Worried About Your Picky Eater? Some Tips to Help you Cope
“My kid only eats three things!” Many parents say. A while back an article in the New York Times spoke of a company that now can analyze your DNA and find out such specific information as to why in fact, you might have never wanted to drink milk when you were a kid. (Lactose intolerance tells your body to stay away!)
Parents can pull their hair out worrying about their kids who refuse to try any new foods. Even formerly adventurous babies can turn into toddlers and preschoolers who get so picky with their eating, that parents go bananas.
Aside from the beige food eaters, picky eaters are the most typical of early childhood. This is important to understand, because like with any parenting issue, the less personally you take it, and the less you need to truly worry about it becoming a problem, the more relaxed you can be which is always best for your kids! Most kids who are picky eaters are and will be perfectly healthy and develop normally, frequently by around age 13, developing more of an adventurous palate. (Particularly with growth spurts and the biological push to eat more!) However, there are two things to rule out that picky eating may be a symptom of: 1) a sensory integration disorder which impacts chewing, swallowing and a sensitivity to certain textures and tastes, or ARFID which is more of a phobic response to certain foods which ends up severely limiting a child’s intake and contributes to a highly restrictive diet. This does not necessarily resolve itself and can require professional help to resolve the issue. These conditions however do not constitute the bulk of the many many children who are picky eaters during childhood and go on in life to either develop a wider ranging palate, and are perfectly healthy.
Some things to consider: Every kid’s palate develops on their own timetable, just like their motor, speech and cognitive development. Think about it; eating involves the three senses of taste, smell and touch. Similarly to how one child reads earlier because the muscles of the eye steady the letter on the page sooner, your child’s senses are developing on their own timeline. Don’t worry if you and your husband enjoy more subtle flavors; your child might need more time to develop that part their palate.
Many allergists believe that children who are picky eaters are instinctively tuned into their bodies’ signals that are telling them to stay away from a particular food until their bodies have developed enough immunity to said food.
Children are often just less interested in variety and love the same things. Think of how many times they insist on wearing the same outfit to preschool. Their world is expanding and they are also asserting their own individuality and taste. Taste, remember! Again, try not to take it personally.
Here are some tips to help you live through the years:
1) If you are worried that they aren’t getting their nutritional needs met, look at your kids’ food over the course of one to two weeks, not just each day. (What nutritionists advocate.) There is more room for those days your kid barely eats anything, or it seems like they really do only exist on mac and cheese.
2) Teach them about the major food groups and what they do for their body. Get them to go grocery shopping with you and pick out the ways they want to eat their protein. Let them pick the fruit, if they won’t eat veggies, If they won’t even do that, challenge them to find another way to get their vitamins. Make it into a game. They are the expert on their body, but they do have the job of taking the best care of it that they possibly can, you say to them. Empower them to take more responsibility. Get them to do some of the work.
3) Let them pick one or two back up meals if they never eat what you prepare for dinner. If they are too young to prepare it themselves, try to keep it simple and something they can reach in the fridge themselves. Don’t worry if it is something like a yogurt, or cereal. Let them portion out their own food.
4) Leverage the siblings if you have more than one child! As they won’t eat the carrots on their plate, ask them if you or if their sister or brother can eat them? Model a “Good, more for me!” attitude, and your own enthusiasm about eating.
5) You can use the ‘try each thing once’ rule, but don’t worry if it doesn’t work or they start to fight you on it. I find that the more pressure you put on them, the less likely they are to find it and appreciate it for themselves when they are ready. It can also set up a power struggle as they begin to individuate themselves.
6) You can try to hide veggies in their food, (Deceptively Delicious advocates might swear by this), but it often doesn’t last long. If you do this, don’t expect it to last and be prepared to deal with the issue square on.
Most of all, remember that there is a lot of evidence to help you, as a parent, not to take this issue personally. Think of your own and your husband’s background. Were you a picky eater? Are there any food allergies in your family? After all, it could just be in their DNA, not that you are doing a bad job. Or, your child simply needs time to ‘grow into’ their palate. Who knows, they may even become the next ‘Top Chef’!
