The weekends are wonderful a time to get some rest and spend time with family and friends. But, the weekend is also a great time to grow your business or side hustle. One of the biggest challenges when growing your business while you’re still working is finding the time to spend on creating products, offering services, marketing, and working on all the different parts of a business. But, if you sacrifice a bit of your time every weekend, you can make progress on growing your business.

Assess Your Time

The first thing that you need to do is an assessment of how you are currently spending your time on the weekends. From Friday night when you get off work to Sunday evening when you’re winding down and getting ready for work, what are you doing to be productive?

You must become highly conscious of how you spend your time if you want to make it work for you, instead of watching time wasting away. To take control of your time again, you need to start telling your time what you want to do with it, instead of letting your time run you.

If you get invited to a lot of events on the weekend, you may need to start saying “no.” If you’re spending your weekends on Netflix binges, then cut them short until you get your business going. If your weekends are spent on domestic tasks, then you’ll need to figure out how to get help, work more efficiently, or cut down on these tasks altogether.

Once your time is freed up on the weekends, you can start planning tasks that will allow you to grow your business little by little on the weekends.

Plan Your Tasks

You can’t do everything on the weekend, so you need to plan your tasks and complete them in manageable chunks. Make a list of all the things that need to be done to set up your business or work on your side hustle. Then, select one or two tasks that can be completed on the weekend.

For example, if you plan to become an Uber driver, you’ll need to get certain licenses, or a background check. You may get one task done, like applying for a transportation license, or taking care of the background check, and then you can cross that off your list.

If you want to write a book, then you can break that down into different tasks. You’ll need to select a topic, write an outline, do research, write each chapter, etc. Each of these tasks can be broken down and accomplished on a weekend.

You’ll also get a sense of accomplishment at the end of the weekend by being able to check things off your “to do” list. The sense of frustration at being so busy with your 9 to 5 will soon go away because you’ll gain momentum as you finish each task.

Get Stuff Done!

Planning is one thing, but doing is another. The great thing about working on the weekend is that you have less distractions than you do during the week. Yes, you may still have you family or pets to think about, but you don’t have to deal with commuting back and forth to work!

Let your family know that you’re working on an important project, and that you need time to focus. If you communicate, they will be more likely to respect your work and help you eliminate distractions.

Put yourself on a schedule. You don’t want your side hustle to make you feel like you’re working on another job. By setting a schedule, you can get some work done and you can still have time to rest and enjoy your weekend.

On a Saturday, you can dedicate a few hours to focus on your task, a few hours to rest, and a few hours to spend time with family and friends. Some entrepreneurship gurus will make it seem like you need to spend lots of hours on your business each day, but it’s most important do what make you feel happy.

Ultimately, being productive will become addictive as you make progress, and you will want to work on your side hustle or business more and more.

You have to sit down and do the work. If it’s a blog post, you’ll have to write it. If it’s a video, you must sit down and record it. Stay focused on the purpose behind your work, rather than dwelling on the hard work that is ahead of you.

Hire Help

I recommend getting as much work done yourself as possible. It’s important for you to know how to work your business from start to finish. As a small business person, content creator, entrepreneur, side hustler, or whatever you’d like to call yourself, you’ll want to take ownership of every part of your business.

There are some tasks that are better outsourced, though. The benefit to building your business on the side while you’re still working your 9 to 5 is that you can use the money from your salary to invest in hiring help.

I enjoy creating my own blog, but it took me many years to build up my skills. If you don’t have that kind of time or tech savvy, you may want to get someone to help you build your site, or take care of some other task that can help you progress.

Just be careful because the costs can really add up. There are a lot of marketers that target small business people. Many people have helpful tips, or provide useful services, but you don’t want to overpay, or pay for something that you can easily do for yourself by searching on YouTube or Pinterest.

Do lots of research before you pay for a product or service that is supposed to help you grow your business. Carefully read any contracts or purchase agreements, and refund policies. Always try to use PayPal or some other payment method that protects the consumer. Never fall for “get rich quick schemes” or wire money to people overseas. Just don’t!

Hopefully, these tips will help you start making the most of your weekends. Before you know it, you’ll be bringing in income from your side hustle or business.

