Don’t let your work from home dream turn into a nightmare. Set up your home office space following sound principles and you’ll be much happier.

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An increasing number of people work from home today.

Even if you don’t own a home business, telecommuting is something that many companies are willing to allow — at least some of the time.

Whether you have a side gig, your own business, or you just work from home on occasion, a home office is a good investment in your career sanity.

Here’s how to set it all up.

Concepts

  • A look at why it’s so popular to work from home right now.
  • Some of the “must haves” when it comes to a home office.
  • How to decide on the right computer and software for your work from home needs.
  • The difference between running your own business and working from home for someone else.
  • Why you need a dedicated home office if you work from home regularly.
  • Tips for cutting down on distractions when you work from home.
  • How to get into “work mode” with your home office.
  • The reality that sometimes you need to get out of the home office and work elsewhere.

This week’s DO NOWS focus on getting your home office-ready. Make sure you look around your home to identify potential spots for a home office. Also, you need to create a realistic list of the items you need to create your work from home reality.

Our listener question touches on a difficult issue for many people who work from home: what to do when the kids are too distracting? It’s not always a popular solution, but the reality is that sometimes you need to hire child care — even when you work from home.

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Tired of the soul-sucking 9-to-5 job? You can prepare to ditch it for good. Here’s how to plan your escape.

Less than a year ago, I quit my job.

I didn’t quit working. I just quit working for someone else. I feel as good today about that decision as the day I left.

The best part about quitting my traditional job was watching the cycle of emotions my friends and family went through after I told them I quit.

Their eyes opened wide when they heard the news. This was followed restrained winces, as they considered the loss of steady income, health, and insurance, security, two weeks of vacation a year. All those things we expect from a job.

Then, as if on cue, they’d drift into a daydream and pondered quitting their own jobs.

If you dream of a life of employer independence, you too can leave the 9-to-5. Here are five keys that helped me take that major step:

Sticking to what I know.

One of the main reasons people say they can’t quit their day job and start their own business is that they don’t know what to do. Don’t think too hard about it and get stuck in analysis paralysis. Stick with what you enjoy, are already doing, or are good at doing.

Listen. If the universe is pulling you in a certain direction, go.

My and my husband’s careers have been in finance. Despite this, when got together we had a combined total of $51,000 in credit card debt. We applied our theoretical and practical knowledge to pay off our debt and turn our net worth around.

We enjoy finance, investing, and financial planning. Because of our experiences and our desire to help others with their money, we’re using our personal and professional experiences as the foundation of our business.

We put ourselves out as writers, speakers, podcasters, and experts on personal finance and we’re now helping others and, in turn, growing a business that let me leave the 9-to-5 grind. David’s not far behind me.

We saved money.

Before I quit my W-2 job, we added an additional $10,000 to our existing emergency savings account.

We did this by cutting back on non-essential spending and putting it into our emergency savings account with no bells or whistles. We don’t have debit cards or checking writing on this account. We don’t connect it to other accounts for outgoing electronic funds transfers (EFT). This money is hard, though not impossible, to access. This reduces urges to spend this money on whims.

We’ve resumed some of the habits we used to pay off our $51,000 in credit card debt. This includes only buying groceries that are either on sale or for which we have coupons. We cook at home rather than dine out. Cardboardeaux has replaced Bordeaux because it’s cheaper per bottle and stores longer.

All of this is temporary and we know this is temporary. We can live frugally today to grow our business because we lived frugally yesterday to pay off our debt.

Hustling harder than ever.

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

I used to think I worked hard at my W-2, but I worked just hard enough to keep my boss happy.

I’ve never worked so hard in my life as I am now on our business.

With each day, the 9-to-5 is getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, but to say it’s been easy would be disingenuous.

There’s a meme of an iceberg I frequently share on Facebook. Ten percent of the iceberg is above water and represents the “overnight success” that people see. Ninety percent of the iceberg is below water and represents the work no one sees: waking up at 4:30 am, working until midnight, on weekends, and holidays.

There are times that I’ve questioned if this is worth it. When I hear about rush-hour traffic jams, friends stressed about their bosses and disappointment with nominal raises, I’m reminded that it is.

I prepped.

There were steps I took before I decided to actually leave the 9-to-5.

I researched and updated my health insurance, acquired life insurance, and created a plan to consolidate my employer-sponsored 401(k) with my personal broker.

