It’s tough to deal with failure. But there is something even more difficult to go through that’s absolutely worth it: the comeback.

A few years after graduating college, I started writing a blog about trying to pay off my student loans in three years. It was pretty small and relatively unknown at first, but eventually it garnered some attention with a local financial writer and radio personality. He had me on his show several times and became a bit of a mentor.

Eventually, he talked to me about the possibility of working for him in the future. The conversation progressed, and eventually, he promised me a concrete position as soon as his budget freed up. That would take a few months, he said, but no longer.

I waited, and waited, and waited. Then I started asking about the position more firmly during our conversations. Finally, I flat out asked him if he had any intention of following through on his promise. That’s when I stopped hearing from him.

I was crushed and put the blame entirely on myself. I was certain I had said something, or done something, or not done something to make him retract the offer. It took me years to fully recover from my perceived failure, and I learned a lot about moving on and letting go.

If you’ve fallen down, here are some ways you can pick yourself back up.

Be kind to yourself.

For years, I thought if I punished myself every time I failed, I’d learn not to do it again. Instead, the shame and guilt only pushed me away from figuring out what went wrong. Any time you fail, you have to forgive yourself for what happened.

I like to close my eyes and visualize myself as a friendly kindergarten teacher, talking to a younger version of myself. I speak in a sweet, soft tone and say things like, “Hey, it’s ok little pupper. Think of this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or a bad person. It just means you’re human.”

It may sound contradictory to some, but being nice to myself has yielded more change than being mean and condescending. Think of it as talking to yourself the way you’d talk to a good friend going through a rough patch. You wouldn’t criticize their mistakes – you’d try to build them back up with positivity and support.

Have no zero days.

When I experience failure, my instinct is to run away and hide under the covers, both literally and figuratively. I don’t feel like doing anything productive, like going to the gym, eating healthy or working on my hobbies. But feeling sorry for myself only makes the feeling of failure linger.

When you fail, you have to try even harder to get back up again. Start by doing something simple like taking a walk outside or reading a self-help book. Doing small things like that will make you rebound faster than laying on the couch binging on Netflix.

Every day, aim to do one productive thing, like meditate, apply for new jobs or work out. Mark an X on the calendar every time you’ve completed that thing. Your goal is to do something every day, no matter how inconsequential it seems.

Don’t worry about whether or not your heart is in it – this is about going through the motions. By stringing together a series of Xs, you’ll feel better about yourself. You’ll be more motivated to do other, bigger things, like taking online classes or cold calling a potential mentor.

List your accomplishments.

After we fail at something, our minds get clouded by self-doubt and insecurity. When I’m feeling down, I think about the amazing things I’ve accomplished and reminded myself that I’m capable of success as well as failure.

Sit and write down a few things you’ve accomplished recently, like running a marathon or being a great mom. The goal is not to forget or ignore your failure, but rather to remind yourself that failure does not define you.

For example, when I’m having a bad day and feeling lame, I think about how I paid off my student loans in three years, how I’m successfully self-employed and how I moved across the country without a support network. Taking a second to appreciate my victories makes me more confident in my ability to overcome my failures.

Be grateful.

When you’re feeling like a failure, it’s easy to see your life as a series of bad turns. That kind of thinking can make you feel unlucky, cursed or doomed to remain a failure.

To combat this mindset, try writing down at least three things you’re grateful for. Finding time for gratitude will help you see the positivity in your life. Even on the worst day, you can find something to be thankful for – like nice weather, a burger from your favorite fast food place or a kiss from your dog. Focusing on failure will only exacerbate your feelings while being grateful will shift your focus.

One way to feel grateful is to volunteer with people who truly are less fortunate than you and who need your help. By getting out of your own skin, you’ll start to realize that this failure is only a blip and doesn’t have to define the rest of your life.

Do you recall a time when you dealt with failure? How did you overcome it? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Leap outside your comfort zone. Try something new. Fail. And grow into the life you want.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Life stuck in a rut? Feeling low on confidence? Maybe you need to conquer life by stepping outside your comfort zone. Martin Dasko joins us to talk about bold challenges and how trying new things changed his own course.

You can improve your confidence as you seek the life you want to live, and the key to doing so is getting comfortable with taking on bold challenges.

Martin Dasko is the founder of Studenomics. His alter-ego is the Latin Lover, a villain in Toronto’s semi-pro wrestling scene. Martin is the author of several books, including Next Round’s On Me and So, You Want to Drive for Uber? He is also a co-host of Do You Even Hustle?, a podcast about business and sales in real life.

