Beyond Adulting: How to Be a Better Human

“It is important to retain a strong sense of purpose and optimism even when a goal seems impossible to achieve.”
– Chris Hadfield (1959 – ), first Canadian to walk in space
Hello and welcome to my first post! 
If you’re not sure what this blog is about, read here to find out.
Here’s the thing:
I want to help you become a better human at work and in life.
I have always been interested in personal development.
I wet myself when I find a good self-improvement or leadership book and a solid inspirational quote gives me tingles.
This blog is a compilation of what I’ve learned over the years.
My goal, apart from making you cry with joy, is to give practical advice that will make you a happier, more productive, and better human! 
These techniques and tips have worked well for me, but everyone’s different so you may not be feeling my vibes.
If that’s the case, I hate you. Please go away. 
For the rest of you, happy reading. :)

We get it – the struggle is real:
A serious crisis has fallen on our generation. 
We’re unemployed, underemployed, overworked, and at jobs that don’t give us meaning or purpose.
We are struggling to pay back mountains of student debt, while still trying to live like normal humans. 
(For once we just want to buy the $13 wine.)
On top of this, we just want to enjoy our rapidly fleeting youth while struggling to find “Mr. or Mrs. Right” amidst a sea of dating apps.
Not to mention the intense pressure from social media and from our parents to succeed.
Posing after finishing the Scotibank Half Marathon, Toronto, Canada 
I hear you.
Being an adult is hard enough, but especially so with these unique challenges ahead of us.
I’ve been through my quarter-life crisis (maybe it’s still happening and I haven’t noticed because I’ve been desensitized by booze and lofty goals) and it can be pretty rough. 
As someone who loves certainty, stability and structure, my life after graduating from university five years ago has been anything but. 
Here’s my life in numbers since June 2011: 
1 degree
2 internships
4 jobs
6 apartments
4 neighbourhoods
3 roommates
14 dates
2 boyfriends
10 flights to Edmonton
9 different cities around the world
8 weddings 
2 funerals
1 medical diagnosis 
1 cockapoo 
I quit my first job out of university, changed my mind countless times, lived abroad, spent time aimlessly wandering, and seriously considered a career as a rap artist.
(My rap name would have been Hood Master CK.)
My point is this:
We are human.
But friends, it’s time to be better humans.
What does that even mean?
I’ve narrowed it down to seven key categories below.
Within each, I’ve included the one thing you can do right now to be a better human.
A lot of smart people agree that mastery in these areas is crucial for success and happiness in life. 
And that’s all we’re after in the end, right? 
Happy better-ing. :) 

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
– Aristotle (384-322 BC), Greek philosopher and scientist
My friend posing before a Jay's Game, Toronto, Canada 
Being a better human begins with knowing yourself first. 
It’s about knowing where your natural tendencies lie, what you’re good (and not so good) at, what you love (and loathe), what your core values are, and what you ultimately want out of life.
Do you love being around people? Do you prefer working in solitude?
What do you value most in life? What are you most motivated by? Money? Love? Changing the world?
I know that I am naturally a people pleaser.
I have to consciously decide to say “No” more often before I start promising to be the godmother of a stranger’s baby or agree to help my neighbour fix her car engine.
(I know zero things about cars.)
Self-knowledge is also about emotional intelligence: being able to recognize and label your and others’ emotions, and let them guide thinking and behaviour.
Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by personal development guru and author, Steven Covey is one of the first books I’ve read about self-improvement.
The first habit of the book is: Be proactive.
Covey says the first step to improving yourself and your life is by being proactive in using your self-knowledge to take responsibility for your choices.
We are in control. We write our own life story.
The one thing to do right now:
Spend the next 24 hours being proactive.
Act as if you are the only one responsible for the problems or circumstances in your life.
What action can you take today to solve or change them? 
Keep it simple. Initiate a conversation with a friend to get the ball rolling. 
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
– Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), 28th President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize recipient
Ariad girls at the Mud Hero 5K 2015 Run, Toronto, Canada
We want fulfilling work that gives us purpose.
We want to do impactful work and create things we’re proud of. 
We want to share our talents and make a difference in peoples’ lives.
I know what you’re thinking.
Holy shit, Carla. Finding work is hard enough, let alone finding meaningful work. 
So how do we find it, smartie pants?
There is no one right answer. (Ugh…it’s one of those.)
The key is to find something that gets you fired up.
Something that makes you feel like you’re going to throw up because you’re scared and excited all at the same time.
Something that you could spend hours and days on without showering.
I remember feeling so discouraged my first few years in the working world.
I remember staring at a stack of papers on my desk and then at my calendar jam-packed with meetings.
What does it all mean? Is this all there is?
The thoughts of my own mortality were abruptly displaced by flashes of me broke and homeless, crying in the rain.
This image is usually all it takes for me to suck it up and get back to work.

