Owning Your Title

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” A famous, practically cliche quote that floods Pinterest boards, but inspires many. While it might not be feasible for you to dress for your version of success everyday, there is an even more fundamental change you can make to go from where you are now, to where you want to be. Change your title.

When someone asks you about yourself, what do you say? What’s the first thing you think of? How do you want to be defined? These are some big questions, that have equally big answers. Most people probably begin with kind, funny, hard working. Then what?

We are more than our work, and what we do for a living does not need to define us. However, if you want to change your occupation, you need to begin by presenting yourself as such. You are no longer an aspiring artist. You are an artist. No more, “I want to be a writer.” “I am a writer.” You are a musician, you are a designer, you are a business mover, you are what you define yourself as.

You must practice what you preach. If you call yourself an artist, you must create art. If you are a business owner, you must have a business or be working to establish your vision.

The key is consistency in combination with belief. You must believe in yourself. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to, but your mind must be open to possibilities of what is to come. Every journey is unique. The first step is to claim your journey as yours, and to explore the possibilities of where that might take you. Then you must follow through on that promise to yourself.

Own your title. Claim it. Cling to it. You can be whatever, whoever you want to be, but you must follow through. You must own who you are in all its wonder and capability. This goes beyond living a dream, and circles right back to the first answers to the questions “Who are you?” Are you kind? Own it. Be kind. Act kind. Do not simply say that you are. Live through kindness. Are you hard working? Show it.

You can be whoever you want. You can change it at any moment. It all begins with how you define yourself, and following through on your definition. Believe in yourself. You can do incredible things. You are doing incredible things, right where you’re at.

Make the Most of This Winter: Grow, Even If No One Watches

Winter is coming, and as the cold seeps in the leaves will finish falling, the plants will go to sleep, and the sky will turn grey for the next few months. The colder temperatures will mean less days outside and the winter time blues will dampen the golden freedom of fall afternoons. Winter offers its own opportunities however, with time to rest, reflect, and learn. Spend your time inside to grow. Read a book, take an online course, or put extra effort into your self-care.

To help combat those dark and frigid days, I recommend reading Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola. The book is the perfect winter time read to bring you back to the warmth of summer days. It offers a unique and inspirational look into the world of plants that is for more fascinating than your 10th grade biology class.

The general focus of the work centers on the notion that most people tend to ignore plants, viewing them as unintelligent and passive beings. People overlook how vital plants are to the survival of all other living creatures. Perhaps because they are immobile, or because they are ever-present, they are seemingly silent, or that they are easily manipulated by humans. But imagine a world without plants. To quote the authors, “They… are the link connecting the activities of the whole organic world (that is, of everything we call life) with our solar system’s energy center.” Without plants we wouldn’t have food, clothes, breathable air, energy supplies- life would be unsustainable.

This notion does not just apply to plants. If people do not notice all that you do, it does not mean that you are not important. The things you are doing, the projects you are working on, the time you are investing in yourself and in others is valuable. Your work is beautiful. What you create and contribute to the world is worth creating, even if no one is paying attention. Just because people tend to pass you by does not mean you are any less vital to the larger ecosystem of the world, and if you left, people would definitely notice. Just like the plants.

The book goes into detail about the complexities of plant intelligence, explaining how they use their senses to engage with their environment (yes they have all 5 senses we do, plus 15 more!). It examines the historical reasons plants have been glossed over in philosophical, religious, and scientific texts. It even poses its own philosophical questions such as, are plants altruistic? Check out the book for the entire explanation, but in short I was inspired that this question could even be asked. This suggests kindness is an innate characteristic so fundamental to living things that even plants exhibit signs of a moral compass. Imagine being a plant: you can’t move, you have to fight all other plants around you for resources, avoid being eaten entirely by animals, protect yourself from the elements, it can’t be easy, and yet, you have a sense to help out other plants around you in need. This level of thoughtfulness existing within in plants means kindness must be a core trait within people too. Be kind to others. The world might have made some hearts hard, but they can be softened. Even if it goes unnoticed, even if people do not immediately pay attention, your efforts to be gentle will help reshape the world.

