Photo: Bram Naus

Let's face it: not every first, or second, or fifth job is the perfect position that a person has dreamed about since they were eighteen. The truth is that part of what makes a career successful is one's ability to change. That might mean changing jobs a dozen times or even changing career fields. These choices to start over are not failures; they are steps in pursuit of success—they show intelligence, courage and drive.

You are a person containing dreams and fears, ambitions and anxieties. You might have answered every "when-you-grow-up" question since you were eight with "elementary school teacher" but, when you finally earned that position, the school's principal turned out to be unorganized and the other teachers were unfriendly. Even a seemingly perfect position might land you in a negative workplace. There are so many reasons you might want or need to change jobs. The first step is realizing that you do want to change and that this change will be a positive step in your successful career.

Recognizing that it's time

This first step is tricky because everybody moans, jokingly or not, about Mondays and working late and unreasonable bosses. It's when you realize that you dread Mondays—that you have trouble even enjoying Sundays because Mondays come next—that a change is necessary. Some signs that this is the case:

  • You're as stressed about going to the job as you are about doing the work it involves.
  • You feel stuck without hope of advancing.
  • You don't feel comfortable with coworkers and weekly meetings are demoralizing.
  • The quality or timeliness of your work suffers because of anxiety or disinterest.
  • You feel that you deserve a better salary for your level of experience.
  • Evaluation of your work is irregular or nonexistent, leading to constant fear that you aren't succeeding.

These signs indicate that the job is simply not right for you. It is not your fault. But it is your responsibility to admit this and take action to rectify the situation.

Leaving a job

Changing jobs might, at first, seem like adding work and stress to an already draining situation. It is undoubtedly work but it's work that will move you away from a negative position and closer to your perfect job. If you are leaving a good employer because you want to advance, it will be easy to remain polite and respectful during your exit. However, if you are leaving a particularly bad position, it is equally important to act professionally. You cannot throw away work relationships or a potential employer reference by ranting on social media or sprinkling your letter of resignation with shade.

To a boss you liked working for, consider offering help during the transition process. Give two weeks' notice and write a polite, gracious resignation letter. Make the best of a possible exit interview by focusing on what you learned and liked. If you've had a good relationship with your employer, you can even ask for a letter of recommendation.

Leaving a job you hated is trickier, emotionally. Start with yourself: remind yourself that leaving this job respectfully is part of the road to your dream position. Realize that you're intimidated by a job search and unhappy in general because of the job you are leaving and that things will become better when you've moved on. Do not surrender to anger or impatience: even the worst employer could be a reference in the future. Ignoring your pride and frustration is important in moving to your next position quickly.

If you have to, write out your rage on a loose-leaf paper and tear it up into the trash. Then, calmly, carefully write your respectful resignation letter. You can find the positives: was there one coworker with whom you connected? Did you learn anything from the job? (You did, like it or not.) Finally, do not post to social media unless you are prepared to praise the job you've despised and thank its employees and administration.

Post-job job searching

In most cases, it's a good idea to start your job search before you've fully resigned. While it should be kept private, searching before you've left allows you to talk to potential employers about your decision to look for advancement rather than explain why you suddenly left a position without preparing your next step.

If you're changing careers or fields, consider taking free or paid online courses to build skills and boost your resume. Some offer certificates and others will show up on your LinkedIn profile. All of them will make you more confident in your change and in the interviews that come with it.

The most important key to a strong job search is reminding yourself of the reasons that made you start it. You suffered long enough in a bad position or you've been ready for months for advancement after a stagnant job: either way, you're moving closer to your dream position. Aim carefully for it. Start your search with that dream burning brightly in your mind. You deserve that job and, now, you're closer to it than you've ever been. It took courage to admit that you weren't satisfied. With that same courage, push for the best for your life and career and find your perfect fit.

Tom Twardzik is a writer covering personal finance, productivity and investing for Paypath. He also contributes pop culture pieces to Popdust, travel writing to The Journiest and essays to The Liberty Project. Read more on his website and follow him on Twitter.

PayPath
Follow Us on

Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.