Your Words Are Powerful: 8 Positive Speaking Habits to Build Yourself Up
Have you ever heard yourself saying:
“This situation (or person) is just impossible.”
“I’m a total failure at…” or “I’m hopeless at…”
“I’ll never be able to figure this out.”
“I’ll try, but…”
“It’s just such a nightmare.”
If you answered “yes” to any of those, then it’s likely you’ve unconsciously been sabotaging your success simply by how you speak. Psychological research has found that your subconscious interprets what it hears very literally. Your mind and body will follow the direction your words lead. So if you want more influence, confidence, connection or opportunities to come your way, begin with what you’re projecting into the world each time you open your mouth.
The words you use hold immense power. Power to fuel your confidence and ambition and power to make you feel anxious and inadequate. Power to make a strong first impression and power to be quickly forgotten. Power to create opportunities and power to shut them down.
As someone who speaks at conferences around the world, I’ve had hundreds of people say to me, “I could never do you what you do,” or, “Public speaking scares me to death.” Of course, not everyone feels called to be on a stage on a regular basis, but using language like “never” and “scared to death” can keep people who would benefit from building their presentation skills from even trying.
The saying, “The words you speak become the house you live in,” holds great truth. The world mirrors yourself back to you. If you use positive language about yourself and your ability to meet challenges and achieve your goals, then that is what will show up for you externally. Likewise, if you continually make declarations about yourself or your circumstances that echo hopelessness, incite fear, nurture anxiety and breed pessimism, then those words will shape your reality, too. And not in good ways!
Your language also impacts how others perceive and relate to you. If you often feel overlooked or undervalued, consider how your speech patterns are contributing to how others engage with you. Using “out of power language”—like talking yourself down, making excuses or second-guessing your opinion before you’ve even shared it—can completely undermine your authority, presence and power. Listen to any successful person and you will notice they use language that is positive, precise, action-focused and continually puts deposits of trust into their relationships.
As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, neuroscience has proven that every one of us has the ability to rewire our brains with ongoing practice and to replace destructive habits of thought, speech and behavior with more positive ones. Turning negative speech habits into positive ones begins with transparency (since we often aren’t even aware of how we’re sabotaging our own success, it’s so habitual!). I recommend two things. First, begin by monitoring your language over the next 24 hours. Second, ask someone else to monitor you as well, as our habits are often invisible to us! Then make the decision to replace language that is qualifying, passive and imprecise with language that is positive, specific and declarative—the kind that puts you firmly in command, shifts your energy and, in doing so, makes you someone others want to listen to.
1. Hold yourself powerfully.
How you hold yourself physically—your posture, your facial expression, the space you take up—profoundly, yet subtly, shapes how you feel emotionally and how the words come out of your mouth. So first up, stand (or sit) tall, shoulders back, a light smile on your face and plenty of eye contact with people around you. That will amplify your presence, and it will ensure that the words you say come out in a way that will have optimal impact on who hears them.
2. Reframe forward.
Instead of expressing yourself in terms of what you cannot do, reframe your language in ways that express forward movement. In other words, instead of “I can’t, I don’t, I won’t, I want, I need,” say, “I can, I am, I will, I choose, I have, I love, I create, I enjoy.”
3. Avoid absolutes.
Instead of “They are complete idiots,” say, “They see things differently from me. I wonder what they see that I don’t.” Instead of “No one around here ever listens to a word I say,” try, “Some people don’t seem to listen to me. I wonder how I can speak in ways that make others want to pay more attention.”
4. Don’t apologize for your opinion.
Many people, particularly women, will preface their opinion with an apology or something else that minimizes the chances of ruffling feathers. If that’s you, stop. You don’t have to apologize for having an opinion. Just express it respectfully.
5. Shelve the “shoulds.”
The word “should” sounds harmless enough. However, as I wrote in my most recent book Make Your Mark
, what often lies beneath it are unconscious and unhelpful social expectations, biases and rules. So rather than use the word “should,” which carries a judgment of better/worse, use the word “could” and insert an alternative option that aligns with your personal desires. For instance, instead of saying “I should have everyone over for 4th of July,” say, “I could invite everyone here, or we could go out instead.”
