Success is a Mentality

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Hello, World.

I once saw a woman walking down the streets of San Francisco in a beautiful outfit — a wool coat that stayed the same shade as freshly fallen snow despite the debris of nearby construction sites swirling through the air, her hair shiny and straight and in place, not succumbing to the cool breeze coming off the Bay, and a elegantly tailored navy suit peeking through the coats, perfectly hemmed to accommodate her small, but newly shined pumps. There’s a look on her face that’s determined. She walks with purpose, a crisp copy of the Chronicle tucked tightly under her arm, a blue bottle coffee cup in one gloved-hand, and her briefcase held firmly with the other. She takes a left on California Street and heads toward her office which she left mere hours before her morning routine started. Yes, she is someone with a morning routine… she does have coffee, a newspaper, and a briefcase after all.

The person I saw was me… but a future me. A future me I wanted to see. This is what I call daydreaming between networking meetings about the person I want to be one day. It sounds weird, right? Looking put together doesn’t translate directly into success, but we all, to some degree, assume that people who look put together have it all together. However, if we apply a little logic to this assumption, it’s thinness is clear. In actuality, success is a mentality. Success is something we tell ourselves, its something we create by our own actions and drive. When you google a definition for “successful” the definition spit out is “accomplishing an aim or purpose.” So, in order to be successful, you must have an aim or purpose.

In college, I was a facilitator for a leadership retreat, and as a “thank you” gift (I suppose), the women I worked with gave me a book entitled Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Essentially, the book advocates for figuring out why you’re doing something before doing it because if there is no passion…no reason…you won’t achieve what you intend (because what you intend is unclear). This message pops up for me again and again. When I’m feeling lost or aimless, I usually go back to why I started or why I’m doing what I’m doing. Ultimately, if there is no purpose or aim success cannot exist. If you don’t have a clear mental image of what you wish to accomplish, you cannot possibly measure how you’re doing or how close you are to achieving that.

So, if you want to be successful, the best thing to do is come up with an aim or purpose. Figure out what you want to achieve. There are a lot of people who will define success differently than you and there are plenty of people who will tell you what you should do to be successful. I say ignore all the voices and listen to your own. Imagine the life you want to live, cling to the image, and pursue it with all your strength. Don’t settle; don’t become so discouraged you become convinced its impossible. Persist.

How do you measure your success?


Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Doing It All

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Hello, World.

I was having a conversation with an alumnus of my law school last weekend, and he mentioned that law associates who come in guns blazing, who charge the highest amount and work all hours of the week won’t [usually] last a year at his firm. Then he mentioned that it’s the same for law school – some students go in so hot that by the second semester, they cannot hang anymore. So, why is burnout such a real problem among young professionals and how do we prevent being one of the shooting stars (this is a How to Get Away With Murder reference, which if you aren’t watching, I recommend you start! So wickedly entertaining)? Well, a lot of not burning out is pacing yourself and preparing properly.

I watched a fellow law student my 1L year constantly stay up until the wee hours of the morning, only to get up early to be able to commute to school. This person worked constantly, rarely taking breaks and sort of overworking himself past the point of efficient studying. There were a few times I watched him fall asleep in class. I mean, if you’re sleeping through lecture, you cannot possibly be helping yourself. Also, if I noticed, there is a high probability the professor noticed considering we sat in the second row. At the time, I just kept feeling like that lifestyle just wasn’t sustainable. When I had my first day of property second semester, my professor, an older man who’s been teaching for years, said something about how last semester was over and the people who did well may do worse and the people who didn’t do well may do better.

Well, burnout was real, and a lot of those people who burned the midnight oil in the library looked so tired and worn out. A similar burnout occurs during finals. People don’t pace themselves, and by their last exam, their fingers flutter over their keyboard at a lag and their eyes don’t stay open without effort. Doing it all can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are smart strategies for getting it all done without suffering from complete burnout. So, today I want to offer my guide to getting it all done and remaining intact in the process.

