Five Tips: For Breaking Out of Your Weekly Routine

I was having drinks (over FaceTime, but it still counts) with my best friend, talking about where we were 10 years ago and what we wanted our lives to be like 10 years later. We realized that we’ve each achieved one major goal or another, starting first and foremost with successfully leaving Oompa-Loompa-esque spray tans in 2007, and second, landing our dream careers. What was most surprising about the conversation however, was a mutual, reflective feeling of, “hmph” about a year into each of those dream roles.

I remember the “hmph” period all too clearly as it wasn’t that long ago that I first experienced it. I did what I set out to do. I had it in my hands. I molded it into something I was genuinely proud of. Why the sudden feeling of insipidity?

After talking about it some more, I realized it was because I had hit my goal and had no goal of comparable scale to work toward thereafter. I was coasting. I mastered my every day, and I was simply existing as a major component of what became a well-oiled machine, both in the context of my job and my newly acquired routine since moving to New York. Get up, go to work, get home late, make dinner, watch re-runs of Real Housewives, go to bed, repeat cycle.

What was lacking, aside from excitement, was my next “dream job.” I needed something beyond what I became so used to doing both during the day and at night. I dug deep. I thought, I want to feel challenged in a way that I’d always get better, but never quite master, because what a restrictive scenario it must be to be the “best at” or the “most of” anything. So, I got back into Soccer.

Soccer and I parted ways when I got more heavily into Cheerleading and Martial Arts, but it was something I had always wished I had stuck with. Getting back into it, and doing so in a group of 30+ year old men is and will always be a challenge, but it’s something I look forward to every Thursday night. I’ve tried bougie workout after bougie workout, and while I’ve truly enjoyed some of them, there’s no greater feeling than nutmegging a big, burly dude who could probably kill me otherwise. Running for 90 minutes in the cold on a pier overlooking the Statue of Liberty might be the goal I never knew I had, and while I’m doing it every week, each time brings a new team, a new challenge, and yet a familiarity I’m elated to have reencountered.

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For a little resurgence of your own for when things start to feel just a little too routine:

  1. Join a Group With Similar Interests: When I moved to Charlotte, Meetup.com was my go-to for finding groups of either people within my industry or just people who loved wine. Being around similar-minded people who may be exactly at your level or even a bit beyond can really help not only in furthering your career but in opening new doors. It also makes a mundane Tuesday feel like a Friday.
  2. Get back into a childhood interest or hobby: Have a hobby you used to love as a child but haven’t done in years? In the words of Shia Labeouf and/or Nike, just do it.
  3. Look up Volunteering Opportunities: Because volunteering a) puts things into perspective, b) is the single, most feel-good thing you can possibly do with your time and c) refer to a and b.
  4. Take skill-based classes: Whether looking to develop a professional skill or even for that one skill that’s totally irrelevant to your job but totally relevant to your out of work interests, sites like Coursehorse are a great resource. I’ve attended a class here and there for HTML and CSS coding and while I might have been the only non e-mail marketer in the class, I can say that it was well worth it.
  5. Explore fitness classes: I think just about anyone in New York has at least taken up the free trial of Classpass, which is a really amazing (though expensive) service that allows you give any kind of fitness class a try or three within the area. Classes range from rowing (seriously) to cycling to bootcamp (also, seriously). Through Classpass, I found and fell in love with a couple of different classes that were equal parts challenging and fun.

Five Tips: For Your Move to NYC

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To broker, or not to broker: While it’s true that there are ways to relocate to and around New York City without the help of a broker, utilizing one makes the process incredibly easy. Having moved here with nothing more to my name than a couple thousand dollars and a suitcase, I wasn’t looking to waste too much time finding a place to live. Not to mention, my first gig here was waitressing, and there’s little time in between serving a New York City lunch rush to speak and negotiate with property managers. So for me, having someone essentially manage the move and conduct the search while I had to work definitely helped me sleep better at night. But, if you have more time and patience than I did, give StreetEasy a try.

Give everything a test run: Before signing ANY paperwork, test faucets, toilets, the stove, oven, air conditioning (if included) and smoke alarm. You may or may not be surprised that not everyone is trustworthy, and often times people sign for apartments before realizing that the gas line isn’t connected, the faucets don’t work, etc. Be careful!

