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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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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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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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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6 Rules Any Investor Should Follow

I love writing about personal finance and helping people learn how to meet their goals in this area. That said, when it comes to investing, I know it can feel overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. And even if you have experience, it never hurts to keep learning and improve your strategy.

For instance, many of us may have learned more about shoe shopping than buying stocks—and we pay for this lack of knowledge when we miss out on the returns investing can bring.

Meanwhile, some people in older generations are working longer than they’d planned. So it’s important to have an effective investing strategy for the short and long term.

To help, I recently wrote about six key investing tips for Business Insider.

Topics include:

ŸŸŸŸ–what to know about emotional investing (there are ways to avoid it)

–what it really means to diversify your portfolio (people are getting this wrong, ya’ll); and

–how much cash it actually takes to start (it’s not as much as you might think).

So how much do you actually know about investing?

Read the story to see my six tips to help you get started or grow your money. Then feel free to comment or email me and tell me what you think!

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Growth Is the Goal

As this month comes to a close, I’m reminded of what I’ve learned. The new things I’ve tried. The myriad opportunities that are here now and ahead.

I’ve accomplished a lot, and you probably have, too. So you also probably realize that success isn’t immediate. The best ideas can start with a seed that then grows and matures. And growth—through life’s storms and during the sunny days—is what matters.

So as long as you’re moving, learning, being challenged, please keep going. It’s actually good when life isn’t simple. It’s good when we face challenges. The things we’ve beaten can prepare us for the next round of the fight.

These things can prepare us for big victories.

So, like the sunflowers of summer–and those that will sprout this fall (I can’t wait to see those!)–let yourself grow.

Look to the light. Start that new venture, pitch that story, write that book, have that key conversation. Do the things you’ve been wanting to do.

Experience it all. And let yourself live.

For more views of these gorgeous flowers and my latest musings on writing and life, please visit me on Instagram.

And if you need a hand with your writing projects or career goals, see this page or this one for details on how I can help.

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Snapshot: Learning from Life’s Storms

Storm clouds roll in above a DC city scene.

The clouds came in quickly. One minute the sky was bright and sunny. Then, suddenly, grayish black. With fat raindrops beginning to fall. ⁣

I didn’t have my umbrella. So I waited inside. And it passed. The storm, that is. It passed…like they always do. That’s the part to remember. ⁣

When we’re in the middle of difficult situations, it can be hard to see past the rain, and the distractions, and the stress. When it comes to writing, for instance, rejections are part of the game. Having to learn new skills and processes, and frustration with that learning curve, can be, too.

But we have to know that these things can’t last forever. That we’ll get better. And that we can withstand the hard times to get to the good ones. Nothing worth having comes without some struggle.

Adjusting our mindsets can help during turbulent times. And actually, speaking of mindset, we can notice beauty (like in this street shot I captured) even when the bleakest clouds come in.

Have you been surprised by a storm? Remember that it won’t last forever. Be calm in the moment. And realistically (all metaphors aside), carry an umbrella to be prepared. Mine is now securely back in my bag. ☺️

Please feel free to leave a comment here, or share with me on Instagram @lesliequander.

And if you want help with the storms that can accompany getting your writing or communications career going—whether it comes to pitching yourself or just having the confidence to start—please let me know. I have advice for that, too. ✨ ⁣

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Want Success? Freedom? Why It Starts in Your Mind

I’ve been feeling free. Light. Accomplished. And extra independent. Things I’ve been wanting and working toward are happening. It feels great to see things that I’ve imagined actually come to pass in real life.

And that is the key, in part. The thought. The willingness to believe that good things are coming and that I am—and we are—worthy of them.

Our thoughts matter and can affect our bodies, our lives, and our experiences. This concept shows up in science, in the law of attraction, and even in faith-based teachings.

So if you want to feel free—or more successful, content, or relaxed—a big way to shift is within your mind.

For example, taking time to think kind thoughts about yourself has psychological and physical benefits, suggests 2019 research from the University of Exeter. In the small study, participants who listened to an audio recording that encouraged them to be kind to themselves reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others. These participants also had a physical response consistent with relaxation and safety, including a drop in heart rate and a lower sweat response. Meanwhile, those who heard an audio inducing “a critical inner voice” had a higher heart rate and higher sweat response, consistent with feelings of distress.

More mind-power info? As you may know, the benefits of meditation, the practice of training and focusing your mind, are myriad and can include helping with stress reduction, pain control, and even improving sleep.

So this July, and beyond, remember: If you have a dream in your heart, think of it positively in your mind. Believe in yourself, put in the work, and have faith. Think of the thing as already yours. ⁣You might be surprised to see the good things that can follow.

⁣So do you believe in yourself? Want some encouragement? Maybe I can help–especially if you have questions about moving up in your career (including full-time or freelance work in writing, communications, or editing) or how to shift your general mindset. Drop me a comment or email me!

⁣P.S. In this photo, I somehow managed to channel the tropics—from the city. Come hang with me on Instagram @lesliequander to see my other adventures. ☺️🦋

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