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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Shaped by Budget: Aligning Goals with Personal Finances

Do you have champagne taste on a beer budget?

I know I do!!!!!

Every day I realize that I struggle to align my lifestyle (home, car, food, entertainment, etc) with my life plan.

My goals lead to me being a professional artsy community activist, think Augusto Boal. There is really not a lot of money in this, therefore making it hard for me visualize how my goals and passions will pay for multiple degrees and keep up the material luxuries in which I have grown accustomed. I have tried to convince myself that, financially I would be stable if I dwelled in a different area of sweet home Chicago (I live in a high-rise on the North side), drove a less comfortable car (I do have leather seats and a sunroof), and had even more self-control on my dining and drinking tabs.

But all in all, I am not satisfied with the idea of having less material items to keep giving more (everything). My observation is that people living my purpose often take a vow of poverty or take on too many jobs to ensure personal sustainability. The latter can become unhealthy, and my costly living preferences actually allow me to gain more exposure to the world around me.

For example, living on the North side. I chose to live in an area that encourages me to walk or take the bus instead of driving everywhere; that is a green environment so that I can safely enjoy the outdoors and actively think about my carbon footprint; and to be more accessible to people and communities that participate in the arts. This was a strategic decision that I made in hopes of engulfing myself in a space that is a resource for my goals.

But in Chicago, my lifestyle is expensive. I am not sure how to mentally shift and accept that how I live may need to change based on my income activities. I am having this ongoing battle that forces me to ask myself: should I mainly focus on making money now and work on my social activist goals later?

For the most part, I have avoided thinking like this, but as you can see from my article Giving: Time or Money (https://ashleyscwalls.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/giving-time-or-money/) , the issue continues to rise. It does not help that gas prices are exploding, grocery costs make me heave, and funding for social activist causes is decreasing.

Despite conflicts between my finances and my goals, I have been able to remain focused on my passions because of an AMAZING support system. My friends and family continue to assist me both spiritually, financially, and emotionally. I cannot stress the importance of allowing yourself to need and accept assistance from others during a challenging time. As I am working to align my lifestyle with my income, my friends provide some of the simple luxuries a girl needs, such as a night out on the town, or gas money to my next performance.

I came across the article below by Jane Allen that provides some great strategies on how not to sacrifice your passions for survival. Although encouraging, I still believe that my outlook on my personal living preferences must change to fully appreciate the writers advice.

http://www.vault.com/wps/portal/usa/vcm/detail/Career-Advice/Entrepreneurship/Branching-Out:-You-Dont-Have-to-Sacrifice-Passion-for-Survival?id=474

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Minding My Own Business: Is Being too Concerned Holding Me Back?

I think that I am too concerned with others. I chose the word concerned after playing around with a few different words, but ultimately, concerned summed up the feeling for me. I am not referring to nosey- that’s not one of my consistent character traits. For the purposes of this article, I use the word concerned to mean, thinking about, caring for, responding to, considerate of, and adapting. 

My mother has always referred to me as her “social worker”. I would make friends and accept anyone, treating them no differently than I expect to be treated. As an adult this has continued in my professional, social, and personal relationships. I consistently adjust my schedule to support and suit the needs of others; I find myself thinking about solutions for people’s situations that involve my time and/or resources; and I must admit, I become emotionally affected watching train wrecks of those I love and even those I only know through secondary connections. 

We live in a world with millions and millions of other people. I do believe we are not to try to please everyone, but there are circumstances in which we should consider others before ourselves. So far, my actions of being consistently concerned have led to my reputation as a reliable, compassionate, and effective individual. I am at a crossroads though, one that has me trying to weed out the truth of who I am from the role I have played for twenty something odd years. I am also trying to determine if it is truly so bad to keep being a concerned citizen…even when it inconveniences me. 

My concern with my concern is that I don’t know when to turn it off. I do not know when to stop caring about what is happening with others or the environment around me. Yes, I lose sleep about things that I probably should not. I try to include individuals in projects in which they would probably never think of me. The list can go on and on, but it is starting to bother me (again) because I realize that my concern can actually offend people. 

I am quick to shout out a solution or send an email with resolve, sometimes before others are able to, or choose to act. I will not say that my intentions are purely altruistic. As much as I want to channel my concern to only those that accept it, its hard because I have to play in the sand box with idiots people who don’t know when to stop kicking up the sand! 

