Sometimes the problem isn’t that you don’t set priorities, because you do. The problem could be that you don’t have enough of them to address the things you want in life or the ones you have are simply outdated and fit your current situation like a pair of too tight jeans.

 

Priorities can lose their effectiveness if done in haste and ignored once the ink is dry on that New Year’s list. Three months into 2018 and my priority list is all but null and void because sh*t happens and my priorities weren’t aligned with my realities, optimized in opportunities or adjusted for when life happens. By taking a look at our priorities we can make sure they’re working FOR us as hard as we’re working ON them. Instead of working hard over lackluster priorities, work smarter and be a boss when it comes to setting them effectively with these three things.

-Tailor Priorities to fit Realities

-Make the most of Unexpected Opportunities

-Readjust/Reorder Priorities Often

 

Tailoring Priorities to fit Realities

Just because you scribbled out a list of things you’re working to accomplish on an old piece of notebook paper, doesn’t mean that your priorities are reflecting your realities. They could just simply be reflecting your wants while ignoring your needs. If you place a priority like #1 Retire at age 40 at the top of your list while #25 Is pay off debts, then your priorities are out of wack. Stacking your priorities in the right order can help you accomplish goals faster as they account for your actual situation instead of your ideal one.

 

Making the most of Unexpected Opportunities

I love a good surprise opportunity.

What I don’t love is looking back on them and realizing I didn’t optimize the time and experience of the opportunity because I didn’t include my existing priorities within them. Or I didn’t adjust the priorities to fit the newfound reality of my situation. The opportunity has come and gone while my priority list is still the same sad list written on stale paper. COME ON…we can do better!

When you get an unexpected opportunity like a promotion, trip, raise or network connection; reassess how the opportunity affects your immediate reality so that you can prioritize accordingly. You may just find that one of your priorities has been completed so you can use your freed-up resources for the others on your list. Also, your new opportunity most likely comes with additional resources like time/money/networks that can help you check the boxes on the list of some of your other top priorities.

 

Readjusting Often

It’s important to make sure that your priorities are reflecting what you want and need; you can ensure this by readjusting your priorities often. Just because you put something as your #1 doesn’t mean you can’t drop it down to #3 once something else becomes more imperative to get done. The world is ever-changing and so are we humans, making your priorities a reflection of what’s most important to you is then expected to change often. Grab those priorities by the…uh, Never mind…just tailor, optimize and adjust to take control of those priorities like the BOSS you are.

 

How do you tackle your list of priorities? Comment below and Let’s Talk about it! #LetsBUILD

Come close.

closer…

I am about to give you top secretedy, secret information about the truth of balancing the Army reserves and civilian life.

You’ve seen the commercials that make you want to fist pump and high five yourself because America is amazing.

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Land of the free and home of the bad-asses that protect us.

(At least that’s how the commercial makes you feel anyway)

Then the screen flashes and you see ARMY RESERVES in golden letters calling out for you to take action. Be a boss in your civilian life with transferable skills AND a top notch Soldier when duty calls. It’s as easy as a light switch. Turning on one aspect of your life and switching off the other. They don’t tell you that sometimes it’s a melting pot mess if you’re not careful; even for the anally organized and professional like myself.

Instead you get fed this image

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But what about the cut scene of your boss sighing loudly in a “What the f*** you have another three day drill weekend in the middle of our busiest season!” kinda way?

Here’s the truth about balancing life as a Solider and a civilian from my own experiences and others I’ve been privy to. This  is what your recruiter won’t tell you but what you should know before making the decision to sign on the dotted line.

 

Your boss can’t fire you so suck it up.

It’s true. After being given your drill schedule which usually (I use that term loosely hence the italics) consists of a weekend once a month and a separate full two weeks out the year; your boss cannot fire you for fulfilling your military obligations when called to duty. Even if you’re gone for two years and up to five years. This includes any orders or active duty time that you may get selected for whether voluntary or involuntary.

