How I Conquered Anxiety

How I Conquered Anxiety

A simple google search for the definition anxiety explains it as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Those of us who experience it to catastrophic levels understand that it goes beyond just feelings of worry or unease. Anxiety roots itself in our minds and stomachs, it elicits fear that shapes our entire way of thinking, chokes our entire being, and can manifest into major panic disorders that cripple us from any semblance of a normal life. 

This is drastically different from the day to day normative levels of anxiety. Just to be clear, anyone can have anxiety for any reason. Like if you really want to go to some party and your ride is running late and you start feeling anxious because you just want to get there. Or if you know a big test is coming up and you want to do well. Or if you’re getting married soon. Anxious feelings are normal. It’s only when it starts to affect your life, the decisions you make, and the way you care for yourself (or don’t) that anxiety become dangerous. 

I did not realize that I was living with high-functioning anxiety until after I had a complete meltdown. On the outside, I was a power house of achievement. I pushed through a master’s program, teacher credentialing program, I owned my own house, managed my own business, and kept my grades high despite stretching myself so thin any snag could snap me in half. And eventually, that’s exactly what happened.  

During these phases, I would smoke weed to achieve the level of concentration I needed to get things done. Without it, I was completely and utterly stunted. At the time I saw nothing wrong with it. If it helped me concentrate, then that’s what needed to happen. I didn’t realize I was using it as a crutch. I was becoming dependent. And that, my friends, was not who I wanted to be. 

When I began therapy I was given tools to be the master of my own mind and body again. Where I was once unable to identify anxious feelings, now I was able to physically feel the difference between calm and anxious. That tight feeling in my chest wasn’t supposed to be there. The fogginess of my brain wasn’t normal. Inability to eat and nausea weren’t supposed to be part of my daily routine.

One integral piece of reclaiming my mind and body is practicing meditation. So many people are reluctant to meditation because they think you need to be zen before you even start. Your thoughts will always to be there. Practicing meditation is just that— practice. Start with a few minutes every day, and increase from there. My routine is every morning and every night. But when I felt like I was going crazy, I meditated whenever I felt panicky, which was pretty much multiple times throughout the day. Take as much time as you need to take care of you. These simple moments to call your own, to get back into your own space, your own mind, makes all the difference in your day and your overall well being. 

If you’re very new to meditation, I suggest downloading the Headspace app.Headspace explains meditation in an easy to understand way and guides you through the experience piece by piece.

If you’re intermediate level, using the free meditations on YouTube are great too. There are guided or unguided. All free. You don’t have to pay to learn how to get back in touch with yourself.

Another method that worked for me is called name it to tame it. Each time I would feel anxious I would name, out loud, all the different emotions I was feeling. It works. Now it’s so ingrained in my head I name it to tame it each time I’m upset, whether I’m angry, anxious, sad—doesn’t matter. If I’m worked up, just naming my feelings sends me a warm blanket of relief so my nerves don’t get out of control.

The most helpful technique was learning how to tap. Tapping targets the pressure points in your body to slow the fight or flight response we get when our minds are triggered. In just ten minutes you can feel relief— seriously. All it takes is you wanting to feel better and following through on making it happen. In the audio I listen to the woman says, “you’re teaching your body to feel calm.” At first, I was skeptical. When you’re in the throws of anxiety, waking up with teeth chattering, or nauseous, heart beating so fast it feels like it’ll rip right through your chest, it’s hard to imagine anxiety can be controlled. After a few months, I noticed that certain things that used to trigger me simply didn’t anymore. And now, a year later, I can proudly say I am in control of my mind and body.

That’s not to say the struggle is over. Each time anxiety tries to take over, I do the work to regain control. It gets easier. All you have to do is do the work. 

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Finding Motivation Where There Is None

Finding Motivation Where There Is None

There are two types of people in this word: people who talk and people who have so much motivation they “do.” Unfortunately, talking doesn’t get you too far. All it does is create a big hype around a plume of hot air which usually dissipates faster than water boils. You know that sharp, stinging sensation hitting your face on a cold winter’s day? That’s the pain of hopes and dreams never realized. It’s a shame, really. So much misguided potential.

What causes those who seemingly have such drive to never bother starting the car? A few things can be at play here. One is that they don’t know where to begin, and that, in itself, causes them to scrap the whole idea. Another is that they are already so busy it seems almost impossible to take on more. And then there’s the possibility that the dedication and real want just isn’t there, which happens often enough. To each their own.