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Are your retirement dreams bigger than your 401(k)? If you’re ready to retire, but your wallet isn’t, here are some ideas to get you on your way.

If you’re thinking about retirement, you’re probably ahead of the curve. Most Americans don’t have enough saved for their golden years, and a substantial amount have nothing saved at all. If a retirement fund is your nest egg, most people haven’t even started looking for a chicken!

If you want to retire early, you’re going to need to get creative. Living costs continue to rise, the future of social security is dubious at best, and most experts predict that millennials will struggle to retire on the same timeline as their baby boomer parents. It’s a harsh reality, but it doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

Here are a few practical ways to retire when you want – and one you probably haven’t thought of.

Keep a budget.

When your heart is set on early retirement, you need to hit those numbers consistently in order to reach your goal. If you stop contributing to your 401(k) for a few months to pay off some debt or go on vacation, you could miss your target retirement date.

Stay on track with a budget and designate how much you can spend per category. Not sure how much you should budget? Track your spending first to see what your current numbers are, then see if you need to make any changes.

“Once you’ve tracked your spending for a few months, you’ll be able to see spending patterns,” said anonymous early retirement blogger Mrs. 1500 of 1500 Days.

Earn more money.

When you decide to retire early, you’ll probably find that you have to save far more than the average person. Your two choices are to live below your means or find an additional source of income. Depending on how much you make and when you want to retire, even living below your means might not be enough.

Go through the math and see how much you need to save to reach your goal. Can you do that on your current income? Or will you need work more?

Mrs. 1500 said people should “get a second job, improve [their] current earnings, get a side hustle or use [their] funds to invest in passive-income producing ventures such as real estate, stocks that pay dividends, or Private Money Loans – essentially being the bank for investors.”

Know your number.

Being aware of how much you need to retire is crucial. Some people assume you need millions, while others think Social Security and Medicare will be enough to string them along. Both answers are probably wrong.

Everyone’s number is different and depends on their lifestyle, location and when they plan to retire. There are many retirement calculators online to help you figure out how much you need, but you should see a financial planner if you want a personalized figure.

Mrs. 1500 said you should save 25 times your annual spending “so that you can safely withdraw 4% every year.”

Downsize your home.

Housing costs make up the largest portion of the average consumer’s budget, and a hefty mortgage can delay retirement.

Instead of holding onto your home, find the least expensive option you’ll still be happy with. You might even have enough equity in your current house to pay off a new mortgage. Many retirees like the convenience of a condo where they’re not responsible for mowing the lawn or general maintenance.

A smaller house will also come with lower utilities, property taxes and more. Use the difference to save for retirement.

Move to a cheaper country.

Your nest egg might be too small for a retirement in America, but it could be just enough to spend your golden years overseas. Many South American and Asian countries offer a low cost of living and welcome American expats.

Joseph Hogue of Peer Finance 101 lives in Medellin, Colombia with his wife and son. Their total living expenses equal $1,400 a month – a sum far smaller than anywhere they could find in the US.

“That includes health insurance for a family of three, internet, cable and all the amenities we had when we lived in the States,” he said. “The city is the second largest in the country and has a metro system as well as everything you’d expect in a large metropolitan area.”

Other popular options include Belize, Thailand, the Philippines, and Nicaragua. In many of these destinations you can live on $1,000-$1,500 a month and get access to the same level of healthcare as you had back in the States. Many of these countries have significant expat communities where you can meet other Americans.

“Sometimes it can feel like you never left at all,” Hogue said.

Before you pack your bags, do some research on your chosen destination. Make an approximate budget and factor in flights back home, which may be pricey and exhausting.

Are you prepared for retirement? Do you have any other tips to get ready? Let us know over at the #Adulting Facebook community!

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You could spend your whole life chasing the dream of more money. But to what end? Figure out how much is enough – and be happier for it.

Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to acquire too much money? I haven’t had that problem, but do plan on discovering what this problem feels like in the future.

But, in all seriousness, how on earth do you decide how much money is enough for you? I have some ideas and thought I would share so that you can have an easier time figuring this out when you have this issue.

Consider your current life circumstances.

I thought I would approach this problem with some Michelle logic. First, it feels obvious the amount of money that you need will change given your current life circumstances. If you’re single and debt-free, the amount of money that you may need and want may be significantly different from a person who is in a relationship, has kids, and a few bills.

Likewise, your past and current life experiences may have a direct effect on how you arrive at the actual number that is your financial sweet spot.  For some of you, early childhood experiences of not having enough money may make it difficult for you to  imagine ever having enough. In fact, your childhood financial experiences may resonate through future decisions such as: the type of work you may choose to pursue, the way you would like to live your life, and even who you plan on marrying.