Another fun fact presented in the 2nd chapter is the positive benefits plants have on the human mind. Cited are studies showing that the presence of plants in classrooms improve student concentration, and neighborhoods with greener spaces tend to have fewer car accidents and suicides. The impact of plants on mental health is remarkable. Maybe that has something to do with the recent houseplant comeback. Another way to help battle seasonal depression is to bring the outdoors in. When you pick up this book, snag a few house plants to brighten up your room too. Your plant will love you just as much you will love the life it brings you this cold season. If you don’t know what kind of plant to get or tend to kill anything green you touch start with one of these beginner options and work your way to building up a collection.

Overall, Brilliant Green, offers a lot of interesting and detailed information about how plants work. In it’s own way though it is a work of inspiration, with an underlying message that the moments overlooked are often the most important and beautiful in life. Don’t waste your winter this year. Take advantage of the time you have to try something you wouldn’t normally. Don’t let people overlook you either, and if they do, it does not mean you are any less wondrous. Keep on putting in the work on your dreams, keep focusing, keep creating, keep doing your very best. Your actions today have the power to impact the hearts and minds of those in the environment around you- just like a plant. Keep growing towards the sun, and when the spring comes you will bloom the most vibrant flowers that will capture the eye of everyone who passes by. Plants are stationary beings, but without them, the world would crumble. You have been planted in your own unique situation, and your soil may not be rich, your water supply may be weak, but even cacti in the hottest deserts blossom the loveliest flowers in their own time. You are creating amazing work exactly where you are planted, and one day the seeds of your efforts will spread across the world. You can do anything exactly where you’re at.

Make Your Big City Dreams Come True When You Live In NoWhereVille

When I talk to people in my area about career goals, the first response I always get is, “There’s nothing here, get out as soon as you can”. Living in a small town- especially one outside of a declining city like Scranton can feel uninspiring and limiting. The opportunities in a small town are not as vast as those available to the urban communities. Even further than career opportunities, finding things to fill free time seems impossible too. We’ve all seen the meme floating around “You know you’ve grown up in a small town when Friday nights meant driving around the same streets for hours.” It’s true. While I firmly believe smaller areas offer unique benefits that cannot be matched in the city, big dreams die fast in small towns. Below I’ve compiled a very short list of the many tools you can use to begin turning your dreams into reality exactly where you are at.

Education is power, and no one can ever take away the knowledge you have gathered. The first step to growing your future and working on seriously pursuing your passions is to learn as much as you can about the field you want to enter. Even if you cannot afford advanced education, there are so many resources you can utilize for free or at a low cost. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. https://www.coursera.org/ This website offers a variety of courses in anything you can imagine, from business to photography, government to nutrition, astrophysics to foreign language. Some of the courses have a fee, but many are free and they are all taught by university professors. They also offer certifications, which are great resume builders. I took a free marketing course on here a few years ago after my dad told me about the site and had a wonderful experience. It can be a great tool to learn about finance if you want to start a business. It can also allow you to test the waters in a topic if you were thinking about going to school for a specific degree, and wanted to get a feel for what it might be like to study that area.
  2. https://www.khanacademy.org/ Khan Academy is a wonderful tool for students and also another resource to learn about an area that you want to grow your knowledge in. Their resources are free of charge, simple to understand, and engaging. While geared towards younger students, they have entrepreneurship classes, mindset growth classes, and personal finance as well. They also offer a variety of courses in computer skills that would be extremely helpful if you were looking to grow an online presence, or do some creative computer work- a field in high demand that you can find work for anywhere.
  3. https://publicdomainreview.org/ Another great resource for learning on a budget or with limited access to resources! This site monitors when resources, literature, and art become part of the public domain (aka the copy rights expire and it becomes free!). It’s a cool tool to find both work and leisure materials for free.

Beyond learning about achieving your aspirations, you also need tools to put your plans into action. Here are some fun sources that might come in handy for anyone who has an interest in starting a business, building a brand, and growing your passions into a career.

