Persistent, but innocent or completely inappropriate behavior? Here’s how you can tell. Read More...

With the recent upswell of sexual harassment allegations both in Hollywood and Washington, victims of sexual abuse are starting to come out of their shells. Sexual misconduct isn’t happening more often, but victims now feel emboldened to share their stories and name the people who have mistreated them.

But for every victim stepping forward, there are still plenty who remain silent – often because they don’t fully understand the line between harassment and flirting. Sexual misconduct has always been vaguely defined by the masses, but that definition is starting to crystallize as the public turns to address the epidemic.

Like many women, I’ve experienced my fair share of sexual harassment, both in the workplace and elsewhere. Here’s where I draw the line.

What is the difference between flirting and sexual harassment?

The line between flirting and sexual harassment can seem hazy. What’s innocent and flirty to one person may be totally inappropriate to someone else. A kind smile can seem lewd to its recipient.

To me, the difference between flirting and sexual harassment is the frequency with which it occurs, as well as any escalation in the nature of the behavior. For example, telling me I’m pretty once is flirting – repeating it multiple times becomes sexual harassment. This is especially true if I’ve made it clear I have no interest in the other person.

When you view it that way, it’s easy to see the line between flirting and harassment. Men don’t have to worry about being accused of wrongdoing if they don’t continuously try to woo an obviously disinterested woman.

However, flirting can automatically become sexual harassment when it’s done by someone in a position of power. For example, I used to intern at a local magazine where the editor-in-chief had a reputation for pursuing the young interns. His actions were so widespread that multiple people warned me before I started working there.

Sure enough, a few weeks into the gig, the editor approached one of the interns and asked her out for a drink. She said no because she wasn’t 21 yet, and we tried to convince her to complain to HR about it.

“But he didn’t do anything bad,” she told us. “Maybe it was just going to be a friendly drink.”

At the time, I didn’t have the proper context for why an editor asking out an intern is problematic, but now I know. If you have authority over someone, treating them like a sexual object is always sketchy. They can’t say no without worrying about what it could do to their career.

The legal definition of sexual harassment.

According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, sexual harassment not only includes sexual comments or physical advances, but also general statements about one particular sex. For example, if a male coworker complains that all women are golddiggers, that’s sexual harassment.

The EOEC says sexual harassment becomes illegal “when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”

Anyone can be a harasser, including a vendor, client, peer or boss. The harasser can be your same gender and have a similar or different sexual orientation from you. So yes ladies, you can be accused of sexual harassment just as much as men.

What you can do.

If you’re being sexually harassed in the workplace, the first step is to document everything. Successful cases are made when the accuser has details, such as where and when the harassment occurred and what exactly was said and done. It can also help to share what happened with people you know who can back you up.

After you’ve documented the instances of harassment, it’s time to go to your human resources department. Tell them you’d like to file a sexual harassment report and bring all the details with you. It’s even better if you have concrete proof, such as texts, emails or voicemails. The stronger your evidence, the more likely it is people will believe you and take action.

Don’t stop writing down what happens after the sexual harasser has stopped bothering you. It’s important to note what your company does in response, in case you want to sue them later on.

If you report sexual harassment to HR, you should know that many companies don’t punish people who are accused of sexual harassment. In fact, sometimes the person reporting it has to deal with blowback if the person blamed is popular or has significant clout in the office.

It’s also OK if you don’t feel like reporting it, just like my friend decided not to back in the day. Not every company has a strong history of defending accusers and reporting it can be more traumatizing than the initial interaction. Do what makes sense for you and your mental health.

What are your feelings or experiences on this timely topic? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Make THIS the year you get out of that career rut. Read More...

If you’re a young person trying to succeed professionally today, you’ve probably found yourself in a career rut at some point.

Chances are, you’re in one right now.

While showing up on time and getting your work done used to be enough to gradually ascend through the ranks, today’s career-savvy professionals need to stay active. That could mean changing positions, changing companies or even changing industries.

Mostly, it just means changing something.

Before you act, you need a plan. As we approach the end of 2017, it’s time to come up with a clean, effective career strategy for the new year.

Determine your goals.

You can’t create a roadmap until you know the destination — and you can’t have a great career until you know where you want you to go. Do you want to enter the private sector after working in the public space? Do you want to advance to a managerial role? Do you want to change industries entirely?

Write down what you want your career to look like at the end of the next year. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched the goal seems, just write it down. For example, my goal is to be earning 50% more. It sounds extravagant to want 50% more money in just 12 months’ time, but that’s my goal.