Even so, I continue to be relentless in my pursuit of meaningful work, starting with this blog. :)

The one thing to do right now:
Answer this question: What does meaningful work mean to you?
Watch this video by the late Scott Dinsmore to get inspired:

Check out this 30-day Plan for Meaningful Work by Dr. Christi Hegstad, Certified Executive & Leadership Coach, for a more practical approach.
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”
-Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), American five-star general
My brother and me dressed up in dad's suit jackets
A lot of people think that a good leader needs to be charismatic or extremely extroverted but that’s just a myth.
It’s all about having a vision and inspiring and managing people to deliver that vision.
In this blog, I’ll go over all the areas of leadership including emotional intelligence, communication and people skills, strategic thinking, and decision-making skills. 
I’ll also share tips on how to be more confident and lead in a non-douchey way.
This means being approachable and empathetic, taking the time to mentor junior colleagues, making sure your team succeeds before you do, and just generally not being an asshole. 
Even if you’re not vying for the corner office one day, learning and developing leadership skills are crucial for success at work and in life. 
The one thing to do right now:
 Spend 15 minutes trying to tackle this question: Where do you want to be and how are you going to get there?
Write down 2 short-term goals (6 months, and 1 year) and 2 long-term goals. Be as specific as you can.
Sketch out a brief and rough plan of how you’re going to achieve each goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just write down what first comes to mind.
Put this where you can see it every day – in the front of your notebook or on your fridge.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
– Walt Disney (1901-1966), American entrepreneur and film producer
 Nonlinear Creations Office, Toronto, Canada
Modern life moves so fucking fast.
It’s no wonder that this topic has grown significantly in popularity over the past decade.
We are constantly seeking ways to be more efficient and get the most out of our days. Why? 
Because we want more time to spend with people we love and do the things we enjoy, of course!
I don’t want to do unnecessary busy-work that doesn’t add value to my life or help me achieve my goals. 
I would rather spend that time sitting on a patio drinking ciders and catching up with friends. Or taking my dog to the park. Or pretending I’m exercising, when really I’m just sitting on a park bench wearing spandex.
(I’m sweating because it’s hot.)
I’ll be covering this topic in multiple posts for the aforementioned reason but mostly because I am obsessed with finding ways to do things better and smarter.
The one thing to do right now:
Open up your calendar and spend 15 minutes planning out next week.
What key goals do you want to accomplish? 
  • Focus on tying your goals to your daily activities and tasks.
  • Create calendar events for important tasks (the ones that bring you closer to achieving your goals) you need to get done, and important meetings or interactions you need to have with people.
  • Visualize your days and try to foresee anything that could derail your plans (e.g. working overtime, a favour your promised to do for a friend, etc.) and reshuffle your calendar accordingly. Don’t be afraid to say no to additional commitments that don’t add value to you. 
“If you can’t fly then run, 
if you can’t run, then walk,
if you can’t walk, then crawl,
but whatever you do,
you have to keep moving forward.”
– Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), Minister and activist 
Start of the Sporting Life 10K 2015, Toronto, Canada
As humans, we like to achieve our goals. This brings us happiness.  
But sometimes it’s hard to stay on track. 
Me in a hospital bed waiting for my liver biopsy.
You’re probably wondering two things. 
1) Who is that sexy animal? and 
2) Is she single? 
That’s me and sorry to disappoint you boys, but I’m happily taken. 