Anything worth having takes hard work, even being a housewife. Do you think one person makes all the money and the one who stays home still calls the shots? Sorry to tell ya, but it doesn’t work that way. Stuff those feelings deep down and smile for the camera. It’s harder than it looks, just ask the millions of therapists in this great nation of ours. 

Finding motivation starts by keeping your eye on the prize. What is it you want? And how badly do you want it? Once you’ve decided that you truly, madly want this for yourself— whether it’s mental, physical, educational, emotional— then set your eye on it, day in and day out. 

Imagine you already have it. It might sound stupid, but give it a try. This takes practice, dedication, integration into your daily routine. Picture what you want in your mind’s eye. Smile like it’s already yours.

The more you train your brain to focus on what you’re trying to achieve, the more your brain tells you to go and get it.

Create a goals list. What do you want to achieve? Give it a realistic due date. What are the steps you’re going to take to get there? Who do you have to call; do you need funding? Write all of this down in a journal. And if you don’t have a journal, start one. Write in it daily, cataloging the steps you’ve taken towards your goal. If you didn’t take any steps, write why. What excuses are you giving yourself? What are you doing with your time? These are important questions to ask yourself. Once we can get to the bottom of procrastination, we can begin to turn it towards motivation and productivity. 

Start meditating. Even if it’s for five minutes, do it. Make a routine for motivation meditations. I personally love morning meditations because I’m a walking nightmare before 9am and the positive reinforcement helps set the foundation for the rest of the day. Same thing at night. There are so many different avenues to go down. YouTube has some great free ones, and there are myriad apps you can try out. You don’t have to know how to do anything. 

 The Headspace app is awesome for newbies who are just starting out. It teaches you how to come back from wandering thoughts, to soak in noise, and all the other ins and outs of beginner meditation. 

The key word here is routine. None of this works if it’s done once, twice, maybe three times and never again. When it’s integrated into your life it works wonders. Whatever mental block that is obstructing motivation will come crumbling down and you will be free to pursue that which sets your soul on fire. It all begins with the tiniest amount of effort. Don’t let yourself down. 

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Feeling like you can’t get started? Check out my post Overcoming the Fear of Failure

So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur

So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur

Many people dream about becoming an entrepreneur. A life of controlling your own finances, creating your own schedule and running your own business seems much more luxurious than working for someone else. Especially now with more and more companies laying off employees, there’s no real security anywhere. Although lots of people try new ventures, many of these initial ideas fail due to a number of reasons. The biggest one is improper planning for your future financial stability.

Analyzing the Competition 

Any way you start out, you really have to know what you’re up against. Understanding the difference between your business and everyone else provides the foundation for marketing your product. Think about how your service compares to other companies offering the same type of thing. How will your business be different in the way it serves its target market? Write these answers down— make a Venn diagram chart if you have to. Just make sure you know where you stand in the market. It means everything to how you will advertise and pitch your product or service. 

Business Plan Basics

What kind of values do you want to embed in your company? This is the creme of your morning coffee. A brand that knows what it stands for adds a sultry attraction to your product. Ever call a company 15 times and never get an answer or a return call? Ever deal with crooked “professionals” who abscond with your money? That type of service chases new business away. Understanding what values you want to present to your potential clients helps set the precedent for business building.    

Finding the Perfect Name

The name of a business is the first thing new customers and clients see. Make sure it stands out. To begin, do a brainstorm of all the words that represent what you’re selling. If you’ve been writing thoughts down from the last two paragraphs, you’ll already have words to chose from. Pick descriptive words from the business product itself and from the morals and values the business represents. Write as many words as you can. Ask friends and family to help, too. More brains are better than one. Then start piecing words together. Eventually you’ll find the perfect match. 

