CultureEducation

Our resolution for 2016 is to read three books a month. That gives us a total of 36 books to read this year. We have a bad habit of over-buying books, and each time a new book comes out that looks interesting, well, we just can’t resist. As with any goal, having an action plan is very helpful. To help us actually overcome this problem, we broke each month down with the books we plan on reading. It’s possible things may shift, but this “syllabus” will hopefully keep us on track. When new books are released throughout the year, it’s likely we’ll add those in and bump some down (or try to squeeze it in!). For now, though, this is our list…

January

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Nightingale
 
by Kristin Hannah
How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenburg

February

Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers by Simon Winchester
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

March

Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy by Frank McLynn
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

April

The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert D. Kaplan
Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

May

John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright’s Universe by Dan Falk

June

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

July

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea by Jonathan Franklin
The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered by Laura Auricchio

August

It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario
Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

September

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
The Pearl by John Steinbeck

October

The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
Moby Dick by Herman Melville

November

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

December

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
My Adventures with Your Money: George Graham Rice and the Golden Age of the Con Artist by T.D. Thornton

What are you excited to read in 2016?

Image by Carpe Juvenis

HealthSkills

The transition from summer to fall can be a little sluggish, especially when many of us are in denial that summer is coming to an end. It’s when the leaves start turning orange and the air becomes crisper that it really starts to feel like autumn. And what better time to reset than at the beginning of a new season? With fall comes a vibrant energy that was lacking in the warmer summer months. People are buzzing around getting ready to head back to school, start new jobs, and plan out the year ahead. Before the official first day of autumn on September 23rd, get a head start on thinking about how you want to spend the next few fall months.

  1. Set goals for fall. Look at your personal life and professional life with a critical eye. What do you want to learn this season? How do you hope to improve? Look forward to what’s coming up and figure out how you can set yourself up for success. Another helpful way to look at the big picture? Create a timeline of the past three to six months and fill in highlights from each month. Compare what you’ve done to what you still want to do, and then add those items to your Autumn To-Do List.
  2. Constantly edit your life. What’s working? What’s not working? Eliminate the negative from your life, whether it’s a bad habit or a toxic person. Add positivity into your life, should that be more vegetables, laughter, or new experiences and travels. Don’t settle for what your life currently is – make it the best it can be.
  3. Clean your space and wardrobe. Now that it’s time to break out the sweaters, scarves, and boots, you might as well go through and de-clutter your space and wardrobe. Clear your desk, donate items you no longer need, go through your kitchen cupboards and toss expired foods – these are all actions that will help clear your mind and allow you to begin the season in a fresh environment.
  4. Get serious about being healthy. As the temperature drops, the drier your skin will get. Hydrate more than you think you need to and take advantage of the vegetables that are in-season. Move your body more, take the stairs, and be more mindful of how you’re treating your body and mind.
  5. Reconnect with friends and family. It’s too easy to check out during the summer and retreat into your own world. If you haven’t been a social butterfly the past few months, strike up conversations with friends you haven’t talked to in months. Right now is the best time to reconnect. Don’t wait for another season to pass you by. Better yet? Make new friends. Join a book club, talk to the person next to you in class, join a sports team – you’re never too old to add new people into your inner circle.
  6. Adopt a positive mindset. It may be easier to have a positive attitude when the sun is shining and the summer days are brighter and longer. But when it starts getting darker earlier and the skies turn gray, maintain a positive state of mind. Surround yourself with positive influences, smile, compliment a stranger or friend, compliment yourself, challenge any negative thoughts that enter your mind, and start saying “I can” instead of “I can’t.” The little changes make a big difference.

How are you resetting for autumn?

Image: Autumn Mott

EducationWork

Congrats on your new gig! You’re now a real live college grad and super excited that you’ll be able to pay something when your student loans arrive in six months. Whether you landed your dream job or are just starting out somewhere, doing something, that pays somewhat, there are unwritten rules of do’s and don’ts on your first day. I’m not talking about the basics, like being on time (aka early). I’m referring to some of the things that maybe aren’t so obvious to everyone. After all, making first impressions is important, and you want to bring more to the table than just your I-can-do-everything-smile. To make sure you are putting yourself in the best position for success at this new company, consider aiming to accomplish these five goals during your first week:

  1. Don’t share. You may have had an amazing time at the bar crawl last Saturday, but no one needs to know that. They also don’t need to know about your Instagram account full of selfies #summer2015. Even if you’re in a company full of young 20-somethings and hear them talking about their social lives in great detail, don’t be the newbie that tries to fit in by oversharing how much you are just like them. I’m not saying you should totally lie about yourself, but pretend like you’re talking to a 12-year-old: “I love movies, reading, and just hanging out with my friends!” Keep it short, simple, and while I’m sure you’re a smart and responsible person, there’s no need to give anyone the chance to think otherwise. Besides, your goal is to be better than everyone, so don’t act like everyone.
  2. Observe. This is similar to the first goal, only with an emphasis on carefully paying attention to what people are saying and doing. You may not get more than two minutes of interaction with each coworker on your first day, but subtle demeanors can be telling: Who had an obnoxiously firm hand grip? Which people look like they’re in a clique? Who looked like they were bored at work? Who’s got their face buried in their desk? Take a mental note of these things, because the more you know about others, the better you can gauge how to conduct yourself. The truth is, while there’s a possibility of developing real friendships with these people, they are still, first and foremost, your coworkers. Office politics are a real thing and don’t underestimate other people’s motives.
  3. To ask or not to ask (for help). If you’ve never had a job in an office setting before, that’s perfectly understandable! You don’t have to act like you know everything and you should get comfortable with asking your manager or peers about certain things. If you don’t know where the printer paper is located, just ask! If you don’t know where they keep the coffee cups, just ask! If you get asked to do something that you’ve never done before, even if it’s as simple as making mailing labels on Word, I suggest trying to figure it out first. Click some buttons, Google some stuff, and if you’re still clueless, don’t be embarrassed to ask. At least you tried learning on your own first before seeking help! But remember everything you’re taught, because asking the same question routinely within the first month is definitely not a good thing.
  4. Set your ego aside. Chances are, you’re not the boss or the team lead in the company (if you are, then that’s amazing!), so you might find it a little difficult to accept the fact that you are in a different position – socially and professionally. If you were the all-star athlete, honor student, or student government president in school, then starting at the bottom of the totem pole might be a hard pill to swallow. In my first job, my responsibilities included ordering the food for company meetings, ordering office supplies, and fetching office mail. Don’t fall into the mindset that you’re “too good” for it. You are not better than the job. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be, and everything is a learning opportunity. The beginning of your professional career starts with humility and integrity.
  5. Do what you say you’re going to do. There’s probably a good chance that you’re one of the youngest people in the company. That means you have to prove yourself in this new corporate landscape as a reliable, valuable, and impactful team member. Gaining the trust from superiors and peers is crucial, and this is done by doing what you say you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, regardless of the outcome. If you say you’re going to email back, email them back. If you say you’ll look into something, look into it and provide an update. People may forget what you promised, but when you actually do it, it separates you from everyone else as a leader. Branding yourself as the person who doesn’t just say things “just to say them” is extremely meaningful for your career.

The first few steps of your professional life can be rocky at first. Social dynamics change and you might find yourself in a lot of awkward moments. But keep these tips in mind and one day you’ll be giving advice to the next newbie!

Image: Getrefe

Skills

Think back to a time when you couldn’t decide which class to take in college. Even easier, think of a time you needed advice on a restaurant to go to for your birthday. What are some things you did to help you figure it out? For me, I spoke with my friends who had taken the class already, and asked for restaurant recommendations. I was definitely not willing to decide without getting the facts first. It’d be crazy to gamble on something so important, right?

The same goes for your career.

Informational interviewing is the most powerful tool you can use to explore if a career or path is right for you. In this scenario, you are the interviewer seeking out individuals who are already in the role or industry that you want to learn more about. Many people use informational interviews for job hunting, while others use them to find their passion. It’s like having a crystal ball and getting to see what your future could look like, without all the uncertainty and jumping through hoops.

By conducting these interviews, you could avoid making huge, expensive mistakes by learning about someone else’s journey. Remember those job fairs or open-house events with all the clubs and societies at school? There’s a very simple reason for them: to learn from people about what they know best. That’s it! And informational interviews are no different. They open doors to meet like-minded individuals, help you gain mentors, and provide unexpected (but tremendously helpful) opportunities you wouldn’t have been given otherwise. People are the best resources for knowledge and everyone’s got a story to tell.

Of course, if you’ve never conducted an informational interview before, I know it can seem awkward and intimidating. We worry about looking silly, being embarrassed, and not knowing how to act or what to say. The reason it doesn’t feel natural is because we’re spoiled by getting what we want without much real-life human interaction. But if you can get past all the excuses that keep you from taking a leap towards what you want, the rewards are worth the risk. Plus, the person you want to interview already knows why you’re contacting them anyway, it’s not like it’s a big secret. I guarantee you they’ll be super flattered!

If you still need convincing that informational interviewing is the fast-track to achieving your goals, here’s what they reflect about you:

  1. You are focused, determined, and results-oriented. (And these won’t just be words on your resume.)
  2. You are fearless. You can prove that your actions speak louder than your words. Think about it – not all people would have the guts to find a specific person, introduce themselves out of nowhere, and ask how’d they get to be so awesome and successful.
  3. You are confident in your ambitions and recognize that success is not achieved single-handedly.
  4. You’ve got goals and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve them. However other people get their information is their business, but you have decided to actively find what you need to know to make your life worth it.

Whether you’re looking for a new job or trying to find yourself, don’t be scared to just ask. You might not learn everything from a single interview, but the process itself is a learning opportunity. Who knows, your first interview could change your whole future (it did for me!).

Image: Unsplash

EducationSkills

It may seem strange to consider that as adults we need to set goals. Aren’t paying bills, going to work, washing laundry, trying to exercise, and eat healthy all goals we already set for ourselves? Technically yes, but they are also the things we have to do to keep the gears of our life turning. Ever since graduating from college this past winter I’ve been searching for a system that will help me organize, prioritize, and improve myself in ways that extend beyond these necessities. This hasn’t been easy, and what I’ve come to realize very recently is that I don’t have to reinvent a brand new plan. What I am going to do is re-use the program I followed as a teenager and student and apply it to my life as an adult.

When I was 15 I registered for the Congressional Award program. This meant that for many years I was involved in four different program areas: physical fitness, personal development, volunteerism, and exploration or an expedition. I would create goals in each program area with my mentor, and together we would develop challenging goals and ways to work towards achieving them. For a long time I had a very specific reason to improve myself (earning a Gold Medal from Congress while simultaneously building my self-worth by doing things I loved). But once I graduated from college and earned that medal I realized that I haven’t been as ambitious or excited about improving myself as I used to be.