We talked with our accountant about what my W-2 and 1099 employment status changes would mean for our personal income taxes. We created a week-to-week budget that accommodates our drop in regular income.

Being thorough and meticulous before I quit has made temporarily cutting our income in half a little easier.

I took the leap.

Finally, I took the leap. Many people struggle to make big and seemingly scary life changes because they’re waiting for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect time. As Voltaire said, “better is the enemy of the good.”

Many people struggle to make big and seemingly scary life changes because they’re waiting for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect time. As Voltaire said, “better is the enemy of the good.”

To be fair, I delayed my original termination date by 90 days because my employer asked me to complete a project on which my team was working. I considered delaying my termination again because the economy showed signs of weakness. The problem is we can always come up with reasons to stick with the safe and familiar.

Some people might say we should’ve saved more than that extra $10,000. Others might say I should’ve waited until after the last presidential election ended. Still more might say leaving, at all, was foolish.

Despite all the reasons I could’ve manufactured, I leaped and I don’t regret it.

If your dream is to leave the 9-to-5 behind, too, these five steps may help you. I challenge you to be thorough and meticulous before you take such a leap, but I also challenge you to not get paralyzed by fear or analysis.

As Zig Ziglar said, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

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Our guest, Katie Evans, is a career coach who focuses on the intersection of fulfillment and employment. Here’s how you take back your lunch hour.

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Show Notes

Katie Evans is a career coach whose clients approach her mainly because they are disconnected from and unfulfilled by their jobs. In this episode, Katie joins Harlan and Miranda to talk about making the most out of the intersection of career and happiness. Does it matter if our jobs provide meaning in a deeper level?

Katie encourages her clients to delve into their values. Perhaps a job is just a way to make money to provide the ability to focus on other things in their spare time.

In her former corporate job, Katie was unhappy and unfilled. She, like many in the corporate world, equated working long hours with success, but Katie found that approach to be detrimental to the rest of her life’s priorities and despite several promotions, felt like she hit rock bottom. Listen to her story to find out why, and how she Katie discovered what her values were, the one thing that trigger change, and how she works with her own clients now to help them find their new definitions of success.

Katie Evans is a life and career coach working with women to help them excel in a purposeful career while staying healthy and happy. Prior to coaching, Katie rose quickly to a Senior Director position within advertising but learned the hard way about the importance of prioritizing your wellbeing.

Listen to the podcast audio by using the player above.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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You don’t want your work performance to suffer because of SAD. If you experience a seasonal problem, take steps to reduce the impact.

It’s been pretty dreary around here lately.

It’s been cold and cloudy. We went a whole week without seeing the sun.

Maybe you’re in the same boat. Maybe you feel stressed, anxious, and down for no reason that you can put your finger on. Or perhaps you think it might be because of gloomy weather and the fact that it’s so dark for so much of the day still.

Those feelings you feel are real. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Yep. It’s a Thing. And it could be dragging you down at work and in other areas of your life.

Here’s what you need to know with SAD affecting your work:

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that comes out as the seasons change. It can result in feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression during fall and winter.

The days are shorter, and the weather often means that the sun is hidden behind clouds.

You might feel better when spring pushes the winter away and you start seeing the sun again.

However, just because you know this seasonal depression will go away, it doesn’t mean you should just try to power through all winter.

SAD affecting your work can have consequences that go beyond just the weather and the time of year. You want to address the issue in a way that makes sense so that you maintain your job performance (and your job).

Plus there’s no reason to feel crummy four to six months of the year just because seasons.

SAD affecting your work.

Do you feel like SAD is dragging you down at work? You’re not alone.

According to Purdue, SAD costs the United States about $44 billion a year in lost productivity, sick days, and other illnesses.

Some of the ways SAD could be impacting the way you do your work include:

  • Difficulty concentrating on the task at hand.
  • Drop in your energy level.
  • Feelings of fatigue.
  • Irritability (including with your coworkers).
  • Hard time motivating yourself to do your work.

This goes beyond a need to just suck it up and do the thing.

SAD can really cause problems for your productivity, and keep you from accomplishing everything you’d like to do.

Plus, when your work performance suffers and you start missing deadlines, that could mean a real problem at work.

While it would be nice if all employers were understanding and willing to help mitigate the impacts of SAD in the workplace, the fact is many of them are just going to look at your performance.

If your work performance is dropping off, if you’re missing deadlines and making a lot of unacceptable mistakes, that could be grounds for firing.

When you find SAD affecting your work, it’s time to get help.