Types of Business Ownership

Choosing what type of company you register as depends on your particular situation. The 4 main types of ownership are:

  • Sole Proprietorship: The easiest form of ownership. There is no difference between the individual and the company. Both are equally responsible for the business debts and income. 
  • Partnership: Two or more people who share in the responsibility and income of the business. There are different types of partnerships as well, such as a General Partnership, Limited Partnership, a Limited Liability Partnership. In a General Partnership, everything about the business is equally shared. A LP has one main partner with unlimited liability and others with limited because they don’t have equal interest in the business; a LLP protects every owner from the mistakes of the other partners. 
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): A LLC provides protection to the business owners by bearing the brunt of any legal action while offering the flexibility of a general partnership.
  • Corporation: This is the most complex form of ownership, yet provides many tax perks while acting as a completely separate entity from the owners. There are different types of corporations such as an S Corp and a C Corp. A C Corp is pretty basic; it operates as a business separate from the owners, and can be extremely large with owners internationally. An S Corp is a smaller corporation, with finances passing through one or more owners like a sole proprietorship. There is a 100 person limit on ownership and all owners must be citizens of USA.

Filing a Fictitious Business Name

Do a search for fictitious business names in your county. If the name is taken, it’s back to the drawing board. If not, shoot over to Legal Zoom and register your business with the state easily.

Create an Elevator Pitch

At any given moment you may be called on to explain what it is your company does. Having a prepackaged 30 second pitch that encompasses how your business can help a potential client is key to maintaining interest. 

  • Begin with your overall goal: For the sake of this post, let’s say it’s someone who can benefit from what your new company offers. Your goal, then, will be to show value in doing business with you. 
  • Tell them what you do: And tell them specifics. Anyone can make bath bombs and lotions. But making SLS free bath bombs, hemp lotions, or a type of specialty is more succinct to the brand.  
  • Identify the unique selling proposition (USP): This is the item that sets you apart from the competition.
  • End with an engaging question: Avoid “yes” or “no” answers. If you’re selling a line of soaps, ask what soaps they use and what their experience with it is.

Price your product or service correctly

Many new entrepreneurs low ball their pricing and undercut themselves and their product. You don’t want  to make your business seem less valuable than others or come off like you don’t know what you’re doing. People are vultures who can smell weakness. It seems to be human nature to take advantage of people when they obviously don’t know any better, so get some quotes, find a happy balance, and push your product with confidence. 

On the Cheap 

Conduct your business for cheap as long as you can. Too many new entrepreneurs think they have to be all in, spending money they don’t have or offering too many products when they don’t have a demand yet. Unless you absolutely need a storefront location, don’t sign a lease anywhere until you know the customers will come. There are plenty of ways to get your services or products out there without spending thousands of dollars unnecessarily.

We all know of the person who jumps right into a business venture without a plan or a system in place. It’s great if an opportunity presents itself! Always accept a good offer, and always be prepared to protect yourself. When doing business with anyone, make sure there is a business contract drafted to plan out clear guidelines of the service offered and how you’ll get paid. Rocket Lawyer has free trials where you can get some pre-made templates!

Now that you have an idea of where to begin, get out there and make some boss moves.

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The How to Reach Your Financial Goals Starter Kit

The How to Reach Your Financial Goals Starter Kit

Let’s face it— money sucks. People stress because they don’t have it; people who have too much stress to maintain it. We’re all searching for ways to meet our personal and financial goals. Money is a necessary evil, especially when the economy in America is so challenging. In the SF Bay area, a person must make an average of $80,000 a year to qualify for a one bedroom apartment. As a nation, money has been cited the number one cause of divorce.

Some money situations are challenging, but it can still work. The first step is to remain focused and …

Set a financial goal

How much money do you need or want to make? Whether you’re trying to start a business, live solo because your roommate is driving you crazy, or continue growing your wealth, setting a financial goal is necessary. Make sure it’s one you can reach in a certain amount of time. Be specific when setting your goal. For example, I had a goal when I was 21 to buy my first house at 25. To do that, I had to pay off credit card debt and save around $20,000.00. It was a very boring period where my life was consumed with bills, bills, bills. It had to be done. Whatever your financial goal may be, make a plan on what you have to do to get there.

If you feel you’re in over your head with debt, research some consolidation programs that can help or credit cards with 0% APR where you can transfer a balance. There are options for tackling debt so you have money to save.

If your financial goal is to make $10 million dollars, that’s awesome! It can be done. Just remember that millionaires save their money, not spend it. Especially after learning in their younger years that frivolously spending just leaves you back at the beginning. Sure, you can treat yourself… eventually. If you land a lot of money for the first time, trust that it’s better spent on investments to maintain growth and stability.

Make an investment

To reach your goals, you must make an investment of time and money. My initial investment was the first house I saved for. I wanted to get out of the 9-5, and I knew my goal was to be real estate investor, so I invested in real estate. Maybe your dream is to own a business, or get a degree. Whatever the case, make sure you are building credit. This is a necessity.

