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How 5 Lessons I Learned from a Furlough Can Help You in Today’s Economy

In the days before Christmas 2018, I’d been working as a writer and editor for a federal agency when I learned we needed to prepare for a possible government shutdown. 

On December 22, 2018, part of the federal government did shut down. In my office, the shutdown meant we were furloughed alongside hundreds of thousands of others. We could not report to work or receive pay; meanwhile, other federal employees had to work without pay.

I never imagined the shutdown would extend for more than a month, into 2019, and become the longest federal shutdown in history. You’d think I would have been worried, but I felt fine.

During that time, I did freelance work, reduced my expenses (while still enjoying life), kept my mindset positive, and more. In the end, the furlough was a helpful part of my financial journey.

If you want to learn more about working for yourself, I’m opening up a few spots in my coaching calendar to help anyone who wants a free chat about how to write or edit professionally—or how to move up in your career or make extra money freelancing from home.

Recently, I wrote about this furlough experience for Business Insider. You can read the entire article—including details on my five personal finance tips for then and now—on BusinessInsider.com.

And if you’re looking for a way to make extra money now (like I did then), it is possible. If you want to learn more about working for yourself, I’m opening up a few spots in my coaching calendar to help anyone who wants a free chat about how to write or edit professionally—or how to move up in your career or make extra money working from home. Because we do have some options, even when times are hard. And it can help to learn, and then take steps to get there.

P.S. In the end, the furlough confirmed for me (like other things in my life) that many events can help us grow. And even things that seem bad for us at first can be helpful. At least … they’ve been helpful for me.

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The World Still Needs Our Skills and Small Businesses

Pondering life in Washington, DC, in this throwback photo.

We’re in difficult times now. The news is sad, and this pandemic has changed our everyday lives and movements in ways we’ve never seen. As we’ve been encouraged to physically distance—leading to stay at-home-orders and business shutdowns—I’ve been thinking about what it means to own a business. And the role we can play in our economy, even as the economy contracts.

I settled on this: The world still needs our skills and small businesses. And we should continue to market them. Even now.

If you work as a consultant or freelancer, or own a small business, you might wonder if it’s still okay to sell your services. I wondered about this myself, especially since I’ve been developing more offerings for my success coaching program. And after doing some reading on this topic, I think it’s absolutely okay to market our services. And that we should.

⁣Small businesses contribute to the economy. And small business owners need our help right now. I just bought a face mask and earrings from Etsy sellers. I’m still assigning stories to writers as part of my consulting work.

For my part, I’m going to keep writing for media outlets and clients, working to grow my business, and supporting other business, too. If you’re able, I hope you will join me in giving that support.

With this in mind, I’m also keeping a few spots in my coaching calendar available for anyone who wants a free chat about how you can find success working for yourself (including as a writer or editor); find new clients; or just make extra money on the side, from home.

Our stories should be told. And companies still need help telling theirs.

Please feel free to email me or comment to learn more. Or if you just want a word of encouragement.

Your wellness matters. And your work does, too. ✨

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Video: 7 Ways to Fight Loneliness

Did you know feeling lonely can affect your health? It’s been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diminished sleep quality, and more, even after controlling for various other factors, reports University of Chicago Medicine.

And with social distancing in effect, we can really feel lonely. ⁣

I reported on this topic for Sisters From AARP, where I’m a freelance contributing editor— and again, just recently, on my YouTube channel.

In this new video, I reveal seven ways to grow your relationships and feel more connected. Right now. ⁣(Even if you watch this video after distancing has been lifted in your area, the tips still can apply.)

Please watch and share. And feel free to subscribe to my channel.

How are you feeling as we physically distance? ⁣I hope this info helps you or someone you know. 🖤

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Video: How to Stay Calm in the Stock Market

Emotions are understandably high now as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. These days, the stock market is up and down, employment situations are becoming more shaky, and times can be hard as we physically distance. But if we can keep our emotions out of investing, that change can help us in that arena at least.

I’v been busy writing and editing the last few weeks, with a major focus on wellness and personal finance. As we continue to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and watch the news from home, things can be difficult. Which is why I’ve been making an effort to deliver positive news as I can.

With all of the writing I’ve been doing on personal finance, including a story on six things to know about investing for Sisters From AARP (where I’m a freelance contributing editor), as well as my articles for Business Insider (where I’m a contributor, too) it seemed like an appropriate time to do a quick video message, too.

Please watch the video to see more on why we shouldn’t panic about investments now (including our retirement accounts and others), even though we’re in turbulent times. I think points two and three—on keeping emotions out of investing and understanding that the market will turn around—are especially key to remember.

Sending you all my best during this time.

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I Changed My Travel Plans Because of COVID-19. Why I’m Not Changing My Investment Strategy

I was scheduled to travel to Germany from DC during the first week of March and had been looking forward to the two-week trip. I thought the European travel would give me time to see the sights, write, and rest.

But then news of the spreading coronavirus and its fallout began to get worse, and I read about travel restrictions, quarantines, illness, and deaths. It was sobering — and really sad. I realized I needed to cancel my trip. In the days that followed, I watched the markets fall and saw worldwide news continue to worsen.

But even though reports have been rough, I’m not panicking. And even though I’ve changed my travel and social plans to be cautious, I haven’t changed my investment plans.

I’ve been writing about personal finance quite a bit lately, as the coronavirus pandemic also has had a real effect on our money. In this story for Business Insider, I revealed the three reasons why I’m leaving my investments as is.

The short version: I can stick with my investment plans because I have savings, I trust the market will recover, and I know the market isn’t the place to be emotional.

Check out the full story for the details, including info on how to avoid being an emotional investor—and why I think this market situation will change.