Your goal will form the basis for your career strategy going forward.

Your goals should follow the SMART rule and be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example, it’s one thing to say, “I want to earn more money.” Someone with a SMART goal would say, “I want to be earning $65,000 annually by December 2018, and I will do so by applying to new jobs at larger companies.”

Look at the goal you’ve written down. Is it specific and relevant? Does it give you a clear set of directions or are you unsure how to put it in motion? Remember, the people who actually reach their dreams aren’t always the smartest, most talented or hardest-working. They’re the ones who have a clear sense of where they’re going and how to get there.

Identify your weaknesses.

Once you know your goal, it’s time to figure out what’s standing between you and your dream. For example, if you want to work part-time hours for a full-time income, identify what’s holding you back. Are you charging too little? Are you targeting the wrong customers? Is your workflow not efficient enough?

It will probably take some time to figure out what you’re missing, so don’t rush through this part of your career strategy. I consider myself a pretty insightful person and sometimes it takes weeks before I figure out where I’m going wrong.

Find solutions.

Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, you can figure out the best way to fix them — and take your career strategy to the next level. For example, if you’re currently underpaid, you know that you need to negotiate a raise. But if you’re bad at negotiating and standing up for yourself, then asking for more money might be like walking on hot coals.

What should you do? Read every book about negotiating, visualize the scenario in your mind and practice with your friends. Then, you can go to your boss and negotiate for real.

Another way to reach your goals faster is to find a community of like-minded people striving for the same thing. When you’re around people who share your dreams, you can find resources and information faster than if you’re going at it alone.

If you find a community that seems too big, consider creating a mastermind group with two or three other people. You can hold weekly calls and keep each other accountable. I’m in a mastermind group with other female freelance writers and it’s been a huge comfort throughout my years of self-employment.

You can find your community online or in person at networking events. It’s probably easier to locate a group on Facebook, but don’t underestimate the power of meeting people IRL.

Consider confiding in your closest friends and family members about your situation, even if it seems like they can’t help. I often tell my friends about issues I’m having because they can offer a different point of view than what I’m used to.

Stay focused.

Once your career strategy is set, ignore the squirrels. A squirrel can be an exciting conference or a marketing strategy that promises to solve your problems – anything that draws you in by promising the world. Usually, though, squirrels are distractions that lead you away from what you’re working on.

The simple career strategy you’ve already set is almost always better than chasing squirrels, and the more time you spend distracted, the less time you spend getting things done. When I get a tantalizing email with a catchy headline, I ask myself if it’s a squirrel.

Most of the time, I end up deleting these emails because I know I’m already on the path to success.

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Free money can be fun money, but there are some other attractive uses for it too. Read More...

At the end of the year, we try to embrace the spirit of giving. It’s a great time to be charitable, both to our loved ones and to the less fortunate. But if you have an end of the year work bonus coming your way, it’s OK to embrace the spirit of receiving, too.

It just feels awesome to start the year with a nice, fat chunk of change. But think back to the end of year bonuses you’ve received in previous years – what happened to all that money? Did it go towards a pile of video games you never play? Did it pay for some new clothes you don’t wear anymore? Maybe it just wasted away in your bank account.

The fact is, most of us are pretty terrible at managing a windfall. Even financially-savvy people tend to get lazy when it comes to free money, because… well, it’s free money. What’s it matter if you spend it on something frivolous?

But the fact is, a windfall is also an opportunity. If used correctly, it can propel your life forward and help you get one step closer to your goals. If used irresponsibly, you’re squandering away a chance to improve your life.

This year, put that year-end bonus to good use. Here’s how to do it.

Pay off debt.

Every personal finance expert tends to agree with my first suggestion – the best thing to do with an end of the year bonus is to pay off any high-interest debt, such as credit card or personal loan debt. If you’re paying more than 7-8% on any loan, use your bonus to eliminate as much as possible.

Not sure what your interest rates are? Log on to your accounts or review your monthly statements to find out. Then, make a list of all your debts from highest interest to lowest. Pick the balance with the largest rate and apply it to your bonus payment. Paying off high-interest debt quickly can save you hundreds on interest and accelerate your repayment.

Save an emergency fund.

According to a 2016 study from the Federal Reserve, almost half of Americans couldn’t afford to pay for a $400 emergency with cash. If you fall into that category, the best thing to do with your bonus is use it for an emergency fund.

