My Best Friend Ghosted Me

Single woman alone swinging on the beachI remember graduating from high school and some of the girls were crying. We were all excited about our next chapter in our lives.  But those girls were bawling their eyes out.   They knew. They KNEW things were going to be different and that the comfortable shelter of childhood was coming to an end.

I had a best friend.  Let’s just call her M. She was middle eastern and both her and I suffered from some light bullying, so I guess we both found solace knowing we both came from strict households and were the outliers in the high school social scene. She lived 4 blocks from my house and, even now, I remember what her room looked like. For some time she shared it with her Grandmother and had soccer posters up and Turkish evil eye jewelry laying around. We would spend our free time in high school working at Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop at the mall, I got a job there and brought her in. She was the first one to get a car and would drive me home from school from our after school activities. We did a school dance show and came up with a belly dance routine together, we joined the school play and did orchestra.  We got drunk for the first time together. I remember passing notes and gossiping about the boys we liked.  I was her maid of honor in her wedding.

We honestly shared a lot of great memories.   I can’t go back more than 5 years without finding a picture of a moment we shared.   But now we don’t talk or text and it’s been this way for a while.

We just kinda stopped talking. I would send her texts and try to make plans and they weren’t reciprocated. Nothing.  A text would just not get much of a response. Plans would be cancelled last minute. It sucked.

A part of me wants to believe that friendships sometimes can drift apart and that maybe that they can be brought back together somehow and be the way they were.

But another part of me is like, “F that B*tch!”

Life didn’t keep us from being friends. Sending a text is nothing now. Keeping up to date and making quick call takes no time. We’re no longer friends now because one day she decided she didn’t want to spend time with me.  SHE decided she didn’t want to be a good friend.

I was noticing other things though. Like how she would make time for other friends, she would post pictures of them doing things and making plans together. I know, I know… I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people and focusing other people’s social media highlight reels. But I couldn’t really shake the feeling that our friendship wasn’t drifting apart but rather suddenly ending.

M stopped liking my stuff except for really positive items. Once in a while I’d get a random text like, “oh hey, how are you? It’s just been so busy but we have to hang out soon!” But then no real plans would materialize from her end.

I guess this is how it feels to be ghosted by your best friend.

My husband asked about her last night, “What happened to M? How couldn’t you guys just stop talking like that? For literally no reason?” I cringed inside when he said that, because I don’t really know either.  If I think too much about it, I start to question all the things I did to deserve the ghosting.  Maybe I wasn’t there for her either, maybe I’m too selfish.  Maybe I wasn’t good enough? The truth I need to accept is that maybe I’ll never know.   Human nature is a fickle thing.

The hardest part is that this happened during the toughest part of my life. I had an unexpected pregnancy, was failing career wise, was struggling to pay bills, and drowning in debt. It would have been nice to have my best friend there. It would have been nice to been part of her hardships too. But she stopped being my friend.

Things have changed for me now. I have new friends, not really a best friend now but good friendships that are understanding, light and easy. My relationship with my sisters have replaced that best friendship I lost. We call eachother weekly. I call my mom too. I have K’s family and sisters in my life.  One friendship was lost, but so much as been gained at the same time.  I really need to think of it that way.

I don’t know what I would do if M suddenly tried to pop back in my life. Life has gotten better for me since we stopped talking, that’s for sure. It seems a shame to let 10+ years of friendship fizzle out.

But what’s the quote people like to use?

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best?”

I feel kind of silly being this grown ass woman worrying about friendships from my childhood.  Like I should be past these kind of disappointments by now, right?  But friendships were a major part of my life when I was growing up.  From ages 14-24 I had a best friend who was like a sister to me.  My friendships were the most important think to me and it was even more important to keep them.  If you would have told 18 year old me that in seven years I would no longer be talking to M, I would have called you a liar.  I would have never believed it.  It would have been unfathomable to me.

Maybe that’s part of growing up though, its accepting that friendships and even relationships can’t last forever.  Two people aren’t even obligated to keep in touch after so many years.  M doesn’t owe me anything and I should really stop having these kinds of expectations on people.

Part of growing up is realizing that people can grow apart and sometimes the ship’s just sailed.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  Please feel free to like, share and follow.

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Organize Your Mind: How To Be More Productive With Your Day

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I find myself scrambling most days.  In the mornings I’m scrambling to get my daughter ready for school, get myself ready for work, eat breakfast, get out the house and catch my bus, then commute to my job in the city.  Once I get to work, I’m almost immediately bombarded with tasks to be done, work-fires needing to be put out and clients to meet.  My day goes on like this until I can finally escape work and make the commute back home.  Once I’m home, I’m scarfing down a quick microwave dinner, showering, then relaxing for an hour before it’s time to go to bed and prepare to do it again the next day.

Weekends are just as busy with errands like groceries and Target runs, family obligations, and chores.  A two day weekend seems too short suddenly and the work week begins again.

Now that I’m a working mom with a full time job, full time child and full time husband, I’ve come to find life almost unmanageable.   I always envisioned my life to be very organized, put together and successful.   Most days it feels far from that, but I try, and I actually manage to get a lot done with the help of my husband.

So how can you be more productive?  Here are my go-to’s for making a busy week more productive:

To Do List:

  • This is my go to.  Everything I need to do goes on a list.  I personally do not have enough attention span to remember all the tasks I need.  I’ll go into a room with the intention to do something and completely forget what the task was.
  • For me lists are a way of organizing my life.  It’s not just enough to create one but it’s also important to follow through and get the tasks done.  The absolute KEY to productivity is to tackle your tasks from hardest to easiest.  Often I never finish a list but if I’m able to tackle the first most important tasks, then that makes the effort worthwhile.  I tend to procrasinate with the smaller easier and more enjoyable tasks to do.  It gives me an excuse, once I’ve completed “enough” tasks, to skip out on the most difficult ones.  If I tackle harder list items, I become more energized and have the motivation and energy to complete the easier ones.

