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Friday, November 16, 2018

Writing a Personal Mission Statement | Step 1

image via (if you know the original source, please let me know!)
Happy Friday everyone! I hope you are excited about all the holiday content I have coming your way in the next few weeks. I know that not everyone is a Christmas fanatic, so I want to keep mixing in my normal content during the next month and a half, but still tie it into the season.

Today, I'm sharing about my experience working on a personal mission statement. I'll admit that I haven't devoted too much time to this yet because I know that it is a huge undertaking. I first discovered the idea of doing this through the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book, and I think that this is a perfect exercise to prepare for a new year.

The Franklin Covey Company was created based on Steven Covey's leadership center, as he is the author of the 7 Habits book. On the website, you can take free assessments that help you narrow down your goals, values, and write your very own mission statement.

Because I was hesitant about jumping into the deep end of this project, I started by 'discovering my values,' which is like a small-scale version of the full Mission Statement Builder. This assessment asks you a set of short answer questions and then has you reconstruct your responses into full sentences to make a mock mission statement. Through answering the questions, I was able to pick out key themes in my values, such as:
  •  commitment to family
  • developing strong ethics and practicing them in my daily life
  • loyalty to friends and the expectation of the same in return
  • understanding success as a product of intangible goals, rather than material possessions
During the month of December, I'm going to share how I took the initial mock mission statement and turned it into a working document to guide the new year. Follow along with me by completing the "Your Values" assessment now and building upon your results in the next month!
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

10 Easy Ways to Host a Waste-Free Holiday


Happy Wednesday and welcome to my first holiday post of the season! Since Thanksgiving is only a week away (crazy), now is the perfect time to start planning your menus and getting everything ready for guests. It's also the perfect time to start thinking about how to reduce waste this holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is so much excess that can get thrown out, so I wanted to share ten ways that you can eliminate waste this holiday season.


ONE | Plan in advance! If you know that you end up with too many leftovers each year, try cutting back on a few sides and skip buying every type of pie that the bakery has to offer. You'll spend less and end up with less leftover food that goes to waste.

TWO | Though it might seem easier for setup and clean up, don't use disposable plates, cups or utensils for your holiday dinners. Instead, opt for reusable glasses, metal utensils, and ceramic tableware. Also, dishwashers are more efficient than washing by hand, so when you can, use your dishwasher to reduce wasted water and energy. It is also recommended not to rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, so just wipe off excess food scraps into a compost bin or garbage and then put your used dishes in the dishwasher to run (once full!)

THREE | Compost the food you don't use. When you are cooking, make a compost pile and throw any food scraps in there. After eating, wipe plates clean into the compost bin also. Same goes for leftovers. Some cities actually mandate composting, while others don't, but it's such a great way to reuse your food -- once your compost is made, you can use it for growing your own vegetables and herbs.

FOUR | Speaking of leftovers, it's likely that you won't be able to eat everything yourself. Distribute leftovers between guests and wrap everything in reusable glass Tupperware or mason jars.

FIVE | When purchasing holiday decorations, buy things that you know can be used year after year. My family had custom wreaths made years ago for our home at Christmastime, and now when we purchase decorations, we make sure that they go with what we already have. We also have a set color scheme for our Christmas tree and reuse the same ornaments each year (see above). We've kept a few of the novelty Christmas ornaments that we really love and my siblings and I each have our own mini tree where we can display our novelty ornaments.

SIX | When sending invitations to family dinners, holiday parties, and new year's eve events, try sending the information via email, text, Facebook, or a virtual invitation company like Paperless Post. Odds are that your guests will look at the invitation once to write down the date on their calendar or add it to their phone, then throw the piece of paper away. Using a virtual invitation tool reduces your paper waste. You might also opt to send your holiday cards over the Internet as well.

SEVEN | Limit your physical gift giving. If there is something you know someone really needs (like a new pair of snow boots) or this is an item they will absolutely love, then feel free to purchase a gift. But in the spirit of zero-waste, gift your loved ones with experiences you can share together. I'll be sharing some great experiential gifts in the coming weeks.

EIGHT | If you decide to purchase physical gifts that must be wrapped, choose eco-friendly wrapping options. Use repurposed materials like newspaper or brown paper bags for a fun touch on gift wrap. If you have gift bags lying around from years prior, reuse the old bags to wrap new gifts. 