I do hope to find balance though. At times, my stepping in is hindering someone else’s growth, even if their inability to be proactive may lead to failure. And I must admit that by lending and ear or a suggestion, I somehow feel responsible for the outcome, thus, making me become more invested in the situation/problem itself. These actions of concern although well-intentioned, have a great effect on my emotions and at times can hinder my personal productivity. While seeking solutions for others, I sometimes feel as though I am missing opportunities for myself. 

 …..Okay, so I’m still undecided about how to show less concern with others. SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME. One thing is for sure, if it involves me- I will be concerned! 

Below is an article that discusses why it is important to consider others in your daily actions. 

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700022876/We-limit-ourselves-by-not-considering-others-views.html

 
 

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From Multi-Task to Multi-Achieve

From Multi-Task to Multi-Achieve

If there were a hidden camera in my home office, you would notice me in front of a laptop with multiple internet tabs and Microsoft office documents opened, a powered on television, maybe something cooking in the kitchen, and a woman (me) constantly checking her cell phone for text messages, Facebook, and twitter updates. I am guilty of compulsively multi-tasking, but have decided to cut back.

According to Wikipedia, human multi-tasking is 

“the performance by an individual of appearing to handle more than one task at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking. An example of multitasking is listening to a radio interview while typing an email. Some believe that multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.” 

By reviewing how I schedule my time I am hoping to decrease my multi-tasking while still accomplishing multiple tasks in one day. I have noticed that I am more effective if I work on one single task at a time, even if it is in short spurts. For example, I may spend ten minutes looking at twitter and responding to messages then do the same on Facebook. I then spend the next thirty to forty minutes following up with business in one email account and do the same with my other email accounts in the time that follows. 

I am still completing an ample amount of work, just more efficiently and with a greater sense of confidence in the final product. It has been pretty hard to stop checking my phone as frequently for text messages, but by keeping my ringer on silent it helps a little. 

Please take a few minutes and let me know how you multi-achieve in the comment section.

Below is an article about the self-deceiving assumption of effective human multi-tasking. 

http://timj.testbit.eu/2011/03/31/human-multitasking/

 

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Life Preparedness Kit

While looking at some articles on emergency preparedness kits, I began to think about life preparedness. My friend and I have recently discovered that the types of lifestyles and career choices we are seeking to embark upon require readiness at all times, and for a variety of occasions.

For example, she wants to be a singer and often people request her attendance at networking social’s and workshop’s at the last-minute. As her creative vision is spreading, people ask her to sing regularly and both of us have been caught without business cards when asked “how can I contact you later?”

These occurrences have me thinking that I need to create a checklist of items that I must have with me at all times- My Life Preparedness Kit.

With the facts in mind (poet, playwright, director, actress, consultant for non-profits, youth developer, collaborator, blogger, and activist), I have created a checklist for my life preparedness kit:

  • Business casual clothes and shoes to match– If I am ever out and about and need to go to a professional event or meeting, I am ready!!!!!
  • Business cards that include my twitter, blog, facebook, and email contacts with an about me section– Although taking out your cell phone or sending your contact card electronically is efficient, the business card can serve as a visual reminder to the individual of you and your skills. I support the green initiative, but not at the risk of a potential client or collaborator forgetting about me.
  • Club/ going out clothes with shoes to match– I do not want to have on my sexy dress and be stuck in tennis shoes or something worse…..(probably wouldn’t even be able to get into the club).
  • Notebook and pen– Writing and capturing ideas are a huge part of what I do. For some people a cell phone or recorder may work, but for me, the act of writing with pen on paper actually helps my ideas flow best.
  • My poetry on CD– Although I do not have a poetry CD, I will. And when I do, I must be prepared to sell my work to my fans or an interested individual.
  • A book to read– My goals require me to stay abreast of literary works. Keeping a book with me at all times allows me to catch up on reading when ever in a situation where I am in limbo or waiting.
  • Cell phone charger– I often get caught without a charger, especially when using my GPS on the way to say, an interview (Yep, it has happened to me). I find myself spending a lot of time in the car, and therefore, it is extremely important that I can stay connected to the world….and find where I am trying to go.
  • Calendar (can be on cell phone) – Scheduling is a part of planning, planning is a part of success, and I plan to succeed.
  • One monologue and two poems– Although these are all memorized, I can perform these pieces on request without hesitation.
  • Twenty bucks in cash– After going several places without cash, I am convinced that I must always keep at least twenty dollars in cash with me at all times.

