It is essential to find that colleague or senior leader who always seems to have the best interview tips. Book them for practice sessions and offer to do the same for the more junior people they connect with.
    It can feel a little fake to completely practice an interview start to finish, but especially in our digital days, it’s worth being really deliberate here. Sometimes the best interview experts are of course our HR colleagues, but also those who work in high volume or frequently turning over positions. They’ve seen a lot of resumes!

    9. Your Polar Opposite
    As someone who has worked in finance her whole career, folks who have done the same tend to be most of my network. But that’s the fastest way for your network to simply become an insular echo chamber. For new thoughts, new ideas, and to give you a fresh perspective on career opportunities, find your “opposite.” For example, that means I’ve been deliberately trying to add more colleagues in the arts, sciences, and non-profit world to my set of connections.
    To expand that horizon, I have to go a little outside of my comfort zone. It means asking other friends who they know in those industries. And, it means that I may need to employ some of the same tactics you use to make friends as an adult, like saying yes to a lot more invitations and being “social” on social media. Which leads us to…

    10. A Social Media & Branding Rockstar
    Whether or not we’re in the social space, branding and messaging matters. Building your personal brand ensures that you can articulate exactly how your skills and expertise match with opportunities over the course of your career.  Find that social and marketing expert in your world and stay on top of the tips that keep your digital first impression fresh and current.
    What could this person help you with? The debate rages on over how SEO continues to evolve for professional profiles like LinkedIn. But, it certainly can’t hurt to have your expert colleague provide you some feedback on the language you’re using to describe your achievements. They can also keep you posted on newer networks, and really help you refine the target audience for your skills and talents. 
    Tips for Making Socially Distanced Connections 
    These networking efforts can be challenging in the best of times. In 2020, networking needs a whole different set of skills. It’s nearly impossible to do the same “grab coffee” routine we’ve all gotten used to. And, even if restrictions are lighter where you are, you don’t want to put colleagues in the awkward position of declining an in-person invite. The good news is, our all-virtual world has some perks.
    It’s never been easier to drop slightly dormant contacts a “How Have You Been?” note. Flag an interesting article, share a story of a project you’ve worked on, or simply ask how they’ve been maintaining their network this year. Do they know of any virtual industry events? Have they read or attended any webinars of interest? Simply sharing stories around how work is changing and staying connected can be a big part of sustaining and building our network this year. It’s also really important to build digital visibility. Get active on your work-related social channels. Comment on others’ posts, and take the bold step of creating content yourself. This could look like some sort of newsletter on your industry, or round up of interesting reads that are relevant to your peers. (Be sure to check in with your compliance colleagues that this doesn’t pose a problem for your day job!)
    Lastly, virtual industry events now give you a perfect hit list of experts you can reach out to and connect with. Drop a note via LinkedIn or see if the event shares contact information for presenters. A simple, “Hi – I really enjoyed your webinar presentation on building new digital marketing channels. I’d like to share a few interesting papers our team has put out on the topic, and get your quick feedback on part of a project we’re undertaking. Do you have 15 minutes for a call?” Make sure, however, it is a super brief, pointed call, and voice only unless they offer otherwise. We’re all completely burnt from sitting on video all day for our actual day job, so it’s best to keep as light a footprint as possible with new contacts.
    If you want to add a fun spin, invite them for a 30-minute virtual happy hour. Grab a La Marca Prosecco mini (prosecco makes everything better) and just have a loose, after-work chat. Remember that not all your connections have to be stringently work-related. You want to start a relationship with this person, so don’t be afraid to inject some personality! And chances are, after a full day of work-related calls, they’ll welcome the chance to relax over some bubbly and just talk and enjoy. 
    You’d be surprised how many people will take you up on this, especially if you have a robust public profile and a well-built digital work presence. And, using this approach allows you to network far beyond your own backyard. Get creative! Ever wonder how your work is done in London? In Shanghai? Stretch your comfort zone and use our virtual world to expand your networking horizons.

    La Marca Prosecco is an elegant sparkling wine grown in the heart of Italy’s Prosecco region. La Marca Prosecco believes in celebrating the joy in everyday moments, including the tireless work that so many women go through to make their dreams come true. A focus on career empowerment has always been part of The Everygirl’s mission and our partnership with La Marca Prosecco has helped us take that mission into the real world with live and virtual events, small business grants, and more. Let’s raise a glass to that!

    This post is sponsored by La Marca Prosecco but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl Media Group editorial board. More