An emergency or rainy day fund should be used for events you can’t plan for, such as losing your job, being in a car accident, flying home for a loved one’s funeral and more. Routine procedures such as oil changes for your car or annual vacations don’t count as emergencies and should be saved for separately.

You should have at least $1,000 in your emergency fund, but more is definitely better. Three to six month’s worth of expenses is the standard, depending on your career and if you have a house and kids.

Meet with a financial planner.

What better way to use your bonus than to create a roadmap to financial freedom? If you’ve been putting off a needed overhaul of your finances, take advantage of your bonus to hire a financial planner.

You can find an affordable financial planner through the XY Planning Network or the Garrett Planning Network. Your bonus should be enough to pay for one or two sessions where you’ll learn how to budget, pay off debt and save for retirement.

Splurge smart.

When I was paying off my student loans, I typically put all my windfalls toward my debt, only keeping about 10% for discretionary spending. But every once in a while, I would take the whole amount and splurge on something I’d been eying for a long time.

For example, one year I took a birthday check and spent most of it on a trip to Spain with my boyfriend and a friend. It wasn’t the most practical or responsible decision, but the memories of that 10-day vacation will last me a lifetime.

Sometimes you can find a balance between buying something for yourself and buying something practical. You could buy a new bike so you can ride to work, a crockpot so you can meal plan ahead of time or even a subscription to Amazon Prime.

Of course, you can also go really wild and buy something just for fun, like the Nintendo Switch or a box set of “The Wire.” Sometimes you just have to live a little, but always make sure it’s something you really want. Every time I splurged while paying off debt, I used it for something I’d been obsessing about for months.

How to decide what to do.

If can’t decide how to use your bonus, give yourself a few days or weeks to think it over. There’s no need to figure it out immediately, and the longer you wait, the less likely it is you’ll blow the money on something inconsequential.

I’ve only gotten a work bonus once in my life, and I had several months to choose the best option. I eventually stashed it for a cross-country move to Colorado my husband and I were saving for.

Make a list of what your priorities are and how the bonus can help you. If your top goal is to buy a car, set the bonus aside for your new wheels. If you want to become a homeowner, use the bonus for a down payment. The only bad decision is to not to make one at all, letting the money sit in your bank account without going to good use.

What have you spent your past bonuses on? What are your plans if you have a bonus coming? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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What happened to all your BFFs from high school and college? Chances are you need a new crew. Here’s what you need to know about making new friends. Read More...

When you graduate high school, it seems like your group of friends will stay close forever. For most people, that sentiment barely lasts through college. Once you get your degree, you may assume the same thing with the new group you’ve formed at university.

As great as it would be to hang on to all the personal connections we make throughout the years, people grow apart and move away. Your best friend in college could end up being a borderline stranger before you turn 30. As popular as you may have been at any one time, you may wake up one day soon and realize: I need new friends.

It’s ok. That’s a common sentiment these days, even in a digital age where connecting to anyone around the world is possible with the click of a button. Unfortunately, connecting on a personal level is a little harder.

At this time in your life, friendships are going to be important to your health and well-being — and they’ll continue to be in the years ahead. Being active socially with friends keeps you happy, but it also keeps you healthy, because friends will encourage you to maintain healthy habits and support you as you pursue whatever health goals you have.

And in life, all your goals will find support among your friends. It’s unlikely you can achieve everything you’d like to do without that kind of moral support.

If you’ve found yourself feeling lonely, unfulfilled, or bored lately, it might be time to start the friend search. Here are some tips for making new friends.

Lower your expectations.

Once I graduated from college and moved away from my closest girlfriends, I realized how special our bond was. I’d no longer have access to my best friends any time of day without advance notice.

Adult friendships are different. It takes longer to become close to someone, and meeting people isn’t as simple as talking across the dorm hall.

Instead of getting upset that finding a BFF is harder than you imagined, you need to refine your expectations. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t find a special bond with everyone you meet; that will only discourage you from meeting new people and making new friends.

You don’t have to lower your expectations in the quality of person you look for when you choose your closest friends. Just assume that with everyone’s busier schedule — we’re all adults with adult responsibilities — the effort it takes to make and maintain connections with friends is going to be harder.

Go online.

My latest attempt at friendship-forming is through Bumble. Bumble is most often used as a dating app, like Tinder, but it also offers a Bumble BFF version where women can find other female friends.