On your own: attempts to ward off SAD yourself.

If you’re like me, you don’t want to get professional help until you’ve tried to take care of the issue on your own.

The good news is that there are some things you can do to boost your mood and chase the SAD blues away. According to WebMD, some of the things you can try on your own include:

  • Regular exercise. Regular exercise is a mood-booster. You can help your energy level, help your brain, and fight against SAD with regular exercise. Bonus points if you can do at least some of your exercise outside (take a brisk walk) or near a window so you get that natural light.
  • Open a window. I find myself less inclined to open windows during the winter. I’ve been fighting that, and it helps my mood. Even if the day is cloudy, that extra natural light can help.
  • Melatonin. WebMD points out that some people find results from melatonin, which can help you regulate your biological clock. You do need to be careful, though, since this (and other complementary methods) can interact with current medications and have other issues.
  • Pay attention to your diet. When you’re feeling SAD, it’s common to crave junk food and eat foods that aren’t the best for you. If possible, eat healthy. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help your body function better.
  • Take time for yourself. Don’t forget to relax. Take time for yourself. Meditate. You might be surprised at how good sleep, time for relaxation, and enforced meditation can help your mood.

Sometimes, though, the SAD is too strong to keep away yourself. You might actually need to seek professional help.

Common treatments for SAD.

With SAD affecting your work, it’s vital that you get professional help if attempts to fight the feeling on your own are failing.

There’s nothing wrong with getting help.

Light therapy.

One of the most common treatments for SAD is light therapy. With light therapy, you use a special bulb to provide you with more light in your day. The idea is to provide you with more exposure to light, either in the morning or in the evening (or both).

Many people with SAD improve with the help of light therapy and little else is needed beyond that.

Counseling.

Another way to get help with SAD is to get counseling. In general, I support the idea that everyone should get therapy at some point. It can be really helpful.

Counseling can help you by giving you someone to talk to. Additionally, a therapist that is well-versed in SAD and how to use cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat patients can be especially helpful.

Medication.

Finally, many people need to resort to medication to help them with SAD. For many of us, medication is an absolute last resort. However, if you need it, there’s no shame in getting a little pharmacological help.

As long as you use your antidepressants as prescribed and you remain in contact with your health care professional about your progress, it can be one way to beat SAD, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments.

Get your work back on track.

Once you understand the problem and how it impacts you, you can get your work back on track. You can keep SAD from being a detriment to your work.

It’s still a struggle some of the time, and you might fight to stay focused and motivated at work, but with the right help, it should be possible.

Do you get SAD? How does it affect your work and other areas of your life? Share your story with us in the #Adulting community on Facebook.

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Boom. You’re the boss. Good job. Now that you’re done celebrating, it’s time to make sure you’re a manager that people actually like and respect.

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Congrats! You’ve got a promotion. Now you’re the boss!

It’s exciting to know that your hard work has been noticed and that you are being rewarded with new responsibilities.

The hard part, though, happens when you have to manage your peers.

Now you need to be in charge and hold your co-workers responsible. It’s not always easy. Plus, on top of all that, you’re in a place where you’ve got a learning curve. Managing is a different animal altogether, even without the added stress that comes when you manage your peers.

Here’s what you need to know about being a boss for the first time.

Concepts

  • Reasons that so many of us suck as first time managers.
  • It’s harder to be “one of the guys” when you manage your peers.
  • Why it’s easier to be a boss when you’re in a new place, where you don’t know as many people.
  • How scary it can be. You don’t want to make mistakes.
  • Is overconfidence a problem?
  • Maybe underconfidence is an issue?
  • Tips to help you better manage your peers.
  • An overview of leadership qualities that can help you move to the next level.
  • How to build trust with others.
  • Information on good listening techniques.

This week’s “do nows” focus on figuring out what made your worst managers so bad. Look at what you hated, and reflect on your own shortcomings. Try to avoid being what you hate.

We also have a great listener question about what to do if you don’t feel like you’re ready to be a boss and manage your peers.

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Resources

Better manage your peers
Why first time managers fail

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Do you want to work abroad and live your life from anywhere in the world? Sarah Li Cain shows how you can live this flexible lifestyle.

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!

On today’s episode of Adulting.tv LIVE!, Harlan and Miranda are joined by Sarah Li Cain from High Fiving Dollars. Today we’ll discuss what it takes to travel beyond your home, see the world, and enjoy living and working outside of the United States.