 

It’s 2017 and everybody needs a side hustle. Yes, everybody. I’m not really a fan of the word “hustle.” It sounds shady, like you have to game people in order to make extra money. But, every time I’m working one of my side gigs, it feels like a hustle, so I’m just going to go with that terminology.

Everyone needs a side hustle because job stability is a thing of the past, and you don’t want to end up out of luck if (and when) you get a pink slip. It can take weeks to find a new job, and even if you find one immediately after being terminated, you can experience a gap in income. In order to protect yourself and your family, you need to develop a side hustle that produces a steady stream of income now, before it’s too late.

A side hustle can technically be a second job, but you can get fired from a “second job,” too. A hustle is a little different because you can control how much or how little money you make, when you work, and you can’t really get fired from it because you are not a traditional employee.

I like to think of contractor jobs, side businesses, and individual projects as the ideal side hustles, and I’ve tried all three. Check out my guide below on each type of side hustle, and how you can get one NOW.

Contractor Jobs

A contractor job is a role when you are commissioned to do work independently. These roles often have a set end date and a set start date. They also have a set fee, or per hour payment, and neither party is bound to one another beyond the terms of the contract.

The benefit of a contractor role is the freedom to walk away when your work is done. Your liability for the work is often limited because the person who is contracting you has to do a lot of the leg work. You just come in, do your part, and bounce.

One of the biggest downsides to a contractor role is the lack of benefits. You are also bound for at least the time that it takes to complete the contract. Contractual work can go on for some time, and it can start to feel like a “job,” only won’t be getting paid holidays, vacations, or healthcare.

I took on a contractor role a few years ago that has repeated seasonally. In that role, I interview a number of applicants for a particular role. I have a set script to follow, and I have to interview the applicants and type in my notes. I’m paid an hourly fee, and I have to be professional, prompt and efficient.

The actual organization that I work for is not my “employer,” meaning they don’t owe me the benefits bestowed upon an employee. This doesn’t seem like too big of a deal, except when you’re putting in long hours with no sick pay. I, personally, like it because I can set my own hours and I don’t have to work more than I want to.

I like that the work is seasonal/recurring, and I’ve gotten to make some great connections and meet some cool people. I also learned more about different types of virtual co-working technology, and how to interact with a nationwide team.

Contractor roles can help you learn a lot about what company you want to work for. Sometimes independent contractor roles turn into full time gigs. Other contractor roles remain just that. One example would be working for Uber.

Uber drivers are contractors, which is good because Uber drivers can “set their own hours.” But, being a contractor in that role has its drawbacks because drivers take on the risk of liability for an accident, and they incur the cost of long-term wear and tear to their cars.

Overall, you have to weigh the pros and cons on contractor roles, but they may be a great supplement to your 9 to 5 income. Certain types of contract work also look great on your resume if you do lose your full time job.

If you’re interested in driving for Uber, check out my experience, and use my referral link to sign up! You get a sign up bonus, and I get a referral bonus, too. https://partners.uber.com/i/xaad9

Side Businesses

A side business is different from a contractor role. A side business is an actual business that you are conducting with all of the responsibilities of a business owner. Instead of just getting paid to do work, you have to go out and find clients, you can potentially have your own employees, and you may formally incorporate your company.

Technically, a contractor role can be related to a side business. Your business can take on contractual work. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to focus on a side business with a traditional model, where you go out and serve individual clients, or sell a product to individual customers.

A full-fledged side business is one of the harder types of ways to hustle. The responsibility of a business can be overwhelming, and it can involve some financial risk. The two types of business that I’m going to discuss are service-based businesses and product-based businesses.

A service based business is the easiest to start. You simply have to think about what types of services you can sell, start marketing, and go out and get clients. You can offer a physical service like mowing lawns or babysitting, personal training. You can also offer an online or white collar service like writing or graphic design.

The service-based business that I have is a law practice. Yes, a law practice. For those who don’t know, I’m a licensed attorney. For several years, I worked to grow my law practice on the side. But, the law is a hard type of business to run “on the side.”