I signed up for Bumble only a week ago and already have had a dozen matches and one official date planned this week. Anyone using the app really wants to find new girlfriends, so it’s easier to strike up a conversation.

If you’re a guy, stay patient. There may not be any great friend-finding apps for males yet, but the tide is headed in that direction. The success of Bumble for platonic-connections will likely open up a world of friendship possibilities for both genders.

It doesn’t have to be a dating or connection-making app. There are online tools that focus on the area you live in. Local Facebook groups is just one way to find those who live near you who might be open to getting together.

Find common interests.

Meetup is one of the first resources people suggested when I talked about making new friends. They were right: the site is a treasure trove of people like me. But it can also be a dud.

There are two kinds of groups on Meetup:

  1. Groups based around a mutual interest or activity.
  2. Groups based around demographics.

You can find groups for knitters, hikers, and teachers, or groups for women in their 30s who live downtown.

The problem with the latter is that besides gender and age, I might have little in common with those women. You need something besides having a vagina in common to spark a friendship.

Even if you’ve been to one Meetup meeting and didn’t find someone interesting, try again. Making new friends is a process, and often involves failing multiple times before you succeed.

I recommend joining groups centered around a hobby. This gives you an automatic talking point and provides numerous ideas for potential hangouts. Combine the hobby-centered groups with a location, and you’ll find people who are close to you who might be interested in the same types of activities. Again, Facebook is a good way to connect.

If there isn’t a group on Facebook dedicated to an interest in your region — for example, amateur photography in Philadelphia, start a group, whether on Meetup or on Facebook. You’ll quickly find interesting people to connect with. On top of that, if you are “in charge” of the group, everyone will get to know you and will be more interested in meeting you.

Take classes.

Finding your squad works best when you see them consistently. That’s why in-person classes are a great idea. They’re typically on a regular schedule and contain a small enough group that you can get to know your classmates well.

I met friends taking boxing and kettlebell classes. I plan on taking improv classes in a couple months. As with most of these ideas, it’s not enough to sign up and pay the entrance fee. You have to be willing to engage.

Fearlessly talking to people is one of the key skills you need to make friends. Most of us want to meet new people, but far fewer are brave enough to actually ask. Plus, what happens if you’re an introvert?

It’s like dating: one of you has to be courageous enough to make the first move.

Unlike dating, most people aren’t going to say no to grabbing a coffee or seeing a movie. If it goes badly, you don’t have to ask them out again. If it goes well, you can continue to build a friendship.

Make yourself a good friend.

What kinds of qualities do you like your friends to have? How much attention do you expect, and how do you want to be treated? Make sure you’re making an effort to be the person you want your friends to be. Don’t be the one who waits for the other person to initiate. If you like keeping score, forget about doing that to make new friends as adults.

Be willing to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. You might get rejected or rebuffed, or find that someone just doesn’t have time for you. Don’t let it get to you. Keep striving to make those connections and don’t worry about whether someone thinks of you as a friend as much as you think of them. That kind of confidence helps people be drawn to you, anyway.

Say yes to everything.

No matter where you live, there are times an acquaintance or coworker invites you to something you’re not interested in. No matter how boring the event seems, go anyway. Saying yes is an important habit to cultivate if you want to make personal connections.

Related podcast: Yes or No: Do All the Things Except Some

The more you say yes, the more you’ll be invited. The converse is also true: say no too often and you’ll never get an invite again. Once you’ve ingratiated yourself with a crowd, you can start saying no every once in awhile without losing your new squad.

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It’s time to get in shape by striking a pose. Read More...

Just about everyone has thought “I should try yoga” at one point or another. Chances are you have a friend or family member who can’t stop talking about it, and for good reason – research shows that beyond its many health benefits, yoga may actually be good for your brain.

But actually getting into yoga can seem intimidating. The culture around it promotes an all-or-nothing mentality, and most practitioners advise joining a studio or hiring a teacher to get the full benefits. That’s great for some, but not everyone has the time, money or inclination to make that kind of commitment.

Thankfully, yoga is like most kinds of fitness – you can dive in headfirst or just dip your toes in the water. There are plenty of simple, effective poses you can learn at home that will also challenge and invigorate you.

Here are some of the best basic poses to promote strength, flexibility, and mindfulness. Remember to start slowly, taking the time to learn each position correctly.

Bridge Pose

Lots of people suffer from back pain and poor posture issues because they lack the ability to fully utilize their glutes. That can be because they lack the necessary strength, or just because they struggle to activate their glutes properly. This pose tackles both issues.