6. Express commitment. (Stop “trying”!)
I recently called my daughter Maddy to get her new voicemail message: “Please leave a message, and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.” I left her a message: “Update your recording, honey, and remove the word ‘try.’” Saying you’ll try to do something provides an excuse for not doing it. So don’t try. Do.
7. Limit the labels.
Labels create a subconscious mental boundary that confines you. Labeling yourself as “lazy” or “disorganized” or “pathetic with money” or a “terrible networker” keeps you from being anything but that and only reinforces an undesired state. Just because you’ve been lazy and disorganized doesn’t mean you can’t choose to be different. Far better to say, “I’ve not been very proactive about this, but I will be,” or “I’ve never prioritized getting organized, but I’ve now decided to start managing my time better.”
8. Rephrase problems as opportunities.
We all have “problems”—what differentiates the most successful people is how they approach them. Got a bad boss? What a wonderful opportunity to develop your ability to manage up. Got a lot on your plate? What a great opportunity to improve your ability to delegate, prioritize and develop efficiency. When you change the way you describe your “problems,” it opens up whole new avenues for dealing with them. Instead of “This is a nightmare,” say, “This is an interesting challenge,” and you will more easily approach it as such.
We live in language. Choose to speak in ways that bring out your best and make you feel more positive about your ability to do what inspires you and to change what doesn’t. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it is this:
You are capable of far more than you think.
Realizing just how capable you truly are begins the moment you decide to use words that embolden you.
Picnic Basket Food Swaps That Will Help You Save Calories This Summer
No time? No problem. We’ve got the easiest eating strategies for any time crunch, from portable snacks to meals you can make in minutes. Plus, the scoop on the healthiest fast-food options (surprise! the drive-thru is safe for dieters again) and your best bets when ordering out.
Grab your friends and family and head out of the house with these healthy options in tow.
Change Your Picnic Spread for the Better
Summer marks the beginning of picnic season, so it’s time to rethink our traditional spread. These are the latest snacks approved by registered dietitians: wraps and sweet treats that are chock-full of fruits and veggies. No, they’re not your classic veggie tray and fresh cut fruit—though those are always a win, too! I’ve got cheesy crackers, cookies, and naturally infused “soda,” plus a unique twist on your traditional sandwich. Who’s ready to picnic?
Sip Smarter “Soda” with Sparkling Water
No need to pack the cans of soda. If you’re looking for that fizzy refreshing flavor, enjoy POM 100% Pomegranate Juice mixed with a crisp sparkling water. Not only will kids and adults both enjoy the fun color from the whole-pressed ruby red pomegranate, but you’ll also rest easy knowing it boasts antioxidants and has no added sugar, artificial flavoring, or colors. Mix 2 ounces of juice into 8 ounces of sparkling water for a light, flavorful taste!
Choose Crackers Over Chips
For those true chip enthusiasts in the group, I’m not going to hand you a kale chip. My latest find comes from Bitsy’s Brainfood, a small but mighty new organic brand on the shelves today. Started by two moms on a mission to make healthy food fun for their kids, Bitsy’s makes veggie-filled smart crackers, cookies, and cereals. They’re marketed toward kids, but I keep these on hand in my pantry year-round—and I’m not even a mom! They’re the perfect swap for your cheese puff craving, made with real carrots and cheddar cheese.
Take Your Popcorn Up a Notch
If you’re still craving chips, I’ve got one more swap for you: popcorn! Katie Cavuto, R.D., has you covered with the perfect DIY recipe for punching up your popcorn. I’ve perfected a mix using Wonderful pistachios, dried apricots, and a little crystallized ginger. Unlike potato chips, pistachios offer a good source of protein and fiber, with over three times as many pieces per serving. Pistachios give you 49 nuts per serving; compare that to just 15 potato chips per serving (and who eats just 15 potato chips?). The whole grain from the popcorn paired with the protein-fat combo from the nuts plus fiber from the dried fruit really makes this combo a “whole in one.”