Outsource

  • There are some things I can’t bring myself to do.  Adding them to my list, stalls me.  I never get to it and it keeps me from feeling accomplished for the day.  For those kind of tasks or items, I’ve found it easier to outsource them.
  • I absolutely hate washing dishes and ironing clothes. I’m also not a great cook.  It takes me twice as long to cook because I’m usually procrastinating trying to make it more interesting.
  • For washing dishes, I was 27 before I lived in an apartment that had a dishwasher.  I would let them pile in the sink until they were insurmountable and took over 30 minutes tot take care of.  Now that I FINALLY have a dishwasher, I’m fine to outsource them to the machine, while my husband still finds hand washing dishes faster and more efficient.
  • For ironing clothes, I just outsource to my local dry cleaner. Dry cleaning and pressing my best quality clothes tends to make them last longer and better. It takes me an hour to iron 7 collared shirts. I’m a perfectionist and like them neat, so I take my time. With the dry cleaner, I can just drop off and pick up, it cost a bit of money but it saves a lot of time.
  • For cooking, my husband is a better cook so he gets credit for all our amazing meals.

Down time

  • At the end of the day, we are not robots and can only be so productive. Don’t over do it! Relax, go on vacation and don’t let yourself burn out.
  • Burnout will kill your motivation. Burnout will keep you from achieving long term goals. So don’t feel bad when you need to take a break. Taking a break isn’t quitting. Taking a break is when you take a moment to gain the energy you need for the long haul ahead of you.
  • Never stop hustling but don’t let the hustle beat you out of the game.

Focus

  • Having absolute focus is a must.  I’m the queen of procrastination.  Even as I write this post, I’ve been procrastinating.  But you’ve got to reign it in.  You’ve got to cut out the distractions in life and keep your eye on the price.
  • The biggest distraction?  Social Media.  OMG whenever I post on Facebook or Instagram, I’m constantly checking how many likes and comments I get.  Because what’s the point of posting, if no one’s looking?  Then I get sidetracked by other posts that people are sharing and going down that rabbit hole.  But at some point, you have to realize what a TIME WASTER it is to be sidetracked randomly by things that are unnecessary.   RECOGNIZE your biggest time wasters, then make a plan to cut them down.  Yes, social media is fun and is even good for business, but I worked on cutting it out and blocking those apps until I absolutely needed it.
  • Learning to say NO to lesser important tasks also helped with my focus.  I don’t need to spontaneously take on every responsibility that is presented to me.  A random problem not caused my me at work, but requires my attention?  Nope, it’s going to the back of the priority list.  I need to stick to my priorities and keep from putting out other people’s fires.  This might sound like I’m not a team player at work but in reality, this will help keep you from being constantly relied on to fix other peoples mistakes.  It’s called, HOLDING OTHER PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE.  Of course this only applies to people at work, sometimes you need to create boundaries.  For family and friends, I’m running to help put out their fires.

Schedule

  • I’m terrible at scheduling,  It’s really not my thing.  But it is a MUST.  Keeping dates and a calendar can help you manage your time better and not miss important dates. It gives you the ability to plan ahead and avoid conflicts.
  • How many times have I missed a important day or ended up scrambling last minute to complete a deadline?  That’s not efficient nor is it responsible.
  • I used to think I could keep it all in my head but that is a LIE.  The most efficient people know they can forget or miss a detail so they make it a habit to follow a calendar to the letter.  “Let me check my calendar,” said every single person that respects their time and yours.
  • The worst thing, I think, are people who over schedule and over book.  Because, guess what, the person at the other end of the overbooking won’t forget how unreliable you were or that you were sloppy in following through.  They’ll know that you don’t use your time efficiently and that memory of you will be hard to erase.

All these things have helped me so much professionally and personally.  I’ve grown a lot over the years and these tips have helped me leverage my time with my money.  I’m able to manage being a mom, wife, and being career minded.   In 5 years I was able to have a child, get married and grow 3X my salary.  Productivity matters and will get you noticed.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, if you liked it please support by following, liking and sharing.

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Flashpass to Retirement: FiRE and LeanFiRe Strategies

Early retirement concept

“If only I didn’t have to go back to work.” I think this WAYY to often, especially on my Sundays before I have to clock back in for my work week.

My friends say, “Alex, I think it’s time for a new job. You’re burnt out. There’s another company that can be the right fit for you.”

But I think it’s much more than that. I think I just don’t like work. I don’t like feeling obligated to go and be somewhere at a certain time.  I don’t like commuting. I don’t like being on teams I didn’t choose for myself. I don’t like not being able to spend my time as I choose. And at the bottom of all those things I don’t like is the basis for a job. In college, I didn’t like not having money either so I went into the world and made a career for myself.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to grow up.  Like, having a job is just part of life. An absolute majority of our society NEEDS to work in order to put food on the table or clothes on their back. But then I started to wonder about an alternative. What if, I didn’t have to work? What would it take to live like that? Is it possible for me?

That’s when I came across FiRe or Financial Independence and Retire Early. I’ve been following Personal Finance on Reddit for a while and stumbled across the subreddit. It’s not just people retiring early at 50 instead of 63. It’s people retiring earlier at 35 and 40! I honestly can’t look through this subreddit without feeling a tinge of jealousy. I really want to be those people.

The concept of FiRe goes beyond Personal Finance-which discusses getting out of debt, buying a house and paying for college.  As well as other difficult financial choices that neither high school or college ever prepared us for. FiRe is just specifically about retiring early and what it will take to get there and the kind of sacrifices you need to be willing to make.

Looking through the subreddit, I can’t help but feel…what’s the word for it? Ah yes, INADEQUATE. I feel inadequate because here are these 19 year old kids that are planning their hustle for the next 10-15 years to be totally independent off a job! At 19, I was buying Frappachino this and coach shoes that.  I was twiddling away my hard earned money because, at the time, I didn’t consider my minimum wage slave money to be……real money.  It was just money I was earning before I had a career; before I made a real salary.  Talk about regret over missed opportunity. Regardless, now that I’m aware this is possible maybe there’s time for me to turn things around.  I’m making 3-4X what I was making on minimum wage, so hopefully I didn’t miss too much of an opportunity.