Sarah Li Cain is a financial storyteller who weaves practical tips and strategies into her work so that those trying to change their money mindset can see themselves in the starring role. You can find her over at High Fiving Dollars where she answers readers questions or spilling her guts out on her latest money experiment.

Watch the video above or listed to just the audio by using the player below.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato
Music bybensound.com

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Hate your job? You’re not stuck there forever. Here’s how to find a career you love.

I’ve always thought of society’s expected career path as a cruel joke.

At 18, we’re supposed to choose an industry to pursue for the rest of our lives. At this point, we begin racking up student loans that leave us financially crippled for the duration of our 20s.

I would barely trust my 18-year-old self to scramble an egg or drive me to the airport.

That’s the nature of our higher education system.

But it doesn’t have to be a prison sentence. Changing careers is never easy, but always worth it if you’re pursuing a happier and more fulfilling life.

Did you choose a career early on that just isn’t meshing with who you are today? Perhaps you want to make the best possible choice the first time around.

The good news is you can find a career you love, no matter where you’re at today. Here’s how:

Make a list of what you like.

First things first – Make a list of subjects you’re interested in. My list looks like this:

  • Personal finance
  • Arts and crafts markets
  • Dogs
  • Baking
  • Teaching

I’ve always enjoyed those things. Once, during a moment of panic, I considered working as an artisan and selling my wares at a market. That lasted a few weeks until I realized: a) I didn’t want to wake up early and set up my goods while other people were still sleeping, and b) I just wasn’t very good at it.

I also thought about becoming a teacher. But going back to school and getting another degree didn’t appeal to my lazy nature. Are you sensing a theme here?

I like writing and teaching people about money. I also like doing it while wearing yoga pants. That’s why I’m a freelance writer.

Your own list might look completely different from mine – and completely different from your current career. If you don’t like what you’re doing right now, make a list and start putting more time into the things on it.

You probably shouldn’t quit your job right away. Start doing those things you’re passionate about on nights and weekends. See what you like and what you hate. See what makes you feel good and what bores you.

Keep doing it for a while. Meet people in the field and find a way to do it full-time. You can even keep your passion project as a part-time gig – one that keeps you motivated to get through the slog of your day job.

Sometimes a career you love is more about finding joy on the side than making it full-time.

Make a list of what you don’t like.

A friend of mine was an incredible journalist and one of the best writers I know. She was also an avid runner who competed on the track team in college. But when she got the opportunity to write for a runner’s magazine, she turned it down.

She told me later, “It should’ve been my dream job.”

The job was located in a small town in Pennsylvania. Living in the middle of nowhere, far from her friends and family, wasn’t something she wanted. Instead, she found a gig working for the NCAA magazine, where she gets to tell stories of athletes she’s passionate about.

Sometimes that dream job isn’t so dreamy once you look closely.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s “Lean In” bubble, but no one, women included, can have it all. You can’t have the corner office, a group of friends you see regularly and a thriving personal life. Sometimes, you have to choose.

That career you love is all about knowing the reality of what you might have to give up. You need to decide if it’s worth what you gain in return.

Make a list of deal-breakers, or anything that would make you seriously reconsider changing jobs or careers.

Is a long commute out of the question? Do you highly value privacy in the workplace? Maybe you’re more of a social butterfly who needs a thriving office environment?

Only you can decide what you’re willing to accept. Major life changes usually require a measuring of pros and cons: Make sure you’ve measured accurately.

Is there a right career?

Too often, people become more personally invested in their job and career than is necessary – or even healthy. A job isn’t a marriage, and you don’t have to devote yourself to it for the rest of your life.

It’s OK to change gigs. It’s even OK to leave an industry entirely to find a career you love.

What’s right for you as a 25-year-old might be different from what’s right as a 45-year-old. Your priorities can and will shift in that time, leaving you wondering why you signed on in the first place.

But there’s good news: if you’re reading this, you have plenty of time to explore.

I’ve already had three different careers in my life, and I haven’t hit 30 yet. When my mom was 33, she got her second master’s degree in accounting and began a new career. My father-in-law started a company from scratch at 40 in a city he hadn’t lived in for 20 years.

It’s never too late to reinvent yourself and find a career you love.

Don’t get so hung up on what the right career is for you right now.

Follow what you’re interested in, don’t let it disrupt the rest of your life, and earn enough to stay out of the poverty spiral. If you put some serious thought into it, you’ll end up following the right path.

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