Going back to How to Get Away With Murder for a moment, the law students who are referred to as the “Keating five” seem to be doing it all. They seem to be the top of their class, assisting their professor in criminal case trials, having a personal life, and covering up murders. I mean, the five stars are busy people. One of the interesting things about TV that we all know? It’s scripted and only shows us the highlights. We obviously don’t need twenty minutes of footage where the law students are studying in the library. The fact they study is implied by their status as a law student. However, there could be twenty minutes of footage of someone studying or someone working and it wouldn’t be inaccurate, just boring. Still, those boring moments contribute to the person’s outward success (if the students don’t study, their grades suffer, and ultimately they may lose their status as one of the chosen criminal law students). The boring moments are part of the “doing it all.” The reason we don’t focus on them, however, is because we focus on people’s major moments even though we are well aware that there’s much more that goes into that moment.

ONE || Find something that releases stress. The quickest way to get it all done without killing yourself is having something that you love that doesn’t cause stress. In fact, it shouldn’t be a neutral activity, but an activity that actively releases your stress. If you do not have something that releases your stress, you’ll be too stressed out to get everything done well. Remember, a lot of people get everything done, but they cut corners and don’t always get it all done properly.

TWO || Stay aware of your limits. Become familiar with any limits you have, and stay aware of them. If you know you are not someone who can work on Sunday nights, build a schedule that excludes Sunday night working. If you know you’re not someone who works well with a certain personality type, figure out ways in which working with that personality becomes easier (or figure a way to work with them less). Knowing your limits allows you to better play to your strengths.

THREE || Do what makes you happy. This may seem like an odd tip, but I feel like doing it all doesn’t really mean anything if you aren’t doing what you love. It’s a lot easier to stay vigilant and motivated if you love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, chances are every step on your career road will feel like you’re weighted down.

FOUR || Be selective. You can do it all, but when I say all I mean you can do everything you want to do. If you don’t want to do something, you are wasting precious time. When I was in college, my friend proposed that I try to be Co-Editor-in-Chief with her for the school newspaper. I thought initially, yeah, that’d be a good resume builder. However, after more thought, I realized it wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do and I knew my efforts would be better spent on the things I loved. So, be selective in what you want to do, then do it all!

FIVE || Stay organized. When you’re trying to do too many things at once, chances are something slips through the cracks. So, make sure you have a well-established system of staying on top of your tasks and commitments. For me, I make to-do lists. Loads of to-do lists. To-do lists help me track what needs to get done when. I put them in order of highest priority to lowest priority. I also have a section of things I should get done if I have a really productive day and finish my to-list early.

My final tip is this: doing it all is about preparation. You can do it all, but you want to be sure you’re prepared for what’s coming and that you remain in control of your schedule. If you become overwhelmed, you’ll probably start to let things slide, and your work product is diminished. Stay on top of your life and make strategic moves in your career. Look at things with the big picture in mind (aka do NOT get bogged down in too many details, but don’t lose sight of making sure the details are right). Life is about balance. If you are unbalanced, you cannot succeed because you will not know how to handle a heavier workload, a moved-up timeline, etc. Doing a lot of preparation on the front end will make the end result much better (and far more stress-free).

How do you do it all?

Callie leigh

Cultivating a Successful Attitude

Hello, World.

A lot of my favorite TV shows, movies, books, etc. have one thing in common: a compelling, driven, successful heroine. I love nothing more than watching or reading about a woman going after what she wants, and achieving her goals. In a world overrun by men, women are still clawing their way to the top, trying to prove that we can have it all. I was watching an episode of The Good Wife a few nights ago, and one of the characters was giving a speech and said something along the lines of “Women are constantly asking if we can have it all. Do we ever hear men have it all?” The answer to this question was a resounding no. Now, this post is not meant to be a patriarchy-rant, but it is meant to inspire women in their twenties to feel like they can do anything they set their minds to! I have a few tips and thoughts about how to create an attitude that will make you successful. Whether in academics, the work place, personally, etc. a successful life begins within the individual, where self-doubt is trumped by passion.