I’ve decided that I’m going to adopt the Congressional Award program model again and apply to this new chapter in my life. Instead of playing for my high school tennis team or training for a half marathon like I did as a student, I am going to set a goal to go to the gym at least four times a week and limit my eating out to two times a week for physical fitness. For personal development I am going to use Rosetta Stone to learn a new language and maintain my speaking skills from what I used to study. For volunteerism I am going to reconnect with an animal shelter I worked for in high school and get retrained as a volunteer. Every time I go somewhere new my goal is to read a book and do research on that location before I get on the plane.

What I learned about setting goals from when I was still a student is that they need to be realistic but challenging. I am not going to challenge myself to go to the gym seven days a week for two hours a day, because I know that given my work schedule that simply will not work. I also know my body and understand that burning out and being exhausted only leads to injuries and frustration. When setting new goals after being rusty for a while, it’s crucial that you be kind to yourself. Set goals, map out how you can achieve them, but don’t burden yourself with self-hate if you don’t achieve them perfectly every single day. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, and move on. Take baby steps and eventually you’ll have walked more miles than you realize.

Image: Life of Pix

LearnSkills

Procrastination is that bittersweet friend of yours who dumps you when you need him or her the most. It is not the act of procrastinating per se that is most troubling. Delaying assignments by using Snapchat or watching cat videos is quite enjoyable. It is what happens ‘after’ that leaves us at our wits’ end. It leaves us with more worries, more stress, and more workload. Can this be contained? Yes, of course. Here are a few effective tactics you may use to do so.

1. Break the Bulk

Overwhelming work is a driving force for procrastination. Hence it would be in your best interest to break the workload into smaller components. For example, if you have a large project that needs to be completed, divide your work into sub sections such as Introduction, Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. This way it will be easier to digest how much work you have and you will be far more motivated to complete your tasks.

2. Set Artificial Deadlines

Deadlines help us keep pace. Our working senses get activated when we have a near deadline looming over our heads. Making your own deadlines before the actual deadline is a good way to get you on your feet. But they would be void without incentive. Make a penalty for not following deadlines and reward yourself for completing tasks on time. Make sure to not reward yourself too heavily, for you will get carried away and miss your next deadline.

3. Alternate Your Tasks

Boredom is procrastination’s best source of fuel. Don’t stick to one task as it will soon become tedious and the distractions around you will suddenly become more inviting. Alternating your tasks will keep you focused. I mix dull tasks with enjoyable ones to complete my work faster and more efficiently.

4. Stay in a Conducive Environment

Make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to completing work. This entails doing work free of distractions. In my own experience, I switch off the Internet modem whenever I have homework to avoid WiFi-related distractions. Having friends who are motivated and supportive also helps. They will push you back on the right track when you feel like quitting. Tell your friends about all of your goals so that you become more accountable to fulfilling them.

How do you tackle procrastination?

Image: Jan Vašek

Education

We are now in the beginning weeks of a new semester and last semester is nothing but a distant memory. Any bad grades we received or mistakes that we’ve made have been replaced by a clean slate. This is our chance to start fresh. I know that starting fresh might be easier said than done, and that many of us might still be feeling down about the grades we received last semester, but don’t spend too much time dwelling on the past. You can reflect on it from time to time, but when you do so think about your past in a positive light. Always remember that the mistakes of yesterday won’t prevent you from making better choices today.

Remember that you are in control.

If you want to be better and do better this semester, you have to believe that you can do it. After all, you are in control of how well you do in your classes. You are the one who makes the decision to show up to class, to study for a test, or to do homework. All of those things are important if you want to get good grades. If you go into this semester thinking that it’s okay to skip class, or if you don’t take your schoolwork seriously, then that will ultimately hurt your overall performance in the course. To rock this semester, not only do you have to be dedicated, but you have to want to be dedicated. I keep using ‘you’ in sentences because, really, this is all about you. Sometimes it may feel like your professors are the ones making your life miserable, but you have more responsibility and control when it comes to the grades you receive than you might think.

Make adjustments.

The next step in rocking your semester is to make adjustments. If you partied too much last semester, dial back on partying. Instead of going out every weekend, go every other month, or don’t go at all. Having study parties is much better and more beneficial than actual parties. Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to have a good time and go out with your friends, but only do so if you have all of your work done. If your studying habits are what you need to change, then search around for new methods of studying to see which one works better for you. There are many ways to make adjustments. Just begin to weed out the bad habits and replace them with ones that are more effective and will give you better results.

Get involved.

Lastly, make sure you get involved. College doesn’t have to be all about homework and partying on the weekends. You get more out of your time in college when you make room for extracurricular activities. Not only will they enhance your semester but they will teach you valuable skills that will help you come out on top. Many of us are probably already apart of a few clubs and organizations, but for those of us who aren’t, try it out! Being involved has helped me become better at time management, which is something I have always struggled with. Having other priorities can really help put things into perspective, so figure out what those priorities mean to you. Having a great semester doesn’t always have to mean getting good grades. Sometimes being part of something bigger than yourself and making friends with people who share the same interests can make a huge difference in the way that you look at college.

A lot of people dread coming to school. I’ll be honest – sometimes I wish I didn’t have to go to class. But then I remind myself that I am my only enemy. You are your only enemy. No one can stop you from rocking your semester other than yourself. Sure there are outside forces that have to be taken into consideration but, for the most part, it’s all about you and your willingness to change for the better. Once you have more confidence and stop letting your past define your present, your future will start to look whole lot brighter and each semester after this will continue to get better and better.

Just like anything in life, improvement takes practice. Feeling confident and believing in yourself after a bad semester (however you want to define it) isn’t always a walk in the park. Believe me, I know. But if you work at it, you’ll begin to see positive changes. Both in who are as a person and who are as a student.

Good luck everyone! #SeizeYourYouth!

