What Are You Doing to Change Your Life This Year?

Time to rip the chains off this thing

apw-squarespacelife picture lettersThe running joke of my early twenties was that any time I had to make a change that was good for me, I went into it kicking and screaming. Leaving New York City. Moving in with my husband. Quitting a toxic industry. I would torture myself for the sake of keeping things the same. Why? Because better the devil you know, amiright? And, surprise, every time I made it over that hump of fear and did the thing that was good for me, I kicked myself for having waited so long to get moving.

I had one of those upbringings where the only constant was change. Getting shuffled back and forth between mom and dad’s house. Moving elementary schools every few years. Then my sister passed away and my family fell apart. So for me, stability is the ultimate reward. It’s essential. (It’s not a coincidence I married my high school sweetheart.) But it can also mean letting yourself get stuck doing the same thing for-e-ver, never growing as a person for fear of rocking the boat. Why mess with a good, or hell, even adequate thing?

But the funny thing about life is that it doesn’t give a shit about my comfort. So every once in a while, I get thrown a curveball that smacks me in the head, wakes me up, and forces me to be a little braver. And it seems like for many of us, 2016 was one of those curveball years. If you took stock of my Facebook feed on December 31st, the overwhelming sentiment was “2016 was the worst,” for a mix of personal, professional, and political reasons. But you know what else I noticed? The end months of 2016 was when I saw my crew (including the APW family) get really gutsy. They shook up their personal lives, took bold career moves, and said screw it to what-ifs. And today we’ve joined up with longtime APW partner Squarespace to talk a little about taking that gumption into 2017. Squarespace recently launched a new initiative (and short film) with John Malkovich called “Make Your Next Move,” and it’s all about not letting yourself get defined by what you’ve already done, or letting yourself get boxed in by the expectations of others. Which, preach. I wanted to share what some of those gutsy moves from the APW team looked like, with the hopes that it’ll inspire you to make your own:

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My big move this year was driven by extremely personal reasons: my son has a few different medical conditions, and we rely heavily on the ACA to provide him with adequate, comprehensive healthcare that we can afford. So Trump’s election in 2016 was more than a political blow—it suddenly put a lot that is central to our lives in jeopardy. On November 9, we woke up to an uncertain world, and all of the sudden it made a lot of sense to move to California (a state that has pledged to continue to fund its healthcare), even though we lived in Tennessee, even though my husband was one semester into nursing school, even though, even though, even though.

Long story short: we arrived in CA at the end of December, I went full-time with APW this month, and my kid had health insurance before we even got here. Hopefully this gamble will continue to pay off, because we’re all really happy so far. Stephanie Kaloi, Managing Editor

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My big moves this year are a focus on career and finding life balance. For those that don’t know me, I just joined the team as APW’s Marketing Coordinator. In my early career I worked as a bridal hair and makeup artist and then moved on to marketing work for various companies. I’ve always had a love for all things wedding and am thrilled to be back in the wedding industry. I’m so glad to be flexing my writing muscles again and working with a team of incredible women. I haven’t worked in an environment with so many folks who truly are trying to make a change in not just our industry but our greater communities, and it’s truly inspiring.

My second big move is finding balance in my life. This is something that I’ve struggled with most of my life; my weight yo-yos annually, I haven’t found a steady form of exercise that I love since moving three years ago, and I miss cooking regularly. I’ve got a lot of the pieces geared up already and look forward to trying some new tools to experiment with and find my right balance.  Kate Levy, Marketing Coordinator 

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As longtime readers know, 2015 was personally devastating for my family, with two deaths in two weeks in the fall. So 2016 was a long slow healing for us personally, though it was devastating and terrifying for us politically. As we adjusted to the new political reality in November, I made the choice to try to circle the wagons and take care of as many people in my sphere as I could.

So we moved into a new office in early 2017 that’s big enough to absorb team members moving to California. David and I are trying to make sure that I can grow the business in a way that allows us to offer protections that our team may need in the future (hey, healthcare), and also gives us a physical space to grow and develop community.

It’s a joy for me that APW’s new office is two minutes from our house in East Oakland, and we’re going to spend the year trying to focus on connecting with and giving back to our East Oakland community, as well as the APW team. —Meg Keene, Founder

As for me, I’ve spent the last thirty years thinking that there’s nothing scarier than the prospect of getting pregnant. (This is pretty clearly a direct result of my mom having me at eighteen, and making me swear I wouldn’t follow in her footsteps.) Because what if a baby destroys my marriage? My career? My life? So I told myself that if I could just create the perfect set of circumstances to have a baby, then I’d be ready. I’d work really hard to create a semblance of work-life balance. I’d take steps to strengthen my marriage. I’d even manage to create a routine that allows me to get a decent night’s sleep (which I hadn’t had since…2010?). And then when all those things were in place, I’d find the perfect time to get pregnant that wouldn’t interfere with life or work or anything else important.

Then a close family friend passed away very tragically, very young. And a few weeks later three of my closest friends very joyously got engaged basically at the same time. And both of those things in succession were a rude awakening that a perfect time never comes, and life can happen at any moment. So I threw a grenade into the middle of my plans. And now I’m waiting to see what happens. And maybe it’s because I have no idea what 2017 is going to bring to the world, but this kind of unknown feels like it’s helping me keep my balance a little.

So my questions to you are what are you doing to change your life this year? What thing have you been too afraid to start?

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This post was sponsored by Squarespace. We are thrilled to be partnering with Squarespace again this year to talk about what it means to be a woman with hustle in 2017. If you’re looking to make a career change or kickstart one on the side, one of the best things you can do for yourself is create a home online where you can show off your work in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or another hub where you can display just how awesome you are. Squarespace provides the creative tools that make it easy to build your online home beautifully, even if you’ve never made a website before and have no idea where to start. Squarespace is offering APWers a 10% discount on your first purchase when you use the code APW17 at checkout. Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace. 

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