5 Tips For Surviving Your New Job

Starting a new job can be one of the scariest and stress-producing experiences of both your professional and personal life. You are going to feel unsure, out of place, and overwhelmed, but it is important to remember that these feelings are temporary and will pass. As someone who has held several different positions in her professional career, and has moved several times because of it, here are some of my tips to help ease you through this transition.

  1. Do your research before starting. I would hope you had done some research BEFORE accepting the position, but Google “what is it like to work at XXXXX” and see what other employees, both past and present, report. Go on the company website and look for things such as dress code and corporate philosophy. These things may seem minor but can be very insightful. For example, if your soon-to-be employer has a strict dress code, they are probably strict on a lot of their other policies and have set the bar high for their employees. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something to be mindful of going into your role.
  2. Arrive early (if you can). Getting to work early shows you are putting effort into your position. Arriving 10 minutes early to clock in, get coffee, and get settled prepares you to hit the ground running the minute you open your emails. It also allows you time to greet your coworkers and offer a friendly “Good Morning!”
  3. Piggy-backing off #2 – say hello to your coworkers! You don’t have to stop and ask them how their Aunt Susie is doing every time you see them, but smiling and saying “hello” or “good morning” lets your coworkers know you are approachable.
  4. Meet with your boss/mentor regularly and ask for a training or transitional plan for the first 30-60-90 days. Ask what your learning priorities are and what is expected of you so you can properly set priorities and navigate your milestones. Also, be sure to ask what the protocol is for things such as requesting time off, working from home, flex time, etc. Take advantage of what is available but make sure you are doing so in the proper way.
  5. ASK FOR HELP! Speak up when you are unsure of what you are supposed to do or if you don’t understand something. You are not going to be expected to know all the nuances of your job or the company lingo in your first few weeks. But make sure you are advocating for yourself. And be sure to own up to your mistakes because, let’s face it, you are going to make them. You colleagues will have more respect for you when you take responsibility for your actions versus ignoring them or blaming them on someone else. Take advantage of being the newbie – a time when slip ups are more forgivable.

I cannot reiterate enough that the most important thing to remember is that the feelings experienced in the few first weeks in your new role are temporary. Soon you will lose the title of “new person” and will solidify yourself as just another member of the organization.

Easy Crockpot Honey Pineapple Ham

Some people just love ham, and my (step)daughter is one of those people. I am always open to new and tasty ham recipes and I feel plain ham can get old quick. This past Easter, I came across a recipe on Pinterest (of course) that called for ham in the crockpot, which made it super moist and tasty. I had this AHA! moment, like “why did I never think of that?”

The Easter ham did in fact turn out moist, but still seemed a little bland. So this time I decided to add honey and pineapple into the mix and the result was delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 precooked ham (any kind will do, I choose a honey cured one since I knew I was adding honey to my recipe)
  • 1 jar honey
  • 1 small can Dole sliced pineapples

Directions:

  1. Add 2 cups water to crockpot
  2. Place entire ham in water
  3. Add honey – I didn’t measure, just squirted the honey over the entire surface of the ham. I would guesstimate I used approximately 3 tablespoons to do so. I also added a little to the water, about half a teaspoon to each side
  4. Add 2 slices of pineapple to top of ham so it is completely covered
  5. Cover and cook on low 9 hours (which is the amount of time I am out of the house with my work schedule, but I would suggest a minimum of 6 hours)

 

Since I made this during the summer, my (step)daughter was home and I asked her to flip the ham over around lunch time, but I don’t think this was necessary. Either way your result will be moist, sweet, delicious ham!

3 Ingredient Meatloaf

I don’t know about you, but growing up I LOVED my mother’s meatloaf! I thought she made it fairly frequently because we all enjoyed it, but now as a working adult I realize she made it so often because it’s easy!! Haha, oh the things you realize as you grow older…

While scouring Pinterest one day looking for recipes (shocker, I know) I kept seeing pins for 2 Ingredient Meatloaf using Stovetop stuffing and beef so I thought I would give it a try. The seasonings in the Stovetop are enough to give the meatloaf some flavor, but it took several tried before getting to what I deem to be the perfect recipe – a 3 Ingredient Meatloaf Here’s are my tips to make this recipe work:

  1. Take a box of Stove stuffing (any flavor) and dump the entire contents into a galloon size Ziploc bag. Take a hard object that won’t break and use it to crush the stuffing mix into very small pieces. A rolling pin, bowl, or meat tenderizer would work well. *This smashing step is important, otherwise you will get large stuffing chunks in your meatloaf*
  2. Once smashed into itty bitty pieces, dumps contents into large bowl. Crack an egg and add that to your mix. Blend well.
  3. Take thawed 1 lb beef and combine with stuffing mixture. I get down and dirty and use my (clean) hands to mix this well so I don’t end up with chunks of stuffing.
  4. Once mixed well, place into oven safe dish and spread a thin layer of ketchup on top (optional, I do so because my (step)daughter is addicted to ketchup). Cover with tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees

And there you have it! Simple 3 ingredient meatloaf that isn’t dry and just as delicious as the kind mom used to make!