The fine line with this is that if you have a spiteful boss they can make your work environment uncomfortable, stressful or plain out unbearable. If you can prove this then there are actions you can take to protect yourself under federal regulations that can be better explained with these links:

https ://employment.findlaw.com/wages-and-benefits/military-service-and-re-employment-rights.html

https://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/

However, if I have to force a boss to treat me fairly then I would think that makes a hostile work environment in and of itself. Just saying.

Not to mention the schedule when it comes to being a full time student. You have to take into account that most professors will work with you to help curve any time you miss; however, in an increasingly demanding year you could miss anywhere from a week to almost a month of school in the start of the semester and if you have a professor who’s an ass then that’s a recipe for a disaster. Schools really aren’t required to look out for part-time Soliders.

In being open with expectations and issues with your employers and professors beforehand, also talking with college administration, you can curb some of these issues.

 

Sometimes you can’t be Mary Jane

Yes seriously. For all the reasons discussed above sometimes it will be difficult to give to your civilian job in ways that could help you advance at a faster rate. And vice versa. Balancing your schedule often requires you to shift or cancel things you may have planned in the civilian world based on your military needs. Fulfilling obligations on both sides could leave you in a gray area professionally if you’re not actively paying attention.

 

It pays for school…kinda.

When you’re in your enlisting process you must make sure you get the Montegormy G.I. bill put into your contract before signing your life over. Otherwise, you’re just out of luck. Some recruiters will take the time to explain this to you. Others not so much. I was lucky to have a decent recruiter.

Still, in the terms of hearing “it will pay for school” you will think that comes with a heafty check to the school you’ll be attending. Instead it comes in monthly payments made to you for about $500 to $700 depending on your contract.

You will hear terms like “Kicker” or “ROTC program money” my suggestion is get a good understanding of what financial benefits you’ll actually be getting because after you sign everyone will just assume you know.

There is also something called tuition assistance that can be paired with your scholarships, grants, and G.I. Bill and if used correctly you could graduate with virtually no debt. Oh how I wish someone would’ve told me these things. You’re welcome by the way. At this point it should go without saying that you should definitely read the fine print before signing. Because once it’s signed that’s it; no going back to get extra benefits.

 

 What YOU time?

Your administrators, unit, and superiors expect you to be all that you can be and EVERYTHING else. This includes taking care of military assignments, classes, appointments, staying physically fit etc…much of it on your civilian time. To compound this, your boss will likey expect the same treatment (rightfully so) this can translate into, as I stated in a previous post, this…

110 % to civilian job

110% to military job

40% to family and friends (because you have to fit them in somehow)

and very little, time or energy left over to yourself without some serious organizational planning skills.

I’m not at all saying that there will be no time for yourself and personal goals but you will be in a unique situation where you are expected to perform at 100% from your civilian job and especially for your military job. Make sure that you are planning time to prioritize yourself as well as your jobs.

 

Frenemies

I tell people all the time that me and Uncle Sam have a love/hate relationship when they ask about my military career. It is the most honest representation I could say. Most people have this glorified sense of the military and in some ways it’s justified; not many people are willing to sign over their time (the most precious commodity) to a government with mixed reviews.

 

Regardless of your personal opinion, that in itself is pretty brave. But the truth is being part-time military is in many ways just like any other job with its high points and low points. You are expected to perform specific tasks as an individual and a team player. Often there’s organizational issues,

disagreements, celebrations, and everything else you would find at your normal 9 to 5. Don’t let the stigma of “military” fool you into thinking you can’t provide what is needed to be a Soldier.

 

 FYI

Some people get confused over what the National Guard is compared to the Reserves. The biggest difference is that the National Guard is sorta like a militia for each state. This is where most of there funding comes from and if something like a natural disaster effects that states those are the Soliders you see as responders. Reservists are funded federally. We both have pretty much the same one weekend a month, two weeks out the year obligations. Other branches such as the Air Force and navy offer part time contracts as well. Don’t be afraid to ask or accept a bonus. No you won’t get screamed at every day in training and Yes, it was worth it.