Personal Finance and FiRe pretty much go hand in hand but FiRe is a long term game. Once you pay all of your debts and start really gaining wealth, FiRe commits to continuing to live a modest lifestyle until you reach your FiRe goal date. For people that are successful at FiRe, this means living at your parents home until you’re 30 or putting a $10K pay increase towards a portfolio option instead of taking a much needed vacation. It means couponing; living on a cash basis and giving up the convenience of the credit card.  It sounds so simple, “Just don’t spend money? I hate spending money, I only spend money when I need to!” But DO you? Do you REALLY??  Credit cards/subscriptions, Venmo are super convenient. For credit cards, any points you earn on the card are already spent on the overspending you did due to the “convenience.”  And we all like convenience. Retiring early means less convenience and less money spent on pleasures that we usually indulge in as a reward for hard work.

It takes an incredible amount of self control to retire early. Year after year, you’ll need to make sacrifices in your own indulgence, spending habits and choices. Vacation to Miami with friends? Nix that. Those really nice designer shoes? Nope. Weekly happy hour bar tabs with coworkers?  Um, no. Forget about the new car lease and living without roommates.  What you’re sacrificing in quality of life now, you’re planning to get back later when you’re able to retire 15-20 years early.

You’ll also need to be somewhat knowledgeable on tax laws. Should I invest in a 401K or IRA or both? What should I do after I max on my contributions? I’m about to surpass my income tax bracket, what can I do to minimize this years taxes? These are decisions you can’t just leave to the wind when planning an early retirement. Because year after year the wrong decision will cost you.

Once you start saving all this additional money, how do you optimize it to allow an early retirement? Well that’s entirely up to you. Some people invest in individual stocks, mutual funds or rental properties, or a mix of diversified options. The choice is yours depending on the skill set you have. Some people like to park their money and not think about it again until they need it, some like to be more involved in the trades, others like the idea of home equity. Some enjoy high risk, others low risk. To make FiRe truly effective you’ll need to take some risk to optimize your hard earned money.

Now let’s talk Lean FiRe. What is that? How could FiRe get any leaner, you’re already cutting out the pleasures of life! Oh it can get leaner.  Way leaner. Some of you may have read this article rolling your eyes, like “I don’t make that kind of money, Alex. I’m not overspending and there’s nowhere to cut.” Lean FiRe is early retirement for those who make an average or below average earnings. I swear, the Lean FiRe Reddit is no joke! They will make feel shame for your current lack of retirement plans. These are people making 40K -70k a year (or less!), and killing it with their retirement goals.

How do they do it? Incredible sacrifice and resourcefulness. These are people who really hate their job and are like, “Oh hell no! I can’t be doing this forever!”

I read about this one guy that ditched his car even though it was a 40 minute bike ride each way. Luckily he lived in a place where the weather was nice nearly all year round. He was saving money off of the weather! Other people are gardening and living off the literal fruits of their labor and land, thus cutting down food costs.

Then there are the people who are extreme in their housing solutions. One guy was homeless for a year! You heard that, homeless! Like, living in his car and showering at the gym while going to work every day and pretending he had a home. The moral of that story is that he really saved a lot at the time since housing is probably our largest expense. A lot of Lean FiRe people take to frugality and minimalistic living. There was one couple that bought a Tiny Home and lived in a trailer park. Their Tiny Home cost 15k and they bought it outright, then parked their home for a couple hundred dollars a month at a trailer park. They really didn’t need to earn so much money after that.

Theres also strategy to increase their income and put that money aside for retirement purposes only. These people were resourceful with their talents and skills.  They started blogging, and you-tubing to earn some extra cash. It’s a slow income stream but it’s cheap and easy to get into. Some opened etsy shops, making homemade soaps, balms, greeting cards, ornaments and whatnot. Some just did the good old fashioned way of getting a second job and driving Uber on the side.

Those Reddit subreddits really put me to shame. When I hear real life stories like that, I wonder WHY CAN’T I BE LIKE THAT?

Because I don’t want it enough. I’m not willing to sacrifice my daily pleasures or I do, and then I can’t stick with it long term. But practice makes perfect, and I’ll keep at it until I’m finally willing to make the sacrifice long term. In the meantime, I’m going to keep reading the inspirational stories FiRe and LeanFiRe have to share with me. Because with a little inspiration, who knows, maybe I’ll be able to retire early too.

Feel free to like, share and follow this post if you found it interesting.

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Developing Personal Style: The Manly Edition

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I’ve always loved the idea of a stylish man. GQ men and James Bond always come to mind for me. There’s something very attractive about a man that can dress well and as some might say, a “Je ne sais quois,” that makes a man irresistible. I pondered these questions for myself and wondered why I found certain qualities attractive.

My husband, K, did not have personal style in terms of clothes or possessions when I met him but he had a bit of swag and charisma. I wrote post on charisma not too long ago and it definitely helps you put your personal style to life but personal style is different.  It’s how you present yourself to the world, what’s on the outside as opposed to what’s on the inside.

Like I mentioned, K really didn’t have much in terms of personal style. He always wore the same shirts until they got pilly fuzz on them and started to curl at the bottom from being over dried too many times. He also always wore the same shoes until they started to wear through and look retro. And honestly, he didn’t really have a good reason to look put together; we were in our late teens when we met and barely getting by as young adults. Nevertheless, he would come dressed to impress whenever we had to go out to dinner or an event to go to.   In return, it made me want to dress up and look good for him because why should he be the only one that looks good? 💁🏽 Over time he has developed his own style that fits his personality but also says success and confidence.

Here are some tips to help you look as good on the outside as you do on the inside:

A Quality Timepiece

I always notice if a man is wearing a watch and if you’re close enough to him, you can see the actual brand he’s wearing. Surprise, surprise women will look at your watch, notice, and make inferences about it. I’m not saying you should get the most expensive watch possible, but picking a watch that says a statement about who you are and will add to your personal style.

The Timex Weekender Watch is a classic.  It’s a nice casual timepiece you can wear when you’re out in a polo and shorts or more casual with t-shirts.  Its good for outdoors and is easy to replace if lost or broken.  Timex is the perfect brand if you want to stay under $50 for a watch.  The Weekender Watch here is under $30.

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I also recommend Guess watches if you want a flashier look for less.  Most of Guess’s watches fall between $75-200.  I find the Guess watches to be a more affordable option over the pricier brand Movado.

Just look at the two nearly identical options for gold toned watches.  The Guess watch is $100 while the Movado option is $1000.  There isn’t much of a difference and Guess watches are just as sophisticated as the higher end brands.