And feel free to pop onto on my Instagram page to tell me what you think about this topic. No matter what, I know this time is tough. Hope you are hanging in there as much as you can.

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Unconditional Love: Should it Be the Goal?

Love. We want it. Need it. Even during this time of social distancing due to the novel coronavirus. Maybe we need love even more now so we can try to manage issues related to isolation and loneliness. (I’ll have a post on these issues soon.)

But should love be given without any conditions? And can we control who we love? Had another discussion on my YouTube channel with guest Damien Dubose to discuss how adults can show love—whether in romantic relationships, friendships, or with family. We limited the talk to adults, because the relationships people have with children shouldn’t be subject to conditions. But for adults, who decide how to treat us—and for us, as we decide what kind of treatment to accept—the question of love without conditions can get interesting.

Tune into the video to see what we settled on and feel free to tell me what you think. Also feel free to subscribe to my channel (username: lesliequander) for future content.

Finally, no matter what, love is important. But if you’re looking for more practical tips on how to handle social contact now, see this related post from Johns Hopkins Medicine. As we continue to practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, I’m wishing you the best and hope you can stay safe.

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Snapshot: Even Hard Days Can Lead to Joy

Look deeper. Feel stronger. Go farther. Be you.

Just a reminder that even the hard days—when you look in the mirror, and feel confused and tired—even these days can lead to joy.

I am in a great place now as a writer and editor working with national media outlets and other national clients. I’m thankful for this. But I had to start somewhere and learn along the way.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the early part of my early career, and ruminating on Instagram. So I figured I’d make a note here, too.

I’ve had success over the years. But these days, I still make an effort to network. And continue to amplify my knowledge by reviewing information from reputable sources and experts.

In my goal to help others, I also provide coaching to help people get started with professional writing—and to help them find success and branch out. Always feel free to contact me if you have questions about what I do. I’m happy to help and want you to know success is possible.

For now, I’m recognizing you if you’re trying to motivate yourself to go after a goal. Or pushing through difficult times. Believe in your purpose. And I’ll believe with you.

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Dating: Why We Need Boundaries—and How to Create Them

Whether I’m editing a story about relationships or writing one, dating is a subject that can be top of mind for me—and lots of us. Millions of us, perhaps. (More than 110 million Americans were single in 2016 alone, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2017, with millions now dating online and beyond.)

But all of this dating isn’t going well, as you might know if you’ve dipped into these waters.

I figured it was time to talk about this topic on video. Especially since, when it comes to men and women who are dating, there can be miscommunications about intentions, what people really want vs. what they accept…and more.

I mean, we live in the era of ghosting. Clearly some things aren’t right.

These discussions also led me to reinvigorate my YouTube channel, which you can find at www.youtube.com/user/lesliequander. So, please view this video I did with Damien Dubose—I wanted to include the male side of the discussions I’ve been having—and tell me what you think.

“Women need to demand more.” Watch my YouTube channel for the rest—including how to do it.

We talked about wanting to be asked out vs. being asked to “Netflix and chill,” what it means to have standards and really enforce them, and people who pretend to care—but don’t.

He started by telling me: “Women need to demand more.”

Mic drop. (But we kept going!)

Do listen, and please subscribe to my YouTube channel for more on relationships, writing, wellness, and more.

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What We Can Learn from the Past—and These Spanish Towers

At the top of the Torres de Serranos, a landmark structure in Valencia, Spain.

When it comes to the past, I’ll say this: Don’t forget about it. Learn from it.

If you feel compelled to wallow or to beat yourself up about decisions you made in the past—or things that you endured—this advice holds true for you, too. We can be hard on ourselves. But the past is our teacher, and for that it’s valuable. The present is ours to treasure. And the future will come—ideally.

Looking at this photo, I can still remember how this day truly felt as I sat high on top of these landmark towers in Valencia, Spain. It was a peaceful yet brilliant series of moments.⁣ Sunny. Clear. Anything felt possible. I was in the present moment, and yet able to look back on what I’d learned.

It was a fitting place to reflect. These towers began to be constructed in 1392 and were used as both “a defensive feature of the city and also as a triumphal arch,” according to VisitValencia.com. Think about that. They’ve stayed strong for hundreds of years, through some difficult times. And somehow continued to be triumphant.

We can be the same way. ⁣Minus a few centuries. 😉

These days, I’m grateful for my growth. I can remember the high points—so wonderful when they come—and the lows. These things work together for our good. ⁣

A street view of those landmark towers.

I’ll share more from this time in Spain, and am looking forward to writing and teaching more on wellness and success in the coming weeks. Are you looking for growth or coaching support in these areas? Feel free to email me.

Wishing you well for now. And glad to have hope and faith.

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Snapshot: It’s Good to be Content Alone

Solo travel in Valencia, Spain.

This is what I’m thinking about. And it’s funny that this comes to mind as I’m reporting a freelance story on dating. But these thoughts come when they do.

The reason? I’ve been traveling again, and I’ve had the best times strolling around the world by myself. Seriously. I mean, it’s nice to roam with people, too. But there’s something about doing whatever you want, whenever you want.

So I’m popping in to share this related Instagram post. ⁣What do you think? Can you roam solo—even in your hometown? Can you go to shows alone, eat out alone, even explore alone?
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If you haven’t lately, do try it. Even for an hour or a day. No harm in it. When it comes to writing, it’s actually one way to get some really great story ideas…that you can eventually share with the world. Or not. (For more tips on how to find writing inspiration, please read my related blog post.)
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And if you have thoughts, comment here or come tell me on Instagram! We had some great exchanges about how our relationships can be affected if we’re not open to spending time solo.

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