 

My truth

I made many important milestones as an adult as a result of being a Soldier. I wouldn’t trade the experience, growth or financial advancements it has afforded me for anything. I had specific reasons on why I joined that has kept me focused on my military journey. Still, I made mistakes due to ignorance of my benefits and rights; had I’d known much of the information above I could’ve enjoyed an even better experience as a young professional and a Soldier. I hope these truths help you in some way. For questions, comment or email me and #LetsBuild

Ahhhh, it’s that time of year again for the phrase heard around the world.

Come on. You know the one. You’ve even used it before.

NEW YEAR, NEW ME ringing any bells? Well, I’ve decided that instead of attempting to construct a new me; I will just revamp the ME that’s already here!

(I’m Pretty damn awesome already)

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CAUTION: Self Love often mistaken for Selfishness Ahead

 

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I don’t want to make a truck load of changes that I may or may not stick with. I’d rather dedicate this next year to focusing on the most important person in my life.

Again, ME.

Investing in the things that matter to my present and future self could make a world of difference this year.

I came up with this “brilliant” idea one day while contemplating all of the important things I had set up for my 9-5 in January.

All the meetings I needed to take, the phone calls/emails I needed to send out and the programs for the community that would make a difference in others getting a jump-start to their year.

But what about me? What about the real goals that I want to accomplish this year just for myself? Those are just as important. But those things need my TLC as well. Shit, I need some TLC!

So, I decided to not only be the worker bee but Queen Bee.

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I’m spending the month of January setting myself up for success by focusing on my needs, wants and everything in-between. Investing time and money into myself is what this is all about.

All while being unapologetic of course. I hope you decide to do the same.

 

Here’s the tea.

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Financial Empowerment

I started the infamous envelope challenge this December. Basically, I take cash out of my account for bills I don’t pay online. I budget reasonable amounts and place it into envelopes just for groceries, gas, eating out, personal care, rainy day car expenses, and my personal allowance.

NO Cross Sharing cash between envelopes!

I have to say that sticking with this budget isn’t easy but knowing exactly where my hard-earned coins are going has helped me develop a real relationship that treats my doubloons with respect.

Now I don’t get anxiety every time I swipe or constantly worry about being broke when I’m not. Instead, I think long and hard, REAL HARD, before handing over my precious.

This step is important in me getting the most from my money. Now, I actually check my bank account and open my bank statements rather than dodge them like I do the guys in Wal-Mart. My money is working for me now.

Finances and Anxiety under control (Check!)

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Boosting My Passions and Interests

New Blog Look Coming Soon!

Investing into something I am truly passionate about will be the best kick off to the New Year. I’ve placed money aside to upgrade my blog space (YAY) and I’ve also budgeted money to design informational packages for my Let’s Build Mentoring program. I will send these packages to guidance counselors and school officials attempting to garner a partnership.

If you have a business you’re interested in starting up or an endeavor you want to explore; DO IT!

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“But I’m broke”

Okay, listen Linda, tax season is around the corner so set some of that money aside to invest in your interests. OR save up, because it’s worth exploring what interests you and not just working for someone else’s dream or goals.

Making Boss Moves (Check)!

 

Getting My Mind Right

Mental health

I’ve found free sessions with a psychologist who can give me the tools I need to better overcome the mental blocks I face and the anxiety that I deal with.

*Military personnel or families of military personnel can get 6 free sessions for issues they face through military one source Phone: 800-342-9647*

I can get free sessions for anxiety and then turn around and get another 6 free sessions for grief or quarter life crisis https://letsbuildfutures.com/2017/12/12/the-ghost-of-crisis-past/

 

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Spiritual Health

Walks in the park, massages, reading in a quiet little coffee shop; all these things make me feel closer to God because they focus my energy inward. So, I’ve carved out time to do these things to keep my inner self happy and connected.