NINE | You can also get creative and put gives inside a reusable wooden advent calendar, a stocking, or gift a reusable shopping bag and fill it with other gifts. This is like getting two gifts in one!

TEN | Purchase a real Christmas tree instead of a fake one. Not only will it make your whole house smell wonderful, but it is also decomposable. Unlike a fake tree that is laden with plastics, your real tree can break down much more quickly and return to the soil to nourish other growing trees. I would also recommend purchasing your real Christmas tree from a local nursery, which helps support small businesses during this time of year.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Beauty Benefits of Biotin


Just two months ago, I couldn't grow out my nails. They would constantly bend and break, the corners would crack, and I had to keep them short since they weren't strong enough to be long. By comparison, over the past week, my nails had gotten so long that I literally could not wear my contact lenses without injuring myself. While I partially have regular at-home manicures to thank, I also have to attribute most of this change to my daily use of biotin supplements. 

Biotin is a B-vitamin that is used to keep nails strong, make your hair stronger, and prevent split ends and other hair damage. When you take biotin, you produce the amino acid keratin (just like all those keratin hair treatments), which is why biotin is known to be good for your hair and nails. Biotin is also supposedly good at keeping skin clear and nourished. 

Over the past two months of taking biotin, I have definitely noticed some changes to my hair, nails, and skin. First and foremost, my nails are way longer now and much stronger than before. They do sometimes still break but much less frequently and not as badly as in the past.

As for my hair, it is definitely growing! In mid-September, I got the slightest trim so that my hair wouldn't grow out weirdly from my angled bob, and I can tell that it is slowly but surely getting longer. I don't want to cut my hair again until the weather gets warmer, so I appreciate the extra length to keep me warm in the cold weather. I also feel that my hair has been shiny, has less breakage, and requires less maintenance than before. I have also been trying to wash my hair every other day (more on that coming soon!) and I think the combination of the two has helped. 

Lastly, my skin has seemed more plump and dewy the past few months. I am really glad about this since colder weather can tend to make skin very dry. I'm not 100% sure that it's because of the biotin, but I think only time will tell. I have also been using the Saturday Skin Waterfall Glacier Water Cream as my moisturizer. I just ran out of this product so my skin might change again with a new moisturizer. 

All in all, I would highly recommend taking biotin supplements, particularly if you are trying to grow your nails. I think the supplements have done wonders to help this and I am loving the results I see.

Have you tried any vitamins or supplements that have made a big beauty difference? Share below!
Friday, November 9, 2018

Cozy and Sustainable/Ethical Fall Clothing


This fall more than ever, I am dreaming of cozy days wrapped in blankets while drinking coffee and reading a good book. Though I love the fall temperatures in the 50s and 60s, I know that colder days are around the corner. I wanted to share some great loungewear pieces with you that also are made by great companies supporting ethical and environmentally-friendly fashion.

FLEECE CREWNECK | This sweatshirt from Everlane is made from 35 renewed plastic bottles and is part of the ReNew collection, which is the beginning of Everlane's efforts to cut out all virgin plastic. Plus, Everlane prides itself on its transparency, which is one of my top five wear-no-evil factors.

WINTER BEANIE | This Patagonia beanie is made from 96% recycled polyester materials. Some of the items recycled to make the fabric include old plastic soda bottles and worn out clothing garments. Patagonia also supports fair trade working conditions and safe factory environments and clearly outlines their supply chain practices online.

IVORY SLIDES | These Everlane sandals are the perfect shoe to throw on quickly if you need to run outside and take a break from cozying up by the fire. They are made from leather, so vegans beware, but they look like the comfiest slide that will last for a long time.

CABLE KNIT SWEATER | Another Everlane piece here, but this one is a bit more dressy if you need to use it for less casual occasions as well. The cable knit and mockneck make this the perfect thing to wear if you want to stay warm at home but paired with some stretchy pants and booties, this sweater would also be perfect for a comfortable Thanksgiving Day outfit.

PAJAMA SET | Reformation has the cutest pajamas, and though this set is shorts and a short sleeve tee, the print just screams fall! This is a great wear-pajamas-all-day set for weekends spent indoors. The set is 100% made from the recyclable fabric TENCEL and saves you 15.36 pounds of carbon dioxide, just under 1150 gallons of water, and 1.31 pounds of waste.