Figure out your financial sweet spot.

Here’s some general guidelines on figuring out how much money is enough for you.

Ask yourself, are you sick of your job and have lost interest in earning money in the way that you currently are? Yes, this seems a bit counterintuitive, but stick with me. Before I began working for myself, I worked at a university making decent money (especially when you factored in the benefits).

But, there came a point when I just wasn’t interested in earning more money. In fact, while I want to experience earning ridiculous amounts of money in the future, at that specific moment in time I just wanted to change my life. So, I focused on figuring out my lowest earning threshold. What was the bare minimum I need to make in order to live without eating ramen noodles?

I started crunching numbers and figured out what I could live on and still manage paying on my obligations. It was glorious….until, it wasn’t.

Don’t be afraid to shift your goals as your needs change.

My needs had changed. I now find myself looking at future financial goals and have realized that I want to make a lot more money than I currently am. And, I definitely don’t have a maximum earnings threshold. In fact, I felt like I wanted to earn as much money as I could possibly earn without burning myself out. I don’t want to place limits on my ability to earn.

I can honestly say that I look forward to pushing myself as much as possible to see how much money I can earn. In fact, for the next 12 months in my mind there is no “enough” it’s how much is possible? I spent time frantically crunching numbers, I looked at my goals and figured out daily earnings goals. Then I focused on how to achieve those goals.

Finally, spend some time focusing on what makes you happy? There are various studies that have linked happiness to money and studies that have found the exact opposite. There’s also a widely reported study that noted that people weren’t significantly happier when they earned beyond $75,000 a year.

Recently, I’ve gotten very clued into what makes me happy. And, knowing this has helped me zero in on how much money is enough. Some examples of what makes me happy include:

I’ve discovered that my needs aren’t that complicated or expensive.

I took a numbers and heart-based approach to deciding how much money is enough for me. Ultimately, I just want enough money that gives me stability and freedom. And, yes, more money is always better than less.

What are some considerations you use in determining how much money you need? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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A 5-year plan doesn’t have to be a boring cliche. Instead, create a kick-ass plan that adds meaning and purpose to your life.

It’s one of the most common questions in a job interview: what is your 5-year plan?

While you might have the right answer to give to the HR rep interviewing you, you might not know what you actually want to accomplish in your life.

Do you want to stay on the trajectory your career is on? Or do you dream about switching fields?

Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to make significant changes in your life and to fulfill your dreams. Read below to find out how to create a 5-year plan that gives you purpose.

Make a list of your dreams.

The key to creating a plan that will add value, purpose, and meaning to your life is to determine what the end goal is.

Do you dream about starting your own business or switching to a new industry? Or do you want to leave home and travel the world?

Before you can hammer out the details of a plan, you need to start with the end goal.

“Once you have an idea of what you truly want, it gets easier to work backward on the milestones you need to hit to get there,” said Elle Martinez of Couple Money.

So think of what your end goal is. Is it to stay home with your kids and not have to worry about money? Is it being able to take care of your parents full-time? Or do you want to devote yourself to the nonprofit you care so passionately about?

The idea here isn’t to reach your goals next week. You create a 5-year plan so that you can make reasonable, achievable steps. It’s about progress.

Once you know what your ultimate passion is, you can start to work backward to determine what your next steps are.

Talk to an expert.

Sometimes you need help if you’re trying to figure out what to do with the next five years of your life. After you’ve exhausted your significant other, your best friends, and your family, it’s time to find someone who knows what’s up.

Try to find an expert in the field that you’re interested in. This can be someone who graduated from the same college as you, someone active in the community, or even a person you admire that you found on Twitter.

Don’t limit yourself to local people, if you can’t find anyone who fits your description. You can contact people via Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform they might have. If you know where they work, you can reach out there.

Before you meet up, bring a list of questions with you. Nothing annoys a busy person more than someone who’s asked for a favor and who’s not prepared for it. You can create a 5-year plan that is reasonable after talking with someone who’s been there. You can create meaning and be realistic about where you’re headed with a little outside perspective.

Always send a thank-you note afterward, either by email or the traditional snail mail route. Keep in touch with that person and don’t always be asking them for a favor. You want the relationship to be reciprocal.

Follow what interests you.

For most of my high school and entire college career, I dreamed of becoming a newspaper reporter. I read the best writers, wrote as much as I could and shadowed reporters I admired. But then I got my first real reporting job at a small newspaper in Northwest Indiana and hated it.

I worked evenings and covered fires, robberies, and car accidents. In a town of 30,000, the topics we covered sometimes felt trivial.

