How To: Balance Passion Projects & Full-Time Jobs


Often during our interviews, the person we're speaking to has a hidden talent, or favorite hobby outside of work. Asiya Yakhina, digital product designer from last week's interview, is no exception. While her workdays are spent improving the experience of NYT subscribers, when she isn't at work she's drawing. It can be tricky to stay focused on her illustration projects outside of the office, so below see her top 4 tips on balancing work and outside passions. 

"Finding time, energy and motivation are the most important things to solve for in that situation, so here are my tips:" 

1. Have a goal in mind.
"Having an articulated goal, no matter how ambitious or humble it is, gives you a point to move towards. You are a dot and your goal is a dot. The line in-between is your journey. Thinking about how to proceed in this journey is the first thing that will make the journey possible. The goal might change for a million of reasons, but as long as it’s there, you can keep moving."

2. Break down your big goal into many mini-goals until they sound like concrete and achievable tasks.
"It’s easy to get intimidated by a larger problem full of unknowns. But as soon as you recognize that you have an unknown, that very fact becomes known. And from then on, you can either learn enough information to eliminate the unknown or consider it a necessary constraint and work with what you have. Either way, you’ve turned a scary unknown thing into a series of steps that you’ll take to address it."

3. Tell your friends about it.
"Friends are generally nice people who like to hear about their friends’ side projects and get genuinely excited when they do. They can be a source of encouragement when you’re stuck, and, who knows, maybe your passion project can become their passion project too."

4. Be patient with yourself.
"It’s tricky to have enough creative energy after a full day of work. Some days will be worse than others and on those days you’ll just have to give yourself time to rest. Getting things done is important but taking a break when you need one will actually make it possible."

Thank you so much for this helpful advice, Asiya! Readers, after you re-start that side project that's been forgotten about for months, come back next week to learn about the day-to-day life of a candy maker and cookbook author. (Artwork by Asiya Yakhina). 


How To: Become A Personal Trainer

Amina Teaching.jpg

Amina Daniels from last week’s interview is an exercise powerhouse and a never ending fountain of good advice. Because she owns her own boutique fitness studio, we decided to ask about breaking into the industry. Below she tells us the steps to become a personal trainer, and why it matters what your motivation is.

1. Start Online. You can sign up to start training from your couch, right now! The two main starting points are “ACE or NASM, that’s how you get certified”. You have to be at least 18 years old, and their programs last around 10-12 weeks. 

2. Attend Fitness Expos. After she became certified, Amina started attending different demos and expos to learn about new exercise methods. “That’s how I fell in love with TRX, a functional piece of equipment that helps you move better.” You can search for expos near you here and here.

3. Expand Your Offerings. “The more skills you have, the more desirable you are and the better you are. I’m always trying to get more personal trainers to diversify their offerings and get functional training, course educations, get kettle bell training. You’ll be a more well rounded individual and also have more avenues to make money."

4. Find Your Motivation. Amina’s biggest reason for running this studio is encouraging people to exercise to gain strength and flexibility rather than to be obsessed with their body for superficial reasons. She is “trying to change the narrative on fitness. You don’t have to be confined to a wheelchair if you decide that you are going to work on the body that you have for your whole life.” So in all of her classes, she is "trying to help people be better humans.”

Thank you so much, Amina! Detroit is lucky to have you encouraging so many people to use exercise as a tool to better themselves and their lives. Readers, after you’ve renewed your gym membership (and actually decided to go today!), come back next week to hear from a designer who works at one of the world’s most influential newspapers. (Photo provided by Amina Daniels)

How To: Balance Work and Life


Last week we spoke to lawyer Lisa Callif, who is not just a successful entertainment lawyer, but is also a mother. With so much on her plate, it’s hard not to be impressed. We couldn’t help but ask her how she does it all because there’s nothing better than learning from the pros, right? So here are her top three practical tips for how to balance work and life.

1. Avoid Multitasking.
Sometimes it might feel impossible to focus only on one thing, but splitting your attention between multiple tasks doesn’t always yield the best results. Lisa Callif, in fact, suggests that when you’re trying to strike equilibrium between work and life you “Take one thing at a time.”

2. Be Committed.
For the best results, be fully present in whatever role you’re assuming at that moment. Learning to be fully committed to one of your roles makes a difference. Callif notes: “There’s such value in being able to compartmentalize. Being a mom when I’m with my kids, and being a lawyer when I’m a work. I’ve found that I’m the worst at both when I’m trying to do them at the same time.”

3. It’s Ok to Get Help!
But most of all? “Accept help as much as possible. That was a hard thing for me because I felt I needed to be involved in every aspect of my kids’ lives to be a good mom.  One good example is that I would not let go of making my kids’ lunches everyday. One day when I was complaining about all of the things I had to do at night, one of my friends finally said to me, ‘Girl, have the babysitter make the lunches.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know what they’re going to put in there, and what if they don’t make the sandwich right and what if my kids starve because their lunch isn’t perfect?” and she said, ‘Relax, you can teach the babysitter how your kids like their PB&J, they’ll be fine.’  I haven’t made lunch for them in like two years, and surprisingly, they’re fine! Moral of the story is pick what’s important and do those things, but if you’re fortunate enough to have others around who can help, let them."

Wow, pairing motherhood with a career is still incredibly impressive, but we hope it feels a little more doable thanks to these insider tips. Thank you so much, Lisa! Readers, come back next week to learn about a woman who owns her own boutique fitness studio.