BLANKET SCARF | The blanket scarf pictured above is from Bloom and Give. The scarfs are hand-loomed and packaged in reusable cotton bags. 50% of all profits are donated toward programs for female education. I wasn't able to link this same scarf in the widget below, so instead, I linked a very similar one from Eileen Fisher, whose company is one of the most well-known for sustainability initiatives.

SWEATPANTS | There is nothing quite as wonderful as waking up on the weekend and not having to get dressed in fancy pants that day. Sometimes I'll opt for leggings or yoga pants, but these Reformation sweatpants are the perfect combination of both (and in a great holiday red, to boot). They're made from surplus fabric and save 15 pounds of carbon dioxide, 766 gallons of water, and just under 1 pound of waste.
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Personality Tests That Will Give You Real Results


Personality tests are one effective way to learn more about your skill set, your work style, and how you interact with others. This doesn't mean the Facebook tests that tell you when you'll find your soul mate based on what you ate today. If you've taken a business class before, you've probably been exposed to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test or something similar. These tests are very common in the corporate world and though people debate how accurate the tests are, they are especially good if you want to develop a self-awareness about how you interact with others and engage with the world.

Below, I'm going to share 5 different personality tests that I have taken, how I scored, and why the test has value. Each one of these tests has played a role in my personal development by exposing a different part of my personality. By taking more and more of these tests, you can develop self-awareness and recognize patterns in your behavior that will help make you a better leader.

MYERS BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR
My Results: ENFJ or ESFJ
What The Results Mean: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI) test breaks down personality into 4 binary categories. The first is introversion or extroversion (I or E) - my score in this category is E. The second category is sensing or intuition (S or N) -- in this category I go back and forth. I've taken the test multiple times and depending on what is going on in my life, sometimes I am more intuitive about the big picture, whereas other times I am extremely detail oriented and sense every tiny thing that goes on. The third category is thinking or feeling (T or F) and I am a feeler all the way! This means that I make decisions using emotion more so than logic or rationality. The fourth category is judging versus perceiving (J or P) and I am also a very strong J in this category. The J and P nomenclature is a bit outdated, but it mostly has to do with whether we prefer to live in a structured (J) or flexible (P) way.
How to Use this Test: One of the ways that I have used this test most when working in groups has to do with my Judging component. I know that I like very structured environments, going into meetings with a plan, and accomplished a certain amount within a certain time frame. If I am working with other people who have more of a P tendency, I know to account for this and to prepare for meetings in advance or take charge of establishing a schedule. Also, if I am working with others who are more introverted than myself, I use this to my advantage by making sure to ask for their input regularly and allowing for processing time before making big decisions.
Note: The above link is to a free version of this test, whereas you have to pay for the official test. When you take the official version of the test, you are given your results on a sliding scale, which is why I said that I am a very strong J, but I might sway back and forth between S and N because I hover near the middle of the scale.

CLIFTONSTRENGTHS STRENGTHS FINDER
My Results: Discipline, Empathy, Developer, Positivity, Achiever
What the Results Mean: When you take the Strengths Finder test, you are given your Top 5 strengths out of 34 total. I matched mostly to Discipline, which says that I require an orderly world and predictable schedules. Empathy means that I am good at sensing the emotions of people around me and anticipate the needs of others. Developer means that I see potential in others and want to help people achieve success. Positivity is an indication that I offer generous praise, celebrate achievements, and think positively of situations. Achiever is my fifth most prominent trait and it explains a constant need to achieve and accomplish something each and every day.
How to Use this Test: This test is great for helping broadly direct a career path or showing you what skills you are inherently good at. If you have the feeling of not knowing what to do with your life or that you don't have any skills, taking the Strengths Finder test can help you by highlighting some of your interpersonal capabilities. For example, I was not surprised to find out that I require discipline, but knowing that I am skilled at empathy and being a developer is beneficial because I can use that to my advantage when friends come to me for advice or when working with teammates. This is also helpful because it can guide me toward careers that would allow me to regularly practice empathy, positivity, and discipline.
Note: The version linked above is the official version, but you must pay to take the test. A similar free version of this kind of test can be found here.

PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS QUOTIENT ASSESSMENT
My Results: Mostly Effective (70) with Problem Areas in Being proactive and Seeking first to understand
What the Results Mean: The Personal Effectiveness Quotient (PEQ) comes from the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I talked about here. This assessment produces a scoring system where below at 64 is "less effective," between 65-84 is "mostly effective," and above 85 is "highly effective." I scored in the middle with a raw score of 70. The median score is a 74.5. In some areas, such as Putting first things first, I scored very highly. Because I like to schedule my time, plan ahead, and set boundaries for myself when it comes to accepting commitments, this was not surprising to me. In other areas, such as Being proactive, I scored less highly. In this area, I tend to not enjoy confrontation, let situations and outside circumstance affect my productivity, and want to have control over everything. From my experience with other tests, I was also not shocked that I performed less well in these areas. My second problem area was Seeking first to understand. Although I have empathy for others emotions and want to develop people for success, I have the tendency to run with my own ideas when I think they are good and spend less time listening to the thoughts of others.
How to Use this Test: One of the most striking comments from this book is about how there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. You might be very efficient and get a lot done in a short amount of time, but that does not always mean that you completed those tasks as effectively as possible. Taking this test gave me critical information about when I am efficient but not effective - namely, when I don't take the time to hear out other people's ideas and perspective because I am too caught up in my own idea. Knowing this has helped me to be more mindful of how I approach situations when I think I have the perfect answer. This test is not only helpful in a business setting, but also when dealing with friendships, family relationships, and personal growth.
Note: Be sure to copy the registration code to your clipboard so you can take the test for free!

DELOITTE BUSINESS CHEMISTRY
My Results: Integrator and Guardian
What the Results Mean: The consulting company Deloitte created a new type of personality test, which is used to evaluate team relationships among employees. But you don't have to work for Deloitte to take this test! Every person falls into one of the four Business Chemistry quadrants, while some people (like me) fall in between two. As an Integrator, I am relationship-oriented, empathetic (surprise!), and reluctant to create conflict. As a Guardian, I am methodical, loyal, and respect hierarchy and formal rules and structures. 
How to Use this Test: This test is great for not only finding out about yourself, but also learning how to work well with others. By "creating a hunch" about someone, you answer a series of questions about how they behave and respond in various work settings, and as your result you are told both which of the four quadrants this person falls into and tips for interacting with this person effectively.
Note: This test was administered to me by a Deloitte team during one of my business classes at school, but you can find the same results from home. Make a free account for Business Chemistry. Once you get to the home page, you can self-assess by "creating a hunch" and answering the questions for yourself, instead of in relation to another person.

FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES
My Results: Words of Affirmation and Quality Time
What the Results Mean: The 5 Love Languages explains ways that people connect, and helps you figure out which ways you prefer to bond in relationships. For me, my top language is 'words of affirmation,' which means that I like receiving praise and compliments, and insults stick with me for a long time. For this love language, it is important that the compliments are given through someone's own doing, not because I told or asked them to. My secondary language is 'quality time,' or having someone's undivided attention for a period of time with no distractions or interruptions. 
How to Use this Test: Though this test is designed mostly for romantic relationships, I think that it can easily be applied to other environments as well. For example, it really bothers me when I am working with a group and someone is not fully engaged in the project (simultaneously texting, working on another assignment, or surfing the web) -- and this translates to the whole 'quality time' language. I also really value when friends offer enthusiastic, honest, and encouraging words, especially when they are given spontaneously. If I am working on a team project, I like for my teammates to build me up in this way, and I simultaneously like to publicly acknowledge great ideas and hard work that my teammates put in as well.
Note: Whether you are using this test for help in your personal relationships or your professional ones, it is important to note that not everyone gives and receives "love" the same way. I might like offering compliments to a coworker because that is how I would like to receive "love," but maybe that coworker would prefer that I provide an act of service or bring them their favorite treat to the team meeting (receiving gifts). Additionally, you might have different preferences for giving and receiving love -- getting gifts was lower on my list of languages, but I absolutely love when I find the perfect gift for someone else and know that they will really like it!

Do you have a favorite personality test that isn't mentioned here? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!