It was then that I started blogging about living frugally. I had decided I wanted to pay off my student loans early and was trying to learn all I could about personal finance. I started reading books and blogs and finally asked my boss if I could start a blog at work about living frugally.

That’s how I discovered I loved writing about money, especially from my own point of view. I found myself focusing more on the blog than on my other assignments, and people noticed. When I left that gig to work at a nonprofit, I started my own blog. That led to the freelance writing career I have now.

If you’re not happy with where your life is going, you need to figure out where your passion truly lies. Sometimes you can only do that by giving something a trial run. There’s nothing wrong with including stepping-stone jobs and trial runs as you create a 5-year plan.

Make it real.

Sometimes it’s not enough to keep a dream in your head. You have to visualize and make it real. Try creating a vision board with images that reflect your dream and the path you’ve chosen to follow. Include quotes and inspirational figures of people you admire. You can also use a life map to set your course.

Don’t be afraid to share your dream with other people. You never know who will have the right connection or give you the best piece of advice. Plus, when people hear your dreams, they might be inspired to give their own a test drive.

The more comfortable you are with expressing your true desires, the less afraid you’ll be to really take on a new challenge.

As you create a 5-year plan meant to give the next few years of your life purpose, keep in mind that you will need to figure out the next years after that. Keep revising and updating as your purpose changes. As long as you are moving forward, and you are able to take steps to reach your goals, your life will have purpose.

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Stop following the resolution cycle of setting goals, slipping up, and feeling like a failure for the rest of the year. Here’s how to live a fulfilling life year-round.

After a meeting at a Denver breakfast house earlier this month, I took Lyft home. The driver and I had an inspiring chat.

She asked me if I had any New Year’s Resolutions. I said, “No. I’m not opposed to making New Year’s Resolutions, but I try to improve every day.”

She said, “Oh, that’s nice! I already broke my New Year’s Resolutions with a chocolate muffin this morning.” She wasn’t trying to lose weight. She was trying to “be healthier.”

It was January 3rd.

Are you caught up in the resolution cycle?

It’s true: I’m not opposed to New Year’s Resolutions. I think a new year is a great time to commit to self-improvement.

Even though January 1st only has the meaning we give it and “the first day of the year” was chosen by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to save Easter, it’s an opportunity for a new beginning. It’s a clear and decisive split between the past and the future.

It’s logical that people want to improve. It’s logical to commit to better behaviors when the calendar offers a convenient new beginning.

Other logical times to make improvements are birthdays and anniversaries. Spring, a time of rebirth that both the Gregorian Reforms and pagans honor, is another good time to review and recommit to better living.

Additionally, when you reach a point of catalyst in your life, it can make sense to resolve to change. By catalyst, I mean when you’ve reached a tipping point, are maxed out, or are fed up with how things are.

Unfortunately, these types of markers also lead to difficulty in sticking with the changes. You set goals at that time, slip up, and feel like a failure. But you don’t do anything until the next calendar marker. It’s the resolution cycle.

Fed up with life.

After spending a weekend in Winter Park, Colorado with a college friend of mine, my husband and I looked at property to buy.

We love Winter Park and this weekend trip reaffirmed our love for Winter Park. We thought it would be great to have a vacation home not far from our main residence for long weekends and quick getaways.

On our way out of town that Sunday, we fantasized about buying land and building our vacation home. As we headed out of town, we saw a sign that read “Winter Park: Elevation 9,121 feet.” We were immersed in our fantasy as we crested the top of the pass.

And then, the descent.

As we drove through Estes Park, elevation 7,500 feet, our conversation went from buying land and building a house to just buying a house or condo. We realized buying land and building was a bit out of our ability.

We passed through Boulder, elevation 5,430 feet, and our conversation went from not being able to buy a house or condo to probably not being able to rent a place. We reached Denver, elevation 5,130 feet, and we finally admitted to ourselves that we were financial messes.

We pulled up to our home, opened the door and walked down the flight of steps into our basement apartment. Our apartment was so dark in the winter that you couldn’t tell what time of day it was by looking out the window. We were physically, financially, and emotionally in a hole.

Our combined credit card debt was $51,000. That’s a 20% down payment on a $255,000 house, or the cost of a nice car. We were paying $10,000 a year in credit card interest charges. That’s a few nice vacations every year.

This was our catalyst. We were fed up with life. We didn’t know how or when, but we decided then and there to become debt free.

Time to make a change.

This catalyst didn’t happen on New Year’s Day, on either of our birthdays, our anniversary, the first day of spring or Easter Sunday. It was a random fall Sunday. There were leaves on trees and a dusting of snow on the ground.