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For a luxury brand, I would recommend Bulova, they are exceptionally good quality timepieces that are reasonably priced between $250-$600.  I have one of their women’s watches and I get constant compliments on mine.

I really love the Marine Star collection, This stainless Steel Chronograph watch is perfect for every day use since its waterproof.  I also love how the watch faces are on the larger side with plenty of chrome detail.

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A Nice Haircut:

K has beautiful thick hair. He also hates going to the barber. I don’t understand whyyy?? I love when his hair is freshly cut. Two months later his hair still looks good in an unkempt rugged sort of way? The point of this segment is to say your hair can say a lot about you. It says a lot about your grooming habits, whether you put time into your appearance or if you just let your mom cut your hair every 3 months.  Hair is the first thing people are going to notice about you so finding the right cut is important.

I’m not going to post any pictures of what I think good looking hair looks like, but to be honest, there are many different hair styles, cuts, and textures that are attractive.  Sexy beards are a thing too and some men have impressive beards that women turn their heads over.  So having a well maintained beard is also something to think about.  K, doesn’t really grow a great beard, though he tries.  His barber helps him maintain a nice goatee.  So talk to your barber, they know hair!

Suits

I think every man needs at least one nice suit. One that he can wear at a funeral, wedding or for a job interview. You always want to have one handy for an unexpected event, especially for an interview. Because you never know when you’ll have a great opportunity that requires you to dress your best. And between getting a fresh haircut and preparing for the opportunity, the last thing you want to spend your time on is a new suit with the right fitting. I love tailored slim fit suits. Dark blue is my favorite color, black tends to be too somber. The nice thing is suits can come in many different colors, textures and materials; so with plenty of options you can find one that fits and looks right for you. Suits tend to be expensive so you’ll probably need to start with just one and just maintain it with dry cleaning after every 2-3 wears depending on how soiled you feel like it gets. You don’t want to over wash or clean the fabric, because even with dry cleaning it can cause damage. In most department stores, you can get a good quality suit for $200-$300, especially during sales.

Surprisingly Amazon has a new program for clothes called PRIME WARDROBE,  I’m not really one for in person shopping and neither is my husband.  We usually just buy online and return by mail if we don’t like the fit.  It’s pretty easy.

Anyway, K had bought this Blue Tommy Hilfiger suit and look amazing in it for a wedding shower brunch we went to.  One of our friends had commented that he was always dressed so sharp for events.  Sometimes I feel like he goes over the top, even for simple or small outings.  But as he would put it, “You can be underdressed, but you can never be overdressed.”

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Getting Higher Quality Clothes:

I’m going to start this segment with a caveat, having expensive clothes will not help in making a man more attractive when he is out of shape or unkempt. I would say good grooming and good health are first attractors for women and for people in general. As for clothes, I’m not talking about brands and trends and all that. I’m talking about getting good quality timeless pieces that you can mix and match with other parts of your wardrobe to create a polished look. K used to shop at Express and Zumies and although their clothes were really trendy; they always felt out of style within a year. Getting good quality shoes, jeans, dress pants, dress shirts and jackets can really add to your style. I’m not saying to buy everything overnight but start with one piece then add another piece, then another as you’re able to afford it. As you buy more pieces, you can filter the lesser quality clothes out or just have a greater variety to wear.  My husband has recently gotten into Robert Graham dress shirts and Lucky Brand Jeans.  These pieces are a bit pricey ($150-$200 a piece) so we get them here and there, especially if we see any sales at the mall.

Tips for Maintaining Clothes

1. High Quality Jeans: Jeans overall don’t need to be washed a lot. Actually they should be washed on a need to basis in order to avoid fading and shrinkage. You can hand wash them in cold water and detergent for darks. Don’t wring them out to dry but rather ROLL as much water out of them. Hang them up to dry or tumble dry them with cold air.

2. Shoes: wearing the same shoes every day wears them much faster. You need to let them breath and to keep quality shoes for longer, so you’ll also need to expand your collection from one to at least 3-4 pairs of shoes for daily wear that you can rotate. You’ll also need one pair of dress shoes and a pair of seasonal shoes like sandals or boots. And this is to start, eventually you’ll expand further depending on your preferences.

3. Jackets and suits: require dry cleaning. You can spot wash areas heavily soiled areas like underarms and neck collars by soaking with water and a light detergent and scrubbing with a toothbrush, but anything other than that I wouldn’t recommend.

You don’t need to have the best wardrobe to get attention or get the best job, but your overall style will say so much about you!  They say first impressions are made within 30 seconds.  It’s important your style choices match who you are and what you’re trying to portray.  Most of all, personal style is a reflection of you.  It doesn’t come overnight but you want it to match the best version of you possible 🙂

Feel free to follow, like and share if you found this post useful

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How Do People Afford To Live In NYC?

New York

When I graduated high school my biggest desire was to live in the city.  I would google apartment buildings I wanted to live at, look up what it would take for me to live the high life in NYC.  After a little research, I realized that it was a little out of my reach even if I was to be a high flying lawyer or doctor after college.  It was A LOT upfront to live in the city or even to live on your own in the Tri-State area!

Well, I ended up not becoming a high flying lawyer or doctor but rather the lowly rental broker, which I later learned was like a cockroach in the world of real estate sales.  Literally the bottom totem in the hierarchy of professions you could have.  Those stories are for another day but with that experience I learned a lot about how on what it took to live in NYC.  I consider NYC to be the most expensive city to live in within the United States.  Very few cities in the world can truly rival the costs of living in prime Manhattan neighborhoods. Here are the ways I found that people are able to live in NYC:

  1. Rent Stabilized Apartments:
    • There is still a lot of rent stabilized and some rent controlled apartments. These apartments are significantly lower than market rate. There are people paying $2000 and under for 1 and 2 BR apts. those people NEVER LEAVE. They do the best they can with the finishes and condition of the apt, sometimes negotiating with the landlord for some basic upgrades but they NEVER LEAVE. They even treat their stabilized or controlled status as a sort of asset that can be passed down to other relatives who are occupants to the apt. So if you’re paying very low rent, this can definitely help you with cost of living.
    • I had a friend whose family had a rent stabilized apartment in midtown.  I was amazed by it.  It was a full service doorman building with amenities and laundry in building.  His family was paying almost nothing for a 3BR apartment. They had moved into the building when Times Square was still known for it’s seedy nature and risqué activities, before Broadway really made a culture out of it.  I was so enamored with the idea of living in a building like that and here he was so lucky to have his parents rent in a stabilized luxury building paying nearly nothing.
    • Getting a rent stabilized apartment is actually really hard.  NYC landlords will only stabilize their properties if there are major tax incentives for it.  Unfortunately, our local governments have been puling back on these incentives for new developments.  Although for the past two years, stabilized apartments have seen a rent freeze, there has also been the removal of certain programs (421A) that have incentivized landlords to build more rent stabilized units.  So chances are if you don’t already have a rent stabilized apartment, you never will.
  2. Roommates
    • Roommate culture is huge in NYC. Many people survive with roommates cutting the rent in half or more depending on how many roommates. There is such a thing as “Flexing” an apartment so to make an extra room out of the living room. A 600sqft 1BR can potentally be “Flexed” into a 600sqft 2BR with no living room A cheap 2300 1BR split between 2 is only $1150 a month each. To qualify for that portion of the rent you only need to make $46K which is really a starting salary for young professionals in NYC.
    • I’m actually not a huge fan of the whole roommate culture.  I feel like it overcrowds apartments, causes tenement conditions and can be a strain on neighborhood resources.  NYC neighborhoods are only so big and when you have 3 occupants for every 500sqft 1BR, thats going to cause more trash, issues with overcrowded schools, and a gentrification of neighborhoods.
    • Think about it, if previously a neighborhood was not able to command a rent of $3000 for a 1BR but suddenly you see an influx of roommates splitting a 1BR three ways to afford the rent this is going to push the overall rental prices up.  Seniors, long-time locals, and families are going to see their rents sky rocket in a market that is inflated with roommates.
  3. Higher Salaries
    • NYC salaries are huge compared to other parts of the country. And that’s mainly because they account for the higher cost of living. You can be starting at $55K and still struggling if your looking to live in prime NYC neighborhoods. People working on Wall Street with big five figure bonuses are really just making upper middle class. Especially families that choose to stay in the city. Include the cost of childcare and you can easily be living hand to mouth.
    • If you’re not in a rent stabilized apartment you’ll need to make at least 80K to afford a rinky-dinky studio in the upper east side with no amenities or laundry in building.  I mean, think about that.  When I started in real estate, I would rent hole in the wall apartments to analysts!  Not saying I’m proud of it, just saying I did it.  Because literally that was the maximum they could afford and qualify for.
  4. Rich Kids from other parts of the country:
    • They say NYC is the playground for the rich. For some reason all the young rich kids like to live in this city. They have parents who are able to co-sign on their apartments. Mind you, a requirement for a consigning on a apt that costs $2500 is $200K in income. The cost upfront for an apartment can easily exceed 10K. I’ve seen parents give their kids 3K monthly stipends! If only their parents could adopt me!

There’s a variety of factors that make it possible for people to afford city living. I would consider prime (south of 96th st) NYC to be difficult for most people to afford. The cost of living for basic things like groceries and dry cleaning tend to be higher in these neighborhoods.

Good thing there are other reasonable nearby neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, Upper Manhattan, and New Jersey where you can still find reasonable rent but with a short commute.

I Survived A Toxic Manager

My manager was a b*tch. She was a bonifide b*tch. And if this goes viral and she reads this, I hope she knows I’m talking about her. (Thanks EK for being the worst manager I have ever encountered).

We all have that one manager that we hate. The one that uses their position of power to serve themselves and abuse others. The one that uses emotional manipulation to guilt you into staying extra hours, often unpaid. The one that tries to screw you over financially and points fingers when things don’t go well. The one that manager that makes you question your commitment to your job and makes you want to quit with anxiety. I don’t know who put these people in their roles but, holy crap, the hiring process needs to get better.

I had just gotten into a position that I was really excited about when I met EK, she seemed friendly enough. She showed me how to do everything; put the bare minimum in training me but I was okay with that. After all, I didn’t want to be a burden, she was obviously very busy. I told myself that I could learn from my mistakes and I could learn quickly with very little instruction.

There were multiple red flags and looking back I realized what a dupe I was to believe her evil manipulations. In reality, I was between a rock and a hard place. A lot of stuff she did didn’t really make sense or feel fair but she was the only person who could show me the ropes. Even though she was only a year older than me, she had much more experience in the company and was well connected. Her brother and dad worked in other departments. EK always used her experience as a point of reference, “Trust me, I’ve been with this company for 10 years.” I mean, who can really argue with that logic?

The dark side started to show when she would hold these “meetings” five minute before the end of the workday. Looking back I really should have made a complaint at this point because these stupid were keeping me over 30-40 minutes and she wasn’t paying me overtime. I just felt sooo isolated. The director who hired me wasn’t really investing into my training or checking in to see how I was doing. (Tells you a lot about this company, huh?). If I spoke out, who would listen?

I took on a lot of work beyond my scope because not doing so just made my job harder. Our receptionist isn’t trained? Well then, I’m fielding all the calls. Her paperwork isn’t closed out? Well then, her clients are going to be screaming at me on her days off when things don’t go their way. EK just liked to point fingers and not take responsibility. Apologies were not in her vocabulary. And with Upper Management not digging into their sites or taking a closer look, who was going to be the wiser?

She was the coldest woman I ever met. When she would get stressed she’d throws me under the bus and make sure I knew exactly how I was failing in my position. I could literally feel her satisfaction as I stuttered an apology and looked down at my desk feeling helpless and losing confidence in myself. Over time my work self-esteem just started slipping away. There were times she wouldn’t even bother to hide her nasty personality, her sneers at how incompetent I was still ring in my ears.

Why would I put up with that, why would I let someone disrespect me like that? Don’t I have any self-respect? How many times did I really think about storming out and throwing the towel in? So many times, but I worked too hard, got too far to let ONE person push me out. The truth is that my job wasn’t that bad. I’m paid well and reasonably. I’m doing something that I enjoy and am good at. The benefits and time off were good too. This was a GOOD JOB. And to quit now would be going back to the drawing board, career-wise. So I stayed and took it. I made sure to document the issues I had with her and keep her on edge. Over time, she was still a bitch, but a more cautious bitch. And eventually she became more and more jaded with her own position, found another opportunity and left.