How to do it: Lie supine on the floor with your arms at your side, knees bent and heels as close to your butt as feels comfortable. Push your feet and arms into the floor while squeezing your glutes, lifting your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees remain directly over your heels. Hold the position for up to a minute, then slowly lower yourself to the starting position.

I do this pose regularly to help develop the glute muscles that I don’t work in my normal exercise routine. This is probably one of my least favorite poses, but I know it really works.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Even if you’ve never had an interest in yoga, you’ve probably heard of this pose. It’s one of the most well-known yoga techniques because it offers great benefits while also being easy enough for just about anyone to attempt. It stretches everything from the shoulders to the ankles and provides a challenging core workout on top.

How to do it: Get on your hands and knees, with your knees directly under your hips and your hands slightly in front of your shoulders, pressing into the ground firmly. Exhale and tuck your toes as you lift your knees off the floor, pushing your pelvis towards the ceiling.

Then, draw your sit bones towards the wall behind you as you straighten your legs without locking your knees. Stay in this pose anywhere from one to three minutes, deepening the stretch as you go. End the pose by bending your knees to the floor while exhaling.

You can do even more by adding this pose as part of a general sun salutation which will get your heart rate up.

Garland Pose

You may have heard this pose referred to colloquially as the “third world squat” or “slav squat” by crossfitters and bodybuilders, but this deep stretch is beneficial for just about anyone – especially those who sit at a desk all day.

When you spend that much time sitting, your hips tend to get incredibly tight, which can lead to posture issues and lower back pain. This pose forces those hips to open up, as well as aiding in ankle mobility that affects the whole lower body.

How to do it: Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, feet angled out anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees. Keep your chest and head high as you push your hips back, sitting down into a squat position as deep as you can safely go.

Make sure to keep your hips back so your knees do not come in front of your toes, and use your elbows to push your knees out. You may have to adopt a wider stance with your feet angled further out at first, but you should eventually be able to bring your feet closer together with a straighter foot angle. Hold this position for at least a minute, then exhale as you straighten the knees to stand.

Find the Time

If you’re like me, finding the time to do anything extra seems impossible, so that’s why I try to incorporate stretching into my regular routine. For example, I try to do a Garland Pose while I’m brushing my teeth or while I’m waiting for my dinner to heat up in the microwave.

These yoga poses are easy to tackle, but only if you start out slow. Try doing one a day until you’ve built up a habit. Then, add another pose. No matter how crappy you’re feeling, aim to complete your exercises. You’ll feel better in the long run.

Are you a yoga practitioner? Any tips you want to give? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Getting life insurance sounds like a real adult thing to do. Unless you don’t need it. Then you’re just wasting money. Don’t waste money. Read More...

It doesn’t get much more adult than buying life insurance. Coming to terms with your own death is a rite of passage as we grow older, and purchasing a life insurance policy is a sign that you care about what happens to your family after you’re gone.

But sometimes, it’s also a waste of money.

Accepting the reality of your own mortality and looking to protect your loved ones after you die is noble, but the funds you would spend paying for a policy can often be put to better use.

Life insurance has a very specific function, financially, and it often just doesn’t make sense to pay for it if you’re not at a certain stage in life. Imagine paying for car insurance when you haven’t even gotten your license – that’s the kind of situation many people put themselves into.

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s financially sound for you to purchase a life insurance policy, read ahead for more information.

When you don’t have kids or a mortgage.

I called my insurance agent the week after my husband and I got married and asked him if we needed to buy life insurance. He only asked me two questions: did we own any property together and did we have any kids? The answer to both questions was no, so he suggested we hold off.

Yes, if either one of us dies, the surviving party would have to change his or her lifestyle to compensate living on one income. Rent would be a bigger struggle, but neither of us would have to think about how to support a child or how to carry a mortgage by ourselves. Some days it seems odd that I don’t have life insurance even though I’m married, but I know it makes more sense to keep it this way.

However, we’re preparing to purchase life insurance next year once we buy a house. Getting out of a mortgage can take a while depending on the housing market, so it’s more necessary for a childless couple with a mortgage to buy life insurance than a couple that’s renting. If your partner dies while renting, it’s pretty easy to get out of the lease and move to a more affordable spot.

When you buy it for your kids.

During a staff meeting at my last job, someone brought up the idea of buying life insurance for your kids. I was confused. “Isn’t the whole point of life insurance to replace someone’s income?” I asked. But they disagreed.