Which neighborhood to choose: I chose the Upper East side strictly for affordability, a term I’ve come to understand is pretty relative considering location. It’s unlikely to find a 2-bedroom in this city, regardless of size, to be under $2,500. The first few years you’re here, you’ll want to save as much as you can on rent. But, once you become a bit more established and find yourself working farther away from where you live, you’ll likely consider biting the bullet for the sake of convenience and make a move. Things to consider: where you work, where you play, and where you like to hang out on Sundays. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend less on cabs and transportation after a night out or a day at work, and more on a place to live.

How to cut costs: It’s a matter of picking your battles when it comes to what’s most important to you in a living situation, and coming to terms with the fact that you can’t get everything you want here and still collect paychecks worth more than your monthly rent. For example, you might value a place with a lot of natural light and smaller rooms that’s farther from work over a place with dim, yellow lighting and huge rooms located a little closer to work. Location aside, you can typically get more of what you’re looking for aesthetically by searching in a neighboring burrough. It could be a longer commute, but again, it’s all about choosing your battles wisely.

How much did you save before moving here? Everyone’s situation is a little different. While I worked all throughout college to save a little money, I was also fortunate enough to have help from my grandmother, who left all of her grandchildren with a little something when she passed away. I think she would have been happy to see that I used it to chase my dreams.

Decorating on a budget: Take your time, but prioritize the important things. I had an air mattress and a blanket when we signed for the apartment, so the first thing I knew to get was a bed and a dresser. From then on, I bought things little by little. My room didn’t feel like a room for at least three months, but it came together eventually with the help of Ikea, flash sales, a lot of patience, and a steadily increasing bank account. Once you come to terms with the fact that you’re not above a good sale or flea market, decorating becomes much easier. Your room should be your haven at the end of a hard day. You deserve a relaxing, home-y feeling space that is yours. Little by little, work toward that goal.

If you have any tips you think I’ve left out, feel free to share in the comments. The more the merrier!

Five Tips: For Your First Cruise

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This past May marked the first vacation I’ve taken on my own dime. Having been on cruises before, I had an idea of what to expect, but never before had to sort through all of the billing, paperwork and adult-like things that come along with planning them. Fortunately, Norwegian made it easy as pie and I didn’t have to turn on my Type-A personality (too much) to have a good time. And so after what I can only describe as the most relaxing vacation of my life, I’ve a few tips to share for first-timers.

Pack a few sealable sandwich bags: You’re bound to take multiple photos while lounging on the beach, whether to save for yourself for later, or to rub in the faces of your cubicle mates back at work. And in order to do that, you’ll need a phone that isn’t waterlogged or full of sand. So for those moments (hopefully there are many of them) that you aren’t taking instagram-worthy photos and only need your phone to tell the time, sealing your cell in a sandwich bag is a great way to keep it safe.

Don’t forget a travel steamer: I haven’t been on one cruise ship that provides an iron or steams for free, so on this last trip, I brought my own portable mini-steamer, and it was a lifesaver! Despite rolling my dresses and linen rompers, they always ended up wrinkly after getting past airport security. So aside from sunscreen and bug spray, this was one item I was beyond happy to have with me.

Ask the locals where to eat: The best places to eat and drink typically aren’t the most advertised. That’s why asking the locals on excursions is a great way not only to truly meet different people, but to get the inside scoop as to what the island has to offer. Of course with this tip comes a disclaimer, and I’ll put it in my dad’s words: “Your dad isn’t Liam Neeson. Don’t be an idiot while traveling.”  In other words, make sure that if you’re taking the locals’ advice, you’re doing so in groups.

Book excursions through the ship: While I’m usually the girl to advise against paying top-dollar, booking an excursion through anything other than the ship is extremely risky. Unforeseen circumstances like an overcrowded port or bad weather could deter the ship from sailing to the island you have plans on. And while you might think that the world is fair, your cruiseliner likely thinks otherwise and will feel no remorse over your nonrefundable cash.

Set multiple alarms: No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you did, the cruise will leave without your bronzed behind if you aren’t back in time before departure. And so assuming that you want to assume the carefree lifestyle while exploring different locations, setting your alarm (a few times) is a safe way to ensure you’re back before departure.