Image: Picography

Culture

In life, we end up settling for a lot of things. We settle for the salad instead of the burger we’ve been craving all week, or for the steady job instead of pursuing our dream career in music or art. We settle for the little things, and then the big things, and keep telling ourselves that in the end it will be for the better.

Unfortunately, life is short. The message of Carpe Juvenis is to #SeizeYourYouth and to live your life right now. Don’t wait for later to pursue your passions. And with this comes the idea of never settling.

A lot of the time we coordinate the phrase “never settle” with the concept of relationships. But not settling applies to all aspects of life and is something that you should live your life by. You never know when a chapter in your book is going to be closed or a page might turn, which is why it is important to do what you love and be happy doing it and to never settle. We spend such a huge portion of our lives caring what other people will think of us if we wear our favorite orange sweater out in public or if we decide to go to the gym even though we’re desperately out of shape. Instead of caring about what others think, care about what you think and do whatever brings you joy and the feeling of accomplishment.

At the end of the day, your happiness is most important. And while there’s no time frame on chasing your dreams, you won’t be young forever. Live your life to the fullest, seize your youth, and never, ever settle.

Here are some real life examples for daily ways to keep yourself from having to settle:

  • Work hard in school and complete all assignments on time so you don’t have to settle for a college or job you don’t truly want
  • Stay dedicated to your job so you can afford to purchase that item you’ve been saving up for
  • Hold your friends accountable to being on time and following through on commitments (and do the same!)
  • Plan study dates with friends so you can get the A you need to keep your GPA high
  • Practice for an interview ahead of time so that you don’t bomb it and have to settle for a different job you’re less excited about
  • Eat a healthy homemade meal so you can enjoy an indulgent treat later in the day, guilt-free
  • Go window shopping with your friends instead of going on a shopping spree so that you can continue to pay your bills on time

Image: Gratisopgraphy

Skills

Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you are honest about what you want, the universe has a way of giving it to you”? I have always liked that concept because I do think it is possible to get what you want. It is just important not to lose the message behind the quote. When being honest with yourself, you need to figure out what is most important to you and what you are willing to do to get it.

The point of this exercise is not for wish fulfillment; the point is to figure out what you want to do so that you can work towards it. In other words, you cannot honestly want to win the lottery but still expect it to happen if you never buy a ticket. You need to find a goal that you are willing to commit to.

Try to think about what you want in all areas of your life, including your career, your living situation, and your free time. If you are not getting what you want out of life, you can do something to improve it. If you don’t like your job, think of what job you want to have long term. If you’re not at that organization, start applying elsewhere. In this situation, honesty is about finding your priorities. Do you want to travel all the time or do you want to save money to buy a car? Depending on your financial situation, you can probably only do one at a time. That is why you have to be honest with yourself about your long and short term goals. It doesn’t mean that you will never get a chance to do everything that you are interested in. You are simply putting the most important things in your life at the top of your list.

This self honesty is actually clarity. It keeps you from wasting time in your dead end job or wasting time period. It helps you remove the obstacles in your life because you’re finally aware what your obstacles are. Once that is done, there is really nothing standing in your way.

So, really think about where you are now. Think about what you want one, five, or even ten or more years in the future. How do you get to that place? What sacrifices do you make to get there? That is your next challenge.

Image: Gratisopgraphy

CultureSkills

The New Year is about resolution, new beginnings, and fresh starts. However, many times, our wish to take on these new goals and challenges are paused by last year’s mistakes. Forget last year – it is long gone. The only things left of it are what lie in our memories. Okay, and maybe all of the ‘Facebook Year in Reviews’ that have infested all of our newsfeeds. Here are a few things that we must remember and forget about last year:

1. Breakups

A friend once told me, “Relationships aren’t necessarily all about love – they’re about learning about yourself and what you value in any relationship.” Her words stuck like glue. I’ve always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and relationships, be it a romantic or friendly, all have their reasons for happening. People are put in our lives for us to learn and grow. If people bring positivity into your life, you will learn and likewise, if people bring negativity in your life, you are also bound to learn something. Sometimes, breakups just mean you have learned what you need to learn from that person and it is time to move on to the next chapter in your life. Other times, breakups serve as reminders to make sure you are surrounding yourself by people that inspire, surround you with positivity, and push you to become the best you can ever be.

2. Last Year’s Failed Resolutions

We all have that New Year’s Resolution that we have thought of since November. Perhaps we want to get healthy, read that book that always seems to be referenced in important conversations, or learn to acquire more patience. And we also all have that disappointing New Year’s Resolution that seems to be every year’s repeated resolution. Cut the cycle. Take the initiative of not waiting around until New Years and start now. In addition, your failures last year will not be your failures this year. Time is ongoing and does not repeat itself. There is always a chance for new beginnings.

3. The Little Voice

We may be fearless, fierce, and fabulous when it comes to pursuing our dreams, but who doesn’t have that little voice of doubt in the back of their heads? When in the midst of determination and motivation, it is absolutely vital that you do not give into the small voice that has the power to hold you back. Perhaps this happened in 2014, 2013, or even in 2012, but not in 2015. The mind is most powerful – bury that voice in a place you can’t retrieve. Smother it with positive thinking and remember to always believe in yourself!

4. Grades and Job Disappointments

It’s understood that GPA’s are cumulative therefore, that impossible course where even passing, or the absolute taste of glory, last semester will forever be factored in it. However, thankfully that course last semester will forever be left in long gone notebooks. This semester is a new term composed of new courses taught by new professors. Do not assume all math courses will be impossible or all philosophy professors will be a dreadful walk through the underworld. Each semester brings new opportunity to improve your grades and learn from last year’s mistakes. Likewise, we all know that jobs that may have not worked out last year bring their burdens – be them financial or personal. However, it is important to take what you learned from these mistakes in order to not repeat them in future professional endeavors. Learning and growing from these mistakes and keeping a determined and positive outlook are key to any new beginning.