Make your dream a reality by getting started on your goal. If you have no credit, get a credit card. Utility bills, rent, and cell phones do not build credit. Starting any business takes capital, which means you’ll need a loan unless you have money waiting on you somewhere. To get a loan you need good credit and a job on the books. That’s it. Once you have those two things, you’ll be on your way.   

Prepare for roadblocks

In any great endeavor, there will be unforeseeable circumstances that will tip you off balance. Life is a series of ups and downs. Sure, you make a plan and expect because things are going great now it’ll always be that way. It’s like the balloon you see floating in the sky. It seems like it’ll float forever, but we know this isn’t true. Sooner or later that balloon’s gonna pop and come crashing back down to earth. 

Taking another direction typically requires more money. And if you’ve lost all your money, that’s a problem. Money in the bank is necessary for when life decides to toss a pin in your balloon just before breaching the atmosphere. There’s no secret to making it around a roadblock: save your money. It makes everything easier.

If you don’t have money, you’ll have to borrow it from someone, which usually causes conflict; or a bank, where you’ll need good credit at minimum. There are loan options for bad credit, but the interest is very high which could lead to more trouble. Sometimes that’s the only way and you have to make it work. If you find yourself at a roadblock, just slow down and prepare to turn.

Always expect for your investment to take longer than you think.

With the roadblocks of life, nothing ever works out exactly as we plan. When we make a goal, it’s good to have a timeline of when you want certain events to happen. It keeps the day to day hustle moving which doubles down your efforts on meeting your goal. But life always happens, and unexpected necessities will pop up, especially if you’re new at something. My first investment took so long, but landed me a quarter million! To the 1%, this is nothing. But to get something bigger and better started, it’s everything. The saying is that the first million is the hardest to make. Be patient and try not to become frustrated when things don’t go as planned. Stay your course and…

Have a backup plan.

The plan B, C, & D are extremely useful when taking the plunge into a new endeavor. Perhaps the most interesting backup plan I’ve ever had was to move to Argentina and become a jazz singer. Guess I wasn’t meant for that life. However wild your plan, it helps to know that if all else fails, there’s something to fall back on. Some people just move back home. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed; failing is giving up completely. No matter the situation, backup plans are there to support continuous movement towards the goal.

Our journeys are unique. Life is easier for some than others, yet the principal remains the same. Focus on the task at hand; make it a priority. Prepare for challenges along the way. And always, always have a back up plan. 

Not ready to invest? Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Financial Security.

What’s your financial goal? Post it below!

The Secret to Success

The Secret to Success

“I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work,” said Thomas Edison after inventing the light bulb. Some people tend to think that success is easy. That if they do their best, or think about winning, fame and fortune will fall into their laps as easy as rain. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. Finding that sweet spot of success comes only after tripping over yourself a few times. Like Edison, we must first find the ways that don’t work before we get the one that does. 

The only real difference between success and failure is giving up. Some people give up before they even start. Whether it’s lack of drive or fear that motivates stagnation, there are plenty of hard workers that prefer to stay in the safe zone. If you never start college, then you can never fail. If you never attempt becoming a business owner, then your ego won’t be butt hurt when the first run doesn’t work out like you expected. It’s not that successful people don’t feel this sting. Our ambition just doesn’t crawl into a hole and die. 

If one way doesn’t work out, it’s not a hopeless cause. Reevaluate what went wrong and try again.  Keep in mind, it takes a long time to truly understand a process. That’s why a bachelor’s degree takes four years, most companies promote at minimum one year of employment, and more often than not, a new company takes a few years to make a real profit. 

People tend to think that simply showing up is good enough. It’s not. If you really want a job or business to work, you have to research how to make that happen, implement advice from those who have done it, practice, and not throw your hands up if things don’t go your way. It won’t more times than it will. Reevaluate and try again. 

The saying “team work makes the dream work” ain’t playin. Any big success story never happened with a single person doing everything solo. Sorry to burst your bubble, but success takes time. More time than many allow for. It takes a team and excellent leadership to keep the ship sailing forward. If a leader is unorganized, unwilling to train, or feels their superiority over employees means the team will take whatever abuse is thrown at them, it’s not going to work. Your team will leave and laugh when your ship sinks. It’s that simple. But it’s not hopeless: learn from the error and do better next time. Don’t just say it, do it. Denying the problem only makes it worse, and prolongs financial stability.