It was such a breath of fresh air to be away from the negativity EK brought to the office.

It wasn’t until she finally left that I realized how toxic she was. I had always struggled to get deals through but apparently she had the system rigged. Which was surprising because for the past year and a half I was led to believe I just wasn’t trying hard enough. You know when someone points out some obscure yet plausible reason why something is happening, but in reality the two are unrelated? That’s exactly how she explained things to me. My manager had played the system so that she would get the bulk of the commissions. All her arbitrary rules, on what could be accepted plus her rules on which clients were hers, favored her heavily. She knew this full and well but still took the digs at me for being low performing compared to her. She went as far as to complain about me to upper management, saying, “I can’t focus on my own role because Alex is too underperforming. I need to make all the deals.” She suggested adding another agent, so that I would compete with them and then they could drop the lowest performing team member.

You would think women would lift other women up in the workplace, seeing how we’re underrepresented and all. So it really surprised me to realize that EK didn’t care to mentor me or help me grow. She was numero uno and that was all that mattered.

For those dealing with a toxic manager or coworker here are a few thoughts of advice:

1. Pick your battles but speak up! If something doesn’t seem right, say so. Plain and clear. Let the other person be defensive and show how they are not screwing you over.

2. Break down your interactions and minimize them. I only had to work with EK 3 times a week and sometimes it would be 2 or 1 times due to holidays and PTO. In the larger scheme of things we only worked together 135 days out of the year. Our overall interaction in a day might add up to an hour. Dealing with her was manageable when I thought of it that way.

3. Document Everything: most jobs will want to “build a case” against you if they want to fire you. Documenting everything can save your ass especially in a company that likes to point fingers. You can build a case too on how you were a good and reliable employee and how your employee committed wrongful termination.

4. Think about the bigger picture. Your manager is one person in a small part of your life. She or you may leave for a better opportunity. It’s hard to think about it that way when week after week, someone is using their position of authority to get ahead of you. But life has taught me that challenges are temporary.

5. Things are always changing: My bitch manager left! If she didn’t leave, I probably would have found my way out. The corporate environment is a living breathing organism, constantly changing.

My manager was horrible and I can only wish most of my readers don’t have to work in that kind of environment.  But at the end of the day we can’t always choose who we work with.  Stay strong and stay motivated!

Please follow, like and share if you found this post helpful.

Check out my other posts

My Job is Killing Me…. and Status Update: Don’t Over Do It!

Hello World :) June ’18 Statistics

I made it to month 2!! Yes, I’m going strong and not quiting. It’s been an incredible month with a lot of interesting changes, posts and updates!

I’m still committing to posting twice a week and right now it doesn’t look like I can post much more.  I’m making an effort to write quality posts that are at least 1000 words. I’ve also made some changes to the font. My sister candidly told me that she hated typewriter font and thought it was harder to read. I guess I chose that font because it made me feel more like a writer?? Regardless, if she found it hard to read, then likely you did too so I opted for the current font which hopefully is more palatable.

I’ve also added a subscribe popup. I know, I know, popups can be annoying and irritating but you can always say no and you can always unsubscribe. I have really great ideas for this blog and and I want to be able to integrate a polling system for subscribers.   That way I can have a better idea of what you like to read about and focus on topics that are enjoyable. At this time, my topics include my motivational book club, work life, career advice, motivational posts, and relationship advice.  I kind of want to keep an eye out on what’s popular and keep that going.

I also want to say thank you! I now have 32 subscribers from WordPress and 2 email subscribers. A quick shout out to Melanie for being my first email subscriber who is not my sister! Hell-to-the-yeah! You’re my number one right now!

Now let’s talk social media. I want to remind everyone that I’m on Facebook and have a Facebook page there, if you’re a regular FB user you can just follow my page. I’ll send posts for new articles and keep you updated. I’m also on Pinterest, and honestly I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing there but feel free to follow or “pin” me if you are more of a Pinterest user. I’m on Quora, which I’ve really learned to love and engage in. I’ve been answering a lot of questions there and it’s inspiring me in terms of being able to write more post or at least having backup posts for when I’m on vacation or just having writers block. (Writers block does happen). Lastly, I’m on Medium, which is another blogging type platform. My posts are really only available for paying members of Medium and is a curated version of adulting-101.org of my best and most popular posts. I fully intend to make adulting-101 the number one spot for my writing so stay tuned. 🙂

Now for the stats!

It’s been a sort of quiet month but I’ve been hustling to make it happen by promoting on social media and keeping up my posts.

This month I already crossed 450 unique views and 307 visitors. I think before the month is over, I can make 490 unique views which would be a nice bump in traffic from May’s total of 441 unique views.

June Visitors

WordPress Reader has been a little quiet for me with only 13 likes for my posts and 9 new followers. Follow me, because I follow back!  I will admit,I probably should be reading more of other people’s content and liking and commenting more. I’m trying to make time between writing and working full time but I’ll get there.

I was pleasantly surprised to see almost all of my posts on adulting-101 were visited at least once, even older ones. This indicates that readers are reading several different articles and that my SEO is working and people are finding me through search engines.

June posts

My three most popular posts this month were:

1)Motivational Book Club: The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter, by Meg Jay

2)Dating in Your 30s vs Dating In Your 20s

3) Be Charismatic By Mastering Small Talk

My three most popular posts of 2018 were:

1)Overcome Your Anxiety. 5 Ways I Worked To Overcome Mine

2)On Gratitude…

3)Top 6 Ways To Maintain A Work Life Balance When Your Job Is Stressing You Out

Countries

This month I also had a very diverse audience mainly from United States, India, and United Kingdom.  I want to say Hi to all my other readers in the Philippines, Pakistan, South Africa, Ireland and elsewhere! Thank you!

Thank you so much for your readership this month! I want to remind you all to subscribe!