A law practice really requires a full-time commitment to market to clients, service clients, and take care of the back-end of the business (websites, filings, taxes). Since I didn’t have the time to fully devote to my “side business,” I had a hard time turning a profit.

You must consider the fact that to run a business well, you’ll need to spend money on at least some overhead. You’ll have expenses like your business license, required training, an online or physical space, business cards, advertising, business insurance, and so on.

If you don’t have a solid business plan, it can add up quickly. I recommend that, even for a service-based business, that you keep your overhead as low as possible. Utilize free or low-cost targeted advertising, and make sure that you price your services in a way that allows you to turn a profit.

A product-based business is a business where you are selling a product either to other businesses or consumers. Popular product-based businesses that are easy to start are companies like T-shirt businesses, simple paper products, and hand-made arts and crafts.

You can use a medium like Etsy to sell physical and digital products with lower overhead. Customers are also searching Etsy, Pinterest, and other websites for unique goods made by small businesses.

There are other types of hybrid businesses like restaurants that sell food products and offer a service (serving food). Many of these businesses like restaurants and stores require a physical location, specialized licenses and insurance, employees, and lots of start-up capital. For a business like that, wait until you are ready to go full-time into the business to get a physical location and employees.

Instead, you can start out by catering on the weekends or holding “pop-up” shops in partnership with different companies in exchange for holding an event that could drive more business to their locations.

As you can see, a business can require a lot of commitment and a focused plan. But, if you start small on the side, you can build it up and make it profitable. Be sure to have a good business plan, and chose an industry that you are passionate about, and where you can fulfill a need.

Individual Projects

Like a business, an individual project also has aspects of a contractor position. I differentiate a project from a contractor position because a project is self-directed, and usually more of a creative endeavor than work as a contractor.

An individual project can be a type of content creation, like a book, blog, or piece of art, film project, or a YouTube channel. You can contact this type of work out for projects to help other businesses as well.

Out of all the types of “side hustles” I’ve tried, this one is my favorite.

You can probably tell by reading this post that I love writing. I think that sharing ideas in written word is one of the greatest forms of creation. I’ve taken on freelance writing jobs, written my own e-Book, and I happily maintain this blog. Websites like Upwork make it easy to connect with individuals and businesses who want to hire you for quick and long-term projects.

One way that you can find the type of “individual project” that might work for you is by exploring your hobbies. What do you like to do for fun? What do you pay to do that you would like to get paid to do?

For example, I don’t mind paying for this blog. I paid for blog hosting, plugins, fonts, etc., willingly for years in order to pursue my passion for writing. It’s better, of course, to get paid to do what I love. So, I turned my writing into a way to get paid by doing freelance work, and finding small ways to “monetize” (make money) from my blog.

Once you figure out what types of projects and hobbies you like to do, you can research ways to get paid for the same work. Projects are great for creatives and artists because you can create something once and get paid for it later, or get paid for it over and over again.

If you do take on clients, they likely recognize your work as unique and valuable, and you can charge what you are worth. Website designers, for example, can charge hefty fees for individual design project once they build up their portfolios, because clients will see how much they are worth. They can also likely work on their own time, and make more money than they would have made in their 9 to 5 jobs.

If you are a creative type, and feel like your creativity is being drained from working in a cubicle all day, or commuting back and forth for hours, then finding a profitable project to work on like a blog, or developing a skill, just might be right for you.

So, what’s next?

What’s next is brainstorming ideas for which type of role will work for you. If you’re ready to hustle hard, you can pick more than one type of side job, until you find the best fit!

Once you have some idea, make a plan. Set aside time each and every day to work on your side hustle until you find the hustle that is actually a passion that you can use to fuel your individuality and creativity. Pretty soon, the profits will come rolling in and you can decide whether to continue working in your day job, or to pursue your side hustle and make your dreams come true.

 

When I first heard about Uber, I thought the concept sounded kind of sketchy. I think I was on vacation when someone mentioned “grabbing an Uber” instead of a cab. I did download the app, but I didn’t feel like learning how to use it, so I spent a small fortune on a cab ride. After I found out that Uber was cheaper, I learned how to use it and I’ve been an Uber rider ever since. I never would have guessed that I would end up driving for Uber, but in Summer of 2016, I did just that.