5. Habit Downturns

It’s possible your overall health this past year has gone downhill. Diets were broken with that 1:00 a.m. pizza craving, exercise habits interrupted by finals week, and eating habits completely totaled by just living on campus. It’s possible you began biting your nails or gone back to smoking cigarettes. There’s a chance you discovered habits of shopping until you drop or even a seriously undesirable Netflix addiction. It happens. But habits can always be shifted and changed.  Do not be discouraged by last year’s mishaps.

New Year’s is called “New Year’s” for a reason. It is out with the old and in with the new. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Forget last year’s mistakes and take only what you’ve learned from them. Anything is possible this year – find it inside of you to conquer these goals!

Image: Time Management Ninja

CultureSkills

As soon as we put down the turkey leg and finished off our apple pie, we blinked and December was here. Even though we’re approaching the 2014 finish line, don’t let that slow you down. The last month of the year can be a new beginning for many different things – goals, activities, habits, skills, and adventures. The holiday season may present a packed calendar with parties, trips, and work to finish up, but don’t wait until 2015 to make resolutions, start something new, or to make self-improvements.

Here are some successful ways to wrap up 2014:

1. Tie up loose ends.

Finish up the remaining items on your to-do list, schedule those doctor appointments, and complete any lingering projects. This way, you can enjoy the holidays and have a fun time ringing in the New Year. Don’t bring unwanted baggage into 2015.

2. Spend quality time with friends and family.

Make time for loved ones. When the New Year begins, everyone will get busy and it’ll be a challenge to find time to spend together.

3. Say thank you.

Write thank you cards, make a phone call to express your gratitude, or mail a small gift to those who were there for you in 2014. If there are people who were influential in your personal or professional life, let them know how appreciative you are.

4. Accomplish resolutions from the beginning of 2014.

What resolutions did you make at the beginning of 2014 that have yet to be accomplished? Do them. We may only have one more month, but there is still plenty of time!

5. Learn a new skill.

You’ve got a month to learn a new skill. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to ski, improve your language skills, or learn how to efficiently use Excel. There’s no better time than now.

6. Take a weekend trip.

You may not have the time or funds to take a big trip this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a quick weekend escape. Sneak in one last adventure before the New Year.

7. Look forward.

Are major changes on the horizon? If not, do you want there to be changes? Think about what you hope to accomplish and start making adjustments in your habits and routine to make those changes a reality. Spend some time thinking about where you’d like to see yourself in 2015 and you’ll be setting yourself up for a great future.

8. Read one more book.

Don’t push off your reading list for 2015. Start now. Tomorrow you’ll be glad you did. In a reading rut? Here are some tips for how to make time to read.

9. Organize your life.

While ‘organizing your life’ is a great resolution for January, why not start getting things in order now? Organizing – whether it’s your physical space, your routine, or your overall organizational ‘system’ – can be a huge undertaking. Start small and pace yourself.

10. Give back to your community.

While it’s important to be involved in your community every month of the year, you may feel more inclined to give back during the holiday season. Don’t wait any longer to help and make a difference.

11. Improve your culinary skills.

There are a lot of delicious holiday-themed recipes and hearty meals that you can make for the cold winter months. Experiment with new ingredients, attempt a challenging recipe, and improve your cooking or baking skills so you can do more cooking at home in 2015.

12. Scrapbook or journal.

Before saying goodbye to 2014, print out photographs from special events that happened throughout the year and create a memory book. Write about how those events shaped you and why they are memorable. This is a great way to remember everything that you have accomplished during the year.

13. Develop good habits.

Trying to wake up earlier, exercise more, or spend less time on social media? Start forming good habits this month, and if any improvements need to be made later, that sounds like a pretty good 2015 resolution.

14. Take time to reflect.

Before the craziness of the holidays and the New Year begin, take some time for yourself. Revisit events that made you laugh and cry, remember the times when you felt hopeful, and meditate on the moments that were more challenging. Contemplate your successes, failures, goals, and accomplishments from 2014. Take pride in what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, and think about what you want to take with you into 2015.

How are you wrapping up 2014?

*This article can be found on The Huffington Post.

Image: mt 23

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Jane Park – the founder and CEO of one of the fastest growing beauty brands, Julep – is no stranger to seizing her youth. After studying Public Policy and International Affairs at Princeton and then heading off to law school at Yale, Jane has always been a hard worker. After working as a consultant and at Starbucks, she then took a leap of faith to start Julep, a beauty company that tests new products on a community of monthly subscribers before it is mass-produced. Not only is this a smart strategy, but the products are quality. From nail polish to skin care products to makeup tools to hair care, Julep has your beauty necessities covered.

After having worked in both corporate and start-up settings, Jane is a pro when it comes to running her own business and getting things done. We are seriously inspired by her ability to multi-task, her passion for learning, and her advice to not be so hard on ourselves. She’s also generous with her time and advice. Jane is a true business and beauty rockstar, and we’re thrilled to share her story with you!

Name: Jane Park
Age: 43
Education: Public Policy and International Affairs at Princeton University; Doctor of Law (JD) at Yale University
Follow: Twitter / Julep

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Jane Park: Seizing your youth is about finding the joy in things and having enthusiasm for the daily parts of your life.

CJ: You majored in Public Policy and International Affairs at Princeton. How did you determine what to study?