Motivational Book Club: The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter, by Meg Jay

This is the best book for young grads about to depart for real life.  It’s the perfect self help book for those coming of age.  I gave this book to my younger sister after she graduated college. She was so fresh faced and optimistic and I kinda wanted her to experience adulthood without all the bumps and headaches I had to learn from. My older sister had read it, she was trying to understand the mistakes she had made in her 20s and why she was not so happy with her early 30s and recommended this book as well.

I would say don’t judge a book by its cover, it kind of has a bland and doctorish look to it but I found The Defining Decade to be a refreshing bit of truth in a world that says that your 20s are just an extension of adolescence.  But we all have to grow up and some grow up later than others.  Using your 20’s as a leaping post to get a head start on life could be the best decision you ever make.

I really liked how the author is a Clinical Psychologist and uses her client’s stories to highlight some of the hard choices and pitfalls a lot of 20 year olds go through. I mean in her work section, she’s very candid on how your 20s are a period to grow career wise. Not to put too much pressure, but the earnings you make between 20-30 can grow exponentially. I’ve seen it in myself. The first year in real estate, I made -$6,000. Now I’m making nearly $90K, five years later.  Meg doesn’t take bullshit about how you need to find yourself in your 20s.  She basically says that by the time you’re a young adult, you have two decades of experience under your belt. Maybe you don’t know exactly what best suits you as a career but you have a general idea of what your strengths are. The key is to use those strengths and put it towards a viable career.

Her discussion on relationships was also a great highlight. Meg says it best, that the biggest decision you’ll ever make in life is who you’ll marry. And most people don’t think twice about who they marry! They just fall haphazardly into relationships.

She touched base on cohabitating and how it affects the success of marriage. Cohabitating is not the same as deciding to get married. And the issue is that people start cohabitating and then slide into marriage. You don’t necessarily slide into it with the idea of what it takes to have a successful marriage. The book recommended a few key steps in cohabiting successfully.

I personally loved all the short stories about her clients, though I think she gave us the simplest examples of the type of clients she saw. Her writing was that of a concerned mother who had already experienced life and knew all the pitfalls.  Her story telling was very good but I felt like there was an underlying problem with all the clients she saw:  THEY DIDN’T THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE.  And, well, anybody who doesn’t think of the future and how to accomplish far off goals is going to have problems.

Other parts that caught my interest were the discussions on fertility, friendships and family.

Her discussion on fertility actually reminded me of an old friend who planned on having children EARLY.  She knew that her menstrual cycle was wonky and decided to see a fertility doctor at 20! The doctor told her she had some issues and she needed to start really thinking about having children right away if that’s what she wanted.  It was what she wanted, and she ended up marrying young at 22 and having her first child at 25, but not without struggle and treatment.  A lot of the women that Meg interviewed thought that they could easily have children at 40! They thought they had all the time in the world and felt resentment when they realized their fertility was on a timer..

I will rate this book as a thought provoking book.  I think it’s good for people who struggle with decision making and who might be waiting for life to happen to them.  The Defining Decade reminds you that time waits for no one and that you need to make your life and future happen now!  I don’t think she came up with clear solutions to the issues that her clients brought up but she did bring up some questions that I had to stop and ask for myself.  At times Meg Jay had a kind of judgy tone towards her patients, so I’m not sure if I would be interested in her as my own psychiatrist, but her writing is definitely entertaining.

Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read this book or are interested in other book reviews like this.

Feel free to like, share and subscribe 🙂

Check out my other posts as part of this book club:

Motivational Book Club: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Motivational Book Club: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck By Mark Manson

Status Update: Don’t Over Do It!

Things have certainly changed a lot since I wrote my first post “My Job Is Killing Me.”

I wrote that post and, subsequently, My Blog because I was so sick of my work environment. Honestly, I’m still sick of it.  I’m feeling worn out from work and tired.  The one thing I can say is that I know I’m better suited for entrepreneurial pursuits.  Employment feels too much like modern slavery.

I reached my breaking point and began to ask myself: can I really make a change in career? I really thought it over. My two talents that I have that are worth any salt are: real estate sales and writing.  I’m think I’m over real estate; the whole showing apartments in the city and renting homes is getting old. But can I really make a career out of writing?

I started my blog as a way to cope with work stress. I was also frustrated with not finding any solid advice on the internet. You can google, “Coping at Work,” and “Job Is Killing Me” and you find these BS answers to reducing stress. Like basically, suck it up and deal articles. Nobody really wants to say, “Hey! There’s something wrong with a work culture that forces you to be constantly connected, places unreasonable demands and gives you no job security.”  Specificially, American work culture is toxic with no means to negotiate work conditions, pitting employees against each other and manipulation.

I went into the workforce with a lot of hope and promises to myself that I would find purpose and happiness in my work. I envisioned work to have meaning, to make sense and to be a part of a team environment. Boy was I wrong. Maybe that’s not what I’ll find in a corporate environment but maybe I can coach people to find their way.  And even though that dream hasn’t happened for me yet, I’m determined to reach that goal of happiness and peace at work and not settle.  I mean, work takes up 40-50% of your “awake” time a year. That’s a lot of time devoted to one specific endeavor. And when I think of it that way, it’s like, you better make it count.

There are a lot of problems with my job. Mostly it’s caused by the bureaucracy and celebration of mediocrity. They literally hire people because they’re just sick of the whole hiring process and need to fill a role.  Rather then promote within and promote loyalty and hard work, they would rather hire outside and negotiate a lower pay rate.

Since I’ve started my blog, we’ve lost a manager, two receptionists, two other managers in different departments, a director and two of the office staff. Like, 80% of our teams are gone! Due mainly to overwork and being overlooked for a raise or promotion. It’s horrible. Yet the organizational machine chugs on and continues to make a profit.

After my manager left, I confirmed she was cheating me out of my earnings for the past year. I also confirmed she was talking sh*t about me to upper Management.  She was a toxic manager.  That was pretty messed up considering she would tell me, “Don’t worry I’ve got your back.” I guess that teaches you to never take someone’s word for it and only look at their actions.  I learned that I needed to stand up for myself more in the workplace and not be afraid to rock the boat, even if it means there’s a period of discomfort

I held the office together during her departure by working 6 days a week. My Director was on site to help with the transition but she is a HOT MESS. Literally, barely getting by on her job and delegating her work to other people who are more knowledgeable and beneath her. She made sure she was getting her hour lunch and leaving on time. She did NOT invest any time in helping me in the interim or doing more than her job required. I personally would not recommend working 60-70 hours a week like I was. And if I had to do it over, I wouldn’t have done the company a SOLID like that and worked myself to death. It was nice that I made some extra commissions, but still…no raise. And the recognition I got was pretty forced. “I can tell you put a lot of care in your work, and most importantly, it shows in your results.”