 

(photo courtesy of keyingredient.com)

Crockpot Beef Tips with Gravy

I am a HUGE fan of crockpot meals; they are so easy and delicious! I usually peruse Pinterest on weekends to find recipes for the week and found this one. I made it with boiled egg noodles instead of mashed potatoes though (at the request of my family).

Ingredients:

  • I packet Au Jus gravy mix (I wasn’t able to find this at my local grocery store, so I made my own using this recipe)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can French Onion soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds beef tips

 

Directions:

  1. Combine cream of chicken soup, French Onion soup, water, and Au Jus gravy in crockpot. Mix well
  2. Place beef tips on top of gravy mixture
  3. Cover and cook on low AT LEAST 8 hours (I had set mine for 11 because of me and my fiancé’s work schedule, but I suggest a minimum of 8 hours)
  4. Stir. Add flour or cornstarch to gravy mixture to thicken, if desired
  5. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles

That’s it! Easy and delicious meal that cooks while you work.

Homemade Au Jus Gravy

Every go to make a recipe and realize you don’t have a pre-mixed ingredient? That happened to me while making my Beef Tips with Gravy recipe. It called for 1 packet of Au Jus Gravy mix (pre-made). I wasn’t able to find it at my local grocery store, so I quick Pinterest’d a recipe for homemade Au Jus and whipped together this recipe.

It turned out delicious and I will definitely use it in the future for my French Dip recipe!

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cubes beef bouillon ( I used the extra large cubes)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  • 1 bring water just to a oil then reduce to low
  • Whisk in bouillon, soy sauce, and garlic powder until blended well
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

 

That’s it! You can add a little flour or cornstarch to thicken it if desired

Declutter Your Life – Easy Steps To Take That Make A Big Difference!

If you are anything like me, your life can get pretty cluttered pretty quickly. It’s not something we plan on, but it seems to take a lot less time to create a mess than it does to clean one up. Instead of doing one major clean out once or twice a year, I have committed to focusing on small areas 2 weekends a month. And when I say small, I mean SMALL areas. Ain’t nobody got time to be cleaning all weekend! Weekends should be enjoyed with family and friends.

Here are some areas I have focused on that have helped me to declutter my life:

  1. Bathroom
    1. I focused on the medicine cabinet and drawers/shelves one weekend. Threw out lotions or soaps I knew I would never use. Organize all makeup into one area, men’s items into one area, hair stuff into one area, etc.
    2. I did the linen closet a separate weekend. Threw out towels or sheets/blankets we no longer used or were old and worn. Got rid of any miscellaneous items that found their way in there (like a random sock)
  2. Kitchen
    1. Tupperware! the dreaded Tupperware cabinet/drawer. I went through and made sure I had a lid to every bottom and threw out all old, discolors, or miscellaneous pieces I had.
    2. Pots and pans. I threw out old and ugly pans and bakeware and saved up to invest in ones that were better quality and would last longer.
    3. Coffee travel mugs. Again, lined up all bottoms with lids. Threw out any foul-smelling ones or lids with no bottoms.
  3. Bedroom
    1. One closet at a time! My fiancé and I have separate closets. He joined in and cleared out his closet as well. I focused on mine one day and my (step)daughters another.
    2. Dressers on a different day than the closets
    3. Shelves or miscellaneous storage areas
    4. Jewelry boxes. This was probably the most daunting for me I gave costume jewelry I no longer wear to my (step)daughter and tossed the rest
  4. Office
    1. Old financial documents like mortgage paperwork, previous years taxes, etc
    2. School items for my (step)daughter
    3. Miscellaneous papers I was keeping
    4. Bills (although I pay bills every weekend, but sometimes it helps to just sort during a different time than when actually paying bills)
    5. Side Hustles. You know you got one! I sort the things I keep from clients or marketing campaigns
  5. Crafts
    1. This can be REALLY daunting, but I try to break it down by area: paints, paper, thread, etc
  6. Social Media and Email
    1. This one may seem odd, but has probably helped to make me feel the best. For starters, we all have those people on Social Media who are negative ALL. THE. TIME. On Facebook, I simply click the “unfollow” button and ta-da! No more negativity on my newsfeed. I also have Snapchat but am not connected to anyone who snaps anything negative
    2. Email – I have been doing this mostly at work, but about 3x a day I log int to my email and go through the ones that I no longer wish to receive communication on and click “unsubscribe” from within the email. In one week, I would estimate my emails have reduced by about 30%! Tedious, but well worth it

I am always looking for other ways to declutter my life! What are some of the tricks you use?

