Best Entertainment

Christmas Challenge: Post 5

Jup, I missed the deadline for my Christmas Challenge. I am not gonna bore you with the reason for my failure. Let me simply assure you that it is not justifiable, and that I apologize. Not to you, dear reader. I am sure you have better things to do than supervise me keeping my deadlines.

I apologize to myself. For the unnecessary pressure, and for misunderstanding what actually motivates me. It seems publishing deadlines online is not a great motivator for me. It just stresses me out, and inhibits me from enjoying the stuff I do instead. To better understand what motivates me, I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Four Tendencies. Hopefully this’ll help me be a more diligent blogger in 2019.

Anyways, we are not here to talk about 2019 – not just yet, at least. I am determined to finish my Christmas Challenge, despite the missed deadline.

According to my Christmas Challenge overview, this post should be about entertainment. Reflecting on my achievements within entertainment, I wrote… I distinctly remember having a EURIKA thought when writing that, but now… I can’t think of anything but chocolate and carbs. Stupid, wonderful Christmas break, how you mess me up!

Okay, thinking it over, I believe 2018 is the year where I started to really treasure my freetime and, as a result, prioritize how I spend it: The people I see, the amount (and content…) of television I watch, how much I travel… It’s not like I’ve made major changes, but I do believe I have become more mindful about my time. About making the most of it. Which everyone should, I guess, and many probably already do. But to me, this has required a change in mindset.

You see, I always assumed that my job would be my life, my identity. I imagined working crazy hours – we’re talking lawyer or management consulting hours – with Meredith Grey devotion and ambitions in my field of work. However, my current position does not encourage that kind of work ethic, which frustrates and demotivates me.

I feel like a decent amount of potential is hiding somewhere deep inside of me. Unfortunately, I lack the discipline and skill to explore and nurture it. I want.. no, I need people to expect greatness from me, in order to develop and improve. I need a manager to acknowledge my potential and guide me accordingly. I need a respectable system with professional standards to learn from. I… could go on, but then you would probably start to think of me as high-maintenance(!).

When I initially realized that my needs are not met in my current work place, I freaked out. Big time. Mostly about all that freetime, you know – Was I wasting my time, my potential? I guess I probably was, at least for (quite) some time. Stupid Netflix… Then, I realized that the perfect work place is not gonna magically fall on my lap. I have to find (or create?) it for myself. To find it, however, I need to know myself better.

So I started really thinking about and planning my freetime, which involved trying out a lot of new things. Do I like climbing? I don’t know, let’s try it. Does meditating quiet my mind? Let’s see. Maybe I like photography… You see where I’m going with this.

In the end, what started out as an exploration ended up becoming my life. Partly, because I found that I enjoy trying out new things. But more importantly, because I along the way found activities I truly enjoy spending time on. Tennis. Coaching. Networks. Blogging… I started creating a life for myself outside of work, full of joy and ambitions, even, and I couldn’t be happier.

I have yet to find that perfect work place… but now, I at least have fun while searching for it!

Best New Fitness Routine

Christmas Challenge: Post 4

Wow, I seriously did not think I was gonna make it this time! This Christmas Challenge turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. It’s probably not the best idea to challenge yourself during Christmas, where you’re busy with celebrations and eating. Or, I guess that’s what makes it challenging… Anyways, let’s get down to business!

I started my career as a maritime graduate. As such, I spent two year rotating around a Norwegian shipowner and -operator, which was super exciting. However, all the new information and people were also exhausting. Although I felt I was getting a lot of great experience, I also constantly felt like I didn’t know anything. As you can imagine, this was quite tough on the ego.

After a while, I sort of hit a “confidence wall”. Not feeling like I contributed to the development of the organization – being a trainee and all – combined with the constant role as “fly on the wall”, was surprisingly hard. I guess learning was not enough for me, when I did not feel like I got a chance to apply the knowledge to develop myself or my workplace. 

Out of despair, I came to the conclusion that I needed a constant in my life. A skill or hobby of some sort, where I could experience continuous personal development. Preferably, while burning some of the extra calories that came with a fulltime job in shipping…

I searched my mind to determine what to focus on, and remembered how fond I was of playing tennis as a child. Fortunately, I found a tennis club 5 min. from work. – It must have been meant to be! 

I signed up for a couple of sessions, and quickly fell back in love with the sport. Its seemingly elegant but complex technique, and its aggressive but respectful competitive nature suited my personality perfectly. As an added bonus, the light, feminine tennis fashion represented a much-needed contrast to the dark suits at work. 