My mom took that picture of me when I was waiting for my liver biopsy. 
(I asked her to take model pics and she delivered.) 
I was diagnosed with lupus (SLE) in 2013. As you can imagine, trying to stay motivated to achieve any of my goals when I was first diagnosed was challenging. 
The biggest challenge was trying to stay motivated at work. Work is hard enough, but especially so when you’re sick. 
In upcoming posts, I’ll provide practical tips on how to stay motivated in different circumstances: when you’re exhausted, when every last bit of you wants to give up, when you’re at work or working from home, and even when your car breaks down the day before you start a new job (it happened).
The one thing to do right now:
Pick your favourite motivational quote or a quote that really resonates with you at this time in your life. 
If you need help, here’s a list of the Top 100 Inspirational Quotes on and 75 Inspiring Motivational Quotes for Being Happier from
Write it on a piece of paper and pin it to your fridge, post it on your mirror, whatever. Just make sure it’s somewhere you can see it on a daily basis.
“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.”
– Ellen DeGeneres (1958 – ), Comedian and talk show host 
Mike and me at a Toronto Football Club game , Toronto, Canada
I hold my relationships with people as a core value in my life.
I love connecting with people and over everything else, I want to be remembered as someone who made an impact on people’s lives.
I want people to remember me as generous, kind, and helpful to others – friends and strangers alike.
I also want people to remember my teeth.
I have really good teeth. 
Picture of my teeth
In this blog, I’ll cover how to build and maintain meaningful and successful relationships not only with your bae, but also with your family, friends, and colleagues. 
I’ll also share my worst dating stories and misadventures in trying to find love. Mostly for fun, but also to illustrate the importance of persistence when trying to find your S.O.
The one thing to do right now:
Make a list of all the people you want to be closer with or have a deeper connection with.
Write their names at the bottom or side margin of your calendar or in a place where you’ll always see it (a small whiteboard on your fridge, for example). 
Reach out to these people and make it a goal to have get-togethers with each of them once a month.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
– Socrates (470/469-399 BC), Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Western philosophy
At the finish line at the Mud Hero 5K Obstacle Course Run 2015, Toronto, Canada
It’s important that your lifestyle aligns with and supports being a better human.
This means eating well, exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, and ensuring you’re mentally and emotionally healthy.
I know it all sounds super sexy, but your future self will thank you.
After being diagnosed with lupus, I had to get my ass in gear health-wise. 
In upcoming posts I’ll give you awesome lifestyle tips like how to be a healthier boozer, how to get your best sleep ever, and how to stay mentally tough through the shitstorm known as adulting. 
The one thing to do right now:
Pick two things from the list below to lead a healthier and better lifestyle. Do them today. 
  • Have a healthy bowl for lunch. 
  • Eat only half your dinner and save the rest for tomorrow.
  • Walk to meet your friend for coffee (if they live far, get off the subway 2 stops earlier and walk the rest of the way). 
  • Try a fun fitness class with a friend. Sign-up for ClassPass if you want tory out different classes.
  • Set an alarm to be in bed by 10:30 pm every day this week. 
  • Have a mini-adventure with a friend.
  • Do that thing that makes you excessively happy.
  • Learn one new thing from a personal development book or blog. I know a good one here.  😉
BONUS: Adulting Charts
Check out these charts if you’re still struggling with the basics of adulting.


Which of the areas above needs the most improvement in your life right now?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below. :)

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