I do always keep a first aid kit in my car, therefore I am prepared for natural disasters AND the life I want to live. Are you?

Your Life Preparedness Kit  is to be reflective of your goals. Think about tangible and intangibles as part of your kit.

What is in your Life Preparedness Kit?

I also encourage people to think about emergency preparedness so below is an article about preparing your disaster kit.

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/preparing-a-disaster-kit-2467090/

 

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Success Formula: Jennifer Chaney

J.Chaney, CEO of Events by J. Ashley

I am searching for success formulas. 

Today’s social media allows us to have access to millions of people living their equation of success. As I surf twitter and facebook, I have grown intrigued with learning how others balance their goals, social life, image, and more. I have decided to get to know multi-faceted individuals that balance community and self-development. 

Recently I interviewed Jennifer Chaney, CEO of Events by J. Ashley. Chaney works full-time in the corporate world, but has recently made time to capitalize on her passions by starting her own event planning company.

I chose to spotlight Jennifer Chaney because of her subtle social media initiatives. 

While learning more about branding myself, Jennifer’s newsfeeds on facebook caught my attention in a positive way. Regularly Jennifer’s status would come across my screen saying “Contact Jennifer Chaney at Events by J.Ashley for your event planning needs”. More importantly, Jennifer’s other statuses, were always positive and friendly, congratulating a friend, or sharing a focused message of determination.

Headed for success, I needed to know more about the method to this young woman’s madness, i.e. success formula.

After reflecting on my earlier entries I created my questions for Jennifer. I am eager to see if those I equate with success are doing the same or similar things as me. I also felt that if they were not, these interviews will serve as the perfect opportunity for me to help develop them- MY SPECIALITY.

I am happy to know that Jennifer does have a written life plan and that she is well on her way to achieving her goals. When I asked Jennifer what prompted her to organize Events by J. Ashley at this time, she said, “when is the perfect time?”

Jennifer Chaney expressed that being a business owner is not easy. “I had to complete all the legal aspects including insurance, tax ID, filing my business with the secretary of state and making sure that my company name is trademarked. My name is on this and I need to protect my investment”.  Jennifer has more goals for her full-time gig as well, including taking on additional leadership in the company, and ultimately becoming a Relationship Manager.

It is motivating to see a person that has good balance between her current career and personal aspirations. So often, people pursue self employment when unhappy about a situation instead of as an enhancement or extension to their occupation. Jennifer has allowed her first career choice to develop and extend skills that will increase her ability to operate a sustainable event planning business.

With so much going on, Jennifer still makes time to serve the community by volunteering with the Night Ministry, a Chicago non-profit providing necessities and health supplies to people in need (http://www.thenightministry.org/). Capitalizing on her skills as an accountant, she helps coordinate life skills workshops for high school students. The workshops guide participants through the steps of budgeting including grocery shopping, affordable rent, and leisurely spending from the perspective of the job/ career they choose. Jennifer shares these activities with members of her family, hoping to prepare her relatives that will soon be in college or seeking employment, for the real world.

Jennifer Chaney’s Success Formula= Parents+ God+ Giving + Detailed Event Planning with a Passion.

Over the next 3 months, we will be following Jennifer Chaney on facebook and twitter to learn more about her S.M.A.R.T. goals as described below.

More on Jennifer Chaney

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

2 events booked by July 15, 2011; Book launch party date for Events by J.Ashley website by July 15, 2011

Personal Strengths

Attention to detail; Effective Time Management

My Favorite Quote from the Interview

“On time is early”

Contact Info

Jennifer Chaney- CEO of Events by J.Ashley; Jennifer@eventsbyjashley.com

Update 6.2.11- From Jennifer Chaney

My website is complete (www.eventsbyjashley.com). I have 4 potential events on the calendar, and my company launch & networking event is scheduled for June 17th. So far everything is going well.