If you’re interested in driving for Uber, check out my experience, and use my referral link to sign up! You get a sign up bonus, and I get a referral bonus, too. https://partners.uber.com/i/xaad9

To be perfectly honest, my back was against the wall. My personal and business expenses were killing me. I was already working three “jobs” – my 9 to 5, along with a part-time job, and at the same time, I was trying to grow my law firm. The law firm, unfortunately, was not profitable. It was draining me financially, and I had to bring in more income.

I’m not sure exactly how the idea popped into my head to try Uber, but I had a new car, so I figured, why not? I’ll spare you the full details of signing up to work for the service, but it was quite a task. I had to get a medical check, a background check, a car inspection, and this sticker and that one. Since then, I believe some of the restrictions have lessened, but be prepared to at least undergo a background check.

Luckily, I had Fridays off from my 9 to 5 in the summer, so I was able to get everything done. There were some application fees involved, but Uber was running a promotion, where they reimbursed me for my fees.

Once the adrenaline rush of getting everything done subsided, it was time for me to actually get out on the road. I was extremely nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and people had filled me with fear about my safety. I also wasn’t sure how people would perceive me as a woman driver, and as a black woman driver, at that.

I decided to try it on a weekend, when I had plenty of time to focus on my new role as an Uber driver. The next Saturday, I had to go and pick up my permits, and I also got my car cleaned up nicely. I was tired out after all of the running around, so I didn’t drive until Sunday.

The day to actually drive finally came, and I was super nervous. I only carried a few dollars on me, and a credit card for emergencies. I had these few valuable hidden out of sight, and I put my pieces of identification where I could easily reach them, in case I was pulled over by the police. I had my phone, of course, since it’s required to pick up rides through the app.

I hopped in my car, mounted my phone, and turned my Uber driver app to “on” while I was still sitting in my garage, anxiously waiting. This was fairly early on a Sunday, so I didn’t get any pings right away! I saw other Uber drivers in my neighborhood, so I decided that I needed to get away from my area.

I started driving towards the city center, and it wasn’t too long before I got a ping!

I was super nervous, but I accepted the ride, and the Uber GPS started giving me directions to my destination. That first ride was in a college/graduate-housing apartment area. It was a young black woman who was on her way to work.

After she hopped in the car, I set my GPS to her location, and away we went. The Uber GPS wasn’t the greatest. After we arrived at her destination in the Montrose area of Houston, I realized that it had taken me the “long way,” but, nevertheless, we arrived.

She worked at a small restaurant, and I couldn’t quite find the spot. She told me it was close enough, and she went on her way.

I had done it! I had completely my first ride as an Uber driver. In hindsight, I probably should have let the young lady know, close to the end of the ride, that it was my first ride as an Uber driver. But, it didn’t matter. She ended up giving me a 5-star rating, anyway. Yay!

The rest of the day was much the same. I was nervous, and fumbled a bit with the GPS, but I managed to get all of my riders to their destinations safely. Some were chatty, and others were silent. It really didn’t matter to me either way.

What I liked about Sundays was that there were many runs to the airport, so I ended up making Sundays my regular day to drive. I was making a decent side hustle income with Uber for a couple of weeks, and I had not yet experienced any adverse effects from being a black woman driver.

A few weeks after my first ride, I decided to drive into the Bellaire area to drive on a Saturday. I ended up getting a rider who wanted me to do a round trip. That’s not quite how Uber works, but it’s hard to tell someone “no” when they get in your car. What could I do? Drop him off and leave him, after he asked me for a return ride?

The Bellaire area is an area of high-earners, but they were pretty cool riders. I made a lot of conversation with business people, who were surprised to find out that I am also a professional. Some even confided in me that they had thought about driving for Uber, too!

As cool as Uber was, I ended up having a couple of experiences that made me not really want to drive for the service on a regular basis anymore.

One day, I had set an amount of money in my mind that I wanted to earn. It was getting late. I don’t like to drive at night, but I decided to do just one more ride. I was close by my home, but I turned my app back on and quickly got a ping!

