Saturday, January 05, 2008

Saturday Links

End of the year lists abound!

Lisa Armstrong of The Times lists her 10 fashion rules for 2008.

The Fug Girls
have their own list of celebrity style mandates for 2008.

Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun
lists her favorite beauty products of 2007.

A former Vogue editor talks about changing her style after leaving the fashion magazine (via The Thoughtful Dresser).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Friday Finds: Best of the Nordstrom Post-Holiday Sale

I was lucky enough to receive a couple of Nordstrom gift cards from family members who know me (and my love for the Nords) a little too well. I found a lot of great pieces on sale when I hit up the mall a few days ago, and I just realized today that the bargains extend to the website as well. If you're like me and wait for the sales to visit the admittedly pricey department store, now is a good time to stop by or check out their website (the same amazing service extends to online sales as well).

Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the online sale:

flounce tbd Two Pocket Sleeveless Dress, discounted from $118 to $69

Coffee Shop Belted Trench Coat, discounted from $98 to $64
GUESS? 'Philadore' Pump, discounted from $98 to $48

Classiques Entier High Waist Pinstripe Skirt, discounted from $148 to $58

Maggy London Silk Chiffon Dress, discounted from $138 to $81

To The Max Belted Smock Dress, discounted from $96 to $63

A Common Thread V-Neck Jersey Top, discounted from $174 to $68

Mary L Couture Sequin Sheath, discounted from $268 to $133

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Reader Question: Dealing With a Moody Boss

Being the second to last baby in the family, it's not often that I'm asked for advice by my older, generally wiser family members, so I was really flattered to get the following e-mail from my cousin Tim last week:

Hey Meg,

As you know, I just graduated from the college and moved to Atlanta to start a new job. Unfortunately, my boss is always in a bad mood. She brings her personal life with her when she arrives at the office. She is over-stressed and takes some of her anger out on me and another employee. She has her good days and her really really angry, stressed, upset bad days. How do I tell her to take a chill-pill and relax? Let me know what you think Meg.

Miss you, cousin. Take care.

Tim

I can definitely sympathize with you, Tim, as I've had a few bosses like this myself. I think sometimes it's harder to deal with a boss who's happy one minute and lashing out the next than a boss who's just cranky and mean all the time. You can never predict how she'll respond to something you've done, and it sucks to have to be on edge all day, walking on eggshells in the hope that she won't explode.


That said, I think you do have a few options for trying to remedy the situation. Next time she overreacts, wait a few hours and send her an e-mail asking if you can speak to her about your job performance. How you broach the subject is really, really important, so choose your words carefully. I think the best approach is to begin by telling her how much you enjoy working at X company and how you've learned so much in the months you've been working there, etc. Then tell her how you're sorry that Y happened (the situation she yelled at you for that morning or the previous day) and ask if there's anything you can do to improve your job performance. You could say that you're really trying to be a better employee and learn the ropes, and that you feel bad when you make mistakes, but you'd appreciate it if she could give you more constructive criticism so you don't repeat the same mistakes.

I know this isn't the most direct way to tell her to "take a chill pill," but as a new employee, you're not in a position to criticize your superior, so the most you can do is show her that you're trying your hardest, and hopefully she'll recognize that she's being too hard on you. The other issue is that nothing you can do is going to make her less moody, angry or stressed. You can't change who she is, you can only do your best to be a good employee. Keep in mind that things are likely to get easier as you work at the company longer and get to know her and your job better. You'll make less mistakes and she'll grow to appreciate your lovable personality (as your cousin, I can attest to this). And if that doesn't happen, you could always talk to human resources about switching departments or teams (but only after you've been working for longer).

Does anyone else have advice for my cousin Tim? How have you handled bosses or co-workers who take out their stress and personal problems on you?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Resolutions for 2008

I'd forgotten that I'd written a post listing my New Year's resolutions for 2007 until I came across it while browsing through my archives last week. Like most people, I made a list of general resolutions without measurable results, and while I kept it in the back of my mind for a while, by March I'm sure I'd mostly forgotten what I'd written. It was fascinating to look back on what I'd resolved a year ago, to see which resolutions I'd successfully accomplished and which fell by the wayside.