JP: Public Policy and International Affairs was the major that enabled me to take courses in the broadest number of areas. I could take politics, economics, East Asian studies, and anthropology. It was an awesome non-major in a way.

CJ: After college you went to law school at Yale University. How did you decide to go to law school right after graduating from college and what was your experience like?

JP: I actually didn’t plan to go to law school right away. I applied as a backup idea. I wanted to go to India to work for an organization called Seva Mandir. When I told my parents my plans, they freaked out. I ended up applying to law school and planned on saying that I was going to defer as a way to get around actually having to go. In the end, my parents guilted me into going to law school. I had never seen them cry before!

CJ: What did you learn from law school that helps you as an entrepreneur?

JP: I learned the value of thinking through things and looking at situations from different angles. When you are creating legal documents, you have to think about what the future might hold and look at things from different perspectives. That’s probably the most valuable thing.

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CJ: If you could make the decision about whether to go to law school again, would you still go?

JP: If you are thinking about a career like law, you should spend a day with a lawyer and see if you like what he or she is doing with the day. A lot of legal work is actually not with people. It’s just paperwork and it’s not interactive with people, so it is a different kind of environment. Law school was super fun, intellectually rigorous, and we dealt with interesting problems and constitutional issues, but when you graduate, you aren’t on the Supreme Court right away. You are locked away in a room with boxes and boxes of paper.

CJ: After law school, you worked as a consultant and then at Starbucks. Please tell us about your experience working at Starbucks and your major learning experiences.

JP: It was great to learn about how brands are executed at Starbucks. We got to understand how you take a brand and make thousands of people who are trying to bring that to life meaningful to people. Seeing how that operated at scale was really interesting. It was all about people, as well.

One of the best weeks of that job was when I got to work in the stores. I realized how hard it is to be a barista. You think you can mark a cup, but it’s really hard to have a line of people and to remember how to put all of the ingredients in the right order. I finally ended up just cleaning the bathroom because it was something I couldn’t screw up.

CJ: You left your job at Starbucks to start Julep. Were there any skills you wish you had known before starting your own company?

JP: The thing about being an entrepreneur is that every situation is different so the most important thing is to have versatility and flexibility. The best thing to do to prepare is to really work with a lot of different people and figure out how they see the world and how you can influence them. At the end of the day, all an entrepreneur is doing is influencing your investors to believe in your dream and you’re influencing your team to come join you. In order to make that happen, it’s really an intellectual and emotional decision. You have to know how you view the world and understand how others view the world so you can communicate compellingly.

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CJ: How do you set goals?

JP: A lot of the times there are a lot of complex big picture dreams. We want to be a multi-billion dollar global beauty company. Life is just a series of days put together. I can do anything for a day and then do that one day at a time.

CJ: Starting and running a company is no easy feat and you are challenged on a daily basis. What do you do when you are unsure of something and experience self-doubt?

JP: I’m pretty transparent with people about things that I am unsure of so they know what I am grappling with and I try to ask for help. In almost every circumstance that I’ve used the words, “I need your help,” I’ve gotten the help. The thing to remember is that you’re not alone. If you start thinking about who you can ask for help, you can come up with a list or find people who will help you with the list. If you’re sitting alone curled up on your bathroom floor, there’s no one who can help you or no one who knows that you need their help.

CJ: You’ve worked in both corporate and startup settings. What advice do you have for a young person to thrive in those two cultures?

JP: Forget about the fact that it’s about you and how you are graded. It was true of me, too. For my first job, I wanted to do a great job. At the consulting firm I worked at, we were graded every three months on our projects so you really wanted to get the good grade. At the end of the day I realized that even in that context, the most important thing to focus on is how we are helping the clients and how you have impact. If you focus on making a real difference, everything else will follow. If you focus on how you are viewed and how your boss thinks of you or your promotion, nothing good comes out of that situation.

Figure out what the company’s goals are, and if you can’t see that far ahead, then figure out what your boss’s goals are. When you’re a junior in a company, you want to make a difference and have a voice, but that’s all “I” “I” “I.” Think about how you can be helpful and most useful. To get a promotion, it’s not about influencing your boss. It’s about influencing your boss’s boss.

CJ: Why did you decide to start Julep in Seattle?

JP: I decided to live in Seattle because of the city itself. I have two kids and Seattle is a great city to live in with kids. What’s great about Seattle is that there is quite an entrepreneurial network and there is also a strong venture capital community. Seattle is the perfect city because you’re close enough to venture capital to get financed but far enough away from the competitive environment every day.

CJ: What is your typical day like at Julep?

JP: There really isn’t a typical day. Today I had a couple of phone calls with prospective investors that were back-to-back. I made my kids chocolate chip pancakes for Valentine’s Day. I saw my kids off to school and made more calls from home. I came into the office and had a team meeting to address inventory questions.

julep nail polishes

CJ: What has been the best moment of your career?

JP: One of them was when we did our pop-up store in New York. Meeting the maven customers face-to-face was amazing. There were women in tears who expressed their love for their monthly boxes. The level of emotional engagement has been amazing.

CJ: What advice would you give teenagers or young adults who are interested in being entrepreneurs?

JP: The number one question you have to ask yourself is “how do you deal with failure?” There are moments of failure every day and month. If you are somebody who always strives for perfection, this is not a good life for you because it’s really hard to achieve and hard to get there. Whether it is sports or doing something you are uncomfortable with, see how you handle those situations and how you progress. Being mentally strong is an important characteristic to have.

CJ: What motivates you in your everyday life?