I was called to pick up some riders at an apartment complex. One got in, and the other one took quite a while to get in the car. They were going to a club downtown, so I ended up driving alllll the way back into the city. The whole time, they were talking loudly and snapchatting away. I was pretty tired, and missed a turn, so that made the trip feel even longer!

When they finally got out, I immediately turned off my app and went HOME. I was tired after a full day of driving, and I immediately went to SLEEP. At about 3am, I got a call from an unknown number. I ignored it, but then the person left a voicemail. Thinking that it might be an emergency, I went ahead and listened to the voicemail.

It was one of the girls from earlier. She had left her keys in my car. Great. Now, I did not have to go out and meet her. Uber drivers are not responsible for your lost property, nor are we paid to deliver those goods to you. It might not even be safe to do so, as it could be a set up to be robbed. The easiest thing for me to do would have been to ignore the call, and drop the keys off at the Uber office later.

I wasn’t thinking straight at 3am, and I really wanted to be done with it, so I agreed to get out of my bed to meet the girl. She took forever to finally meet me at a gas station to get her keys. She took them, and did not even say thank you.

Yeah, took a break from driving for Uber after that!

The second incident that happened was when I had the bright idea to pick up a commuter after work on the way home. The gentleman that I picked up was a young, Hispanic professional working in downtown Houston. I was taking him home to the Galleria area.

He looked a bit surprised when I pulled up, but I wasn’t sure if I was imagining his reaction. I ignored it, and turned on the app to start up the GPS. I followed the route provided, and after I was already on my way, he said that he wanted me to go a different way. It was too late. We were already in bumper-to-bumper traffic. He got on the phone during the ride, and I’m pretty sure that he was talking about me in Spanish.

Needless to say, he gave me a low rating, even though I had followed Uber’s directions and got him home safely. Since that trip, I’ve only driven for Uber sporadically to keep my account active.

So, based on my experience, would I say that being a woman or being black affected me as an Uber driver? No, not really. I didn’t experience any racist or sexist comments, and I personally never felt uncomfortable driving any of my clients.

I rarely drove at night, though, even though you can make more money at night. I didn’t particularly want to deal with party-goers and potentially drunk people. I also kept a small can of Mace, even though Uber discourages doing so.

No matter what your race or gender, I think it’s important to use common sense and safety precautions to protect yourself as an Uber, or other ride-sharing driver. Here are my safety recommendations.

  1. Let someone know when you are driving. I always text a family member to let someone know when I’m driving, and when I’m done. This is especially important if you don’t drive for Uber often. In case something happens, they can at least contact Uber to try to track my last-known location.
  2. Don’t carry valuables. You should only carry the smallest amount of cash, a credit card for emergencies, and your required driver’s license and transportation ID (if you have one in your city).
  3. Only give rides using the app. It may be tempting to take cash, or do a deal “off the books,” but the app provides safety for you and your rider.
  4. Don’t give out your personal information. This goes without saying, but it’s not the best idea to give your info out to strangers. Sometimes people gave me their cards, but I only reached out to them and provided my information after I checked the person out to see if her or she was legit.
  5. If it seems shady, cancel the ride. I’ve canceled on more than one occasion when something just didn’t feel right.

Of course, if you are in any type of apparent danger, you can, and should, call the police.

Overall, Uber is a decent opportunity to make money on the side, and to potentially help people. Sometimes I gave rides to business people or leisure travelers, but more often I provided rides for people who didn’t have a car. To figure out how much profit you actually make as a driver, you have to deduct the cost of gas, maintenance, and mileage.

Thankfully, some driver expenses are deductible on your taxes. You also need to make sure that everything is set up properly with your car insurance. Uber provides some coverage, but you are mainly covered when you have a rider in your car, not just when you are driving around waiting for a ride.

I, personally, would never want to depend on Uber as my full-time income. There are too many variables that can affect how much money you can make, including weather, the condition of your car, the flow of traffic, and any type of policy changes by Uber. I like having the option to drive for Uber and make extra money  whenever I need it.

Be sure to do your research before you sign up to drive for Uber, and weigh the pros and cons. The best thing about Uber is that you can always give it a try. If you don’t like it, quit. But, don’t let your race or gender get in the way of what might be a good financial opportunity.