It was no beginning or end, but it was what we needed to make a change we never achieved with the resolution cycle associated with the “new year, new year” strategy.

By then, I had my credit card debt for seven years. My husband had his for 17 years. Not until we were fed up – had our catalyst – did we take the necessary measures to become debt free.

Over the course of the next few months, we did some soul-searching to learn how we got ourselves into that mess and how we would get out.

Two-and-a-half years later we were debt free. Within the next year, we were the owners of a condo in a high-rise that overlooks the city of Denver and the Rocky Mountains.

We’re two of the last people in Denver to see the sunset every day.

There were many steps we had to take to pay off our debt. We implemented all the traditional advice:

  • Budget
  • Create a debt payment plan
  • Cut back our spending

There was one critical step that helped us more than anything else, though. It was the only step that let us to achieve what, to that point, had been unachievable as part of the resolution cycle.

We figured out what we wanted and why we wanted it.

The power is in your want.

Jim Rohn said, “When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” Up until this point, we were spending and living unconsciously. Even though we were two thirty-something financial services professionals helping other people with their money, we weren’t living authentically.

Up until this point, we were spending and living unconsciously. Even though we were two thirty-something financial services professionals helping other people with their money, we weren’t living authentically.

We couldn’t explain why we ate out several times a week, despite several unconscious trips to the grocery store each week. We didn’t see the contradiction in wearing $600 jeans and missing credit card payments.

It didn’t strike us as ironic or stupid that we wanted to buy land and build a vacation home when we were living paycheck to paycheck in a friend’s basement apartment.

Only when we were clear about what we really wanted in life and why we wanted those things did we get our lives in order.

It’s wasn’t enough to know what we wanted. We had to know the why as well.

When we’re clear with what we want, we have focus. And it has nothing to do with the resolution cycle. It’s knowing why we want it that inspires us. Your want is the match. Your why is the spark.

During those times when it felt like we’d never see a “$0” on our credit card statements or when we had pent up demand to splurge, it was our wants and whys that helped us persevere.

How to break the resolution cycle.

My advice for breaking the resolution cycle and improving year-round, no matter your goal, is to know what you truly want and why you want it.

Only when you’ve peeled back the layers of your desires to their deepest core can you stop worrying about the cycle of setting resolutions and failing. Once you can answer your whys and wants, you can make improvements all year round, without worrying about setting resolutions at an arbitrary time of year.

No fad, gimmick, or date will help you until you know your why.

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Did you receive participation trophies as a child? That’s not an excuse to avoid responsibility for your character.

We’re dealing with an epidemic. 

It’s one that’s received a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons.

What’s the epidemic?

It’s an extreme lack of character and the expectation that everyone should win in every situation.

Nope. That’s not how life happens.

Participation trophies galore.

As I kid I received participation trophies or ribbons. I remember running a one-mile race at my elementary school in Boulder, Colorado (bastion of all that is crunchy) and receiving a ribbon for participating.

That acknowledgment of my participation is only that, an acknowledgment that I was there and finished what I did.

That’s about it.

The lessons that people fear aren’t being communicated during these acknowledgments:

  • Life is hard.
  • You lose sometimes.
  • Life gives and takes unexpectedly.

Those lessons come to us all — Millennials, Gen-Xers, and all others — as time moves by. However, those lessons arrive at different moments, when you least expect it.

That is how life works.

Can you win (or lose) with grace?

Perhaps the problem people are really concerned about is a general inability to manage moments when they don’t win (or lose) with grace.

We just came out of a brutal election season.

I hope we never have an election this awful again. And, one of the most telling moments of that process was our fear that the loser would be unwilling to lose with grace.

When people who are running for the highest office in the land can’t be counted on to lose gracefully it’s time to acknowledge that we have deep cultural problems.

Character problems aren’t about participation trophies.

We have a character problem in America.

Nope, I’m not talking about a lack of fun and imaginative fictional characters. I’m talking about a depth of character that sustains people when times are tough.

Character is doing what you say, even when it puts you at odds with other people. Character is helping people perceived as weak without any expectation of receiving something in return.

What happened to us?

It’s my belief that parents (and society in general) have tried to shield people from the reality of difficult times.

We had the rise of helicopter parents and increased litigation. People stopped acknowledging when the fault for something was theirs, and their fault only.  

Basically, there is an extreme lack of responsibility for our own actions.

I received participation trophies, but those trophies didn’t eliminate my ability to take responsibility for actions that I’ve taken in my life.

Even if I didn’t want to be held accountable for the things that I’ve done or will continue to do life will hold me accountable (or karma).

