Story by first time Violet Fog Contributor and career badass: Jessica Bari.

Jessica Bari is a writer and digital marketer who has lived in beautiful San Francisco for almost ten years. She loves yoga, dogs, and 90’s R&B. Follow her on Twitter @jesssicabari!  Her website, HERE. 🙂

About a decade ago, I graduated from UC Berkeley, all starry-eyed and overconfident. I knew I was fortunate to have a degree but… truth was: I had few technical skills and no clue what I wanted to do for work. Sound familiar? That… uncertainty?  Mine led me to a three-year detour in a dead-end job before I finally stumbled upon digital marketing and started progressing in my career. Yes, three full years.

Even when my career was in full swing, I found that the skills I really needed to be successful went far beyond Microsoft Excel. “Adulting” meant I had to deliver tangible results, insights and recommendations. And all this often with little context or direction provided initially. I didn’t want to appear incompetent, but I usually had no idea where to begin, let alone what I was expected to produce. (Oh shit oh shit oh shit! What do I do?! Kind of thing.)

The fear of making a mistake was often paralyzing, and second-guessing my every move only made it worse.

After spending most of my twenties in a state of panic, I came to understand that what sets certain people apart from others in any situation is the ability to transform ambiguity into action. This applies to your career, your side hustle, and your personal development, ladies. It’s CRUCIAL that you have the confidence to take ownership in order to get out of your head and produce results. Self-doubt is crippling, especially for women. Don’t forget it: we need to be twice as confident as men in order to succeed.

I think thirty might be too old to quote DJ Khaled, but regardless, here are “four major keys” that will help you think, act, and implement like a boss:

1. Understand WHY you’re doing something.

The best place to start on any project or undertaking is to clarify the end goal. For example, if you’re asked to present quarterly business results, a likely objective would be “to review the marketing or sales initiatives that were successful last quarter in order to develop a strategic plan for this quarter”. Don’t start working on anything until you’re crystal clear on why you’re doing it.

Once you’ve got the why down, you can specify the how to complete a detailed objective statement. Perhaps you’re an aspiring makeup artist and you want to get more exposure. Your complete objective statement could be “To start my own makeup tutorial YouTube channel and vlog three times per week in order to build my brand and follower base.” All that ambiguity goes out the window when you set a highly specific goal! WITH GOALS– BE SPECIFIC.

2. Research as much as possible (literally till you are blue in the face.)

As tempting as it is to take shortcuts, there’s no substitute for knowing your sh*t. You can only “fake it till you make it” for so long. On the plus side, you can find high-quality resources for pretty much anything you want to do on the internet these days. It’s out there, so there is no excuse.

Also, just because you’re out of school, your education doesn’t have to be over. If there’s a skill you’re looking to acquire or improve on, take a class! General Assembly offers a variety of wonderful tech-related courses, both online and in-person. Udemy and have online courses on practically anything. I guarantee there is a tutorial, course or program that fits your specific needs out there.

3. Create a mind-map

I recently learned about mind-mapping as a tool to organize and explore your thoughts. All you need is piece of paper and a pen…write down a central topic at the center of the page, and from there, start branching out related thoughts and ideas (like a tree). This might seem silly, but the visceral experience of mapping out your thoughts on paper helps you access your creativity. When you allow thoughts to develop outside of your own head (literally), everything becomes clearer.

Do not underestimate the mind-map ladies!

4. Be obsessively organized in your goals

You don’t have to have a Type A personality (*ahem*… Cynthia) by nature to follow my advice on this. Your closet at home can be messy as ever, but when it comes to something like your career, your ass better be on point. When you find a great resource or learn something new, don’t assume you’ll remember it. Create as many Google Docs, project trackers and Pinterest boards as you need. The ability to quickly provide a status update on a project or reference useful information will give you a competitive edge. Plus, being organized where it counts frees up mental space for creativity and innovation.

So there it is. The education I picked up post-college, in the school of hard knocks (more like medium to soft knocks, really). The ability to create something out of nothing, to figure out what you want or need to do will benefit you throughout your entire life. It equates to freedom; freedom from being dependent on others, freedom from stagnation and settling. It’s the difference between daydreaming about what you could do and actually doing it. (<— F*ck YEAH!!!! Love that. Looove that. -Katey and Cyn)

Ladies– what plans are you going to put into action this year? Share em! We’ll root you on!

Jessica is one hell of a smart and sassy badass. Follow her on Twitter at @jesssicabari and check out her website, HERE!

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