 

 

 

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My Priorities- ASCW Life Plan (part 1)

The Cheshire Cat

Image by Profound Whatever via Flickr

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” 

– Louis Carroll

I am extremely excited about the progress that I have made on penning my Life Plan. The process has challenged me and I think that as each quarter comes and goes, my plan will grow as I begin to train and develop myself to become the heart of the person described in each outcome.

The process of thinking through and ranking my target audience in the order of importance was powerful.

Target Audiences (in order of priority)

1) God

2) Significant Other

3) Children

4) Family (not children)

5) Friends

6) Community (local, regional, national, international)

7) Co-collaborators

This part of the exercise alone led to immediate changes in how I have started spending my time. For years, I thought that work was my priority, and that by having a stable career, the other things would eventually fall into place.

I will not lie. I did originally list work as a category before God. This made me uncomfortable and I had to reflect on why my priorities are perceived as such. It is because I was being honest about how my time is now spent on spirituality versus other components of my life. I was able to change the order once I accepted that my life plan is about the direction I am headed, not where I am.

You may also notice that the word work is not on my list at all. In a few of my earlier posts, I mention the importance of having a unified language that represents your purpose. As I was drafting my plan, I grasped that the language I use in my plan needs to be specific enough for me to visualize how I related to each category physically, mentally, and emotionally. As I move forward, I do not anticipate being tied to one company. I am also confident that collaboration will continue as the crux of my “work”, hence the title co-collaborators.

My “work” will impact community, ultimately locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Have you ever heard the term “busy work”? No one can say she’s just doing “busy community” or “she’s just doing “busy impacting”.

Side note: Work at times can become very task-oriented instead of, goal-oriented. As you can see, I focus on the latter.

This is the first entry leading to the reveal of my life plan. If you have not started drafting your plan, begin with this step and then pay close attention to your actions during the week that follows. Revisit your target audience priority list to see if your current actions align with what you wrote.

Please know that life will throw a curve ball that will change your plans. This should be expected. Adjust accordingly and do not get discouraged.

Below is a link that provides questions you may want to ask yourself while working on your life plan.

http://www.pluginid.com/setting-priorities/

 

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When to Regret

When to Regret

Regret:

To feel sorrow or remorse for

A sense of loss or disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.

So far I have lived a life of few regrets. Not because of the normal clichés that “everything happens for a reason”, or “I wouldn’t have been here today if I would have chose differently”, but purely for the fact that I have applied for, and pursued everything I decided I wanted with 100% audacity. Whether or not I was rejected or the plan changed once accepted, I have never backed down from trying to obtain something that I felt was in my best interest to explore.

I am not a person that waits until the last-minute to do many things. I also don’t get a rush when pulling an all-nighter or putting together some important project at the last-minute. I am a planner, and I plan to succeed.

My work ethic, therefore, allows me to state clichés such as “everything happens for a reason”, and that “my life is going in the path it is supposed to”, with confidence. Often, too many people use these clichés to exclude themselves from regret.

I think that it is humbling to admit to regret, and furthermore, empowering. By accepting that you would have done something different, you can learn from your action(s) and fully embrace the steps to never do them again.

An example of something you SHOULD regret: You say that you really REALLY want to attend a workshop. You have to complete an essay in order to be selected as an attendee. You decide to begin your first draft of the paper the night before the deadline.

If you do not get accepted, you SHOULD regret your last-minute planning.

Another example of something you SHOULD regret: You lose all or most of your rent money gambling. Your friends and family have to pitch in to help pay your rent.

You SHOULD regret your impulse spending.

While driving under the influence you receive a DUI. Following the conviction, you have to spend hundreds of dollars repairing your driving credit. You can no longer afford to send your children to the tutoring or after school programs in which they take part.

You SHOULD regret your irresponsible behavior.

No, these are not examples of life changing events, but they are the actions that build the trail to your milestones. You don’t have to regret the outcome, but you should not continue to excuse actions that are hindering your progress……they become habits.

Please provide some examples of decisions, choices, and/or behavior that people SHOULD regret.

Below is a link to an article that discusses decision-making processes and how to live a life with no (fewer) regrets.

http://mantonadvisory.com/blog/are-you-on-a-path-of-no-regrets/

 

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