How our society fails at building character.

Let’s go through a list of recent controversial situations where people weren’t held accountable for their actions until society or karma decided otherwise:

  • Bill Cosby: It was hard for me to believe that America’s favorite dad could be such a douchebag. But, apparently, he is. And, if you’re not sure about this, he did go blind (karma is a bitch). By the way, his trophy was fame.
  • George Zimmerman: This guy shot and killed Trayvon Martin and then was found not guilty. He has experienced increasing escalations of public beat downs, and altercations with other people that have found their way in the news. I’m also sure that he eats a lot of spit hamburgers. His trophy was notoriety.
  • Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio: This Arizona lawman was infamous for the prison conditions that prisoners in his jails experienced. I believe he ate a lot of spit burgers too, but he’s no longer Sheriff anymore. His trophy was power.
  • Brock Turner: You know, the guy who raped that young woman who was unconscious and was given three months and time served. Well, I remember what he looks like and I’m 100% sure he will be eating a lot of spit burgers too for the rest of his life. His trophy swimming accolades.

So, what is the point to sharing such extreme examples?

Regardless of how much we would like to protect people from the hard things that happen in life, or the bad or good choices that we make, sooner or later life happens and we all have to take responsibility for our actions.

Demand character from our public figures (and ourselves).

Participation trophies aren’t our problem.

Our ability to accept less-than-ethical behavior and lack of depth of character is our problem.

Parents, friends, and family who poo-poo this are also a part of the problem. Adults of all ages struggle with managing their personal character.

Do you keep your word to others? Do you acknowledge when you’re in the wrong? Do you intuitively know when you’re not accepting responsibility for you?

Truly becoming an adult is knowing — truly knowing — and acknowledging your role in how you’re perceived by others. You shouldn’t pass the buck to not holding yourself to a higher standard because your participation was rewarded or acknowledged when you were younger.

And it’s time we demand the same of those we look up to.

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Whether in love or your career, whether you control it or not, you’ll probably pivot at least once in your life.

At some point during my third year of college, I started to suspect something wasn’t right. The path I set out for myself for the prior six years wasn’t quite satisfying me. A young man of many interests, the prospect of spending a lifetime focusing on being the best I could possibly be at one calling — teaching music — became unappealing.

Sure, teaching music is a wonderful path. The lasting impact teachers have on hundreds of lives is incomparable to most other roles and careers. I, however, felt strongly at that time that by following that typical career path and by putting as much of my life into my job as I expected would be necessary, I wouldn’t have the kind of fulfillment I was looking for.

My first major pivot.

While in college, I pivoted my approach. After several attempts to fit a minor course of study into my schedule, I settled on a minor focused on nonprofit. It was a pivot that I now see as a good move because it helped shape the projects I take on today and gave me more paths towards living a life of doing important things.

The pivot is the key to not just success but survival. If you’re a professional athlete, focus on sharpening your broadcast skills so you have an opportunity for a “second act” once you can no longer compete — especially if you aren’t one of the few superstar athletes who could publish a memoir people would buy.

If you run a business, a pivot could be revolutionary. It’s a fundamental change in the nature or strategy of the company. Nintendo is known for video games and gaming technology, but the company launched in the 19th century making vacuum cleaners and playing cards. The executives saw the birth of a trend very early on, and in 1966, turned to video games and never looked back.

It was a massively successful pivot.

There’s nothing more pivotal than the life of a serial entrepreneur. Take one business to a certain point, exit that business through a sale or merger, and move onto the next project. In the same vein, I’ve seen people develop successful businesses, and once they’ve gone as far as they’d like to go, they’ve begun their next business selling other entrepreneurs on the ideas that led them to their initial success. “You, too, can be a success, just like me! I’ll tell you how. Buy my e-book and take my online course!”

Adaptability is the key to a successful pivot.

Pivot Your Way to a Better Life

Adaptability is one of the most important adult skills. If you’re too set in your ways and not amenable to change, you can be guaranteed that life will pass you by, and if you’re after happiness, it may prove to be elusive. You’ve got to be paying attention to today’s trends, predicting the future, and have a keen awareness of your skills.

Tim Tebow’s now a baseball player. A podcast company called Odeo became Twitter. Jessica Alba went from actor to entrepreneur — and if that’s not a complete pivot, at least it’s diversification.

Pivots in your personal life can be even more monumental. Moving out of a toxic relationship could be the best pivot for your long-term health and happiness. The list of famous relationship pivots is too long to include here.

Pivot successfully with five steps.