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photo via

Find Something that Generates Positive Thoughts

This can easily be classifies as a hobby, such as yoga or meditation, but find an activity that you can work into your schedule that allows you to relax, reflect, and focus on the positive. Whether you choose to focus on goals, accomplishments, or whatever, you should dedicate time to reflection because reflection allows us to focus on what we want, and once we know what we want, we can make a plan to achieve it.

Inhale Inspiration, Exhale Overwhelm

The quickest way to fail is becoming too overwhelmed to adequately dedicate yourself to the things you are passionate about. One of my favorite things to do during my day is just browse Pinterest, or my favorite Instagram accounts, or read a good novel, and look at things that are saturated in inspiration. I feel so much more motivated to do good work and invest in my passions when I am inspired, and I am so unmotivated and unhappy with everything when I feel too overwhelmed. We are in a society that preaches that in order to have it all, you have to do it all. This is untrue. You can be diverse in your interests, but you will do better work if you focus on what is truly important to you.

Be Kind, and Avoid Office (Classroom) Gossip

Whether you’re finishing up college or graduate school, or already in the workforce, it is important to avoid the vacuum that is office or classroom gossip. Just steer clear of negative energy! Chances are your boss or professor is aware of the rumors or disgruntled rumblings taking place, and you don’t want to be associated with that. Rather, you should be focusing on doing your best work. It’s hard to avoid gossiping at times when it’s happening right in front of you, but you’ll be way more successful if you just do you [boo], and keep on keepin’ on, doing your best and staying positive.

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Set Goals in Stages

Unless you’re extremely lucky, chances are you will not be an overnight success. A lot of “overnight successes” in fact, were not overnight at all. Those people worked for years to get to where they were, and then all of the sudden success finds them at an overwhelming rate. So, set goals in realistic stages. Say, “in five days I want to have accomplished…” “in five months I want sot have accomplished…” “in a year…in five years…” and so on. Give yourself a limit, don’t plan your goals for the rest of your life, but it is okay to say, by age 35 I want to have done this one thing. Be realistic, make your goals manageable, and go for it!

Find a Positive Support Group

I have people who I know will calm me down if I’m having a rough day at school, work, with friends, whatever. I go to them with everything and anything and I know they will listen, offer advice, tolerate my rants, and try to work with me to figure out my next steps. It’s a small circle, but I trust them with everything. If I’m making a big life choice, or a big move professionally, they are who I consult. Find the people who will encourage you to pursue your dreams, and who don’t act like your hobbies or dreams are silly. I had a couple friends that tried to be supportive of my blogging life, but often made me feel silly or self conscious, which got old really fast and I don’t spend as much time with them. It’s okay to only trust a few people with your passions and goals, just figure out who they are!

Connect with People Who Challenge You

This may seem odd, but sometimes the best way to be successful is to surround yourself with people who push you, gently. I don’t mean hangout with people who are mean, or cut throat, or out to steal that coveted promotion, but surround yourself with other like-minded, driven people who are out to be successful, as they will rub off on you and create the motivation to continue down your successful path.

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Remember that Failures are Normal, and Should Be Embraced

Failure is part of the path to success. You know the iPhone game Angry Birds? The creators of that app had about 53 other apps that weren’t successful or picked up before Angry Birds caught on. If they had stopped trying to create an app after the 8th failure, Angry Birds wouldn’t have happened. Failure is part of life, but your reaction to failure will define you. You can’t stop after failure, you need to keep your head up, put on some lipstick, take a bubble bath, drink some coffee (or something stronger!), and get back out there. It’s kind of like dating. We all get burned at one point, but rather than join a convent, we keep dating.

How do you work toward keeping an attitude that generates success?

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