The other week, I was chatting with a friend about his company’s outlook on both professional and personal goal-setting with their employees. As a sales company, their employees are already accustomed and required to set goals in their professional lives but what’s unique about this company is its focus on personal goal-setting and productivity amongst their employees. The company encourages and works with all employees to set goals apart from their sales goals. These range from saving money, improving fitness, and personal career goals to name just a few. As a goal oriented individual and a to do list lover, I was amazed by the company’s mindset and inspired by our conversation. Company employee well being and goal setting are two separate posts on their own but in honour of this #MotivationMonday, I want to share some of the amazing tips I learned from our short chat and some of the other tips I’ve acquired to help you make the most out of and own this upcoming week.
As a student-athlete, I took classes on leadership and organization. We were taught time management and productivity skills because knowing how to maximize your time and being able to just get things done are essential when you’re balancing a full course load while playing a full-time sport. One of the best things I learned, that I still use all the time, is to write down anything you need to do. Seeing it in writing not only keeps it fresh in our mind but also gives us the extra motivation to complete it, sometimes just for the satisfaction of crossing it off your list (one of my favourite things to do). My friend’s company takes this one step further and encourages their employees to create a list of 3 to 5 things they want to accomplish each day. A great way to do this and also start your week off on a positive note is to spend 10 minutes on Sunday night jotting down a list of everything that you need to get done for the week. From this “master list” you can break it down into 3 to 5 things for each day which is not only less overwhelming but also gives you a plan for each day.
My favourite part of our chat came following his daily to do list suggestion. I’m a sucker for motivational quotes and to be honest a sucker for any good quote that comes my way. So when my friend told me about his company’s mantra to “Eat the Frog First”, I was instantly intrigued. It’s a simple concept but has been a big game changer for me. The idea is to look at your list and identify the “frog”,the thing you really don’t want to do but you actually need to. By eating the frog first, in other words, doing what you’re dreading the most at the start of your day, you set your day up for success. Instead of spending your day worrying about how hard that paper is going to be to write or how bad that phone call is going to go, and more than likely imagining circumstances that make it much worse than it actually is, it’s already done and you’re free to move on with your day. Maybe it’s a workout, maybe it’s cleaning your car, or maybe it’s a tough conversation you need to have with a friend. Regardless of what your frog is, you’re guaranteed to feel a lot better once it’s out of the way because often it’s not as bad as you’ve been imagining. You’re also guaranteed to have a productive day because you’ve started on such a positive note and gotten the toughest part of your day out of the way. I’ve been “eating my frogs" first for the past couple weeks and it’s had an amazing impact on my productivity. I’ve been able to get some things done that I’ve been putting off for awhile by simply sucking it up and getting them out of the way first thing.
Regardless of what you need to get done and what frogs may be weighing you down today, we encourage you to try making a daily to-do list and eating those frogs first thing. Let us know how it works for you!
Lots of love,
Izzy (left) is the kind of girl you dream about being. Cool beyond belief, extremely laid back, life of the party, and an undercover genius! She and Mad were paired together for a graduate seminar presentation (for which Mad wildly underprepared) and have been friends ever since. She's an avid runner, enthusiastic knitter, surprise lover of inappropriate rap tunes, and oh yeah, pulling a Legally Blonde and going to Harvard Law School in the fall (but her humble self would never admit that!) **With a special excerpt from Izzy's former roommate Yunlin (right) who is also wildly successful and cool! A true power pair - there had to be something in the water!
When Madison asked me to write for her blog I was flattered and excited beyond what was probably appropriate for a coffee shop setting. First, this was early in our friendship and Mads is very cool and polished—the type of girl I would have been terrified to talk to in middle school. Second, writing a blog post gave me an excuse to talk about myself, my second-favourite hobby besides snaughing (cyclical snorting and laughing).
My dreams of mega-fame promptly came crashing down, however, when I realized I needed something interesting to say. Mads suggested I write about getting into law school; the initial plan was a How-To Guide. But as they say, the best-laid plans are often mangled beyond recognition. As I was writing, I was inspired by my former roommate and eternal love Yunlin Xue, who sent me a Princeton Professor’s CV of Failures.
I began thinking: why aren’t we proud of our failures? In terms of public personas—and on social media in particular—there is intense pressure to present a sanitized version of our lives in which we are always happy, successful, and standing with our heads tilted to one side (often accompanied by a hand-on-hip).
Well, fuck that. I consider my rejections not only funnier than my accomplishments, but in some ways more impressive. It’s easy to persevere when we’re succeeding. What’s hard is to keep pushing when you’re getting doors slammed in your face—when all you’re hearing is that you’re not good enough; haven’t worked hard enough; that you aren’t needed.
Both Yunlin and I are lucky in that we’ve experienced virtually no real adversity. But as any fragile Millenial flower will tell you, rejection still hurts. I don’t know if failure makes you stronger, but—as our lengthy CVs attest—it won’t necessarily keep you from getting into law or med school.