 

 

This past year I gave all my free time away like Krispy Kreme Hot Sign doughnuts. The more I gave, the more I was expected to give.

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but taking time for myself will give me the energy I need to fully be there for others when they really need.

For you it may be going to church, or hiking….either way make sure you give yourself ample time every week to draw on something bigger than yourself.

Happy, Healthy Me (Check)!

 

 

Ball TF out!

I’m that person who hesitates in spending money on myself but when it comes to my family I throw money and all my free time at them.

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Not this New Year.

I started taking better care of myself in 2017 but I definitely still held back.

I gave 110% to my civilian job

110% to my military job

110% to my family and friends

2% to me/my interests (OKAY….maybe I’m being dramatic but you get the point)

I will be blowing the dust off of my vacation days from work this year.

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I now realize that if I juice everything around me up and don’t give myself time to recharge then nothing gets done. It’s okay to take that mini vacation especially if your work ethic is on point.

My boss, My family and My friends will just have to understand. I will be a little more selfish than they’re use to this year. And it all starts with my birthday in which I will RUN TF OUT.

Because why not? I’ve never heavily splurged on myself because I’m always money conscious but as this birthday approaches I realize that I will only get one chance at my 20s; so why not make the most of them in working hard AND having fun?

“Krystal, you’re so extra.”

Me: “You damn right I am!”

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We always go into the New Year with intentions to change the things we don’t like about ourselves weight, food habits, that pinkie toe that’s a little weird-looking

BUT

why not celebrate what we do like and enjoy.

You don’t have to make a million resolutions you know damn well you’re not gonna stick with. You can, however, pick out the things in your life that bring you joy and focus on that this year because a happier you IS a healthier YOU.

 

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Answers Phone: “New Year, Enhanced Me…Who dis?!”

Loving on Myself (Check)!

 

By now we see Hashtag MONEY MOVES under every Instagram post featuring our fellow entrepreneur, blogger, InstaModel or world traveler (you know the one who always has money and time to travel; it’s questionable as to how and where they get the resources but we’re still jelly).

We equate success and progress with making the green and belittle all the efforts and small wins leading up to the big Payback. We don’t understand that “Making money moves” doesn’t always include money.

money

PIXABAY

Making money moves are those things that put you on a path to becoming profitable enough to sustain yourself through your craft. Networking, business meetings, establishing a portfolio showing off your skills, investing your last $100 into your blog; all those things are #MoneyMoves.

In taking steps to perfect your craft, hone in on your talent and build up your brand you are making moves toward a path that will eventually lead to $$$.

I recently heard an interview given by the beautiful Issa Rae in which she stated (paraphrased) “We focus so much on networking UP and forget to network across to those college buddies, friends, classmates who are on the same level.” How true is that?!

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GIPHY: My best friend is one of my biggest supporters.

Connecting ourselves to others who are pursuing their own goals can provide us with important resources that help in us achieving our goals. Feedback, ideas, and encouragement from former classmates, friends and coworkers have all been useful in making the right moves in my pursuit of success. In my own words, I be getting to the money, slowly but surely.

The process of “getting to the money” is not something we are shown often. Instead, people show the shiny, glittery result of their blood, sweat and tears.

You don’t see the 12 hour workdays, the dozens of meetings with investors or intense workout regime; instead you see a picture of a stack of money posted, six pack abs, a range rover, fancy brunch dates and vacations. Just remember that most entrepreneurs had to hustle their asses off before getting to that point. Most won’t show you that side but trust and believe it’s there.

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GIPHY: “I be getting to the MONEY! ERbody mad!”

I find that conversations with my friends that lead to awesome blog post ideas or networking with followers in their businesses through my social media pages can all be things that lead down a path toward the mean green. We all want our creativity to be valued but let’s not get so caught up with getting the money that we forget the moves are what’s most important.