Get the recipe: Creative Popcorn Combos
Indulge in Something Sweet (and Vegan)
Everybody wants something chocolaty at a picnic, right? Rather than spend money on those mini plastic pudding cups filled with who knows what, I suggest you try the latest dessert recipe from Emily Kyle, R.D. Combining heart-healthy avocados with pure cocoa and raspberries, this chocolate pudding packs a nutritional punch. Make it ahead of time and fill up a container to it enjoy alfresco. Or use it as a dip for apple slices. The possibilities are endless!
Get the recipe: Vegan Chocolate Pudding
Get Wrapped Up in New Produce
Did someone say cactus wrap? Yep! A cactus is considered both a fruit and vegetable, so mark both on your MyPlate requirements when you dive into this tasty meal. Cactus is filled with antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and selenium, while the wrap delivers a hearty dose of protein and fiber. The combo here will keep your entire picnic group full and focused until your next adventure.
Get the recipe: Flatout Cactus Salad Wrap
Level Up (and Slim Down) Your Burrito Bowl
Nix the urge to buy that stale packaged salad that’s been sitting on the shelves for days! Instead, whip up this super-simple but totally delicious Burrito Bowl Mason Jar Salad. Not only does it deliver a hefty dose of vegetables from the lettuce, sweet potatoes, and salsa, but it also packs a protein punch from the black beans and quinoa mixture. Tell everyone it’s a Chipotle Burrito Bowl—they’ll never taste the difference!
Get the recipe: Burrito Bowl Mason Jars
How to Teach Kids to Swim
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 to 19, according to the American Association of Pediatrics. Teaching your child to swim can help her know what to do if she accidentally falls into a pool or other body of water, and can help her develop a lifelong love of aquatics.
The Right Time
No parent wants to think about their child drowning, and it’s natural to want to protect babies and toddlers by teaching them to swim. However, the American Association of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child is about 4 years old to begin swim lessons. At this age, motor skills are more developed and a child can voluntarily hold her breath for several seconds. While you can teach a younger child to propel herself through the water, flip over and float on her back, she should be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times in the water to prevent drowning.
Feeling Comfortable in the Water
A critical step in teaching your child to swim is letting your child get a feel for the water. Pool water is colder than bath or shower water, and pool chemicals can burn the eyes and nostrils. Begin your first lesson by teaching your child how to enter and exit the water safely using the pool steps. Staying within arm’s reach, make a game of going hand-over-hand around the pool and climbing out at the ladders. Let her get a feel for the strange sensation of moving through chest-deep and waist-deep water while walking, trying to run or playing games such as tossing a ball back and forth. Progressing beyond this step before your child is comfortable in the water can make her fearful during the rest of the learn-to-swim process.
Holding Your Breath
Keep swimming lessons fun with age-appropriate games and activities. Babies and toddlers enjoy rhymes and songs such as “Ring Around the Rosy” where everyone takes a dip under the water at the end of the song to get accustomed to not breathing underwater. Kids aged 4 to 9 enjoy retrieving underwater objects to develop their breath-holding skills. By age 6, kids are ready to practice the skill for its own merit, especially in pairs or groups. Holding hands and alternating bobbing is one fun way kids this age can learn rhythmic breathing. Diving to retrieve diving rings or other objects on the pool’s bottom is another.
Kicking and Stroking
A child younger than 4 or 5 doesn’t have the developmental skills to do specific kicks associated with swimming strokes, but she can undulate her body with a modified frog kick to propel herself through the water while you are holding on to her. When your child develops the ability to alternately kick her legs for a flutter kick, you can develop both body position and kicking skills with the Superman game. Have her extend her arms in front of her, kicking her legs behind while pretending to be Superman flying over the city. You can place toys on the bottom for her to dive down and “rescue” as well. Kids older than 6 respond well to flutter kick races or contests to see who can make the biggest kick. Once the kids have the hang of the Superman exercise, its just a matter of teaching them to pull alternately with their arms and turn slightly on their side to grab a breath. The thrill of actually swimming usually precludes the need for games at this stage.
Best Dressed Working Women
Give your office attire an overhaul by taking inspiration from our pick of the most stylish (and successful) working women. Whether that’s adopting Victoria Beckham’s chic separates, Angelina Jolie’s immaculate tailoring or Phoebe Philo’s retrained minimalism, this is how you dress to impress.