If Uber sounds like a good opportunity for you, use my referral link to sign up! https://partners.uber.com/i/xaad9 Good luck!

Working at a job that you hate feels like a slow, painful death. You’re still alive, but it’s like you might as well not be living. If you think that comparing a soul-sucking job to death is dramatic, then you’ve clearly never been in that situation. I have.

The worse thing about working in a soul-sucking job is that no one else understands. From the outside looking in, everything seems to be great. You might have what seems like a great job, and a gre

at position, along with what seems like a great salary, but is it worth it if you’re being tortured 5 days a week, for 8 hours a day?

It’s not worth it. Nothing is worth your sanity and your soul.

For me, it started about 2 years after I began working for my organization. The first two years, I felt very optimistic. I had a supportive boss. I was learning a lot of great skills. I was young and eager, well-educated, and what one might consider to be a “rising star.”

Then, I experienced my first “reorg.” A reorganization, re-structuring, or overhaul of an organization is what happens when new leadership comes in and decides to change everything. It can be a new leader of a company, or just a particular department within the organization.

I worked in the Human Resources department, which was the largest department and the most prone to volatile changes. The term “human capital” just about sums it up. Human Resources departments often look at people as assets within the organization, and assets can be manipulated.

During the reorg, we were assured that “no one would lose their jobs.” This might seem like a relief, but it’s a trick. When some corporations reorganize, they lay people off, give them a severance package, and send them on their way.

In other organizations, like mine, they need your talent. So, they don’t let you go right away. Instead, they move new people in who can learn your skills, and then they force you out. This keeps them from having to fire you, offer you a severance package, or add you to their statistics as having been, “fired.”

So, although I was momentarily relieved, it did not last long. As my new supervisors moved in over my direct boss, they started to change things up.

They denied my requests for professional development, citing it as “too expensive.” They took away my personal assistant, whom I had diligently trained, and reassigned her elsewhere. They instituted a stricter system of breaks, where we could no longer have any flexibility in our schedules. All of this was in the first few weeks.

Still, it didn’t seem like it was too bad. I still had my job, right? Wrong. They wanted my position. I was in a powerful role where I had access to a lot of information, and I had influence over a number of decisions.

I am a person who always acts with integrity, and I try to follow the rules and policies as much as possible while still treating decisions about humans with heart. Remember what I said about human capital? Well, my view didn’t fit in with my organization. They wanted to make decisions based on the bottom line, and the “needs of the organization,” not based on the needs of the people.

Slowly, my work increased and the “thanks” lessened. I was given impossibly tight deadlines that required me to work nights and weekends. I had to attend more meetings during the day, which meant that I had to do my actual work during my off time.

I was deathly afraid of making a mistake, so I started to develop anxiety. I was heavily criticized, and I would double and triple-check my work, so as not to make a mistake. The department secretaries became loyal to the new boss, so they rarely helped me as they had in the past.

I started being shut out of meetings regarding decision-making. My direct boss, the one who had helped me and taught me so much, was also under heavy pressure. They were pulling power away from her, and shutting her out of decisions as well. It wasn’t too long before she and I were in conflict with one another.

The message was pretty clear. I had to get out. (This was well before the movie, but the message was pretty spot on.)

I started applying for other jobs. I had planned to work for my organization for a long time, but the pressure was starting to get to me. I had a son to care for, and bills to pay. I couldn’t wait until I got fired to make a change.

The strangest part about the whole thing is that I was performing very well. I was working harder than ever before, but the environment that I was working in was chaotic.

I finally ended up filing a formal complaint about my work situation. I had no choice. The new bosses were breaking policies right and left as they tried to force me out. Quite a few of the requests in my grievance were granted. My job was safe, but I was still in a bad position at work.

I finally ended up accepting a new role in order to give them the position that they wanted to hire someone else in. I sat on the interview committee and helped them find someone to replace me. (He ended up staying in the role for less than a year.) It may sound hard to believe that I helped to hire my own replacement, but that it how these corporate environments work.

It’s funny how things happen the way that they happen. I wasn’t ready to move on to a new position. I was unwillingly forced to. But, things work out the way that they do for a reason.