Moving toward your goal for the right reasons, with the right resources and support will eventually allow you to sip Bahama mamas with your Chanel shades on while being fed grapes by the handsome island boy as your photo is being snapped #Boss #IslandVibes #MoneyMoves #CatchFlightsNotFeelings….in theory. I can dream Damnit!

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GIPHY: We’ll probably never get to this point but we can definitely try!

In the end as long as you’re providing a quality product, service or insight then you should be proud of it. Don’t get so pressed to see monetary success too soon.

Small wins like gaining additional supporters, garnering a partnership as a result of a successful business meeting or even having one person DM/Email you about something you wrote on your blog are all examples of making tremendous money moves absent of money. You are working towards the money by moving in the right direction. Don’t forget it!

 

 

 

Someone or something told me dreams were not for me. Dreams were for the smart or the rich or the lucky; but they were not meant for someone from my background with my skin color. This is true for many underprivileged children. Many of them share the same sentiment without ever realizing it. Dreaming and setting goals can be the difference that changes one’s circumstances from “just getting by” to “flourishing.”

Unfortunately, children from low income homes find it hard to dream past their circumstances; often feeling hopeless in the face of others older and wiser than they having never overcome financial or educational struggles.

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Pixabay

I was 20 before I held my first dream like a precious egg; I was afraid it would break if I neglected it. So I nurtured it as much as I could and fed that dream until it hatched. Eventually, that dream birthed more dreams for me to mother. Up until that point I had made goals for myself that I achieved but to dream was out of the question for me. While setting goals and achieving them is great, a dream transcends you mentally, emotionally, and many times, financially.

A dream is what stirs your passion and gives you butterflies. It’s sad that so many children today will choose only to pursue goals because they view dreams as a luxury. The difference of a goal and a dream is as simple as this:

21 year old Miya comes for a household where income is low. She decided against college because of the cost and set a goal to get her certification as a hair stylist because she loves doing hair and interacting with women. She is eager to earn money to support herself and help her household. This mentality will be how she earns a living for the next 20 years.

as opposed to

21 year old Miya decided to get her certification as a hair stylist and take business classes at her local community college so that she could eventually open up her own salon. She saw spending money to take classes and getting her certification as an investment to her future. Within 20 years she has 2 hair salons, 14 employees and lives a comfortable upper class lifestyle. She is better able to help her family.

In the first example Miya has set a wonderful goal to become a stylist based off of what she loves to do and the immediate financial need of her family. In the second example Miya actively works toward her dream by taking the necessary steps to get there. The second example isn’t likely to happen without emotional mentoring in the form of encouragement.

Too often we allow our own negative life experiences to seep into the advice we give our youth. “That’s too big a dream, aim for something realistic.” We say this in our own paraphrases without understanding the impact it has. Miya likely had someone encourage her dreams and that helped to give her confidence in pursuing them. But how do you do that?

 

How do you dream when you can’t see past your circumstance?

One of the important things I’ve learned is, in order to break down the mental barriers of low income children you must expose them to environments that stimulate their mind and expand their world view. Although I was heavily affected by my circumstances in the teen years of my life, I can attribute my creativity, curiosity, and thirst for knowledge to my childhood. Watching history documentaries or nature shows with my dad for hours expanded my world to places outside of our tiny walls.

Constantly wanting to learn more, being equipped with 9,999 fun facts and being a general nerd has all steamed from him. Watching my mother and sisters create from their own imagination, bringing their passions to physical forms spurred me to play with my personal creativity. Children who are given an alternative way of seeing the world, free from the eyes of financial stress, are better able to dream past their circumstance.

 

It is hard to dream something you’ve never seen.

That’s why connecting children with a mentor can improve the way they view the world and most importantly, change the way they view themselves. Seeing someone living well who shares similar background baggage or physical attributes helps children envision themselves living well, accomplishing the “impossible” and conquering dreams. REPRESENTATION ABSOLUTELY MATTERS! In saying, “If she can make it, then so can I” a child is empowering themselves and establishing that they want more out of life.