Human rights lawyer
Humanitarian and UN ambassador
Fashion designer and businesswomen
Actress and activist
Stylist, fashion director, and editor-in-chief of CR Fashion Book.
Actress and UN ambassador
How to Boost Self Motivation
Keep yourself out of the rut with these easy tips.
I find motivation in doing what I love every day, which is empowering people to take charge of their health. It drives me crazy that so many people are suffering unnecessarily. Over the years I have seen so many people get healthy with simple lifestyle changes. Sharing this information out with a much larger audience is a huge motivation for me.
—Dr. Frank Lipman, founder of BE WELL by DR. FRANK LIPMAN
I was raised in a small town in Indiana and realized the connection between effort and results at an early age. I do believe luck is important, but also believe that the harder one works, the luckier one often becomes. The first time I applied to Stanford Business School, I was rejected. Rather than settle, I found out what I needed to do to improve my chances, reapplied and got in. Grit and determination are two of the critical elements to being a successful entrepreneur.
—Gary Beasley, CEO of Roofstock
I start the day with 15 minutes of meditation, followed by asking myself a series of questions: What do I plan to achieve today? How can I be more successful than yesterday? Which of my various qualities and abilities will be most useful? I then challenge myself by trying something new every day. I exercise and try to get out of the house to attend events and meet positive, interesting and successful people who can teach me new things.
—Ekaterina Lyapustina, founder and CEO, JetNest
I am so lucky that I found a career I am passionate about. When you wake up every day doing something you enjoy, it is easy to be self-motivated. I am constantly learning and using research to uncover insights in various industries ranging from technology, to consumer products, to education. I find it fascinating to dive in and analyze how companies position themselves. Having worked in a corporate environment and switching to entrepreneurship makes the work even more rewarding.
—Carly Fink, principal, Head of Strategy & Research, Provoke Insights
I find self-motivation by treating every situation like the first. No two situations are ever alike in business and life. Thinking of each challenge, task or obstacle as an opportunity to learn and grow both the company and my experience only enhances my excitement for new activities, and keeps me on a moving forward with some of the more “mundane” requirements of the job. It helps me put my best foot forward, no matter what the need is.
—Marcy Eisenberg, president of Pathoras
I am an incredibly driven person and it’s a personality trait I’ve had since I was young. Driven is just who I am. As an entrepreneur though, I’ve faced various obstacles, self-doubt, etc., and for most people, staying driven is a challenge. When I feel like that, I remember what I’m fighting for. For me, self-motivation comes from striving to achieve anything I set my mind to and keeping my eyes focused on seemingly impossible dreams.
—Sunny Bonnell, co-founder and creative director, Motto
I find self-motivation from a well-rested, focused mind. Sleep is the key for me. When I am tired and overwrought, I don’t operate at my highest capacity. Self-motivation requires energy, concentration and intention. When I’m excited by reaching a certain goal, that passion is my fuel and I am able to streamline my thoughts toward the task at hand.
—Claudia Mason, model, actress, author and producer
The Best Street Style From Tbilisi Fashion Week Fall ’18
It’s always Fashion Week somewhere. The Resort 2019 season may have officially started in Paris with today’s Chanel show, but in Tbilisi, editors are still seeing the last of the Fall 2018 collections. The schedule ranges from It-girl favorite Situationist to up-and-comers like Tamra, Atelier Kikala, and Aznauri. Style du Monde street style photographer Acielle is on the ground covering the best looks.
The job is no doubt a little more pleasant now that it’s actually warm: Editors, buyers, and models are embracing the sunshine in minidresses, lightweight suits, and even a Balenciaga car mat skirt (lest you forget, Demna Gvasalia hails from Tbilisi). Scroll through our latest coverage here, and check back all week for our daily updates.
New Research Shows That Babies Think Logically
Beloved pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, who died recently at the age of 99, established his reputation by arguing that babies are not “lumps of clay,” as was the prevailing view when he entered the medical field in the 1940s, but rather complex expressive beings whose behavior is “purposeful and meaningful.” In the decades since Brazelton first began making a case for the purposefulness of the infant mind, research on infant cognition has demonstrated that it is even more complex than he ever imagined. A new study(link is external) just published in Science reveals that babies as young as twelve months old are actually capable of syllogistic reasoning.