Throughout 2018, I have spent my Tuesday evenings on the tennis court. No matter how busy work is, I prioritize this one hour every week. Working in a busy and dynamic industry such as shipping, it is amazing to have one thing you can rely on, and where people depend on you showing up to play – and play well. 

You see, the complex technique requires you to be fully in the moment to play well. Thus, I am forced to leave work outside of the court. In that sense, I find tennis rather meditative. At the same time, getting stronger and more skilled is even more rewarding, when you know you have worked hard and focused on it. 

Although tennis is quite the singles’ sport, I enjoy playing with a team. I learn a lot from observing my team members play, and it is highly motivating to share each others’ victories on court. Plus it’s great to have someone to laugh about all our crazy balls with, and the often ridiculous exercises our coach makes us do…

In sum, I never anticipated the healing and fun influence tennis would have on my life. Over the years, I have been through a lot of fitness schemes and played a lot of different sports. However, I can honestly say tennis is the best fitness routine for me – and I look forward to continue playing in 2019! 

Photo credit: Fashion Gone Rogue, I Like Photo, Neiman Marcus

Best Financial Decision

Christmas Challenge: Post 3

I have always been concerned… well, let’s be honest, obsessed with money. Obsessed about making it, and obsessed about spending it.

Wow, what a turn-off introduction, but I promise you there is a point to this disgusting statement. 

My money inflow has always been decent. I was working part-time during my studies, and was privileged enough to receive financial aid from my parents as well as the government (Danish welfare system). Still, my spending got out of control. Just a little and “manageable” bit in the beginning. Then a bit more. Then, I applied for a government-backed student loan…

I was constantly worried and embarrassed about the situation. Not having control over my finances made me feel reckless and immature. For some reason I don’t understand, though, I never seriously tried to solve the problem. I just continuet to ignore it, thinking «next month I’ll do better» – but I never did. Oh, how I wish I could go back and shake myself. 

Fortunately, I landed a great job after uni, which allowed me to repay my student loan within the first year. (Yes, I am very much aware of how privileged I am, and eternally grateful to my parents and the Danish welfare.) I was so thrilled to be free of the financial burden, and shame that came with it. 

Still, I was concerned about my spending patterns: Am I spending too much on clothes? How much am I actually spending on food… and alcohol? Can I actually afford this weekend trip? Even more worrying, though, was the fact that I was not consciously saving money. Living on a financial month-by-month basis made me feel trapped, and fearful about the future. 

Two years into my job, though, I finally had enough of this constant worry. I was looking at apartments with my boyfriend, and seeing what money can buy – if you are smart about them – had a maturing effect on me. Especially, the exercise of calculating our apartment budget and repayment profiles. 

The greatest lesson of all came when we actually bought an apartment. This is when I  truly started to appreciate the concept of automatic payments. Although I was somewhat familiar with the concept, I had never really appreciated its relieving effect. Yes, it is nauseating to see that big, fat outstanding loan on my bank account statement. However, knowing that it is automatically being taken care of, and seeing the amount decrease is extremely satisfying.

This experience made me realize how liberating it would be if I completely automated my finances. Enter – at last – this year’s BEST FIANCIAL DECISION! Whoo whoo whoo! 

Here are the steps I went through to automate my finances: 

  1. Appreciating my income, by understanding what I actually make, and the possibilities and limitations my salary represents
  2. Understanding my spending, by categorizing all my purchases in my online bank account (yes, it took several Grey’s Anatomy episodes to do) 
  3. Optimizing my spending, based on my income, current spending, and financial goals (to me, this approximately means 40% on housing and repayment of loan, 20% on savings, and 40% on “me stuff”)
  4. Automating distribution of my income, by setting up automatic payments in my online bank account for the entire year, based on point 3

Now, I only have available on my account the money I am “allowed” to spend that month. The rest automatically goes to the repayment and savings accounts.

I have set up my system, so the money always gets a bit tight at the end of the month. I find this teaches me a valuable lesson on how I actually want to prioritize my money. In the beginning, it was a bit stressful, because I had yet to fine-tune the automatic payments (I initially tried saving much more, on account of my personal spending). However, now I have optimized and adapted my spending. 

Although I guess this system is basically a budget, it feels less restrictive because everything goes on “behind the scenes”, leaving me with a chunk of money I can spend however I like. I don’t know… I have probably not invented the wheel here. But this system works for me, and that I am so happy to no longer worrying about my spending and savings. Thus, this is the best financial decision I have made this year – nay, in my life! 🙂