But I did learn a lot from her, her attitude about works was, “It’s only work.” She wasn’t going out of her way to make sure I was OK, she didn’t care that I was overdoing it. She actually encouraged me to take 2 hour breaks with her!!! I realized I needed to take a leaf out of her book and take a step back from work. Hard worker or slacker, you don’t get paid more for doing extra. Doing more, only causes burnout and anxiety, I need to care less about my job.

Now I’m in the middle of training our new staff, including our receptionist, intern and manager. It just feels so strange. I’m like the fake manager. I hired my receptionists, our intern. I’m training everyone, telling everyone what to do, overseeing all the work. But I’m not paid more and I’m not getting a better title. I posted on Reddit about this and they said that my career there is just going to stagnate and I should be looking for other work. I have put myself out there for other positions but I’m in such a niche industry right now. And the job offers I’m getting are not cutting it, in terms of benefits and pay.

Right now my solution is to keep building a side hustle (this blog) and try not to over invest in my job. It’s literally a circus like any other corporate machine.  It’s just hard to stay positive when you’re not recognized at work. They “promised” me a bonus and I decided that I would stay until the end of the year and see what happened. If things don’t progress, I can jump ship then.

For those of you who are in the same boat as me, stick with it until your next opportunity arises. Keep your head up and keep applying for better work. Start a new business idea! Make plans to back to school and grow professionally. But don’t give up! Things can be crap, people might treat you shitty but that’s just the path you’ll need to take before you’re next opportunity opens up for you! Trust the process and get going!  That’s the best way to cope with burnout and get back in the game.

I want to thank you all for following my progress and following where I’ve been.

Please follow, share, like and subscribe!  Check out these other posts

Never Believe The Propaganda, Create Your Own Purpose

Top 6 Ways To Maintain A Work Life Balance When Your Job Is Stressing You Out

Build An Eye Catching Resume And Get More Interviews

I’m currently offering resume review services but thought I would share some insights on what has helped me land interviews and land jobs for myself and my friends/family.  These tips are how I get my resume noticed.

This post is for people who have sent out resumes and:

  1. Have not gotten even a single response back,
  2. Have not updated their resume recently,
  3. Don’t know how to improve their resumes, and/or
  4. Want a job and don’t know where to start.

Ideally you’ll be well connected and able to to find a job through a friend or family who can recommend you for a position you really want, and win the opportunity.  But if you’re like 90% of the rest of us, you are not well connected and have no clue how to get your first job by applying and cold calling for jobs postings in your area. You’ll draft up a resume and send it out in a quick email.

Here are some ways to be successful and increase your chances of an interview.

A) Tailor Your Resume:

You might be applying for any job or a very niche job in your field. The biggest mistake I see is people not tailoring their resumes. They just slap all their experience together like, “Look how much I’ve done with my life. Hire me!” Nope, does not work like that. A recruiter or hiring manager might get hundreds of applications and spend 10-30 seconds reviewing applications for a specific job. The less specific your resume is to the position, the longer it will take a hiring manager to discern if your experience fits the role, making it more likely that they will cast your resume to the side.

You should be editing your resume for every single job you apply for. Yes, this is annoying and probably a very time consuming part of the search, but it works.  But this is how you make your resume stand out.

Ex: You previously had experience in retail, ringing up customers and meeting sales goals, keeping an area clean, and answering questions. Now you want to bar-tend and you just took a course in bar-tending. Your resume is tailored to retail, since that’s your previous experience. It would be a mistake to send it out to restaurants as is, because at first glance the hiring managers is going to be like, “this persons experience has nothing to do with the job.” They’re going to think about all the training they’ll need to invest in you, something they DON’T want to do. Rather, you should tailor your resume to show you graduated bar-tending school recently, education should be at the very top as most relevant and the work experience will be specific on what is transferable to bar tending. You’ll focus tailoring your retail experience to show you have customer service skills and sale skills to upsell drinks.

A resume for that purpose might look like this:

Resume 1

B) Keep It Simple

You want to keep your resume as digestible as possible. So that anyone scanning for specific information can find it. Resumes should be no longer than 1 page. You can adjust margins, text size and spacing but 1 page is enough to show your skills.

If you have limited work experience, add in any volunteer work that may be relevant

If you have a lot of experience in a specific area, you’ll want your experience to include ONLY what is both recent and relevant. You’ll want to include maybe 3-4 jobs you’ve had but be very detailed in the responsibilities you’ve had and tailor that to the job you are applying to.

Resumes don’t need to include ALL experience, just relevant experience.  You want your resume to be effective in showcasing your strengths.

If you’ve only worked at 1 company for a majority of your career you might want to break up your resume first by the company you worked for and then by the different roles you may have had in the company.

Resume 2

C) Write A Cover Letter In The Email Of The Job Post Response

This is essential. Too many people skip this step. They send out a generic “Hello, I’m interested in position X and am available X days. Please contact me via email or phone to schedule a visit.”

A message like that pretty much says you put zero to no thought into a message and are just hoping to land a job through mass mailing.  You need your resume that gets you the job and hired.

The body of the email is your opportunity! It’s the first thing a recruiter is going to read. It’s a great way to discuss your passion for the work you do or explain a gap in work. It can captivate, inspire and get that recruiter to open up the attachment. Then your perfectly tailored resume is going to tell the story of why you should be hired.  Recruiters look at your resume for an average of 6 seconds, you need a resume that gets you hired.

FYI- Never paste your resume in the body of the email. I’ve seen this before and it’s done to get recruiters to look at the resume right away. However it looks ugly, disorganized and is hard to share with other people if there are other decision makers. Don’t do it

Hopefully you find this post useful in your job search.  Let me know your feedback and feel free to like, share and follow!

View my other posts:

Top 6 Ways To Maintain A Work Life Balance When Your Job Is Stressing You Out