So, without further ado I present:
“WikiHow to Get into Harvard Law: An Annotated CV of Failures.”
Scholarships I Did Not Get
Jobs I Did Not Get
Feeling inspired by the idea of writing a CV of Failures yourself? Here's Yunlin's CV for another awesome example!
How to get into U of T Med
Post-undergrad programs I did not get into
Programs I wanted to apply to but didn’t think I was qualified
Job applications I never heard back from
Awards/Scholarships I did not get
General life failures
I haven't posted in awhile. Things have gotten crazy as I try to wrap up my graduate degree! But it has sparked an idea for a post... My Masters thesis is on a topic I would bet most of us don’t consider on a day to day basis. Yet it’s something that we all have a relationship with. Food insecurity: the worry or inability to afford or access food. Maybe you’ve been in this boat, maybe you haven’t - I will write more on my thesis and on living in poverty at a later date. But for this post I want to hone in on the significance of food in our 20s. And the opportunity we have to reduce waste/save moola in how we use it.
This winter when the price of cauliflower soared it seemed everybody went up in arms. $8 for a cauliflower?! Outrageous! It bumped weather as the go-to conversation starter. And it amazed me that all of a sudden, one vegetable could be on so many people’s minds. The hike in cost of produce combined with the research I was immersed in really impacted my views on wasting food. And how downright ridiculous it is.
As 20somethings a lot of us are fresh outta that #studentlife, and equally as fresh outta cash. We have spent the last 4, 5, 6 years on a diet of chicken fingers and fries (no joke, I had a Costco bag of each, a bottle of ketchup, and a toaster oven in 2nd year). While our diets in these years of independence and finding ourselves were lacking nutrition and sustenance, what they did teach us was the power of “Waste not want not”, my grandfather’s main saying when Slate and I were being picky around the dinner table growing up. Poutine left over after the bar? Throw it in the fridge and warm it up for breakfast. Only ate half a can of chicken noodle soup? Fridge. Your hospital committee didn’t eat all of the goody tray at your monthly meeting? Wrap up a couple squares and a few cubes of cheese in a napkin and bring those babies home. Parents came to town and went out for supper? Get a to-go container and raid everyone’s plates for scraps you can lay claim to. This was me (and will probably always be me realistically). But I proudly ask the question why the heck not?!
That poutine, those squares, those leftovers will provide me joy at a later date, guaranteed. It will fill my tummy for a meal or a snack. And where would it go otherwise? Now that I’m at home my dad and I are in a constant battle… I scrape the pots and load up the Tupperwares after supper. Often by the time I wake up in the morning they are missing from the refrigerator and the evidence is atop the garbage bin. For a guy that grew up the youngest of 8 children in a hard working farming family it blows my mind how wasteful he is! Perhaps as a stand against how he was raised (everybody knows Bri’s rebel spirit).
Last week I had a hankering for something sweet (full disclosure: I get a hankering for something sweet atleast once an hour). My evening snack ended up being chocolate dipped strawberries. Sounds extravagant, right? Wrong. I unwrapped 10 leftover Easter eggs from their foil, put them in a bowl and microwaved them. I then stirred it around and bam, melted chocolate. Dipped my strawberries in half way, laid them on a plate and put them in the fridge. Call me Godiva. This is an example of the student mentality - of taking what you have and being resourceful. Granted, strawberries in the winter aren’t the cheapest of fruits. But I was still pretty proud!
A strategy that I also employed as a student was buying for the week and just buying what I needed. It’s super dangerous to go to the grocery store hungry, but it’s also dangerous to go to the grocery store unaware of what you have in your fridge or cupboard. That’s how you wind up with 5 loaves of crusty or mouldy bread, a drawer of out-of-date mystery meat, and 5 quarts of milk to use up before they go bad. As students (and 20-somethings) our budgets don’t typically allow us the freedom of blind grocery shopping. Similarly, and maybe this is just my Dutch self, we get a rush out of buying No Name and shopping for sales. 20 cents saved to put towards a night on the town? You betcha. I think these are really good practices to carry throughout our lives, even when we’re making the big bucks.
Everybody has a unique relationship to food… maybe you hate it because it goes right to your hips, maybe you love it and the joy it brings, maybe it’s all about the social connection, or the artistic flare in prepping. Whatever it may be there’s one thing for certain: we all need food to survive. It’s our fuel to propel us into the world and do all the things we set out to do. It’s a basic human right. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had in my Masters research project because it has forever changed the way I walk into a grocery store. It has forever changed the way I clean up from supper. 13% of Ontarians face food insecurity from day to day. Knowing that there are that many people unable to fill their tummies with food not only breaks my heart but makes me reconsider what gets laughed off as my student ways. It makes me reconsider every scrap, every leftover, and the potential that lays within a forgotten Easter egg.