About a month after I switched to the new role, my son was diagnosed with cancer.

If I had quit my job, I would have been without health insurance. If I had stayed in the same role, it would have been very difficult for me to take time off from work to care for my son. In my new role with in the same organization, I requested Family Medical Leave.

The same supervisor who had pressured me to change roles actually helped me a lot when it came to taking my leave. So, in the end, it actually wasn’t all bad.

The lesson that I learned is that sometimes God will move you out of a situation, even though you are not ready. I know that I was skilled at my job, and that I had a lot to offer. But, that job didn’t “belong to me.”

I didn’t belong to that organization.

I was there to work, to offer a service, and to do my best at it. I wasn’t there to take possession of a role, or to let it take possession of me. When we work for other people, organizations, and companies, we can only work in a role for so long as it benefits the organization.

My values were no longer in line with the direction of the company. It was important for me not to let myself be bullied by bad practices, but it was equally important for me to simply move on when it was time to move on. Changing roles allowed me to take care of my family, which is most important.

That experience, not just of going through hell at work, but also dealing with my son’s cancer diagnosis, taught me my first real lesson about what is most important in life. What is most important is not titles or positions; what’s most important is family, taking care of the people that you love, and taking care of yourself.

I vowed to never let myself lose sight of what’s important again. It is simply not worth fighting for a job that is making you feel physically ill, unappreciated, and anxious about life. There is a better opportunity out there for you, even if you have to create it for yourself.

A new month is here, and once again, it feels like a fresh start. May is a a great month to kick your productivity up a notch just in time for summer. This month, I’m focusing on getting my body healthy and summer-ready. I’m working on my language skills, and I’m doing a career evaluation. Here are my plans to make May 2017 one of my best months ever.

Healthy, Happy Body

I know that I’m happiest when I’m fit and in shape, but it seems like I haven’t been able to get my body back into the shape the way I’d like it to be. I’ve been increasing my efforts to get into shape this past month by experimenting with smoothies and juicing, and increasing my daily activity. I’ve cut out soda and other unhealthy drinks. I’ve also reduced my caffeine intake, and I’ve been walking three miles daily. Still, the scale won’t budge.

My plan for May 2017 is to join a 6-week weight-loss challenge and follow an eating plan, instead of eating healthy food sporadically. Hopefully, I’ll see the scale budge by making these changes. But, even more than the scale, I’d like to experience an increase in my energy and overall fitness levels. It’s important to me to maintain my fitness, so that my overall health will improve. I’ll be posting my regimen and recipes throughout the month!

Language Learning

I’ve been studying French for a few months. I started taking classes formally in January of 2017. The beginner classes were easy and fun. Now that I’ve started my intermediate classes, it’s still fun, but not quite as easy. We have a lot of new, but experienced, students in our sessions and some of them already speak more French than me. That means my teacher doesn’t translate much, and I have to focus and study more to keep up with the class.

It’s really hard to find time to study at home, and just doing the homework doesn’t seem to be enough. This month, I’m going to try making my own outlines, similar to how to how I did when I was in law school. I’ve also started using the Duolingo program again to review vocabulary, and I recently found out about another language program called Mango that I’ll be trying out. Mango is not free, but access is available through local libraries.

It’s completely my choice to study French. I don’t have to do it, but I really enjoy it. I like having the mental challenge of trying to learn something new. But, it’s not worth it for me to pay for and attend the classes if I’m not going to put in the work that it takes to be successful. That’s why I’m committed to stepping my game up in the month of May.

Career & Resume Shape-Up

Ahhhh, career talk. This month, I’ll be doing my own career assessment, working on improving my resume, and updating the services that I offer here on my blog. I’m really a creative at heart when it comes to “work.” So, I’d prefer it if opportunities would just drift my way so that I can take them. Instead, I know that I actually have to work for them. I’ll be setting some career goals and crafting my resume to look for new opportunities in my 9 to 5, and for my writing career. Watch out for my posts on how you can do your own career assessment and make a plan to reach your professional goals.