JP: For me it’s all about learning. I want to always be learning about people and how to do better. If you want to be better tomorrow than you are today, quantify things in your life. Count and write things down. Whether it is exercise or in a business, if you can count it and measure it, you can make a difference. Instead of having a loose goal, measure it in some way. If you want to write a business plan, how many pages a day are you going to write? How many phone calls a day are you going to make? Break it down into something that’s measurable and you can have success.

CJ: What is the best advice you have every received?

JP: In every context you have to find your own voice and find yourself. When I started working, I had never worked in an office before and I thought there was a certain way I had to be. I was playing the role of a lawyer and wasn’t really being me. There’s no way you can be successful if you’re not being yourself in that context.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

JP: My overall mantra is to be forgiving when you make a mistake. Learn the lesson and move on. There is no benefit of raking yourself over the coals or rethinking again and again about how you could have done things differently. Of course there is always a better way to do things. If you’re frustrated and banging your head against the wall, it’s because you have an unrealistic expectation of what you should have been able to do. There is a lot of wasted energy on being too hard on ourselves.

Jane Park Qs

HealthSkills

Being a student isn’t a walk in the park. There’s always a paper to write, a homework assignment to complete, a book to read, a test to study for, and the list goes on.

This is why I like to think of both college and high school as four year careers. Sure, it doesn’t provide you with any kind of salary, but the lack of an income doesn’t stop any of you from hoping that all of your hard work will pay off in the end.

Why is that you ask? Well, I like to to think it’s because we all have a particular equation drilled into our heads. It might look different for you, but basically the equation goes like this:

Completing every assignment + Participating in class + Doing well on tests = __________

There are a number of outcomes to this mathematical problem. If you’re in high school, doing all of these things could mean getting straight As, graduating at the top of your class, and getting into the university of your dreams. In college, it could guarantee that you’ll make the Dean’s List every semester and possibly gain you admittance into your college’s honors program.

The point is, we all have our reasons for working hard in school. We all have short and long term goals that we strive to achieve during our scholarly careers.

But what happens when we don’t reach those goals? What happens when that equation, though simply put, becomes more complicated than we thought it would?

I know no one wants to think about the alternative to success. If we’re set on accomplishing all that we want to do, what is the point of thinking about that seven letter word that begins with an F? Some people might think they’re immune to this word because they’ve always gotten good grades, participated in class, and received stellar grades on their tests. While it’s always good to think positively and to never doubt yourself, it doesn’t do you any good to think you’re invincible or that the seven letter word, which almost always feels like a punch in the throat, will define us for the rest of our lives.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the word I’m talking about is failure. So many of us are afraid of it because, for whatever reason, we believe that if we ‘fail’ we have to automatically consider ourselves failures. Oftentimes, the standards of success and failure that we live by are the ones we set for ourselves.

Our greatest critic is the one living in our heads. No one else will be as hard on you as you are on yourself. This can be a good and a bad thing. Because while we have the ability to push ourselves to do better and to be better, we also can drive ourselves into a very negative place.

Failure is such a heavy word. And it hurts. Especially when you feel that you haven’t lived up to your idea of what success is. Again, we all have goals and dreams, but somewhere along our journey to achieving all that we set out to achieve, we forget that we are only human and that it’s okay to not succeed all the time.

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy and that I’ve never ‘failed’ in my life, otherwise I wouldn’t be saying this. However, I am writing from experience. This past year was hard for me because I was juggling six classes and set high expectations for myself. It really hurt when all of those expectations weren’t met. I started to see myself as a failure because I had ‘failed.’  As I’m sure a lot of you know, the bad thing about seeing yourself as a failure is that it affects every other aspect of your life. It makes you doubt yourself more and it makes you not want to strive for other things because you feel like it’s impossible for you to succeed now that you haven’t accomplished one or many of your goals.

Whether that goal is getting into the university of your dreams, making the Dean’s List, or graduating at the top of your class, don’t be so hard on yourself. You will always have opportunities to do better, be better, and learn from your mistakes. I know it hurts and I know you don’t see it now, but life will go on. You will be great and wonderful and you will not, I repeat, you WILL NOT be a failure if you ‘fail.’ If you have given something your all, that’s what truly matters. Don’t dwell on the past or what you haven’t accomplished because it’s only going to hinder future successes and, trust me, there will be an abundance of those if you continue to believe in yourself.

You just have to keep going and keep your head up; realize that not achieving a goal doesn’t make you a failure and being hard on yourself is not the answer to those questions that I posed earlier. If you don’t reach your goals, make new ones and try again. If you don’t get perfect grades or do well on a test, instead of wasting your time and energy on beating yourself over what you consider to be failures, learn from your mistakes and remember that failing, though it may hurt, is not a bad thing. How you deal with failure, on the other hand, is what can potentially tear you down and make you forget how amazing you truly are.

So again, don’t be so hard on yourself. I know this is easier said than done (trust me, I know) but once you relieve yourself from the guilt and the pain that tends to come with ‘failing,’ you’ll begin to see that success starts when you accept your failures and stop seeing yourself as one.

Image: morguefile

ExploreInspirationLeadershipLearnSkills

If you’re reading this, it’s not likely because you’re a slacker or a procrastinator. Most likely, you’re the type of person that is kept up at night worrying about the future. You’re the type of person that’s invested in self-improvement, always trying to find ways to better yourself.

These are all good traits, but may work against you…especially when the anxiety begins to weigh you down. You may work hard, have talent and be intelligent, but these aren’t the secrets to success; they’re merely tools. It’s handy to have them, but you have to know how to use them in order to reach your maximum potential.