Most of the parents in the room said they had bought life insurance for their children, in case something happened. But buying life insurance for your children, who don’t provide any financial value, is a waste of money.

Think about it: life insurance should prevent a family from having money problems if one of the earners dies. Since children don’t bring in any money (unless your kid is a famous child actor), your income would stay the same in the event of their passing – and your expenses would decrease. It’s also incredibly rare for a child to die before the parent, especially in their youth, so the odds of actually benefiting from a policy are extremely low.

Instead, you’re better off saving any money you’d pay for life insurance in an emergency fund, which will cover any potential funeral expenses. You can also put that money towards a college fund.

When you’re buying whole life insurance.

Most financial experts, including the legendary Dave Ramsey, tell people to buy term life insurance instead of whole. Whole insurance bills itself as a life insurance policy combined with a savings account. They claim that a user can build up cash value in his or her policy that the family can redeem once they pass away.

Because a whole life policy is designed to cover the customer for their entire life, it’s much more expensive than a term life policy. For example, when I input my information into a life insurance form, it tells me I qualify for a $25/month term life policy with a $500,000 payout. A whole life policy with the same benefit would cost $408.45 /month.

If you invest the $383 difference every month in an index fund earning 7% annually, you’ll have $1,011,550.80 in 40 years, or more than double the cash value of the whole life policy. Plus, you’ll have access to those funds any time – no waiting for an insurance company to pay out.

When you’re retired.

A few years ago, a friend of mine lost her father. As we were commiserating about the situation, she mentioned that his insurance policy had lapsed only within the last year. She remarked on what a shame it was that her mother wouldn’t be able to get any life insurance money.

Most retirees don’t need life insurance, especially if they don’t have a mortgage. Remember, the point of insurance is to substitute lost wages or pay for current bills. Since a retiree usually has few expenses, it’s not necessary for them to have a life insurance policy.

Have you purchased life insurance yet? What factors did you consider before taking that step? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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An office fling can be fun, but what if you want it to last? In order for things to work out, here are some things you’ll need to consider. Read More...

Common sense says that office romances are a bad idea. Most of the time they fail, leading to an awkward dynamic and uncomfortable interactions. When they do succeed, there’s still a danger that the situation could put your career in jeopardy.

So why are they so common?

The fact is, people are willing to set aside common sense when they feel a genuine spark with a coworker. And even though it’s a risky affair, office romances can work – if approached in the right way. It’s a high-risk, high-reward gamble, and it’s up to you to decide if the payoff is worth it.

If you think you’ve found love on the clock, here’s how to do it the right way.

Check the Employee Handbook.

Every office has their own rules about employee dating. Some prohibit it entirely, while others simply ask that you to report it to HR. Look carefully through the employee handbook and see what your company’s regulations are.

If the handbook doesn’t explicitly prohibit office relationships, you should be alright to continue dating. However, if you’re dating someone with whom you have a supervisor-subordinate relationship, things could get tricky. A 2013 report from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 99% of organizations said a relationship between a supervisor and direct employee would not be tolerated.

If word spreads about your relationship, another coworker might file a complaint with HR. Even if your partner isn’t treating you differently, there’s almost no way to prove you’re not getting any favoritism.

It is completely legal for a company to fire you or your partner for having an office romance. If your relationship keeps progressing, you might want to consider finding a new job where you won’t have to hide your significant other.

Avoid office PDA.

Even if you’re allowed to date your co-worker, it’s still a good idea to avoid being affectionate at work. No one wants to see a couple making out on the copier, flirting in the break room or calling each other pet names during a staff meeting.

No matter how tempting it might be, try not to show your love either physically and verbally. Not only can doing so get you both fired, but it might make your coworkers uncomfortable. There’s nothing shameful about an office romance, as long as you continue to act like professionals at the office.

Tell no one.

When you’re in love, you just want to shout it from the rooftops. You want to tell everyone you know, from the cashier at the grocery store to your first cousin twice removed.

But the best policy is to not tell anyone associated with your job, unless you’re required to disclose the relationship to HR. It’s okay to share it with a couple close friends, but it’s easy for secrets to spill out and rumors to spread – especially if mutual friends from work are involved.

When I briefly dated a coworker of mine, we kept it private and didn’t tell anyone. Once, a friend who had suspected we were dating watched us leave the office together. When he saw we weren’t holding hands, he concluded he was wrong. I later felt so proud that we kept our relationship a secret.

