If It Were Me | February 2017

By Elizabeth Oates

Have Questions?

Dear Elizabeth,

We recently moved into a new home, and I am struggling because I don’t have the time, money or, honestly, the talent to decorate it the way my friends’ homes are decorated. I fear hating the home I just moved into. How can I find contentment in a place where I don’t feel at peace? —J.P.

Dear J.P.,

Congratulations on your new home! We just finished remodeling a home we moved into nine months ago, and it was no small task. I understand wanting to love the space you’re in and wanting to make it feel like it reflects your personality and your family.

However, after reading your question a few times, I wonder: Are you truly unhappy with your home, or are you discontent because in your mind it doesn’t measure up to your friends’ homes? Are you playing a “Keeping Up With the Joneses” game — one that you will never win?

If it’s the latter, let me tell you that we live in a culture which promotes impossible standards: home remodeling shows (of which Waco is now the proponent and main benefactor), DIY blogs, Pinterest boards, social media posts and mommy bloggers touting their meticulously staged playrooms. Society is ripe for comparison, and it sounds like you are falling into its trap.

If you want to update your new home so that it speaks to your soul — not so that it is a mirror image of your friends’ homes — here are some budget-friendly ideas that won’t take much time and might actually energize you along the way.

Take inventory. Walk into one room at a time and make a list of what you love (your favorite furniture pieces, sentimental photos, stunning décor) as well as key things you want to change or update in each room.

Prioritize. Once you know what you want to change in each room, decide which projects are most important. Consider time, expense and feasibility.

Tackle one room at a time. We get overwhelmed when we try to do too many little things in multiple spaces. Maybe your master bedroom is your retreat. If so, start there. If you love to cook, start with the kitchen. If your living room is the central hub where your family most congregates, make that your No. 1 priority.

Recruit your friends. If you have a friend who is gifted in design, ask her to help you pick out paint colors, curtains, etc. An overly organized friend? Ask her to help you maximize the space.

Peruse sites for inspiration. Don’t get overwhelmed by the options; just stick to your list of what you want to accomplish. Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Keep that in mind while browsing Pinterest; it’s a great site for sparking ideas, but protect your heart and mind against jealousy.

Use key search words. When searching on Google or in Pinterest, use words such as “easy ways to redecorate,” “inexpensive ways to remodel a bathroom” or “cheap decorating ideas.”

Take your time. You don’t have to transform your house in one month. Enjoy the process, even if it takes a year or two to get your home the way you want it. This is where you’re going to live — enjoy it and make it your home sweet home.

Dear Elizabeth,

I am an account manager and have worked with a particular client for the past five years. Last month my boss gave that client to one of my colleagues without an explanation. I’m really frustrated about it and don’t know what to do. Should I approach my boss? Ignore the situation and hope she approaches me? Any advice? — H.C.

Dear H.C.,

I can understand your frustration. To work as a loyal employee for five plus years and then lose an account with no explanation seems confusing, which is why I think you need to gather more information.

Without knowing your professional industry or more details about the situation, here is what I would do, if it were me.

First, I recommend you take a deep breath. You say you are frustrated, so you need to know that nothing will be handled productively or in your favor if you are fired up. Pause, breathe and commit to remaining calm.

Next, schedule a meeting with your boss. Let her know what the meeting is about so you’re not catching her off guard.

Start by affirming your working relationship with both her and your colleague who received your account. Then review your history with this client. Point out the positives about your working relationship. If there were missteps over the past five years, remind your boss how you corrected those. Then provide at least three convincing reasons why the client should remain yours.

There is no need to ask your boss why she gave your client away. My guess is she will volunteer the information as the discussion progresses.

Prepare yourself for the worst. Maybe you didn’t live up to your boss’s expectations. Maybe you disappointed the client or they felt it was time to go in a different direction. However, I assume in these situations that you would have received some sort of warning leading up to your boss’s decision. So, consider these other more positive possibilities:

1. You had too many clients on your roster while your colleague didn’t have enough. It’s not that you weren’t doing a good job; it was just a simple matter of math.

2. Your colleague needs experience in a particular area, and this client provides that experience.

3. Your boss wants you to mentor your colleague as he or she works with this client. While this might be frustrating for you, it could actually be a compliment. You’ve gained wisdom and experience over the past five years that your colleague doesn’t have, and now your boss wants you to pass it on.

4. Maybe your boss is preparing you for a promotion.

Whatever the reason for the shift, I encourage you to enter the meeting with ears to listen, a positive outlook and an open mind. Believe in your abilities and the strong work ethic you’ve brought to your company. Then communicate your concerns with your boss and see where you land.

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