Between training for tennis, managing my academics and securing an internship, I’ve been discovering new ways to uncover my own untapped potential. Here are some of the methods I’ve come up with:

1. Embrace Your Individuality

This is a hard thing to do when everyone around you is trying to get you to conform to a particular mold or stereotype. Especially in the crucial stages of adolescence, it’s important to understand what makes you you. Knowing your strengths, weaknesses, talents and interests are all part of embracing your individuality.

If you have a knack for arts and crafts, it’s easy to accept your talent as useless or listen to the critics that tell you it’s a hopeless line of work. But if it weren’t for the people that like to paper mache and refurbish wood, we wouldn’t have beautiful, handcrafted journals or uniquely refinished furniture. Places like Etsy wouldn’t even exist.

In the book Imagine, Jonah Lehrer discusses the secrets to creative success. He conveys how the interchange of ideas between professionals in varying fields helps stimulate creativity. Differing beliefs, interests and talents, as well as a healthy dose of the unfamiliar, are what produce some of the most successful innovations.

2. Take More Risks

It seems the initial reaction of young professionals is not to speak up, as if keeping quiet is the road to a promotion. While this may apply to some situations, you can’t dismiss the fact that your ideas may be as good as any of your coworkers, or that any question you may have is likely thoughtful and valid. The issue is that the fear of failure always seems to override the chance to succeed.

Nine out of ten times, your question won’t be stupid…your idea won’t be considered dumb. For the one time it is, don’t sweat it. Few people are fired over dumb questions; a lot more are promoted due to sharp ideas. And most importantly, you don’t want someone else to come up with that same idea later on and reap the rewards. The “what ifs”are always the worst.

3. Don’t Worry About Things Out of Your Control

This is a big one for me. There will always be that one teacher that is determined to give you a B no matter how much you deserved an A. Some days, the traffic may be so bad that it takes you two hours to get home from work, even though you live five miles away. You’ll be sick during finals week. You’ll be judged for how you look. People close to you will change.

The key is: Life happens. While it’s easy to fret and blame others or ourselves for the things that are inevitable, it doesn’t help get us anywhere. Most importantly, it doesn’t help us grow as a person. Why give yourself early gray hairs for something you couldn’t have helped?

As much as people tell you otherwise, you have control over your happiness. While you can’t always control the bad things that happen to you, such as being dumped by a boyfriend or a family member passing away, you can control how you respond. While you may grieve for a while, how you channel your emotions afterward is what’s important. You can lock yourself in a room for a week or you can go for a run; the choice is yours.

This idea also translates to the professional world. When you don’t get a promotion, you can mope around feeling sorry for yourself or you can work even harder. You can handle criticism with a heavy heart or you can use it to fuel your ambition. The people that make it to the top get there because they never gave up.

The most important thing is entering a new situation without too many expectations. Expectations are the surest route to disappointment. This doesn’t mean undervaluing yourself, but diving in with an open mind and open heart. Oftentimes, the things we have planned for ourselves don’t turn out to be as great as the paths we happen upon by circumstance.

Whether you’re graduating high school or starting a business, your potential is something that should always be ruminating in the back of your mind. Ask yourself what your goals are. They could be as simple as writing in your journal that night, or they could be as big as being hired by NASA. When you ask yourself, “Is it possible?” know that the answer is always “yes.”

Some people believed I would be a strong, high school tennis player. Others believed I would go pro. The only thing that ever mattered to me was what I thought. And when people asked, “What’s your goal?” I’d always answer: “To see how far I can get.”

Image: Unsplash

EducationSkills

Growing up means independence. However, there is also new responsibility. An easy way to simplify your life? Create a budget. It sounds boring, but honestly it requires almost no maintenance and very little time to actually do. Here’s a simple way of creating a budget:

Find Out How Much Money Is Coming In

This is the easiest thing to do. Total up your paychecks, or if you are receiving money from your family, total up how much they are giving you. It is worth knowing how much you have saved in case of an emergency.

Total Your Old Bills

This one is a little less fun. Go through your old bills. Look back every month or every three months at everything you have spent money on. You will notice trends and and can figure out the average or the most you spent in the span of a few months. This way you can determined how much money you need to save every month.

Think of Upcoming Expenses

If you have tuition or a trip coming up, that will use up a chunk of the money you are making. You don’t want to spend what you don’t have. Plan for the future so you do not overspend and get blindsided.

Find How You Can Save

If you are spending more than you are bringing in, you will be out of money before you know it. The bonus of looking at your old bills is to see if you are spending too much money, and if you are then you can cut back. It’s always good to see where you’re money is going. If you don’t like what you see, you can change how you spend. Also, you can figure out a percentage of your money to save for later.

Set A Goal For Your Money

Now that you know how much money you have and how much money you are spending, you know how much money you have left. This could be spent on going out to dinner or for a more ambitious goal like buying a car or going on a trip. Plus, it never hurts to have an amount set aside in case of an emergency. 

This will keep you out of trouble with overspending and ending up in debt. More importantly, you will know how much you can spend having fun. Once you have a budget, you don’t have to worry about it and you just adjust with the big changes in your life.

Image: Sumall

InspirationLeadership

You know that feeling you get right after accomplishing something amazing? You feel like you’re on top of the world and that nothing can bring you down. All of your efforts have paid off and that goal you set for yourself has been completed. In certain ways you feel like you have come to a stopping point. WAIT. Hold on. Take two steps back. In those critical moments of feeling successful it’s too easy to fall into the trap of also feeling like you are done. You aren’t. There is always higher to climb, more to achieve, larger goals to set. Never limit yourself to thinking that you’ve achieved all you can – your wonderful story is not over. Next time you hit that mark embrace the moment, let it sink in, and then think “what next?” You have the power to make your life great. Never mistake a comma for a period.