Avoid talking about work.

When you’re dating a coworker, bitching about the receptionist or management can be an easy topic of conversation to fall back on. But if your relationship is only built on work, it will crumble easily.

I know this from personal experience. When I was 18, I dated one of my managers at Pac-Sun. He was my first boyfriend and I really liked hanging out with him. We decided to keep dating while I went off to college, but I quickly realized we had nothing in common.

While working together it was easy to find stuff talk to about, but the distance made it obvious we weren’t compatible. If you and your partner are always talking about work, you won’t get the chance to find out if you’re truly in sync on a deeper level.

Take the time to explore each other’s hobbies, meet your non-work friends, and enjoy life outside of the office. It will strengthen your bond and prove you have something more in common.

Consider looking for outside jobs.

It’s definitely possible to sustain an office relationship, it’s usually easier if one person ends up finding a new job. While this isn’t necessary per se, it can simplify some of the issues that will inevitably crop up if your relationship becomes more serious – or if you break up.

Discuss it with your partner and make a thoughtful, forward-thinking decision. It might seem extreme to uproot your career for romance, especially if you both love your jobs, but it could save your relationship. For many people, that’s more than enough reason.

Have you experienced an office romance? Did it last or fail? Tell us about it in the #Adulting Facebook community

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A friendship not fitting quite as snuggly as it used to? You don’t have to give up on it. Here’s how to work through the changes. Read More...

Getting older is always tough, but nothing about adult life seems quite as harsh as losing friendships. Even if you were once closer with someone than you’ve ever been with another person, that relationship can dissolve within a matter of years – sometimes even months. Usually, it happens because you end up on different life paths.

As I settle into my late 20s, I’m starting to realize just how difficult it can be to stay connected with a friend whose life is completely divergent from my own. As I’ve learned from talking to older friends and family, those rifts only continue to grow wider if you let them. The key, I’ve found, is to be proactive in preserving the relationship.

If you feel yourself growing apart from a friend whose life has become very different from your own, here are some things you can do to bridge the gap.

Understand their decisions.

Many of my closest friends are on a different path than I am. They dream of kids, a house in the suburbs and a minivan to go with it. Even though I don’t want any of those things, I still need to support their decisions.

I might look at a house in the suburbs with disdain, but I have to consider it from their point of view. Those neighborhoods usually have better school districts, and more space available for less money. If I’ve learned one thing from having older friends with kids, good schools are everything when you have children.

Friends only start to drift apart when one or both parties stop trying to understand the other. If my friend can make an effort to understand why I don’t want kids, then I should try to appreciate why she does.

Keep Your opinions to yourself.

I’m a very opinionated and judgmental person. I always think I’m right, but lately I’ve learned that’s not the most endearing quality to my friends.

When you’re on a different life path from your friends, you have to keep some opinions to yourself. I don’t agree with being a stay-at-home mom, but I won’t tell my friends not to do that. I don’t agree with spending lots of money on a new car, but I won’t shame a friend for splurging on a new Lexus.

Even if your friend is doing something objectively bad, like having an affair or running up their credit card bill, you can’t tell them what to do. You’re not responsible for their decisions and you won’t have to personally deal with the aftermath, so let it go.

Create new memories.

I had an intensely close group of girlfriends in college. We lived in the same dorm our freshman and sophomore years and continued to hang out our junior and senior years.

After graduation, we all moved away. We’d see each other at Christmas and text occasionally, but we weren’t as close as when we were 18. I knew we missed each other, and one day I got the idea that we should all go on a trip. Thankfully, they all agreed and we planned a vacation to Asheville, North Carolina.

The trip was amazing. While we spent a large portion of the time reminiscing about our college days, we created new memories in the process. I’ll never forget the hours we spent playing Taboo or watching for license plates from faraway states while driving. Even though we’ve known each other for a decade, my friends and I shared stories we had never heard before.

Now we text each other every few days, updating the others about our job interviews, our house searches and our boy troubles. Even though we’re all on different paths and live hundreds of miles apart, our friendships feel as strong as they were when lived in the same dorm.

Don’t let jealousy get in the way.

Recently, I asked my parents how they’ve managed to stay friends with people who earn more than they do. Don’t they get jealous of what their friends can afford to do? Isn’t it awkward if someone shows up to a party in a new Mercedes while they’re driving a Toyota?

But my parents are wise. They never feel envious of a friend whose life is going really well. “You’re always doing better or worse than someone you know, so just be grateful for what you do have.”