Best Month Ever

So, what will make this my best month ever? The fact that I choose for it to be. I’ve actually been going through a lot of challenges personally and professionally, but I know that things are better when I actually set goals and focus on what’s going well, instead of focusing on what’s going wrong. Some of the things that help me stay focused are journaling, using positive affirmations, and making a plan with steps that I can actually follow. If you’ve been experiencing challenges like me, try setting a few small goals and marking them off your list. Accomplishing even the smallest tasks can give you a sense of achievement and help you have your best month, too.

I took a four month break from blogging, and I’m back and better than ever. Not only have I restarted my blog, I have completely rebranded it as well. Here’s how and why I completely started over.

My Blogging Beginnings

I’ve been in the blogging game for quite a while, but, before now, I never quite found my niche. I stated out blogging back in 2008. At the time, I was working as a teacher. Even then, I wanted to be a writer. But, I took a safer route. Instead of writing about writing, I wrote about other people’s books. My first blog became a book review blog, where I also shared a few writing tips that I was sharing with my students. It was eventually supposed to become a resource for my students, but I stopped teaching and headed to law school.

I continued to review books, and I worked with authors to review their manuscripts, and review their completed works while I was in school. Law school is pretty challenging, so it was hard to keep up with the blog, and I became really inconsistent, and only posted occasionally. While I was in school, I also became obsessed with hair care, and I watched tons of YouTubers create both videos and blogs. I was too scared to start a YouTube channel because I thought it would hurt my chances with employers.

A couple of years out of law school, I finally started a beauty blog, and a beauty-related YouTube channel. It was going quite well before I shut everything down for personal reasons. The blogging bug never left me, though. I started blogging about legal topics, but really, I wanted to write about writing. I took a few months away from social media and blogging to think through the direction that I wanted to go in, and I finally decided to follow my spirit and blog about my journey towards growing my career as a writer.

Starting Over

I had been cultivating the online handle “attorneydebra” for quite some time. It seemed scary to start over, not just online, but everywhere. I started a new Instagram page that was more sleek and professional, with less personal posts, and I changed my social media handles to bydebrajohnson. I chose that name because it represents what I want to see – my name as a published writer. It’s also general enough that it can cover many interests, instead of defining me as an “attorney” or any other title.

Starting over hasn’t been as easy as 1-2-3. I lost some followers on my first Instagram page, who were following me for legal tips and advice. I still get inquires for legal services, and I have had to decline them, as I’ve shifted my focus away from 1:1 legal services. I know that some of these people were waiting to hire me, and I know that I may take a hit for trustworthiness, as some people may think that rebranding, or shifting focus is “flaky.” But, at the end of the day, I have to do what’s best for me, and for my brand.

New Blog Focus

Yet another challenge has been figuring out exactly what to focus on. Literally every day, I have a new idea or set of ideas about what will work for my new blog. I know that there are certain topics that I want to tackle, but it’s seems scary to talk about topics like life and love. It’s much safer to talk about business topics, and the law, but there is so much more to who I am. I do plan to share blogging and writing tips, but it won’t all be strictly business.

Whenever I read about bloggers starting over, they always talk about branding as logos, colors, WordPress themes, and marketing. Those things are important, but when you have a personal brand, you have to first and foremost make sure that your brand speaks to who you are. You can change your logo, your colors, and the arrangement of your blog. The one thing you can’t change is what’s important to you. Make sure that your personal brand speaks to who you are, and what you have to offer to readers.

I know that my focus may shift and change again, and I’m okay with that.

Planning Ahead & Setting Goals

The main thing that I’m doing differently from the blogs that I started before is actually planning, and thinking ahead. Although things may change, I am planning out what I plan to write about, how I plan to connect with others on social media, and how I can sustain this blog over time. I’m stepping up my photography and videography game to offer quality content that really conveys the essence of my messages.

I’ll be doing a separate post about my blogging goals, and how to set your own blogging goals for the rest of the year. My primary goal can be summed up in one phrase: connect with others. I also have more specific goals based on metrics, and targets that I want to hit for my blog, and each type of social media that I use.

I’m not putting too much pressure on myself because it’s just plain hard to start all the way from scratch. If I can get my writing out in the world, be consistent, and persist through the challenges, I know I’ll consider my new blog to be a success.