Cesana-Arlotti et al. conducted a series of experiments to investigate the logical processes behind preverbal infants’ continuous efforts to understand how the world around them works. Beginning with the premise that infants are capable of developing, testing, and adapting hypotheses about uncertain future events, the researchers sought to characterize the “basic logical representations” with which they might formulate such hypotheses, given the fact that they have not yet developed the language skills which are often considered a prerequisite for such logical thinking. In order to identify the framework upon which such baby reasoning is constructed, the researchers focused on “one simple logical representation and rule: disjunction (either A or B) and disjunctive syllogism (not A, therefore B).” In other words, they designed their experiments to see whether or not infants were capable of reasoning through the process of elimination.
Infants of 12 and 19 months of age were presented with computerized vignettes in which two different objects, such as a dinosaur and a flower, were shown being hidden behind a wall. Once the objects were out of sight, a cup entered the picture and scooped up one of the objects and brought it out from behind the wall, but only the top part of the object—identical to the top of the other object—was visible in the cup. Next, the wall was lowered, revealing the object behind it—the object that had not been lifted up by the cup. Finally, the object in the cup emerged and was revealed to be either A) the object that was not behind the wall (as would logically be expected), or B) an object identical to the object behind the wall (a violation of logical expectation). Or, in dinosaur and flower terms, if it was the dinosaur that was scooped up and the flower left behind the wall, in one case, the expected dinosaur would emerge from the cup, and in the other an unexpected replica of the flower would emerge.
Since infants’ visual attention is drawn to whatever they find most interesting at any given moment, the amount of time they spent looking at the different objects was measured to determine whether the unexpected outcome had any effect upon their interest level. As was hypothesized, the infants stared longer at the unexpected outcome than at the expected outcome, indicating that they were aware of what the outcome logically should have been according to the disjunctive syllogism, “not A, therefore B.”
As a test to determine whether inferences were being made by the infants at appropriate stages throughout the vignette, or if they only reacted to a violation of expectation at the big cup reveal at the conclusion, the researchers analyzed their oculomotor responses at stages where inferences were called for. Significantly, the infants’ pupils dilated more when the scene called for an inference than when it did not, indicating increased cognitive activity during these stages.
Even though reasoning through the process of elimination is a rudimentary form of logic, the authors of the paper point out that it is this same form of reasoning that is most favored by the master logician Sherlock Holmes as he undertakes a “case-by-case analysis of different possibilities, excluding alternatives until the culprit is found.” The results of this study suggest that the sort of logical reasoning that astonishes us in a Sherlock Holmes is actually not a rare or even an acquired ability, but rather innate and universal, and that “intuitive and stable logical structures involved in the interpretation of dynamic scenes may be essential parts of the fabric of the mind.”
How You Can Put Yourself on a New Career Path
Nobody wants to second-guess their career choice. Yet there I was, in my first “real” UX role designing the interface for a mobile game, wondering whether I’d made the right call.
My worry? The flat visual mockups and addictive user flows that I was working on delivered value for the company, not necessarily the user. When it came time to make strategic decisions about the gamer’s experience, I didn’t have a seat at the table.
To secure that seat, I decided to try engineering. I’d enjoyed learning code, and the developers I knew had authority and ownership in a way that their design peers at the time, myself included, didn’t have.
So I took a job as a part-time UX designer. The product leader who hired me—an engineer himself and also an amazing person—agreed to help me improve my development skills by working on the code base on my days off.
I loved it. At first, I thought it was just learning a new skill. Then, I noticed something: My design and strategy muscles were being flexed as well. I’d become the customer’s voice on my team. I’d taken part in important decisions not just about the product, but also about the company itself.
That’s when it hit me: I wanted all three skill sets because they made me a better team member and a stronger leader. It took me years to discover it, but I was looking for the balance of community, creativity and individual challenge that only a hybrid role could provide.