As my friends and I get older, I’m sure salary discrepancies will come up more than once. As I’ve observed from my parent’s example, money only becomes a factor if you let it. Yes, some of my friends will drive nicer cars or have bigger houses – but I can’t let my jealousy divide us. Neither should you.

The same is true if you’re single and all your friends are married, or if you can’t have kids but all your friends are moms. Yes, it’s easy to feel envious looking at Instagram photos, but harboring those feelings will make it harder to remember why you’re friends in the first place.

Do you have tips for maintaining diverging friendships? Let us know over in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Got told your job performance isn’t up to par? The answer isn’t at the bottom of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Your response can change everything. Read More...

There are certain feelings you start to leave behind after adolescence. The intense anxiety of a first date. The raw shame of being scolded by a parent. The unbridled excitement of Christmas morning.

You might think the churning feeling in the pit of your stomach after failing a test goes away, too. Until you get a bad performance review at work.

There’s nothing worse than being told you’re doing a bad job. It’s a confidence killer and can leave you questioning your entire career. It just sucks.

But a successful career comes from moving past adversity, and a bad review isn’t the end of the world. What really matters is how you move forward from it.

If you got torn apart on your latest review, here’s how you can put yourself back together.

Commiserate and cool off.

I remember my first official performance review. I was so excited. Growing up, I remembered my parents getting performance reviews once a year, usually followed by a hefty annual bonus or raise.

When I sat down, I expected to get a glowing review, full of remarks about my hard work, dedication, and ingenuity – followed by a nice fat check.

Unfortunately, that’s not what I got. While my boss was complimentary, he was also quick to point out my flaws, many of which I hadn’t noticed. I was blindsided and furious, but in the meeting, I remained stoic and professional. I considered that an emotional triumph, even if I wanted to go cry in the bathroom.

I went back to my office, closed the door and took a few moments to breathe. Then, I went to the nearby CVS to pick up some chocolate and call my mom.

I was so disappointed in myself. I remember staring at the official performance review with my total score on it, a 3.5 out of 5. Didn’t my boss like me? Wasn’t I doing well? I felt like a high schooler again, freaking out after a bad test score.

Venting to my mom made me feel better, as did inhaling a bunch of junk food. After I returned to the office, I decided that I liked my job and wanted to get better at it, even if meant facing some things I didn’t know about myself.

If you get a bad review, take time to cool off before you respond to your supervisor. Responding well to criticism is a key component of being a good employee. Pouting or whining about your review will only make you look worse, feel worse, and fail to improve.

Instead, look closely at what your boss said. Realize that more than likely, they’re just trying to help you become better at your job. The more you improve, the better off you’ll be, so try to see a bad review as an opportunity.

Talk to other people at work.

If you’re still not convinced that your boss is on point with her criticism, talk to other people at work to see if they agree. Remember that they may hesitate to be honest with you, hoping to avoid hurting your feelings. Make it crystal clear that you really want the honest-to-goodness truth.

Even if your coworkers do agree with your supervisor’s assessment, they should be able to remind you of your strengths and valuable contributions as well. Maybe they’ll be able to share their own stories of bad reviews. Getting an outside perspective can help you see that this isn’t the worst news you could possibly get.

Ask your boss questions.

When you get a bad review, it can leave you spinning. You might be too focused on getting out of the room ASAP instead of trying to understand what you did wrong. However, it’s important to leave an evaluation with a clear idea of what you’re doing badly and how to correct it.

For example, if your boss says your presentations aren’t persuasive, you need to figure out why. Are they too boring? Are you not identifying your client’s pain points? Where exactly are your weak spots?

It might seem embarrassing to ask for a breakdown of your flaws when you’d rather highlight your strengths, but it’s important to dig deep into the criticism. Your boss needs to know you understand how you can improve or they won’t feel confident in your abilities. They’ll be impressed if you clearly want to get better, and disappointed if you try to walk past any criticism.

Follow up later.

Once you’ve had a chance to look over the review and implement the necessary changes, find your boss a month or so later and ask them if they’ve noticed any differences. You want to make sure what you’re doing is working, and make your desire to improve clear to your boss.

You can schedule a formal meeting to determine if the changes are working. Even if you’re still falling short, your boss should appreciate your resolve to find a solution. Remember, employers like problem solvers, so always come prepared with other ideas that might work.

How have you responded to a poor performance review? Let us know in #Adulting Facebook community

 

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

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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