The same goes for trying too hard to please employees. They work for you, you don’t work for them. Set clear boundaries. It’s ok to be liked, but when boundaries are crossed into the friend zone, problems rear their ugly heads. Just like a bitch boss can suck the positivity out of a job, a soft boss can sabotage the business by allowing employees to take advantage of your kindness.  

Successful people understand that employees are a resource. Great leaders respect their team and their efforts while quietly demanding the same respect in return. They encourage, motivate, provide support, and reward accurately. And why not? These are the people making it happen. Without a team, you are nothing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all alone. 

So what do we do if our great idea crashes and burns? Most people will slink away in a cloud of defeat, promising to never expose themselves like that again. Better safe than sorry. Some will pick themselves up out of the mud, evaluate what went wrong by blaming others, and hit it again by stubbornly using the same method that didn’t work the last time. I doubt I need to tell you how that ends up.

Successful people pick themselves out of the muck, brush themselves off, evaluate what went wrong, and hit it again with a different strategy. And maybe this will be the time it works. 

Having problems getting started? Check out Overcoming the Fear of Failure.

How to Save Money

How to Save Money

It’s no secret. The millennial & z generations have it rough. Yes, our forefathers fought in world wars and didn’t have immediate access to information like we do, but at least they could afford to take care of a family with one job. Just a few decades ago, a mechanic or teacher would be able to support his/her family on one income and save money. The cost of college was affordable for the most part, and some state colleges were even free. Not anymore. Today, even lawyers are struggling to make ends meet due to an inflated cost of living and wages staying stagnant. Some boomers argue that this generation is lazy, but they didn’t have the same level competition to get into college or record breaking rental rates we are dealing with today.

Saving money is crucial to a successful future. Not only does it prepare you for a rainy day, but it prepares your credit for the life you may want in a few years. You have to put money down to buy a house. You have to keep a good credit score to qualify for a loan or get a decent rate on a car. The credit companies do not care if you lost your job, or went through hard times. That extra cushion might just get you through the rough patches so you’re still on track when you come out on the other side. You’ll have to make some sacrifices. But if you do, you’ll come out on top instead of scraping by for months or years on end. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Perhaps the best money saving advice ever given: Eat at home.

Not knowing how to cook is not an excuse anymore. For $70 a week, Hello Fresh will send ingredients for three meals and enough food for 2 with the most broken down, simple recipes ever so you can cook like a pro and save $100 or more dollars a week. Have you ever added up your daily $10 lunches per week, or that weekend out with your friends? Odds are, you’re spending way too much money. If you’re a single person, that $70 a week will mean dinner and lunch all week long.

  1. Have friends over instead of going out.

A drink at a bar is at minimum $5 if you’re drinking crappy beer. Realistically, that drink is $7-12 dollars or more. If you drink crappy beer you’re still paying a least $25 when you can get a 6 pack for $12. Not only will staying in save money on drinks, it’ll save you the uber ride home, which adds up astronomically if you’re not careful.

  1. Ditch cable.

Why pay over $100 per month when you can pay up to $25 a month for services like

and other streaming companies? The days of cable are over. You can pay $11 monthly subscription for premium channels like HBO, Showtime, etc. without the hassle of a contract. And for a limited time, AT&T not only offers unlimited data, but if you sign up with a new plan (even if you’re already a customer) they are throwing in 30 free channels PLUS one premium channel FOR FREE! You really can’t beat that.

  1. Transfer your high- interest balances.

Are you only paying the minimum payment on your credit cards? If so, you’re not making a dent in your debt. You’ll be much better off taking advantage of promotions that offer a year or more interest free if you transfer your credit card balance. This will give you time to pay down the actual principal instead of paying interest only. But be careful with this. If the card isn’t paid off by the time the promotion ends, you’ll be stuck with back interest. If transferring a balance won’t work for you, you can also apply for a consolidation loan to lump all your debt into one payment.

These are tough times, bruh. There’s no room for error unless you want to be back in your childhood bedroom, which most people in their 20s and 30s already are. Do what you have to do to get ahead. Make the sacrifices. Wait until you’re secure in your finances before having kids. Successful adulting means learning the most valuable skill to success: saving money.

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For more on money management, check out Building Your Credit 101.