July Financial Goal

I got really off track for a few months with everything going on, but since January I have not set nor achieved ONE financial goal! If anything, I have taken on more debt with an unexpected surgery and a move across several states.

What I HAVE done since then is join Credit Sesame. My fiancé joined about a year and a half ago and it really helped him get his finances in order. I was stubborn and thought I could do it myself, but lo and behold life gets busy sometimes and things get missed.

So I joined and can see all of my debts: credit cards, car payments, and student loans. The only debt I have that is not listed on there is the money I owe the hospital for my unexpected surgery.

So, I crunched the numbers of what my take home pay is and what my fiancé’s take home pay and compared it to what our known and expected monthly bills are. I am going to go out on a limb and make a lofty goal for July…. $579.I am taking the Dave Ramsey approach (which I am interested in buying his book but haven’t done so yet) and am starting with the smallest debt first and paying upwards from there. So the breakdown is as follows:

Total Debt: $70,319

Total Credit Card Debt: $16,927

Credit Card #1: 241

Department Store Credit Card #1: $338

Those are not pretty numbers but it is one of the reasons why I love Credit Sesame – it breaks your debt down into easy to manage categories so it doesn’t feel as overwhelming.

One thing I haven’t decided on yet is how I am going to organize our savings versus debt payoff funds. How much or what percentage of our take home will go to each. What approach do you use?

Major Financial Change #2 and #3

A few months ago, I posted about the first major financial change I made – changing my medical insurance. Since then, life has changed drastically! I left my old job where I made those changes and relocated 900 miles away to work for a new organization. I wrote another posted about “Why I Decided To Quit My Job”, but this post is where I wanted to share how that major change has impacted both myself and my family positively so far.

Cost of Living

We were living in a major city, within city limits, where a 900 sq ft apartment was running us $1400 a month plus utilities. While my fiancé and I each had salaries that matched that cost of living, we ended up not having a lot left over at the end of each month once bills were paid. We moved to a much more “rural” area (and I put that in quotes because technically the nearby town is suburban, but we live 15 miles outside of that town in a rural area). We now have a an approximate 1400 sq ft house that costs us only $800/mo, plus utilities. We have not yet received our first found of utility bills, other than our gas bill, which is less than $5 for the 2 weeks we lived here….

 

Salary

I took about a $30k pay cut to come here, but I was getting paid 22% more than the national average due to the high cost of living in the city we lived in. When you take that percentage out, I took an approximate $12k pay cut, which is not as significant. My fiancé took about an equal $30k pay cut, but still has the opportunity for overtime.

 

Groceries 

Even though I do most of my shopping at Walmart, we were still paying about $500 a month for groceries. Here, we are averaging about $300 a month for the same amount of items. We are still sticking to our guns about eating out only once a month, so considering we eat at home most nights and are feeding a pre-teen who is constantly hungry, I feel $300 a month is very reasonable.

 

Peace of Mind

At the end of the day, you could make a ton of money and still be miserable. And that’s exactly the situation we were in. Together, we made close to $200k and we were exhausted, angry, and just downright miserable. Now, we make close to $100k but are SO. MUCH HAPPIER. As Zac Brown Band states, “you can’t put a dollar sign on a peace of mind, this I’ve come to know”.

 

So..I digress….

My other major financial change that has happened (which I didn’t know was going to happen) is that now I work for a non-profit who puts a TON of money into their employee health insurance. It is only costing me $480 for medical, dental, and vision insurance FOR THE YEAR!! I know! I almost fell over when I read that number too! it’s like giving myself a few thousand dollar raise! See? that initial cut is making itself up in other ways!

Sometimes taking a risk pays off!

Marinated Beef Bites

Here is an easy (and big kid approved) recipe my (step)daughter found on Life in the Lofthouse via Pinterest. We had most of the ingredients already in a pantry, which made it perfect for a weeknight dinner. It is SO easy and so delicious, it is sure to be a favorite in your house!

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 cup soy sauce
  2. 1/3 cup olive oil
  3. 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  4. 1 tsp minced garlic (we used garlic powder since we had it on hand)
  5. 2 tbsps. dried basil
  6. 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  7. 1 tsp black pepper
  8. 1&1/2 lbs top sirloin or flat iron steak (I subbed beef stew cubes the second time I made it and it turned out just as good!)