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GIPHY

 

Wanting MORE is not a crime

Dreaming bigger than what you’ve personally seen accomplished can feel like a betrayal to those closest to you. It can feel like saying “The way we live isn’t good enough for me.” It can feel like you’re slapping your hard working mother/father in the face.

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GIPHY

The truth is that unless we live a dream realized then we all want more. Some of us just forget that. Even our parents or idols.

Another issue is that not everyone dreams the same. Your MORE may not look like my MORE. My more right now is having a successful mentoring program and middle class lifestyle while my boyfriend’s more comes equipped with extra zeros in his bank account. Similarly, I had completely stressed myself out a while ago wanting more for my mother.

She’s amazing and I think she deserves all the gold in the world. One day in her office at school I asked her “Ma, what did you always want to be or dream about being when you were my age?” I thought she was going to give me some off the wall response like a Hollywood actress, world renowned chef or something. Instead, she peaked at me from the top of her reading glasses and said “I love what I do now. I feed people and get to decorate and be myself. My greatest dream was to be a better mother than I had so anything extra is a blessing.”

(Real tears) I was floored. Here I was wanting a dream for my mother that wasn’t even hers. Her MORE had already been realized through the reciprocated love of her daughters. So wanting more for yourself is nothing to shy away from. Everyone has a “MORE.”

Some people have achieved it and others are afraid to pursue it. Don’t allow worrying about how others view your pursuit of more to deter you from it. As long as you travel the path towards your dream with respect for your past and grace for your future, you will be alright.

To me dreaming doesn’t have to be outrageous. Dreaming for people from households that don’t encourage or talk about the future often involves achieving things that no one else in the family has.

A dream doesn’t have to be something utterly trivial like wanting to be a star NBA player or world renowned author. Most times it’s dreaming of being the first in your family to graduate from college, start a successful business, join the military, travel the world, own a home etc…

In having discussions with others about the difference between setting a goal and pursuing a dream I realized that many people consider dreams those things in our lives that live outside reality and thrive within the probability of winning the lottery. However, to me dreaming often is far smaller than that.

Dreams are linked to our passions, sometimes our talents. Dreams are those things that call out to us from a distance ahead; urging us to take action through pursuit. Our dreams make use restless.

I’m not saying encourage your 35 year old cousin to continue in his pursuit of being a rapper but do offer a healthy discussion about the future with your 16 year old niece who believes she wants to be a surgeon. Help her to envision her dream and find ways to actively go after it.

 

Dream complete

When I was graduating from High School I got asked, “So what are your plans after graduation?;” more times than I can count. No one asked this the other 3 years of my high school life and I honestly don’t think I was really asked that question after the age of 8 when the answers were cute. They included astronaut, policeman, and actress. Once I became older and the reality of adulthood was nye; it became a different ball game in which my answers were expected to be followed up by actions.

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GIPHY: I virtually felt as though I was being thrown into the world of adults vulnerable and unprepared after graduation.

The problem was that since no one had really encouraged me to dream about my future, I didn’t. I was blindsided by the “what next” question that suddenly appeared in my senior year of high school so I only offered a response with no real follow through thinking. “So what are your plans after graduation?” I replied, “I’m going to school to become a psychologist.” Ha! I laugh at this now because man oh man was I clueless in what that pursuit really entailed. At the time it seemed like the best way to fulfill my need to help people.

The topic to dream complete means exactly what it says. Dreaming the process of the pursuit all the way through. Whenever you think about your dream you should make a plan on how to achieve it. Dreaming completely allows you to see your dream in it’s entirety and helps you make the decision on whether it’s really for you or not. Once I realized that I wanted to help people but I wasn’t willing to pursue a PH.D to do it; I changed my major to something more realistic. Encourage the youth, friends, and family in your life to dream complete.

This post in based on my views of what dreams and goals mean. What are YOUR thoughts? Comment below and let’s discuss. #LETSBUILD