Here’s how you can prepare for a successful pivot, and you can expect to have at least one major pivot in your life — more if you want to be as agile as possible, increasing your changes for success and happiness.

Are you ready to make a pivot in your life or career? These are five important steps.

Pivot Your Way to a Better Life

1. Focus on being a generalist with as much enthusiasm as a specialist.

Take the time to explore your interests and learn about related areas. Although people no longer tend to work for the same company from the moment they can work to the moment they retire (or die), there still is a strong trend to stay in the same field. Often, a strong career requires a highly specialized degree, and that education takes a long time.

But a great education prepares students for adapting to the world, whatever it might bring. Use time in college to experiment with different paths, especially if you are talented in or passionate about a variety of fields. Gain experience working in areas you wouldn’t normally consider. Practice solving problems of all types.

There’s a danger when people become experts or become immersed in a narrow field. So many mortgage brokers — trained to be nothing more and without other marketable skills — found themselves out of work during the credit crunch period of the last recession.

Multi-faceted experience gives you a level of employability first of all, and beyond that, the potential to take your income into your own hands through building your own business, consulting, freelancing, or otherwise honing in on entrepreneurship.

2. Open your mind to new ideas.

It’s possible you discover an important pivot by saying yes to interesting opportunities. While it’s important not to distract yourself from the job you are doing, closing yourself off to signs that the world is changing around you will be disastrous.

Find interesting people — or anyone doing work in something that interests you — and ask questions. Get acquainted. Learn from them.

3. Guide yourself by a broad vision.

Corporate mission statements are often specific, and direct a company towards the type of work they do. Sometimes these mission statements change, but the overall vision remains the same.

Your vision should be broad. What kind of world do you want to live in? The answer to that can be your vision. And when you pivot, even if it’s from one career path to another, it can still fit in with your vision of the future.

But don’t feel bad if it doesn’t. You’re allowed to change your mind. You’re allowed to follow a path that has no relation to the journey you started. That’s an inherent benefit of being an adult.

4. Predict the future.

Easy right? It’s not impossible. You don’t have to be a fortune teller to get it right. You just have to pay attention to the little details, and have a good grasp on human behavior, using history as a guide.

Keep an eye on the world around you, because that’s how you can learn to spot minute changes that signal the shape of the future. For example, not many people accurately predicted the latest economic recession with significant advance warning, but once the recession was apparent, it was relatively easy to figure out what some of the world’s biggest concerns and trends were going to be in the coming years.

5. Plan your pivot as much as possible.

Pivot Your Way to a Better Life

If you want to jump into the pool’s deep end, you should probably know how to swim first. If you don’t know how, you may struggle, and your basic need for survival may be the only force preventing you from drowning. Maybe.

Prepare with knowledge and practice, and your chance for survival increases. Reduce the risk of the pivot by doing research, talking to others who have made similar moves, and setting up your personal support system.

Your support system includes friends and family who want to see you succeed with the changes in your life. There will always be doubters, though. You may want to ignore them and remove negativity from your life, but that’s not always the best idea. Even critics might have a perspective worth considering — not all, but some.

But you do need people who will cheer you on and provide moral support.

Create a timeline. And depending on whether you like the sink-or-swim challenge, either you give yourself no option but to keep trying until you succeed, or give yourself a back-up plan. Build that into your timeline, but don’t be afraid to adjust or adapt — or pivot — as the needs arise.

Whether it’s part of your plan or appearing by surprise, your life will include at least one pivot. Take control of your pivot with preparation and planning, and be ready to pivot at any moment. Look for the opportunities.
You never know what kind of success or happiness is out there if you move only in one direction and ignore your peripheral vision.

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Is it time to bail? Here’s how to tell if you should move on right now.

You’ve stressed about doing a great job so you can stay employed. It seems like a terrible idea to ditch your job when you worked so hard to get where you are.

But sometimes you need to move on, no matter how much time and energy you’ve invested in your job. Here are a few signs your current position has run its course:

1. The environment is toxic.

One of the biggest reasons to ditch your job is due to a toxic environment. If you are dealing with harassment, bullying, or you are concerned about the legality of some of the company’s practices, it’s time to bail. Don’t stick around if there are serious problems.

2. You aren’t growing.

Many of us like meaning in our work. In fact, one of the hallmarks of today’s young job-seekers is that they expect a job to offer meaning. While it’s possible to find meaning in practically any job, no matter how crappy, it can become wearing if you don’t feel that your work leads to personal growth and feelings that you are impacting the world for good. If you feel like you could progress and make a positive contribution elsewhere, start looking.