 

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except beef in a baggie. Mix well
  2. Place beef cubes in and seal shut. Shake gently to coat beef entirely
  3. Place in fridge for several hours (I popped them in around 7am and cooked them at 6pm)
  4. Cook over medium-high heat until desired temperature (I cooked for 3 minutes)

Serve & Enjoy!

 

(photo credit: Life in the Lofthouse)

Why I Decided To Quit My Job

The past 8 months proved to be one of the most personally and professionally challenging periods of my life. I had been with the same organization for 4.5 years and was offered a promotion with the catch that I had to move 3/4 of the way across the country to take it. I talked it over with my fiancé and agreed to give it a shot. We had heard wonderful things about the city we were moving to, and we were honestly looking forward to the move.

We sold most of our stuff, packed the rest, and hit the road. 3 days later we arrived at our new life, tired but excited.

Almost a week later, we realized we had made a terrible mistake. Aside from our apartment being much smaller and a lot less functional than anticipated, the school district we ended up turned out to not live up to the standards we had been told it was, They enrolled my (step)daughter into the wrong grade.

Yes, you read that correctly. THE. WRONG. GRADE.

After four long hours of her father and I insisting they were making a mistake. We ended up pulling her out of public school and enrolling her in private school (in the correct grade, mind you). So that raise we got received is now going to an additional bill. But that’s OK, education is important.

In addition to paying for private school, we were then obligated to transport her both ways. Which doesn’t work well when both parents work crazy hours. She spent A LOT of time at before and after care at school (insert more expenses here). Although she did make friends, she didn’t bond with them the way she had back East, and overall wasn’t fond of the city life (we lived at the city limit).

My fiancé ended up losing his job a month after we got there because the owner sold the company. The guy basically hired him knowing he would lay him off soon – thanks, dude. Fortunately, he is a tradesman and found another job that he enjoyed and stayed at the entire duration of our time in the city.

So now let’s talk about my job… the whole reason we moved there. I came home after three days and told my fiancé, “I think I made a mistake”. While I know no organization is perfect, after 4.5 years I was fully aware of the flaws of mine and was able to work with what I had been given. When I showed up at this new location, I was met a lack of being able to function at the very basic level. Basic level. Like ordering supplies basic level. Everything I went to do had to basically be rebuilt from scratch because the processes and procedures in place were broken. It was like reinventing the wheel each time. After a few weeks, a colleagues referred to the place as a “meatgrinder”, and I couldn’t disagree. While the boss I had there was probably the best boss I have ever had in my life, all her pros could not outweigh the cons of working there.

I was going in early and coming home late. I was miserable. And as much as we try not to take it out on our families, it happens. They were miserable. I had so much guilt for dragging them along with me and no one being happy. The guilt bothered me more than any work drama did. My relationship with my fiancé began to suffer. I started having anxiety at night about going into work the next day. I barely left my office because I didn’t want to run into anyone who would slam me with yet another issue to resolve.

For the first time in my career, I started to feel like I couldn’t do it. I started to feel like a failure. I was not capable of fixing everything from the ground up at this current point in my life. this new location did not have the infrastructure to support the changes it so desperately needed. I felt like I was drowning in my own work as I dug through the weeds to fix everything. The staff I supervised were eager to help but didn’t have the skillset to. I would spend hours training them and then hours monitoring and auditing their work. I was mentally exhausted.

As the months went on the situation got worse, both at home and at work. My (step)daughter’s grades started to slip. She became infatuated with family back home, obsessing over every little thing that would happen during their day. It got to the point that we had to ask family to stop telling her things, because it is all we would hear about. It was almost like she forgot who she was and lived through everyone else. My fiancé grew distant and mean, snapping at us for little things and actually threw a few things when his temper would flare.  I started to drink wine almost every night to numb the feeling of failure. I realized we were all heading down the wrong path, and I needed to do something soon or life as we knew it was going to fall apart.

So after months of dealing with overwhelming guilt and feelings of failure, I started to look for jobs OUTSIDE of my organization. For anyone who has ever changed jobs, you know it is time consuming and tedious. I initially only got one bite and during the interview I realized it was not going to be a good fit for me. weeks drug on without word from anyone and I started to (irrationally) fear that I would be stuck in my current situation forever. I actually had anxiety when these thoughts would creep up and I would have to literally tell myself to relax and focus on my breathing.

Up until then, I had never had so much anxiety in relation to work. It was a very uncomfortable feeling that I hope to never experience again.