  1. https://buffer.com/ This site allows members to manage all social media accounts from one central platform. You can review traffic stats to your pages, and even schedule the sight to post your content at prime times for you if you won’t be available to do it yourself. You can begin with 3 social accounts for free or upgrade to 8 for 15 dollars a month. It’s a great tool to help out businesses get organized and analyze social media to maximize their potential with an online presence.
  2. Fhttps://fontstruct.com/ Font Struct is a free site where you can create custom fonts to spice up your business’ website, your business cards, or create a signature style of writing to help you with the branding process.
  3. https://99designs.com/ Essentially, if you need a logo designed for your business, self brand, etc., 99 Designs is a life saver for the artistically limited. You submit a request describing what you have in mind for your logo, book cover, site header, whatever you need, and artists will fill the order and compete for your business. You look at the designs and only pay for the one you pick to use.
  4. https://wordpress.com/ If you want to start a blog or build a website but are unsure how, I would highly recommend beginning your journey with wordpress. I am far from tech savvy, far far far from tech savvy. My mom had to connect my laptop to my wireless printer because I could not figure out how to set it up, and was on the verge of tears in frustration. WordPress is so user friendly that even I am able to manage a blog. It also has a massive community of users which connects you to limitless resources when building your site, and comes with the assurance of reliability.

I also found a few sites to help you focus and work on productivity. Simplifying your life and getting organized can clear away room in your mind to begin working on more important, bigger goals.

  1. https://ifttt.com/ IFTTT stands for “if this then that.” The site allows you to link your technologies and apps together to keep you organized and up to date on anything that interests you. It’s a cool and free way to connect your apps to work together and eliminate some of the extra steps from your day.
  2. https://www.any.do/ Any.do is the ultimate calendar app. You can create a to do list in a central space so nothing gets forgotten. You can also link other apps like email to immediately add meetings or requests directly to your list so you won’t forget to go back later, or have to leave the screen you’re currently on to grow your list. Anything from planning your day to groceries, Any.do is a perfect way to start getting organized with out paying 35 dollars for a fancy planner you’ll probably lose next week anyway.

Finally, I found some great resources for when your environment isn’t providing the inspiration you need to keep creating and working towards your goals.

  1. https://www.pinterest.com/ Pinterest is old news, but I utilize it everyday as a source of inspiration. It’s a personalized experience to the max, full of incredible ideas for personal and professional growth.
  2. http://www.languageisavirus.com/index.php#.XD4itlxKjIU Language is a Virus is a unique tool I recently found to inspire and motivate writers. Whether you enjoy writing for personal expression, or want to pursue the craft as a profession, or need help with ideas for an essay in school, this site is full of prompts and resources to light your creative spark into a full flame.
  3. https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/ We Present is a site that provides back stories to works of art, music, writing, etc. They tell how some of the most incredible creations on this world came to exist. Reading about the creative process of others might help you build or refine your own.
  4. https://www.artistsnetwork.com/ Artists’ Network is a site that posts inspiration, articles covering all things art, and posts dates for art competitions. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to get creatively inspired, grow their artistic abilities, and learn about the art community.

The physical opportunities available to you might be limited due to your location, finances, or situation. The internet has a variety of useful tools that you can take advantage of for free or at an extremely low cost to start taking over the world, even if you live in NoWhereVille right now. You can do anything if you put your mind to it. Reach out to people in your community who have found success, and learn from them. Reach out online to the people you admire and learn from them. The internet has opened an unlimited resource of knowledge and connection for people to be whatever they want to be. You might not be able to move to LA and become the next Food Network Star, but you can amass a huge following on YouTube with your own online cooking show, that might even bring in more viewers than the T.V. chefs. You can create an album and release it on Sound Cloud. You can open an e-commerce store if you can’t afford to rent out a building, or don’t live in an area where you would get enough traffic to sustain a brick and mortar store. You can do anything you want, right where you’re at.

If you have any favorite online resources for personal, creative, or career growth, leave them in the comments! We would love to see what else is out there to explore!