3. The company doesn’t match your values.

Maybe the company isn’t doing something illegal, but you aren’t sure that the mission and values align with yours. It’s hard to feel good about working at a place that doesn’t mesh with your personal mission. Ditch your job if you feel the cognitive dissonance is becoming too great to manage.

4. Your skills aren’t utilized.

Are you proud of your skills and abilities and wish your company would use them? Perhaps your boss doesn’t recognize your skills, or maybe you are in a position that isn’t compatible with your abilities. The struggle to continue may drain you emotionally. Start looking for a job that offers you a chance to use what you know.

5. You’re at a dead end.

Trying to climb that career ladder, but there’s no place to go? It’s time to ditch your job. If you want a position that allows for the possibility of advancement and you’re stuck going nowhere, a shift to a company with room for progress might make more sense.

6. The job isn’t secure.

These days no job is secure. However, there are times that might be less secure than others. If you think layoffs are coming, now might be the time to update your resume and brush up on your interview skills. Don’t wait until the ax falls to get ready.

7. You’re want something different for your life.

Sometimes you just want a new challenge. Maybe you’re ready for the freedom and flexibility that comes with being self-employed. Perhaps you’ve changed your expectations for your life. We’re all on a journey, and when you’re ready for a new direction, your current job might not fit.

Before you leave your job.

Don’t get fired up to ditch your job and give noticed tomorrow, though. Once you realize it’s time to move on, you need to have a plan in place. Are you in a financial position to leave? What are some of the challenges you will face if you no longer have a job?

Whenever possible, build up an emergency fund and think about how you will handle benefits. You need to be ready for what’s next before you take that leap. While it’s not always possible to be completely ready, do what you can to get ahead of the curve.

There’s no reason to stay in a job that doesn’t fit with your life. Start preparing now so you are ready in the event you decide to ditch your job.

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Don’t be afraid of getting old. I don’t even care about having bigger boobs now. Life is better!

When I flip through my monthly stack of women’s magazines, I see the same message over and over again: aging is bad. You should try to stop it, prevent it and reverse it. And here’s how you can do it.

But I’ve recently realized that I actually love aging.

Let me first point out that I’m only 27, so my experience with getting older is limited. But after the turmoil of my immediate post-college years, getting older has been awesome.

Every year seems to get better. I get more financially stable, my husband and I get along better, even the furniture and clothes I have slowly get upgraded.

But it’s less about material stability and more about how secure I feel in my own skin. The older I get, the less I care what people think about me or what I look like.

In high school and college, I really wanted bigger boobs. Because, really, what girl with a B cup didn’t?

Recently a friend told me how she went on a certain medication that amplified her rack. I told her jokingly, “Oh, I’d hate to buy new bras all over again.” But truthfully, I don’t want a bigger rack. I’m comfortable with what I have, and it’s taken me years to get to this point.

I also have spent the majority of my life hating my pale white skin. I was teased for looking like a vampire or a ghost, and I’ve always been jealous of those with natural tans. But after getting the worst sunburn of my life a few weeks ago, I realized how much I liked my ivory skin. Tan skin looks great on other people, but on me, it looked like mud I couldn’t wipe off.

The things I cared about, even a few years ago, seem petty now. Who cares if I don’t have a perfect flat stomach? That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t wear a bikini and feel good about it. Why should I worry about wearing my husband’s PJs to the grocery store?

My priorities seem clearer with age. While I still want people to like me, I’ve started to worry less if they don’t. I can’t make everyone happy and I shouldn’t spend my time trying. I feel less of a desire to badmouth and judge other women. The more comfortable I feel with myself, the less I’m threatened by other people.

I see how happy, successful and comfortable my older relatives are. My mom has always been secure with herself, but now I truly realize that she DGAF. I see other women I admire who embrace their age, but continue to be active physically and mentally. They don’t see their age as a hindrance, and that inspires me to keep trying new things and getting better.

While many of my peers see their 30s as deadline that they hope to avoid, I’m looking forward to them. Granted, I miss being able to stay up until 4:00 a.m. and get up at 9:00, but I don’t miss wanting to be like every other girl I knew. I miss the lack of bills that I had in high school, but don’t miss constantly worrying about boys who didn’t care about me.

One of my favorite movies, “Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears,” tells the story of three best friends. The first half of the movie follows them for one year in their 20s. The main character meets a man who tells her that life really begins at 40. “40?” she tells me. “I’ll be an old lady by then.”

The second half of the movie sees where they are 20 years later, as the main character finds out, even at 40, it’s never too late to start a new life.

I would always joke with my parents that if life began at 40, then they were just toddlers. But now I see that life, love and self-awareness all get better with age. And I’m looking forward to mine.

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