Experimenting to Find Your Future
“A little of everything” isn’t a career option that I’d considered in school. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I discovered my path by applying experiment-driven design to my career:
1. Discover your W’s: who, where and why.
I don’t believe that anyone is born to do a certain job. Let’s say, for example, that you thrive on solving a single hard problem and I prefer to jump between ideas. If each of us found a supportive environment, we’d make equally good engineers or designers.
Initially, I discovered UX design by talking with a friend. His startup was looking for a UX designer, but I’d never even heard of it. He described a role that sounded amazing: talking to people, solving problems, and being thoughtful and creative. I didn’t have the skills to commit then and there, but I did realize that I deeply valued that sort of work.
Whether you know what you want to pursue or just have an inkling, ask yourself why. Put pen to paper, and write freely for five minutes. Review your list, and keep asking why. Do the exercise again and again until you feel like you have nothing more to give. You’ll feel a sense of deep satisfaction once you’ve uncovered the reasons behind your inclination: your terminal values. Once you’ve discovered those, you can carve a path that lets you feed them.
2. Experiment through play.
I like to play a game I call “design improvements in the wild.” As I’m going about my daily life—reading magazines, grocery shopping, whatever it may be—I look for kerning errors, bad copy, silly Photoshop mistakes and unclear buttons. It’s fun, to be sure, but it’s also a way for me to sharpen my skills.
I began playing this game long before I became a professional UX designer. It was my way of putting on the design-thinking hat, of faking it until I made it. It was experimenting: Do I enjoy doing this? Do I like thinking this way?
Find ways to experiment with new skills every day to set you down your path. Grab a small project here and a volunteer gig there. If you want to be a lawyer, intern at your district court. If you want to be a yoga instructor, ask a teacher you admire to mentor you once a week. You don’t have to quit your job to start!
But before you do anything else, understand that it takes a beginner’s mindset. It’s critical to give yourself the freedom to fail. You’re going to stumble, but you’re not going to give up.
3. Evaluate your experiment.
As I took on small projects and critiqued fonts in my free time, I was collecting information about how I felt. When I first started UX design, my goal was to have a job in four months. Two months in, I’d failed to hit expectations on a project. The design was terrible, and the client was angry. I felt like UX design was the worst decision I’d ever made, and I almost quit right there.
But two things kept me going: One, I was only halfway through my experiment. Two, I liked the work even when it was hard. No, it wasn’t particularly fun being told that my work wasn’t up to par. But the experiment wasn’t over, and until it was, I wouldn’t have the information I needed to decide whether to persevere or pivot.
At the end of your experiment, whether it succeeded or failed, look back at your whys. Did interacting with people for a living turn out to be as stimulating as you’d hoped? Did you find something new to enjoy during your stint at the law firm? If you failed, what kept you moving and why? If your answers align with your values, persevere. If not, pivot.
If you do have to pivot, don’t dwell on it. Not every role is going to align with your values and sense of self. But if it did, keep going. Reach for that next rung on the ladder you’re trying to climb. I have yet to meet someone who is unhappy while learning about something that interests him or her. Challenged? Yes. Exhausted? Perhaps. But deeply unhappy? No.
Ultimately, remember that it’s not really about success or failure at all. You designed your experiment explicitly to help you. If you found a career you love, that’s a valuable outcome. If you discovered that you didn’t want to pursue something, that’s valuable, too. But most of all, you gave yourself the freedom to learn, to be a beginner again and to try something new. That, I think you’ll agree, is the most valuable outcome of all.
Beef in Arabic Style
- 1–2 lbs. (450 g–1 kg) beef fillet
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 cups of yogurt
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tsp. Arabic spice mix (black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, dried ginger)
- 2 tbsp. corn-starch
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cut beef fillet into medium pieces. Heat olive oil in a cooking pot and add meat.
- Let it brown on each side for about 5 minutes. Add water to cover meat, also place bay leaves, stir and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- Continue to add water to cover meat. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of corn-starch in a cold water to form a slurry. Add corn-starch slurry, yogurt, spices and garlic into the meat stew, stir continuously in one direction.
- This dish is best served with rice.