It was a really good exercise to look at the list and think about my progress in accomplishing my goals. Aside from the last few weeks, I've kept a healthy lifestyle all year, and I do think I definitely improved in being more generous and open-minded (though I still have a way to go). And since I do have a job I'm really excited about lined up for after I graduate (so exciting!), I can cross that resolution off the list. But I have to admit that I failed in improving my patience, which has always been a struggle for me. Trying to be more patient and understanding is definitely going on this year's list as well.

2008 is going to be a very exciting and challenging year for me, full of major life changes. I'm graduating from college in May and will be starting work in July. I'm going to be a financially independent adult with a real job and real responsibilities, in a new city I'm unfamiliar with. I'm going to have to learn how to manage a long distance relationship with my boyfriend (Boston to New York, not so bad), make new friends and find a semblance of balance between my professional and personal life. It's all a little overwhelming and slightly scary, but also incredibly exciting at the same time.

Posting my New Year's resolutions somehow makes them feel more concrete, and since many of my friends and family members read this blog, makes me more accountable. If you're serious about making changes in the new year, I highly recommend writing them down and sharing them with the people you love, remembering to keep them in a place you'll remember to check, just so you'll be reminded of them throughout the year. Keep your resolutions realistic, and think about small steps you can take to accomplish them. It can be harder with more general goals, like my resolution to be more patient, but I'm writing a personal list that includes all the situations where I know I'm too impatient, and how I could act better during those times. I've found that identifying the problem areas and then making a list of steps to take to improve makes meeting my goals far easier.

Here are my resolutions for 2008:

1. Improve my financial literacy. I'm not nearly as bad as many other college students I know, since I've read some books and blogs on personal finance and have taken non-credit classes in the subject, but I want to make sure I totally understand every financial decision I have to make in the next year, so that I can make the best choices. For someone who's as math-phobic as I am, it can be a little intimidating at first, but I know that I can get it all down before I graduate if I really focus on learning these important skills.

2. Make the most of my final semester of college. I have absolutely loved my college experience thus far, and I want to make sure that I leave in May with no regrets. After graduation, my friends will be relocating to jobs and schools all over the world, and I want to spend as much time with them as possible. I also want to get more involved in all the activities that are unique college experiences (especially those that are unique to Smith). I know I'll be ready to leave when May rolls around, but it would be so great to leave feeling like I've accomplished and experienced all that I wanted to.

3. Become a more patient person. I can give myself credit for becoming more patient in 2007 in at least one area of my life, my driving, but that's mostly because I was a bit shaken up after getting into a 5-car accident in May (I wasn't at fault and luckily no one was injured). I still find myself getting frustrated every time I have to wait for something, and this unnecessary negative emotion isn't benefiting me in the slightest. Hopefully 2009 will find me to be a more mature, patient person.

4. Being nicer in general. Because I'm very hard on myself and a bit (okay, more than a bit) of a perfectionist, I can often be too hard on others. I want to be more understanding and show more kindness in my interactions with others, and not always hold everyone to such a high (and often impossible) level.

5. Keep a balanced life. I pride myself on having a very balanced life, of staying on top of my work, engaging in extracurricular activities, making time for my friends, family and boyfriend, and for making time for myself and respecting my own needs. But I know it's going to be a lot more challenging once I enter the real world, where I have much less control over my environment and it will be harder to plan my days and weeks (I hear that bosses don't give out syllabi, shocking, I know). I'll need to improve my flexibility and keep my stress levels under control, while not letting one area of my life overwhelm the others.

These are my five main resolutions, though there are a number of tinier, more specific resolutions pertaining to different people and situations. Unlike last year, I do plan on printing off this list and posting it near my computer, just so I'm regularly reminded of the (very public) announcement I made to keep these resolutions. I'm so excited about starting 2008 and I wish you all a happy new year!